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Who is a Jain Shravak: 10.1 Nine Tattvas -Types and Sub-Types

Published: 15.02.2020

Jiva (sentient beings) and ajiva (non-sentient things) are the two fundamental realities of Jain metaphysics. This is a collective classification which can be further extended into nine divisions known as nine tattva as mentioned earlier - jiva, ajiva, punya, paap, aashrav, samvar, nirjara, bandh and moksha. In Tattvartha Sutra, punya and paap are not counted as independent elements, and thus the number becomes seven.

We can understand the nine elements in detail by classifying them into various types and sub-types. We find 115 types of tattva in some literatures. In the present context, 85 types have been explained. Some references define this classification of 85 types based on the nature and some other references based on the cause of the elements which are mentioned in the following verse:

Jiva aur ajiva choudah bhed aagam-bhitti hai,
Punya ke nava hetu, dvigunit paap dushit vritti hai.
Paanch aashrav, paanch samvar aur baarah nirjara,
bandh chaar vimoksha chaar vichaar kar dekhein jara.

i.e. according to Aagams there are 14 categories of jiva and ajiva each, 9 of punya, 18 of paap, 5 types of aashrav and samvar each and 12 types of nirjara, four types of both bandh and moksha.

Fourteen Types of Jiva

'Choudasahin bhuyagaamehin pannatta' - The fourteen types of jiva are related to their worldly embodiment. There are two states of sansari jiva (worldly living beings) - vyakt (revealed) and avyakt (unrevealed) or paryaapt (developed) and aparyaapt (undeveloped). In undeveloped state jiva is unrevealed. It is manifested only when it is developed. A living being becomes paryaapt when it gets all the essential paryaapti (bio-potentiality). Paryaapti is the bio-potential power by which it collects all the essential material aggregates to construct the body during the initial moments of the life. For example, a human being needs six paryaapti namely aahaar (alimentation), sharir (body), indriya (senses), shvaasochchhavaas (breath), bhaasha (speech), and man (mind) at the very first moment of the life in the womb. Jiva is revealed only after being paryaapt. Similarly, sense-organs are also instrumental in displaying the intrinsic form of mundane life. Therefore, paryaapti and senses are both essential for life. On the basis of bio-potentials (paryaapti) and sense organs (indirya), jivas are classified into the following fourteen categories -

Types of Jivas

Sub-types of Jivas

1.  Sukshma ekendriya - Subtle beings (invisible to the naked eye) possessing one sense organ of touch.

1. Undeveloped

2. Developed

2. Baadar ekendriya - Gross beings(visible to the naked eye) possessing one senses organ of touch







Dvindriya - Beings possessing two sense organs of touch and taste











Trindriya - Beings possessing three sense organs of touch, taste, and smell.










Caturindriya - Beings possessing four sense organs of touch, taste, smell and sight.











Asangi panchendriya - Beings possessing five sense organs of touch, taste, smell, sight and hearing but devoid of mental faculty.











Sangi panchendriya - Beings possessing the five sense organs and endowed with mental faculty






It is important to understand the various types of jivas. A shravak, who accepts ahimsa anuvrat cannot practice non-violence without knowing the classification of jivas. In general, the visible and mobile beings are easily acceptable as living beings. However, invisible, immobile, and subtle living beings also exist. They all exist in two forms- developed and undeveloped.

At the very beginning of birth, the state of the jiva when the necessary bio-potentials (paryaapti) are not completed is referred to as undeveloped. After completion of all the required bio-potentiality, Jiva becomes developed. On the basis of these two states one can easily understand the aforementioned fourteen classifications. In the Jain Aagams, the concept and classification of jiva has been explained at length. A shravak must have knowledge of at least these fourteen classifications.

Fourteen Types of Ajiva

There are five kinds of ajiva - dharmaastikaay, adharmaastikaay, aakaashaastikaay, kaal and pudgalaastikaay. These substances exist either as one whole entity or in fragments. As a single entity each existence is known as skandh (aggregate of atoms). Desh is any imaginary fragment of skandh, which is not separated from it. Pradesh is the smallest indivisible unit of skandh, which is also integral to the skandh. Paramaanu is the smallest indivisible separate unit of matter (pudgal). Kaal being a metaphorical substance has no types. Thus, it is counted only one. On this basis, ajiva can be categorized into the following fourteen divisions -







1.Dharmaastikaay - the medium of rest

1. Skandh

2. Desh

3. Pradesh



2.Adharmaasti­kaay - the me­dium of rest

4. Skandh

5. Desh

6. Pradesh



3.Aakaashaasti-kaay -space

7. Skandh

8. Desh

9. Pradesh



4.Pudgalaastikaay - matter

10. Skandh

11. Desh

12. Pradesh

13. Parmanu



14. Kaal






Nine Types of Punya

This is the third tattva. Effect of auspicious karma is known as punya. It is impossible to count the number of punya and paap. The number of punya and paap is equivalent to the number of positive and negative actions. These are infinite in number. Therefore, it is impossible to classify them. We can enumerate the actions which result in punya. Deeds of punya are applicably related to the life of a monk.

