Jain Philosophy (2) 18 – Samvar (Prevention)

Jain Philosophy (2) 18 – Samvar (Prevention)

Jain Philosophy (2) 18 – Samvar (Prevention)

Samvar (Prevention of Karma)

The process of stopping the influx of Karma is called Samvar. Pure(Highly spiritual) internal state of the soul causes the restraint of the mental, vocal and bodily activities which in turn inhibits the inflow of karmic matter(Samvar). The higher the spiritual stage, the lesser the inflow of karmic matter. The greater the cessation of the inflow of karmic matter, the higher is the spiritual progress of the soul.

As all the holes of a sinking boat are plugged, no water enters in the boat; similarly; when one stops all activities leading to influx (Äsrava) like Mithyätva, etc. (as discussed in the previous chapter), one prevents the influx of Karma.   Äsrava is the problem, and Samvar is the solution. Äsrava is the state of sleepiness, and Samvar is the state of alertness. Äsrava takes the Jiva to a lower level, and Samvar takes the Jiva to a higher level.  Samvar is the right thing to do; it is the right path for spiritual progress.

Five Causes of Samvar

Samyaktva (Right Faith) Vrata (Vows)

Apramäda (Vigilance)

Akashäya (Absence of passions) Ayoga (Absence of activities).

Samyaktva (Right Faith):

Just as false belief (Mithyätva) causes influx of karmas, right faith leads to stoppage of influx of karma (Samvar). This is the first step towards journey to spiritual progress.

Right faith is:

  • Is to have firm and unwavering belief in nine fundamentals and six substances.
  • True belief in the relationship between body and soul.
  • Elimination of the highest level of passions (Anantänu_bandhi) of anger, pride, deceit and greed.

Samyaktva is the first step of the journey to Moksha.  To attain the right belief, one has to know the Tattvas described in Jainism, has to suppress or eradicate four Anantänu_bandhi Kashäya. One does not attain the right belief without the proper knowledge of differentiating the soul from the body, called Vivek Jnän or Bhed Jnän.  If one meets the true spiritual guide and has a light bondage of Karma, he can gain the right belief.

Vrata (Vows):

Vrata is the second factor for Samvar.  Once Jiva attains Samyaktva, the next step is to begin renouncing sinful activities. Desire to follow vows is the desire to follow right conduct. Shrävak and Shrävikäs (householders with Samyaktva) take minor vows, while Jain ascetics (Sädhu and Sädhvis) take total vows. From the point of view of renunciation, both types of vows are acceptable.  By renunciation (Vrata), one stops sinful activities.

Only human beings and some five sense beings Tiryanchas (animals, birds, etc.) with analytical and reasoning power are able to take vows.  Human beings are able to take total vows, while Tiryancha can take only some minor vows.  Jain scripture indicates that Heavenly beings and hellish beings are unable to take vows.. There fore only human beings have the opportunity for higher spiritual progress and ultimately to attain liberation

Apramäda (Vigilance):

The inner urge for following religious principles is vigilance (Apramäda). Vigilance will help stop influx of karmas. One should be continuously aware not to be engrossed in pleasures of senses, passions, and activities of minds, speech, body, sleep, unmoral stories and disrespect of religion. Vigilance about all of the above will stop influx of karma.

One must attain the seventh Gunasthäna while taking the total vows in order to achieve vigilance leading to self_restraint (Dikshä). When a Tirthankar takes Dikshä (initiation), he attains the seventh Gunasthäna. Without attaining the seventh Gunasthäna, he neither achieves the state of self_restraint nor Manah_paryäya_jnän (knowledge of reading other’s minds).. The ascetics can attain this state by staying tuned to the soul.

Akashäya (Non_passion):

The absence of Kashäya is the state of Akashäya.  Ideally to eliminate all four passions of anger, pride, deceit and greed will totally stop influx of all inauspicious karma a state without

attachments and aversions, which is the ultimate goal towards spiritual progress. The state of Akashäya is the state of Vitarägatä (absence of attachments and aversions). “Kashäya Mukti Kil Muktireva”_ liberating from passions is liberation itself.  One, who liberates himself from Kashäya,attains Moksha.

