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Jain World
Sub-Categories of Passions

Jivaraja Jaina Granthmala, No. 20

General Editorial
Preface to The First Edition
Preface to The Second Edition
Synoptic Philosophy
  Approach to Reality
  The Jaina Theory of the Soul
  Critique of Knowledge
  The Doctrine of Karma in Jaina Philosophy
  The Pathway to Perfection
  In this Our Life
  Men and Gods

THE DOCTRINE OF KARMA IN JAINA PHILOSOPHY

 

 

V. Therefore, the Karma theory is an explanation of the moral justice in the universe. It is the conception of an all controlling law of natural retribution which links together the successive earth lives of each individual soul.  It �satisfied my sense of justice and threw light on the problem of unmerited suffering.'[55] For the modern European varieties of Karma theory, 'It is not the mechanical idea of an identical soul-substance passing from body to body, but the mystical idea of suffering with and for others', that forms the real attraction of the doctrine.  And perhaps that may be the true explanation of its ascendancy in the East as well.[56]

 

Judged by the historic standards, the Karma theory did much to raise man  status and to wean him from coaxing gods through sacrifice and prayer. It insisted on individual expiation, and emphasised the moral continuity of life here and hereafter.[57]

 

Karma is in fact a striking answer to the �fathomless injustice to the nature of things' and it appeals 'to the overpowering sense of the necessity of justice.' 'The conception of an all controlling Iaw of natural retribution which links together the successive earth lives of each individual soul, both satisfied my sense of justice and threw light on the problem of seemingly unmerited suffering.[58]

 

Having discussed the arguments and counter arguments of the logical Justification of the doctrine of Karma, we may say that, from the real point of view (niscaya-naya) logical justification of the doctrine is not possible nor necessary. It is the expression of the highest knoIedge and experience of the seers. We must accept it as authority. When the ascetic, named Kaladevala, saw the newborn Siddhartha Gautama he was at once delighted and sad, delighted because he saw the vision of Siddhartha as one to be the Buddha, and sad because he saw that he would not live to see that glorious day. This need not be taken as mere fable. It has a great significance in presenting the experience o� a seer.  The story is told of Pythagoras remonstrating with a man ~-how as beating a dog, because in the howling of the animal he recognised the voice of a departed friend. The spice of malice in this anecdote is perhaps misplaced. And, "Oh, Agnibhuti, Karma is pratyaksa to me, the omniscient being, just as your doubt is pratyaksa to me.[59]

 

VI. We may add here a note on the much discussed doctrine of Lesya.

 

We have seen that the perfect soul may continue to work for the welfare of all creatures. But he is detached from all activity and is free from any contamination which leads to the coloration of hallo for the soul (lesya).

 

1. According to the Jainas, the soul is a substance distinct from matter. Matter and soul influence each other, yet are quite distinct from one another The soul is a spiritual monad. From the noumenal point of view, the sou1 is pure and perfect. It is pure consciousness. It is characterised by upayoga and is formless. Upayoga is the hormic force. But the purity of the soul is defined by the influx of karma It gets entangled in the wheel of Samsara and embodied through the operation of Karma. This entanglement is beginningless, though it has an end. lt is subjected to the forces of Karma through feelings, emotions and activity (yoga). The soul is associated with Karma and forms a subtle body called the karma-sarira comparable to the linga-sarira of the Samkhya school. The immediate presence of the Karmic matter in the soul throws a reflection, as it were, on the soul, as a colour ed flower does in a mirror or a crystal.[60] The subt1e Karmic matter is invisible to the eye and to tbe instruments of Science.  The influx of Karma affects the soul in various forms and produces certain type of 'aura' or coloration about it. This coloration or hallo is the lesya. But this coloration does not affect the soul in its pure nature. The colour of the reflection does not belong to the soul. When the soul becomes free from Karmic matter and reaches the Siddhahood, it becomes free from this forein element of coloration.

 

2. Lesya is of two kinds: dravyalesya and bhava lesya. Dravya Lesya refers to the Karmic material affecting the organism. Bhava Lesya refers to the psychic conditions affecting the organism and thereby radiating the colour, which may be called transcendental coloration. Thus, the effect of Karma in matters affecting the nature of the organism-though it cannot be said that Lesya refers to the colour of the body.  We are told that the denizens of hell are black in colour.  Celestial beings get different colours on the basis of the impact of a different Karma. So is the case with human beings.[61] ' This distinction may be referred to the racial colours and the innumerable distinctions in the individual shades of colour. Bhava Lesya refers to the psychic conditions affecting the individual in creating an aura around the organism.  The psychic conditions create reflexes, and they, in turn, may give rise, through some form of radiation, to some kinds of coloration round the organism rhis may not be ordinaiily visible to the eye, but only to persons disciplined in Yoga. Further distinctions are ;made in lesya. Six types of primary colours are suggested. Three of them refer to evilminded persons. The remaining are attributed to morally good persons. The six lesyas are: I) black (krsna), 2) blue (nila), 3) dove-grey (kapota), 4) yellow (pita), e) pink (padma) and 6) white (sukla). For instance, a man who is wicked and cruel gets the black lesya. A man who is affected by anger and envy and who loves pleasure gets the-blue lesya. One who is base and dishonest has grey. On the contrary, a well-disciplined man develops the red lesya. One who has subdued the passion has yellow. One who is engrossed in meditation of the Dharma and truth has the white lesya. But the fully liberated souls have no lesya at all. [62] The ethical or moral significance of this doctrine has been emphasized in this distinction.  The Lesyas are treated as an index of temperament and character.  Lesyas have a moral bearing.[63]  The Jainas give the example of six travellers in the forest.  They see a tree full of fruits. The man with a black Lesya intends to uproot the tree; that with a blue, to cut the trunk; that with a grey, to cut the branches; that with a yellow, to take the twigs on|y; the man with the pink Lesya intends to pluck the fruits, while the one who has a pure white Lesya is content to take whatever fruits have fallen on the ground.[64]

