Jainworld
Jain World
Sub-Categories of Passions
PREFACE
FORWARD
INTRODUCTION
SAPTABHANGI SYSTEM
THE TATTVAS
  THE NATURE OF KARMA (Karma ka swroop)
  ASRAVA
  BANDHA
  SAMVARA
  NIRJARA
  MOKSHA
  STAGES ON THE PATH - GUNASTHANAS
  DHARMA IN PRACTICE
  COMPARATIVE ANTIQUITY OF JAINISM
  SOUL-SUBSTANCE
  Vairagya Bhavana

STAGES ON THE PATH - GUNASTHANAS


 

 

Gunasthan

     

From the nature of Moksha and the means prescribed for its realization it is abundantly clear that the attainment of perfection is the culmination of a graduated course of training, which must be followed step by step. The sages have, therefore, divided the path, which leads to the Supreme Seat (Nirvana) into fourteen stages, each of which represents a particular state of development, condition or phase of the soul, arising from the quiescence, elimination, or partial quiescence and partial elimination of certain energies of karma, and the manifestation of those traits and attributes which are held in check by their activity. The names and characteristics of each of these fourteen stages, called Gunasthan, may be stated as follows:--

 

     (1) The first stage is called Mithyatva, which signifies ignorance, the normal condition of all Jivas involved in the samsara, and is the starting point of spiritual evolution. The consciousness of the soul in this condition is obsessed with gross ignorance, and pure truth is not agreeable to it. Those who pass out of it are the lucky ones who, in consequence of their past good karmas, evolve out the desire to find a way to escape from the pain and misery of life in this world. When a man reaches this turning point in his life, he begins to meditate on the nature of the world and on his own relation with it. This results in a temporary quiescence of the first three energies of darsana Mohaniya karma (Nos. 17, 18 and 19) and the Anantanubandhi type of anger, pride, deceit and greed (Nos. 20,21,22 and 23), producing what is called the prathamopasama- samyaktva --a kind of faith which generally subsides, sooner or later, like the effervescence of aerated water. All cases of sudden conversion to truth are due to the quiescence of these seven energies of karmas.

 

     The subsequent loss of faith is due to the recrudescence of the prakriti of any one of the Anantanubandhi kasha's (anger, pride, deceit and greed) whose destruction or quiescence is related to the manifestation of true insight as cause to its effect.

     (2) Sasadana (sa = with + Sadhana = exhausted, hence that which is characterized by exhausted faith). This Gunasthan represents the mental state of the soul in the process or act of 'falling' form right faith. Its duration is momentary and does not extend beyond the time actually needed for the fast- slipping faith to be replaced by a false conviction in the mind.

     (3) Misra (lit. mixed). The consciousness of the Jiva in this stage is characterized by a hovering between certainty and doubt as to the word of Faith.

     This Gunasthan also marks a state of back-sliding from Right Faith, in the first instance, since faith and Mithyatva can become combined in the consciousness of him alone who has already evolved out proper convictions.

 

     (4) Avirati - Samyagdrishti. When the doubts of an individual have been removed by meditation or the instruction of a guru (preceptor), he passes on to this stage, and becomes a Samyagdrishti (true believer); but as he is not yet able to observe any of the vows enjoined on a layman, he is still described as Avirati (a= not + virta = a vow). This stage arises when the seven prakriti already named have been wholly or partially subdued or destroyed, and denotes the acquisition of Right Faith. Anger, pride, deceit and greed of the Apratyakhyana type may be subdued here.

     (5) Desavirata (desa = partial + vrata = vow). The soul now begins to observe some of the rules of Right Conduct with a view to perfect itself. The Pratyakhyana type of passions (kasha's) may be controlled in this stage.

     (6) Pramatta vrata (slightly imperfect vows). The aharaka Shareer prakriti (No. 60) becomes nascent at this stage which is the first step of life as a Muni.

     (7) Apramatta vrata (perfect observance of vows). The conduct of the Muni (ascetic) in this stage is marked by the absence of Pramad (negligence).

     (8) Apurva karana (Apurva = new + karana = thoughts or mental stages). The conduct being perfect, so far as the observance of vows is concerned, the Jiva now applies himself to holy meditation (Sukla Dhyana.) Some of the no- kasayas got rid of in this stage.

