Thursday, February 24, 2011


It is impossible for a new born baby to have the knowledge, skills and capability of a brain surgeon. However, the child can go through a series of educational steps starting from the kindergarten and applying himself / herself to become an expert in its chosen field. Similarly, Jainism acknowledges that the soul advances to its liberated stage in various steps, called Gunasthan or “The Stages of Spiritual Development”. Jain literature describes these states in detail. Through these fourteen stages of development, the soul gradually frees itself, firstly from the worst, then from the less bad and finally from all kinds of karma, and manifests the innate qualities of knowledge, belief and conduct in a more and more perfect form. Following are the stages of spiritual development which provides a brief summary on the various status of soul in its journey to spiritual advancement.

1. MITHYADRISTI: The stage of wrong believer, the lowest stage with ignorance, delusion, and with intense attachments and aversions. This is the normal condition of all souls involved in the mundane world and is the starting point of spiritual evolution.
2. SASVADANA SAMYAGDRSTI: The stage of one who has a slight taste of right belief, Indifference to reality with occasional vague memory of spiritual insight.
3. MISRADRSTI: The stage of mixed belief. Fleeting moments of curiosity towards understanding reality.
4. AVIRATA SAMYAGDRSTI: The stage of one who has true belief but has not yet self discipline. Awareness of reality with trust developed in the right view, combined with willingness to practice self-discipline. The soul may be able to subdue the four passions namely anger, pride, deceit and greed.
5. DESAVIRATA: The stage of partial self control. The soul now begins to observe some of the rules of right conduct with a view to perfect itself. With the discipline of introductory or minor vows, the soul starts on the process of climbing spiritual ladder.
6. PRAMATTA SAMYATA: The stage of complete self discipline, although sometimes brought into wavering through negligence. Major vows taken up with firm resolve to control passions. There may be failures due to lack of full control over passions and carelessness.
7. APRAMATTA SAMYATA: The stage of self control without negligence. Intense practice of vows assisted in better self-control and virtually replaced carelessness with spiritual vigilance and vigor.
8. NIVRTTI BADRA SAMPARAYA: The stage of one in whom the passions are still occurring in a gross form. Closer to perfect self-control over actions, higher control over mind, thought and passions with the soul ready for reduction of the effects of conduct-deluding karma.
9. ANNIVRTTI BADARA SAMPARAYA: The stage of one who practices the process called anivratti karana and in whom however the passions are still occurring. Higher control over removal of passions and elimination of conduct-deluding karma begins.
10. SUKSAMA SAMPARAYA: The stage of one in whom the passions occur in a subtle form. Complete elimination of all passions except for subtle degree of attachment.
11. UPASANA KASAYA VITARAGA CHADMASTA: The stage of one who has suppressed every passion but still does not possess omniscience. Suppressed passions and lingering conduct-deluding karma may rise to drag the soul to lower stages; fleeting experiences of equanimity.
12. KSINA KASAY VITARAGA CHADMASTA: The stage of who has annihilated every passion but does not yet possesses omniscience. This is the point of no return. All passions as well as conduct-deluding karma are eliminated. Permanent internal peace achieved. No new bondage from this point onwards.
13. SAYOGI KEVALI: The stage of omniscience with activity. All Destructive karma eliminated. Omniscience achieved and Arihant stage reached. However the perfected soul is still trapped in the physical body (with right knowledge attained).
14. AYOGI KEVALI: The stage of omniscience without any activity. Siddha stage reached. Purest soul associated with no physical body. Now the soul is called SIDDHA and it is free from the cycle of rebirths.
The first four Gunasthan are related to belief or rationality in perception. As and when the soul acquires rationality in perception it moves on to 4th Gunasthan. Stages 5 to 14 relate to conduct. The purity in conduct determines the Gunasthan from 5th stage onwards. Those who have taken the Anuvratas (minor vows) may reach up to the 5th Gunasthan. The 6th to 14th Gunasthan can only be attained by those who have taken the Mahavratas (Major Vows) of Jain ascetic.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


Jain philosophy describes that the process of liberation can happen in various ways just as we can reach New York from many different directions. There are fifteen different ways one can attain liberation.

