Karma Doctrine Of Jainism (2/2)

Published: 23.09.2008
Updated: 30.07.2015
3.2 Stoppage of Bonding or Saṅvara

Two processes are required for de-bonding namely: no bonding of new karmas (saṅvara) and dissociation of accumulated karmas (nirjarā). In fact, Kundakunda states stoppage is instrumental in dissociation. Bonding is due to passion. Hence, activities or observances without passions are required. As stoppage leads to flushing, the factors for it are also the factors for dissociation. Various texts have mentioned observances for being without passion. Here we shall refer to Tattvārthasutra.

The obstruction of influx i.e. flow of matter particles towards the soul is stoppage (saṅvara). It is of two types namely bhāva and dravya. The cessation of activities that lead to transmigration is psychic stoppage (bhāva saṅvara). When these activities are checked the taking in karmic matte is cut of or interrupted (dravya saṅvara). The means of stoppage are:

Sagūptisamitidharmānūprekṣāpariṣahajayacāritraiħ TS 9.2

Which says that stoppage is effected by control, carefulness, virtue, contemplation, and conquest by endurance and conduct. That by which the soul is protected from the causes of transmigration, is:

  • Control or restraint is (gūpti). (Control of mind speech and body)
  • Careful movements to avoid injury to organism in regulation are carefulness (samiti) (care in walking, speaking, food, picking and placing and excretions).
  • Which takes to the desired goals is virtue (dharma). Supreme (forgiveness, humility, honesty, non-greediness, truth, restraint, austerity, renunciation, celibacy and nonpossession)
  • Meditating on the nature of body and so is contemplation (anūprekṣā). (On soul’s transientness, refuge less ness, world, and solitariness. Separateness, impurity of body, influx, stoppage, flushing, rarity of enlightenment and Jina teaching).
  • To bear with the sufferings of hunger etc or bodily afflictions for the sake of dissociation of karmas is endurance. Conquest by patient endurance is (pariṣaha). Victory over 22 afflictions (hunger, thirst, heat, cold, insect-bite, nakedness, disliking, women, wandering, seating, sleeping, agony, injury, begging, non-gin, illness. Blades of grass, dirt, reward and honor, wisdom, ignorance and lack of faith)
  • Conduct (cāritra) is observance of vows and other spiritual purification activities assigned. (Equanimity, re-initiation after atonement, purity though exclusion, subtle passion and conformed conduct).

The above means are explained in details in Tattvārthautra sutras IX 4-18. As these are effective in stoppage activities, these are mentioned as instrumental causes. Stoppage is also affected by penance / austerities (tapa). Austerities are mentioned separately to show that it is effective in both stoppages of new bondage of karmas as well as dissociation of existing karmas.


  • Fasting, under eating,
  • Limitation of begging foods,
  • Lonely habitation and
  • Physical mortification;


  • Expiation (9)
  • Reverence (4),
  • Selfless service (10),
  • Self studies (5),
  • Renunciation (2)
  • Meditation (4)
3.3 Karmic De-bonding / Dissociation or Nirjarā

The spiritual objective of life is to acquire infinite bliss over physical pleasure. Karmas are one of the major hindrance factors in fulfilling it. To eliminate their effects, six stages are there as below:

Jīva ► Volitional activities ► Influx & Bonding ► Fruition/prematuration ► Shedding ► Infinite bliss

There are four karmic processes to be followed in this direction namely bonding, prematuration, subsidence and elimination. We have already discussed bonding in details. We have to consider what happens after bonding?

The empirical soul or jīva has to develop a force of austerities etc. to counteract the force of attraction and aversion (main causes of bondage). The force of austerities must be greater than the force of attraction and aversion if ultimate spiritual progress is desired. The debonding process i.e. enhancing the forces of austerities and gradual elimination of the forces of attraction and aversion when followed continuously results in elimination of all the karman bondage with the empirical soul resulting in its attaining pure soul state.

There are ten operations in Karmic systems where bondage and existence are also counted and which do change the volitional states of jīva or empirical soul and lead to de-bonding. These operations result in ten states of the karmas bonded with empirical soul, which shall be discussed later on in section 4.0.

Each of eight types of karma can only be bound so long as its cause of bondage is in existence. If the cause disappears, the bandha of the corresponding prakṛti ceases. Further the causes can only eliminated successively and not out of order i.e. mithyātva avirati, kaṣāya and yoga respectively.

3.3.1 Theories of De-bonding

We have discussed seven theories of bonding in terms of scriptures and current science. The scriptural theories of de-bonding result from reversing the bonding factors - normal as well as instrumental to stop new influx and shedding by volitional purity and innate and strong vibration energy to make karmas unable to have power to remain associated with jīva. When this power is lost, the karmas automatically wear off and their biophysical bond also gets broken.

