Spiritual Progress (Gunashtan)

The Fourteen Gunasthans – Stages of Spiritual Development

Siddhant Chakravarty 
Nemichandra Acharya

Out of the five Bhavas of all the living creatures, some have two, some three, some four and some have all the five Bhavas. There are (i) Aupshamik, (ii) Kshayik, (iii) Kshayopshamik, (iv) Audyik and (v) Parnamik. These are the Bhavas of the self. Out of these the first four, from the real point of view, though soul operated, conventionally are according to Upsham, Kshaya, Kshayopshama and Udai and, therefore, their names Aupshamik, Kshayopshamik and Audyik are meaningful; the name Parinam is given to the eternal, same, without the support of any karma, and easily natural Bhav and such a Bhav is called the Parnamik Bhav. These bhavas, caused by delusion and activities of the mind, speech and body, produce fourteen stages which are called the Gunasthans; which are as follows :-

  1. Mitthyatva
  2. Sasadan
  3. Misra
  4. Avirat Samyaktva
  5. Deshvirat
  6. Pramatta Sanyat
  7. Apramatta Sanyat
  8. Apurava Karan
  9. Anivritti Karan
  10. Sukshama Sampraya
  11. Upshant Kashay
  12. Kshina Kashay
  13. Sayogkevaii Jin
  14. Ayogkevali Jin

1. Mitthyatva
The word Mitthyatva means untrue, perverse, false or contradictory. The collective Bhav of those beings, whose faith of the purposeful substances like the soul are untrue, is called the Mitthyatva Gunasthan. Just as a patient suffering from fever does not relish sweet things, the person having wrong faith does not relish the religion of the soul, which assumes three forms, right faith, right knowledge and right conduct. This means that he does not have correct faith in spiritual experience as also faith of the God, the scripture and the monk.
This wrong faith is of two kinds-(i) Inherited, (ii) Adopted. The current of the absence of real consciousness in all the creatures of this world, by which these develop the sense of oneness in inanimate objects like bodies and their instrumental attachments etc., is called the inherited wrong faith. In its presence, the perverse imaginary faith of creatures not knowing the exact nature of things, which is newly acquired is called adopted wrong faith.

2. Sasadan
The affliction of right faith is Asadan and the modification associated with that is Sasadan. When an Aupshamik Samyakdirshti being in the appearance of Anantanubandhi passion has in that period of Aupshamik right faith for one Samay or at the most six Avalies, destroys right faith and fails from that holy mount, but does not touch the ground of wrong faith, the state of that being is called Sasadan Gunasthan.
The full name of this Gunasthan is Sasadan Samyaktva. The word Samayaktva has been added on account of the logic of past association. Its time is Antarmuhurat only.

3. Misra
The Gunasthan having correct and incorrect faith at the same time in the fruition of Samyakmitthyatva Prakriti that faith is called the mixed Gunasthan. Just as we taste curd and sugar and enjoy its mixed taste, in the same way person having such a faith has both correct and incorrect beliefs. Anantanubandhi passion is non-existent here. The duration of this Gunasthan is also Antarmuhurat.
From this Gunasthan a being does not go to Deshvirat or Apramatta Sanyat Gunasthan and does not have age bondage of the next phases, death and Marnantik Samudghat.

4. Avirat Samyakdrishti
The state of the soul with real right faith and devoid of real observance of rules of conduct (i.e., Anuvirat and Mahavrit) is the fourth stage named Avirat Samyaktva.
This soul attains right faith with Kshayopsham and other achievements and with external conduct suitable for a being in the fourth stage, by being in the vicinity of the soul with its efforts and with spiritual experience. This is to say that the being understands the real intrinsic nature of the soul, that he is the sentient supreme God, he alone being the knower, the rest the known, and that he does not have any relationship with the non-self entities. The unnatural manifestations of the soul are not in its nature; they disappear with the vision of the sentient nature and with oneness with it, they do not arise at all. This vision with determined decisive state touches the blissful and the detached state of the being; even when the intrinsic experience is lost sight of, the purity of the Soul consequent of the absence of the Anantanubandhi passions persists and is called the fourth Gunasthan of Avirat Samyaktva.
It is of three kinds : (i) Aupshamik, (ii) Kshayopshamic and (iii) Kshayik. Out of these three with anyone kind of right faith, as long as this being holds the state of non-abstinence on account of fruition of Aprityakhyanavaran passion, pride, deceit or greed, he is in the stage of the fourth Avirat Samayakdrishti Gunasthan. The being, in this stage, being rich in the consciousness of the soul, naturally becomes indifferent to the sensual pleasures. From the point of view of Charnanuyog, he has not renounced injury to moving and non-moving creatures and the objects of the five senses. Non-abstinence of the twelve kinds is, therefore, found in him.

