The Jain tattvas, or principles, are the single most important subject of Jain philosophy. It deals with the theory of karma, which provides the basis for the path of liberation. Jain literature explains nine fundamental tattvas. Without the proper knowledge of these tattvas, a person can not progress spiritually.
The proper understanding of this subject brings about right knowledge (samyak jnana), right faith (samyak darshana), and right conduct (samyak-charitra) to an individual.
Nine Tattvas (Principles)
1. Jiva Soul or living being (Consciousness)
2. Ajiva Non living substances
3. Punya* Virtue
4. Papa* Sin
5. Asrava Cause of the influx of karma
6. Samvara Stoppage or arrest of the influx of karma
7. Nirjara Exhaustion of the accumulated karma
8. Bandha Bondage of karma
9. Moksha Total liberation from karma
• Punya and Papa are the diverse results of Asrava and Bandh. Some exponents of Jains do not treat them as separate tattvas. According to them, there are only seven principles instead of nine.
1. Soul (Jiva) or Living being Substance
Jiva or Soul is the only substance, which in pure state possesses infinite knowledge, vision, power, and bliss. The pure soul is a liberated soul. The worldly soul is covered by karma particles. The karma subdues the natural qualities of the soul. The qualities of the impure soul are as follows: • Limited Knowledge, Vision, Power, and Bliss• Possesses a body (plants, hellish, animal, human, or angel) • Wanders into the cycle of life and death• Suffers from birth, death, pain, and pleasureThe ultimate goal of human life is to remove all karma particles, which are attached to the soul. Then the soul will become pure and liberated.
2. Ajiva (Non living) Substances
Except soul, everything else in the entire universe is non-living substance. The non-living substances are classified into five categories. Matter - PudgalSpace - AakasMedium of motion - DharmastikayMedium of rest - AdharmastikayTime - Kaal or Samay
Out of five categories, only matter substance possesses body, color, and senses. Karma is one of the categories of matter. It is known as karmic matter (karma pudgala). Karma particles are Chatur-sparshi Pupgalas (of very fine matter not perceptible to the senses). The entire universe is filled with such karmic matter.
Every living being is covered by karmic matter from the beginning of time or from their eternal existence. It is the karmic matter that keeps the soul away from realization of its true nature. It is due to karma one feels pleasure and pain, reincarnates in the different form of life, acquires certain types of physical body, and the duration of life.
3. Punya (Virtue)
The fruit of influx of karmic matter due to good activities of the mind, body, and speech with the potential of producing pleasant sensations is called punya or virtue. By Subha Yoga (religious) activities the soul becomes purified, simultaneously karmic matter (shubha karma pudgala) are attached to the soul. The bondage of shubh karmas is called dravya Punya and when they give result, it is called punya.
4. Papa (Sin)
The result of influx of karmic matter due to evil activities of the mind, body, and speech with the potential of producing unpleasant sensations is called papa or sin. Ashubha Yoga Activities such as violence, untruth, theft, unchastity, attachment to objects, anger, conceit, deceit, lust result in producing ashubha karma pudgalas is called papa when it give result.Asrava (Cause of the influx of karma)Asrava is the cause, which leads to the influx of good and evil karma which lead to the bondage of the soul.
5. Asrava Ashrava
may be described as attraction in the soul toward sense objects. The following are causes of Asrava or influx of good and evil karma:Mithyatva IgnoranceAvirati Lack of self restraintPramada* Unawareness or unmindfulnessKasaya Passions like anger, conceit, deceit, and lustYoga Activities of mind, speech, and body
6. Samvara (Stoppage of Karma)
The method that stops fresh karma from attaching into the soul is called samvara. This process is a reverse process of asrava. It can be accomplished by constant practice of:
Samyaktva Right belief virati Observance of vows Apramada Awareness Akasaya Passionlessness Ayoga Peacefulness of vibratory activities
7. Nirjara (Exhaustion of the attached karma)
The attached karma exhaust themselves by producing their results when it is time for them to do so. At that time new karma attach to the soul.
Unless the attached karma are exhausted before they start producing the results, it becomes difficult for the soul to be free.
Therefore, it is necessary to exhaust all karmas before their maturity. This is done by rigorous austerities and penance. This process is called nirjara.
There are twelve types of nirjara defined in the Jain scriptures. They are divided into two groups; external nirjara which disciplines the human body against passions and desires and internal nirjara which purifies the soul. The internal nirjara is the true austerities because it exhausts the attached karma before their maturity from the soul.
Anasan Complete abstinence of eating any food and drinking liquid for certain timeUnodary or Alpahara Reduction in the quantity of food one normally eats
Bhikshachari Limiting the number of food items to eat and material things for useRasa Parityaga Complete abstinence of eating or drinking juicy and tasty foods such as honey, alcohol, butter, milk, tea, sweets, etc. (no attachments to the taste of the foods)Kayaklesha Live and travel on a bare foot in a severe heat and cold whether condition. Remove hair with the hand. Prati-Samlinata Sitting in a lonely place in due postures with senses and mind withdrawn inwardly.
