Jain Philosophy (2) 19 – Nirjarä and Moksha (Eradication and Liberation)

Jain Philosophy (2) 19 – Nirjarä and Moksha (Eradication and Liberation)

Jain Philosophy (2) 19 – Nirjarä and Moksha (Eradication and Liberation)

Nirjarä (Eradication of Karma)

Every worldly soul happens to be confined (not free). The imprisonment is due to the bondage of Karma (Bandha). To be free, Jiva has to eradicate the Karma by which he is bound. The process of eradicating Karma is called Nirjarä.  The word Nirjarä means to fall off.  It denotes dripping off (shedding), destruction, or removal of Karma from the soul. Inflow of Karma is Äsrava, the stoppage of the inflow is Samvar and the eradication of Karma is Nirjarä. Jiva can shed the Karma and purify his soul with the help of austerities.

Sakäm Nirjarä and Akäm Nirjarä

Karma can be shed in two ways:

Sakäm Nirjarä:

By force of austerity undertaken for a high spiritual objective, the bound karmic matter gets dissociated from the soul even before it has yielded its fruit. When Karma are brought to maturity ahead off their time by special effort with a view to eradicate them prematurely, it is called Sakäm Nirjarä.

Akäm Nirjarä

The dissociation of the bound karmic matter comes about through experiencing its fruit at the destined time. Eradication of Karma without self_effort is called Akäm Nirjarä. When Karma mature and drip off or shed off in due course, it is called Akäm Nirjarä.

To be effective, Samvar like quanimity should accompany Nirjarä.  If not, it will lead to bondage of new virtuous (Punya) or non_virtuous (Päp) karma. By resorting to Tapa or austerities, one can shed his Karma and earn Punya.  However, the purpose should be Nirjarä and not just to earn Punya.

There are twelve types of austerities (Tapa) of which six are external and six are internal. The external Tapa involves enduring hardships.  Such Tapa is observed for cultivating spiritual capabilities. The following are the six types of external Tapa:

External Tapa (External Austerities)

Anashan (Fasting):

Anashan is derived from Ashan, which means to eat.  The prefix ‘an’ gives a negative connotation.  Anashan therefore means not to eat.  It conveys renouncing of food and water for a day or days or for one’s remaining lifetime.  This is physical Anashan. One can combine the physical Anashan with Bhäva Anashan by exercising total control of inner desires for a short or a long time.  Anashan for a day or days is called fasting, and Anashan for the rest of one’s life is called Santhäro. When one’s death is imminent in the next few days or hours and that there is no treatment that can change that, one undertakes several vows including fasting to have his remaining time spent spiritually.  This process is called Santhäro (Sanlekhanä). Santhäro is the art of dying.  After undertaking Santhäro, one fasts peacefully, forgives everyone, asks for forgiveness for all his mistakes that he might have committed knowingly or unknowingly, and gets absorbed in the serene recitation of Pancha Paramesthi.  His fasting can go on for several days until his soul leaves the body peacefully.

Unodari (Partial Fasting):

Unodari is made of two words – Una and Udar.  Una means somewhat less and Udar means stomach.  To eat less than the normal diet is called Unodari. The deeper meaning of Unodari is to practice more self_restraints (Sanyam) by reducing non_virtuous activities.

One can have many negative emotions that can lead him to the wrong path. Therefore, it is important that one not only reduces his normal diet but also reduces his passions. By reducing the intake of food and controlling passions, one not only gains physically but also benefits mentally, emotionally and spiritually.  Unodari of food and controlling passions keeps Jiva healthy and keeps them away from doctor and diseases, but most importantly, it strengthens the spirituality.

Vritti_sankshep (Bhikshächäri or Limiting Food Items):

This is the third type of Tapa, which is for developing willpower. In this type of austerity, one takes Abhigraha (makes some resolution). Jain ascetics mainly carry out this type of austerity. One may also take Abhigraha on the day of terminating the austerities. There are four types of Abhigrahas – 

  • Material (Dravya) – To have predetermination of having certain items of food is called Dravya Abhigraha.
  • Area (Kshetra) – To take food at a specific location is called Kshetra Abhigraha.
  • Time (Käl) – To eat at a fix specific time is called Käl Abhigraha
  • Mode (Bhäva) – To get the food only from a particular individual or a certain type of person is called Bhäva Abhigraha.

One can also observe this Tapa by limiting the number of food items one may consume during the day to 10 or 15 items.

Mahävir Bhagawän had undertaken an Abhigraha when he was yet to attain perfect knowledge. It was the twelfth year of his spiritual pursuit.  He was continually meditating and observing severe austerities. Once he set up apparently improbable stipulations for accepting food. He vowed that he would accept food only if soaked black peas were offered to him from a winnowing basket by a princess in chains with a shaved head, who had fasted for three days and who had tears flowing from her eyes.  How can all these conditions be fulfilled at one time?

