Jain Philosophy (2) 16 – Äsrava (Influx of Karma)

Jain Philosophy (2) 16 – Äsrava (Influx of Karma)

Jain Philosophy (2) 16 – Äsrava (Influx of Karma)

Äsrava (Inflow of Karma)

Inflow of Karma towards soul is called Äsrava.  Äsrava and Bandha are the causes for the cycle of birth and death; while Samvar and Nirjarä are the means of liberation.

The entire universe is full of karmic matter.  The inflow of karmic matter into a soul takes place because of the soul’s worldly activities.  Through soul’s mental, vocal and bodily activities the karmic matter is attracted towards the soul, and is bound with it. Since worldly soul continually stays involved in one or another activity, the resulting Karma continue to flow towards it. Äsrava of Karma continues to occur more or less incessantly.  The auspicious activities cause the bondage of auspicious karma (Shubha Äsrava) and inauspicious activities cause the bondage of inauspicious karma (Ashubha Äsrava).

The auspicious or inauspicious character of bodily or vocal activities depends on the auspicious or inauspicious character of the accompanying mental operation or state. The main cause of the bondage of auspicious or inauspicious karmic matter with soul is mental activity.

Five Causes of Äsrava

The Jiva possesses 10 vitalities (Präna); which are five sense organs, the powers of the body, speech and mind; vitality pertaining to lifespan; and the power of respiration. The good use of these 10 vitalities (Präna) the Jiva is bound by Shubha Karma and misuse of these 10 vitalities (Präna) the Jiva is bound by Ashubha Karma.

In the scriptures, different tendencies and mental dispositions of the form of defects like false belief (Mithyätva); Vowlessness (Avirati), Negligence (Pramäda), Passions (Kashäya), and Yoga (activity of body, speech, and mind) have been considered as five factors for the causes of the influx as well as bondage of karma.

Mithyätva (False Belief):

Mithyätva (False Belief or Delusion) – it means having a faith in a false God (Kudeva), wrong Guru (Kuguru) and wrong Dharma (Kudharma), is Mithyatva. 

  • Kudeva (False God) is who has attachment, hatred, desire, anger, miserliness, ridiculing propensity, fear, ignorance etc.  
  • Kuguru: (Wrong teacher) one who does not practice non violence, truthfulness, non_stealing, celibacy and non_possessiveness, who keeps with him, wealth and woman, makes others keep them; approves such actions, such a person is a wrong teacher (Kuguru).
  • Kudharma (False Religion) is that, which is devoid of Samyag Darshan (Right Faith), Samyag Jnän (Right Knowledge) and Samyag Chäritra, (Right Conduct), which does not explain the real nature of Jiva and Ajiva and which deems it right to enjoy sensory pleasures, to have passions and does not teach to avoid sins.
  • Having faith in such a God, Guru (guide) and Dharma; having partiality for them; and interest in them constitutes Mithyätva.Mithyätva is of two types:

    Agrahita Mithyätva (Inherited from past lives):

    Soul inherits this Mithyätva from time immemorial (previous lives). Hence this state is found in living organisms, all one to four sense beings and Asanjni Panchendriya that have not attained to a higher stage of development.

    Grahita Mithyätva (Acquires in this life):

    Soul inherits this Mithyätva from teachings of scriptures and teachers who do not have proper teachings of soul, Karma, and their relationship with true belief. Grahita Mithyätva solidifies Agrahita Mithyätva.

Five types of Grahita or acquired Mithyätva: Äbhigrahika Mithyätva (Absolutist or One sided view):

This belief involves a one sided view, a person deviates from multiplicity points of view. Like one believes that soul is always pure or soul is always impure, rather then examining various points of view one sticks to one sided or fanatic view, which are either pre conceived or with out proper examination of other point of view.

If a person critically examines a doctrine, finds it true, accepts it and refutes others, then he is not considered as a person afflicted with Äbhigrahika Mithyätva. However if a person does not examine the views but accepts them without critical examination as to their merits and demerits, then he is surely afflicted with it.  Thus, Äbhigrahika Mithyätva is obstinate and uncritical clinging to preconceived notions and inherited views.

Äbhiniveshika or Viparita Mithyätva (Perverse or prejudicial faith):

This involves intentionally or knowingly sticking to a wrong belief. In other words, it is one’s attachment to a wrong view in spite of one’s knowledge that it is wrong. For example, God can help rid off some ones misery or can give some one a job or wealth, monks can have money, monks can have women, and God will be pleased if I sacrifice a certain thing.

Sämshayika or Samshay Mithyätva (Skepticism about the spiritual truths):

Doubting or being skeptical about the Dharma, the path shown by the omniscient is or is not conducive to spiritual good. Such a person cannot decide what is right and what is wrong, soul is the doer of his own actions or doer of others actions.

