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Samayasara - by Acharya Kundakunda: Four Basic Causes Of Bondage

sāmaṇṇapaccayā khalu cauro bhaṇṇaṃti baṃdhakattāro.
micchattaṃ aviramaṇaṃ kasāyajogā boddhavvā..

tesiṃ puṇo vi ya imo bhaṇido bhedo du terasaviyappo.
micchādiṭṭḥi ādῑ jāva sajogissa caramaṃtaṃ...

ede acedaṇā khalu poggalakammudayasaṃbhavā jamhā.
 te jadi karaṃti kammaṃ ṇa vi tesiṃ vedago ādā..

guṇasaṇṇidā du ede kammaṃ kuvvaṃti paccayā jamhā.
 tamhā jῑvo'kattā guṇā ya kuvvaṃti kammāṇi..

(Khalu) In reality, (cauro sāmaṇṇā paccayā baṃdhakattāro bhaṇṇaṃti) the four primary conditions of influx of karma are also the primary causal agencies of bondage. They are known as (micchattaṃ, aviramaṇaṃ, kasāyajogā ya boddhavvā) perverted world-view, non-abstinence, passions and activities, (puṇo vi ya) And again (tesiṃ terasaviyappo bhedo du bhaṇido) These are further divided into thirteen steps, (micchādiṭṭhi ādῑ jāva sajogissa caramaṃtaṃ). These steps begin with perverted world-view and end with the last instant of active ommiscience.

(Ede) The aforementioned [four causes of inflow of karma i.e. matter] (khalu acedana) axe surely non-psychical (jamhā) because (poggalākammudayasaṃbhavā) they are the effects of the rise of dravya karma; (jadi te kammaṃ karaṃti) and if they result in bondage (ṇa vi tesiṃ vedago ādā) the soul is not liable to experience their fruits.

(jamhā ede guṇasaṇṇidā du paccayā) because these causes of inflow called guṇasthāna [stages of rise and subsidence] (kammaṃ kuvvaṃti) are the real producers of karma and not the soul (tamhā ya goṇā) kammāṇi kuvvaṃti.


In these verses Ācārya Kundakunda refers to an important part of Jain philosophy called "Doctrine of guṇasthāna" which means stages of spiritual progress towards self-realization. We have, on more than one occasions, referred to the inherent purity of the soul and its innate ability to demolish the power of karma. However, the soul has to pass through innumerable states for reaching the highest stage of spiritual purity from the lowest. All the states have been grouped into fourteen stages of development called guṇasthānas. The lowest stage is the state of perverted world-view/ vision called mithyādṛṣṭi guṇasthāna and the highest one the fourteenth stage is the state which is immediately followed by unembodied final emancipation. Before reaching this stage which lasts only for very short time the most important (embodied) state is the thirteenth stage called sayogῑ kevalῑ guṇasthāna, when all the four obscuring (ghāti) karma are annihilated and the soul has achieved omniscience. The thirteen states mentioned in these verses are from perverted world-view/vision to the last moment of sayogῑ kevalῑ.

Four primary conditions of bondage referred to in the verse are: (i) Perverted world-view (mithyātva) (ii) non-abstinence (avirati) (iii) passion (kaṣāya) and (iv) threefold activity. Of these four, the succeeding ones exist in the presence of the preceding ones but it is not necessary that the preceding ones must exist on the existence of the succeeding ones.

1. Perverted world-view (mithyātva) is the main force which obstructs the innate capacity of the soul to end the worldly existence. The inherent purity of the soul generates a centrifugal tendency to escape from the beginningless cycles of births and deaths. But this centrifugal tendency is thwarted by the powerful opposing centripetal force which keeps the soul glued to the circle of worldly existence (saṃsāra cakra). This centripetal force consists in the twin distortions of attachment (rāga) and aversion (dveṣa) or rather their root, perversion (mithyātva). An important and relevant point to be noted here is that the centrifugal force is identified with the soul while the opposing centripetal force mithyātva, the primal condition of bondage, is identified with an alien, the karmic matter. Another point to be carefully noted is that the soul can never be imagined to have absolutely lost its characteristic predilection for truth because to do so is to lose itself.