Ayoga (Non_activity):

To cease activities of body, speech and mind is called “Ayoga”. Control over the activities of mind, speech and body will decrease the influx of karma.. There are no vibrations of the soul in the state of Ayoga. There is no bondage of Karma in this state. Vitaräga (in the thirteenth Gunasthäna) does not have any Kashäya but he has Yoga. As such, he binds Karma in one Samaya (smallest unit of time) and sheds it in the next Samaya. This is called the bondage of Punya in the form of Shätä Vedaniya that lasts only for two Samays.

Types of Samvar

Samvar is of six major types and has 57 subgroups.

  • 05 Samitis (Carefulness)
  • 03 Guptis (restraint)
  • 10 Yati_dharma (Supreme Dharma of a Jain ascetic)
  • 12 Bhävanäs (mental reflections)
  • 22 Parishaha_jay (victory over sufferings)
  • 05 Chäritra (conduct)

Samyaktva is deeply and intimately connected with Samvar. Through Samyaktva, the Äsrava called wrong belief (Mithyätva) is completely blocked and stopped. By means of Samyag Chäritra and Yati_dharma, the Äsrava called vowlessness (Avirati) is blocked. By means of Gupti, Bhävanäs, and Yati_dharma the Äsrava called passions (Kashäya) is blocked. By means of Samiti, Gupti, Parishaha Jaya, etc., physiological activities and negligence (Pramäda) are blocked.  By means of Chäritra, Äsrava called vowlessness, passions, activities are blocked.

Samiti (Carefulness)

Samiti actually means carefulness or continuous awareness of all our activities with special attention towards nonviolence.   Examples include spiritual awareness, proper discipline, spiritual vigilance and caution. In this manner, there are five subtypes of Samiti:

Iryä Samiti:

Iryä Samiti (Careful movements) means to move cautiously, carefully, and look closely at the ground so not even smallest beings (Jivas) might be harmed or killed. A Sädhu observes this more carefully and that is why he does not unnecessarily walk around. He walks on the path that minimizes violence. Rather than walking on the grass, a Sädhu would take an alternate route in order to minimize the violence caused by him, even if the alternate route was longer. A layman should also keep this in mind and should be careful while walking. Sädhus do not wear shoes so that there is less injury to the organism on the ground.

Bhäshä Samiti:

Bhäshä Samiti (Careful speech) means one should limit or completely avoid speaking anything, which may provoke violence, flattery, condemnation, gossip, etc., or use words that may cause harm to others. One should not inflict pain by using words that are filthy or abusive. One should also limit or deter uttering unpleasant and thoughtless ideas.  One’s words or speech must be kind and gentle. If anyone has confessed to a Sädhu about his wrong activities or sins, then the Sädhu must not speak about this to others.  This Samiti also reminds us that one must not frighten anyone by speech or words, make a mockery of anyone, or preach a false doctrine. If one cannot speak well of others, it is better to be quiet.

Eshanä Samiti:

Eshanä Samiti (Careful about taking food): With the concept of nonviolence in mind caution must be exercised about all matters relating to food.  Sädhus should go for alms to various houses and should take a small portion of allowable food from each place so that the layman, from whom the food is taken, does not have to cook again.  In addition, Sädhus should not take any raw vegetables, raw seeds or any food, which has been immediately taken from a stove, oven, or even a refrigerator. A Sädhu should not go for alms if it is raining and should not accept any food brought to him. There are forty_two faults, which Sädhus must avoid while accepting alms. Some Sädhus and sädhvis take food once a day from one house only. A layman should also refrain from committing a sin in the offering of food to Sädhus. All intoxicated and forbidden foods are not to be taken by either Sädhus or laymen.

Ädäna_bhand_matta Niksepanä Samiti:

Ädäna_bhand_matta Nikshepanä Samiti (Careful about handling articles of religious and daily use) A Sädhu should take the utmost care before using clothes (not applied to Sädhus who do not use clothes), to make sure that there are no insects in the folds, which may be crushed, hurt,or killed.  Care must be taken before taking and putting away vessels, books, sitting down, etc. Laymen should also take similar precautions in their daily life.