5. Deshvirat
The aspirant in the fourth stage develops the purity of soul operation and attains the fifth stage. The soul experience is now more frequent than in the fourth stage and the Aprityakhyanavaran passion is eliminated. His peace of the soul having been developed, he becomes indifferent towards non-self entities and develops merits of Deshvirat. He begins to observe the rules of conduct, as they should be, but his purity not being very forceful, he cannot accept monkhood. This stage is the fifth stage. This is also called Vratavirat or Sanyatasanyat Gunasthan, for internally he follows real abstinence of the Sanyamasanyam stage, while outwardly he abstains from killing or injuring moving creatures but does not abstain from killing or injuring non-moving creatures. The householder of this stage follows Anuvarats as a matter of course. Sentient Chhullak, Elak and Airika of the eleventh stage come under this Gunasthan.

6. Pramatta Sanyat
The sentient aspirant with right faith, who achieves more purity than that of the fifth Gunasthan, having qualified himself for the complete conduct with some recklessness, is in the sixth stage of Pramatta Sanyam Gunasthan. This term is meaningful, for there is elimination of twelve passions in the complete conduct stage, with the existence of Sanjwalan passion with usual force and recklessness that generates blemishes.
From the Mahavrata aspect the monk in the sixth stage thinks with feelings of attachment. Though teachings are imparted and accepted, food is accepted, going and coming from one place to the other continues; and yet the internal purity of the monk is retained and accordingly the twenty-eight primary rules and their associates are duly observed. The twenty-eight primary rules are :Five Mahavratas, five Samities, six essentials, five sense controls, nakedness, uprooting of hair, non-bathing, sleeping on the earth, not cleaning one’s teeth, taking meals in a standing posture, and taking meals once only.The fifteen recklessnesses are four unhealthy narration of women, food, nation and king, four passions of anger, pride, deceit and greed, five senses, sleep and love. These can be multiplied into eighty. Though it attracts impurities, this recklessness does not destroy the real abstinence of the sixth Gunasthan.
Process of thoughts with necessary purity of operation is found in the sixth stage, while the seventh Gunasthan is without the process of thinking. The duration of both is Antarmuhurat. As such the monks may remain in that stage for thousands of years. They alternate between the sixth and the seventh stages without any exception always, staying in the one for an Antarmuhurat only and then going to the other. One noteworthy fact is that the monk first has the experience of the seventh Gunasthan and then he descends to the sixth.

7. Apramatta Sanyat
The real monks without the fifteen recklessnesses are in the Apramatta Gunasthan. The twelve passions are totally absent here, while Sanjwalan passions are also very soft, appropriate to this stage of development. The recklessnesses do not generate any impurities here and the primary and secondary rules of conduct lead to faultless operative stage. The designation Apramatta Sanyat is, therefore, meaningful. Knowingly there is no thought process, having meditation of the pure soul and its experience. This state continues in all the Gunasthans ahead. This Gunasthan has two kinds (i) Swasthan Apramatta Sanyat, (ii) Satishaya Apramatta Sanyat.
Those in this stage who do not ascend the Kshapak Shreni or the Upsham Shreni and alternate between the Pramatta and Apramatta states are called Swasthan Apramatta Sanyat. The above same monks having developed special oneness with the self facing the ascendance of the Shreni and attaining the purity of Adhahpravrittakaran are called Satishaya Apramatta Sanyat. When they apply all their spiritual might and develop oneness with the soul, they reach the eighth, ninth, tenth and the twelfth Gunasthans in an Antarmuhurat, destroying the twenty one Prakrities of Charitra Mohiniya, after which they definitely obtain omniscience (thirteenth Gunasthan). If their effort is not complete, they reach eighth, ninth, tenth and the eleventh Gunasthans in an Antarmuhurat and subside the twenty-one prakrities instead of destroying them.
The duration of Adhahpravrittikaran is an Antarmuhurat. (‘Karan’ here means manifestation). The soul in this state has countless times greater purity and different souls in backward and forward stages have similar manifestations as well dissimilar ones. Souls with Adhahpravrittikaran are called Satishaya Apramatta Sanyat.

