Mähävïra was not the founder but the 24th Tirthankara of the existing faith of Jainism. His teachings are partly based on the religion of his predecessors and partly independent. He was responsible for the codification of unystematic mass of beliefs inhering the earlier religion of his predecessor into a set of rules of conduct for monks and laymen. Besides, he had to introduce changes in the existing religion in order to meet the needs of the time. There were several orthodox and heretical sects with their well-known teachers going strong during his time. He understood and mastered the doctrines of the current philosophical systems such as the Kriyävädins, the Akriyävädins, the Vinayavädins and the Ajñänavädins. He also formulated his own doctrines and solved the controversies endlessly going on with his religious contemporaries. Some of his teachings also arose in order to remove corrupt practices current in the society of this period.

The teachings of Mahävïra are supposed to have been embodied in the twelve Aõgas. These original texts are, however according to the Digambaras lost except some portion of the Pürvas forming part of the twelfth Anga (Dôÿûiväda) under the name of Ÿaûkhaõdägama and Kasäyapähuâa. According to the Svetämbaras only the Twelfth Aõga known as Dôÿûiväda has been completely lost and for the rest of the eleven Aõgas an attempt was made for their compilitation at the council of Patliputra after a famine of twelve years duration in about the 3rd century B.C. This tipe of Ägama literature grew up by stages during the ten centuries following the Nirväîa of Mahävïra. The final redaction of this Ägamika literature with several alterations took place at the council of Valabhi under the presidency of Ärya Devarddhi in 454 (or 467 A.D.)

It seems that the text of teachings of Jainism underwent some changes in the interval between the time of Mahävïra and the final composition of the Jaina canon. Older parts of the Acäräõga and the Sutrakôtäõga may well claim to preserve much original matter, and the same may be true to some extent of some portion of the Bhagavatï Sütra and the Uttarädhyayana Sütra. The Ÿaûkhaîâägama and Kasäyapähuâa also claim to preserve much original matter. The earliest Buddhist texts, known as the Palï Nikäyas, also refer to the beliefs and teachings of Mahävïra. Though we cannot expect them to give a fair and honest exposition of the tenets of their opponents, they somehow corroborate the evidence of the Jaina texts. In the light of both these evidences, an estimate of the teachings of Mahavira should be made.

The teachings of Mahävïra were simple, practical ethical and spiritual but gradually they developed into a complicated system with considerable emphasis on details. Mahävïra and his disciples propounded not only the doctrinal side of Jainism relating to the nature of the truth and the ideal but also mapped out the practical and disciplinary path leading to the realization of truth. It was chiefly in and through the life of monks or mendicants that the ideal of conduct was sought to be fulfilled.


The ultimate object of Jainism as taught by Mahävïra is Nirväîa which consists in the attainment of peace and infinite bliss.1 Nirväîa is just another name for Mokÿa or liberation, Mukti or deliverance, salvation or beatitude. Gautama, a disciple of Mahävïra, explained Nirväîa to Keáï, a disciple of Päráva : “It is a safe, happy, quiet and eternal place in view of all but difficult of approach where there is no old age, nor death, nor sorrow, nor pain, nor disease, It is a state of perfection which is obtained by putting an end to the stream of existence.”1 It is liberation from a state of bondage brought on by karma. It is deliverance from old age, disease, death, and all that constitutes sufferings.

This highest goal is to be attained through annihilating the old karmas (Nirjarä) lying heavy on the soul by the practice of austerities (Tapas), and to stop the influx (Äárava) of new Karmas by the practice of self-restraint, called Saãvara, with regard to the body, speech and mind.

Even in a Päli Sutta,2 the main aim of Mahävïra’s teaching has been mentioned as Sukha or infinite bliss which is not attainable through the finite happiness of even so fortunate among men as the reigning monarchs; it is attainable only by forsaking all finite happiness. Had it been possible to attain beatitude through mundane happiness, king Áreîika Bimbisära of Magadha could certainly have attained it. It was to be achieved by means of wearing out and ultimately destroying the effects of sinful deeds (Päbakamma) committed in this and a former existence. The paractice of the threefold self-restraint was to be taken recourse to by the aspirant as a means of not giving effect to a new karma.


Right Faith, Right Knowledge, and Right Conduct are the three essential points in Mahävïra’s teachings which lead to perfection by the destruction of Karmas. Without Right Faith, there is no Right Knowledge; without Right Knowledge there is no Virtuous Conduct; without virtues, there is no deliverance and without deliverance (Moksa) there is no perfection.3

Belief in the nine Padarthas after comprehending them properly is Samyagdarsana4 (right belief). Because of self as the basic principle in nine Padarthas, faith in the pure self constitutes what is called Samyagdarsana (right belief)5. Right belief gives rise to right knowledge (Samyagjnana) by virtue of which right path is comprehended and consequently right conduct (Samyakcaritra) is pursued. This in turn results in emancipation6. If the person is devoid of the Jewel of right belief comprehends the scriptures, even then he remains in the worldly process7.

