Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

by Helen M. Johnson | 1931 | 742,503 words

This is the English translation of the Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Charita (literally “The lives of the sixty-three illustrious People”), a Sanskrit epic poem written by Hemachandra in the twelfth century. The work relates the history and legends of important figures in the Jain faith. These 63 persons include: the twenty four tirthankaras , the t...

Appendix 1.3: The Fourteen Guṇasthānas

Alternative name: Guṇasthāna (गुणस्थान, “gunasthana”).

The 14 guṇasthānas are steps on the road to emancipation, and are one of the most important and most complicated points in Jain metaphysics. However, they are mentioned very briefly in the āgamas and early commentaries, and it is necessary to look for their exposition in later works, such as the Karma Granthas, Pravacanasāroddhāra, Lokaprakāśa, and Guṇasthānakramāroha. This last, though highly esteemed by the Jains, must be used with exceeding care, as it is not always clear and consistent in its method of expression.

Appendix II and the Tables should be used in connection with the account given below.

I. Mithyātvaguṇasthāna.

Mithyātva is divided into vyakta and avyakta. In the avyakta-stage, a jīva has complete delusion and can make no distinction at all between dharma and non-dharma, between a god and non-god, and between a guru and non-guru. In the vyakta-stage, he knows there is a difference, but mistakes a non-deva for a deva, etc. It is only vyaktamithyātva that constitutes a guṇasthāna.

Mithyātva is also divided according to duration:

1. Anādyanta, without beginning and without end. Abhavyas have this kind.

2. Anādisānta, without beginning and with end. A bhavya who has not yet attained samyaktva has this.

3. Sādisānta, with beginning and with end. This belongs to a bhavya who has attained saṃyaktva, but has fallen back (Lp. 3. 1288-90). For the guṇasthāna only the two divisions for bhavyas are involved.

This guṇasthāna includes all 14 classes of jīvas. For a jīva that has not yet attained saṃyaktva, no fixed duration of this guṇasthāna can be given. For one who has fallen from samyaktva, the minimum is an antarmuhūrta, and the maximum less than a half of pudgalaparāvarta. Lp. 3.1209. Pudgalaparāvarta is the time that a jīva must remain in material existence.

All 148 karmas are in existence in this guṇasthāna, the presence of tīrthakṛtkarma being explained as follows: Normally a jīva in the first, second, and third guṇasthānas would not have tīrthakṛtkarma, as it begins to develop only in the fourth guṇasthāna in kṣāyopaśamikasamyaktva. When he falls from the fourth direct to the first, he still has tīrthakṛtkarma. Only those in the first who have fallen from the fourth can have it (KG II. 25, p. 75). All 6 leśyās are present.

IV. Aviratisamyagdṛṣṭiguṇasthāna

It is ‘avirati’ because self-control is lacking, but right-belief always exists. There is, however, a difference of opinion about which samyaktva a jīva attains.

A) According to siddhānta, he may attain either aupaśamika or kṣāyopaśamikasamyaktva. This question involves the three karaṇas (see n. 255) and another phenomenon, the division of matter into three groups: impure (mithyātva), mixed (miśra), and pure (samyaktva).

1. If a jīva attains aupaśamika, he must have done the three karaṇas, but he has not made the three divisions of matter. In this case, he falls back to the first guṇasthāna, but does not have to stay the maximum time. When he rises again, he must attain kṣāyopaśamika, as a jīva can have this kind of aupaśamika only once (see n. 258).

2. In the case of a jīva that attains kṣāyopaśamika from the first guṇasthāna, he also must have done the three karaṇas first; but he first makes the three divisions of matter by the apūrvakaraṇa. Then by the anivṛttikaraṇa he destroys the mithyātva that has matured and suppresses what has not matured, and attains kṣāyopaśamika. He may fall from this or rise.

B) According to the KG, the jīva does the three karaṇas, and must attain aupaśamika. There is no alternative as in the siddhānta. Then he makes the three divisions of matter, and rises or falls accordingly. If pure matter rises, he attains kṣāyopaśamika; if mixed rises, he falls to third guṇasthāna; if impure rises, he falls to second and down to first.

