Types of Karma

Each soul (Jiva) possesses innumerable qualities. In its purest natural state each soul is exactly like another and is endured with eight main qualities.

  1. Kevalajnana (Omniscience) Pure and perfect knowledge, the faculty of instantly cognising , by direct experience, the contents of the whole universe which contains all realities and nothing but reality, without any contradiction or discrepancy.
  2. Kevaldarsana. Pure and perfect intuition (darsana) – the faculty of instantly apprehending, by direct experience, the whole of real existence, without separation of contents, as a system with total internal consistency and structure but without reference to anything beyond.
  3. Atmika Sukha. Self – generated blissfulness which transcends pleasure / pain and joy / grief and which has no reference to anything outside the self.
  4. Ananta Virya. Unfettered and unrestricted spiritual energy.
  5. Ksayaka Samyaktva. Possession of complete truth.
  6. Atal – avagahana. Eternal unchanging existence – freedom from migration.
  7. Amurtatva – Total formlessness.
  8. Agurulaghutva – Total parity with other pure souls.

On the other hand, all living organisms, with their souls defiled by Karma, have piecemeal and fragmented knowledge, intuition and energy, possess perverted faith and embodied existence, experience joy and grief and a limited life span and are therefore, subject to cycles of birth and death. Karma infects and defiles all worldly organisms and veils, vitiates or obstructs the above-mentioned eight qualities of a pure soul and keeps it away from its supreme state of existence. Accordingly there are eight primary types of Karma.

  1. Knowledge obscuring (Jnanavarna) Karma obscures the pure and perfect knowledge.
  2. Intuition – obscuring (Darsanavarana) Karma obscure the pure and perfect intuition.
  3. Feeling – producing (Vedniya) Karma holds up the self-generated bliss and produces pleasures and pain, joy and grief (in worldly life).
  4. Deluding (Mohaniya) Karma produces delusion – metaphysical and ethical and :
    • (a) prevents the innate ability of belief in truth.
    • (b)destroys equanimity of conduct.
  5. Energy – obstructing (Antaraya) Karma obstructs / suppresses the spiritual energy.
  6. Life – span – determining (Ayusya) Karma determines the biological species as well as the duration of life – span.
  7. Body – making (Nama) Karma embodies the bodiless soul and determines the diversities and individual traits.
  8. Status – determining (Gotra) Karma determines the status and family conditions.

Each of these primary types is divided into several sub – types. The total number of sub- types is 148.

The eight types of Karma are divided into two categories.

(a) Ability Destroying (Ghatin) Karma – This group destroys and distorts the innate qualities of the soul.

Four ghatin Karma are

  • (i) Knowledge – obscuring.
  • (ii) Intuition – obscuring.
  • (iii) Deluding.
  • (iv) Energy obstructing.

The ghatian Karma are further sub-divided into (a) Sarva-ghatin – fully destroying and (b) Desa ghatin – partially destroying. Some sub-types of Karma are fully destroying kind and the other are partially destroying kind. It may be mentioned that the fundamental quality of the soul is never fully obscured. If that were the case, the soul would lose its soulness and become a non-soul or non-living matter. Even as the densest and darkest cloud cannot completely obstruct the sun, exactly so the Karma cannot obscure the total ability of knowledge and truth of the soul.

(b) Ability non-destroying (Aghatin) Karma. This group is unable to obscure any fundamental quality of the soul but compels it to continue its worldly existence. Four aghatin Karma are:

  • (i) Feeling – producing (Satavedniya) and pain- producing (Asatavedniya)
  • (ii) Body – making. It has the largest number of sub- types (93) accounting for various forms of embodied existence. These Karma are described in detail below.
  • (iii) Status-determining. It determines the diversities of, social and genealogical status and has two sub-types – high status and low status.
  • (v) Life- span determining. It has four sub types which are identical to gati-nama- Karma viz. sub-animal and animal life, human life, celestial life and hellish life. This Karma determines the life span in each category.

Naam (Body Making) Karma

Naam Karma are the determining factors in deciding the place of birth like heaven, hell or earth, the kind of organism on earth, the shape of body of the chosen organism, different organs of the body, the body structure and look of the body, etc. There are 42 types of body making Karma having a total of 93 sub types, the largest number of sub-types amongst all the types of Karma. The next largest number of sub-types 28 is that of deluding (mohaniya) Karma.

