Jain Science and Spirituality

by Medhavi Jain | 2020 | 61,419 words

This essay studies the elements of Jainism and investigates how Jain science and philosophy can give the world answers to through science and spirituality. Instead of interpreting it as a confined, strict philosophy, it is shown that Jainism represents a path towards self-awakening through self-improvement....

4. Nine Categories of truth (Nava Tattva)

The beauty of philosophy is–each seeker will conclude the same thing if he is left totally free to his own honest and unbiased thought process. When one contemplates about consciousness, one realises that it is pure in its real form, but due to the interaction with matter, it does not remain the same. Particles of karma, in form of good and bad deeds, create an influx towards the soul. Contemplating further takes one to a state where one becomes aware of the techniques of how to go about further that the influx can be stopped and the purest of the consciousness can be achieved.

In Jaina philosophy this process has been divided beautifully into nine categories of truth or nava-tattva, namely:

  1. jiva,
  2. ajiva,
  3. papa,
  4. punya,
  5. bandha,
  6. ashrava,
  7. samvara,
  8. nirjara and
  9. moksha.

From the English Translation of Tattvarthadhigamasutra of Umasvati:

Jiva-jiva-shrava-bandha-samvara-nirjara-mokshas tattvam
  —(Tattvarthsutra 1.4)

‘The categories of truth are:

  1. souls (sentient entities)
  2. non-sentient entities
  3. the inflow of karmic particles to the soul
  4. binding of karmic particles to the soul
  5. stopping the inflow of karmic particles
  6. the falling away of the karmic particles
  7. liberation from worldly (karmic) bondage’[1]

Here jiva is the consciousness, ajiva is the matter which is non-living, papa and punya are the two ways through which the soul interacts with the matter and bandha (bondage) occurs. Ashrava is the door, an opening into the soul that lets the matter get in. Samvara is to close the door of influx, now when the door is closed, what will happen to the matter already lying into the realms of soul? Nirjara refers to the shedding of that accumulated karma particles through penance, gaining knowledge, sadhana, and good deeds etc. The seeker has to be efficient enough to shed each and every particle to achieve the supreme state of consciousness, the purest soul and this is called moksha or liberation.

The elegance of Jaina philosophy is that, ‘as opposed to declaring or trying to force its own 'truth', Jainism requests that we look inside ourselves, locate our own and consistently question it. Jain-ness is the attitude or temper that empowers us to start this procedure.[2] This seems the efficient and logical way through which a seeker can advance in his journey.

As described earlier,

‘There are two terms in Jain philosophy, ashrava and Samvara. The previous means acceptance of outside matter into the spirit. The spirit by its very nature is unadulterated and uncontaminated. It ends up sullied when outside matter starts to go into it. This can be maintained a strategic distance from, by halting it we can safeguard the immaculate excellence of the spirit. By stopping off the wellsprings of the acceptance of external matter into the spirit, we produce a state of Samvara. It is a state where nothing goes into the spirit.’[3]

Samvara is quite closer to the highest spiritual state, by digging deeper into the understanding of karma theory, one can attain a state of samvara. Irrespective of what we are doing, arrival and departure of karma particles keep going on. Even to ponder over samvara depicts that the seeker is advancing in his spiritual journey.

Footnotes and references:


Tatia Nathmal (Translator). That Which Is (TWI). English Translation of Tattvarthadhigamasutra of Umasvati). Yale University Press. New Haven & London. First Edition: 2011. pp. 6


LJ. pp. 26


MBM. pp. 36

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