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Who is a Jain Shravak: 9.2 Nine Tattvas– II

Published: 14.02.2020

Nirjara: A Maxim of Progress

What brings progress? Nirjara brings progress and achievement. For example, nirjara of gyaanaavarniya karma (knowledge-obscuring karma) leads to achievement of knowledge. Nirjara of antaraay karma (hindrance producing karma) helps in developing energy. Nirjara of mohaniya karma (deluding karma) aids in attainment of bliss.

Nirjara sheds the karmas, whereas samvar inhibits the incoming of new karma. Karmas are very subtle and none can perceive them. If a person could perceive the web of karmas accumulated within him, he would be shocked and become restless. Therefore, it is necessary to shed the karmas through penance.


It is the eighth tattva. The relation between jiva and karma is bandh. The question arises whether jiva gets attached to karma or karma gets attached to jiva? The answer to this question can be found in the text Shad-darshan Samuchchay. Acharya Haribhadra has written in it:

bandho jivasya karmanah,
anyonyaanugmaatma tu yah sambandho dvayorapi.

The bondage is the relationship of oneness between jiva and karma.

Jiva (sentient being) and karma particles are separate. Assimilation of karmic matter with the soul, i.e. mutual coalescence like the blending of milk and water, is called bondage. Milk and water do not lose their intrinsic identity, even though they are assimilated as one. Likewise, karma particles and spatial points of the soul, maintain their separate identities. As long as they stay assimilated, this state of assimilation is called bandh.

When karma particles and soul come into contact they blend. For example, when an iron ball is heated to a high temperature, it becomes a fire ball, i.e. fire and iron become one. There is not a single point in the ball where they both do not exist. Both co-exist at every single point. Similarly, the spatial points of karma and the spatial points of the soul become one. This oneness of jiva and karma particles is termed as bondage.

There are three stages of karma particles (karma vargana) - karma praayogya pudgal (basic units of karma) - pudgal (matter) which have the capacity of being karma but have not been attracted yet by the soul. When karma lpraayogya pudgal are pulled, they become karma, and after elimination through nirjara they turn into no-karma (annihilated particles).

Who is Free from Bondage?

Who do you think is not bound? Many people think - 'I am free-minded. I have my independent point of view. I do not get influenced by others. I don't fall prey to misconception. So, I am free.'

In fact, no social being is independent. Man is dependent, his soul is bound also. If a person says that he is free - he is living with a false belief.

One evening, a few people came and asked, 'Are we dependent or independent?' I answered, 'We are both dependent and independent.'

I explained through an illustration. Once, Ali asked Mohammed Sahab, 'Tell me, am I dependent or independent?' Mohammed Sahab asked him to stand up and Ali stood up. Then Ali was asked to raise one leg and move it little forward. He did as he was instructed. Then he was asked to raise his other leg also. He said, 'I will fall down if I raise the other leg too. How can I move it forward?' To this Mohammed Sahab replied, 'You are independent in standing up and raising one leg but dependent in raising both.'

It is quite true that every individual is dependent as well as independent. None of the worldly souls, who are bound with karma, are absolutely independent. Jain Acharyas have explained it beautifully. A person climbing a coconut tree has free will in climbing up, but dependent in climbing down. He has two choices in climbing up. The first is Yes and the second is No. But, after going up he has just one choice of coming down and he has to come down whether he likes or not. Take another example, a feast is arranged. You are offered a heavy and spicy meal. You are independent in eating, but not in digesting it. If the intestines are damaged, the digestive system is weak, and you have eaten a heavy dessert, what will happen?

Naturopaths say that eating such rich foods is like eating mercury. You eat it, because the tongue likes it and this is of course your free will. But in digestion, you are dependent.

Can anyone be completely independent in this world? An Acharya of Terapanth is the supreme head with all the authorities, but even an Acharya has to abide by so many restrictions and regulations. He also has to follow the rules explained in Aagam, norms made by previous Acharyas, religious traditions and devotee's considerations. He has to be aware of his predefined protocol constantly. An ordinary sadhu can go alone anywhere he wants to, but if the Acharya does so, people will say, 'O Gurudev! There are no saints with you. How are you moving alone?' This is how an Acharya of Terapanth is bound with protocol.