8. Apuravakaran
The modifications of souls in this Gunasthan are unprecedented, their duration being an Antarmuhurat. Each soul has still greater purity every moment. Considered from the side of different souls, the modifications of souls in different times are dissimilar and those staying therein in the same time have both similar and dissimilar modifications. Such being their development, the Gunasthan is named as Apurvakaran. Souls ascending on the Upsham Shreni as well as the Kshapak Shreni have the same modifications of their beings.

9. Anivrittikaran
Anivritti means similar and karan means modifications. Each soul has only one modification which is with infinitely great purity and is dissimilar in cases of souls in different timings and the modifications of the souls in one and the same time are always similar. Such being the current of modifications in this state, this Gunasthan is called the Anivrittikaran Gunasthan. The duration is Antarmuhurat. The soul at this stage by the fire of contemplation subsides the twenty Prakrities of Mohiniya or destroys the twenty Prakrities of the Mohiniya and the thirteen of the Namkarma. People in this Gunasthan do not attract future life karmic matter.

10. Sukshma Sampraya
Those who entertain minor greed passion unintentionally and have similar modifications of fixed purity, which is eternally multipliable and who have their karmas always either subsided or destroyed, are said to be in the Sukshama Sampray Gunasthan.

11. Upshant Kashay
The person in this Gunasthan has subsidised external and internal passions as the clean water in the autumn season, having been purified by adding alum to it. The duration here is also Antarmuhurat. Since it has complete detachment with imperfect sentience it is also called Upshant Kashay Veetrag Chhadmastha Gunasthan. The difference in modifications as found in supievor Gunasthans is not found in this as also in the following Gunasthans. Out of the four destructive karmas, the Mohiniya is in the Upsham state while the other three have the Kshayopsham state. On the completion of the duration of this Gunasthan or on completion of the age, the soul fails down from this Gunasthan.

12. Kshina Kashay
The souls that have annihilated all passions and attained perfect detachment with the complete elimination of all the karmas like the pure water kept in a pure quartz vessel, occupy this Gunasthan named Kshina Kashay. The duration is Antarmuhurat. Since there is yet imperfection in sentience, though complete detachment has been attained this Gunasthan is called Kshina Kashay Veetrag Chhadmastha. The saints following the perfect conduct in this stage, have annihilated the Mohiniya Karma altogether and the remaining three destructive karmas have their Kshayopshama. They will destroy the three remaining karmas in an Antarmuhurat and reach the thirteenth Gunasthan.

13. Sayog Kevaii Jin
The souls in the thirteenth stage who have dispelled the darkness of ignorance altogether with the rise of the sun of omniscience and who have attained Godhood, after achieving nine accomplishments (Kshayik right faith, conduct, consciousness, perception, charity, gain, Bhog, Upbhog and vitality) have become Kevalies, for their sentience does not now need the help of senses or light. Since they are with the operations of the mind, speech and body, they are Sayog and since they have conquered both the psychic and material karmas they are called the Jins and their Gunasthan is called, Sayog Kevati Jin. These same Kevali Bhagwan enlighten the path of emancipation by their divine discourses on the path of liberation of the soul.
Influx of Sata Vedniya on account of mental, bodily and speech movements is for a moment only, but that does not materialise in bondage due to the absence of passions.

14. Ayog Kevali Jin
The Arahant Bhagwans in this Gunasthan are without any activity of mind, speech and body and have attained omniscience. Therefore, this Gunasthan is called Ayog Kevali Jin. The duration is the time taken in pronouncing five vowels in Hindi. In the last two moments the Arahant Bhagwan destroys all the Prakrities of the Aghati Karmas (non-destructive karmas) and attains Siddhahood.

Those who have now crossed the fourteen Gunasthans of the worldly existence, are now bereft of all the eight psychic and the conventional karmas; who enjoy the everlasting bliss, which is dependent only on their own souls; who are without any blemish being without psychic, conventional or matter karmas; who are eternal, for now they would not assume any new modification of life phases; who have got the eight great attributes due to the destruction of all the eight psychic and material karmas (Kshayik, Samayktva, Anant Gyan, Anant Darshan, Anant Virya, Sukshamatva, Awagahanatva, Agurulaghutva, and Avayavadhatva); who have permanently settled in the uppermost part of the world, for it is not in their nature now to move about in any of the ten directions; and who are now complete in themselves, having nothing now to do. These blessed souls are called the Siddhas.