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Karmic Influence – Path Of Liberation And Karma In Jainism

Purity of conduct is necessary to set one on the path to liberation as per Jainism. The soul needs to be free from karmic influence. Jainism refers to various stages by means of which one attains the final goal of moksha or liberation. The self, which by its nature is pure, is affected by karma which has accumulated by the individual’s deeds.

The first state, whereby subtle karma matter moves towards the soul in order to bind it, is termed asrava. The modification of the soul which generates the influx of karmic matter into the soul is bhavasrava and the physical flux of karmic matter moving to soul is dravyasrava. Passions like anger, pride, greed and deceit agitate the mind and the four kashayas or propensities in and through which karma flows into the soul.

Krodha kasaya, or anger of an intense kind, influences the mind negatively so that one’s actions are motivated by this attitude.

Mana, or pride, refers to attachment to the ego. Intense pride in oneself leads one astray from right conduct and disturbs one’s equanimity of mind.

Lobha, or greed, signifies that attitude of mind which makes one cleave to things worldly, causing inordinate desire for possessions.

Maya, or deceit, of a most acute character, produces delusion, inasmuch as it prevents the mind from attaining the right vision which is necessary to tread on the right path. Hence these passions prevent the attainment of equanimity of temper, which is an imperative requisite to obtain right vision.

The karma caused by actions motivated by these four propensities is subtle in nature. This karmic matter infiltrates the soul and causes bondage, termed bandha. The psychological changes and change in mental attitudes are termed bhava bandha and the actual infiltration of the karmic particles with the jiva becomes dravya bandha. Bandha is classified as of four kinds, namely prakrti banda (type bondage), pradesha bandha (space bondage), sthiti bandha (duration bondage) and anubhaga bandha (intensity of fruition bondage).

The next stage to follow is the stoppage of the subtle, imperceptible karmic influences, termed samvara. The susceptibility to karmic inflow is checked and this process is bhava samvara. The actual stoppage of further karmic influence is termed dravya samvara. The further inflow of karmic formations ceases, due to the absence of the psychic conditions and emotions that facilitated it. Jainism refers to samvara vratas or vows, which include samiti (carefulness), gupti (restraint), yati dharma (observance), bhavana (reflection), prasahasaya (overcoming troubles) and caitra (conduct). The next stage, nirjara, contains both bhava nirjara, the modification of the process in the soul, and dravya nirjara, the actual wearing out of karmic particles from the soul. Thus one can attain the final stage of moksha as all karma gets exhausted, and freedom of jiva from ajiva is achieved.

The triratna principles of right faith, right knowledge and right conduct are the requisites to attain the final goal of liberation. These three principles are interlinked, so that progress or degeneration in one is reflected in the other two principles. It is by harmonious development of all these aspect that the soul can be freed from bondage to matter. By the attainment of the goal of moksha, the soul attains four-fold perfection (ananta catustaya), namely infinite knowledge, infinite faith, infinite power, and infinite bliss.