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Who is a Jain Shravak: 10.2 Nine Tattvas -Types and Sub-Types

Published: 16.02.2020

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 activityFive

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

Four Types of Bandh

The eighth tattva is bandh which means binding of new karma. Some characteristics are determined during the bondage of karma. It is of four types -

  1. Prakriti Bandh -Nature (what will be the result) of the binding karmic matter.
  2. Sthiti Bandh - Duration of the karmic matter.
  3. Anubhaag Bandh - Intensity of fruition.
  4. Pradesh Bandh - Quantity of karmic aggregates.

Four Ways to Moksha

Emancipation (moksha) is one in itself. It is the pure state of soul free from all impurities of karma. There are no further classifications of it. The path of attaining moksha is explained in four ways -

  1. Gyaan - Right Knowledge
  2. Darshan - Right Faith
  3. Chaaritr - Right Conduct
  4. Tap - Right Penance

The book 'Nav Padaarth ki Choupai', authored by Acharya Bhikshu describes on these nine tattvas. Shreechandji Rampuria has written a commentary on it. In this text, the nine tattvas are explained distinctly in detail. In Shravak Sambodh, a concise and clear explanation has been rendered by Acharya Tulsi.

Mathematics in Jain Philosophy

Classification of nine tattva is possible with the use of mathematics. Mathematics and numbers play a major role in Jain philosophy. Without numbers, it is impossible to understand Jainism. Today many ancient scriptures are well preserved. The knowledge of numbers is very essential in order to study them. It is believed that one cannot study the Karma-Granths, Gommatsar, Panch-Sangraha and Karma Prakriti without having knowledge of numbers. We find the usage of large numbers like one digit followed by 20, 40 or even 50 zeros to explain the concepts. Without knowing mathematics, those expositions cannot be understood. That is the reason Jainendraji, a great scholar, remarked that Jain philosophy is based on Mathematics. If we look at the 25 Bol (ontology explained with classification of 25 concepts), numbers are used to explain every concept. The first bol (concept) - 4 Gati (life-span), second bol - 5 Jaati (classes), third bol - 6 Kaaya (bodies) etc. Thanam Sutra, Samavao Sutra, Anuyogadvar etc. are all full of number theory. In the ancient days, monks, nuns and shravaks would learn thokada (treatises) of Daala-Paala. Today very few even know name of this thokada. Mathematics is widely used in this treatise.

One Alphabet: Infinite Modes

The base of classification is modes. We find the elaboration of 9 tattvas and 6 substances in Jain philosophy. Number of substances is very few but the modes are infinite. Even a single alphabet, let's say 'a', can have infinite forms. It may be difficult to understand and accept it. In the Aagams, it has often been mentioned that the Universe is eternal and goes through infinite Utsarpini (progressive time-cycle) and Avasarpini (regressive time-cycle) period. According to Jainism, samay (instant) is the smallest indivisible unit of time. It is incomprehensible how small one instant is!

Today, time is measured in seconds, milliseconds, microseconds and even nanoseconds. The concept of time is incredibly minute in Jain philosophy. An instant is an innumerable fraction of a blink of an eye. A blink of the eyelids may not take even a second but consumes innumerable samays.

Tangible objects can be known easily. To know the subtle, mathematical knowledge is essential. Today's inventions are predominantly based on mathematics. Science will be lame if mathematics is absent.

One Jain Acharya said, 'An alphabet has infinite modes.' He tried to make others understand this concept by giving eight lakh (800,000) meanings of eight letters in Hindi - Raajaano dadate saukhyam. He further said, 'I have given eight lakh meanings, someone else may be able to interpret even more.'

Substance does not change. It is the mode which constantly changes its form. If we try to understand the concept of mode, many mysteries can be unfolded.

A young man approached me and said, 'His relative had premature death! What is death? What is life? They are simply modes. The fundamental reality is the soul. Modes are in a continual state of change. Let's analyse the concept of mode. At the very moment of birth, does a child die or not? In the very first moment, if he does not die, will he be immortal? The very moment a person is born, he begins to die.

Age can be considered in two ways. If you count from birth, a person's age is always increasing. However, if you count from death, his age is constantly reducing. These states are 'Mode'.

Death is also a Mode

During journey of life a person goes through many stages such as childhood, adulthood, old age and death. If a person leads an auspicious life with compassion and humility, it is highly probable he will get human birth again in his next life. Moreover, if one lives with spirituality and sadhana such as fasting etc., he will ultimately be happier in his next life too. After death, he will attain heavenly abode. On the other hand, a person who leads a very selfish life, full of ego and does not even practice penance will not achieve so. These are again various modes of the mundane soul.