The 42 types of body making Karma are as follows.

  1. Gati Naam Karma. The 4 Gati Naam Karma determines the species of the living organisms, viz. (i) sub – animal (such as plants) and animal world ; (ii) human beings; (iii) celestial beings; and (iv) denizens of hell.
  2. Jaati (specie) Naam Karma. The 5 Jaati Nama Karma determine the type of body of the organism viz. (i) One sensed organism; (ii) two sensed organism; (iii) three sensed organism; (iv) four sensed organism; and (v) five sensed organism. Some examples of these organisms are:
    • (i) One sensed organism – different kinds of trees and plants.
    • (ii) Two sensed organism – conch, oyster, stomach worms, etc.
    • (iii) Three sensed organism – Bed bugs, earthworm, louse, ants, scorpion, etc.
    • (iv) Four sensed organism – Bee, grasshopper, moth, fly etc.
    • (v) Five sensed organism – human beings, celestial beings, hellish beings, lion, elephant, horse, cow, tiger, dog, snake, etc.
  3. Body Naam Karma. There are 5 Body Naam Karma which construct five types of bodies with the help of ahara vargana.
    • (i) Physical (audaric) Body Naam Karma. The physical Body Naam karma enables ahara vargava to construct a physical body containing fluids, blood, serum, bones, flesh and marrow.
    • (ii) Vaikriyika Body Naam Karma. The Vaikriyika Body Naam Karma enables ahar varganas to construct a Vaikriyaka body (fluid like body) having supernatural power. This type of body is possessed by celestial beings and hellish denizens.
    • (iii) Aharak Body Naam Karma. The aharak Body Naam Karma enables ahar vargana to construct aharak Body. This is a luminescent subtle body used by yogis and Munis having special power for cosmic travel in order to establish contact with liberated souls and seek their guidance in difficult to solve cases.
    • (iv) Tejas Body Naam Karma. The tejas body Naam Karma enables yogis and Muni’s having special powers to construct a tejas Body for some specific purpose. The tejas Naam Karma are also responsible for existence of a tejas body (electric body or vital body) in every organism.
    • (v) Karma Body Naam Karma. The Karma Body Naam Karma enables Karmon varganas to construct a Karma Body in every organism.
  4. Body Bond Naam Karma. The Body Bond Naam Karma enables the atoms and molecules of a body to bond together. These Karmas are of 5 types providing bonds in five types of bodies.
  5. Body Union Naam Karma. Body Union Naam Karma cause conglomeration of body matter so as to form a monolithic continuous structure of body after the atoms and molecules are bound by Body Bond Naam Karma. These Karmas are also of 5 types for five types of bodies.
  6. Body Shape Naam Karma. For the type of specie of organism determined by Jaati Naam Karma, the shape of that particular specie is determined by Body shape Naam Karma. There are 6 sub-types of Body shape Naam Karma corresponding to six types of body shapes as under:
    • (i) Symmetrical Body shape (Samchaturarsa body)
    • (ii) Nyagrodh Body Shape. Bodies having a structure like a banyan tree.
    • (iii) Swati (Pyramid like) Body shape. Bodies having a structure like a mole tree, voluminous at bottom and thin at top.
    • (iv) Hunch – Back Body shape. Body having a hunch in the middle.
    • (v) Dwarf Body Shape.
    • (vi) Asymmetrical Body Shape.
  7. Organ Naam Karma. Organ Naam Karma enables various organs to be formed in the body. This Karma is of 3 sub-types for the three kinds of bodies – physical body. vaikriyika body and aharak body.
  8. Skeleton Naam Karma Skeleton Naam Karma determines the skeleton structure consisting of bones and joints. There are 6 types of skeleton structures.
    • (i) Impenetrable and strong (like steel) skeleton structure
    • (ii) Very strong (like steel) skeleton structure.
    • (iii) Strong skeleton structure.
    • (iv) Mildly strong skeleton structure.
    • (v) Weak skeleton structure. The bones are very thin like nails.
    • (vi) Snake like skeleton structure. The bones are not jointed.
  9. Pigment Naam Karma. Pigment Naam Karma determines the body colour of the organism. The body colours are 5 – black, blue, red, yellow and white.
  10. Odour Naam Karma. The odour Naam Karma determines the odour of the body. The odour is of 2 types – fragrant and foul.
  11. Flavour Naam Karma. The Flavour Naam Karma determines the flavour in the body. The flavour is of 5 types – pungent, bitter, astrigent, acidic (tarmarind like) and sweet.