2. Non-abstinence means absence of spiritual strength to abstain from the wrong (sinful) path. The soul ultimately overcomes the obstruction of the centripetal force of perversion and climbing the ladder of spiritual progress rises upto a state of right world-view/vision. This is the fourth stage called avirati samyagdṛṣṭi guṇasthāna i.e. right vision without abstinence. It has purified vision but is lacking in the capacity for spiritual self-control in conformity with the vision. For further progress the soul must develop more energy for self-discipline. Here, again, the energy for abstinence is psychic while indulgence in sensuous pleasures must be identified with the karmic matter.

3. Passions (kaṣāya): Continuing to climb the ladder of spiritual progress the soul passes the stages of complete abstinence. It, then, overcomes spiritual inertia (pramāda) and develops a high degree of purification and spiritual vigour. So far two primary conditions of bondage have been rendered ineffective but the most important exertion—annihilation of passions—still remains. The four passions are: anger, arrogance, deceit and greed, each of which, again, can be of four degrees of intensity viz., (i) Beginningless (anantānubandhi) which is concomitant with mithyātva, (ii) That which obscures the energy for even partial abstinence (apratyakhānāvaraṇa), (iii) That which obscures only the energy for complete abstinence (pratyakhānāvaraṇa) and (iv) That which is very weak and is effective only occasionally (saṃjvalaṇa).

During its ascent on the ladder, the passions of highest intensity were annihilated or suppressed with the dawn of enlightenment. Next two were also subdued and made ineffective by the increased spiritual energy and vigour commensurate with its ascent. The soul, now attains unprecedented purity and annihilating the remaining passions reaches the summit of the ladder of the spiritual development and becomes absolutely free, not only from all four types of passions but all four types of obscuring (ghāti) karma. The soul is now omniscient.

4. Threefold activity—Yoga. With the attainment of omniscience the soul has totally eradicated three out of the four conditions of bondage. There still remain threefold activity, mental, vocal and physical or bodily activity-for final emancipation all the four must be removed. The activity is concomitant with embodied existence which is already determined by the āyuṣya karma. As the pre­determined life-span comes to its end, the threefold activities first slow down and then stop altogether and a state of absolute motionlessness, free from all vibrations, takes place. With all the four conditions of bondage removed, the soul attains unembodied emancipation.

From the above, it is not difficult to see that in spite of the innate ability of the soul the pure and perfect state of the self is a state to be achieved by purely psychical striving and that too in steps. In the worldly existence its infinitude is limited and radiance dimmed.

Because of its beginningless handicaps (already discussed in earlier section) and disposition, the alien substance-karmic matter-is able to weave material sheaths which form the material encumbrances making the birth-death cycles inevitable. In the interval from death to another birth, even though the soul casts off its gross physical body, the subtle karmic body remains appended to it and serves as a nucleus for the formation of the new gross physical body appropriate for the next life-span. During the whole process of spiritual advancement and purification we can clearly notice two parallel series of modifications-a kind of psycho-physical parallelism.[1] During its ascent on the ladder, the soul is the sole determinant of its progress while the karmic matter is the essential cause of the changes in the states of karma. Thus psychical and physical modifications form two separate but concomitant parallel series, neither absolutely independent nor mutually determinant but interrelated to some extent. At each stage the strength and purity acquired by the soul by its own striving and inherent centrifugal force renders the concomitant conditions of bondage ineffective, in steps, by itself. Thus the psychic state is purely spiritual while the condition of bondage is karmic or physical. The interrelation is in the form of mutual extrinsic causal influence—nimitta kāraṇa.

Thus we come to the conclusion that the four primary conditions of bondage are non-psychical (acetana) and substantively determined by the physical karmic matter and not by the soul, and therefore, the soul is not liable to be affected by them and does not have to enjoy or suffer the fruits of bondage.


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Samayasara - by Acharya Kundakunda Publishers:
Jain Vishva Bharati University First Edition: 2009

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Page glossary
Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Anger
  2. Avirati
  3. Avirati samyagdṛṣṭi
  4. Body
  5. Cakra
  6. Deceit
  7. Dravya
  8. Dravya karma
  9. Dveṣa
  10. Ghāti
  11. Greed
  12. Guṇasthāna
  13. Guṇasthānas
  14. Jain Philosophy
  15. Karma
  16. Karmic Body
  17. Karmic matter
  18. Kaṣāya
  19. Kundakunda
  20. Mithyādṛṣṭi
  21. Mithyātva
  22. Omniscient
  23. Pramāda
  24. Saṃsāra
  25. Soul
  26. Sutra
  27. Ācārya
  28. āyuṣya
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