The Mirror Of The Self: [23] Leshya: Material Or Psychic?

Published: 05.03.2009
Updated: 02.07.2015

Selection Of Colour

Do we want to thrive in life? Do we long for a successful career? If yes," we must pay attention to our clothes. What kind of garments do we put on? What is their colour? Generally, the Jain monks and nuns are clad in white; they do not wear red, yellow, black or blue. One might ask, Why wear white alone? If one takes to a life of renunciation, one must abandon flashy colours. The white is the colour of shukla leshya and of parama-shukla leshya. From the point of view of renunciation, it is the best colour.

The Cause Of Indiscipline

Colours have a great impact upon the mind. Not only does colour influence an individual's state of mind, it can also change it. The students of a school in Soviet Russia had grown very impertinent and undisciplined. This posed a great problem for the school authorities and the teachers. They wondered what the cause of such indiscipline could be. Two or three children might behave impudently, but if a whole class grows disorderly, there must be some deeper reason for it. What could it be? Even those students who appeared to be meek and disciplined in the begin­ning, were gradually growing impertinent and disorderly. Despite a good deal of research, the cause remained unknown. At last the colour specialists were called in. They revealed the true cause of the phenomenon. "The colour of your school is red," they said, "The doors and the windows are all painted red. Even the glass panes are tinted red. So are the curtains and the carpets on the floor. The school uniform, too, is red. Wherever there is a preponderance of red colour, aggressiveness and indiscipline are bound to be dominant."

Change In Colour Results In Change Of Character

The colour specialists suggested a change of colour. Instead of red, they said, let it be green, pink or blue. The school authorities accepted their recommendations, and the rooms were distempered in a different colour; the old carpets and the curtains were replaced; the doors and the window-panes were repainted. After some time, a change in the conduct of the students was discernible. Their impertinence grew less. They became quiet and disciplined. The problem faced by the teachers and the school authorities stood resolved.

The Importance Of Colour

It is very important to determine what the colour of the house or of the ceiling should be. If these are painted red, a person living in such a house, even if he is not given to fits of anger, might experience a sudden paroxysm of rage. There is the likelihood of an increasing number of quarrels and disputes. As regards the labourers, the red colour may have some utility since it increases their capacity to bear heavy loads. If the shop or the godown is painted red, it would help the men to lift heavy sacks more easily. On the other hand, a shop or a godown painted blue will turn the labourers slothful and they would experience discomfort even in lifting lighter consignments; their capacity to carry loads would be reduced.

This doctrine of leshya is closely linked with everyday living. It is a big factor of success or failure in life. A proper comprehension of this doctrine can take us towards self-fulfil­ment; we can make our personality progressive and influential and our thinking wholesome and effective.

Leshya: Three Kinds

There are three kinds of leshya - karmic leshya, quasi-karmic leshya and psychic leshya. Or we might say that leshya is of two kinds - material leshya and psychic leshya and material leshya is again of two kinds - karmic leshya and quasi-karmic leshya. In the very beginning of the chapter on leshya in Uttaradhyayan Sutra, six karmic leshyas are mentioned.

Karmic Leshya

The leshya is intimately connected with the bondage of karma. When the leshya is vitiated, it is held in the bondage of inauspicious karma; when the leshya is pure, the bondage is of auspicious karma and the destruction of deluding karma proceeds apace. One leshya accompanies our body continuously; the aura is there all the time and in the act of receiving karma, we have the material particles of leshya functioning with us incessantly. These constitute our karmic leshya.

Quasi-Karmic Leshya

There is another kind of leshya called quasi-karmic Leshya. The light of the sun is quasi-karmic leshya. It is intimately connected with life. Where there is the light of the sun, there is life; without the light, there is no life. The existence of our world has sunlight as its foundation. If the light of the sun is withheld, our digestive system would go awry. When the sun is covered with clouds all the day long, a man's digestive system is disor­dered; his digestive power weakens. If the sun is hidden from view for 5-7 days and a man continues eating as usual, he is bound to fall ill. One of the reasons for the ban on eating at night has been the inclination to avoid the incidental killing of living creatures. The second reason is that after sunset, the digestive system grows inert. Acharya Hemchandra has written in Yoga Shastra:-"At sunset, the lotus of the heart becomes contracted; the digestive system too grows inert. The circulation of the blood also becomes tardy."

