The word kashaya (passions) can be broken down into kasha, meaning worldly life and aya, meaning gain. Thus the literal meaning of kashaya is to gain worldly life again. This means that as long as we have the kashayas, the cycle of birth and death will continue. There are four types of kashayas namely: krodha (anger), mana (ego), maya (deceit), lobha (greed). These four can be grouped into two categories: 1) rag (attachment), 2) dwesh (hatred). Rag is formed from maya and lobha and dwesh is formed from krodh and man.
Spiritually, our goal should be to get rid of worldly life and become liberated. But, when we grow attachment, hatred or passions for worldly objects, we hinder the spiritual progress of the soul. Until we are under the influence of passions, our intellect becomes irrational, we become vicious by nature. Thus, the passions are the greatest enemies of the soul and we should save ourselves from their influences. Affinity, affection, hostility, dislike, or disgust, etc., are the roots of passion. We develop affinity or hostility for things due to our distorted attitude, ignorance, and false perception and knowledge. We, humans, are opportunistic and when we are deprived of what we want then we react with anger. In the same way, if we do not get the fame we think we deserve, our ego hurts and we react accordingly. Therefore in reality even the anger and ego are caused by the liking and liking is nothing but one form of an attachment (rag). In other word, attachment is the single root of our all passions. So, those who have conquered attachment that means they don’t have any attachment have conquered everything. It is for that reason that the Lord Jina is called Vitaragi, one who has no attachment.
Passions are caused by the maturating of previously accumulated Mohniya Karma. Therefore, instead of reacting with more passion to the situations we should stay tranquil or calm in order to break the cycle which causes the new karmas. Our aim should be to stop the new karmas from coming in and get over the effect of old karmas calmly. If we can do that, the door to the liberation will open.
The four passions: krodh, man, maya, and lobha, are each further sub-divided into four types, depending upon the of their intensity. They are:
Anantanubadh (extremely severe): This obstructs the right belief and conduct and until it is destroyed, we cannot attain the right belief or conduct. Its effects pursue through a long long time and always operate with Darshan Mohniya Karma.
Apratyakhanavarana (severe): This obstructs the partial renunciation but does not affect the true belief. While it is active, we cannot take the vows even in a limited form.
Pratyakhanavarana (moderate): This obstructs the total renunciation, but does not affect the right belief and partial renunciation. While it is active the partial renunciation is possible by us, but the total renunciation (becoming a monk or nun) is not.
Sanjvalana (slight): This obstructs the attainment of total right conduct, but does not affect the right belief and total renunciation. While it is active, initiation into monkhood or nunhood and spiritual progress are possible, but becoming Vitragi is not possible.
When anger flares we lose our sense of judgment. The virtues like love and forgiveness are destroyed. The anger trgers if someone acts against our wish, if someone causes obstacles in the fulfillment of our desires, or if someone breaches our trust. Everyone wants to stay away from those who become angry easily. Due to anger, friends become foes. No one wants to help an angry person, nor does anyone loves him. The anger nourishes revenge and therefore, instead of an angry nature we should have a forgiving and peaceful nature. Not only is anger harmful in this life, but it can bring the bitter consequences into our next lives too. Sometimes, the virtuous people become angry, but they immediately calm down and ask for forgiveness from the people involved. In such situations, that is the the right way to act and we should do the same. This way, the sin caused by anger would be removed. We should cultivate virtues such as forgiveness, penance, and repentance.
Lobha (Greed) A greedy person is not satisfied with what he has. To get more, a person may use all the means without caring for the others. We should not forget that our gain is someone else’s loss. The greed prevents us from giving and sharing. We should be content with what we have and only accumulate to meet our needs. We should develop the habit of helping others by offering what we have. Greed destroys the peace and happiness while caring brings them back.
One who is full of ego looses his sense of judgment and politeness. A proud man invites his own destruction. We can obtain the knowledge only if we are humble. Humility brings good thoughts where there is no room for the pride or ego. Humility is at the root of religion and it is rather difficult to develop religious feelings as long as ego exists.
Deceit is responsible for a dishonest life. Due to deceit one loses friends. Honesty helps to realize the truth. A deceitful person has little understanding of religion.
There are nine No-kashayas (pseudo-passions) which trigger our passions. They are:
Hashya – laughing or joking
Rati – pleasure for sensual activities
Arati – displeasure for sensual activities
Shoka – sorrow
Bhaya – fear
Jugupsa – disgust
Prurushved – cause of sexual desires for women
Strived – cause of sexual desires for men
Napumsakaved – cause of sexual desires for both men and women
Manifestation of no-kashayas decreases as spiritual uplift begins. Therefore, we should be careful not only of kashayas, but of no-kashayas, too.