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Jain View Of Life: 2.10 Karmavada

Published: 09.12.2011
Updated: 02.07.2015

No individual is identical. All are different. Some are born with a silver spoon, some are poor. Some are handsome, some are ugly. Some are healthy and some are sick. Why are people different in shape, nature, thoughts and emotions? Who is writing the script of destiny? To find out the cause of all these differences in each life, one has to enter into the subtle world.


Hereditary Science

Scientists regard that hereditary is the cause of all differences. Ayurvedic science says that children inherit most of impressions of parental habits, some from paternal and some from maternal. As per Bhagawati and Sthanga a child gets three elements from mother and three from father. Bone, bone-marrow & hair, nail, moustache etc. are from father whereas flesh, blood and brain are the gifts of the mother. This is the hereditary science which is recognised in Jainism and Ayurveda.

Hereditary has been branched scientifically as a separate subject. A human body is made of cells. It is proved scientifically that there are thousands and thousands of cells in the space of the point of a needle. Each cell has 23 pairs of chromosomes. Each chromosome has thousands of genes. DNA module is the nucleus of every cell. Each nucleus is life in itself. Gene contains impression of paternal and maternal. Impressions of many generations are accumulated in it. Six lakhs of impressions are embedded in genes. Genetic engineering is the basic of all these differences on accordance with science. If hereditary is the cause of diversions then question arises in mind, why two brothers are not alike. There is no answer to this question in science. To find this answer one has to go beyond genetic program.

Psychological concept

Psychologist regards that the cause of diversion is environment. As per psychology, we are what we are because of environment. To find the absolute answer we need to go deeper and deeper.

Jain concept

As per Jainism differing elements are within ones own soul. Karma is even subtler then genetic program and environment. That is karmic body. In Jain terminology, karma means matter (particles). The worldly soul has got vibrations through the mind, speech and body. The mol­ecules that are assumed by the soul due to its physical, verbal and mental activities connected with attachment and aversion. The assumed special types of molecules are assimilated by the soul, The assimilated group of atoms are termed as karma.

Since beginingless beginning the soul is with karma as the gold is with the dross in the mine. No one knows when gold is mixed with the dross. Similarly, from immemorial times the soul is bound with karma. So the cycle of birth and death and wandering of the soul in this world continues.

Sow a seed and reap the fruit

There was a man called Shreshthi Nagadatta, he had been making a house for the last twelve years, which was still incomplete. He was talking to the builders explaining where he wanted the dining room, and other rooms to be built in the house. While this was going on, a monk passed by them and heard everything that had been said and began to laugh at them, the Shreshthi looked at him and wondered why he was laughing.

The next time the Shreshthi was sitting with his grandson, who was sleeping on his lap whilst eating his food, again at this present time monk passed and saw the child had wet himself on his grandfather's lap and began to laugh at them, but yet the Shreshthi ignored him.

The next time, the Shreshthi was sitting in his shop and a slaughterer walked passed with his group of goats. One of the goats stepped out of the group and came into the shop where the Shreshthi was. Once the Shreshthi had spotted the goat he picked up his stick and began hitting the goat out of his shop. Again at this particular time the monk happened to pass the shop and saw what had happened, and he began laughing again and went home.

After seeing this, the monk laughed at him on three different occasions. Now Shreshthi became curious to find out what the reason was behind all this. So he prepared for his visit to see the monk. When he approached the monk, Shreshthi asked, "Why have you been laughing at me?" the monk replied, "Oh! It was for no reason, don't worry about it", the Shreshthi kept on persisting to find out the reason, but the monk kept saying, do not to take it seriously. The Shreshthi told him he had specially come to see him and wanted to know why?

The monk gave in and explained why he had been laughing, firstly when you were talking to the builders about the completion of the house, I realised that you weren't going to live long enough to see the house finished because you are going to die in seven days’ time. Secondly, when your grandson was sitting in your lap I laughed, because, do you know who that child is? That child was your wife's lover in a previous life that you had killed yourself and now he has been re-born into your family as your grandson whom you love so dearly but hated him in his previous life. I found that amusing. I was thinking how the relations of a man could change to be nice the one time and hate them the next time.

Lastly, when you were in your shop and one goat came in. Do you know who that goat was". That goat was your father's soul who had come for shelter.

Those were the reasons why I was laughing at you.

This story shows that the karmic bondage leads a soul in various forms of existence. As per karma, sometimes a soul goes to hellish beings, sometimes in sub-human beings such as animals, birds, plants, sometimes in human beings and sometimes in celestial beings. As person sows so will he reap. If he sows seeds of thorn, he will get a thorn bush. If he sows seeds of mango he will get mango fruit. As a magnet attracts iron filings towards itself, in the same manner the soul attracts karmic matter with the auspicious and inauspicious intentions, thought and activities.

There are innumerable types of Karma. All of them have been put in to eight categories.

Knowledge obscuring (Jnanavaraniya)

It obscures knowledge like a blindfold. It has been compared to a cloud or a curtain. As the cloud obscures the sun, the curtain obscures the vision of our desired objects. If the curtain is too thick, no vision is obtained, but if this curtain is thin, some vision can be achieved. Similarly due to operation of this Karma someone is brilliant, genius and the other one is idiot, one is mentally retarded whereas one suffers from inertia, stammering and memory losses.