Maradia’s theory also depends on emergence of strong vibration due to observances leading to de-magnetization of jīva and wear of karmas. Kachhara’s theory also states de-bonding due to high internal energy produced in the soul leading to dissociate electromagnetic Karmas to be again spread in universe from where they were attracted. Nahata’s theory also depends upon the powerful energy due to pair production leading to de-bonding by converting the whole pair in energy.

3.3.2 Processes of Dissociation

The karmas are bonded with jīva for specific duration depending upon intensities of various bonding factors. If we have to de-bond ourselves, we will have to undergo three processes either simultaneously or consecutively:

  • Checking the Influx or bonding of new Karmas
  • Letting Karmas produce their effects naturally or pre-maturely
  • Flushing of accumulated Karmas

The first process is discussed in section 3.2 earlier.

It is stated that karmas, bonded with the empirical soul already, affect the various capacities of jīva until their duration lasts when they are automatically flushed out like ripened fruits from trees. The rate of fruition depends upon substance, location, time, mode, birth state and duration etc. Thus the jīva experiences these fruits and then dissociates them off (nirjarā). This process will go on forever unless the first process i.e. stoppage of new bonding takes place. However still it can be almost an endless process as the duration of existence of karmas and their strength of each bonding can be extremely large and it may not be possible for the jīva to continue the first process during all this time. Further it is necessary that jīva experiences the fruits of karmika activation, even though it is miniscule or not felt sensually but the dissociation of karmas be not experienced by the soul.

Jain texts however detailed specific activities, like penance, which speed up the ripening process of existing karmas (like we ripen raw mangoes with some chemicals). This is possible as by definition, as detailed in section 4.0 later, karmas have different states and most of them, except the one, can be changed by prescribed ethical practices and penance/ austerities. Tattvarthasutra in its chapter IX details the means of speedy flushing of karmas associated with the empirical soul. Detailed relationship of various species of karmas and their effect in this process of speedy dissociation are detailed in Dhavalā and other Karmagranthas.

The karmic fruition has four varieties like the four bonds. For example the durational fruition has two varieties:

  1. With effort
  2. Based on destruction of duration (natural).

The first one type of fruition has two varieties:

  1. Earned by acquisition (Samprapti) and
  2. Earned through drippings.

In the first case, only single duration is pre-matured, while in second, much duration is pre-matured. Similarly maturation of karmas is four fold. It could be of (1) primary species or (2) secondary species and each can be partial or total.

Dissociation when total i.e. when all the karmic bondages are eliminated from empirical soul, then the empirical soul attains the status of pure soul / pure soul / Mokṣa.

4.0 States or Modes of Karmas

Jains do not subscribe to Fatalist and Theists theories and give significant commitment to self-reliance. This means that the soul has innate capability or energy (vīrya) to influence its own future even though karmas are extremely powerful and affect soul in many ways shown earlier. Thus soul is the material (upādāna kāraṇa) cause of its defilement and obscuration and that it energy attribute actively differentiates the karmika matter into appropriate efficient cause (nimmita kāraṇa). The energy attribute of the soul can affect the matter karmas in eight different ways (out of ten possible states of karmas marked by * below out of ten states of karmas). Thus changing the state of the karmas causing it can change thus auspicious and inauspicious results of karmika activation. Refer Bhagavati sutras no 23, 24, 44, 47, 357 and Gommaṭṭasāra karmakānda gāthās 441-450. This indeed is the cornerstone of the Jain doctrine of karma and pūrūṣārtha / self-effort and refuting fatalists (niyativāda) and theists i.e. no supreme power being benevolent for our achievements or luck. Even though we are  born with some past karmas and associated luck, still we can change our destiny by our efforts.

An empirical soul makes special efforts, like undertaking meritorious activities (e.g. bhakti / devotion, service to others, charity etc that are practiced to enhance the effectiveness of merit (pūnya) karmas or to reduce the duration and intensity of de-meritorious (pāpa) karmas; penance and observing vows etc to be able to continue performing spiritual purification activities so as to achieve stoppage and dissociation of karmas. Thus the entire path of spiritual purification is based on these capabilities of the empirical soul and different states of the karmas.