Multiplicity of Bondages

Once a monk came to Acharya Kalugani and said, 'I don't like this particular monk.' Kalugani replied, 'You might not like him, but I require him because I would not be able to do any work without monks. I need them when I get up, sit down, and for everything.' An unthoughtful person might say that he does not want 'that' sadhu, sadhvi or samani, but an Acharya cannot say so. There are so many restrictions. Hence no person can be completely independent or dependent.

We should accept the fact that bondage is in multiplicity which causes dependency. A person while chanting mantras, suddenly gets a train of thoughts. He starts thinking about the price of shares, gold, silver etc. Now the mantras are left behind and he gets entangled in the prices. Immediately, he stops chanting and gets lost in his thoughts. Is he truly independent in thinking? If he would have been independent, he would have followed his resolution of chanting. Likewise, within us there are various forms of dependencies (or bondages). Therefore, one cannot focus on the work at hand.

Why is Mind Unstable?

In Rajaldesar, there was an unstable-minded man belonging to 'sevag' tribe. He was working for other people. One day, he was given a bag by someone to get vegetables from the market. As he was leaving, another person requested him to buy grains. On seeing this, the third person said, 'Since you are going to the market, please buy the oil tin for me.' When the man was passing by, one lady standing at her door and looking for someone to help, said, 'There is some urgent work. Please get my daughter back from Ratangarh'.The man then left for Ratangarh in the bus, carrying the empty bags for vegetable and grains, and an empty tin for oil. All people kept waiting for him.

When mind is in an unstable state, one can take on several responsibilities at the same time without thinking about how to complete them. Often one commences one task and without completing it jumps to another one. Consequently, none of the tasks are completed. This instability of mind is due to inner bondage of karma.

Moksha (Emancipation)

Moksha is the ninth element. Until and unless these bondages are eliminated or rectified, the problem of passions and instability persists. Continuous nirjara or rectification will one day result in the complete purification of the soul. Consciousness will then become free from the friction of duality (dvandv) caused by karma. In the absence of duality bondage does not exist.

Friction of duality implies conflict due to two things in proximity. Conflict does not arise if there is just one entity. In the worldly state, the soul is always accompanied by karma. This state of duality of soul and karma becomes the basis for bondage. Beyond the state of duality is the state of absolute oneness. As soon as karma is totally eradicated, duality ceases and only the soul remains. The soul achieves a state of freedom and independence. Thereafter, bondage can never occur for that soul. This pure and single state of soul is moksha (emancipation). Moksha is nothing but getting free from the bondages.

In Jain literature, we find many synonyms of moksha such as siddhi, apavarg etc. siddhi means to achieve the goal and apavarg means without any division or classification. Since, moksha is the ultimate goal and there is no classification or diversity in the emancipated souls, it is also known as siddhi and apavarg.

This was a brief elucidation of the nine tattvas. Amongst them, eight can be paired as follows: jiva-ajiva, punya-paap, aashrav-samvar, and bandh-nirjara. Moksha stands alone tattva because it is a state of non-duality of the pure 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. Aagam
  2. Acharya
  3. Acharya Haribhadra
  4. Acharya Kalugani
  5. Acharyas
  6. Bandh
  7. Consciousness
  8. Gurudev
  9. Haribhadra
  10. Jiva
  11. Kalugani
  12. Karma
  13. Karmas
  14. Karmic matter
  15. Mohaniya
  16. Mohaniya Karma
  17. Moksha
  18. Nine Tattvas
  19. Nirjara
  20. Pudgal
  21. Rajaldesar
  22. Ratangarh
  23. Sadhu
  24. Sadhvi
  25. Samani
  26. Samvar
  27. Siddhi
  28. Soul
  29. Tattva
  30. Tattvas
  31. Terapanth
  32. Vargana
  33. no-karma
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