The excellence of ones right-faith depends on the following conduct: (1) Nihsankita : The right believer had no doubts in the tenets of the Tirthankara (2) Nihkankaita: He has not preference for the tenets of others or he does not hanker after the worldly pleasures. (3) Nirvicikitsa: He does not doubt the efficacy of austerities and self-control or he has no feeling of disgust at the various bodily conditions caused by disease, hunger, thirst etc. (4) Amudhadrsti: he is not shaken in the adopted right faith or he dissociates himself from the person pursuing wrong path. (5) Upabrmha: he enhances his own faith by admiring the right believers, (6) Sthitikarana: he re-establishes those who have deviated from the path of rightousness (Dharma) (7) Vatsalya : he has deep affection for those who are spiritual brethern and (8) Prabhävanä:

He endeavours to exalt the religion of the Tirthankaras.

The right faith is of ten kinds. (1) Nisarga : (self-occasioned right faith), (2) Upadesa: (right faith through the instructions of Guru etc., (3) Äjñä : (right faith in the truthfulness of Jivas, Ajivas etc. through the omniscient), (4) Sütra : (right faith through the study of Ägamas), Bïja: (right faith through knowing any one of the Padärthas), (6) Abhigama : (right faith through the attainment of knowledge of Ägamas), (7) Vistära : (right faith through the detailed knowledge of Dravyas), (8) Kriya: (right faith through religious exercise), (9) Saãkÿepa: (right faith through the brief knowledge of Jiva etc.), (10) Dharma: (right faith in the Ägamas and conduct.

The Uttarädhyayana Sütra speaks of five kinds of knowledge: (1) Áruta or knowledge derived from the study of sacred books, (2) Abinibodhika or Matijnana: knowledge derived through mind and senses (3) Avadhi: Knowledge of the material object through self without mind and senses, (4) Manahparyaya: knowledge of the thoughts of people through self without mind and the senses, and (5) Kelvalajñäna: knowledge of the all the substances and their infinite modification through self.

The Avadhi-Jñäna is also employed in the sense of knowledge co-extensive with the object. The Kalpa Sütra,3 for instance, says: “He viewed the whole Jambudvïpa with his knowledge called Avadhi”. Here Avadhi means that which is limited by the object, that which is just sufficient to survey the field of observation.

The Manaêparyäya-jñäna is defined in the Äcäräõga Sütra as a knowledge of the thoughts of all sentient beings.4 The Kevala-jñäna according to the same text, is omniscience enabling a person to comprehend all objects, to know all conditions of the world of gods, men and demons: whence they come, where they go, where they are born, etc.5

Six kinds of substances have been recognised namely Jïva (soul), Pudgala (Matter), Dharma (Principle of motion) Adharma (Principle of rest), Äkäáa (space) and Käla (Time). All the substances except Pudgala are regarded as bereft of material qualities of touch taste smell and colour and only Jiva is said to possess consciousness. Äkäáa provides accommodation to Jïvas, Pudgala etc. Dharma and Adharma are the indifferent condition of movement and rest respectively.

Substance is the substratum of qualities and modifications. It is characterised by simultaneous origination (Utpäda), destruction (Vyaya) and persistence (Dhrauvya). Origination and destruction are applicable to modifications and persistence to qualities along with substance.

Virtue consists in right conduct. But there is no right conduct without right belief, and no right belief without the right perception of truth.3 Right conduct is achieved by threefold restraint, the restraint of the body, the restraint of speech and the restraint of mind.4 The first step towards virtue lies in the avoidance of sins. There are various ways of committing sins, directly and indirectly, through physical acts or through spoken words or even through  thoughts.5 Thus to avoid sins one must guard oneself by the samitis and Guptis.

Not to kill any being, to live according to the rules of cunduct and without greed, to take care of the highest good to control oneself always while walking, sitting and lying down, and in the matter of food and drink, to shake off pride wrath, deceit and greed, to possess the Samitis, these in short, are the cardinal principles of Cäritra as taught by Mahävïra.6

Austerities (Tapas)

The roal to final deliverance depends on the performance of austerities which destroy the Karmas. Tapa implies the extirpation of desire. Austerities are of two kinds external and internal. The external austerities are of six kinds. (1) Anasana: It implies fasting either for a limited period of time or till the separation of the soul from the body. (2) Avamaudarya or Unodari: It means not to take full meals. (3) Bhiksacari or Vrttiparisamkhyana: It consists of imposing certain restrictions upon one-self regarding the mode of begging or the nature of the domor, or the quantity of food or the way in which food is offered. (4) Rasaparityaga: It means abstinence from dainty food. (5) Kayaklesa: It means the mortification of the flesh. (6) Samlinata or Viviktasayyasana: It implies the choice of lonely place of stay devoid of women, eunuchs and animals. This is to be remembered that the external austerties should not engender mental disquietude and avate the zeal for the performance and disciplinary practices.