Why Is Pain Felt More Acutely At Night?

Any pain in the body is felt more at night than during the day. With the approach of night, the rheumatism of the knees grows worse, with a corresponding increase in backache and the pain in the neck. One may ask why all kinds of aches grow more tormenting at night. Why are they not so virulent during the day? Indigestion generally affects a person at night. The wind too displays its vehemence at night. What is the cause of it all? As long as the sun shines, all the diseases are comparatively quiescent. The moment the sun goes down, it is open sesame to them all. A thief finds his opportunity in the darkness of the night. Insomnia too harasses one at night. All the vicious spirits find an oppor­tunity to display their power during nighttime without let or hindrance.


The sun has one kind of leshya, the moon has another. The gems too have a leshya of their own. All these are types of quasi-karmic leshya. The light of the sun gets accommodated in the gems. The gems-therapy evolved on that basis. A lot of literature has been produced on this therapy. One research scholar at Calcutta, Bhattacharya, is very adept in it. A gem exercises a strange influence. It is because of the concentration in it of radiations from the sun.

It happened in Bombay. A man was perpetually afflicted with fever. He tried several medicines, but to no effect. Then he consulted a gem-specialist. The gem-specialist made a study of all the circumstances of the case. He found the patient wearing a red gem on his finger. That furnished him a clue. He said, "Get this gem off your finger. Also this gem should not be kept in your living room." The gem-physician's suggestion was acted upon, with the result that the fever which all earlier treatments had failed to cure, ended of itself a day after the gem was discarded.

What Does Material Leshya Mean?

If a particular gem proves agreeable to a person, he nourishes like anything. If, however, the gem proves inauspi­cious, the man grows a pauper. It works both ways - that is the quality of quasi-karmic leshya.

Material leshya means a ray, a beam, a light. If particular colours prove auspicious, they bring untold benefits; if inauspi­cious, they prove most damaging. So, if we are careful about the colours, we can avoid a good deal of harm and derive much benefit. What should be the colour of the clothes one wears, of the food one consumes, of the house or room one lives in? One must have a perfect understanding of these matters.

A Problem Created By Colour

A cinema hall was painted deep red. Whoever came to this cinema hall for witnessing a movie, developed a headache. This went on for some time. The number of viewers gradually decreased. So much so that the cinema hall became a losing proposition. The owner of the cinema house was plunged into gloom. His peon asked him what ailed him? Why was he so depressed? The owner said, "I've suffered a heavy loss. I immediately need Rs. 5,000/-. My prestige is at stake." The peon told his master not to entertain any worry on that account and that he would fetch him the required amount. The owner was amazed. He said, "But how can you afford to lend me such a sum? The salary I give you is so meagre." The peon said, "When the cinema is running, I stand outside the gate and sell anti-headache pills. Those who come out of the hall, are much perturbed by headache. They seek relief from headache by laking my pills. So I have made quite a pile selling anti-headache pills."

The headache was the result of the cinema hall being painted red as well as of the highly thrilling scenes that the spectators witnessed. All these material things have a great impact upon us.

Psychic Leshya

The other aspect of leshya is psychic. Bhava leshya is psychic leshya. Killing, uttering a falsehood, etc. included among the 18 sins, and the five influxes of karma (perversity, possessive-ness, remissness, passion and activity) - all these are possessed of colour. The man, who utters a falsehood, assumes the colour of his sin. The aura of a teller of lies becomes dim. Our aura is clean, but a liar's aura grows ugly. Let us forget one's outward behaviour for the time being. If even the thought of stealing awakens in the mind, if the spirit of violence once assails you, your aura would become tarnished. The aura changes in accordance with the inward spirit and vice versa the inward spirit conforms to the aura.

