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Salvation Path of Jainism


Nirjarä means the falling away of karmic matter from the soul. It is obvious that the soul will be rendered free by the automatic shedding of karmas when they become ripe. But this falling away of karmas is by itself a lengthy process. Hence with a view to shorten this process, it is asserted that the falling away of karmic matter from the soul can be deliberately brought through the practice of austerities. During previous article viz. äsrav and sanivara,  the illustration of boating was given. Now  again  consider that example which also explains how nirjarä works. Let us assume that during boating, suddenly you noticed the water rising on the floor of boat. You immediately felt that the boat had a hole and if leak was not plugged the boat would sink. So, the first thing you did was to find a hole and then plug it so that new water would stop coming in. Then, you started pouring out the collected water so that the boat would be dry again. This removal of water is called a nirjarä. Karmas are accumulating in the soul through äsrav. These karmas cover the attributes of your soul, and the removal or destruction of these karmas is called Nirjarä.
This nirjarä is of two kinds:- 

i)  Akam nirjarä.

2) Sakam nirjarä.

Akam nirjarä:- It is the natural maturing of karma and its separation from the soul. Thus, we have no control on the timing of such suffering and we have not put any special effort or shown special desire or intention to suffer on our side. Once the supposed suffering is over then those karmas which caused this suffering are considered shed off. This natural process of maturity and shed off the karmas is called Akam nirjarä (Savipäka nirjarä)

 Sakam nirjarä:- It is inducing a karma to leave the soul, before it gets ripened, by means of ascetic practices. This active process to shed off the karmas prematurely is called Sakam nirjarä (Avipäka nirjarä).

During the life the process of  accumulating karmas and shedding of karmas goes on. This process of karma never stops until we reach salvation. This depends on the intensity of sinful activities (pap) we committed and in turn the particles of karma attached to the soul.  In order to simulate the process of nirjarä again take the case of throwing water out of the boat as given in the above example. Now consider the bailing out of water from the boat with a mug having many holes in it. It become almost impossible to bail out the water with this kind of mug. But in case the mug is used that is not having holes in it then it is easy to bail out the water that had been accumulated in the boat . Here the good mug means Shudh upyoga. The main step to nirjarä, i.e. shedding of the karma, is the observance of tapas viz., a) bähya tapa i.e.., external austerities, referring to food and physical activities, and (b) äbhyantara tapa i.e. internal austerities, referring to spiritual discipline. 

Each of these two austerities are further divided in six types:-

 1) Bähya tapa ( external ):-

 a) Fasting Completely (Anasan), 

 b) Partial Fasting (Unodari), 

 c) Limiting the number of items of food (Vruti Sankshep), 

d) Limiting desired tasty food (Ras parityag), 

e) Bodily Endurance (Kayakalesh), 

f) Controlling of the Senses (Pratisanlinata). 


2) äbhyantara tapa(Internal) :-

 a) Atonement (Prayaschit)

 b) Politeness (Vinay), 

 c) Serving others (Vaiyavachch), 

d) Giving away (Vyutsarg), 

e) Spiritual study (Sajzaya), 

f) Meditation (Dhyan).


These external and internal penances show what a rigorous life of self-denial the ascetics have to lead. The ascetic is to sustain the body with minimum feeding and to take maximum work from it in the attainment of his spiritual ideal. In Jainism an elaborate technique of fasting has been evolved and the ascetic is trained all along his career so efficiently that when the hour of death comes, he accepts voluntary fasting (sallekhanã means peaceful passing away) and gives up the body as easily as one would throw off the old garment. The ascetic has always to take exercise in fasting by observing series of fast variously arranged.


Among the internal penances special significance is attached to dhyãna               (meditation) because it is considered as the most important spiritual exercise whereby alone the soul can make progress on the path of salvation and can destroy all the karmas. Feelings like attachment for beneficial and aversion from harmful objects have to be given up to attain concentration of mind, which is prerequisite of successful meditation. It is always emphasized that the sukla dhyãna ( pure meditation) ultimately leads the soul to salvation because in sukla dhyãna an attempt is made for complete cessation of physical, verbal and mental activities. When the entire stock of Karma is exhausted by following the rule of conduct laid down by Jaina ethics, the soul shoots up to the top of the universe where the liberated souls stay for ever.


Consciousness and Upayoga:-


In order to achieve nirjarä one has to understand the Consciousness and Upayoga otherwise the whole exercise by doing bähya tapa and äbhyantara tapa will not be useful. Here upyoga stands for consciousness as a function. While consciousness may be taken to be an element in the structure of the soul. Consciousness may be interpreted both as a structure and function but upyoga refers to the functional side only. Upyoga gives us almost the same meaning as we get by beibg mentally  active. Just as a mental activity is a fact of mental functioning and a mental capacity, a fact of mental structure ; in the same way consciousness or chetna may be taken as a fact of the soul's structure and upyoga, as a fact of soul's function or vrtti.


" Sudh upyoga is the basis of Nirjarä "


" To control desire and passion is Tapa"


                                                                        The end

Note:- The contents of this article are the extract from the book 'Aspects of Jaina religion written by Dr Vilas A. Sangavie and  Religion and culture of the Jais written by Dr. Jyoti Prasad Jain apart from other Jaina literature.

The words shown in Italic are from Prakrit Language.



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