Stoppage of Karma (Samvar)

Stoppage of Karma (Samvar)

senl07i1Literally, Samvar means blocking. Samvar, in the theory of karma, means blockage or stoppage of the inflow of karmas to the soul. It is the opposite of asrav, which means the inflow of karmas. In the discussion of asrav, we gave the boating example which also explains how samvar works. Let us pretend as if we went boating. We were having a good time and suddenly noticed water rising on the floor of the boat. We immediately felt that the boat had a hole and if the leak was not fixed the boat would sink. So, the first thing we did was to find the hole and seal it so that new water would stop coming in. This stoppage of water coming in is called samvar. A similar situation is that of our soul which is wandering in worldly affairs. We have so many holes (activities) through which karmas are flowing in at all the times. We talked about these holes when discussing asrav: wrong beliefs, vowlessness, passions, indolence, and psychophysical activities. These activities allow karmas to become attached to the soul. Once we have realized the effects of such activities, we need to work towards overcoming them so that we can stop new karmas coming in before they further sink the soul.

Samvar can be described in two types:

  1. Physical or Objective,
  2. Psychic or Subjective.

The physical refers to the actual shutting of our activities which leads to stoppage of the inflow of karma particles. The psychic means consciously striving to stop our passions which prevents direct inflow of karmas by mental activities as well, leading us to stop physical and verbal activities.

Samvar is of 6 kinds, namely:

  1. Samiti (Careful)
  2. Gupti (restraint)
  3. Yati-dharma (dharma of a sadhu)
  4. Bhavanas (mental reflections)
  5. Parisaha (sufferings)
  6. Charitra (conduct)

These 6 types of Samvar will be effective and real only if they are carried out with a firm faith in the commands of the Jina. Therefore, Samyaktva is deeply and intimately connected with Samvar. Through Samyaktva, the asrav called wrong belief or mithyatva are completely blocked and stopped. By means of Samyak charitra and yati-dharma, the asrav called vowlessness is blocked. By means of gupti, bhavanas, and yati-dharma the Asrav called Passions are blocked. By means of Samiti, Gupti, Parisaha, etc., physical, verbal and mental activities and Pramad are blocked. By means of Charitra, the Asrav called vowlessness, passions, psychophysical activities can be blocked.

Samiti (Careful)

Samiti actually means Sam + iti = Samiti or the right use. Examples include, having the right objective, spiritual awareness, the proper discipline, and spiritual vigilance and caution. In this manner, there are 5 subtypes of samiti:
Irya Samiti: (Careful movements): This means to move cautiously and carefully, and looking closely on the ground so that no jiva might be harmed or killed. A sadhu observes this more carefully and that is why he does not walk around unnecessarily. He walks on the path which minimizes the violence to the least. Rather than walking on the grass or insects a sadhu would take an alternate route in order to minimize the violence caused by him, even if the alternate route was longer. A layman should also keep this in mind and should be careful while walking. They don’t wear shoes so that there is less injury to the organism on the ground.

Bhasha Samiti: (Careful speech): One should limit or completely avoid speaking anything which may provoke violence, flattery, condemnation, gossip, etc., or use words that may cause harm to others. One should not inflict pain by using words which are filthy or abusive. One should also limit or deter uttering unpleasant and thoughtless ideas which are contrary to the principles taught by the Jina or speech that can provoke wrong belief. One’s words or speech must be kind and gentle. If anyone has confessed to a sadhu about his wrong activities or sins, then the sadhu must not speak about this to others. This samiti also reminds us that one must not frighten anyone by speech or words, make a mockery of anyone, or preach a false doctrine.

Eshana Samiti: (Careful about taking food): Caution must also be paid about all matters relating to food. Sadhus should go for alms to various houses and should take a small portion of allowable food from each place so that the layman, from which the food is taken, does not have to cook again. Also sadhus should not take any raw vegetables, raw seeds or any food which has been in contact with living beings, including those taken from a burning stove, oven, or even a refrigerator. A sadhu should not go for alms if it is raining and should not accept any food brought to him. There are forty-two faults which sadhus must avoid while accepting alms. A layman should also refrain from committing a sin in the offering of food to sadhus. All intoxicated and forbidden foods are not to be taken by either sadhus or laymen.Adan Bhand Matta Nikshepna Samiti: (Careful about putting cloths and other things on) A sadhu should take the utmost care, before using clothes, to make sure that there are no insects in the folds which may be crushed, hurt, or killed. Care must be taken before taking and putting away vessels, books, or sitting down, etc. Similar precautions should also be taken by laymen.

Parishtapanika Samiti: (Careful about disposal of excreta): One should be very careful about how, and where one disposes of trash, refuse, or excretions so that no harm is done to even the minute insects or bugs. A monk must never keep either food or water overnight, but must rather dispose off them carefully as mentioned above.

Gupti (Restraints)

Gupti means restraint. Samiti helps us to regulate our physical and verbal activities, while gupti helps us to further restrain or curb activities of mind, speech, and body. There are 3 types of guptis:

Mano Gupti. (Restraint of the activities of the Mind): One must restrain extreme grief, anger, joy, and anxiety (Asatkalpanaviyogi). One must restrain oneself from the effects of love and hate, and pain and pleasure (samatabhavini). One must be restrained and think steadily, not of external things, but of one’s own soul.

