Samvara & Nirjara

Artist-not-recorded-A-Mandala-of-Samvara-about-1700-painting-artwork-print

Samvaraor stoppage of karmic influx is achieved through practice of:

  1. Three guptis or three controls of mind, speech and body,
  2. Five samitis or observing carefulness in movement, speaking, eating, placing objects and disposing refuse.
  3. Ten dharmas or observation of good acts like – forgiveness, humility, straightforwardness, contentment, truthfulness, self control, penance, renunciation, non-attachment and continence.
  4. Anuprekshas or meditation on the truths of this universe.
  5. Pariṣahajaya, that is, a man on moral path must develop a perfectly patient and unperturbed attitude in the midst of trying and difficult circumstances.
  6. Cāritra, that is, endeavour to remain in steady spiritual practices.


Nirjara
is one of the nine fundamental principles, or Tattva in Jain philosophy, and refers to the shedding or destruction of accumulated karmas from the atma (soul), essential for breaking free from samsara, the cycle of birth-death and rebirth, by achieving moksha, liberation.[1][2]

Literally meaning “falling off”, the concept is described first in chapter 9 of the classical Jain text, Tattvartha Sutra (True nature of Reality) written by Acharya Umasvati, in 2nd century CE, the only text authoritative in both Svetambara and Digambara sects of Jainism. [3]. Later it also finds mention in Dravyasamgraha (Compendium of substances), a 10th century Jain text by Acharya Nemichandra.[4]

Savipaka Nirjara

Savipaka – Passive Method – Also known as Akam or unintentional Nirjara, equanimous submission to the fruition of karma, and involves natural maturing of past Karma, in due course of time and experiencing the results, both good and bad with equanimity. If the fruits of the past karmas are not received without attachment or agitation then the soul earns fresh karmic bondages. It is also not possible for the soul to know before-hand when and which karma will start to produce results and therefore require good discipline in practicing equanimity under all circumstances.

This passive method of exhaustion of karmic matter around the soul, after enjoyment of its fruits, is compared with emptying of a pond through evaporation, while water channels are still pouring in. Naturally it is a slow method, as by the time karmas become ripe and are exhausted, new karmas fill in, as karmic matter is constantly pouring into the karma sharira (karmic body), through asrava, influx of karma. Thus to achieve liberation, the active method of purging off karma, avipaka nirjara is advised.

Avipaka Nirjara

Avipaka – Active Method – Also known as Sakam or intentional Nirjara, it involves individual exertion of ascetic practices, by practicing internal and external austerities, like penances or tapas, literally meaning heat, so as to accelerate the ripening process as well as reducing the effects produced. This is recommended approach as it prepares and conditions the soul and reminds it to be vigilant. Tapas is of two kinds, bahya or external, and antaranga or internal. [1][6]

Bahya tapas

The Bahya or bahiranga tapa, external austerities are meant to discipline the sensual cravings, and prepares the person for for internal austerities, which come next.

  1. Anasana – Fasting, purifies sense organs, lessens sens of attachment to bodily enjoyments
  2. Avamodarya or Alpahara – Eating less than one’s normal diet, removed laziness/lethargy and brings in fresh energy to the mind
  3. Vritti parisankhyana or Vrita sankshepa – Restriction of certain kinds or number of food
  4. Rasa parityaga -Daily renunciation of one or more of 6 kinds of Rasas delicacies: ghee (butter, clarified butter), milk, curd, sugar, salt, oil. Abstention from tasty and stimulating food
  5. Vivikta shayyasana – Sleeping in a lonely place, practicing solitude and introspection
  6. Kaya-klesha – Bodily Endurance, practicing body austerities to get over attachment to bodily comfort [1][7]

At some places, alternative to this list include, Ichhanirodha, control of desire for food and material things.[8]

Antaraga tapas

The antaranga tapa, internal austerities which follow are:

  1. PrayaschitaAtonement/penance for sinful acts
  2. Vinaya – Practice politeness and humility
  3. Vaiyavritya – Service to others, especially monks, nuns, elders and the weaker souls without any expectations in return
  4. Swadhyaya – Self-study, scriptural study, questioning and expanding the spiritual knowledge
  5. Vyutsarga – Abandonment of passions – especially anger, ego, deceit and greed, distinction between body and soul
  6. Dhyana – Meditation and contemplation

All the first five internal austerities and all six external austerities are preparatory steps for the practice of dhyana, which is the primary cause of moksha.

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