Anäbhigrahika or Vinaya Mithyätva (Egalitarian – faith in false Dharma):

In this view one respectfully accepts that all religions are equal and are true.  One may believe that all religions are true even though they are contradictory. Here one accepts all views as true without the examination as to their merits and demerits He/she has a non_discriminatory attitude. He/she thinks all religions are equal  and acceptable. This type of Mithyätva is found in all the lax persons who are unable to examine and evaluate the views.


Anäbhogika or Ajnän Mithyätva (Agnostic, ignorance, or lack of knowledge):

Anäbhogika Mithyätva means incapacity of the mind to think and lack of special knowledge. In other words, it is the state of intense ignorance or nescience. In this state, one cannot distinguish between right and wrong and cannot have the right understanding. In this state, he/she does not know that other living beings have an equal soul as we have. It is also found in beings under intense influence of delusion.  Some authors indicate that Agrahita Mithyätva is also Anäbhogika Mithyätva.

To have an opposite belief about the nine fundamentals (Nava_tattva) is called Mithyätva. To believe truth as falsehood, to believe the falsehood as the truth, to consider the means of true happiness as the means of unhappiness, and those of unhappiness as the means of happiness constitute the wrong belief – Mithyätva.  Pudgal (material objects) is the root cause of unhappiness but we treat material objects as the cause of happiness; and that is Mithyätva.

Characteristics of a person having Mithyätva:

  • To believe in non_religion as religion and religion as non_religion
  • To believe the Samyag (proper) path of liberation as the wrong path and the wrong path as the path of liberation
  • To believe the non_living matter as the living beings and the living beings as the non_living matters
  • To believe in the false ascetics as the true ascetics and the true ascetics as the false ascetics
  • To believe in the non_liberated as the liberated ones and the liberated ones as the non_liberated ones

Because of the wrong belief, Jiva continuously acquires non_virtuous Karma (Päp). Unless one gets rid of his Mithyätva, he will not be able to adopt the right conduct and begin the process of Samvar (stoppage of influx of Karma).  Because of Mithyätva, the Jiva is trapped in the cycle of birth and death since time without beginning.  The major reason for getting non_virtuous Karma is Mithyätva.  Because of Mithyätva, Jiva is unable to recognize his true self – his soul, he is unable to see the difference between the body and the soul, he is incapable of making spiritual progress, he cannot reduce his passions (Kashäya), and he continues to acquire Karma.

Avirati (Vowless State):

Avirati or vowless state means not taking any vow to abstain from sinful activities. Even though we may not commit sins, the absence of vows is a cause for the bondage of Karma. Not taking a vow even though not having a desire to commit sin causes the bondage of Karma. If one does not want to commit a sin, then why should he/she hesitate to take a vow to that effect? If we closely examine the deeper aspects of the minds and hearts of people who do not take vows, we find that they have a desire or leave the door open for wrong desire. The mind thinks; “Though I will not commit this sin, sometimes, by force of circumstances, I may have to commit it. I may commit such a sin. If I take a vow, I will have to face a serious difficulty. So, let it be, as it is; let me not take any vow”. Therefore, one should take the vows according to his capacity. Avirati or the absence of vows gives way to the pleasures of the senses. The desire for material objects is Avirati.  A vowless state leads to an unrestrained life, and that results in acquisition of Karma.

Pramäda (Negligence):

Pramäda is mainly of five kinds – arrogance, sensory cravings, passions (Kashäya), sleep and engaging in gossiping. In addition, attachment, hatred, ignorance, doubt, illusion, forgetfulness, and other evil activities are the outcome of Pramäda. Indiligence and indifference for true Dharma also constitute the Pramäda.  Even after a person takes all necessary vows and becomes a Sädhu, he/she may be subjected to Pramäda from time to time. This state is called Pramatta and when one tota lly avoids Pramäda, he becomes an Apramatta Mahämuni. It is more often that a Jain Sädhu goes back and forth from Apramatta State to Pramatta State. Pramäda prevents the soul from contemplating about its true nature.  One has Pramäda even in the sixth Gunasthäna, but there is no Pramäda in the seventh and higher Gunasthäna. Pramäda is the door for entrance of Karma. Since time without beginning, Jiva has stayed in Pramäda. He has not been inspired to undertake spiritual activities.  For instance, not having inclination to do Sämäyika or Swädhyäy is a sign of Pramäda.