Internal austerities are also of six types: (1) Prayascitta: It means repentance for seeking freedom from the sins. (2) Vinaya: It is humbleness towards the pious personalities. (3) Vaiyavrttya: It means the rendering of service to saints in various ways. (4) Svadhyaya: It means ethico-spiritual study which includes (i) learning (ii) questioning (iii) pondering (iv) repetion and (v) religious discourse or preaching. (5) Vyutsarga: implies bodily detachment. (6) Dhyana: It means the concentration of mind on a particular object. It is directly related to the actualisation of infinite knowledge and bliss.

Five vows (Vratas) for the ascetics

Mahavira has prescribed five vows in all. These five vows are: (1) Ahimsa (not to killed), (2) Satya (not to lie), (3) Asteya (not to steal), (4) Brahmacarya (celibacy) and (5) Aparigraha (to renounce the possession of worldly things along with passions).

(1) The first great vow is Ahimsa (abstinence of killing living beings). It is the vow of non-injury to all living beings, mobile and immobile, gross and subtle in thought word and deed. The observer of this vow should neither deprive any living being of life, nor rule over him, nor torment him nor excite him. This vow of Ahimsa is the central doctrine of Jainism taught by Mahavira.

The visible effect of Ahiãsä was sought to be proved  by a practical demonstration. Already in Mahävïrä’s time, the righteous kings of India made it a point of duty to vouchsafe lawful protection to all forms of life within the sacred precincts of a religious establishment2. This principle of causing no harm to any being had a salutary effect on man’s habitual diet. Those who came under the influence of Mahävïra’s personality and teaching gave up the eating of meat and fish for good, and adhered to a strictly vegetarian diet.

(2) The second great vow of Satya means the avoidance of falsehood. For the observance of this vow, the false and oppressing words likely to be uttered under the constraint of attachment, aversion  jest, fear, anger and greed should be renounced. (3) The third great vow of Asteya means the avoidance of theft. It consists in renouncing the possession of all things lying either in a village or in a town or in a wood without their being offered. The observer of this vow seeks the permission for certain necessary things from the possessor. (4) The fourth great vow speaks of the avoidance of the following: Bodily make-up, sense indulgence, taking of excessive food, passionate thinking about a woman, reviving the past sexual enjoyments planning for future sexual enjoyment etc.

(5) The fifth great vow is freedom from possessions. If a living being with his ears open hears agreeable or disagreeable sounds, he should not be attached to them. If he with his eyes sees agreeable or disagreeable forms, he should not be attached to them. If he with his nose smells agreeable or disagreeable smells, he should not be attached to them. If he with his tongue tastes areeable or disagreeable things, he should not be attached to them.1

The explanation offered by the Svetambara Jaina texts in support of the addition of the vow of celibacy is as follows. The Uttarädhyayana2 says that “the first saints were simple but slow of understanding, the last saints prevaricating and slow of understanding, those between the two, simple and wise: hence there are two forms of the Law. The first could but with difficulty understand the precepts of the Law, and the last could only with difficulty observe them, but those between them easily understood and observed them.”

It is however wrong to suppose that Päráva did not advocate celibacy. What he did was that in the vow of Aparigraha (non-possession) he included the vow of celibacy. This indirect implication of non-possession could easily be understood by the followers of Päráva who were ‘simple and wise’. Mahävïra’s disciples, on the other hand, being prevaricating and slow of understanding could only with difficulty observe ‘the vow of non-possession’. He had therefore to add the fifth vow of abstinence from all sexual acts in clear terms.

On this H. JACOBI remarks, “As the vow of chastity is not explicitly mentioned among Päráva’s four vows, but was understood to be implicitly enjoined by them (i.e, Päráva’s followers), it follows that only such men as were of an upright disposition and quick understanding would not go astray by observing the four vows literally, i.e., by not abstaining from sexual intercourse, as it was not expressly, forbidden. The argumentation in the text presupposes a decasy of morals of the monastic order to have occurred between Päráva and Mahävïra, and this is possible only on the assumption of a sufficient interval of time having elapsed between the last two Tirthaõkaras. And this perfectly agrees with the common tradition that Mahävïra came 250 years after Päráva.”1

It is on the basis of the number of vows observed that the sect of Päráva was known as Cäturyäma2 and that of Mahävïra as Pañchayäma. These vows were strictly observed by monks who took them on entering the order. In their case, the vows were called the five great vows (Mahävïrata). Lay people, however, observed these vows as far as their worldly situation permitted. The five vows of the lay people were, of course, Aîuvrata or small vows.

A correct representation of the ‘fourfold self-restraint’, even in the sense of which the followers of Päráva understood it, is not wanting in Buddhist literature. Just then a separate vow of chastity was added to the ‘fourfold self-restraint’ to complete the list of five great vows (Pañcamahävratas) promulgated by Mahävïra. These have been enumerated as abstinence from the idea of killing, the idea of theft, the idea of unchastity, the idea of lying, and some such tapoguîa or virtue of an ascetic3. It is interesting indeed to note that even some of the Jaina phrases have been reproduced in the Buddhist text.


