Chapter 20 – Nav Tattva Part II : Samvar, Nirjarä, and Moksha

Chapter 20 – Nav Tattva Part II : Samvar, Nirjarä, and Moksha

Chapter 20 – Nav Tattva Part II : Samvar, Nirjarä, and Moksha

(Prevention of Karmas, Eradication of Karmas and Liberation)

Samvar means prevention of the incoming Karmas

Nirjarä means the eradication of acquired Karmas

Both are to be resorted to and are therefore considered Upädeya.  We should continually strive to achieve Samvar and Nirjarä.   They are meant to guide us in adopting the right conduct. After all, the purpose of studying religion is to learn the appropriate mode of behavior so as to attain salvation in the end.   Samvar and Nirjarä describe the ways one can use to prevent the Karmic bondage and to get rid of Karmas in order to gain liberation.  If bondage of Karma is considered a disease that afflicts the soul and Äsrava the door through which the disease enters, Samvar is the prevention of the disease and Nirjarä is the cure.   Since prevention is better than cure, let us first examine how to prevent the influx of Karmas.

Samvar (Prevention of Karmas)

It has been stated earlier that a living being happens to be in various situations due to its Karmas.   One has to accept the given situation with a sense of equanimity.   If he views it dispassionately without in any way reacting to it, operative Karmas are exhausted in due course and he does not acquire new Karma.   Worldly soul is however conditioned to react to any given situation favorably or unfavorably.   If the situation is to his  liking, he feels happy over it and craves for its continuation.  He usually tends to think that the happy situation is a result of his efforts and takes pride  for it.   He may also think that people who are unhappy, have to blame themselves for their miseries; because in his opinion they  lack or do not put enough effort into improving their condition.   As such, his success may lead him to such a level of pride and grandiosity that it would be hard for him to cultivate a sense of compassion for the miseries and unhappiness of others.   His arrogance may also make him prone to develop a sense of disgust and contempt for the miserable.

If the situation is not to one’s liking, the person feels unhappy and strives to make it better. There is nothing wrong in striving to improve a given situation.   Unfortunately people do not mind resorting to foul means for this purpose.   An ordinary person usually tends to think that some extraneous factors or some people have contrived to create the unhappy conditions or they  are  otherwise  instrumental  in  bringing  unhappiness  and  misery  to  him.    As  such,  he harbors ill feeling for them and cultivates a sense of jealousy or hostility towards those whom he suspects of being responsible for his misery or unhappiness.   Thus, an ordinary person is conditioned to interact to any given situation with a sense of craving or aversion.

Wrong perception, absence of restraint, indolence and passions are the main causes of the influx of Karmas.   Craving and aversion lead people to indulge in such defilements from time to time.   Of all these, the four Kashäyas of Krodha, Mäna, Maya and Lobha are the principal defiling factors.   If the soul avoids them, it can stay in equanimity in all-conceivable situations. It can prevent the influx of new Karmas while facing the consequences of the current operative Karmas.   This is similar to closing all openings of our house when dirt and trash happen to be flung inside due to a tornado.   Staying in equanimity may not be as easy as closing the doors.   It should not however be too difficult, and it does not mean that one should not make an effort to change a given situation.   Making effort is also Karma and if that Karma happens to give instant results, the situation may change.   One should avoid the sense of pride and arrogance in favorable circumstances and stop blaming anything or anybody else for unfavorable  circumstances.    In  short,  one  should  have  the  right  perception  so  as  to  avoid indulging in Kashäyas in all circumstances.   Staying free of Kashäyas is Samvar and it helps prevent the inflow of new Karmas.

The method that stops fresh karma from attaching into the soul is called Samvar.  This process is a reverse process of Äsrava.   It can be accomplished by constant practice of :

Right belief

Observance of vows



Peacefulness of vibratory activities

57 Ways of Samvar

Jain literature explains 57 practical ways, a person can stop the influx of karma.

5           Samitis               Carefulness

3           Guptis                Preservation

10         Yati Dharma     Religious Virtues

12         Bhävanä            Reflections or Thoughts

22         Parishaha         Subduing of Suffering

5           Chäritra             Conduct



Five Samitis (Carefulness) :   Samitis purify the actions

Iryä Samiti                                   Proper care in walking

Bhäshä Samiti                             Proper care in speaking

Eshanä Samiti                             Proper care in begging

Ädäna Nikshepa Samiti             Proper care in taking and keeping

Utsarga Samiti                            Proper care in disposing waste


Three Guptis (Preservations) :     Guptis prohibits sinful activities

Mano Gupti                                  Proper control over Mind

Vachan Gupti                               Proper control over Speech

Käya Gupti                                   Proper control over Body


Ten Yati Dharma (Religious Virtues) :

