Jain World
Sub-Categories of Passions
Publisher's Note
Author’s Note
Mahavira: A Non-Violent Revolutionary
Transfer of Embryo
  Socio-political Conditions
  Vajji's Democracy
  Magadha and Srenika
  Ajatasatru Vajjis
  Princely following of Mahavira
  Social Conditions
  Intellectual Fervour
  Revolutionary push by Mahavira
  Significant Events
  Indra's Offer of Protection
  Five Resolves at Morak Hermitage
  Education Rather than Exposure
  Poisonous Fangs of Canda Kausika
  States of a Digambara
  Association with Gosala
  Candanabala : First Head of Women Disciples
  Final Act of Nirjara
  Attainment of Kaivalya
  First Ganadharas
  Actions follow the Doer
  Search for Responsibilty and Sramana Line
  Mahavira's Synthesis
  Psychological Approach of Mahavira
  Categories of Karmas
  Duration of Karmic Bondage
  Nature of Bondage
  Mitigation of Bondage
  Fresh Karmas
  Life's activities
  Even good actions bind, if motivated
  Consequences of Karma Theory
  Process of Change and Nine Tattvas
  Essential Tendency of Jiva
  Papa' and ‘Punya' : Both of Binding Nature
  Asrava (Influx)
  Bandha (Bondage)
  Nirjara (Shedding of Accumulated Karmas)
  Moksa (Final Liberation)
  Enlightened Consciousness
  Self, the starting point
  Will and Eagerness
  Bhavana or Anupreksa (Reflection)
  Twelve Vratas of House-holder
  Dhyana (Meditation)
  Lesya (Disposition)
  Code of Conduct for Monks - Modus Operandi
  Austerities (Tapascarya)
  Appendix - A
  Appendix - B
  Appendix - C
  Appendix - D
  Appendix - E


Justice T.U.Mehta

Ladder of Spiritual Development

As seen above, spiritual perfection comes after great effort, and this effort is not of a life-span. It is an effort of birth and re-birth also, during which the self tries to climb the ladder of spirituality. Jaina thinkers have analysed the different stages through which the self passes in its climb on this ladder during different lives. There are all fourteen stages through which the self passes before achieving the highest goal. These stages are mere indications to show how the self progresses. They enable us to know at what spiritual stage we are standing in this life. We shall shortly consider these fourteen stages which are known as Guna-sthana. �Guna' means meritorious order and �Sthana' means stage.

Stage 1 is known as Mithya-Drsti. �Mithya' means unreal, false, and �Drsti' means vision. This is a stage of spiritual blindness. The whole outlook of life is false and unreal. The �Darsana' i.e., the perspective of the soul at this stage suffers from great ignorance on account of the Karmic veil known as �Darsanavaraniya'.

Stage 2 is known as Sasadana Samyag Drsti. While ascending the ladder of life, the soul sometimes reaches great heights, but on account of some weakness asserting, it slips down on the ladder, and the fall brings it to this stage. It has tasted the fruits of higher stages once, and so does not remain more at this stage and again begins to ascend.

Stage 3 : Misra- It means mixture. It is the stage where the self experience a mixed feeling of proper and unreal (Samyag and Mithya) attitude towards life. The self at this stage is oscillating between the two extremes. It remains agitated and is unable to settle down.

Stage 4 : Avirati Samyag Drsti-�Virati' means cessation (rest). It suggests rest from the enjoyment of material things of life. The prefix �A' suggests the negative and hence �Avirati' means want of the stoppage of the material enjoyment. However, at this stage the oscillating mind becomes steady and begins to entertain right thoughts. It gets correct or proper �Darsana' and hence it is called �Samyag Drsti'. But on account of �Avirati', enjoyment of sensual objects goes on, even though the self knows what is the correct path.

Stage 5 : Desavirati Samyag Drsti-�Desa' means partial. When the soul progresses from the 4th stage it begins to conquer sensual desires. But this conquest is partial.

Stage 6 : Pramatta-Samyag - At this stage there is still further progress in as much as �Desa Virati', i.e., partial cessation from sensuality, becomes complete cessation. There is, however, some spiritual inertia (Pramtta). Eternal vigilance is the price for liberty is as much true for spiritual freedom as for political one. Mahavira emphatically admonished his chief disciple : "Gautam, do not remain inert even for a moment." At this stage even thought the self is living the life of a recluse this vigilance is not running from moment to moment and hence this spiritual inertia on his part remains an obstruction.

Stage 7 : Apramatta-Samyat - now the inertia has gone. The self is now ready for a jump and prepares to enter further stages of �Ksapaka-sreni' which means the series (Sreni) of the stages wherein karmic influence is being shed partially and then wholly.

Stage 8 : Apurvakarana - Apurva means the thing which was not before (Purva means �past'). At this stage the soul experiences a potency which was never experienced before. It acquires a psychic force which would now enable it to shed its karmic veil. This shedding of karmic veil assumes two courses. One course is known as �Upasama' and other course is known as �Ksaya', Upasama means pacification and Ksaya means annihilation. When the Karmic bodies such as anger, attachment, avarice, hatred and violence are made to lie dormant, what happens is �Upasama'. But when they are totally destroyed, it is called �Ksaya'. If the self takes the course of pacification (Upasama) there is always a lurking danger of the karmic bodies coming to the surface and asserting themselves. If this happens, the self which has achieved sufficient heights again slips down the ladder and goes to the lower stages from where it begins the journey afresh. It is just like suspended impurities in water settling down at the bottom of the vessel. Water does appear clear so long as impurities remain settled. But the moment some disturbance is caused these impurities come up to the surface and the clarity of water is destroyed. Exactly this happens to the soul when it takes the course of pacification (Upasama). But if a great and determined soul like that of Mahavira takes up the course of total annihilation of karmic bondage, it jumps to the last two steps and obtains complete freedom of Siddhahood.

