Justice T.U.Mehta

Categories of Karmas

Jaina thinkers have one hundred and forty-eight sub-varieties of karmas, but main categories are only eight. They are- 1.Jnanavarana, 2.Darsanavarana, 3.Vedaniya, 4.Mohaniya, 5.Ayus, 6. Nama, 7.Gotra and 8. Antaraya. the word ‘avarana' means a ‘screen'. We have already discussed what is ‘Jnana' and what is ‘Darsana'. So first two karmas are of the type which respectively screen from us true knowledge and true perception.

(1) Jnanavarana : We have seen that knowledge is of five types, namely, Mati, Sruta, Avadhi, Manah-paryaya and Kevala. Hence the Karmas which screen knowledge are also of five varieties, depending upon which type of knowledge is screened. When we see different varieties of intellectual developments in human beings and other creations, the difference can be explained by the type of knowledge-Screening karmas. When these karmas are fully destroyed the soul achieves ‘Kevala-jnana'.

(2) Darsanavarana : These are the karmas which screen the physical as well as mental perceptions, and do not allow the self to have right perspectives of things and thoughts. They are of nine varieties. They obscure visual and non-visual apprehensions and induce five kinds of sleep.

(3) Vedaniya : The word ‘Vedana' means feeling. This Karma therefore generates the feelings of pleasure and pain which are called Sata-vedaniya and Asata-vedaniya Karmas.

(4) Mohaniya : ‘Moha' means attachment. This is the most dangerous, out of all the eight karmas because ‘Moha' (attachment) is the root cause of all Kasayas (passions) which are, in the main, four in number. They are as follows-1. Krodha, 2.Mana, 3.Maya and 4. Lobha, meaning thus : 1. Anger, 2. Pride. 3. Deceit and 4. Greed. Mohaniya Karmas are of twenty-eight kinds, but they are broadly classified into two, namely ‘Darsana mohaniya', i.e., those that obscure right vision, and ‘Caritra-mohaniya', i.e., those which obscure right conduct. The former is further sub-divided into three and the later into twenty-five.

If Mohaniya karmas are destroyed fully, the self becomes free from all ‘Kasayas', i.e., passions and hence it is said ‘Kasaya-mukti kila muktireva' means ‘Verily, freedom from passions is the real freedom'.

There is a very beautiful and instructive story in the life of Gautam, the principal disciple of Mahavira, to show how this Mohaniya Karma obstructs the final enlightenment. We have noticed how Sri Indrabhuti Gautam came in contact with Mahavira and how he eventually became his principal disciple. According to scriptures, all principal sermons of the master were addressed to Gautam and there was a sort of great teacher-disciple (Guru-sisya) bond between the two. After a number of years when the master got Nirvana (died), Gautama was not physically present by his side. So when he heard the news about the death of the master, he felt greatly bereaved and greatly lamented the personal loss caused to him. He found that many of the house-holders who were the lay followers of the master could achieve ‘Kevala-jnana' (final knowledge) but he could not achieve it even though he was the principal disciple to whom the lord preferred to disclose every truth. Now that the master had passed, away, how would he be able to achieve that which he could not achieve when he was alive, thought Gautam. This grief set him to thinking, and while this process of grief-stricken thinking was going on, he suddenly realized that the master was so often emphasising that attachment (moha) was the root cause of all other Kasavas (passions), and the attachment even for the soul like Mahavira was no better than the attachment for any other worldly object so far as its binding character is concerned. As the story has it, the moment Gautam realized that attachment to the physical existence and form of the master was working as a screen to the final knowledge (Kavala-jnana), he could remove that screen and saw the enlightenment, the final knowledge. The story illustrates the brilliant exposition of the working of ‘Darsanavaraniya' karma resulting from attachment (Moha).

It is proper to bear in mind that attachment is not ‘love'. Pure love has no attachments. The root verb of the word ‘Moha' is ‘Muh' (to fascinate). So the noun ‘Moha' means ‘fascination' while the Samskrta equivalent of the word love is (Prema). Thus the connotations of the words ‘Moha' and ‘Prema' are entirely different. ‘Prema' (love) has no strings and no infatuation. ‘Moha' has both. If infatuation or attachment for a master like Mahavira prevents the progress of soul, what to talk of our infatuations for our worldly relations and material possessions.

Ayus - The word ‘Ayusya' means duration of life. This Karma determines the period of longevity of every life. One has to live the duration of that period is over. They are divided into four.

Nama - The word ‘Nama' means name or designation. This Karma determines the type of body and physical qualities which a Jiva possesses in a particular life. Physical personality and qualities are determined by these karmas. They are of one hundred and three types.

Gotra - This Karma determines the type of the family in which the self is born. One's birth in a particular family of humans or other creations is determined by the Gotra-karmas which he has acquired. These Gotra-karmas are of two types, namely, favourable and unfavourable surroundings.

Antaraya - The word means obstructions. In life we find some persons getting unexpected obstructions of various types which cannot have any rational explanation from the known facts and circumstances. A laymen would call them accidental. They are, however, not decidental, but are the result of past karmas wherein the self has been responsible for causing similar obstructions. This Karma is of five types.

This, in short, is the description of eight main karmas. Out of them first four are of striking or obstructive nature and are termed ‘Ghati' (means striking) because they come in the way of soul's progress in the spiritual in the spiritual journey. So long as they exist, salvation is away. The rest are not so dangerous and if the first four are destroyed, the rest cling to the self only till life time.

This detailed classification of different types of Karmas explains the diversities and complexities, incongruities and inequities of life in general. It conveys a lesson of responsibility that each one of us is put in a particular situation-good or bad as a result of our own past or present action-both mental and physical, that the things done by us can also be undone by us and that our future is in our own hands. It is said ‘Kadana Kammana Na Mokkha Atthi' means ‘There is no salvation without enjoying the fruits of action'. It is therefore futile to blame others for our ills. If one realizes this apparently simple fact, how peaceful the life on our earth would be.