For months, he used to go for alms and come back without food because his stipulations could not be fulfilled. However, how could fate allow so great a saint to die for want of food? Fate had brought apparent havoc on Chandanbälä as if to enable her to fulfill the divine mission of terminating the six months’ fast of Bhagawän Mahävir!

Therefore, the Bhagawän happened to come for alms where Chandanbälä was thinking to offer food to some Muni. He saw all his stipulations coming true. There was a princess in chains with cleaned shaven head, having fasted for three days and offering black peas from winnowing pan. Chandanbälä was happy to see the great ascetic in front of her and cheerfully offered the peas. For the Bhagawän this was the right situation for accepting food. But nay, where were the tears? He declined the offer and turned back.

Chandanbälä felt intensely miserable that the sage did not accept her food. She started crying and tears began to roll down her eyes as she repeatedly entreated the great ascetic to accept her humble offer.  The Bhagawän looked back and saw the tears rolling down her cheeks. Now all

his hard stipulations were fulfilling and he willingly accepted the food offered by her.

Rasa Tyäg (Limiting Tasty Food):

This is the fourth type of Nirjarä.  It involves renouncing the tasty food that one likes. This is for conquering the desire for tasty food and eliminating the attachment for the tasty food, and thus, enabling to strengthen one’s spiritual capability.  There are many ways to limit the consumption of tasty food.  For example: performance of Äyambil (simple bland meal – without oil, butter, spices, vegetables or may be salt) and abstaining from Vigai (absence of milk, oil, butter, sugar, yogurt, and fried food). To suppress one’s passions, it is essential that he overcome his desire for tasty food. One, who has a desire for tasty food, cannot be free of sensual instinct. By willingly, putting the limits to the tasty foods one eradicates the Karma, and better health, lower risk of heart diseases, and diabetes are the byproducts.

Käyä Klesha (Physical Forbearance):

Käyä means body and Klesha means forbearance.  Body is an instrument that is needed in good condition for undertaking spiritual pursuit (Sädhanä) and therefore, it is important to develop its endurance power. By developing physical endurance power, Jiva is enabled to tolerate the bodily inconveniences with equanimity.  There are several ways one can practice the austerity of Käya_klesha:

  • Location: This involves practicing Sädhanä while standing.
  • Yogic posture (Äsana): This involves practicing various yogic postures such as Virtäsan, Vajräsan (diamond posture), Padmäsan (lotus posture), etc.
  • Shayan (in lying down position): This involves practicing Käyotsarga (total relaxation by experiencing that body and soul are separate) while lying down on the left or right side.
  • Ätäpana: This requires standing steadily while facing the sun.
  • Aprävarana: This means tolerating cold, specially, in the winter season, without any or with few clothes on.
  • Sharira Parikarma Parityäg: This involves not tending to external appearance of the body.

Pratisanlinatä (Controlling of Senses):

Ordinarily, we use our senses to satisfy our external needs and that is supposed to give happiness.  Pratisanlinatä involves restraining the senses from external happiness and diverts their use for spiritual uplift. To control the sensory desires is also Pratisanlinatä. As regard to sensory things, not to see them by eyes, not to hear them by ears, not to smell them by nose, not to taste them by tongue, and not to touch them by skin is called controlling of senses – Pratisanlinatä. One should not develop a possessive attitude to what he sees, to what he listens, to what he smells, to what he tastes and to what he touches.  Sense organs are better utilized if they are used for spiritual purposes.

Tapasyäs (Common External Austerities):
Navakärashi  One must take food and water forty – eight minutes after sunrise. 

Porisi    Taking food and water three hours after sunrise

Sädha_porisi      Taking food and water four hours and thirty minutes after sunrise

Purimuddha        Taking food and water six hours after sunrise

Avadhdha                  Taking food and water eight hours after sunrise

Biyäsan                     Taking food twice a day

Ekäsan                      Taking food only once

Äyambil                    Taking bland food only once.  The food should not have any taste or spices and should be boiled or cooked.  In addition, one shall not take milk, curds, sugar, sweets, ghee, oil, fruits, and vegetables.

Upaväs                      One must not take any food for almost thirty_six hours starting from sunset on the previous day to sunrise on the succeeding day.

Tivihär Upaväs          One may drink only boiled water during Upaväs. Chauvihär Upaväs    One does not even take water during the Upaväs.