There Is A Relationship Between The Two

Material leshya and psychic leshya are both intimately connected. There are as many levels of material leshya as that of psychic leshya. If material leshya is contaminated, psychic leshya is equally defiled; likewise, if psychic leshya is vitiated, material leshya is also vitiated. On the other hand, when psychic leshya is pure, material leshya is also purified, and if material leshya is purified, psychic leshya too becomes pure. Both are intimately connected. We must keep vigilant in these two dimensions. We must be attentive as regards the colour of the aura, also about our inner sentiment. Growing alertness in these two spheres greatly improves the quality of our life.

Lack Of Correspondence Between Different Leshyas

Man suffers from a great deal of tension. He is surrounded by all kinds of worries. At times he is much depressed; he acutely feels the discordance of his environment. Life is bereft of all charm. In such a state, the question of any consideration for the other does not arise. The reason for such aridity is the incongruity of leshyas. Two persons may be living together. But if their leshyas are not congruous, how will they get along? If one of them moves to the East, the other goes West. Before marriage, the horoscopes of the prospective bride and bridegroom are compared to see how many of the constellations match and how many of them do not. It is believed that if the constellations match, the marriage would be successful. On the other hand, if the constel­lations do not match, the relationship between husband and wife could not be healthy; instead, there would be quarrels, tension and bad blood, with little prospect of a happy life. It is with a view to ensuring healthy marital relationship that people get the constel­lations of the respective parties matched. But the constellations of leshya have to be matched everyday. If the leshyas of two persons do not agree, it creates a number of problems.

So let us match the constellations of leshya. The secret of it lies in leshya-transformation. Yes, one's leshya is capable of being transformed. If we apprehend this secret, we shall come to understand a great many things.

Factor Of Change

Let us purify our psyche. At the same time we should concentrate on changing our dravya leshya (in the Jain terminol­ogy, leshya inherited at birth and which continues till death; inherited disposition). The purification of both our psychic leshya (bhava leshya, i.e., fresh leshya arising from activity) and dravya leshya is the active factor of change. Let us start with dravya leshya. A change therein would bring about a corresponding change in our psychic leshya, too. In preksha meditation, you are asked to visualise white colour, while keeping your attention focussed on the Centre of Enlightenment. The man, who practises the visualisation of white colour, feels that tension is decreasing and that his psyche is being purified. Many people have ex­perienced this for themselves; their headache just disappeared! Consequent upon the visualisation of white colour on the middle of the forehead, two results show themselves - the purification of the psyche and deliverance from headache. One's psyche can get contaminated because of headache, too. The middle of the forehead is the active centre of passions and strong emotions.

Union Of The Body And The Soul

It was considered as to where the points of junction of the soul and the body, of the subtle body and the gross body, lie. Where do the soul and the body meet? The subtle body lies inside and the gross body lies outside. The soul is within, the body without. Which is their meeting point? There are three or four spots in the body where the soul and the body meet; one of these is our limbic system, which is a part of our brain. The soul and the body meet here and leshya is the medium thereof.

The First Junction

There are many stations but only a few stations serve as junctions, where the trains meet, and from where new trains start. The limbic system is the meeting point of the body and the soul. It is a highly sensitive spot; very emotional. The quieter it is kept, the purer our psyche becomes. While it is placid, there can be no headache, nor anger, nor any other excitement. To grasp this point is to understand leshya.

The Second Junction

The second meeting point of the body and the soul is the navel, the Centre of Bio-Electricity (taijasa kendra). The navel is an important nucleus. It is held that any displacement of the navel causes pain in the stomach. Old, experienced people while ex­amining a patient, used to determine first of all whether his navel was in order. This was done through a particular technique of computing the dimensions of the stomach. If it was found that the navel had been displaced, the first thing to do was to set it right.