Mahävïra formulated his theory of the nine categories as well as his theory of Karma. His doctrine of the nine categories was meant to explain how the bondage of the soul arises by way of karmic effects upon it and how the defects are got rid off and the liberation of the soul is obtained. The categories are as follows: (1) Jiva (soul), (2) Ajiva (non-soul) (3) Bandha (bondage of karma), (4) Punya (merit), (5) Papa (demerit), (6) Asrava (influx) of karma) (7) Samvara (the prevention of influx of karma), (8) Nirjara (partial annihilation of karma) and (9) Moksa (total ainnihilation of karma). He who verily believes in the fundamental categories possesses right belief.

The first pair of terms, Jiva, and Ajiva, comprehends the world of existence as known and experienced. The Jiva sighnifies all that has life while Ajiva indicates those that are without life. The world of life is represented by six classes of living beings, six classes of beings are: Earth-bodied, water-bodied, fire-bodied, air-bodied and vegetable-bodied one-sensed jivas along with two sensed to five sensed jivas. Living things are either subtle or gross, and living beings are either those still belonging to Samsara or those whose souls are perfected. Through the gradation of living beings, one can trace the evolution of the senses. The lowest form of being is provided with only one sense, the sense of touch.

It is only in relation to the six classes of beings that the process of Karma sets in and the nature of man’s conduct is determined. “Know and understand,” taught Mahavira, “that they all desire happiness; by hurting these beings, men do harm to their own souls, and will again and again he born as one of them.

The category of Jiva and Ajiva helps us in knowing the world of life and non-life. The third term or category is Bandha or bondage of the soul which is due to passions. Bandha is the subjection of the soul to the laws of the birth and death, of youth and age, of pleasure and pain, and other vicissitudes of life brought about by the effect of Karma.

The soul, represents the principle of knowledge, the characteristic of which is consciousness. Buddhaghosha in his commentary on the Brahmajala sutta, Digha Nikaya 1,2,381, mentions the Niganthas as holding the opinion that the soul has no colour, and it continues to exist after death and is free from ailments. This description is consonant with the opinions of the Jainas about the nature of the soul.

The categories of Merit (Punya) and Demerit (Papa) comprehend all acts or deeds, pious and sinful, which keep the soul bound to the circle of the births and deaths.

Asrava is responsible for the attraction of Karmic particles towards the soul because of the operations of mind, body and speech. And Samvara is the principle of self-control by which the influx of Karmas is checked or stopped. The category of Samvara comprehends the whole sphere of right conduct.

Nirjara or Karmakshaya consists in the wearing out of the accumulated effects of Karma on the soul by the practice of austerities, and Moksha, which logically follows from Nirjara, signifies the final deliverance of the soul from the bondage of Karma.


Mahavira’s great message to mankind is that on the destruction of karma, all future happiness depends. Mahavira does not mean by Karma ‘work or deed’. It is an aggregate of material, fine particles which are inperceptible and which enter into the soul and produce changes in it. Through the actions of mind, body and speech Karmic matter gets into the soul and is tied to it through Kasayas (passions) namely anger, pride, deceit and greed. This theory of Karma represents the most ancient and original feature of Jaina thought. According to H. Jacobi, “This Karma, theory, if not in all details, certainly in the main outlines, is acknowledged in the oldest parts of the canon”. It has been dealt in great detail in the Satkhandajama. Some of the passages concerning the theory of Karma found the old texts of Jainism are as follows:

“The painful condition of the self is brought about by one’s own action, it is not brought about by any other cause (fate, creator, chance or the like).

“Individually a man is born, individually he dies, individually he falls (from this state of existence), individually he rises (to another). His passions, consciounsness, intellect, perceptions and impressions belong to the individual exclusively. Here, indeed the bonds of relationship are not able to help nor save one.”

“All living beings own their present form of existence to their own Karma.

“The sinners cannot annihilate works by new works; the pious annihilate their works by abstention from works; the wise and happy men, who got rid of the effects of greed, do not commit sins.”

“He who intends (to kill) a living being but does not do it by his body, and he who unknowingly kills one, both are affected by that.

“He who knows the tortures of beings below (in hell); who knows the influx of sin and its stoppage; who knows misery and its annihilation,—he is entitled to expound the Kriyavada.”

The passages cited above are sufficient to prove that kriyavada expounded by Mahavira is in its essential feature only a theory of soul and Karma. According to this theory, there are as many souls as living individuals, and karma is produced through acts, intentional and unintentional, that produce affects. On the future of the soul. Thus the soul is not passive in the sense that it remains untouched or unaffected by what a person does, but is susceptible to the influences of Karma.

