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Samayasara - by Acharya Kundakunda: Introduction

Nirjarā is the process of separation of the previously bounded karmic matter and the soul. In the context of the complex interplay of the soul and the karmic matter, firstly, we have to distinguish between dravya or physical nirjarā and bhāva or psychical nirjarā. Alike dravya āśrava, dravya nirjarā is the modification or change in the states of karmic matter. The karma comes into rise (udaya) and delivers its fruits after a specific period of non-production (called abādhākāla), during which it had remained inactive after bondage. Once it has delivered its fruits, the raison d'etre of its association with the soul comes to an end and it becomes separated from it. This separation qua karmic matter is called dravya nirjarā. Thus, dravya nirjarā belongs to the physical series in the psycho-physical relationship. Bhāva nirjarā, on the other hand, is the modification of the soul. When we look at the separation from the psychic angle, the soul is partially cleansed by the purging of the contamination produced by the foreign substance. This state of purification of the soul due to the dissociation of karmic matter is called bhāva nirjarā.

As stated above, in due course, the karma which has ripened and delivered its fruit gets separated from the soul. This type of separation after the ripening of the karma is known as vipākajāta (or vipākajā) nirjarā, because the separation has taken place on the maturity (vipāka) of the karma at the time determined at the time of bondage. This type of separation happens automatically without any effort on the part of the soul. But karma can be subjected to premature forced expulsion by means of penances and austerities. Of course, no karma can be separated, after bondage, without being enjoyed, actually or virtually, but it can be brought to premature fruition and then expulsed by penances at any time.

Penances, again, can be motivated or unmotivated. They are unmotivated when (i) the purpose or result of the penance is not known or (ii) if the purpose is other than self-realization or (iii) if it is involuntary. The separation of karma resulting from such penances is considered purposeless—akāma nirjarā. Its opposite or purposeful sakāma nirjarā is the result of motivated and voluntary penances undertaken for purifying the soul. The means of motivated penances for achieving sakāma nirjarā are called Tapas—austerities. They are of two categories, external and internal. Each of these is, again, of six different kinds. They are:

External austerities—discipline of the body:

  1. Fasting or abstaining from the intake of food, drink and other alimentary substances for a fixed period of time or unto death (anaśana).
  2. Alimentary or dietary discipline by limiting the variety and/or quantity of nourishment (avamodarya or unodarikā).
  3. Limiting/restricting quality of nourishment by eliminating tasty items (vṛtti-parisaṃkhyāna or vṛttisaṃkṣepa).
  4. Abstaining from fatty and sweet items and delicacies (rasa-parityāga).
  5. Secluded sleeping place and lonely living (vivikta- śayyāsana), also self-control of senses, activities and passions (pratisaṃlῑnatā).
  6. Deliberate training of the body by subjecting it to various hardships and practice of difficult postures (kāyakleśa).

Internal austerities—discipline of the mind:

  1. Atonement or striving for the rectification of the transgression in the spiritual discipline by the lure of worldliness (prāyaścitta).
  2. Humility and reverence towards elders, teachers, and the like. It includes observance of proper etiquette in the presence of superiors (vinaya).
  3. Personal attendance and other kinds of service consisting in the exertion for and relief to sick and weak (vaiyāvṛtya).
  4. Systematic study of scriptures and concentration of attention (svādhyāya).
  5. Abandonment or renouncing the false belief such as, 'I am the body, passions and the like'; isolation of the self from the non-self (vyutsarga).
  6. Systematic meditation-deliberate mental concentration and controlling the wandering of the mind including self-meditation (dhyāna).

Of all types of austerities, meditation is considered to be the most powerful means of nirjarā.


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. Abādhākāla
  2. Akāma Nirjarā
  3. Anaśana
  4. Bhāva
  5. Body
  6. Concentration
  7. Dhyāna
  8. Discipline
  9. Dravya
  10. Fasting
  11. Karma
  12. Karmic matter
  13. Kāyakleśa
  14. Meditation
  15. Nirjarā
  16. Soul
  17. Svādhyāya
  18. Tapas
  19. Udaya
  20. Unodarikā
  21. Vaiyāvṛtya
  22. Vinaya
  23. Vyutsarga
  24. āśrava
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