In the fourth guṇasthāna begin the two ladders, upaśamaśreṇi and kṣapakaśreṇi, for darśanamohanīyakarma. (This has frequently caused confusion, as the ‘two śreṇis’ usually refer to the suppression and destruction of cāritramohanīyakarma, in which case they begin in the eighth guṇasthāna.) At this stage four kinds of samyaktva are possible: aupaśamika, kṣāyopaśamika, vedika, and kṣāyika. The upaśamakas (people on the upaśamaśreṇi) may suppress the 7 prakṛtis (4 anantānubandhikaṣāyas and 3 darśanamohanīyas); or destroy them, if kṣāyikasamyaktva is present. The kaṣāyas really belong to cāritramohanīya, but they are always linked with the 3 darśanamohanīya. The kṣapakas destroy 3 āyuṣkarma and may destroy the 7 prakṛtis. In this guṇasthāna the 5 lakṣaṇas of samyaktva appear (see n. 121). It can be reached by sañjñins, both paryāpta and aparyāpta. But though samyaktva may exist in aparyāptas, it originates only in paryāptas. The duration of the fourth guṇasthāna is an antarmuhūrta as minimum, and 33 sāgaropamas (the maximum life of gods and nārakas) plus the life of a human being as maximum. All 6 leśyās are present.

II. Sāsvādanasamyagdṛṣṭiguṇasthāna.

This is reached only by those falling from the fourth guṇasthāna, when mithyātvadarśanamohanīyakarma rises. It lasts only 1 samaya as minimum and 6 āvalis as maximum. It is so-called because during this brief time there is just a trace of samyaktva. In the second guṇasthāna are found the pṛthvī-jala-vanaspati divisions of the aparyāpta-bādara one-sensed jīvas (but not tejas and vāyu), 2-, 3-, 4-, 5-sensed aparyāptas, and paryāptasañjñins. This is according to KG. According to āgama, ekendriyas can not be in the second guṇasthāna. KG IV, p. 97b. This statement, seemingly inconsistent with the fact that the second guṇasthāna is reached only by those falling from the fourth, is explained by the fact that some are reborn before they reach the second. All 6 leśyās may exist.

III. Samyagmithyādṛṣṭiguṇasthāna.

This is reached only by those falling from the fourth guṇasthāna when samyagmithyātvadarśanamohanīyakarma (i.e. mixed) rises. There is no spiritual development, and the jīva falls down to the first (without passing through the second), or goes back to the fourth, as the karma develops. Its duration is an antarmuhūrta, maximum and minimum. It is reached only by paryāptasañjñins. All 6 leśyās exist.

V. Deśaviratiguṇasthāna.

Self-control begins here. Complete self-control is impossible because of the presence of pratyākhyānāvaraṇakaṣāyas. This partial self-control is in 3 stages. In the first, the jīva refrains from gross injury, gives up wine and meat, and repeats frequently the namaskāra to the Parameṣṭhins. In the second stage he takes the 12 vows of the layman (see Chap. III), and observes the 6 daily duties, and always observes good conduct. In the third stage, he takes no food with life, observes complete chastity, and develops the desire to be a sādhu. The 11 pratimās of the layman also are taken in this guṇasthāna. Ārta- and raudradhyāna weaken and begins. The duration of the fifth guṇasthāna is an antarmuhūrta minimum and something less than a koṭi of pūrvas maximum. It is readied by humans and sañjñin-animals. All 6 leśyās occur, and 4 kinds of saṃyaktva, the same as in the fourth.

VI. Pramattaguṇasthāna.

This and the following steps are reached only by sādhus. Here a man has complete self-control (sarvavirati), but is still subject to pramādas (negligences). There are 5 of these—pride, enjoyment of the senses, kaṣāyas, sleep, and idle talk. The kaṣāyas are in the sañjvalana stage. If the manifestation of the pramādas lasts more than an antarmuhūrta, the jīva falls below the sixth. If he remains an antarmuhūrta without pramāda, he goes to the seventh guṇasthāna. From this he may fall again to the sixth, and according to some (e.g. Bhagavatī) this fluctuation between the sixth and seventh may last for a koṭi of pūrvas. The duration of the sixth guṇasthāna is an antarmuhūrta, maximum and minimum. All 6 leśyās occur.

VII. Apramattaguṇasthāna.

Pramādas no longer exist, but sañjvalanakaṣāyas still rise, and the nokaṣāyas. The Guṇa. (p. 26) gives the 18,000 śīlāṅgas as belonging to this guṇasthāna, but they belong to sarvavirati and could be adopted as well in the sixth. Dharmadhyāna is very strong in the seventh, and there is a beginning of śukladhyāna. The seventh lasts for an antarmuhūrta, maximum and minimum. Only tejo-, padma-, and śuldaleśyās occur (KG III. 22, p. 121).