Pärishthä_panikä (Utsarga) Samiti (Careful about disposal of excreta):

One should be very careful about how, and where one disposes of trash, refuse, or excretions so that no harm is done to even minute insects or bugs.  One must never keep either food or water overnight, but must rather dispose it off carefully as mentioned above.

Gupti (Restraints):

Restriction of non_virtuous activities of mind, speech and body, and to engage in virtuous activities is called Gupti, which is an important aspect of Samvar. Since there are three types of Yoga, there are also three types of Gupti:

  • To retire from sinful activities of body and to engage in virtuous activities of body is called Käya Gupti
  • To retire from sinful activities of speech and to engage in virtuous activities of speech is called Vachan Gupti
  • To retire from sinful activities of mind and to engage in virtuous activities of mind is called Mano Gupti.

What is the difference between a Gupti and a Samiti?  In Gupti, the aspect of refraining is more dominant while in Samiti; the aspect of vigilant undertaking is more dominant.

Yati_dharma (Supreme Dharma):

Kshamä (forbearance), Märdava (humility), Ärjava (straightforwardness), Shaucha (absence of greed, or containment purity of mind), Satya (truthfulness), Sanyam (self_restraint), Tapa (penance), Tyäg (renunciation), Äkinchanya (detachment or absence of a feeling of ownership), and Brahmacharya (celibacy) are the ten attributes of types of supreme Dharma.

These ten virtues are pure passionless modes of the conduct attribute of the soul. Word supreme prefixed to each one denotes that there is inevitable existence of the right belief and the right knowledge.  (Samyag darshan and Samyag jnän) These pure virtues are always associated with enlightened soul and are not present in the ignorant soul with wrong belief.

In fact, the right belief and the right knowledge are the basis for the spiritual progress for the living being. Ten attributes or the virtues are the part of the conduct attribute, which is purified once the soul obtains enlightenment. Therefore, right belief and right knowledge are the roots for the tree of right conduct to grow.

These Ten Commandments or attributes are the name of the natural dispositions originated in the presence of right belief and right knowledge and there is absence of wrong belief and passions.

  • Kshamä (forbearance)
  • Märdava (humility)
  • Ärjava (straightforwardness)
  • Shaucha (absence of greed, purity of mind)
  • Satya (truthfulness)
  • Sanyam (self_restraint)
  • Tapa (penance)
  • Tyäg (renunciation)
  • Äkinchanya (absence of a feeling of ownership), and 
  • Brahmacharya (celibacy) are the types of supreme Dharma:

Kshamä (forgiveness and forbearance):


Forgiveness means not to allow anger to arise and in case it does, then to render it ineffective through the internal power. Forbearance means forgiveness. It is the nature of the pure soul to have forbearance. By taking the shelter of the forgiveness, one cultivates nature of the soul, which is free of anger. The mundane soul has anger within him since time infinite and as a result the true nature of forgiveness has not been cultivated.

Revenge is the worst form of anger. When one reacts to the unfavorable situation right away, then it is known as anger. But at that time if he waits and keeps the matter to his mind then the state of mind turns in to revengeful nature. In anger, one reacts right away but in revengeful nature, one keeps to him and plans for revenge in the future. Revengeful nature is much more dangerous than the anger. Anger is like fire and it produces burn right away but when one keeps anger within and plans for revenge then he keeps on burning from within all the time.

Anger is of four types:

  1. Infinite bondage producing anger (Anantänu_bandhi Krodha)
  2. Partial vow preventing anger (Apratyäkhyänävarni Krodha)
  3. Total vow preventing anger (Pratyäkhyänävarani Krodha)
  4. Perfect conduct preventing anger (Sanjvalan Krodha)

Omniscient lord does not have any types of anger at all.

Enlightened monk has absence of first three types of anger.

Enlightened house holder with partial vow conduct has absence of first two types of anger

Enlightened house holder with vowless conduct has absence of first type of anger

Person on 1st spiritual development stage at wrong belief stage has anger all the time.