There are ten states of karmas, which are identified as:

      1. Bandha or bondage,
      2. Sattā or existence,
      3. Udaya or activation / realization,
      4. Udīraṇa or premature fruition,
      5. Udvartana or increasing the duration and/or intensity of the karma,
      6. Apavartana or reducing the duration of existence and activity,
      7. Saṅkramaṇa or interchange of nature
      8. Upaśama or subsidence,
      9. Nidhatti or immunization of karmas against certain external activities and
      10. Nikācanā or immunization of karmas against all external activities.
Let us briefly understand these states of karma and their effects and corresponding efforts needed.
4.1 Bandha or Bondage *

State of soul and karmas being united is called bandha. In Bhagavati, example of boat with holes and water creeping inside the boat, filling the boat, and making boat and water as one union is given by Mahāvīra to Gautam to explain bandha of karmas with the empirical soul. Jain philosophy uses the term bandha more in terms of the act of bondage. From the viewpoint of means of activity, the cause or method of bondage is bandha. Similarly the entity, which gets bonded, is bandha. All these meanings are interchangeably used to explain bandha as a system.

4.2 Sattā or Existence

In Jain philosophy, reality, existence, generality, entity, and object are all called existence. Like storage of cereals after harvesting, storage of the karmas with the empirical soul and the existence of the store of karmas prior to their activation are called sattā of karmas. As per Kaṣāya Prābhata, kārmaṇa vargāṇās (matter particles) after their conversion to karmas till they become active to yield results is sattā i.e. the period from the time the karmas get bonded and till they start yielding results is satta.

4.3 Udaya or Activation*

The activation of karmas existing with the empirical soul to yield auspicious or inauspicious results is called udaya and from now onwards the karmas are busy yielding appropriate results to be experienced by empirical soul and continue doing so till their active time is finished and they dissociate from the soul. Example of rose flower, which starts emitting pleasant odour from the time it starts to bloom till the flower’s bloom time is over at which stage the flower starts shedding its petals and leaves the plant. Udaya is said to be of two types namely result-yielding activations called vipāko-udaya (i.e. the karma gets active to yield results and then their dissociation from the soul after its duration is over) and pradeśoudaya, which implies experience of results in the space points of the empirical soul only and not externally by the jīva.

4.4 Udīraṇa or Premature Fruition* 

It is also like activation of karma with the difference that the activations of karmas is made ahead of their natural time by external special means i.e. the efforts of the empirical soul. Example of greenhouse farming where the plants are made to grow at an accelerated place (in much shorter time) to yield fruits/vegetables/flowers by use of ultraviolet light and close control of temperature and humidity. Similarly by special efforts of the soul, the duration of the existence of karmas with the empirical soul is reduced so that the karmas become active (i.e. ready to yield fruits like plants) for enjoyment by jīva sooner than scheduled originally at the time of bonding.

4.5 Udvartana or Enhancing the Duration and Intensity of the Karma.*

The process of increasing the predetermined duration and intensity of a specific species of the karma by special spiritual purification activities of the empirical soul is called Udvartana. Thus Udvartana enhances the characteristics of sthiti bandha and anubhaga bandha.

4.6 Apavartana or Reducing the Duration of Existence and Activity.

Apavartana means to reduce. This means the reduction in the duration of the period of existence (sthiti) of karmas with the empirical soul and then the duration of the active period (anūbhāga reduction) of the karma existing with the empirical soul is apavartana. This also is achieved by special efforts of the soul.

4.7 Saṅkramaṇa or Interchange of Nature*

Saṅkramaṇa means interchange of one activity or type of entity with another. Thus the special efforts by which the secondary species (uttara prakṛtis) of a chief species (mūla prakṛti) of karmas are interchanged (within the same chief species), and this is called saṅkramaṇa. However Āyūṣa, Darśanamohanīya and Cāritramohanīya mūla prakṛtis do not allow saṅkramaṇa of their secondary species.

4.8 Upaśama or Subsidence*

To suppress activation of the most potent karma of the eight types of karmas i.e. Mohanīya or deluding, and making it ineffective from its activation is called Upaśama or subsidence. During Upaśama of karma, pradeśo-daya and vipāko-daya do not exist i.e. they are made redundant by special spiritual purification exercises by the empirical soul. Subsidence exists for some time only as the suppressed karma becomes active again or can be dissociated by the empirical soul using special spiritual purification activities. Mohanīya karma cannot be activated, premature fructified, immunized against certain or all activities during subsidence.

4.9 Nidhati or immunization of karmas against certain external activities.*

To make the existing karmas immune to udvartana and apvartana is called Nidhati. Nidhati makes the bondage of karmas with the empirical soul stronger so that the results of this bondage are enjoyed by the soul for longer duration or at a later stage and as per the bondage only.

4.10 Nikācanā or Immunization of Karmas against all external Activities.

To make the existing karmas immune to all activities of the soul is called Nikācanā. This implies that the state of Nikācanā of the karmas is extremely strong where the soul becomes sort of ineffective and just enjoys the effects of the bonded karmas. To some extent it can be said to be a state of niyati or determinism.

