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Who is a Jain Shravak: 8.2 Nine Tattvas (Nine Fundamentals) – I

Published: 13.02.2020

The Soul is the Source

If one gains immense demerits during his human life, he will have to take the next birth in either a hellish or an animal form-of-life. Any human being living a normal life, and not acquiring many demerits may be born as a human again in the next life. One, who accumulates many merits, will definitely attain dev form-of-life of a higher order.

To summarize, merits and demerits affect our form-of-life. Our next birth depends on merits and demerits of our present life. Merit and demerit become an instrumental cause of our deeds, but they are not the primary cause. In fact, each living being's soul is the primary cause which attracts its own karma.

Think of Present, Past, and Future

Merit and demerit relate to our conduct and form-of-life. A person should think about consequences of each of his action or conduct and ask himself whether it will take him towards merit and thus higher form of life or will it result into demerit and therefore lead to lower forms-of-life? A shravak who does not think of his next life and simply wants to relish his present life, is it indeed a matter of great concern?

One who looks only at the present cannot be a real shravak with right faith. A shravak is one who reflects upon the deeds of the past, present and future, having thoughts such as - How can I rectify the mistakes done in the past? How to be careful in the current circumstances and stay away from intense inauspicious karmas which result in a lower form-of-life in the next birth, and how can the next life can be made more spiritually uplifting and superior. Thus, a shravak remains constantly aware of his doings.

Human Life is the Prime Asset

There is a beautiful illustration in Uttaradhyayan Sutra. A man had three sons. He gave thousand gold coins to each of his sons and asked them to start a business independently.

All three sons went to a town. The eldest brother said, 'We have been together till now. Now we have arrived in the town. We need to start our own business. So, we should go apart!

All of them got separated. The eldest brother caught into company of immoral people and lost all his money on prostitutes. As soon as he ran out of money, the prostitute kicked him out.

The second brother thought, 'Why should I work hard when I can lend the money on interest and relax?'

The youngest brother thought, 'My father has told me to establish a new business so I should work hard for it! He started his own business and within 5 years, he became a renowned businessman in that town. One day he thought, 'I should return to my native place and find my brothers?' Nowadays, advertisements are published in the newspaper to locate missing people, but in those days, there were neither advertisements nor newspapers. He came up with an idea, 'I can arrange a feast for all the businessmen in this town. The businessmen will come and I will find my brothers.' As expected, he found his second brother, but the eldest brother did not come to the feast. To search him, the youngest brother again organized a lunch for the common mass. He failed. Finally, the eldest brother was found in a clan of woodcutters. Seeing his pitiable condition, the youngest brother inquired, 'Brother, what happened to you?' The eldest brother replied, 'I became ensnared with depraved people, which has led me to this pitiable situation.' Then the youngest brother gave him new clothes to wear and urged him to return to their native place. The eldest brother said, 'How can I go back and face father?' But the other two brothers kept forcing him and he finally accepted.

When the all three brothers reached home, their father asked them what they had earned. The eldest son was ashamed of himself and could not face his father. The second son handed him the bag of thousand gold coins and said, 'your money is preserved.' The youngest son however, presented the accounts of his business to his father. The father was surprised to find that he had earned bountiful.

There is an apt description in Uttaradhyayan Sutra:

jaha ya tinni vaniya, moolam ghettun niggaya,
egottha lahai laaham, ego mulena aagao.
ego mulam pi haaritta, aagao tattha vaanio,
vavahaare uvama esa, evam dhamme viyaanah.

i.e. three businessmen started from home with a certain amount of capital. One increases the capital, another preserves the original and the third loses it all. Similarly, one should reflect upon dharm(righteousness).

maanusattam bhave mulam, laabho devagai bhave,
mulache-ena jivaanam, naraga-tirikkhatanam dhuvam

i.e. the human form-of-life is the main asset. Dev form-of-life is a profit. By losing the main asset, one goes to hellish or animal life-form.

Cause of Adverse Intellect

A saying goes - 'When merits and demerits come into action, they don't directly affect the person's behaviour.' Then how do they come into effect? It is by distorting the mind and making it illusive. As demerit arises, thinking becomes adverse. It is said, 'vinaashakaale vipareet buddhi.' At the time of ruin, one's thinking becomes perverse.