VIII. Apūrvakaraṇaguṇasthāna.

Here begin the two ladders, upaśama and kṣapaka, for the suppression and destruction of cāritramohanīyakarma. From the eighth through the eleventh, only 2 kinds of samyaktva are possible—aupaśamika and kṣāyika. Śukladhyāna had a faint beginning in the seventh, but here the first part is fully developed. One of the first 3 kinds of bodies is necessary to ascend the ladders.


The upaśamakas are divided into long-lived and short-lived. The short-lived goes to the Ahamindras, if he has the first kind of body. Also any one who would have gone to mokṣa, if his life had been 7 lavas longer, goes to the highest heavens. But if one’s ladder is broken when there are still 7 lavas of life left, then he falls to the seventh guṇasthāna, and after 7 lavas ascends the kṣapakaśreṇi. Long-lived ones go up to the eleventh guṇasthāna, if their ladder is unbroken. Upaśamakas must fall from the eleventh, and may fall from any stage preceding, up to a total of four times. The 7 prakṛtis must have been suppressed before this. Now he begins the suppression of the rest of mohanīyakarma. During the eighth and ninth, he suppresses all but sañjvalana greed.

After destroying the 7 prakṛtis and 3 āyuṣkarma, the jīva ascends the kṣapakaśreṇi, from which he can not fall. On this ladder he devotes himself to the destruction, instead of the suppression, of karma.

The duration of the eighth guṇasthāna is an antarmuhūrta. Only śuklaleśyā occurs from now on. In the eighth the ‘extraordinary’ apūrvakaraṇakriyā is done (see n. 255).

IX. Anivṛttibādaraguṇasthāna.

In the ninth, the upaśamaka continues the suppression of mohanīyakarma and suppresses all but sañjvalana greed. For the kṣapakaśreṇi, this guṇasthāna has 9 divisions, in which he destroys 36 kinds of karma, as shown in the table.

The ‘extraordinary’ anivṛttikaraṇakriyā is done in the ninth (see n. 255). The duration of the ninth is an antarmuhūrta, and only śuklaleśyā occurs.

X. Sūkṣmasamparāyaguṇasthāna.

In this the upaśamaka reduces sañjvalana. The kṣapaka destroys sañjvalanalobha, the only cāritramohanīyakarma which is left. Then he passes to the twelfth guṇasthāna. The duration of the tenth is an antarmuhürta and only śuklaleśyā is present.

XI. Upaśāntamohaguṇasthāna.

This is reached only by upaśamakas. All mohanīyakarma is suppressed. From this the jīva must fall, and eventually ascend the kṣapakaśreṇi to attain mokṣa. According to the Lp. (3. 1213-15) one may ascend the upaśamaśreṇi as many as 4 times, but only twice in one birth. But the KG holds that it can not be done but once in a birth, though the kṣapakaśreṇi may be ascended after the upaśamaśreṇi.

The duration of the eleventh guṇasthāna is an antarmuhūrta. But it has a minimum of one samaya, when one who has āyurbandha dies while on this step. Only śuklalésyā is present.

XII. Kṣīṇamohaguṇasthāna.

This is reached by the kṣapaka direct from the tenth. In this he suppresses the 5 jñānāvaraṇīya, the 6 remaining darśanāvaraṇīya, and the 5 antarāya. Only kṣāyikasamyaktva exists at this stage, and only śuklaleśyā. The second śukladhyāna belongs here. The duration of the twelfth is an antarmuhūrta.

XIII. Sayogikevaliguṇasthāna.

In this he becomes a kevalin, and tīrthakṛtnāmakarma rises now, if at all. All the karmas become ready for dissolution. The third śukladhyāna is practiced now. The duration of the thirteenth guṇasthāna is an antarmuhūrta minimum and something less than a koṭi of pūrvas maximum. Śuklaleśyā is still present.

XIV. Ayogikevaliguṇasthāna.

In this, fine bodily activity, which is the only activity remaining, is suppressed. There are 85 karmas remaining, 72 of which are destroyed in the next to the last moment, and the last 13 in the last minute. The fourth śukladhyāna takes place at the end of the fourteenth guṇasthāna, simultaneously with śaileśī, and lasts long enough to utter 5 short vowels. The duration of the guṇasthāna is an antarmuhūrta, according to the Lp.

The first, second, and fourth guṇasthānas are carried over into another birth, but not the others. One never dies in the third, twelfth nor thirteenth. (Lp. 3.1277-80).

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