Annexe I

Jain Theory of Karma

Annexe II

Karma types / prakṛtis

1.0 Ghātiā / obscuring

2.0 Agāhtiā/ non obscuring

1.1 Knowledge obscuring (jṅānāvaraṇa)(5)

2. 1 Experience/ (Vedniya) (2)

1.2 Intuition obscuring (Darśanāvaraṇa) (9)

2.2 Life span determining (āyuṣa) (4)

1.3 Deluding (Mohniya) (28)

2.3 Body construction (nāma) (93)

1.4 Obstructing/ hindering (Antrāya)(5)

2.4 Family status determining (gotra) (2)

S No


Subtype 1

Subtype 2



















Sātā, pleasure

Asātā, pain
















Mati-k which causes the obscuration of the knowledge transmitted through the senses and mind; śruta-k which produces the obscuration of knowledge acquired by interpreting signs (i.e. Words, writings, gestures); avadhi-k which hinders transcendental knowledge of material things (clairvoyance obscuring); manahparyāya-k which hinders transcendental knowledge of the thoughts of others, (telepathy obscuring) and kevala-k which obscures the omniscience inherent in the jīva


Cakṣur-k or through eyes; acaṣur-k or sense organs other than eyes; avadhi-k i.e.clairvoyance; kevala-k


Nidrā-k (pleasant sleep); nidrā -nidrā –k (deep slumber); praca ā -k (sound sleep while sitting or standing) and styānagddhi-k exceeding intensive sleep.


Dāna-k (giving charity); lābha-k (receing); bhoga-k (enjoyment); upabhoga-k (repeated enjoyment) and vīrya-k (will power.)


Darśana or faith deluding (3)


Cāritra or conduct deluding. It has 16 passions, 6 small passions and 3 genders.


Human, sub human, heaven and hell.


States of existences (4) Classes of beings (5), bodies (5); chief and secondary parts of bodies (3), bindings (5), saṅghātans (5), firmness of joints (6), figures (6), colours (5), odours (2), tastes (5), touches (8), ānūpurvis (4), gaits (10), trasa prakṛtis or moving capabilities (10), stahvara prakṛtis i.e. Stationery (10)


Table 0.3 



Sub - Categories*



Ghātiā – Obscuring


Jṇānāvarṇiya (Knowledge obscuring)


Knowledge obscuring or does not let full knowledge quality to be utilized by soul.


Darśānavarṇiya (Vision obscuring)


Perception obscuring.


Mohaniya (Deluding))


Bliss defiling or misleading the soul from its own nature thereby developing wrong tendencies


Antrāya (Obstructing)


Energy obscuring or limiting of the soul


Aghātiā - Non obscuring


Vedniya (Feeling)


Pertains to feelings or experiences of happiness and unhappiness by soul


Nāma (body making)


Responsible for construction and features of the body associate with the soul.


Āyuh (Age)


Describes the longevity or the life span in the coming destiny or life mode.


Gotra (family determining)


Status determining karma in the current or new life cycle/ mode.


International School for Jain Studies
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  1. Anubhaga bandha
  2. Apavartana
  3. Avirati
  4. Bandha
  5. Bhakti
  6. Bhāva
  7. Body
  8. Celibacy
  9. Clairvoyance
  10. Contemplation
  11. Cāritra
  12. Cāritramohanīya
  13. Darśana
  14. Darśanamohanīya
  15. Darśanāvaraṇa
  16. Dharma
  17. Dravya
  18. Equanimity
  19. Fasting
  20. Gotra
  21. International School for Jain Studies
  22. Jain Philosophy
  23. Jina
  24. Jīva
  25. Karma
  26. Karman
  27. Karmas
  28. Kaṣāya
  29. Kundakunda
  30. Mahāvīra
  31. Meditation
  32. Mithyātva
  33. Mohaniya
  34. Mohanīya
  35. Mohanīya karma
  36. Mohniya
  37. Mokṣa
  38. Mūla Prakṛti
  39. Nidrā
  40. Nikācanā
  41. Nirjarā
  42. Niyati
  43. Nāma
  44. Prakṛti
  45. Pāpa
  46. Samiti
  47. Satta
  48. Sattā
  49. Science
  50. Soul
  51. Space
  52. Space points
  53. Sthiti
  54. Sthiti Bandha
  55. Tapa
  56. Trasa
  57. Udaya
  58. Upaśama
  59. Upādāna
  60. Upādāna kāraṇa
  61. Vīrya
  62. Yoga
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