The Third Junction

The third meeting point of the body and the soul is the Centre of Bliss situated near the heart. It is an important psychic centre. The visualisation of different colours on this centre serves to purify leshya. Meditation on the Centre of Peace, the Centre of Bio-Electricity and the Centre of Bliss, coupled with a vivid visualisation of the sun, of the moon, or of brilliant white colour, renders these centres clean.

Colours: Auspicious And Inauspicious

All meditational exercises are connected with material leshya. If we want to keep our instincts and feelings pure, if we wish to maintain the impeachability of our psychic leshya, we will have to pay equal attention to maintaining the purity of our leshya (dravya leshya). We must visualise pure colours. All the colours are not alike. Even the white colour is not uniformly the same; sometimes it is auspicious, at other times inauspicious. If it is inauspicious, it is no good. Only that colour is good which is auspicious. So we must select for our visualisation some auspi­cious colour.

The Significance Of Black Colour

A justice in a law-court wears a black coat, so does a lawyer. Within the precincts of the law-court, you notice the black colour everywhere. The black colour is not always bad; it can be auspi­cious too. It is one of the characteristics of the black colour that it is not easily influenced. A famous Rajasthani proverb reads: "A black blanket will take no other colour." Many colours are weak and easily take a stronger dye; not so the black. Perhaps that is why the black was selected for people working in the field of justice, so that the judge remains impartial. The lawyer too should keep impartial. The law-court is a place where impartiality should reign. That is why the black colour was selected for people associated with the law courts.

Colour And Commercial Advertising

Nowadays, even the common man pays a great deal of attention to the selection of suitable colours. If he buys or gets some dress made for himself, he is very particular that the colours of different materials should match. There are to be found today innumerable advisers and consultants working in this field. They charge thousands of rupees as consultation fee. They determine what colour the advertisement in the newspaper should bear. If the advertisement is not of the right colour, the company might fail. An attractive colour in the advertisement is instrumental in pushing up the sale. Irrespective of the quality of the goods advertised, the advertisement itself should be appealing. The advertisement business thrives on colours.

A Truth Closely Associated With Life

The whole of this doctrine of colours is known as the doctrine of leshya in the terminology of the Jain philosophy. All the colours constitute dravya leshya (i.e., leshya inherited at birth). Most of the time, we are concerned with these. The psychic leshya relates to something within; it influences our conduct and be­haviour. For bringing about a change, it is necessary to understand both leshyas the inherited leshya and the psychic leshya. Some people think, "Why bother about such things? All these are metaphysical concepts, of little practical value." We forget that no man can fully comprehend the art of beautiful living without knowing these. He who is concerned with living a good life, will have to understand them. If a man is content to live like beasts, it is his outlook. But for success in life, it is necessary -to perceive certain truths. Leshya is one truth, which is intimately connected with our life. If we comprehend it, we shall have in our hands the key to successful living.


3rd Edition 1995

Jain Vishva Bharati Institute
Ladnun -341 306 (Rajasthan)

Muni Dhananjay Kumar (Hindi)
Muni Mahendra Kumar (English)

Translated by:
Late Prof. R.K. Seth

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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Acharya
  2. Acharya Hemchandra
  3. Anger
  4. Aura
  5. Bhava
  6. Body
  7. Bombay
  8. Brain
  9. Calcutta
  10. Centre of Bio-Electricity
  11. Centre of Bliss
  12. Centre of Enlightenment
  13. Centre of Peace
  14. Concentration
  15. Dravya
  16. Environment
  17. Jain Philosophy
  18. Karma
  19. Kendra
  20. Leshya
  21. Leshyas
  22. Meditation
  23. Preksha
  24. Preksha Meditation
  25. Psychic Centre
  26. Rajasthani
  27. Shastra
  28. Shukla
  29. Shukla Leshya
  30. Soul
  31. Sutra
  32. Taijasa Kendra
  33. Uttaradhyayan
  34. Violence
  35. Yoga
  36. Yoga Shastra
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