Even in some early Buddhist texts, we find the traces of Kriyäväda as expounded in Jainism. In Aõguttara Nikäya, III, 74, for instance, a learned Lichchavi prince of Vaiáälï, Abhaya gives the following account of some Nigantha doctrines: “The Nigantha Nätaputta teaches the annihilation by austerities of the old Karma, and the prevention by inactivity of new Karma. When Karma ceases, misery ceases; when misery ceases, perception ceases; when perception ceases, every misery will come to an end. In this way, a man is saved by pure annihilation of sin (nijjarä) which is really effective.”

Another piece of infomation about Nigantha doctrines may be gathered from the Mahävagga1. There a story is told of Sïha who wanted to pay the Buddha a visit, but Nätaputta tried to dissuade him from it simply because the Niganthas held to Kriyäväda while the Buddha’s beliefs were grounded in Akriyäväda.

These passages throw light on the doctrine of Karma expounded by Mahävïra. The theory of Karma has specieal significance if we consider it along with the views of Mahävïra’s contemporary religious thinkers. The Vedic thinkers thought that the world has been created and is governed by the gods. Püraîa Kassapa maintained that when a man acts or causes others to act, it is not his soul which acts or causes to act.2 Kätyayäna advocated that whether a man buys or causes to buy, kills or causes to kill, he does not thereby commit any sin.3 Keáakambain explained that life ends here, and there is no world beyond. Denying the hereafter and the efficacy of all social institutions founded upon beliefs in the future existence of man, he cannon inform us whether and action is good or bad, virtuous or vicious, well done or otherwise, whether it is in man’s power to reach perfection or not, of whether there is a heaven and a hell.4 Goáäla denies that our happiness and misery, weal and ill, are caused by us individually or determined by any other cause than what we term fate or necessity.1

Karma is believed, according to Mahävïra, to be the result of actions arising out of four sources: (1) the first source of Karma is attachment to worldly things such as food, dwelling place etc.; (2) it is produced by uniting one’s body, mind, and speech to worldly things; (3) it is also engendered by giving the reins to anger, pride, deceit or greed; and (4) lastly by false belief which is a powerful source of it. Karma accumulates energy and automatically works it off without any outside intervention.

Karma are of eight kinds: 1. Knowledge-obscuring (Jnanavarniya) 2. Intuition-obscuring (Darsanavaraniya) 3. Feeling-producing (Vedaniya): It produces pleasure and pain. 4 Delusion-producing (Mohaniya): It obstructs right belief and right conduct. 5. Longvity-determining (Ayu): It determines the period of stay of self in a particular body. 6. Body-making (Nama): It makes different bodies; 7. Status-determining (gotra): It determines status in society; 8. Obstruction-generating (antaraya); It causes handicaps in the enjoyment of wealth and power. To explain it further: 1. Just as the curtain obstructs the knowledge of things inside the room, so also the knowledge-obscuring Karma obstructs the expression of knowledge. 2. Just as a door-keeper does not allow persons to meet the king. etc. so also the intuition obscuring Karma does not allow apprehension of things. 3. Just as on licking honey from the sharp edge of a sword, the person enjoys honey as well as suffers pain, so also the feeling-producing Karma produces pleasure and pain in man. 4. Just as wine stupefies a person, so also the delusion-producing Karma perverts the person. 5. Just as wooden fetters stop the movement of a person, so also the longevity-determining Karma obliges the soul to stay in a particular body. 6. Just as the painter produces different pictures, so also the body-making Karma makes different bodies. 7. Just as a potter makes earthen pots of different sizes, so also the status-determining Karma determines status in society. 8. Just as a treasurer generates obstructions in giving money, etc. to others, so also the obstruction-generating Karma causes handicaps in charity, in gains and in self-power. Mahavira teaches us to purge ourselves of impurities arising from Karmas.

The Sah Khandagama1 speaks of fourteen Gunasthanasd (stages of spiritual evolution). When the soul is on the first stage (Mithyatva- Gunasthana) he is completed under the influence Mohaniya (deluding) Karma and known nothing of spiritual truth. When the soul attains to a state which enables him to distinguish between what is false and what is true either through the influence to his past. Good deeds or through, the teaching of his spiritual Guru, he comes to acquire what is true faith with the result that he is spiritually awakened. He then realises the great importana of ethico-spiritual conduct. He devotes himself  to meditation and arrives at the state Karmas which is state of embodied liberation. From the stage he at once attains Siddhahood, disembodied liberation. It is a state of infinite, unique, and unalloyed bliss, which is the same as Nirväna or Moksa.


The Lesyas are different conditions produced in the soul by the influence of different Karmas. They are, therefore, not dependent on the nature of the soul, but on the Karma which accompanies the soul, and are, as it were, the reflection of the Karmans on the soul. The Lesya is, according to the Sutrakritnaga, a term signifying, ‘colour’.

The Jaina religious efforts are directed towards the acquisition of pure Lesya. This doctrine of the six Lesyas is merely hinted at here and there in the Sutrakrtanga and fully explained in the Uttaradhyayana. They are named in the following order: Krsna (black). Nila (blue), Kapota (grey), Teja (red), Padma (Yellow) and Sukla (White).

