Jain World
Sub-Categories of Passions
Publisher's Note
Authorĺs 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 ĹPunya' : 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

Nirjara (Shedding of Accumulated Karmas)

Function of Samvara is to stop the fresh inflow of karma but the function of Nirjara is to dry up the reservoir of the past karmas. This process can be achieved in two ways, namely- (1) by allowing the past karmas to fructify in due course of time and tasting their fruits-good or bad --with equanimity and (2) by shedding past karmas through observing suitable penances before their actual fructification. The first method is known as ´┐ŻAkama-nirjara' while the second as ´┐ŻSakama-nirjara'. In the first method the karmas are exhausted themselves on their fructification. There are two main drawbacks of this method, namely - (a) we do not know when the past karmas would fructify and it may also be possible that they may not fructify during the present life, (b) If the fruits of the past karmas are not received with equanimity and objectivity and if the self is affected and agitated by good or bad fruits respectively, it earns further karmas. Thus while exhausting past karmas the self earns some fresh karmas. It is for these inherent defects of ´┐ŻAkama-nirjara' method, i.e., the passive method of shedding the karmas that the seers have recommended the second method of ´┐ŻSakama-nirjara', i.e., active method of shedding the karmas. This is the method of shedding of karmas by positive efforts. It is like ripening a fruit by artificial means, instead of allowing it to ripe in natural course. The positive efforts are through penances, called ´┐ŻTapas'. These penances are of two types, namely - (a) Abhyantara Tapa meaning Internal or ´┐ŻInward penances', (b) Bahya Tapa meaning External or ´┐ŻOutward penances'. ´┐ŻInward penances' are classified as - 1. Prayascitta (atonement of sinful acts), 2. Vinaya (reverence or politeness), 3. Vaiyavrtya (service to saints and elders), 4. Svadhyaya (scriptural study), 5. Vyutsarga (abandonment of passions etc.), 6. Dhyana (meditation). The whole range of ´┐Żinternal penances' is mental and psychological towards life and its problems. This transformation is styled as ´┐ŻPenances' which shows that in Jaina terminology the expression ´┐Żpenances' is not confined to physical and sensual restrains only. At every stage of philosophical reasoning the Jainism has emphasised the prime importance of ´┐ŻBhava', i.e., inner working of mind, for the simple reason that the gross always follows the subtle and no action is actualized without it being previously entertained in the inner mental plane. Therefore the significance of Jaina emphasis on "inward penances lies in the fact that it clearly proves that Jainism does not advocate only sensual repression and physical tormentation as is generally misconceived by these, ignorant of the basic approach of the Jaina seers. These ´┐Żinward penances' are known as ´┐ŻBhava-nirjara'.

External penances known as Bahya-tapa are meant to rest-rain and discipline the sensual cravings. These are of six subtypes, namely (1) Anasana - fasting, (2) Avamaudarya - reduced diet, (3) Vrttiparisankhyana - delimiting the varieties of food, (4) Rasa-parityaga - giving up stimulating diet, (5) Viviktayyasana - lonely habitation, (6) Kayaklesa - Mortification of the body. However, these outward restraints are of no use if they are not accompanied by inner restraints and understanding. Unless these outer restraints and penances are able to maintain equanimity of mind and spirit, they would result in mere tormentation of one's body which is strictly prohibited. A fast with mind lingering in kitchen, is not Nirjara. Contrarily it results in accumulation of fresh karmas. Similarly fasts and other such penances undertaken with a view to gain material benefits or worldly pleasures and to earn name and prestige in the contemporary society would result in ´┐ŻAsrava'. It is thus evident that those who celebrate their penances by advertisements, processions and feasts are merely making a mockery of this subtle principle of Nirjara.

The processes of Samvara and Nirjara are not exclusive and hence both can be and should be taken up simultaneously. They are mostly overlapping because both postulate a prior change in mental attitude and approach towards life and its problems. Therefore, the classifications described above are only for the purpose of understanding the details of their working.

As regards ´┐ŻGunasthanas' the ascendance of the soul by different steps (already discussed in Chapter Sixth) Samvara and Nirjara cover all the fourteen steps of Gunasthanas, before achieving the absolute Bliss, i.e.,Siddhahood.