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

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

Attham                      Upaväs for three consecutive days

Atthai                         Upaväs for eight consecutive days

Mäsakshaman          Consecutive Upaväs for one month

Navapad Oli              During every year for 9 days starting from the 6/7th day in the bright fortnight until the full moon day in Ashwin and Chaitra months, one does Äyambil. This is repeated for the next four and half years. These Äyambils can also be restricted to only one kind of food or grain per day.

In Ekäsan, Biyäsan, Äyambil, or Upaväs one can only drink boiled water 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, root vegetables, or raw grains while performing such austerities. Other austerities are Varsitapa, Vardhamän Tapa, Visasthänak Tapa, etc.

Internal Tapa (Internal Austerities)

There are six internal types of austerity that shed Karma.

Präyashchitta (Repentance or Confession or Remorse):

In Präyashchitta, one repents for the various errors of commission and omission, the faults and the sins committed. This can be performed in the presence of an ascetic or can be done alone. Präyashchitta helps us to reflect upon ourselves in a way that leads to self_correction. Even for a small fault, we should say “Michchhä mi Dukkadam.” Präyashchitta is a very vital type of Nirjarä. Präyashchitta is a process of improving mental, emotional and spiritual health. Nirjarä is a spiritual cleaning process. Purity of body, mind, and emotions is the result of this process.

Whom would you go for Präyashchitta? The preceptor you go to for Präyashchitta should have certain qualifications. It is said in the Jain Ägam, Sthänänga Sutra, that the preceptor should have ten characteristics:

  • Excellent paternal race
  • Excellent maternal race
  • Reverence (Humility)
  • Proper knowledge
  • Proper faith
  • Proper conduct
  • Forgiving and forbea
  • Control over the sen
  • Straightforwardness
  • Remorsefulness for mistakes

Nine Types of Präyashchitta:

  • Älochanä (Confession): To confess one’s mistakes in the presence of the preceptor and with a pure heart.
  • Pratikraman (Repentance): To repent for the mistakes that has been committed and to refrain from them in future, and to remain alert that no new mistakes are committed.
  • Combination of Älochanä and Pratikraman: When these Älochanä and Pratikraman are performed together.
  • Vivek (Discretion): When forbidden food and/or drink happen to have been received and the fact becomes known, then to discard these food and drink.
  • Vyutsarga: To regret for the mistake committed, one adopts concentration and gives up the operations of body and speech.
  • Tapa (Penance): To regret for the mistake committed, one performs external penance like Anashan etc.
  • Chheda (Correction): Corresponding to the gravity of the offense committed, the reckoned period of monkhood is reduced by a day, a fortnight, a month or a year – that is called Chheda.
  • Parihära: To keep the offender at a distance and not to have any dealing with him for a specific period.
  • Upasthäpanä: When on account of the violation, the adopted Vratas are deemed to be forfeited.

One who wants to repent for his mistakes should do so in a straightforward manner like a child. One cannot be truly regretful without having simplicity and purity of the heart. By truly carrying out the right process of Präyashchitta, one sheds his non_virtuous Karma, and purifies himself. Therefore, Präyashchitta is the austerity for purifying the soul.

Vinay (Humility):

Vinay denotes humbleness, submissiveness, kindness, courtesy, humility, civility, and respect. The true meaning of Vinay is the absence of ego.  There are eight types of ego and the person with Vinay does not have any of them.  Vinay saves Jiva from getting bad destinies like hell. Vinay is an internal quality of Jiva. Vinay is considered the root of the religion per Jain canonical books.  Vinay is given the utmost importance in Jainism.  To have adequate Vinay is the sign of right character. There are seven types of Vinay:

  • Vinay for knowledge
  • Vinay for faith
  • Vinay for conduct
  • Vinay of mind
  • Vinay of speech
  • Vinay of body
  • Vinay for paying homage

Vaiyävruttya (Selfless Service):

To serve Sanyami (who practices self_restraint) with devotion and without any selfish motive is called Vaiyävruttya. If one offers the right food, clothes, medicines, and other necessities to Jain ascetics, it is called Vaiyävruttya. There are ten types of people who are considered as deserving Vaiyävruttya:

  • Ächärya (chief of the religious order)
  • Upädhyäy (who teaches others)
  • Tapasvi (who performs some great and severe penance)
  • Shaiksha (new ascetic)
  • Glän (ailing ascetic)
  • Gana (group of older ascetics)
  • Kula (group of disciples under one Ächärya)
  • Sangha (constituted of Sädhu, Sädhvis, Shrävak and Shrävikäs)
  • Sädhu
  • Samanojna (who is spiritually equal)

Vaiyävruttya – rendering service to the worthy ones is like serving a Tirthankar. That enhances the unity of the Sangha, strengthens the religious order, helps the needy and stabilizes the aspirant on the right path. It also creates an atmosphere of mutual help. In the present day context one can use judgment in giving charity to the most deserving.