In ancient times, Medata was a famous and prosperous city of Rajasthan. Once, Yogi Anandghanji visited there. As soon as people came to know of his arrival they just thronged there, not to hear the sermon, but to know the process of making gold. Anandghanji knew this process, but he was a spiritual man and followed Jain principles. He was a great yogi and also a lyricist. Songs composed by him are very spiritual. Gandhiji used to hum a song penned by him, Amar bhaye ham ab na marenge' People used to come to him when he was alone. They vehemently requested him to teach them the process of making gold. Anandghanji became perturbed and thought, 'Have I come here for this?'

Suddenly, he left for the forest, but even there he used to be surrounded by people. The king came to know of his miraculous powers. The king himself approached the yogi, bowed down to his feet and requested him for something.

Anandghanji asked him, 'You are a great king. You have everything. What more do you need?'

The king replied, 'I have a huge and vast empire. Alas! I have no son. Please bless me with a son.'

On his insistence Anandghanji thought that it would not be nice to send him back disappointed. He took a piece of paper, wrote something, folded it and said, 'Take it and tie it to the queen's hand. Furthermore, if you desire a son, you must control yourself and observe the following vows:

  1. From today, you will not go for hunting.
  2. You will not increase your subjects' taxes.
  3. You will restrain eating habits.
  4. You will have to abstain from non-vegetarian food.
  5. You must not tell a lie.'

The king accepted the five vows.

As time passed, the king was blessed with a son. He was overjoyed. As the son gradually grew up, the king wanted to take him to Anandghanji to take his blessings.

The king brought his son to the yogi and said, 'This is your gift.' Anandghanji said, 'No, this is not mine.'

The king reminded him of their last meeting and of the piece of paper he had given for the queen.

Anandghanji asked for the paper, opened it, and asked the king to read it. The words written on the paper was, 'If the king has a son, why should Anandghanji bother, and if the king does not have a son, why should Anandghanji bother?'

Reading this, the king was stunned. Anandghanji said, 'Oh King! You had a son only because you followed the vows and so your wish was granted.'

Science of Mode

Let's view this incident in this context - Every effort towards penance, observance of vow and self-restraint results in attaining merit. Fruition of merit always accompanies penance. If there is no penance, vows, and auspicious practices, how is it possible to enjoy the fruits of merit? The desire for various spiritual practices results in various modes of the souls. The modes of the soul keep changing with change in our mental and emotional state. Thus, they are infinite.

This concern of modes is very important. If we exclude the modes, then the domain of substance is limited. It is said that there are infinite souls in a space as small as an iota of an onion or a radish. The soul is very subtle, but its extension, due to modes, is unimaginable.

Take any pillar - what is it? It is the mode of matter and prithvikaay (earth-bodied) living being.

What is a human being? Is it a substance or a mode? It is a mode. Soul is a substance and its modes are constantly changing. The soul takes different forms, a man or an animal or a bird or a hellish or heavenly being. Therefore, each substance has infinite modes.

The Fundamental Substance

Soul is a fundamental substance and the various phases are modes. It is therefore necessary to understand modes. One, who comprehends modes and the fundamental substance, never feels sad. He knows -the soul had its existence in the past, it exists in present and will exist forever. Before birth, the soul was there. When a man is living, there is a soul and when a man dies, the soul goes into another life-form. The existence of the soul will never cease, only the body changes. We should not merely look at the body. Rather, we should look at the soul existing inside the body. When we look at the soul along with the body, there is neither sorrow nor attachment. This makes us realize a spiritual truth.

Hence, the understanding of nine tattvas and their modes is vital to practice spirituality.


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. 9 Tattvas
  2. Aagams
  3. Acharya
  4. Acharya Bhikshu
  5. Acharya Tulsi
  6. Anashan
  7. Anger
  8. Avasarpini
  9. Bandh
  10. Bhikshu
  11. Body
  12. Consciousness
  13. Darshan
  14. Dhyan
  15. Fasting
  16. Gandhiji
  17. Gati
  18. Jain Philosophy
  19. Jainism
  20. Karma
  21. Karmic matter
  22. Lakh
  23. Meditation
  24. Moksha
  25. Nine Tattvas
  26. Nirjara
  27. Pradesh
  28. Prakriti
  29. Rajasthan
  30. Sadhana
  31. Samvar
  32. Science
  33. Shravak
  34. Shravaks
  35. Soul
  36. Space
  37. Sthiti
  38. Sutra
  39. Tap
  40. Tattva
  41. Tattvas
  42. Tulsi
  43. Unodari
  44. Utsarpini
  45. Vinay
  46. Yog
  47. Yoga
  48. vrat
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