The black Lesya has the colour of a rain-cloud, a buffalow’s horn. The blue Lesya has the colour of the blue Ashoka having red flowers. The grey Lesya has the colour of Atasi having blue flowers. The red Lesya has the colour of vermilion. The yellow Lesya has the colour of orpiment. The white Lesya has the colour of conch shell.

The smell of the bad Lesyas (viz., of the first three) is infinitely worse than that of a dead cow, dog or snake. The smell of the three good Lesyas is infinitely more pleasant than that of fragrant flowers and of perfumes when they are pounded. The touch of the bad Lesyas is infinitely worse than that of a saw, the tongue of a cow, or the leaf of the teak tree. The touch of the three good Lesyas is infinitely more pleasant than that of cotton, butter or Siriska flowers.

He who acts, on the impulse of the five sins, who commits cruel acts, and who is wicked and mischievous, is described as one fostering the black Lesya (Krsna). He who nourishes anger, ignorance, hatred, wickedness, deceit, greed, carelessness, love of enjoyment, etc., develops the blue Lesya (Nila). He who is dishonest in words and acts, who is a heretic, a deceiver, a thief, etc., develops the grey Lesya (Kapota). He who is humble, well-disciplined, restrained, free from decit, who loves the doctrine develops the red Leáyä. He who controls himself and is attentive to his study and duties, develops the yellow Leáyä. He who controls himself. who abstains from constant thinking about his misery, who is free from passion, who is calm and who subdues his senses, develops the white Leáyä. The black, blue, and grey Leáyäs  are the Lowest Leáyäs; through them, the soul is dragged into certain miserable courses of life. The red, yellow and white Leáyäs are the good Leáyäs, for through them the soul is brought into a state of happiness. The above six types of Lesyas may be respectively illustrated by the attitude of individuals who want to relish fruits (1) by uprooting the tree, (2) by cutting the trunk, (3) by cutting big branches, (4) by cutting small branches, (5) by plucking only the fruits, and lastly (6) by having those fruits that are fallen on the ground.


Sñjaya is an important landmark in the development of Mahävïra’s philosophy. H. JACOBI assumes that in opposition to the agnosticism (Ajñänaväda) of Sañjaya, Mahävïra propounded his doctrine of Nayas.1 The canonical texts just mention Nayas without fixing up their number four or seven. It is true Bhagavati and the but these texts contain works, Syädväda (Saptabhaõginyäya), according seven alternatives to a decisive conclusion. Nayas are actually the ways of expressing the nature of things from different points of view; They appealed to the masses because they encouraged a tolerant attitude towards different religions.

The questions with regard to which Sañjaya suspended judgment were in fact the questions to be excluded from the problems of knowledge. Is the world eternal, or is it non-eternal? Is it both eternal and non-eternal, or is it neither eternal nor-non-eternal? Is the world finite or infinite? Is there any idividual existence of man after death, or is there not? Is the absolute truth seen face to face by a seer, comprehended by a philosopher, part of real tangible existence, or not? It was with regard to these and similar questions that Sañjaya refused to submit any affirmative answer.

It is with regard to these questions that Mahävïra declared: “From these alternatives, you cannot arrive at truth; from these alternatives, you are certainly led ?? The world is eternal as far as that part is concerned which is the substratum of the (dravya) “world”; it is not eternal as far as its ever-changing state is concerned. In regard to such questions, Mahävïra’s advice to his disciples was neither to support those who maintained that the world is eternal nor those who advocated that it is not eternal. He would have said she same thing regarding such propositions as the world exists and it does not exist; the world is unchangeable; the world is in constant flux; the world has a beginning; the world has no beginning; the world has an end; the world has no end;  etc. Those who are not well-instructed differ in their opinions and hold fast to their dogmas without reason.3 And these were precisely the questions which Buddha regarded as unthinkable on the ground that those who will think about them are sure to go mad, without ever being able to find a final answer, or to reach apodeictic certainty.4

If one has to answer such questions, one should answer them by saying, contrary to both a dogmatist and a sceptic, “It may be that in one sense, looking from one point of view, A is B. It may be that in another sense, looking from another point of view, a is not-B. It may again be that looking from a third point of view, A is both B and not-B. It may equally be that when viewed from a fourth point of view, A is neither B nor not-B.”

Since one cannot prolong life,2 one should not on that account be careless. Those who acquire wealth by evil deeds and by adhering to wrong principles, will lose it. People in this world and in the next cannot escape the effect of their own actions. Wealth will never protect a careless man in this world. Like a wise man, trust nobody but be always wary and on the alert.