Pereception obscuring  (Darshanavarniya)

It obscures the power or act of understanding by means of senses and mind or perception faculty of the soul. Because of the influence of this karma, one suffers from inefficient senses, impaired vision, speech, hearing, sleep­ing and excessive sleeping. Due to this karma one becomes idle, one is afflicted with the blindness. It has been compared to watchman or gatekeeper. Gatekeeper hinders the entrance of some visitor to the residence of a king. Similarly this karma hinders the entrance of some visitor to the residence of a king. Similarly this karma obstructs the faculty of perception or understanding in achieving of ones desired objects.

Deluding Karma (Mohaniya karma)

It obstructs true faith and right conduct. Due to this karma, one feels attachment, aversion, false faith, anger, pride, deceit and greed etc. These passions envelop the soul's qualities and obstruct true faith and right conduct. It is the root of all miseries. Due to it the wheel of transmigration moves on ceaselessly. This karma is like an intoxicant alcohol. As drunkard becomes senseless in discriminating faculty of the right and wrong, good and bad, similarly due to influence of this karma a person forgets the soul that is full of infinite knowledge, bliss, energy etc.

Obstructive karma (Antaraya karma)

It causes hindrances in the attainment of the desired objects. It obstructs in giving charity, in achieving in ones desired objects, enjoying food, enjoying clothes, wealth and the use of energy. Due to operation of this karma, one feels lack of giving charity, power, health etc. as well as one does not relish the best things in life. It is like a treasurer. Even getting permission from the king, treasurer restricts one to give money. In the same manner, this karma obstructs a person from giving charity, achieving enjoying and using energy in their availability.

Sensation producing Karma (Vedaniya karma)

This is of two types. Saata and Asaata vedaniya. Sata [auspicious] causes happiness and Asata [inauspicious] causes unhappiness. This karma enables the soul to have sensation of pleasures or pain. Due to dominance of auspicious sensation, a person enjoys carnal pleasures, the sweetness of objects, whereas inauspicious sensations lead him to misery and suffering, agony, sickness etc. It is like honey dipped sword. As a person enjoys the sweetness of the small quantity of honey applied to the sword, ultimately his tongue gets severely wounded. Similarly the enjoyment of favorable things is regarded as auspicious sensation and anti-experience such as agony and stress like a severely wounded, is inauspicious sensation.

Life span determining Karma (Ayushya karma)

This karma determines the duration of life span or longevity of life in one of the four stages of existence.

  • Narakayu decides the span of life in hell.
  • Tiryanchayu decides the span of life in animals, birds and plants etc.
  • Manushyayu decides the span of life in the existence of human life.
  • Devayu decides the span of life for celestial beings.
Soul is like a prisoner in a particular body. Due to this karma a person enjoys long life or prematurely death. Due to influence of it, a soul inhabits a particular body.

Body determining karma [Nama Karma]

Because of this karma one acquires the constitution of physical qualities in a particular life. Well-built structure, body's beauty, personality, destiny, credit, discredit, honour, dishonour, appearance etc are result of this karma. This karma is like a painter. As a painter designs or paints colour lovely or ugly with the aid of a brush, in the same way the soul assumes variegated auspicious or inauspicious forms.

Status determining Karma [Gotra Karma]

It determines upon class, middle class, upper class, or lower class family in a good or bad family. This karma is like a potter. As a potter shapes clay into big or small earthenware, similarly due to operation of karma the soul acquires high, middle or low and down trodden family.

These karmas are grouped in to two categories, destructive [Ghati Karmas] and non-destructive [Aghati Karmas]. Ghat means destruction. The karma that destroys the real nature of the soul is called the destructive karmas. Among eight karmas the previous four karmas are known as destructive karmas and the rest four are known as non­destructive karma, because they don't destroy the real nature of soul but affect body in which the soul abides.

At the time of bondage, four factors are decided namely:

    1. Enveloping the original qualities of the soul (Pradesh Bandh).
    2. What characteristics of the soul will it obstruct. (Prakriti Bandh).
    3. How long this karma will stay with soul (Sthiti Bandh).
    4. How intense or mild will the results of these karma's be (Anubhag Bandh).

If a person understands an overall view of the different karmas and their effect on life, if he becomes conscious of his actions, thoughts, and words he never blames others in any kind of situation. As per karma philosophy, each and everyone is responsible for all circumstances whether conditions are favourable or unfavourable.

The doctrine of karma gives each one insight in to the phenomena of cause and effect and helps a person to lead peaceful, calm and passionless life.


Jain View Of Life

Publisher: Adarsh Sahitya Sangh Edition: 1st Edition 2000

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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. Antaraya
  3. Antaraya Karma
  4. Anubhag
  5. Ayurveda
  6. Ayurvedic
  7. Ayushya Karma
  8. Bandh
  9. Body
  10. Brain
  11. DNA
  12. Deceit
  13. Environment
  14. Gene
  15. Genes
  16. Greed
  17. Jainism
  18. Jnanavaraniya
  19. Karma
  20. Karmas
  21. Karmic Body
  22. Karmic matter
  23. Mohaniya
  24. Mohaniya Karma
  25. Pradesh
  26. Prakriti
  27. Pride
  28. Sata
  29. Science
  30. Soul
  31. Space
  32. Sthiti
  33. Vedaniya
  34. Vedaniya Karma
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