1 Jina Siddha: In this process, an individual acquires Tirthankar Karma, which is a part of the body making Karma (Nam-karma) in the third life from the last. The individual becomes a Tirthankar in the last life, re-establishes the Jain congregation, and then attains liberation.
Examples: All the Tirthankars, to name a few, Lord Rishabha, Lord Ajitnath, Lord Shantinath, Lord Neminath, Lord Parshva, and Lord Mahavir, etc.

02 Ajina Siddha: This way, a person does not gain the Tirthankar Karma but becomes Kevali (Omniscient) and attains liberation. Example: Gautamswami

03 Tirtha Siddha: In this category, the individual attains liberation, after taking the shelter under the Jain congregation established by the Tirthankar.

04 Atirtha Siddha: In this, one becomes Kevali even before the Jain congregation is established by a Tirthankar, and also attains liberation before the Jain congregation is established. Example: Mother Marudevi and Lord Bahubali.

05 Gruhastha ling Siddha: These are the people who may live life as a householder but from within they are totally detached. They do not have any attachment or hatred for the things happening around them and as their level of spiritual attitude improves, they eliminate destructive karma and become Arihantas. If their life span karma is exhausted then they go to the salvation in about one intra Indian hour (Antarmuhurta) or if their life span is longer, they take up monk-hood and may oblige the world by spreading religion until their nirvana and liberation. Example: Sovereign king Bharat, Kurmaputra etc.

06 Anya ling Siddha: Any saintly person observing the right code of conduct, has the right faith and the right knowledge, and puts them to practice can attain liberation. Example: Valkalchiri, who was the ascetic of the other religious group

07 Sva ling Siddha: A monk who is practicing the right faith, right knowledge and right conduct and attains liberation. Example: Lord Rama, Monk Prasannachandra etc.

08 Purusha ling Siddha: This is when a man attains liberation.

09 Stree ling Siddha: This is when a woman attains liberation. Example: Lord Mallinath, Mother Marudevi, Chandanbala, Mrugavatiji, etc.

10 Napunsak ling Siddha: When a person with neutral gender attain liberation. Example: Monk Gangeya

11 Pratyeka Buddha Siddha: In this case, a person by self-awareness eliminates the destructive karma triggered by the reason of the surrounding or old age and becomes Kevali then becomes Siddha. Example: Monk Karkandu, Lord Hanuman, etc.

12 Svayam Buddha Siddha: In this case, a person by self-inspiration eliminates destructive karma and becomes Kevali then ultimately becomes Siddha. Example: Kapil Kevali

13 Buddha bodhit Siddha: When some one gets enlightened by a spiritual teacher, then renounces the world and then follows flawless life, attains liberation and become a Siddha. Example: Gautamswami, Vayubhuti etc.

14 Eka Siddha: Here only one soul (person) attains liberation at a time among the group of the monks and nuns. Example: Lord Mahavir

15 Aneka Siddha: Many monks attain liberation together at the same time. This means that it so happened that those who attained salvation together had their lives ended at the same time. Example: Lord Rishabha and other monks with him

Therefore, from here it will be now clearer that salvation definitely does not have set boundaries. It depends on the individual capacity and the surroundings, which make it easier to attain salvation. One attaining the salvation may fall into one or more than one of the above categories. As Jainism teaches us to be a compassionate, honest, humble person and control passions to achieve salvation, anybody; Jain or non-Jain following this type of life can also achieve salvation. As per Jainism, the practice matters.

Monday, February 7, 2011


Lord Mahavir has said that, “Anger causes degradation of soul.” Even religious person, a spiritually raised soul can fall into the endless cycle of birth and death because of anger. Anger creates a slope that leads the soul to the lower life forms. In the Jain history there are many stories clearly stating bad results by anger. In this article I have mentioned two stories.