For cultivating forbearance, five ways have been suggested:

  • Consider whether or not the cause of anger lies in oneself
  • Consider the harm that follows from an angry mood
  • Consider the childish nature of the offender concerned
  • Consider the whole affair to be a consequence of one’s own past Karma
  • Consider the merits of forgiveness forbearance

This soul’s root cause of anger is the belief that his happiness or unhappiness depends on some one else or the material things. He forgets that the happiness or unhappiness occurs because of him only.

One looks within his own pure soul and experiences its true nature and stays within his right faith, then it is known as supreme forbearance.

Märdava (humility):

The softness of heart and humble polite feelings towards all living beings humility and external conduct is called Märdava. One gets pride passion due to the association of things or people and when there is dissociation then he feels dejected. In both these things there is no softness of modesty. Failure is the mother of anger and the success is the mother of pride passion. Pride should be differentiated from self respect, which is not arrogance.

For the cultivation of this quality, one should not feel egotistical because of his superiority

pertaining to race, family, beauty, prosperity, intellect, knowledge, achievement, and exertion.

Jainism believes that all the souls are equal whether he is a human being or may be he is in the lowest form of life Nigod. If every soul is same then there is no reason for one to believe that he is either important or superior.  This way there is no reason for one to have pride passion. Shrimad Räjchandra said that if there was no pride passion then the human beings can have liberation instantly.

Ärjava (straightforwardness):

The purity of mental makeup – unity of thought, speech and action is called Ärjava or straightforwardness. Person with the straightforwardness attribute lives his life in a simple way. Whatever he has in his mind, he has the same in his speech. Person with the deceitful nature thinks some thing and speaks some thing else and acts all to gather differently.

Strong person takes anger as a mean of achieving his goal. With anger he would like to show his strength and suppress others and gets his work done. Weak person takes the help of deceit to achieve his goal.

For the cultivation of quality of straightforwardness, one should cease to be deceitful.

Shaucha (containment):

Purity means to be free of greed. To be contained Not to have attachment even for the means of Dharma or even is absence of greed, it should not only be for material things but even for one’s own body is called Shaucha or absence of greed. Purity is opposite of greed. Actually absence of 25 passions is known as purity. Greed is the father of all ills. Last passion to dissociate from the soul is the greed and it goes away at tenth spiritual stage of development. When that happens then the perfect passionless conduct appears Soul’s conduct becomes perfect pure at this stage. That is why purity is most important virtue of all ten virtues.

Greed passion is the worst of all and that is why the purity is one of the best virtues. The attachment – rag_ is part of the greed passion.

Impurity of the soul is the attachment, aversion, and obsession (Moha) and when you get rid of them then the soul obtains purity.

Satya or truthfulness:

Truthfulness means saying what is beneficial and refraining from harsh words, back biting, derogatory language, etc. Hiding of truth for saving some ones life is excusable.

To speak the truth one has to know the truth. With right faith and right knowledge, one knows the real nature of the self as well as the real nature of six substances (dravyas). Speech is the modification of the matter particles while the truth is the virtue of the pure soul.

Partial vow of truthfulness, complete vow of truthfulness, restriction of speech and control of spoken words are four levels described in the scripture. (Satya Anuvrata, Satya Mahä vrata, Bhäshä Samiti and Vachan Gupti.) All these four things have relationship with the speech.

  • Anuvrata: Partial vow of truthfulness means not to indulge in gross lies
  • Mahä vrata: complete vow of truthfulness means only to speak truth and not to tell even a subtle lie.
  • Bhäshä Samiti: restriction of speech means to speak only if it is absolutely necessary and to speak with sweetness and not to use harshness, and not to exaggerate the truth.
  • Vachan Gupti: control of spoken words means not to speak at all.

Therefore, all four things involve all spoken or non_spoken words. Satya dharma means something different from spoken words.

Sanyam (Self_restraint):

Self_restraint means disciplining mind, speech and body so as not to injure any living beings and exercising carefulness. Therefore, Self_restraint is of two types, restraining from inflicting injury to all the living beings and detachment from sensual objects.

In self_restraint one takes away his attentive consciousness (Upayoga) from other objects and concentrates within himself.  This is absolute definition of self restraint. Other definition of self_restraint is to accept five great vows, to take out all passions like anger etc, to control the activities of mind, speech and body and to conquer the objects of five senses.