One cannot quickly arrive at discernment; therefore one should exert oneself, abstain from pleasures, understand the world, guard oneself and be impartial like a sage. External things weaken the intellect and allure many; therefore keep them out of mind. Remove pride, delusion, greed and deceit. Heretics, who are impure and proud, are always subject to love and hatred, and they are wholly under the influence of their passions. Despising them as unholy men, one should desire virtue till the end of one’s life.3


There can be two ways of dying4: (1) Death with one’s will, and (2) death against one’s will. Death against one’s will is the death of an ignorant man, and it happens to him several times. Death with one’s will is the death of a wise man, and it happenes only once as, for instance, in the case of a Kevalin. A fool being attached to pleasure does cruel actions. He who is attached to pleasures and amusements will be caught in the trap of deceit. An ignorant man kills, lies, deceives, drinks wine and eats meat, thinking that there is nothing wrong in doing what he does. A man desirous of possessing wealth and woman accumulates sins by his act and thought. Fools, who do cruel deeds, will suffer violently. When death really comes, the fool trembles in fear. He dies against his will. Some householders are inded superior to some monks of self-control. But the saints are verily superior to all householders in self-control. Those who are trained in self-control and penance, whether monks or householders, go straight to the highest regions. The virtuous and the learned do not tremble in the hour of death. A wise man will become calm through patience and will have an undisturbed mind at the time of death. When the right time for death has come, a faithful monk should in the presence of his teacher overcomes all emotions of fear or joy, and wait for his end. When the time for quitting the body comes the sage dies willingly.1


A wise man shold not be angry if reprimanded. He should rather, be a man of forbearing temperament. Nor should he associate with mean persons and be guilty of doing anything mean or evil. He should meditate by himself after having learnt his lessons. He should never rufuse to confess if he does anything mean. He should not speak unasked for. He should not tell a lie when asked. If the self is subdued, a person will be happy. It is better to subdue one’s own self by self-control and penance than be subdued by others with fetters and corporal punishment.2 He should never do anything disagreeable to his superiors either in words or deeds, openly or secretly. He should always approach his teacher politely. An intelligent pupil will rise from his seat and answer the teacher’s call modestly and attentively3. A good pupil has the best opinion of his teacher, for he thinks that his teacher treats him like his own son or brother. He should not provoke his teacher’s anger, nor should he himself lose his temper. If the teacher is angry, he should pacify him by kindness and appease him with folded hands. An intelligent man, who has learnt the sacred text, takes his duties upon himself. When a worthy teacher is satisfied with a pupil, he will transmit to him, his vast knowledge of the sacred texts, and the pupil will gladden the heart of his teacher by his good deeds.1

Egoism, anger carelessness, illness, and idleness are the five causes which render good discipline impossible. Discipline calls upon the practitioner: (1) not to be fond of mirth, (2) to control himself, (3) not to speak evil of others, (4) not to be without discipline, (5) not to be of wrong discipline (6) not to be covetous, (7) not to be choleric, and (8) to love truth.2

The saint accepts food with the sacred aim of performing study, pursuing self-control and performing meditation. He feeds the body for making the noble efforts of  realising the true self, just as the lamp is supplied with oil for seeing the objects clearly, Thus, the ascetics are as good as going without food, and even if they accepts faultless food, since thereby they do not fall a victim of Karma.


All men, who are ignorant of truth, are subject to pain. A wise man who considers well the way that lead to bondage and birth should search for the truth. A man of pure faith should realize the truth that he will have to suffer for his own deeds.8

Clever talking will not bring salvation. Even while sinking lower and lower through their sins, fools believe themselves to be wise men. One should move about carefully in the endless Saãsära. One should never desire worldly objects but sutain one’s body only to annihilate one’s Karma4.

It is an ignorant man who kills, tells lies, robs on the highway, steals goods, and deceives others.He will go to the world of the Asuras (demons) against his will. Those men who, through the exercise of various virtues, become pious householders, will surely reap the fruit of their actions. A virtuous man cheerfully ascends to the state of gods. He who has not given up pleasures will not be able to reach the true end of his soul. He will go astray again and again though he has been  tanught the right way. A sinner will be born in hell and a virtous man will be born in heaven.

The best of the sages who are free from delusion and possess perfect knowledge and faith, speaks for the benefit, welfare, and the final liberation of all beings.


Pleasures, which are liked by the ignorant and which prouduce pain, do not delight pious monks who do not care for pleasures but are intent on the virtue of right conduct4. All singing is but prattle, all dancing is but mocking, all ornaments are but a burden, all pleasures produce but pain.He alone will have to endure his sufferings, neither his kinsmen, nor his firends, not his sons, not his relations, for Karma follows the doer5. Life drags on towards death continuously, and old age carries off the vigour of man.6 Time runs out and the days quickly pass. Pleasures which men enjoy are not permanent. They leave them as soon as they come just as a bird leaves a tree devoid of fruits. It one is unable to give up pleasures, then one must do noble deeds, follow the doctrine and have compassion on all creatures.1

Man’s life is transitory and precarious. He finds no delight in domestic life. Pleasures bring him only a moments’s happiness. Pleasures are an obstacle to the liberation from mundane existence. and are a mine of evils.2 The soul cannot be apprehended by the senses because it possesses no corporeal form; and since it has no corporeal from, it is eternal. The fetter of the soul born of our evil deeds is called th cause of worldly existence. Mankind is harassed by death. He who has acquired righteousness may look upon death as his friend.3 Faith will enable him to put aside attachment.4 The pleasures he enjoys cause the continuance of his worldly existence.5 He should learn the doctrine thoroughly, practise severe penance, and never dissipate his energy.6