Kshamä                                           Forbearance, Forgiveness

Märdava                                         Modesty, Humility

Ärjava                                             Straightforwardness, Candor

Shaucha                                         Contentment

Satya                                               Truthfulness

Samyam                                         Self-restraint, Control of Senses

Tapa                                                Austerity, Penance

Tyäg                                                Renunciation

Akinchanya                                   Non-attachment

Brahmacharya                              Celibacy, Chastity

Twelve Reflections (Thoughts, Bhävanä, or Anuprekshä) :

Anitya Bhävanä                           Impermanence of the world

Asharan Bhävanä                        No one provides protection

Samsara Bhävanä                       No permanent relationships in the universe

Ekatva Bhävanä                          Solitude of the soul

Anyatva Bhävanä                        Separateness

Asuci Bhävanä                            Impurity of the body

Äsrava Bhävanä                          Influx of karma

Samvar Bhävanä                         Stoppage of influx of karma

Nirjarä Bhävanä                          Shedding of karma

Loka Bhävanä                             Transitoriness of the universe

Bodhi-durlabha Bhävanä             Unattainability of the right faith, knowledge, and conduct

Dharma Bhävanä                   Unattainability of true preceptor, scriptures, and religion


Reflections on Universal Friendship   (additional reflections) :

Maitri                                             Amity

Pramod                                         Appreciation

Karunä                                         Compassion

Mädhyastha                                Equanimity

Twenty-two Parishaha :

A person should remain in the state of equanimity when hardship occurs in the life.  There are 22 types of hardships defined in the scripture.   Following are some examples :

Hunger, Thirst, Cold, Heat, Insect bites, Hearing of evil words, Diseases, etc.

Five Chäritra or Conduct :

To remain steady in a state of spiritual purity is called conduct or Chäritra.   Chäritra has been divided into the five classes depending upon the spirituality of an individual

Sämäyika Chäritra                              To remain in equanimity during our life

Chhedopasthäpana Chäritra               To live a life of an ascetic

Parihäravishuddhi-Chäritra                  To follow special types of penance as an ascetic

Sukshma-Samparäya-Chäritra              To live a life without any kashäy (No anger, greed, ego, deceit) as an ascetic

Yathäkhyäta or Vitaräga-Chäritra       Living life of an Arihant

Nirjarä (Eradication of Karmas)

Eradication of previously acquired Karma is Nirjarä.   This is similar to cleaning the inside of the house after closing the doors to prevent incoming dust, trash etc.   Previously acquired Karmas that become operative get exhausted as they mature.   When Karmas get exhausted on their own after giving the end results and no active effort was made to eradicate them, it is known as Akäm Nirjarä.   This type of Nirjarä is automatic.   Accumulated Karmas, which are not currently operative, continue to stay with the soul in a dormant state due to bondage. Efforts such as penance, austerity etc. can eradicate them before they become operative.  This process of eradication by deliberate effort is Sakäm Nirjarä.

Jain  scriptures  lay  a  considerable  emphasis  on  austerities,  i.e.  Tapa.    In  Tattvärtha-sutra, Ächärya Umäsväti states: ‘Tapasä Nirjarä Cha’ It means that Nirjarä can be achieved by Tapa or austerities.   Jains are therefore encouraged to perform Tapa.     Tapa is usually taken as and is equated with fasting.   Jains therefore fast longer to achieve Nirjarä.   It is generally overlooked that our scriptures have described 6 types of internal and 6 types of external Tapa. Fasting  is  only  one  of  them.    Three  stanzas  from  the  Panchächär  Sutra,  which  are  very pertinent in this respect, state as follows:

  • Internal and external Tapa laid down by the Seers is of 12 types. When they are observed while staying unperturbed and without any other consideration, it is known as Tapächär or code of austerity.
  • Fasting,  eating  less  than  needed,  curtailing  desires,  relinquishing  tasty  foods,  bearing physical pain and braving discomfort constitute the six types of external Tapa.
  • Repentance, reverence, rendering service, self-study, meditation and renunciation constitute the six types of internal Tapa.

When  we  talk  of  Tapa  as  a  means  for Nirjarä,  we  mean  internal  Tapa.    External  Tapa  is important as long as it is helpful and is conducive to internal Tapa.   In practice we hardly think of internal Tapa and usually feel content by observing fasts or Anashan, the first of the six external austerities.  Ashan means eating and Anashan means non-eating or fasting.  Thus eating and non-eating are physical phenomena.   As long as the body survives, it is going to need food.   The body can survive for some time without food.   One however tends to get conditioned to eating at regular intervals.   In order to inhibit this conditioning, it is useful to fast from time to time.   Thus fasting is also very important.