Kashäya (Passions):

Kasha denotes Samsär (material world, cycles of birth and death, world of misery) and Äya means gain.  As anger, ego, deceit, and greed keep us in Samsär (cycles of birth and death), and keep us miserable, they are called Kashäya.  Kashäya is the main cause of the bondage of Karma.  One’s Kashäya determines the duration and intensity of the bondage of Karma. Depending upon its intensity, each Kashäya is divided into four groups

Anantänu_bandhi (Life_Long) Kashäya:

This Kashäya binds the soul with Karma which last long time and therefore leads to endless Samsär.  This Kashäya usually lasts more than 12 months to one life or even many lives. It adds bondage to the existing bondage and impels the cycle of life and death to go on endlessly. A person with this kind of Kashäya is in the state of Mithyätva. The intensity of this Kashäya keeps the Jiva under its impact so that he/she will not even have rational thinking and hence right perception.  The Jiva under the influence of this Kashäya commits sins like violence and other evil activities without fear and hesitation.  People with this Kashäya do not have faith (or Samyaktva) in Tattvas. Therefore, Anantänu_bandhi Kashäyas are extremely harmful. Once a person destroys this type of Kashäya then he can develop faith in the Tattvas. However, if the Anantänu_bandhi Kashäya rises again, it destroys the right faith.

Apratyäkhyäniya (Non_Renunciatory) Kashäya:

This Kashäya binds the soul with Karma which lasts at least 4 months to 12 months. A person under the influence of this Kashäya has the right belief but has not yet taken vows to minimize sinful and unnecessary activities.  By taking minor vows, he/she overcomes this Kashäya

Pratyäkhyäna_ävaran (Partially Renunciatory) Kashäya:

This Kashäya binds the soul with Karma which lasts more than 15 days to 4 months. A person under influence of this Kashäya, has the right belief, has taken minor vows to minimize sinful and unnecessary activities but has not taken great vows.

Sanjvalan (Totally Renunciatory) Kashäya:

This Kashäya is of a subtle kind and binds the soul with Karma which lasts less than 15 days. In this stage, an individual takes total vows and becomes an ascetic.

There are four main degrees of intensity corresponding to the four Kashäya – Anantänu_bandhi  Kashäya, Apratyäkhyäni Kashäya, Pratyäkhyäni Kashäya and Sanjvalan Kashäya.

Kashaya Passion Krodha Anger Mana Ego Maya Deceit Lobha Greed Defiling Attribute Duration 
Anantanu_bandhi (Life long)  Line in rock Stone Pillar  Bamboo Root Fast color Samyaktva (Right Faith) One life to many
Apratyakhyana (Non_renunciatory) Line in earth Bone Horn of a ram Grease Desha_virati (Partial renunciatory) Up to one year
Pratyakhyana Line in sand Wood Zigzag line of water Mud Sarva_virati (Total renunciatory) 4 months
Sanjvalan (Total renunciatory) Line in water Cane Shaving of wood water color Yathakhyata (Natural or as suppose to be) 15 days

Nokashäya (subsidiary Kashaya)

Subsidiary Kashäyas are the Kashaya that helps to bring passions of anger, pride deceit and greed.  These Kashäyas arise in the form of attachment, hatred, enmity (animosity), hostility, arrogance, craftiness, tricker lust, greed, possessive propensity (Partiality), Laughing (Häsya), improper liking (Rati), improper dislike (Arati), sorrow (Shoka), fear (Bhaya), disgust (Jugupsä) and sensuous craving for males, females or both.  They are the milder forms of Kashäya and are known as Nokashäya (subsidiary Kashäya).  They generate and intensify other Kashäyas.

Prashasta or praiseworthy Kashäya:

However in Jain scripture, some forms of feeling of passions (Kashäya) are considered praiseworthy (Prashasta). For example anger and aversion towards own sinful deeds and negligence, greediness for virtues and spiritual progress, pride for the adherence to the religion and use of sense organs in pursuit of Samyag Jnän, Darshan, and Chäritra are regarded helpful. They are regarded as praiseworthy passions (Prashasta Kashäya).

Kashäya and Gunasthänak:

One experiences Kashäya even in the tenth Gunasthäna, and that remains in existence (Sattä) up to the eleventh Gunasthäna.  In the tenth Gunasthäna, only Sanjvalan Lobha (subtle greed) remains and Jiva does not acquire additional delusive (Mohaniya) Karma. Kashäya is the internal defilement of the soul. Jiva gets rid of all delusive (Mohaniya) Karma in the 12th Gunasthänak and, in this Gunasthänak, he/she eradicates the remaining three Ghäti karma – knowledge obscuring, perception obscuring and energy obstructing Karma in less than 48 minutes, enters the 13th Gunasthänak and becomes Vitaräga (Keval_jnäni). In 11th Gunasthänak, Jiva only suppresses all delusion producing karma and falls down from this level in less than 48 minutes. Therefore, Kashäya is the major and practically only hindrance to Moksha.