Through the possession of true knowledge, through theavoidance of ignorance and delusion, and through the destruction of love and hatred, one arrives at deliverance which is nothing but bliss.7 One should serve the Guru and the old teachers, avoid foolish people, apply oneself earnestly to study, and to ponder over the meaning of the Sütras.8 A áramaîa who engaged in austerities longs for righteousness should eat only the quantity of food allowed, should select a companion of right understanding and should live in a solitary place.9 If he does not meet with a suitable companion, he should live by himself, abstaining from sins and not devoted to pleasures.10 Love and hatred are caused by Karma which has its origin in delusion. Karma is the root of birth and death.1 Misery ceases with the absence of delusion, delusion with the absence of desire, desire with the absence of greed, and greed with the absence of property.2 Rich and delicious food should not particularly be preferred, for it generally makes men overstrong, and desires rush upon the strong.3 The mind of those who always live in unfrequented lodgings, who eat simple food, and who subdue their senses, will not be attached by passions which are vanquished as disease is by medicine.4


There are three ways of committing sins : by one’s own action, by commission, and by approval of the deed.12 A learned or a virtuous man will generally be punished for his deed when he is given to actions of deceit.1 Men who are drowned in lust and addicted to pleasures will be deluded for want of self control.2 Heroes of faight who do not commit sins, and who exert themselves as they should, who subdue anger and fear, will never kill living beings.3 The wicked wander about in the circle of births, subject to old age and death. One should not kill living beings in the threefold way (in thought, act and speech) if one is intent on spiritual welfare and abstention from sins4. A sinner does not confess himself to be wrong; instead he boasts of his sin when reprimanded. The adulteres are severely punished.

Those who kill others for the sake of their own pleasure are wicked.

Sinners, subject to love and hatred and wrong-doing, acquire Karma arising from passions and commit many sins. The careless commit sins in their thought, act and speech.9 A cruel man does cruel things and is thereby involved in other cruelties.10 Sinful undertakings will in the end entail suffering.


He who has no worldy attachment, who does not repent of having become a monk and who takes delight in noble words is called a Brähmaîa.1 He who is free from love, hatred, and fear is called a Brähmaîa.2 A lean, self-subduing ascetic, who reduces his flesh and blood, who is pious, and who has reached Nirväîa is a Brähmaîa.3 He who thoroughly knows living beings and does not injure them in any of the three ways (by his thought, word, and deed), is a Brähmaîa4  He who does not speak untruth from anger, or from greed, or from fear is a Brähmaîa.5 He who does not take anything which is not given to him is a Brähmaîa.6 He who is not greedy, who lives unknown, who has no house, is a Brähmaîa.9 10 One does not become a Áramaîa by the tonsure, nor a Brähmaîa by pronouncing the sacred syllable Om, nor a Muni by living in the forest, nor a Täpasa by wearing clothes of Kuáa-grass.11 One becomes a Áramaîa by equanimity, a Brähmaîa by chastity, a Muni by knowledge, and a Täpasa by penance.12 One becomes a Brähmaîa or a Kshatriya or a Vaiáya or a Áüdra by one’s actions.13

The monk Should abscure the five great vows (Mahävratas) viz. not to kill, to speak the truth, not to steal, no be chaste, and to have no possessions at all. A wise man should follow the doctrines taught by the Jinas.2 A monk should be of a forbearing nature, restrained, and chaste, He should live with his senses under control.3 He should walk about in utter indifference and bear everything, pleasant and unpleasant. He should not care for respectful treatment or blame.4 He should endure with equanimity both cold and heat, unpleasant feelings and physical disorders which attack the human body.6 An ascetic will by means of his simplicity enter the path of Nirväîa.7 He is neither grieved nor pleased. He is intent on the benefit of his soul and strives for the highest good.8


There are five Samitis and three Guptis which are called Pravacanamata, since they guard the belief, knowledge, and conduct of the saint in such a way as the mother protects her child8. The Samitis are the following : 1. going by paths trodden by men, beasts, carts, etc., and looking carefully so as not to cause the death of any living being; 2. gentle, sweet, and religious speech; 3. accepting and eating faultless food; 4. careful mental state in receiving and keeping things necessary for religious life : 5. answering the call of nature and the like in an unfrequented place and devoid of insects and seeds. The three Guptis are the following: 1. restraint of mind; It means the controlling of mind from sensual pleasures by engaging it in meditation and study. 2. restraint of body : It means refraining from bodily actions of binding, piercing and beating human beings; 3. restraint of speech : It means renouncement of gossip concerning women, state theft and food. Thus Gupti negates vicious activities while Samiti affirms virtuous performance of activities.