The jiva and matter are both different from each other. The jiva is formless, while matter has form. As long as the jiva remains in its own nature, that is infinite knowledge, infinite faith, infinite bliss and infinite power, there is no inflow of karmic matter. But as soon as the jiva indulges in the acts of the mind, body and speech, it attracts the karmic particles of karmavargana (modecules of karmic sub-atomic particles). This influx of karma is known as ashrava. In the book "Illuminator of Jain Tenets" ashrava is defined as "the state of soul which is responsible for the incoming of karmic matter into soul." i.e. the cause of bondage of karma is called ashrava. As in a well or a lake, water flows through channels, so does karma enter the soul through the channels of ashrava.

There are five types of ashrava:

1) Mithyatva (perversity):

Comprehension of the untruth as truth, due to the emergence of faith-deluding karma is known as mithyatva.

Understanding the means of spiritual purity (dharma) as spiritual impurity (adharma), and spiritual impurity as spiritual purity, is a kind of mithyatva. According to Jain philosophy, violence is not accepted as dharma but non-violence is dharma. Some people consider the act of killing a living being as dharma. According to them essential violence is not violence. So it should be considered as dharma. But, according to Jain philosophy, violence is violence. It cannot be considered as non-violence or dharma in any condition because violence in any form leads to bondage of soul. They say violence is essential for the sustenance of life. So it should be considered as dharma. But it is clear that it cannot be considered so, because violence in any form leads to the bondage of the soul. Activities such as fasting, practicing celibacy and restricting the intake of food which strengthens our self-restraint is considered as forcible suppression by some people, and hence they consider it as adharma.

The path that does not lead to emancipation regarded as the path of emancipation, is another kind of mithyarva. For example, to think that taking birth in heaven or liberation is possible by sacrificial rites (by sacrificing people or animals) cannot be the path of emancipation. It is mithyatva.

In reality, the threefold path of right knowledge, right faith and right conduct is the path of emancipation. Regarding it as a path that leads one astray, mithyatvai turns away from it.

Considering living beings as non-living beings and vice versa is also a kind of mithyatva.

Souls which are emancipated if understood as non-emancipated and vice versa is another kind of mithyatva.

Due to prejudice or perversity, a person regards an ascetic as non- ascetic and a non-ascetic as an ascetic is also a kind of mithyatva.

2) Avirati (non-abstinence):

Nonabstinence means non-renunciation or desire to consume more and more objects of sensual pleasures. This asrava prevents one from following the path of renunciation. This leads to indulgence in sensual pleasures.

Due to the rise of the deluding karma called mohaniya karma, the feeling of non-abstinence arises.

3) Pramada (remissness):

Pramada means the absence of vigour and enthusiasm in activities of righteousness. On account of the rise of deluding karma called indulgence-producing karma, one is filled with remissness.

As a matter of fact, pramada is a state of unawareness of the self In this state people pay heed only to unrestrained activities for materialistic pleasures, and forget or neglect the soul. Indulging in mischievous and unrestrained activities such as malice, bad jokes, playing games, etc are considered as pramada.

4) Kasaya (passion) :

Feelings of attachment and hatred are kasaya. Anger, pride, deceit and greed are all forms of passion. Each one has a further four sub- categories:

a) Anantanubandi (cause of endless transmigration)

b) Apratyakhyana (cause of non-renunciation)

c) Pratyakhyana (cause of prevention of complete renunciation i.e. allowing only partial non-abstinence).

d) Samjwalana (cause of prevention of freedom from passions)

The first type of anger is compared to a scratch on a stone which persists for an indefinite period. The second is compared to a scratch on the ground which is less persistent. The third is a scratch on sand which does not last long and the fourth is like a scratch on water which is instantaneously obliterated.

The first type of pride is compared to a pillar of stone which does not bend. The second is pillar of bones which hardly bends because of its flexibility and intensity. The third is like a pillar of wood which bends a little and the fourth a bower of creepers which is totally flexible.

The four types of deceit are respectively compared to the root of a bamboo tree which is very crooked, the horn of a sheep which curves a little, the wavy line of urine made by a walking bull, and the skin of a bamboo peeled off which is still less curved respectively.

The four types of greed are compared to the colour of a silk worm, mud, safflower, and turmeric respectively which differ in degree in respect to its intensity and duration.

5) Yog (activity):

The vibration of the soul due to mental, vocal and bodily activities is called yog. They are produced by the destruction or destruction- cum-subsidence of the viryantaraya (hinderance prouding) karma as well as the rise of the namakarma (status determining).

There are two types of yog:

a) Shubha yog (auspicious activity)

b) Ashubha yog (inauspicious activity)

Shubha Yog means the spiritual actions related to penance. Such auspicious activities causes the bondage of auspicious karmic matter (punya).

Ashubha yog means evil or sinful activities. Such activities attract inauspicious karmic matter (paap),

The four causes of influxion of karmas viz. mithyatva, avirati, pramada and kasaya are the causes of the bondage of demeritorious karma. In the case of yog ashrava, the ashubha yog ashrava causes demeritorious bondage, whereas shubha yog ashrava causes meritorious bondage along with destruction of karma.

Mental, vocal, and physical activities continue till the thirteenth gunasthans viz. sayogi kevali The complete stoppage of yog is possible only in the fourteenth gunasthan. In this gunasthan, the Jiva becomes emancipated or free from ashrava. According to jain philosophy, the jiva attains salvation immediately after the state of the destruction of all karmas.

Mithyatva ashrava persists in the first and the second gunasthan, avirati ashrava continues until the fifth, pramada until the sixth, kasaya until the tenth, in ashubh yog until the sixth' and the shubha until the thirteenth gunasthan.

Acharya Bhikshu has explained the concept of ashrava as follows:

a) Just as there is an inlet in a tank, a door in a building and a hole in a boat, so there is ashrava of a jiva.

b) The inlet in the tank, the door in the building, the hole in the boat, are a part of the tank, building and boat respectively. They are not two different entities. The same is the case of jiva and ashrava.

c) Just as water flows through the inlet to the tank, similarly, karma enters the soul through ashrava.

d) Just as the water and the tank, a man and the door, the water and the hole are separate, so are karma and ashrava. Just as the water flows in through the inlet, but the water is not the inlet; a man enters through a door, but is not the door; water flows in through the hole, but is not the hole; similarly, karma enters the soul through ashrava, but karma is not ashrava.


The influx of karmic particles is due to the activities of mind, body and speech. The ultimate goal of a sadhak is to stop or inhibit the influx of karma by the observance of samvara (i.e. the means of stoppage of the influx of karma) . 

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