A person imbibed with the negative thought process makes wrong decisions and consequently the intellect moves in a wrong direction. That's how it brings about its effect. On the contrary, if merit arises in the process, thinking becomes virtuous, and his thinking patterns as well as decisions tend to always be right. In this situation, everything moves in the right direction for them. With the rise of merit, even a stone turns into a diamond. Whereas, when demerit rises, even a hidden diamond emerges as coal.

Understand the Secret

It is necessary to understand the secret of merit and demerit. What are merits and demerits? What are their effects? What can happen in our lives through them? It is essential for a shravak to know about them. One, who does not analyse and understand merits and demerits, will neither hesitate to do wrong nor will he repent after doing so. One who understands merits and demerits will withhold himself from consciously doing vicious acts. A person, who is aware that putting hand in fire will burn him, will immediately withdraw it. A child having no knowledge of fire will put his hand in it and get burnt. One should know what conduct leads to merits and demerit.

Cause of Pleasure Producing Karma (Saat Vedaniya)

There is an explicit description in Agamic literature, 'paanaanukampaayebhuyaanukampaayejivaanukampaayesattaanukampaayesaayaaveyanijjam kammam bandhei! What is the cause of bondage of Saat Vedaniya Karma, which brings peace and happiness?' Some of the causes are:

  1. To refrain from torturing living beings
  2. To not inflict pain or grief on living beings
  3. To not kidnap anybody
  4. To not deprive others of their rights

The following are some causes of Asaat Vedaniya Karma (Pain Producing Karma):

  1. The torture of living beings
  2. Causing trouble to living beings
  3. Kidnapping
  4. Depriving others of their rights

A shravak who knows the above facts will refrain from deeds that lead to bondage of pain producing karma. One, who does not understand it, cannot distinguish between what to do and what not to do. Salt and camphor are the same for him. In this context, there is a Sanskrit verse which says:

re re raasabh! vastrabhaarvahanaat kugraasamasnaasi kim,
raajaashvaavasatham prayaahi chanakaabhyushaan sukham bhakshay.
sarvaan puchchavato hayaanit i vadan tatradhikaare sthitah,
raaja tairupadishtameva manute satyam tatasthaah pare.

Once a poet saw that a washer-man's donkey was overloaded with a heavy load of clothes. He was an empathetic poet. He had a conversation with the donkey which is depicted in the aforementioned verses and is explained below.

Addressing the donkey, he said, 'Hey, poor being! You are carrying so much weight and you don't even get proper food.' 

Donkey: 'Sir, this is my destiny. What can I do about it?'

Poet: 'I will give you a solution. Go to the king's stable and enjoy eating grams there. You will get good quality of food there and you need not to carry any load.'

Donkey: Many exclusive horses are already there. Who will let me enter? The officers will stop my entry.

Poet: Don't worry about it. The officers believe that an animal which has a tail is a horse, so nobody will stop you.

Donkey: The officers might let me in, but what if the king comes there to supervise?

Poet: Don't bother about it. The king believes whatever the officers tell him. He does not supervise.

Donkey: But will the public tolerate it?

Poet: The people are so neutral that they don't care about all this.

The state where the king, officers and the public do not care of the perfect quality and ignore any kind of misconduct, such people do not have conscience. When there is no conscience, salt and camphor seem similar, and even horse and a donkey too. Similarly, when there is no distinction between merit and demerit or auspicious and inauspicious deeds, a shravaks life is incomplete. Hence, one should try to improve their wisdom of conscience.

Aashrav: The Cause of Merit and Demerit

Why does the soul bind merit and demerit to itself? What is the reason behind it? The reason is aashrav(inflow of karma). In simple words, when the door of a house is open, then anybody or anything can enter the house. It can be a man, a pigeon, a dog or even a donkey.

Our soul has an open door, a very big door of aashrav. This door has a very powerful force to pull the karma. A stream of karma is constantly flowing through it. Aashrav is a magnetic energy and state of the soul. It pulls merits and demerits in the form of auspicious and inauspicious karma.

When Does Karma Get Pulled?

A person does not visit without being invited. Everybody has their own ego. How can one visit without being invited? Similarly, Karma does not come without being called for. After all, who is inviting those karma particles? What is pulling them? It is the aashrav which attracts them. For example, a lamp contains oil and a wick. How long will the lamp remain lit? It will remain lit only until the wick absorbs the oil, not otherwise. The wick is what draws the oil. Similarly, within us there resides a power, which attracts karma particles of merit and demerit. This power is known as aashrav, the vibrating mode of jiva. Any sort of movement inside the soul causes vibrations. As an illustration, the heart beats and pumps the blood. This is the vibration of the heart. Similarly, throbbing in the veins (the pulse) is also a vibration. In Preksha meditation, mediators are instructed to observe the vibrations occurring in the body. If we can experience those vibrations, our consciousness becomes subtle.