 

There are degrees of expression of Lesya in terms of time and intensity. We are told that in the case of black Lesya the duration varies from half a muhurta to thirty-three sdgaropamas. The effect of the blue Lesya varies from half a Muhurta to ten Sagarpamas plus one Palyopama and a part of an asamkhyeya. So is the variation in the duration of other Lesyas. [65] The Jainas have given a fabulous mathematical calculation of the effects and the generation of Lesya.[66] think they were fond of such arithmetic formulations.

 

3. There has been a controversy regarding the antiquity and the nature of lesya. Leumann found a resemblance between the six Lesyas and Gosala's division of mankind into six classes.[67] Jacobi was perplexed by the resemblance and thought it difficult to bring the Lesya doctrine into harmony with the rest of their creed [68]

 

However, as Dr. Upadhya points out, these early scholars on Jainism were misled by their supposition that the Lesyas represent the colours of the soul. Tradition never says that the soul itself has colour.[69] Colour and sense qualities are associated with Karmic matter flowing into the soul. Karma is a subtle type a matter and the soul has a subtle body known as the karma sarira.[70] We have seen that the immediate impact of Karma throws a reflection on the soul, as a coloured flower does on crystal. The colour does not form part of the crystal; so Lesya is not part of the soul. It may also be noted that the liberated soul is free �rom Karmic matter and also from any form of Lesya. Thus,the conception of Lesya is closely associatcd with the Karma theory.

 

In Buddhism too, Karma is classified according to colours:1) black, 2) white. 3)-black and white, and 4) not black and not white [71] The same classification was adopted in the  yoga school.  But these systems do not accept the material nature of Karma.  Therefore, DASGUPTA suggests that the idea of the black and white Karma in the Yoga philosophy was probably suggested by the Jaina view. [72]

 

4. The problem of interpreting the Lesya thRory in terms of modern psychologyespecially of para-psychology, has been engaging my attention for some time past. The bhava-lesya has a psychological significance. It is an aura created round the soul due to psychic effects and Yoga. It is dependent on the activity of the mind. The six primary colours are effects of the Karmic influx arising out of the mental states and events. Every psychosist brings some after-effects which are both physical and psychic; it is possible to show, by proper analysis and investigation, that such psychic phenomena exist and are detectable. The effects of psychic states are transformed. through some form of radiation into the `aura' of co1our spreading round the organism, like the halo supposed to surround a prophet. We have heard that the gods and the prophets like Jesus. Mahavira and Buddha, had halo round themn?. The Jainas have said that the enlightened ones still living in this world get a white halo around them.  But those who are liberated are without any Lesya or coloration. They are alesyi. Such aura or coloration may not be visible to the eye, not detectable by the ordinary instruments of science. But men disciplined in the Yoga and those who have developed an extra sensory capacity may see it. We may perhaps find some methods pertinent to para-psychology by which  may discover the possibility and existence of such phenomena. lt would, therefore, be a problem for the parapsychologist's research.

 

I have recently read an autobiographical note by LAMA MANGALABJUNG RAMPA, who states that he could see, owing to the Yogic discipline he had undergone, the `aura' of colour round an individual. It varied with individual difference in mental states at the moment.  He once saw blue rays of light elmanating from a Chinese delegation which had gone to see the Dalai Lama.  He then appealed to the Dalai lama not to take the delegation at their word, as they were full of fraud.

 

It would not, therefore, be a presumption to suggest that the Lesya phenomena should be investigated by the methods of para-psychology.

 

I may also point out that some have suggested a resemblance between the Iesya doctrine and the theosophical view of the transcendental colours in the individual.[73] We may refer here to the theosophical writings of Mrs. Besant.[74] The Jainas say that the soul is immaterial; consciousness and its states are also immaterial and colourless. Colour is in matter; and matter certainly acts and reacts on the soul by the inflow and bondage (bandha)  of the Karmic matter due to passions and modifications in the mental states.