In Sthanang sutra, it is mentioned 'navavihe punne pannate' - There are nine types of the punya
  1. Anna punya - Offering food to monks
  2. Paan punya - Offering water to monks
  3. Layan punya - Offering accommodation to monks
  4. Shayan punya - Offering sleeping mats or blankets etc. to monks
  5. Vastra punya - Offering clothes to monks
  6. Man punya - Purity of thoughts
  7. Vachan punya - Purity of speech
  8. Kaay punya - Purity of physical actions or deeds
  9. Namaskaar punya - Greeting to monks

However, it has not been specified in Sthanang sutra that who will receive these offerings monk or someone else, which can result into merit. There is indication only for the last one namaskaar punya. 'asanjati na vandijja' - Non-ascetics (who is not a monk) are neither worshipped nor greeted. Only ascetics (monks who lead a detached life) are to be respected by bowing down. Therefore, these nine merits are related to monks, who live the life of complete detachment. Pure offerings of food, water, shelter, bedding mats, clothes and keeping purity of mind, body and speech, and paying salutes to ascetics are nine ways of accruing punya.

The Bondage of punya is Not Independent

Acharya Bhikshu has explained the concept of merit in detail. He states bondage of merit is not autonomous. A good deed immediately does not result into merit. He firmly believed that punya is a marginal effect of the action. Without shedding of karmas there can never be an inflow of punya. There will be punya only if there is eradication of karma through virtuous action. He explained that merit is just an incidental by-product of nirjara, as chaff is an incidental by-product of grain. Here grain is the prime product. Farming is done not for the husk but for the grain. Hay, chaff, straw etc. are merely or simply by­products of farming.

Similarly, when a man practices righteousness and performs auspicious activities with the prime objective of shedding the karma, he earns merit as a bonus. For an illustration, if you offer food to a monk, this auspicious action eradicates the inauspicious karma and simultaneously attracts auspicious karma which results in punya. That is why bondage of merit is not autonomous or independent.

Eighteen Types of Paap (Demerits)

The fourth Tattva is paap (demerit). The effect of inauspicious karma is demerit. It is of eighteen types -

  1. Praanatipaat (injury to life)
  2. Mrishaavaad (falsehood)
  3. Adattaadaan (stealing)
  4. Maithun (sexual activity)
  5. Parigrah (possession)
  6. Krodh (anger)
  7. Maan (arrogance)
  8. Maaya (deceit)
  9. Lobh (greed)
  10. Raag (attachment)
  11. Dvesh (aversion)
  12. Kalah (quarreling)
  13. Abhyaakhyaan (accusation)
  14. Paishuny (back-biting)
  15. Para-parivaad (criticizing)
  16. Rati-arati (worldly-attraction and spiritual repulsion)
  17. Maaya-mrishaavaad (deceitful untruth)
  18. Mithyaadarshan shaly (false faith, or belief)

A monk is in a constant state of saamaayik and a shravak practices saamaayik for a limited period. During saamaayik, a shravak says -karemi bhante! Saamaaiyam saavajjam jogam pachchakkhaami - I relinquishes all sinful activities (saavady yoga), i.e. eighteen demerits. In fact, all negative thoughts and activities come under this category, which make the soul impure.

Five Types of Aashrav

The fifth tattva is aashrav which is the door for inflow of karma. It is fivefold -
  1. Mithyaatv - Perverted belief
  2. Avrat - Non-abstinence
  3. Pramaad - Reluctance for religious activity
  4. Kashaay - Passions like anger, ego etc.
  5. Yog - Physical, mental and verbal activity

Five Types of Samvar

The sixth Tattva is Samvar. Samvar means to stop the inflow of karma. It has five types -
  1. Samyaktv - Right faith
  2. Vrat - Abstinence or taking vow
  3. Apramaad - Vigilance or awareness for the consciousness
  4. Akashaay - Absence of passions
  5. Ayog - Refraining from activity
There are 20 types of aashrav and samvar. Five types of aashrav and samvar are mentioned above. The remaining fifteen are an extension of yoga aashrav and vrat samvar.

Twelve Types of Nirjara

The seventh tattva is nirjara which means eradication of karma. It is divided in twelve types -

  1. Anashan - Fasting
  2. Unodari - Semi-fasting or Consuming less
  3. Bhikshaachari - Taking food  only after fulfillment of predetermined conditions
  4. Rasa-parityaag - Abstinence from vigay like milk, curd, sugar, oil etc.
  5. Kaay-klesha - Performing aasanas (yogic exercise) and physical endurance
  6. Pratisanlinata - Control of the sense organs
  7. Praayaschitt - Atonement for sins
  8. Vinay - Reverence/Discipline/Humility
  9. Vaiyaavrity - Service of worthy and virtuous souls
  10. Svaadhyaay - Scriptural study and study of self
  11. Dhyan - Meditation
  12. Vyutsarg - Relinquishment of the attachment for all

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. Acharya
  3. Acharya Bhikshu
  4. Ahimsa
  5. Ajiva
  6. Anashan
  7. Anger
  8. Anuvrat
  9. Bandh
  10. Bhikshu
  11. Body
  12. Caturindriya
  13. Consciousness
  14. Deceit
  15. Dhyan
  16. Ekendriya
  17. Fasting
  18. Greed
  19. Indriya
  20. Jiva
  21. Kaal
  22. Karma
  23. Karmas
  24. Krodh
  25. Lobh
  26. Maan
  27. Meditation
  28. Moksha
  29. Nirjara
  30. Non-violence
  31. Paap
  32. Panchendriya
  33. Parmanu
  34. Pradesh
  35. Pudgal
  36. Punya
  37. Raag
  38. Samvar
  39. Sharir
  40. Shravak
  41. Soul
  42. Sukshma
  43. Sutra
  44. Tattva
  45. Tattvartha Sutra
  46. Trindriya
  47. Unodari
  48. Vinay
  49. Yog
  50. Yoga
  51. vrat
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