Vinay and Vaiyävruttya differ from one another in that the former is a mental act and the latter a bodily one.

Swädhyäy (Self_Study):

To undertake various practices with a view to acquiring the right knowledge is called Swädhyäy or study of the self. The spiritual meaning of Swädhyäy is to remain in equanimity. Swädhyäy is a potent instrument for shedding Karma.  Swädhyäy also keeps the right knowledge alive for the next generation and generations to come.  Per Jain canonical books, Jain ascetics are required to do Swädhyäy for about nine hours a day.  If the Jain ascetic is irregular about doing his

Swädhyäy, then he is not truly a Jain Sädhu.  He will drift into gossiping and eventually will end up doing non_virtuous activities.  It is essential that Jain ascetics should keep their interest alive, and continue their Swädhyäy per Jain canonical books.  To acquire knowledge, to render it free from doubt, to be lucid and ripe and to seek to propagate it – all these can be covered in Swädhyäy.  It has been divided into five subtypes corresponding to the order followed in a course of study.  They are as follows:

  • Vächanä (to read): To take lessons in the wording or the meaning of a text
  • Pruchchhanä (to ask questions): To make inquires to remove doubts or to confirm understanding.
  • Parävartanä (to repeat correctly): To repeat correctly the wording of a text that has been learnt.
  • Anuprekshä (to reflect): To ponder mentally over the wording or the meaning of a text
  • Dharmopadesha (to teach): To grasp the essence of a text that has been learnt and to preach things religiously.

Dhyäna (Meditation or Thought Process):

To stop the wandering (distractions) of the conscious mind (Chitta) and to concentrate it on one thing is called meditation. The concentration arising from intense attachment, lust, or animosity is non_virtuous meditation and is to be avoided.  While concentration arising from the search for the truth and detachment from worldly affairs is virtuous meditation and is desirable. Virtuous

Dhyäna is the practice to retire the soul from unnatural activities and to get absorbed into the self. All Tirthankars meditated prior to achieving perfect knowledge (Keval_jnän). No one has achieved Moksha without mediation.  Dhyäna is divided into four categories:

  • Ärta Dhyäna
  • Raudra Dhyäna
  • Dharma Dhyäna
  • Shukla Dhyäna.

A person possessing a superior type of bone structure such as Vajra_rishabha_närächa, Rishabha_närächa, Närächa and Ardha_närächa Samghayana is capable of practicing the true Dhyäna.  To have sufficient m ental power to perform Dhyäna, one has to have sufficient physical power that comes only from these four types of bone structures. If body power is weak, one will have weaker mental power and therefore weaker concentration. This does not mean that others should not meditate.  The degree of success will be less for the people with inferior bone structure, but the progress will be spiritual and in the right direction. An endeavor to put a stop to the gross bodily and mental operations is also a Dhyäna.

Ärta and Raudra Dhyäna, the causes of worldly transmigration, are evil Dhyäna and, therefore are to be avoided. On the other hand, Dharma Dhyäna and Shukla Dhyäna are noble Dhyäna and are worth resorting to though Shukla Dhyäna is achieved after higher level of spiritual upliftment.

Ärta Dhyäna:

Dhyäna that relates to distress or pain is called Ärta Dhyäna. There are four causes that produce pain:

  • Thinking about getting what is not desired
  • Thinking about losing what is desired
  • Thinking about disagreeable situation
  • Hankering for material enjoyment in future.

Raudra Dhyäna:

Concentrating on thoughts resulting from or in to evil actions, enjoyment in violence, lying, stealing, collecting possessions by any means etc. is Raudra dhyäna.

There are four subtypes of Raudra Dhyäna corresponding to the above four possibilities as in Ärta Dhyäna.  He whose heart is cruel or hard is considered Raudra. Cruelty or hardness of heart leads to violence, lies, stealing and protecting possessions by even the foul means.

Dharma Dhyäna:

There are four types of Dharma Dhyäna:

  • Äjnä (Commandment) – Contemplating about the commandment of Omniscients and how to get rid of passions.
  • Apäya (Misery) – Contemplating about the nature of defilements and the resulting misery and unhappiness
  • Vipäk (Fruition of Karma) – Contemplating about the Karma and the consequences they yield.
  • Samsthäna (Structure of universe) – Contemplating about the nature of the universe , body is mortal, there is suffering and pain, that there are ways to achieve permanent happiness.