The term ‘Upaväs’ that we generally use for fasting is not synonymous with Anashan.   ‘Upa’ means closer and Väsmeans abode.   Thus Upaväs really means abiding in proximity with or in tune with the soul.   If a person sincerely tries to stay in accordance with the real nature of soul, he cannot indulge in any sense of craving or aversion.   As such, he would stay away from all defilements and achieve a very high level of Nirjarä.   Thus Upaväs in the true sense of the term amounts to right activity and is one of the important way to eradicate Karmas. We however hardly observe that kind of Upaväs.   It is wrong to believe that Upaväs can be observed simply by abstaining from food. When someone observes the penance of Upaväs, he should spend his day in meditation, prayers, and spiritual activities.

As previously mentioned Jain scriptures define twelve ways to perform austerities, which are the principal ways to achieve Nirjarä. These are further categorized six external and six internal austerities.

External austerities

  • Anashan (Not eating for a set period of time)
  • Unodari (Eating less than needed)
  • Vrutti-sankshep (Eating within the limits of predetermined restrictions) Material – Eat only a certain number of items

Area – Eat only within limits of a certain area

Time – Eat only at certain time

Mode – Eat food obtained or made only by certain means

  • Ras-tyäg (Eating non-tasty food – example. Äyambil Tap)
  • Käyä-klesha (Penance, tolerating physical pain voluntarily)
  • Sanlinatä (Staying in forlorn place and occupying minimum space)

Types of External Austerities (Tapasyäs)

External austerities are practiced various ways depending upon individual capacity. Following is the list of some Tapasyäs.

Navakärashi     One must take food or water forty-eight minutes after sunrise.   Even brushing teeth and rinsing the mouth must be done after sunrise.

Porsi                        Taking food or water three hours after sunrise                                                                  .

Sädh-Porsi              Taking f ood or water four hours and thirty minutes after  sunrise.

Purimuddha             Taking food or water six hours after sunrise.

Avadhdh                  Taking food or water nine hours after sunrise.


Biyäsan                    Taking food twice a day while sitting in one place.

Ekäsan                    Taking food only once while sitting in one  place.

Äyambil                    Taking food only once in one sitting.   The food should not have any taste or spices and should be boiled or cooked.  Also, one should not use milk, curds, ghee, oil, sweets, sugar or jaggery and green or raw vegetables.

Upaväs                    One must not take any food for twenty-four hours starting from sunrise to sunrise the next day.

Tivihär Upaväs       One may drink only boiled water during Upaväs.

Chauvihär Upaväs  One does not even drink water during Upaväs.

Tivihär                      After sunset no food or juice shall be taken, but one may take water once before going to bed.

Chauvihär                After sunset no food or water is taken until sunrise the next day.

Chhath                     Upaväs for two consecutive days.

Attham                     Upaväs for three consecutive days.

Atthai                       Upaväs for eight consecutive days.

Mäsakshaman         Consecutive Upaväs for one month.

Navapad Oli            Every year for 9 days starting from the 6/7th day of the bright fortnight until the full moon day in Ashwin and Chaitra months, one does Äyambil. These Äyambils can also be restricted to only one kind of food grain per day.

Varsitap                   Alternate day Upaväs for one year

In Ekäsan, Biyäsan, Äyambil, or Upaväs one can drink boiled water only and only between sunrise and sunset.   It is better if one can do a Chauvihär or Tivihär on the night before starting these austerities.  If any of the austerities allow food, one shall not take raw vegetables, anything, which grows underground, or raw grains while performing such austerities.

Internal austerities

  • Präyashchitta (Repentance or remorse)
  • Vinay (Humility, Respect for others)
  • Veyävachcham (Selfless service to monks, nuns and needy)
  • Swädhyäy (Study of religious scriptures)
  • Dhyäna (Meditation)
  • Käyotsarga (Renunciation of body)

Moksha (Liberation)

Moksha or liberation is the last of the 9 fundamentals.   It is also known as Mukti, salvation or emancipation.   Moksha is the liberation of the soul after complete exhaustion or elimination of all karmas.  A liberated soul regains totally its original attributes of perfect knowledge, perfect vision, perfect power, and total bliss.   It climbs to the top of universe (Lokäkäsh) and remains their forever in its blissful and unconditional existence.   It never returns again into the cycles of birth, life, and death.   This state of the soul is the liberated or perfect state, and this is called “Nirvana.”


Jainism  does  not  believe in  a  Creator. All  liberated  souls  are  Gods  according  to  Jainism.  However, since Tirthankars show us and lead us to the path of liberation, they are considered Gods (before their total liberation from karmas) to whom we pray and revere.   Tirthankars have said that nothing can be created out of nothing and the original substances or matter, as science would call it, is indestructible.   Every such substance exists of its own, with its own properties and continues to exist in one form or another.   Whatever products we come across are merely transformations, not creations.   They are produced out of something that existed before.  Jainism believes in six original substances of which soul is the only conscious substance.   Jainism is concerned with the soul’s well being and happiness.   All living beings are embodied souls.   Every soul is an independent entity and has been undergoing cycles of birth and death as a result of the bondage of Karma.