Complete self_restraint is only possible in human life. There is no self_restraint in heavenly or infernal life. In five_sensed animal life, there can be partial self_restraint.

One may argue that the senses are the reason that one obtains happiness but actually control over the desires of sensual pleasures is the key of real happiness, as we all know that desires are endless. In fact the soul’s inherent nature is to be happy all the time. The pure inherent nature is independent of out side things like the senses. Super sensuous happiness do not expect any thing else’s help. The happiness and the knowledge obtained by the senses are the transient in nature, transient happiness is also not the real one but is perceived one. Senses are material particles and can only perceive the material particles having touch, taste, and smell sight and hearing. The soul does not have the attributes of the matter. That is why the senses are not useful in the knowledge of the true state of the soul. Senses give sensual knowledge and pleasure while the soul has super sensuous knowledge and happiness. Therefore to obtain the super sensuous happiness one has to go beyond the sensual aspect.

Self_restraint is the increase of passionless state after obtaining the right faith.

Tapa (penance):

The basic presents of penance are to control attachments and aversions. One stabilizes in his own pure state and gives up all the attachment aversion, is known as the austerity. Control of desires is also known as austerity. There are six external austerities and six internal austerities that are practiced to eradicate Karma.  They are called Tapa or penance. Details of all types of penance are described further in the chapter.

Tyäg (renunciation):

Renunciation of a possessive attitude for the necessities of life is called Tyäg or renunciation. There are four types of charities described in Jainism, charity of food, knowledge, medicine and saving life of a being. Charity is the training for real renunciation of attachments and aversions (Vitaräga).

When one has attained the self_realization then he has no attachment of any internal or external substance’s possessions. This is known as the renunciation. He has no attachment to outside material substances like house, wife, kids, and wealth. He also does not have any internal possessions of any attachment or aversion. His soul is pure and devoid of any of these possessions. His behavior is without any infatuation towards any external substances like body, wealth, and family or any worldly substances. Renunciation is not of the outside substances but it is the feeling of attachment towards out side substance

Äkinchanya (detachment):

It is not about having possessions, but this attribute describes one to have the feeling of detachment with the thing one possesses. Not resorting to the attitude of ownership in relation to anything whatsoever is called Äkinchanya or absence of ownership. Details 24 types of possessions are described in the chapter of vows.

In non_ attachment virtue one has to give up all these 24 possessions. The external possessions are prescribed from empirical point of view. The internal possessions are prescribed from absolute  point of view.

Giving up external possessions means one has still not achieved the real virtue of the non_ attachment. It does not automatically mean that the person also has achieved internal non_ attachments. Of course it is a truth that one who has given up internal possessions has definitely given up the external possessions too.

May be it is somewhat easy to give up external possessions but one may still keep the internal possessions towards that. For example, he has donated so much to the society and still keeps on telling every body, how much he donated. That means he physically gave up the substance but still has not given up the desire towards that substance.

Brahmacharya celibacy:

Celibacy means continence to be observed by residing with a teacher to observe the vows, to learn the scriptures and to erode the passions

We should consider this attribute three different ways:

  • From social point of view: The common social definition, control of sexual desires and conduct well know to all. For a house holder limited celibacy is preached with the concept of one partner only.
  • From absolute point of view: means to stay in the true nature of the soul. Once right faith is achieved one can experience the nature of the pure soul. When one has right conduct and he is engrossed in his true nature of the soul then he automatically gives up the objects of the five senses. He is still having five senses and mind but he has separated himself from the objects of these five senses.
  • From the empirical point of view: control of five senses is known as celibacy

Bhävanä (Deep reflection):

Bhävanä – deep reflection prevents tendencies like attachment and aversion. Therefore, such reflection has been described as a means of Samvar.  Bhävanä means contemplation through which you motivate your soul to carry out lofty reflections. There are 12 types of Bhävanäs and they have been described in the chapter of Bhävanäs (Reflections).