Shukla Dhyäna:

There are four subtypes. The people, who are in eleventh and twelfth Gunasthänas and are versed in Purva texts, can perform the first two of the four subtypes. However, there are exceptions, because Mäshtush_muni and Marudevi could perform that Dhyäna even though they were not well versed in the Purva texts.  The last two subtypes of Shukla Dhyäna can be performed only by Kevalis (Omniscient) who are in the thirteenth or fourteenth Gunasthäna.

The four subtypes are:

  • Pruthaktva_vitarka Savichär – Multi aspect spiritual meditation
  • Ekatva_vitarka Nirvichär – Single aspect spiritual meditation
  • Sukshma_kriyä Apratipäti – Subtle activity spiritual meditation
  • Vyuparat_kriyä_nivrtti (or Samuchchhinna_kriyä_nivrtti) – Absorption in self spiritual meditations

The first two subtypes are associated with scriptural knowledge. The first subtype involves transition while the second is devoid of it.  In the first type, the practitioner switches his concentration from one form of a substance to another, from a substance to a mode, from one mode to another, from a meaning to a word or from a word to a meaning or from one type of Yoga to another. When the practitioner introduces no such change, then the Dhyäna is called Ekatva_vitarka Nirvichär. Thus, the first one is dominated by difference and the second one is dominated by constancy.

When the meditation involves a subtle bodily Yoga while putting an end to all the remaining Yogas, this act of concentration is called Sukshma_kriyä Apratipäti Dhyäna. At this stage, there proceeds only the subtle bodily activities like inhalation and exhalation and there is no possibility of a fall.

When even the subtle bodily activities like inhalation and exhalation cease altogether and the constituent units of the soul become free from all wavering, then the state is called Samuchchhinna_kriyä_nivrtti Dhyäna.  In this state, no activity takes place. In the fourth subtype of Dhyäna, all Äsrava and all Bandha cease altogether, all Karma come to the end, and liberation (Moksha) is attained. The last two are also called Anälambana or devoid of any dependence.

Vyutsarga (Abandonment of External & Internal aspects):

There are two major types:

  • Abandonment of external aspects is called Dravya Vyutsarga.
  • Abandonment of internal aspects is called Bhäva Vyutsarga.

There are four types of Dravya Vyutsarga:

  • Abandonment of body (Käyotsarga)
  • Gana Vyutsarga (abandoning the company of other mendicants)
  • Upadhi Vyutsarga (abandoning material objects such as clothes, pots, blanket, bench, medicine etc
  • Bhakta Vyutsarga (abandoning food and drink) There are three types of Bhäva Vyutsarga:
  • Kashäya Vyutsarga (overcoming the passions)
  • Samsär Vyutsarga (abandoning worldly life)
  • Karma Vyutsarga (eradicating Karma)

One has to have Bhed Jnän (Vivek Jnän; discriminatory knowledge that the soul and the body are separate) to be able to exercise Vyutsarga.

The more one practices these twelve austerities, the lighter he becomes with his Karma. Thus, Samvar is the process of stopping the influx of Karma and Nirjarä is the process of purifying the soul by eradicating the Karma.  These two processes liberate the soul from the cycle of birth and death and thus Moksha is achieved.  Therefore, Samvar and Nirjarä constitute the pillars of religion.

Please refer to the austerity chart at the end of the chapter.

Souls – Bahirätmä, Antarätmä & Paramätmä (Extrovert, Introvert & Supreme)

The first stage is the extrovert soul (Bahirätmä). The second stage is the introvert soul (Antarätmä), and the final stage is the supreme soul (Paramätmä). Karmic bondage is the cause of extrovert and introvert souls. One has to progress beyond these two stages of the soul to attain the third stage of the soul.  When one attains the third stage (Paramätman state), he is liberated and is freed of any karmic bondage.In order to understand the karmic bondage and Moksha (liberation),  we need to understand the three stages of the soul.

The state in which the concentration of the activities is outward is called extrovert. When Jiva

acts inconsistent to the true nature of the soul, then it is Bahirätmä. When the concentration of its activities is shifted from outward to inward towards the qualities of the soul, it is called Antarätmä. When it stabilizes in its true nature, it is called Paramätmä. One soul but three different levels define its three stages.

Bahirätmä – Extrovert:

The state, in which the concentration of the activities is outward, is called extrovert. In this state, the soul has non_virtuous inner aspects (Bhäva, mental reflections). Bahirätmä has significant attachment to his possessions (wealth, etc.) and his family. He believes that his body is himself. He is in first Gunasthänak. He is in delusion and believes material happiness is the true happiness.  He is devoid of true religion.  He has Anantänu_bandhi Kashäya

Bahirätmä acquires Karma with two types of intensity, tightest (Nikächit) and tighter (Nidhatti). In Nidhatti, one can endeavor to change its duration and intensity but cannot change its quantity and nature.  In Nikächit, one cannot change its duration, intensity, quantity and nature. He has to bear the fruits of this type of Karma.