Yoga (Activities):

The activities of mind (Mana), speech (Vachan) and body (Käyä) of the Jiva are called Yogas. There are three main types of and 15 subtypes of yoga.

Mana Yoga (Yoga of Mind or Thought Process):

There are four types of Mind Yoga:

  • Satya_mano_yoga (Truthful): It means thinking of truth as things are (thinking of an object or its condition as it is in itself).  For instance, thinking like “Moksha can be attained only by having right faith and right knowledge accompanied with right conduct.”
  • Asatya_mano_yoga (False): This means thinking of falsehood or opposite (thinking of a thing or its condition in a way that is totally opposite to or different from what it is in itself). For example, thinking, “Activities and austerities are unnecessary for attaining Moksha”.
  • Mishra_mano_yoga (Partial Truth): This is mixed thinking. It involves both partial truth and partial falsehood. For example, thinking like, ‘Knowledge itself is enough to attain Moksha”.
  • Vyavahär_mano_yoga (Worldly day to day thoughts): In this kind of thinking, there is neither truth nor falsehood. It relates to thinking about some routine affair like saying to some person: “You must get up early in the morning”.

Vachan_yoga (Yoga of Speech):

Vachan_yoga (activity of speech) has also four forms; such as

  • Speaking the truth about an object is Sat_vachan_yoga.
  • Speaking lies is Asat_vachan_yoga.
  • Saying something, which is partly true and partly untrue, is Sat_asat_vachan_yoga.
  • Daily utterances like “You go.  You come, etc.” are Vyavahär_vachan_yoga

Käya_yoga (Yoga of Body):

There are seven kinds of Käya_yoga or seven types of physical body exist among living beings:

Audärika Body: Human beings and other beings like animals, birds, insects, and plants have the Audärika body.

Vaikriya Body: The heavenly beings and the inhabitants of hell have the Vaikriya type of body. This type of body is changeable to any size or shape

Ähäraka Body: The Mahämunis (great Jain saints), who have mastered the Shästras (14 Purvas), can assume a body that can be detached from the main body and can travel to visit a nearby Tirthankar for clarification for their doubts.  This type of body is called Ähäraka body.

Taijasa Body: Taijasa body (fire body of vital energy) This body provides heat and energy for digestion and other vital body function. This body stay with us until we achieve liberation.

Kärman Body: Kärman body consists of Karmic particles attached to the soul.  This body also stay with us until we achieve liberation.

Thus, we have activities of Audärika Sharira, Vaikriya Sharira, Ähäraka Sharira and Kärman Sharira.  We do not have independent activities of Taijasa Sharira. The first three bodies can have combined activities with other Shariras.  Thus, we have a total of 7 Käya_yoga. Thus, there are total 15 Yogas of mind, speech and body.

Of them, there are two kinds; namely, the virtuous ones and the non_virtuous ones. Truthful speech, truthful thinking and truthful activities are virtuous Yoga. All other activities are non_virtuous. We attain Punya by virtuous Yoga and Päp by non_virtuous Yoga.

The Äsrava or Influx due to the three types of Yogas can be virtuous and good (Shubha or Punya) or non_virtuous and sinful (Ashubha or Päp).  This is determined by the intention behind the activity of body, speech or mind. If the intention is bad by being colored by the four passions, Anger, Pride, Deceit and Greed, it shall lead to sinful or bad (Ashubha) Yoga and Äsrava and if the intent is good marked by restraint over these passions, it will be good or virtuous Yoga.

Types of Äsrava

Shubha or Punya (Virtuous) Äsrava Influx:

  • Good body yoga            Charity, restraint, service
  • Good speech yoga        Truthful, sweet speech
  • Good mind yoga            Wishing well of others in thought, good meditation

Bad or Ashubha (Non_virtuous) Yoga, or Päp Äsrava:

  • Bad body yoga              Violence, theft etc
  • Bad speech yoga           Falsehood, harsh or hurtful talks
  • Bad mind yoga              Thinking ill of others

There are forty_two types of Äsrava as indicated in the Tattvärtha Sutra by Ächärya Umäsväti, and in the Nava_tattva Chapter through which the soul is exposed to the inflow of Karma.

42 types of Äsrava:

  • Five related to senses (use of five sense organs)
  • Four related to passions (anger, ego, deceit, greed)
  • Five related to Avirati (not having taken five Vrata)
  • Three related to Yogas (mental, verbal, and physical activity)
  • Twenty_five related to Kriyä (Including acts of false faith, negligence, attachment etc)

The first seventeen are regarded as the major Äsrava and the remaining twenty_five as the minor Äsrava.





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