Parishaha_jay (enduring hardship)

Parishaha pertains to the training for enduring hardship and while doing so remaining in a state of serenity and equanimity so that all old attached Karma may be destroyed and one reduces influx of new karmas. Such training helps us stay happy in both good and bad circumstances. Sädhus and Sädhvis predominantly follow them.  There are 22 types of Parishahas:

  • Hunger – A Sädhu must not accept food, which is blemished and prepared with any of the forty_two faults, even if he has to stay hungry.
  • Thirst – A Sädhu should not take sentient water, even if he has to stay thirsty.
  • Cold – Even when it is cold, a Sädhu should not wish for heat.
  • Heat – Even when it is hot, a Sädhu should not wish for cold.
  • Insect bites – If an insect bites a Sädhu while he is meditating, he should not brush it away or become irritated, but should bear it calmly.
  • A Sädhu must accept whatever clothes he may receive.
  • A Sädhu must bear evil words told to him.
  • A Sädhu must bear even kicking and beating.
  • A Sädhu must bear diseases that may develop.
  • A Sädhu must sleep on a wooden flat bed or coarse grass.
  • A Sädhu must not take a bath.
  • A Sädhu should wear worn out clothes and should not ask for new clothes.
  • A Sädhu should not experience shame or helplessness while going for alms from door to door.
  • If a Sädhu does not get alms, he should not be worried. Instead, he should think as though he has been given a chance to observe austerity.
  • A Sädhu should not be attracted towards the beauty of women.
  • A Sädhu should not be disturbed by hardship while meditating in a cemetery or other unbecoming places.
  • A Sädhu should not become agitated even when there is suffering.
  • A Sädhu should not become proud while being honored.
  • A Sädhu should not become irritated when being pricked by thorns, etc.
  • A Sädhu should not feel sorry for not attaining knowledge even after a good effort.
  • If a Sädhu is ignorant and cannot learn, he should not become depressed. He must think of Karmodaya (fruits of Karma) and must keep his pursuit of knowledge alive.
  • A Sädhu must try to understand the message of the Jina and should never doubt it.

Chäritra – Right Conduct:

The endeavor to remain steady in a state of spiritual purity is called Chäritra. Keeping in view the degrees of purity obtained in different cases, Chäritra has been divided into the five classes as follows:

Sämäyika Chäritra:

To maintain the attitude of equanimity and to give up all impure activities is called Sämäyika Chäritra.  The initiation ceremony signifying the initial stage of an ascetic’s career, when the period of intended monkshood is brief, is called Itvarika or temporary Sämäyika. The same ceremony, when the period in question is life long, is called Yävatkathit or life long Sämäyika. The life long Sämäyika starts after the initiation of ascetic life (sixth Gunasthanak). The remaining  four types of Chäritra are various forms of Sämäyika, with certain specialties.

Chhedo_pasthäpana Chäritra:

The ceremony of newly initiated ascetics is repeated with a view to retaining the ascetic’s career for his whole life is called Chhedo_pasthäpana Chäritra.  Similarly, when the initiation ceremony for an ascetic’s career for his whole life took place earlier and is in Sämäyika Chäritra, but is  vitiated by some defect and has to be undergone again to stabilize him back in Sämäyika Chäritra, it is called Chhedo_pasthäpana Chäritra.  The first is called Niratichär Chhedo_pasthäpana characterized by conduct without fault; the second is called Sätichär Chhedo_pasthäpana characterized by a conduct with fault.

Parihära_vishuddhi Chäritra:

The third one is characterized by a course of conduct dominated by certain special types of penance and special type of knowledge is called Parihära_vishuddhi Chäritra.

Sukshma_samparäya Chäritra:

The fourth is the case of an aspirant who is in tenth Gunasthäna, in which the Kashäyas like anger, ego and deceit do not manifest themselves at all but there is the presence of the subtlest amount of greed. That is called Sukshma_samparäya Chäritra.

Yathäkhyäta or Vitaräga Chäritra:

The fifth relates to the aspirant who is in the eleventh and higher Gunasthäna where there is complete suppression or elimination of Deluding Karma and Nokashäya whatsoever manifests itself and the conduct happens to be as it should be.  That is called Yathäkhyäta or Vitaräga Chäritra.




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