  12. Touch Naam karma. The Touch Naam Karma determines the texture of touch of the body. The touch is of 8 types – harsh, soft, heavy, light, smooth, rough, cold and hot.
  13. Migration (Aanupurvi) Naam Karma. Transit Naam karma determines the shape of the body in migration period between one life and the next. This shape is similar to the shape of the physical body left by the soul.
  14. Compaction (Agurulaghu) Naam Karma. Compaction Naam Karma determines the extent of compaction of the body; the body can be heavy or light.
  15. Self – Discomfort (Opghat) Naam karma. Self Discomfort Naam Karma produces a body structure which causes discomfort to self. For example the horns of a reindeer, large belly, etc.
  16. Discomfort to others (Paraghat) Naam Karma – These Karma produce a body component which can harm others. For example poison in the mouth of a snake, sting in the tail of a scorpian, sharp nails and teeth in a lion, poison in a tree, etc.
  17. Respiration Naam Karma. Respiration Naam Karma produces respiration system in the body.
  18. Heat Naam Karma. Heat Naam Karma produces heat in the body so that temperature is maintained at a pre-determined level.
  19. Light Naam Karma. Light Naam Karma enables bodies to produce light. This is the cause of light in a glowworm.
  20. Movement Naam Karma. Movement Naam Karma enables body to move on earth or fly in sky. This is of 2 types – good looking movement like that of a lion, cow, etc and odd looking movement like that of an ass, camel, jackal, etc.
  21. Sub-human and Human Naam Karma. This Naam Karma is similar to Jaati Nama Karma but it refers to animals and humans as a class (trasa).
  22. Sthavar Naam Karma. The Sthavar Naam Karma determines birth as a sthavar organism. The sthavar organisms are of five kinds – (i) trees and plants, (ii) earth bodied organisms, (iii) water bodied organisms, (iv) air bodied organisms, and (v) fire bodied organisms.
  23. Gross (Badar) Naam Karma. Gross Naam Karma determines that the body will be of gross type.
  24. Micro (Sukshma) Naam Karma. Micro Naam Karma determines that the body will be of micro type.
  25. Developed Body (Paryapta) Naam Karma. This Karma determines that the body is well developed and is not deficient in any way.
  26. Undeveloped Body (Aparyapta) Naam Karma. This Karma determines that the body is under developed and is deficient in some way.
  27. Solitary Body (Pratyeka) Naam Karma. A solitary body is controlled by one soul. Bodies of all organisms except some plants and vegetation are of solitary type.
  28. Ordinary Body Naam Karma. This Karma causes an ordinary body to be formed. An ordinary body is owned by more than one soul, for example algae has ordinary body.
  29. Stable Naam Karma. Stable Naam Karma ensures that the body constituents like fluids; blood, bone, flesh etc. are stable and balanced.
  30. Unstable Naam Karma. Unstable Naam Karma develops a condition in which the body will fall short of one or more of the above constituents.
  31. Beauty Naam Karma. This Karma determines that the body shall be good looking, beautiful or handsome.
  32. Ugly Naam Karma. This Karma makes the body ugly looking.
  33. Lucky Naam Karma. Lucky Naam Karma generates body conditions where luck favours. This happens only in humans.
  34. Unlucky Naam Karma. Unlucky Naam Karma generates body conditions where luck does not favour. This happens only in humans. Both lucky and unlucky Naam Karma operate with other Karmas to produce the particular result.
  35. Good Voice Naam Karma. This Karma makes the voice of the organism good at hearing or melodious.
  36. Harsh Voice Naam Karma. This Karma makes the voice of the organism harsh at hearing.
  37. Attraction Naam Karma. This Karma determines that the body of the organism shall be liked by others.
  38. Repulsion Naam Karma. This Karma makes the body so that it is not liked by others.
  39. Fame Naam Karma. This Karma makes the body such that others regard the organism as virtuous.
  40. Defame Naam karma. This Karma makes the body such that others regard the organism as unvirtous.
  41. Morphology Naam Karma. This Karma ensures that the organs and body parts of the organism shall have appropriate size and right location.
  42. Tirthankar Naam Karma. Tirthankar Naam Karma ensures that the body shall be worshipped by others as Tirthankar.