The first story is of Monk Khandhaksuri. He lived in the times of the 20th Jain Tirthankar Lord Munisuvrat. Khandhaksuri was the disciple of the Lord and there were 500 disciples under him. He was observing strict way of austerities and deep meditation. Before he renounced the world he was a prince and listener of Lord Munisuvrat. He was very much interested in the Jain Philosophy and he used to give lessons to those who were atheists. He had converted many peoples to the path of Lord Munisuvrat. There was a cruel person named Palak. He was king’s minister and was against Jainism. One day he was preaching against Jainism. By hearing about that, Khandhak went to Palak and stopped him to do so. Palak became so angry to him and decided to take revenge. After sometime, Khandhak became Lord Munisuvrat’s disciple and renounced the world.

One day, Monk Khandhaksuri asked for permission from Lord Munisuvrat to go to his sister’s abode along with his 500 disciples in order to convert her and her husband to Jainism. Lord Munisuvrat, in the power of his Omniscience could see that Khandhaksuri will face death in the way so he said him to stay. Monk Khandhaksuri asked the Lord, “Will I attain Liberation?” The Lord replied, “All your 500 disciples will attain Liberation except you.” Upon hearing this reply from the Omniscient Lord the monk thought, “For the beneficial of 500 souls I shall not look for my destiny.” So he started his journey toward the village of Kumbhkaraktak where his mundane sister was living.

The king’s minister Palak was informed about that and he decided to take revenge. He ordered the soldiers to hide the weapons in the ground. After that Palak went to the King and said him that Monk Khandhaksuri is an imposter who is sent here by the neighbor king. He has buried weapons in the land. The King said, “If this is fact then the monk will be punished.” On his way Monk Khandhaksuri was stopped by the soldiers and was blamed to be an imposter. The soldiers found weapons in the ground. The king became angry and ordered Palak to punish the monk. The monk realized that this web is created by Palak in order to take revenge. He decided to remain silent. Palak constructed a huge mixture to kill the Monk and all his 500 disciples. He ordered them all to jump in the mixture one by one. The Monk Khandhaksuri told his disciples not to be scared. He taught them that,

Oh great souls, whenever you jump in the mixture don’t concentrate on the pain but contemplate that, I’m not this body but I’m a soul which is imperishable, eternal and beyond all other objects of the Universe.”

Every Monk, one by one followed his master’s instruction and just before they depart from the body they all attained Omniscience and attained Nirvana. This was continued until the 499 monks attained Nirvana. Now Monk Khandhaksuri and a teenager monk were left. Monk Khandhaksuri requested Palak that he will jump in the mixture first because that monk was very young, so he won’t be able to see his death. Palak didn’t accept his request and ordered the teenager monk to jump first. The monk jumped in the mixture and he too attained Omniscience and attained Liberation. Now before falling in the mixture, Monk Khandhaksuri became very angry at Palak and thought, “If my austerity has power then I want to kill this man (Palak) in every birth!” Thus he too jumped and died but because of anger he couldn’t attain Liberation and fell in the dark well of endless cycles of birth and death. He was the cause behind his all 500 disciples Liberation but he himself couldn’t gain it because of anger.

Now, the second story is about Chandkaushik Monk. He also was a well learned monk but there was absent of equanimity in his spiritual pursuit. He had a disciple who was a kid. One day they both went for alms. Unknowingly the head monk mashed a frog. The child monk told him for repentance for that mistake. The head monk’s pride stopped him to do so and he mentally thought, “How can this child monk dare to say me that!” Again at the time of night the child monk reminded him for repentance of killing the frog. Now the head monk loses his mental balance and decided to strike the child monk by the stick he was holding. So he ran after him to strike him but in the darkness he crashed with a pillar and died. In his next birth he became a mendicant. He possessed a huge farm and used to bring fruits from the farm and did austerities. He brought his previous birth’s angry nature in this birth too. Some boys used to steal fruits from his farm and he was always in rage for the boys. One day he decided to catch some boys and punish them so he lurked behind a tree and waited for them. He was holding an axe and as soon as he got chance he rushed toward those boys but unfortunately he fell down and his own axe pierced into his head and he died in agony. As a result in his third birth he became a snake who could kill anyone by looking at them by its ferocious glance! Thus we can see that his anger multiplied in every birth and pushed the soul deeper in the mundane world. Fortunately by the help of Lord Mahavir the snake learned to forgive and its anger vanished and it reincarnated in the 8th Celestial World.