Prayaschita Repentance for the breach of vows for spiritual purificationVinaya Politeness (appropriate behavior) towards teachers and eldersVaiyavrata Rendering selfless service to the suffering and deservingSvadhyaya Studying and listening of religious scripturesDhyana Religious meditationVyutsarga The ultimate internal austerity, where the activities of body, speech and mind are withdrawn. The body is fixed without movement, the speech is fixed by means of silence, and the mind is fixed by means of sublime meditation. This nirjara destroys all karmas.
8. Bandha (Bondage of karma)
Bandha is the attachment of karmic matter (karma pudgala) to the soul. The soul has had this karmic matter bondage from eternity because of its own ignorance. This karmic body is known as the karmana body or causal body or karma.
Karmic matter is a particular type of matter which is attracted to the soul because of soul's ignorance, lack of self restraint, passions, unmindfulness, and activities of body, mind, and speech.
The soul, which is covered by karmic matter, continues acquiring new karma from the universe and exhausting old karma into the universe through the above mentioned actions at every moment.
Because of this continual process of acquiring and exhausting karma particles, the soul has to pass through the cycles of births and deaths, and experiencing pleasure and pain. So under normal circumstances the soul can not attain freedom from karma, and hence liberation.
When karma attaches to the soul, its bondage to the soul is explained in the following four forms:Prakriti bandh Type of karmaSthiti bandha Duration of attachment of karmaAnubhaga bandha Intensity of attachment of karmaPradesha bandha Quantity of karma
Prakriti Bandha (Type of karma):When karmic matter attaches to the soul, it will obscure soul's essential nature of; perfect knowledge, perfect vision, bliss, perfect power, eternal existence, non corporeal, and equanimity. The different types of karma obscure different quality or attributes of soul. This is known as Prakriti bandha.
Prakriti bandha is classified into eight categories, according to the particular attribute of the soul that it obscures.
Jnana varaniya karma -It covers the soul's power of perfect knowledge.Darasna varaniya karma -It covers the soul's power of perfect visions.Mohniya karma -It generates delusion in the soul in regard to its own true nature. The soul identifies itself with other external substances and relationships. Antaraya karma -It obstructs the natural quality or energy of the soul such as charity and will power. This prevents the soul from attaining liberation. It also prevents a living being from doing something good and enjoyable.Vedniya karma -It obscures the blissful nature of the soul, and thereby produces pleasure and pain.Nama karma -It obscures the non corporeal existence of the soul, and produces the body with its limitations, qualities, faculties, etc.Gotra karma -It obscures the soul's characteristics of equanimity, and determines the caste, family, social standing, and personality.Ayushya karma -It determines the span of life in one birth, thus obscuring soul's nature of eternal existence.
Ghati karma and Aghati karma:The above eight karmas are also categorized into two groups, known as ghati karma which subdues the qualities of the soul, and aghati karma which relates to physical body of the living beings.
Ghati Karma (Dangerous karma)Jnana varaniya, Darasna varaniya, Mohaniya, and Antaraya karmas are called ghati karmas (dangerous karmas) because they obscure the true nature of the soul, which is, perfect knowledge, power, vision and bliss.
Aghati Karma (Nondangerous karma)Ayushya, Nama, Gotra, and Vedniya karmas are called aghati karmas. They do not obscure the original nature of the soul. However, they associate with the physical body of the soul.
When a person destroys all of his ghati karmas, he attains keval jnana (absolute knowledge). At that time he is known as Arihant. However, he continues to live his human life until all his aghati karmas are destroyed. He attains liberation only after his death.
Some Arihants establishes the religious order of Monks, Nuns, Sravaka, (male layperson), and Sravika (female layperson). These Arihants are called Tirthankaras and the religious order is known as four fold Jain order. Other Arihantas who do not establish religious order but remain as a part of the existing order are known as simple Kevali. After nirvana (death) both Tirthankaras and simple Kevali (all Arihantas) become Siddhas.
All Siddhas are unique individuals, they all possess perfect knowledge, vision, power, and bliss, and no physical body. Hence from the qualities and attributes point of view all Siddhas are same.
Sthiti Bandha (Duration of attachment):When karmic matter attaches to the soul it remains attached for certain duration before it produces the result. The duration of the attachment is determined according to the intensity or dullness of the soul's passions or actions when the karma is being attached to the soul. After producing the result, karma will separate from the soul.
Anubhaga Bandha or Rasa Bandha (Intensity of attachment):What fruits the karmic matter will produce are determined at the time of attachment by varying degrees of soul's passions.
Pradesha Bandha (Quantity of karma)The intensity or dullness of the soul's action determines the quantum of karmic matter that is drawn towards the soul for attachment.
9. Moksha (Liberation)
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, vision, power, and bliss. It climbs to the top of Lokakas 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."