Nerve specialists in Ayurveda have a miraculous ability to read the quality of vibrations of nerves. Diagnosis of disease based on vibrations of the nerves can stun the patient. Today the modern expensive scientific instruments used to diagnose diseases may sometimes fail to give an accurate result. However, the diagnosis of an adept nerve-reader can never go wrong.

There was a famous nerve-reader, Kevalchand in Bikaner. People wanted to test his expertise. A man came to him for the diagnosis of a patient and it was not possible to bring him in. He said, 'You can diagnose from distant also. I will bring the thread connected to him and you make the treatment.' Kevalchand accepted it. The man tied up one end of a thread to the patient's nerve and brought the other end to Kevalchand. He studied the vibrations of the thread for half an hour and said, 'There is nothing wrong with the patient. He just needs to be fed grass.'

The test was successful as the patient was a buffalo. If one learns to study the micro vibrations perfectly many new diagnoses can be done.

Variations in Vibrations

Once we were in Ladnun. A bank manager came to me and asked, 'Can you spare some time for a private consultation?' I said, 'What is the matter? Do you want to ask something?'

Bank Manager: 'I don't want to ask anything. I just want to see your palm.'

Me: 'What will do you do with it?'

Bank Manager: 'No, I just want to see it.'

Me: 'Do you want to study the lines of my palms.'

Bank Manager: 'I don't read palm lines. My strategy is different. On our hands, lie nine different places signifying the nine planets. I neither see the lines, nor mounts. I only capture vibrations. I study their vibrations and based on that, give my predictions.'

This was a new strategy. Usually, astrologers see either the lines on our palm or the mounts, which are the mountains of the planets.

There has been a lot of development based on the study of vibrations. We can also capture the vibrations of the influx of karma and know its type - whether it is mithyaatv (perversity), avrat (non-abstinence) or pramaad (remissness). Thus, aashrav itself is a vibration that attracts karma particles of merit and demerit. Vibration is a mode of jiva which receives karma particles.

How does jiva pull karma particles? Let us understand this through an incident.

A soldier died in battle leaving behind his young wife as widow. The widow was always content. One day, some people visited her and asked, 'Your husband has passed away. You are going through such a tough time and yet you are happy. What is the secret behind this?' She replied, 'Listen to me very carefully. There are two identical boats in the sea. One has a hole in it and the other is fine. Which boat do you think will sink and which will reach its destination? Obviously, the boat with the leak will fill up with water and sink. I have closed all the cracks and doors of pain. Since there is no entry of pain, why wouldn't I be happy?'The widow gave a secret of happiness. A person, who approaches life in this way, manages to stop the influx of karma.

Samvar: Inhibition of Incoming Karma

The inflow of karma, aashrav, is like an open door. Aashrav causes pain. Till the door of pain is open, pain will continue to enter. This inflow will cease only when you find a way to close this door. Just as closing the door during winter protects us from cold, in the same way shutting the door of aashrav can protect us from karma and thereby pain. This state of shutting the door is known as samvar. Samvar is the non-action state of the soul.

The result of closing the door is the state of pure consciousness. In this state, the game of merit and demerit both gets over. Merit and demerit exist till aashrav exists. Due to samvar both punya and paap along with aashrav stop entering the soul.


Title:  Who is a Jain Shravak?

Acharya MahaPragya


Sadhvi Vishrut Vibha

Publisher:  Adarsh Sahitya Vibhag, JVB
Digital Publishing: 
Amit Kumar Jain

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Page glossary
Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Ayurveda
  2. Bikaner
  3. Body
  4. Buddhi
  5. Consciousness
  6. Dharm
  7. Jiva
  8. Karma
  9. Karmas
  10. Ladnun
  11. Meditation
  12. Paap
  13. Preksha
  14. Preksha Meditation
  15. Punya
  16. Samvar
  17. Sanskrit
  18. Satyam
  19. Shravak
  20. Shravaks
  21. Soul
  22. Sutra
  23. Uttaradhyayan
  24. Vedaniya
  25. Vedaniya Karma
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