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Who is a Jain Shravak: 9.1 Nine Tattvas– II

Published: 13.02.2020

The health of the soul and body are both important. People arevery conscious of their physical health. If we suffer from any kind of disease; we immediately consult a doctor and start treatment. However, nobody bothers when the soul is unhealthy. A healthy soul will automatically lead to a healthy body. Nirjara(eradication of karma) is the cure for an unhealthy soul i.e. it purifies the soul.

Nirjara(Eradication of Karma)

Nirjara is the seventh element (tattva) out of nine. This is the process of disintegration of relationship or bondage between soul and karmas. This is a process for attaining emancipation. The worldly life exists until this bondage exists. In order to come out of this worldly existence, bondage must be broken. The purity caused by the dissolution of the bondage is known as nirjara and penance is the tool for nirjara.

Tapasa karmavichchedaatma - nairmalyam nirjara' - The process of partial purification of the soul by eradication of karma through penance is called nirjara.

Penance is two-fold - Internal and external and each is classified in six subdivisions. Praayaschitta (atonement), vinay (humility), vaiyyaavritya (service to others), svaadhyaay (scriptural study), dhyan (meditation), and vyutsarg (detachment) are the internal penances. The external is related with body such as anasan (fasting), unodari (eating less than the diet), bhikshaachari (taking food with some predetermined conditions), ras-parityaag (giving up vigay[1]), kaya-klesha (physical endurance) and pratisanlinata (sensual-restraint). It is essential to keep the lamp of penance ignited constantly for the nirjara. The process of removal of karma slows down by diminishing this lamp. On the contrary, the dissociation of karma from soul will be faster with strong light of this lamp. Dissociation of karma is essential for self-realization.

Nirjara means dissociation of bondage and its result is partial purification of the soul. It means one burst of nirjara does not purify the soul completely. Nirjara is an ongoing process and each time it purifies the soul partially. Nirjara always purifies the soul. The greater the expulsion of karma, the better the health of the soul is. AcharyaTulsi explains the nirjara in the following verse as:

bandhan ka vichched nirjara, hai yah aanshik ujjvalata,
mand mandatar, teevr teevratar, tap ka deep rahe jalata.

i.e. nirjara is disconnection of bondage and thereby partial purification of the soul. The lamp of tapa should stay ignited for nirjara. Nirjara is the elimination of accumulated foreign matter from the self. According to naturopathy, accumulation of foreign matter is the only root cause of any disease. A naturopathy generally does not prescribe any medicines. He treats through enemas as well as a bandage of wet clay on the sick part of the body to flush out the foreign material. As soon as the body gets free of the foreign matter, the person becomes healthy. Nirjara is a similar process. It takes out the deposited foreign matter of karma from the soul and makes it healthy.

Storehouse of Sanskaar

Everybody has a huge accumulation of karmas. As per the Aagams, a soul consists of innumerable pradesh (spatial points). On each of these spatial points reside an infinite number of karma particles. If these particles were to be split and spread, the area of the whole world is not sufficient to accommodate them. So much is the accumulation within us. The psychologists accept that a huge accumulation of sariskaars (life influences or impressions) remain dormant in the sub- conscious mind and affect a person only when they become active. Likewise, we have a storehouse of bondages that is filled with karma within us. Nirjara purifies the soul. The body becomes healthy by flushing out the foreign matter. Similarly, when attached karma gets out, the soul becomes purified.

What Leads to Nirjara?

Penance is the instrument of nirjara. Metaphorically, nirjara is categorized in twelve types. In fact, these are the types of tap (penance). Penance leads to nirjara. Since there are twelve types of penance which were mentioned earlier, thus there are the twelve types of nirjara.

Fasting is penance, but this is not the only way of penance. If one wants to destroy mohaniya karma (deluding karma), they should practice the contemplation (bhaavana) of the opposite state. For each type of existing bondage there is analogous practice and penance to destroy them. A person devoid of any penance lives a life like an extinguished candle.

Everybody knows that without penance a person cannot be successful.Even in business, a person has to do penance in terms of hard work andpatience As far as the field of spirituality goes, penance is necessaryand nirjara is an integral part of self-purification. Karmas remaininside us. These particles formulate our sanskaars (impressions) andthose sanskaars influence our conduct and behaviour. Unless thenails of sanskaars are pulled out one cannot proceed further with soulpurification.

Strong is the Nail of Sanskaar

I would like to share an incident that happened in my life. I have a habit of removing my glasses every time I need to clean my eyes. One day, my glasses were already off my eyes. As usual my hands reached up to my frames, forgetting that I had already taken off them. This is a deep-rooted habit i.e. sanskaar.

You step up the stairs in your house. When you climbed up for the first time, you were careful. After repeated movements of up and down, you become habitual and your legs move mechanically because the movement has become a sanskaar for the nerves of your legs. Therefore, as our nerves get accustomed to it, it comes into our conduct and behaviour.

Once, a herd of camels was travelling. They stopped by to rest at a dharmashaala (charitable shelter) during the night. The owner was staking and tying up the camels and made them sit one by one. Meanwhile, he found one stake short. He asked the manager of the dharmashaala for a stake.

Manager: 'I don't have any stake. Why do you want it?'

Owner: 'I am short of one stake for a camel. It might run away at night if it is not tied.'

Manager: 'It will not go anywhere.'

The manger got a hammer, acted as if he was putting stake and tying him up and made the camel sit.

In the morning, the owner uprooted all the stakes for departure. All the camels got up and started to move except the one not tied. Despite a lot of effort, it did not move. The owner approached the manager and asked, 'What did you do? That camel is not getting up.'

The manager asked, 'Did you uproot its stake?'

How to uproot a stake which was never pitched? The manager brought the hammer again and pretended to release the stake and untying him and the camel got up. The owner was surprised to see it. It was the magic of sanskaar.

Sanskaars are deep rooted habits. Until and unless we uproot them, transformation does not occur. Nirjara is the rectification of sanskaar. The more the sanskaars are rectified, the more the soul is purified.


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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. Aagams
  2. Bandhan
  3. Bhaavana
  4. Body
  5. Contemplation
  6. Dhyan
  7. Fasting
  8. Ghee
  9. Karma
  10. Karmas
  11. Meditation
  12. Mohaniya
  13. Mohaniya Karma
  14. Nirjara
  15. Pradesh
  16. Soul
  17. Tap
  18. Tapa
  19. Tattva
  20. Unodari
  21. Vinay
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