Nine Categories of Truth (Tattvas)


Nine Categories of Truth (Tattvas)

Nine Categories of Truth (Tattvas)

All the philosophies of the world have different traditions and beliefs, and their own metaphysics - as does Jain philosophy, A category of Truth means a real entity. Principally they can be classified into :-

1. Living being (jiva)

2. Non-living being (Ajiva)

All the visible and non-visible substances of the world are included in these two,

These two can be further classified into nine tattvas-

1. Jiva (soul or sentient-being)

2. Ajiva (non-soul or non-sentient)

3. Punya (merit)

4. Papa (demerit)

5. Asrava (cause of influx of karma)

6. Samvara (cause of stoppage of influx of karma)

7. Nirjara (shedding off of karma)

8. Bandha (bondage of karma)

9. Moksa (emancipation)

1. & 2. Jiva and Ajiva

Jiva and ajlva are the two ultimate principles. The rest are consequential events which occur through the interaction between these two. Asrava is the cause of the influx of karma, The Yoga Asrava may be auspicious as well as inauspicious, When it is auspicious, it results in the bondage of punya and when it is inauspicious it results in the bondage of papa. The result of punya is to provide the soul with favourable and beneficial material conditions such as happiness and the like, Papa has two forms-one in the form of Ghati Karma and the other in form of Aghati Karma. The former results in unfavourable spiritual conditions, while the latter in unfavourable material conditions. When the Samvara occurs, there is a stoppage of influx of karma, which results in our awakening and developing consciousness. Nirjara is a partial purification of the soul on the expulsion of karmic matter from the soul. Samvara and nirjara both are the essential conditions for attainment of moksa Le., emancipation. Moksa is the most important of all and is the ultimate goal of one's life. In this state, one becomes free from all kinds of bondage, external as well as internal.

Jiva and ajiva are the fundamental elements. The rest of the elements come under them. The states of jiva and ajiva keep changing but the qualities of consciousness and unconsciousness remain constant. For e.g., gold can be moulded into different shapes and sizes like bangles, rings etc. but its basic component (i.e., gold) remains the same.

3. & 4. Punya and Papa

Punya and papa are like wholesome and unwholesome food. When the quantity of wholesome food decreases and the quantity of unwholesome food increases, unhealthiness augments and healthiness deteriorates, and vice-versa. In absence of both wholesome and unwholesome food life comes to an end. Likewise, when punya decreases and papa increases, happiness decreases and sorrow increases, and vice-versa. A person attains emancipation when he is relieved from both pudya and papa.

5. Asrava

It is of five kinds:

1. Perverted belief (mithyatva)

2. Non-abstinence (avrata)

3. Remissness (pramada)

4. Passions (kasaya)

5. Activities (yoga)

It is explained thus:

1. As is the inlet of a pond, the door of a building and the hole in a boat, so is the asrava of a jiva.

2. As the inlet and the pond, the door and the building, the hole and the boat are one (i.e., not separate), so are asrava and jiva.

3. That through which water flows in (the pond) is the inlet, that through which man enters in (the building) is the door and that through which water enters in (the boat) is the hole, similarly that through which karma enters in (the soul) is asrava.

4. As water and inlet are two separate entities, man and door are two separate entities, water and the hole are two separate entities, so karma and asrava are two separate entities.

5. That through which water flows in (the pond) is the inlet, but the water is not the inlet; that through which man enters in (the building) is the door, but the man is not the door; that through which water enters in (the boat) is the hole, but the water is not the hole, similarly that through which karma enters is asrava, but karma is not asrava.

6. Samvara

It is of five kinds:

(1) Right belief (samyaktva)

(2) Abstinence (vrata)

(3) Absence of remissness (apramada)

(4) Absence of passion (akasaya)

(5) Total cessation of all activities of mind, speech and body (ayoga).

As the inlet of a pond is stopped, the door of a building is shut, and the hole in the boat is stopped, similarly stopping the cause of the influx of karma in the jiva is samvara.

7. Nirjara

As the water of the pond is drained out through outlet, garbage in the building is cleaned out by sweeping the building and the water of the boat is emptied by some device, in the same way purging the soul of karma through an auspicious activity is 'nirjara ' .

8. Bandha

As oil and sesame seed, ghee and milk, metal and ore are inter- bound, so the inter-bond between jiva and karma is called bandha.

1. Question: Is there any beginning of jiva and karma?

Answer : No, because they were never created.

2. Question: Is it right to say that jiva came into existence first and karma afterwards?

Answer: No, because jiva cannot exist without karma within worldly existence, and one does not return to worldly existence after attaining salvation.

3. Question: Is it right to say that karma came into being first and jiva afterwards?

Answer: No, because some one has to indulge in action to give birth to karma and if there is no jiva, who will be the creator of karma?

4. Question: Is it possible that worldly jiva can remain devoid of karma?

Answer: No, because if worldly jiva is devoid of karma, then no action like that of binding karma or eliminating it through penance would be possible.

5. Question: When did jiva and karma start interacting?

Answer: Neither of them was before or after. Karma and jiva have been interacting since time immemorial.

9. Emancipation


Just as the oil mill is operated to separate oil from sesame seeds, churning is undertaken to separate ghee from buttermilk and fire is used to separate ore from metal, so also the jiva attains emancipation through penance and self-control. 

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