Vachan Gupti. (Restraint of speech): One must restrain speech by observing a vow of silence (Maunavalambi) for a certain number of days or by speaking as little as possible and only when absolutely necessary (Vakniyami).

Kaya Gupti. (Restraint of physical activities): One must be careful and should restrain one’s physical activities as per rules laid down in the scriptures (Yathasutracestaniyami).


The 22 parisahas pertain to the enduring of hardship and while doing so remaining in a state of serenity and equanimity so that all karmas may be destroyed. These are more prominently followed by sadhus and sadhvis. There are 22 types:

  • Hunger. A monk must not accept food which is blemished and prepared with any one of the forty-two faults, even if he has to go hungry.
  • Thirst. A monk should not take unboiled water, even if he has to go thirsty.
  • Cold. Even when it is cold a monk should not wish for heater.
  • Heat. Even when it is hot a monk should not wish for fan or air condition.
  • Insect bites. If a monk is bitten by an insect while he is meditating, he should not brush it away or become irritated, but should bare it calmly.
  • Clothes. A monk must accept whatever clothes he may receive.
  • A monk must bare evil words told to him.
  • A monk must bare kicking and beating.
  • A monk must bare diseases.
  • A monk must sleep on a wooden flat bed or coarse grass.
  • A monk must not take a bath.
  • A monk must wear torn clothes but should not ask for new clothes.
  • A monk should not experience shame or helplessness while going for alms from door to door.
  • If a monk does not get alms, then he should not become worried and, on the contrary, should think as though
  • he has been given a chance to perform austerity.
  • A monk should not become attracted towards the beauty of women.
  • A monk should not become disturbed by hardship while meditating in a cemetery.
  • A monk should not become agitated even when there is the suffering or grief.
  • A monk should not become proud while being honored.
  • A monk should not become irritated when getting pricked by thorns, etc.
  • A monk must should not feel sorry for not attaining knowledge even after good efforts.
  • If a monk is ignorant and can not read, he should not become depressed. He must think of karmodaya and must keep his pursuit of knowledge alive.
  • A monk must try to understand the message of the Jina and should never doubt it.

Ten Duties of Sadhus

  • Sadhus observe the following great duties to the fullest extent, while householders follow them from a lesser degree to fullest extent.
  • Kshama (forgiveness)
  • Namrata (politeness) and Laghutha (meekness)
  • Saralata (simplicity)
  • Nirlobha (absence of Avarice)
  • Tap (internal and external austerities)
  • Samyama (controlling senses)
  • Satya (avoiding condemnable speech)
  • Shaucha (mental purity)
  • Aparigraha (non-possessiveness)
  • Brahamcharya (celibacy)

The Twelve Bhavanas Or Contemplation:

Bhavana means the contemplation, through which you motivate your soul to carry out lofty reflections. There are 12 types:

Anitya Bhavana:

All external substances including the body are transitory (Anitya). They are perishable and therefore, we should not have attachment for them.

Asharan Bhavana:

Human beings are experiencing tremendous agitation. When death occurs and the soul has to leave the body there is no one who can save a jiva who is helpless. Wealth, family etc. have to be given up at such a time. No worldly things can provide refuge so why should we depend upon them.

Samsar Bhavana:

In the cycle of samsar, i.e. births and deaths, mother can become wife; wife can become mother; and an enemy can become a friend; etc. How futile is samsar? We should not have attachment for it.

Ekatva Bhavana:

“I am alone, I was born alone, I will die alone, I am sick alone, I have to suffer alone, I have to experience the karmas which I have earned, alone.” Therefore, one should be cautious and keep away from the attachment and hatred.

Anyatva Bhavana:

“This body is transitory and it is different from me. I am the soul which is not perishable. While body is perishable. Even wealth, family etc., are not mine. They are different from me, therefore, I discard attachment for all these things.”

Asuchi Bhavana:

“This body is made up of impure substances. It is being nourished by impure substances. I will discard my attachments for this body and engage myself in self-discipline, renunciation, and spiritual endeavors.”

Asrava Bhavana:

Thinking on inflow of karmas. All causes that create the inflow of karmas should be discarded.

Samvar Bhavana:

Samvar means blocking of the inflow of karmas. One must contemplate on Samiti, Gupti, Yati-dharma etc. One must carry out these activities and try to reduce or stop the new bondage of karma.

Nirjara Bhavana:

Nirjara means to shed off whatever karmas we have. One must think of the benefits that accrue from each of the 12 kinds of Tapas or the austerities which cause nirjara. One must contemplate on these austerities in order to destroy sins.

Lokasvabhava Bhavana:

Lokasvabhava means one must contemplate on the three Lokas, namely: 1) the upper world, 2) the middle world, 3) the lower world, and also the whole universe filled with souls and pudgals.

Bodhidurlabh Bhavana:

One must contemplate on how difficult it is for the souls that are wandering aimlessly in four stages of existence in the Samsar to attain the Jin dharma. There should not be even the slightest negligence in observing the religion propagated by the Jina.”

Dharma Bhavana:

“Oh: Arihant Bhagwan, the omniscient, has expounded an excellent Shruta Dharma and Charitra Dharma. I will engage myself in these Dharma.” One should carry out this contemplation again and again.