     (9) Anivritti karana (advanced thought activity). This is a more advanced stage than the preceding one.

     (10) Sukshma sampraya (sukshma = very slight + sampraya = conflict, hence struggle to control the kasayas or delusion). Only the slightest form of greed, which is also fully under control, remains to be eradicated in this stage.

     (11) Upasanta Moha (Upasanta, from upasama = quiescence + Moha = delusion). This stage arises from the subsidence of the energies of the Mohaniya karma.

     (12) Kshina Moha (destruction of delusion). Complete eradication of the Mohaniya karma is the chief characteristic of this stage. It should be pointed out here that the path bifurcates at the end of the seventh stage, one route lying along what is known as upasama sreni (upasama = subsided or quiescent, and sreni = flight of steps, hence ascent) and the other along the kshayaka (eradication). The former path finds its culmination in the eleventh stage, that is the total suppression, but not destruction, of the Mohaniya karmas; but the other which is trodden by those who are not content with the mere subsidence of karmic energies, and who, rejecting half measures, proceed by destroying the 'enemy' once for all and for ever, is the high road to Nirvana. Those who follow it pass directly from the tenth to the twelfth stage, and, acquiring omniscience as the reward of their unyielding, unflinching asceticism, reach the Supreme Seat. The saint who reaches the Upasanta Moha stage falls back to a lower one, and keeps on travelling backwards and forwards between the first and the eleventh station on the line till he is able to gird up his loins to tread the more trying and difficult kshayaka path.

 

(13) Sayoga kevali (sa = with, yoga, the three channels of activity, i.e., mind, speech and body, and kevali = omniscient). This is the stage of Jivana Mukti, characterized by the total destruction of the four kinds of Ghatia karmas, but indicating the association with the physical body due to the operation of certain Aghatia prakriti. Those who evolve out the Tirthankara prakriti become the Master (Tirthankara) who reveals the true Dharma (religion). Surrounded by Devas and men who hie from all quarters to offer Him devotion, the Tirthankara explains the truth in the divine anakshari * language, which is interpreted into popular speech, for the benefit of the masses, by an advanced disciple and Muni called Ganadhara.

     (*It is somewhat difficult to give an exact description of the anakshari speech; it consists of the powerful, audible vibrations of the Tirthankaras will become omnipotent by the destruction of the Ghatia karmas. These vibrations impinge on the mind of the congregation in a manner akin to the process of thought-transference of the telepathic type, and are at the time heard by all who understand them in their own tongues. Subsequently they are translated into popular speech and constitute what is called Agama (Scripture). The ordinary mode of conversation is not possible for the Tirthankara on account of the changes wrought by Tapa in His organs of speech.) The truth thus known is called sruti (revelation), or Sruta Jnana, and its absolute accuracy is guaranteed by the faculty of omniscience which does not come into manifestation so long as there remains the least trace of any of the energies of the Mohaniya karma.

 

     (14) Ayoga kevali (Ayoga, without mind, speech and body, and kevali, omniscient). This is the last stage on the Path, and is followed by the soul's ascent to Nirvana on the exhaustion of the Aghatia karmas. The Jiva who passes this stage is called Siddha. He has now become fully established in Right Faith, Right Knowledge and Right Conduct, and is freed from all kinds of karmic impurities and bonds, which had hitherto held him in captivity. No longer subject to the de-pressing influence of matter. He rises up immediately to the topmost part of the universe to reside there, for ever, in the enjoyment of all those divine attributes, which many of us have never even dreamt of. A conqueror in the true sense of the word, He now enjoys, to the full, the fruit of His unflinching fight with His own lower nature. Pure intelligence in essence, He now becomes an embodiment of knowledge by bursting His bounds. Thus, what some people consider to be a stultification of character is really the acquisition of such godly qualities as perfect discernment or faith, infinite knowledge, inexhaustible power and pure non-abating joy. The Ideal of absolute Perfection, the Siddha becomes the object of worship for all the Bhavya (those who have the potentiality to attain Nirvana) Jivas in the three worlds; and what language can describe the glory of that Siddha Atma, the mere contemplation of whose worshipful feet is sufficient to destroy all kinds of karmas of His Bhaktas (devotees)?