Antarätmä – Introvert:

Antarätmä is the stage of virtuous inner aspect.  It knows that his body and his soul are two separate entities and he himself is a soul.  He knows that his body is ephemeral but his soul (himself) is permanent and is capable of the right knowledge, right faith, right conduct and unlimited energy. He is in fourth or higher Gunasthänak.  He is engaged in purifying himself and knows that the material world is full of misery.  Antarätmä is still under the influence of knowledge obscuring, perception obscuring, deluding and obstructive Karma but the intensity is milder.

Antarätmä acquires Karma with two types of intensity that cause loose (Sprushta) and tight (Baddha) karmic bondage. Sprushta means the Karma having a dry association with the soul. They just touch the soul. Baddha means the Karma having tight bondage with the soul.

Paramätmä: Supreme

The pure state of the soul is known as Paramätmä.  In this state, there is no association with Karma.  Without Karma and without the cycle of birth and death, the state of the soul is pure, liberated and supreme. The Liberated soul is always absorbed in undisturbed and unlimited joy.

Moksha (Liberation from all Karma)

The karma get dissociated from the soul as soon as they yield their fruits completely and reach the limit of their time duration.  The process of partial dissociation of this type goes on incessantly in the case of worldly souls caught in the cycle of transmigration. But the spiritually beneficial

‘partial dissociation’ is that which takes place in association with the stoppage of the inflow: And when the process of the stoppage of the inflow of new karma and that of the dissociation of the bound karma reach their acme, the absolute and total dissociation of karma, which characterizes liberation, is attained. Complete purity of the soul is Moksha. Jiva free from all the eight Karma is called liberated. Great Ächäryas say that, “As a heavily clay layered pitcher drowns in the water and comes back to the surface when it is freed from the clay layers, the soul bound by Karma submerges in the Samsär (cycle of birth and death) and it goes upwards to the Siddha_loka, when it is freed of the Karma.”

The liberated souls are called Siddhas – who are enjoying the pure state of their souls. There are an infinite number of Siddhas.  The number of Siddhas is continuously increasing.  There will be an infinite number of more Jivas who will become Siddhas in the future. At the present time, the human beings from five Mahä_videha Kshetras (other place in the universe as per Jain geography) are capable of becoming Siddhas. Jivas in five Bharat Kshetras (one of them where we live) and five Airävat Kshetras have to be reborn in the Mahä_videha Kshetras to attain Moksha at the present time. These two Kshetras are in the fifth segment (Ärä) of the regressive time cycle (Pancham Ärä of Avasarpini Käl).  Moreover, no one can attain Moksha directly from these two Kshetras. This does not mean that the Jivas in these two Kshetras cannot undertake spiritual pursuit (Sädhanä). One has to continuously shed one’s Karma to have the right birth at the right place to go to Moksha.  Therefore, one should assume that Moksha is possible from here, and continue his Sädhanä.

Liberated souls are also known as Paramätmä, Ishvar, Bhagawän, God, etc. Jains believe that there are an infinite number of liberated souls (Jinas).

Per Jain beliefs, Arihanta is the living God.  He has absolute knowledge. Therefore, he reveals the essential and real form of the universe.  He revealed that the world is without a beginning and it has no end.  Each and every substance in the universe does undergo continuous change in its mode but is never destroyed or created.   Behind this eternal process there does not exist anyone’s planning or organization.  The whole universe is a self_regulated by the property of each and every substance in it.  For living beings, his/her Karma plays an important role. According to his past Karma, his present fate is decided, and his future will be decided based on his present and the balance of his past Karma.  Jains do believe in God. Our God is Jina. The word Jina literally means “the Victor” or “the Liberator”, the one who has freed himself/herself from the bondage of Karma by conquering Räga (attachment – deceit and greed) & Dvesha (aversion – anger and ego). The God in Jainism is Vitaräga (devoid of any attachment or aversions), Sarvajyna (possess knowledge of all things and all events) and Hitopdashi (preaches for the benefits of humanity).  Bhagawän Mahävir was the last reformer of Jainism. He should not be mistaken as the founder of Jainism.  We had the first Tirthankar, Rishabhadev, in the third segment of this Avasarpini (regressive half cycle).  The remaining 23 Tirthankars lived during the fourth segment of the Avasarpini. At present, we are in the fifth segment.

