BASIS FOR THE CLASSIFICATION OF LESHYA
All living beings are surrounded by leshya-aura;
Only the emancipated are freed from it forever!
Black, blue, and grey; again, red, lotus-coloured and white—
These are the qualitative names of leshya in order.
The first three leshyas are unchaste, their fruit inauspicious, too;
The colour and taste and smell of these is also repugnant;
The other three leshyas are pleasant, they bring
An awakening in life as the passions subside;
In Uttaradhyana are they adequately treated,
In chapter 34, read it with care and understand!
Q.For a true assessment of one’s personality you have emphasised the necessity of examining one’s aura. Is this aura found in all living beings? Or only in man? Does a lifeless object also have an aura?
Ans. The current of feeling and the aura are to be found not only in man, but in all living beings. What to speak of animals and birds, even those living beings whose level of consciousness is very low, have an aura and a current of feeling. In the vegetable kingdom, it is quite apparent and clear. Some people have taken photographs of these, on the basis of which a comparative study is being made of the nature of man and that of plants. A lifeless object has an aura, but no current of feeling. That is why, the aura of a lifeless object is unchangeable. The current of feeling is liable to change. Any change in the current of feeling affects the aura. That is why the aura of conscious living beings is changeable.
The aura and the current of feeling are related to the body. There is a class of souls which have no body and are called emancipated. These are called free. They have neither aura nor any current of feeling. Their form is pure luminosity and this luminosity has no shape because it is an immaterial, conscious element. The fundamental element is consciousness. As long as consciousness is not emancipated, it is covered by karma sharir and tejas-sharir. The vibrations emanating from karma sharir produce feeling. From the point of view of karma shastra, feeling is susceptible to the effect of delusion. Intellect represents the feelings. When the mind is healthy, intelligence is sparkling. The pith of it all is that awareness, intelligence and the mind, all three, are the activities of consciousness.
Q.You just said that the vibrations of karma sharir create feelings, and feelings are susceptible to delusion. This has given rise to a doubt as to whether feelings create karma or is it karma that creates the feelings?
Ans. It has already been said that a person liberated from karma has no current of feeling. Feeling comes into being through karma vibrations of a person engaged in action. This only means that the current of feeling of a living being is the factor behind the attraction of karma-atoms and this would remain so as long as a person does not become emancipated from karma. Thus, the interdependence of the current of feeling and action is apparent. The objective of pointing out the connection between feeling and delusion is that it is through association or non-association with delusion that feeling becomes indisciplined or disciplined. The current of feelings which is connected with the rise of delusion produces unclean feelings like the negative emotions of anger, greed, pride, etc. But the current of feeling in which delusion subsides, gives rise to pure feelings such as positive feelings of tranquillity, contentment, humility, etc. That is why it has been observed that fundamentally the bondage of karma is connected with feeling. But in the perversion or purification of feelings, ignorance or infatuation plays a great role. Because action born of illusory knowledge only serves to mask true knowledge. Though illusory action masks true knowledge, it cannot distort it. But the distortion of feelings is solely caused by illusory action.
Q.Is the current of feelings and aura you are talking about, of one kind or there are different kinds and there are divisions and sub-divisions in them?
Ans. In Jain philosophy, for both the current of feeling and the aura, the same word ‘leshya’ is used. Although, according to the degree of purification, these can be divided into various classes, basically six forms of leshya are recognised—black, blue, grey, red, lotus-coloured and white. Corresponding to these six leshyas, the currents of feeling as well as the auras are also recognised to be of six kinds.
The above mentioned six leshyas may be grouped into two classes—benevolent and malevolent. The black, the blue and the grey–these three are the malevolent leshyas. These produce sorrow and a restless mind. Red, lotus-coloured and white leshyas are benevolent. They dissolve mental anguish.
Q.What is the basis on which leshya is recognised as benevolent or malevolent?
Ans. The classification of leshyas has been done on the basis of colour. Colour is of two kinds—auspicious and inauspicious. Leshyas associated with auspicious colours are benevolent; those associated with inauspicious colours are malevolent. In this context, the doctrine of the science of colours has been recognised. Basically colours are of two kinds—dark and bright. Dark colour has been recognised as inauspicious and bright colour has been recognised as auspicious. Dark colour is the result of dark atoms and the source of bright colour is light-atoms. Dark atoms are inauspicious and therefore they become the cause of malevolent leshya. Radiant atoms are auspicious and therefore they become the cause of benevolent leshya. Just as leshyas are influenced by colour, the basis of pure and impure feelings is also colour.
Q.Is the classification of leshyas on the basis of colour alone, or is there also some other factor involved?
Ans. Just as leshya has many colours, similarly, there are in leshya, smell, relish and tactility. In the comprehension of personality, smell, taste, etc., like colour, are the principal criteria. It is said about the omniscients (Tirthankars) that—
Their body has a unique appearance and smell. It is immune from disease perspiration and defilement. Their breath smells like lotus. Their blood and flesh are white like the cow’s milk.
It is apparent here that in the evolution of personality, form, taste, smell, etc. are all combined. Therefore on the basis of these elements, many imperceptible facts of life can be known.
The colour, taste, etc. of the first three leshyas are unpleasant. Therefore, these are known as malevolent or sinful leshyas. The colour, smell, and touch of the remaining three leshyas are pleasant, therefore, these are recognised as benevolent or virtuous leshyas. In the development of life these three leshyas play an important role. As leshyas become purer and more benevolent, passions decay, and in impure or malevolent leshyas, passions grow more virulent. To put it differently, wherever passions subside, leshyas are pure, and wherever passions are strong, leshyas are impure. Detailed discussion of the colour, smell and taste etc. of leshyas is found in Uttaradhyana. That would form the basis of our discussion in the next chapter.