Samayasara - by Acharya Kundakunda ► [8] Aṭṭhamo Baṃdhādhiyāro—Bondage Of Karma ► Introduction

Posted: 12.08.2010

1. Conditions & Types of Bondage

The chapter commences with an analogy in which two scenes are described. In both, a person is engaged in heavy physical exercise in which it is inevitable for him to come in contact with the floor which is full of dust. As is usual in such exercises the person is covered with very little clothing and his naked body constantly comes in contact with the dust. The difference in the two scenes is that in the first, the person has applied oil all over his body, while in the second one, the body is wiped clean and is free from any tackiness. In the first case, he gathers lot of dust while in the second, he remains free from it. The meaning is obvious, viz., it is the tackiness of the oil that is responsible for being defiled by dust (and not the exercise).

Similarly in the case of bondage of karmic matter with the soul, yogathreefold activities of mind, speech and bodyin an environment of karmic dust is responsible for attracting the karmic dust towards the soul. But if there is no tackiness in the soul due to the absence of affective states of desire, attachment, aversion and the like (collectively called passions), there can be no bondage.

2. Two Categories of Bondage

As in the previous cases of āśrava etc., bondage is also of two categories:

(1) Psychical Bondage or Bhāva Bandha and (2) Physical Bondage or Dravya Bandha[1]. The former refers to the psychic states which bring about the bondage while the actual union of karmic matter with the soul is dravya bandha. The first belongs to the psychic series of modification and the second to the physical series. The above analogy emphasizes the fact that in the absence of ultimate condition of desire or attachment etc., bhāva bandha, which is equivalent to tackinessthere can certainly be no karmic bondagedravya bandha. Earlier, we had identified four causal conditionsperverted world-view (mithyātva), non-abstinence (avirati), passions (kaṣāya), and threefold activities (yoga) and the four, themselves, were found to be the result of psychological distortions, effected by the states of desire etc. The four are, therefore, subsidiary conditions called dravya pratyayas and belong to physical series because they are directly associated with karmic matter. Psychological statespassions etc. are called bhāva pratyayas, because they are dispositions of the soul.

3. Process of Bondage

The space occupied by souls is densely filled up with karmic matter and there is incessant influx from all sides of it into the souls which are ever involved in activity (yoga). The influx is not stopped for a single moment till the soul is completely freed from all activity. Acceptance of karmic matter by the soul, that is, the mutual coalescence[2] much like mixing of water and milk, is called bondage. In the doctrine of karma, bondage is considered from four aspects viz., type, duration, intensity and volume or quantity (of karmic matter). Of these, the type and quantity are determined by the strength of activity while duration and intensity are determined by the strength of passions.

 (i) Bondage quâ Type—Prakṛtibandha is the determination of the nature and types of karma. As soon as the whole lot of karmic matter coalesces with the soul, it is divided into different groups, each with a specific potential for obscuring or obstructing different attributes of the soul, such as knowledge, intuition etc. This makes up the basis of classification of karma. There are eight main types of karma and each of them is again divided into many sub-types. Totally there are 148 sub-types.

(ii) & (iii) Bondage quâ Duration—Sthitibandha is the determination of the length of time. Bondage quâ Intensity Anubhāgabandha (also called anubhāvabandha or rasabandha) is the determination of the intensity or strength of the fruition of the karma. The intensity of karma is the depth of enjoyment or suffering with which the fruition of the karma is accompanied. Both these are determined by the nature and intensity (virulence) of the passions of the soul at the moment of bondage. The stronger the passions the lengthier and more intense are the duration and fruition of the bonded karma. Thus, the most virulent type of passions (anantānubandhi) leads to the bondage of the highest degree of intensity of all the inauspicious types of karma while the least virulent type leads to the bondage of minimum degree. This rule, however, applies to the bondage of only inauspicious or sinful karma, that is karma whose fruition causes suffering. In the case of the bondage of auspicious or virtuous karma, although the length of the duration varies directly as the strength of the passions, the intensity of fruition varies inversely as the strength. As regards the relation between the length of duration and the intensity of fruition of karma, in the case of inauspicious karma, the intensity of fruition varies directly as the length of duration while in the case of auspicious karma the intensity of fruition varies inversely as the length of duration.

(iv) Bondage quâ Quantum—Pradeśabandha determines the volume (quantum) or quantity of karmic matter attracted and the space of the soul occupied by it. In the higher stages of spiritual purification passions are annihilated. Yet, even in the absence of passions the space bondage of only one typethe feelingproducing (vedanῑya) karma occurs simply due to the activity and consequent vibrations of the soul. Just before the final emancipation, that is the end of the embodied state, all activities and vibrations of soul cease and in the absence of these no kind of bondage can occur. And hence it is held that the activity alone is the cause of type bondage and space bondage[3].

4. Fruition and other Processes of Karma

A karma is regarded to be in existence unless and until its last particle has separated from the soul. This whole existence of the karma is called Satta. The karma does not yield its fruit as soon as it is bound. It remains inactive for some time, depending upon its pre-determined duration, before producing the result. This period of inactivity is called the period of non-productionAbādhakāla. The karma comes into rise, Udaya, in order to deliver its fruit after this period of non-production is over. The rise, then, continues uninterrupted till the end of fruition which is the same as ends of duration. We can here distinguish between efficient rise (yipākodaya) and inefficient rise (pradeśodaya). The former is attended with the effect of the karma on the soul while the latter is fruition without any effect. By using special requisite spiritual energy, the soul is able to reduce the intensity of fruition and when the reduction is so great that the karma loses almost all its potency, the fruition is inefficient or non-affecting.

The soul also possesses the capability for changing and modifying the type, duration, intensity and the qualitative strength of the karma after bondage. Precise rules govern these processes of transformation and modification. For example, transformation of type is possible only between any two sub-types of the same main type with some exceptions. Similarly, the length of duration (sthiti) and intensity of fruition (anubhāga) can be modified by the application of special energy. The process whereby the soul increases the length of duration and the intensity of fruition of a karma is called increased realization (Udvartana). In the same way the process whereby the soul decreases them is decreased realization (Apavartana).

The main function of the fruition of various types of karma is to obscure, obstruct, cripple or distort the innate qualities of the pure soul. For instance predilection for truth (samyagdarśana) is distorted by the deluding (mohanῑya) karma and omniscience is obscured by knowledge-obscuring (jñānāvarṇῑya) karma. But this does not mean that there is absolute non-existence of all love of truth, knowledge, intuition and abstention from sinful act. If that were the case the soul will lose its soulness. And there would be nothing left to distinguish it from the non-soul. Even as a cloud, however, dense and dark, cannot completely cover the luster of the sun, exactly so the karma cannot cover the whole knowledge of the soul. Rudiments of the fundamentals, qualities of the soullove of truth, knowledge of truth and capability for spiritual advancement and ultimate liberation from the worldly life, are present even with the most underdeveloped organisms (such as plants).[4] The soul can never lose itself. These have to be accepted as the basic truth by all those who believe in final emancipation.

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