Once the Jiva is liberated, he does not have any attachment to the material world or material affairs.  His relationship to the material world is permanently terminated. In Moksha, there is no pain, no material happiness, no sufferings, no obstructions, no birth, no death, no sense organs, no afflictions, no delusion, no deceit, no possessiveness, no sleep, no hunger, and no desire. Siddhas have infinite knowledge, infinite perception, infinite conduct, unlimited energy, eternality, formlessness, and complete equanimity in Moksha.  The state of liberation is not describable in words.  The best possible material happiness is not even equal to the smallest possible fraction of the permanent happiness that Siddhas have in Moksha.  Siddha has complete pure consciousness that can be achieved by the one who endeavors as expounded by the Omniscients.  That is the state of ultimate holiness, ultimate efficiency and unlimited energy.

Moksha is the supreme condition.  It is not describable in words because words are Pudgals and in Moksha, there are no activities.  There is no room for applying any logic. This is not the subject of intelligence. Siddhas have no attachments; therefore, they have no grief. Moksha is the subject of experience. How can a mute person describe taste of the delicious food? This does not mean that e delicious food is not tasty.  One can understand and enjoy taste of the delicious food by tasting it. Similarly, no person here can describe Moksha, one has to experience it. Whatever is being expressed about Moksha is like the taste of delicious food described by a mute person.

Every Jiva should have the goal of liberating himself from karmic bondage. As one sheds his Karma and continues to purify his soul, it becomes lighter and he begins to experience what liberation is like. Human life is successful only if one endeavors to eradicate his Karma and tries to free himself from the slavery of Karma that has been in existence since the time without beginning.  The sole purpose of the religion, Sädhanä and the spiritual practice is that one frees himself from karmic bondage and attains Moksha.

One experiences happiness when one’s disease is cured, when his enemies are destroyed, or when one gets something he wanted to possess. What kind of happiness would one experience, if he is free from all diseases; if he has no enemies and there are no more desires? What one gets from Moksha is infinite times greater happiness (peace, bliss, joy) than this. It is felicity arising from no worldly circumstances, but the Jivas in Samsär who are accustomed to enjoy low pleasures cannot think of that.

Jain philosophy describes that the process of liberation can happen in various ways just as we can reach New York from many different directions.  There are fifteen different ways one can attain liberation.

01 Jina Siddha In this process, an individual acquires Tirthankar Karma, which is a part of the body making Karma (Näm_karma) in the third life from the last.  The individual becomes a Tirthankar in the last life, reestablishes the Jain congregation, and then attains liberation. Examples: All the Tirthankars, to name a few, Rishabhadev, Ajitnäth, Shäntinäth, Neminäth, Pärshvanäth, and Mahävir, etc.
02 Ajina Siddha This way, a person does not gain the Tirthankar Karma but becomes Kevali and attains liberation.  Example: Gautam_swämi
03 Tirtha Siddha In this category, the individual attains liberation, after taking the shelter under the Jain congregation established by the Tirthankar.
04 Atirtha Siddha In this, one becomes Kevali even before the Jain congregation is established by a Tirthankar, and also attains liberation before the Jain congregation is established.  Example: Marudevi_mätä and Bähubali swami.
05 Gruhastha_ling


These are the people who may live life as a householder but from within they are totally detached.  They do not have any attachment or hatred for the things happening around them and as their level of spiritual attitude improves, they eliminate destructive karma and become Arihantas. If their life span karma is exhausted then they go to the salvation in about one intra Indian hour (Antarmuhurta) or if their life span is longer, they take up monkhood and may oblige the world by spreading religion until their nirvana and liberation. Example: Chakravarti king Bharat.
06  Anyalinga Siddha Any saintly person observing the code of conduct, has the right faith and the right knowledge, and puts them to practice can attain liberation.  Example: Valkalchiri who was the ascetic of the other religious group 


07 Svaling Siddha  A Jain monk who is practicing the right faith, right knowledge and right conduct and attains liberation.  Example: Muni Prasannachandra
08 Purusha_ling


This is when a man attains liberation.  Example: Sudharmä_swämi
09 Stree_ling


A woman can attain liberation too.  (Digambar tradition does not believe in this) Example: Chandanbälä, Mrugävatiji, etc.
10 Napunsak_ling


When a person with neutral gender attain liberation.  Example – Gängeya_muni
11 Pratyeka_buddha


In this case, a person by self_awareness eliminates the destructive karma triggered by the reason of the surrounding or old age and becomes Kevali then becomes Siddha.  Example: Karkandu Muni
12 Svayam_buddha


In this case, a person by self_inspiration eliminates destructive karma and becomes Kevali then ultimately becomes Siddha. Example: Kapil Kevali
13 Buddha_bodhit


When some one gets enlightened by a spiritual teacher, then renounces the world and then follows flawless life, attains liberation and become a Siddha. Example: Gautam_swämi, Väyubhuti etc.
14 Eka Siddha Here only one soul (person) attains liberation at a time among the group of the monks and nuns.  Example: Bhagawän Mahävir_swämi
15 Aneka Siddha Many monks attain liberation together at the same time.  This means that it so happened that those who attained salvation together had their lives ended at the same time.  Example:


Therefore, from here it will be now clearer that salvation definitely does not have set boundaries. It depends on the individual capacity and the surroundings, which make it easier to attain salvation.  One attaining the salvation may fall into one or more than one of the above categories. As Jainism teaches us to be a compassionate, honest, humble person and control passions to achieve salvation, anybody; Jain or non_Jain following this type of life can also achieve salvation. As per Jainism, the practice matters.