For liberation of the soul, Jainism does not look for whim or favor of an Almighty.   Its concept of liberation is totally different.   Material or situational happiness is not everlasting.  True happiness  lies  within  the  soul.    Whatever  happiness  we  experience  in  life  is  due  to  the existence of the soul within the body.   No dead body has ever experienced happiness or any other feeling.   It is not the property of the physical body to experience anything.   Happiness is the inherent property of the soul.  This inherent happiness does not manifest itself on account of physical and mental limitations resulting from the bondage of Karma.  Everlasting happiness can manifest itself when soul shakes off all its bondage.

For this purpose we study the nature of soul, the bondage of Karmas that obscure and obstruct the manifestation of its inherent properties, and how to shake off the bondage.   We saw that the soul is a substance on its own.   It is eternal. It acquires bondage on account of Äsrava of  Karmas  that  can  be  prevented  by  Samvar  and  eradicated  by  Nirjarä.    This  eradication process has two stages.   The State of omniscience or Kevaljnän is attained when one totally overcomes delusion and all Ghäti or defiling Karmas are destroyed. .  After attaining Kevaljnän one may continue to live if he still has to destroy Äyu, Näm, Gotra and Vedaniya Karmas. These four are Aghäti Karmas that are destroyed only upon death. For instance, Lord Mahävir lived for 30 years after attaining Kevaljnän.

With the destruction of Aghäti Karmas, the soul attains ultimate liberation.   This is the final state which is known as the state of Siddha.   Since there is no more Karmic bondage, the soul is forever freed from the cycle of birth and death.   It is now a pure a consciousness whose nature of infinite enlightenment and infinite happiness manifests by itself, because there are no longer any factors that obstruct or inhibit its full manifestation.  Even a casual reflection of  our  routine  experience  would  indicate  that  desire  is  the  cause  of  all  miseries,  problems and unhappiness.   In the liberated state, where there is no body, there are no requirements, and  hence  there  is  an  eternal  happiness.    That  state  of  no  desire  is  the  blissful  state  of liberation.

Until the soul gets rid of all Karma, it has to continually go through the cycle of birth and rebirth.   Arihantas  are destined to be liberated and Siddhas  have achieved salvation.   We therefore  worship  them.    In  common  parlance,  they  are  Jain  Gods.    They  do  not  bestow liberation or any other favoron worshippers.   Liberation is to be gained by one’s own efforts.  Listening to the teachings of Arihantas, provide directions for attaining liberation.   Devotion to them and to Siddhas simply  provides incentive for the aspirants to  strive for the attainment of ultimate happiness.   They serve as ideals for devotees.

It is natural to question: ‘What is the form and shape of the liberated soul?’ ‘Where does it stay,  move,  rest  or  sleep?’ “What  does  it  do?’ Answers  are  simple.    Not  being  a  physical entity, it has no form; it does not move and does not need rest or sleep.   Being intangible, its shape is invisible; but the seers have stated that its size and shape would be equal to 2/3rd the size and shape of the one in the last life immediately prior to liberation.   Now being free of all bondage, it rises up in space and stops at the top of Lokäkäsh.   That part of the space is known in Jain terminology as Siddhashilä, the abode of liberated souls.   Beyond that it is Alokäkäsh where there is no Dharmästikäya.   So there is no movement beyond that point. Liberated souls continually stay engrossed in their true nature of infinite knowledge, infinite perception, infinite energy, and infinite bliss.   That state is permanent.

Now,  let  us  use  a  simple  analogy  to  illustrate  these  Tattvas.    There  lived  a  family  in  a farmhouse.   They were enjoying a fresh cool breeze coming through the open doors and windows.   The weather suddenly changed, and a terrible dust storm set in.   Realizing it was a bad storm, they got up to close the doors and windows.   Before they could close all the doors and windows, lots of dust came into the house.  After closing all the doors and windows, they started cleaning away the dust that had come into the house.

We can interpret this simple illustration in terms of Nine Tattvas as follows:

1. Jivs are represented by the

2. Ajiv is represented by the

3. Punya is represented by worldly enjoyment resulting from the nice cool

4. Päp is represented by worldly discomfort resulting from the sandstorm which brought dust into the

5. Äsrava is represented by the influx of dust through the doors and windows of the house, which is similar to the influx of Karma particles to the soul.

6. Bandha is represented by the accumulation of dust in the house, which is similar to bondage of Karma particles to the

7. Samvar is represented by the closing of the doors and windows to stop the dust from coming into the house, which is similar to the stoppage of influx of Karma particles to the

8. Nirjarä is represented by the cleaning up of accumulated dust from the house, which is similar to shedding off accumulated karmic particles from the soul.

9. Moksha is represented by the clean house, which is similar to the shedding of all karmic particles from the soul. 











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