Stage 9 : Anivrtti Samparaya and Stage 10 : Suksama Samparaya-Samparaya means �Kasaya' (passions). �Anivrtti' means not totally annihilated. �Suksma' means subtle. During these stages the soul adopts either the course of �Upasama' (passification) or of �Kasaya' (annihilation). If the former course is adopted it comes to the next stage No. 11 and if the latter course is adopted it comes to the stage No. 12.

Stage 11 : Upasanta Moha - This stage is the final one where the self adopts the course of passification. However, �Moha' (attachment) which is considered as the most dangerous of all the karmic bondages remains �Upasanta', i.e., passified. Being Upasanta, it is not totally destroyed. So it may come up to the surface and cause a slip. Then there is a fall to the lower rungs of the ladder. Many a times, it is the second stage of Sasadana.

Stage 12 : Ksina Moha, means total destruction of Iha attachment. This, now, is practically the end of the journey. all the Karmas are destroyed. Next two stages come as a matter of course.

Stage 13 : Sayogi Kevali-After being free from karmic bondage the soul attains Kevala-jnana. It sees everything and knows everything. �Kevala' means pure, unalloyed. �Sayogi' means having connection (�Yuj' means �to join'). The soul has connection with the body as it is still in human form, but all other connection, all other attachment has gone away. This is the condition of real �Vitaraga', one whose all sorts of attachments (Ragas) have disappeared (Vita means disappearance).

Stage 14 : Ayogi Kevali- Now the body connection is also gone. This happens when the Sayogi Kevali of the previous stage �dies'. The last formal tie was of body. That tie is dissolved by �death'. The soul now gets the stage of final consummation - a bodiless, existence of pure consciousness and bliss-the stage of Siddhahood, the stage from where one never returns to earthly existence when all the problems of birth death and rebirth come to an end.

This is a short story of journey of freedom. The journey is not only long and arduous but is also full of pains, pleasures, hopes, despairs and conflicts. Broadly speaking, in the first four stages the soul is struggling against wrong belief which is overcome in the fifth stage where righteous conduct begins. In the sixth stage he is till liable to lapses and negligence, as the required vigilance is not from moment to moment. When the self enters the seventh stage, it is ready to shed its accumulated karmas. From 8th stage onwards he proceeds with powerful force but so long as the Mohaniya Karma (i.e., Karma arising from attachments) is not totally destroyed there is likely-hood of a fall. But the fall is only temporary and practically the whole journey is over when the soul reaches 12th and 13th stages. Thus the entire spiritual career comes to an end, and it is the end of all pains and pleasures of life. Buddha based his whole philosophical structure on the premise that life is painful. Mahavira also believed that life is painful and the effort of every soul is to be finally free from this pain and to obtain permanent bliss.

A question arises in the mind of every thoughtful person, when he nears the end of this physical existence, whether the life which he lived was worth living, what was the purpose of life, what has he achieved in life and whether, taken as a whole, it was satisfying, pleasureful or painful. Answers may be of varying types but nobody will be able to say that he has been able to get permanent joy and happiness from the things of the world. On the final analysis, it would appear that so long as we are not able to approach the problems of life in a detached and objective manner we are not able to get joy and happiness from any activity however, altruistic, benevolent or high-minded it may be. Attachment, whether it is for physical objects, individuals or even idea or ideals, always results in dejection. If this be the final lesson of life, the only solution which can be offered to life's problems is to try to achieve a condition of detachment, a condition of a Vitaraga, one whose all attachments are gone. Vitaraga is an expression of great significance. It is peculiar to Jaina epistemology as in other philosophical thinking, they have used the word Vairagya or Viraga. Viraga is the opposite of Raga (attachment) and being an opposite, it carries and idea of aversion. so the expression Viraga is, many a times, understood as �dislike', which is nothing but a negative form of attachment. But the expression Vitaraga merely refers to a condition where all attachments are gone. There is no �like' and no �dislike'.

If the life is painful, it is no use cultivating dislike for it. The correct attitude is the attitude of Vitaraga. Mahavira showed the way of achieving the state of a Vitaraga.

Greeks perhaps knew the stings of life as intimately. when the Greek Midas asked Silenus, �what fate is best for man'. Silenus answered : "Pitiful race of a day, children of accidents and sorrow, why do you force me to say what were better left unheard ? The �best' of it all is unobtainable-not to born, to be nothing. The second best is to die early."

Silenus's attitude was rather cynical. Mahavira would not agree, however, with his statement that we are all children of �accidents' and �sorrow'. Mahavira never believed in accidents as according to him everything which happens in this universe has a cause and the results which we are reaping are generated by the causes supplied by us. If we are children of �sorrow', the sorrow is also of our making. Mahavira would also not agree with Silenus that the �best' is �unobtainable' though he may agree that the �best' is �not to be born' or �to be nothing'. Journey to freedom is a journey �to be nothing' which means �to be everything', though desiring nothing and doing nothing. It is therefore a journey to achieve the stage of a Vitaraga, who does not require �to be born' again.