Digambars believe that stree_ling (female) and Napunsak_ling (hermaphrodite) does not become Siddha in that life but can get Kshäyik Samyak darshan (permanent right perception). A person with Kshäyik Samyak Darshan (permanent right perception) does not get reborn as a female or hermaphrodite, and also a female or hermaphrodite will not have the bone structure (Samghayana see Dhyäna above) to be able to undergo penance and Dhyäna required to achieve Siddha hood.

According to their belief system, a householder (Gruhastha ling) by definition is not committed to the ultimate vows that are necessary to achieve liberation. Again, an individual claiming to be of any other faith (Anyalinga) does not have the right faith.  Since Samyag Darshan is fundamental for the path leading to liberation, the person without right faith cannot achieve liberation. Women, because of the social restrictions cannot follow the total vows required for salvation. Along similar lines, they reject the notion of Napunsak_ling Siddha.

According to Digambar tradition, liberated soul is considered through following aspects called gateways of investigations:

(Reference Tattvärtha sutra verse 10.9 Digambar tradition, 10.7 Shvetämbar tradition)

01 Place Kshetra One can achieve salvation from any of the Karma Bhumi namely Bharat, Airavat and Maha_videha Kshetra 
02 Time Samaya Some soul can achieve salvation in both ascending and descending time cycles: in Bharat and Airavat Kshetra.     In descending time cycle to achieve salvation soul has to be born in the last part of 3rd Ara (plenty with scarcity), in the 4th Ara (scarcity and plenty), or in the beginning of 5th Ara (scarcity) born in 4th Ara.                                                      In Ascending time cycle to achieve salvation soul has to be born in scarcity and plenty Ara.                                                   As there is no such division of time cycle in Maha_videha Kshetra One can achieve salvation any time. 
03 Realms of birth Ghati One can achieve salvation as Human beings only. 
04 Gender Ling One can achieve salvation only when completely free of all sexual disposition (thought less state with respect to sexual disposition), which is only possible in the 9th stage of liberation (Anivritti Karan or Badara Gunasthana).  In order to reach 9th stage of liberation one has to completely renounce the worldly possessions including clothes.  Because of social reasons, it is not possible for women and hermaphroditic to completely renounce the possessions & therefore cannot achieve salvation in the present life.  
05 Ford Tirtha Some one can achieve salvation as Tirthankars and some can achieve salvation of ordinary Kevalis.  Some can attain salvation in presence of Tirthankars while some in there absence . 
06 Conduct Charitra One can achieve salvation in their perfect conduct but during the process, one those through all stage of conduct. After the 10th stage of liberation (Sukshma Samparaya Gunasthana) one reaches in the perfect conduct necessary for liberation. 
07 Ability of self or help of others Pratyeka Buddha Bodhit One can achieve salvation through ability of self or one can achieve salvation through the initiation and guidance of others like Tirthankars or guru. 
08 Knowledge Jnan  One can achieve salvation only after one has attained Omniscience (kevel) knowledge, but during the process, one goes through all four types of knowledges or a combination of them. 
09 Size of body Avagahana One can achieve salvation with different size of body, maximum size in early humans, medium and small size in later times. 
10 Interval Antar Souls can achieve salvation continuously one time unit apart or intermittently up to maximum of six months apart. 
11 Number Sankhya One to 108 souls may be liberated during one unit of time.


The mundane soul’s aim is to liberate from this worldly suffering. The soul is in a transmigratory state due to the results of one’s own ignorance (Mithyätva) and passions, resulting in karmic bondage to the soul. Spirituality can occur when the soul removes ignorance and reduces passions.  Once the soul remains for a very brief moment in his true pure state – innate form – then it is called self_realization (Samyag Darshan).  The soul is now capable to increases his efforts and tries to stay in its innate form longer and longer, by doing so, achieves salvation.

Bhagawän Jina has laid out fourteen stages of spiritual development in a very intelligent way, from the first state of deluded state of mundane soul, to the fourteenth stage of liberated free souls called Gunasthäna.



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