The Causes of Bondage

The Impeding and Destruction of Karman




Kg. I 148b et seq., Ps. 365 et seq., Tattv. VIII 1 et seq., Gandhi 54 et seq., Warren 37 et seq.


The penetration of matter into the soul and the transformation of it into karman proceeds through the activity (yoga) of the jiva. The species of karman into which the matter can be transformed is, in addition to the yoga, conditional upon 3 other causes, of which each as long as it operates, affords the bandha of a certain number of karmaprakrtis. The 4 causes of bondage are:


1.   mithyatva, unbelief.

2.   avirati, lack of self-discipline, i.e. non-observation of the commandments.

3.   kasaya, passion.

4.   yoga, activity.


Each of these chief causes (mula-hetu) is divided into a number of subdivisions, the secondary causes (uttara-hetu), namely mithyatva in 5, avirati in 12, kasaya in 25, and yoga in 15. The entire number of uttara-hetus amounts therefore to 57.


Every mula-hetu causes the binding of certain karman-species:

Mithyatva causes the bandha of the infernal state of existence, anupurvi and ayus; 1-, 2-, 3-, 4-sensed class of beings, immovable, common, fine, undeveloped body ; warm splendor, worst figure and firmness, 3rd sex, belief.


Avirati causes the bandha of 35 prakrtis, 4 anantanubandhin-, and 4 apratyakhyanavarana-kasayas, female sex, the 3 worst kinds of unconsciousness, animal and human state, anupurvi, ayus; the 4 middle figures, the 5 first firmness, cold luster, bad gait, unsympathetic, unsuggestive, ill-sounding, physical body and limbs, low family surroundings.


The kasayas produce the bondage of 68 prakrtis, i.e. all of them remaining, with the exception of tirthakara, translocation-body and its Yoga alone causes bandha of sata-vedaniya.


The karmans tirthakara and translocation-body and its limbs, are caused through none of the above mentioned causes of bondage; they are, on the contrary, only bound by specially favored men; the bandha of tirthakara is caused by true belief (samyaktva), that of the translocation-body and its limbs through self-control (samyama).


Each of the karmans can only be bound so long as its cause of bondage is in existence; if the cause disappears, the bandha of the corresponding prakrti ceases. The causes can only be eliminated successively and not out of their order. So long, therefore, as mithyatva exists, avirati, kasaya and yoga are in operation, and all prakrtis caused through these 4 can be bound. If mithyatva is eliminated, the 16 karman-species caused thereby vanish, and so forth. If the first 3 causes of bondage are extinguished, the jiva only binds sata-vedaniya. This lasts until the jiva returns within the power of the kasayas and binds corresponding k., or till the jiva also completely annihilates the yoga, and thus altogether puts an end to bandha.


We have seen which k-prakrtis can be bound, as long as certain psychical factors are in existence; in the following we learn details concerning the actions through which the jiva produces a karman.


Hostility against knowledge and undifferentiated cognition, against those who know and the means of cognition, denial, annihilation and hindrance of them, disregard of the doctrine and its commandments, rebelliousness and lack of discipline towards teachers and masters, destruction of books, the tearing out of the eyes, etc.--such actions are the causes of the bandha of the ks jnana- and darsanavarana.


Piety, respect for parents and teachers, gentleness, pity, keeping of vows, honorable conduct, overcoming of passions, giving of alms, fidelity in belief, are causing the bandha of sata-vedaniya-k; the contrary causes the bandha of asata-vedaniya-k.


The teaching of a false, the hindrance of the true religion, the blasphemy of the Jains, of the saints, of the images of gods, of the community, of the canon, the rape of sacred objects, causes darsana-mohaniya-k.


The actions caused by the outbreak of passions the binding of kasaya-mohaniya-ks. The one whose mind is confused through joking, liking, disliking, sorrow, fear and disgust, binds the corresponding nokasaya-mohaniya-ks. Slight passionate desire, conjugal fidelity, inclination for right conduct, cause pum-veda-k; jealousy, pusillanimity, mendacity, great sensuality, adultery cause stri-veda-k; violent love of pleasure and strong passions directed towards sexual intercourse with men and women cause the binding of napumsaka-veda-k.


One who tortures and kills other beings, who strives in an extra-ordinary manner after possessions, and is governed by life-long passions, obtains naraka-ayus. The deceitful, the fraudulent man, who is in possession of the thorns, binds tiryag-ayus; the humble, sincere one, whose passion is slight, manusya-ayus. One who possesses the right belief, but who only partially or not at all practices self-discipline, whose passions are slight, a heretic, who practices foolish asceticism, and involuntarily extinguishes karman (akama-nirjara), by suffering hunger and thirst involuntarily, who is chaste, who endures troubles, who falls from mountain-heights, who perishes in fire and water-these obtain deva-ayus.


Honesty, gentleness, absence of desire, purity cause the bandha of good; the reverse the bandha of bad nama-k.


Just recognition of the excellence of others, modesty, reverence towards teachers and masters, the desire to learn and to teach are causes of the bandha of uccair-gotra-k; the contrary causes bandha of nicair-gotra.


The hindering of the veneration of the Jina, the withholding of food, drink, lodging, clothing, the destroying of the power of others with the help of magic spells, altogether the preparation of hindrances of any kind, causes bandha of antaraya-k.



Concerning the impeding and destruction of karman, the Kgs. give us no explanation, as their aim is simply a theoretical exposition of the annihilation of the ks., but is no way an indication of the means which must be practically employed in pursuit of this aim. Considering the great importance which the doctrine of samvara and nirjara have for the philosophy of the Jaina, as a counterpart to the preceding section, I believed myself, however, called upon to give a condensed description of the practical means for karman-annihilation. The following account is based if I except the short notices Kg. I 26a and the section on the parisahas, Ps. 435 et seq--chiefly on Tattv. IX. Comp. Hemacandra, Yogasastra I, 33 et seq., IV 78 et seq.


The karman assimilated by the jiva realizing itself, fades, consumes itself. But as the jiva is ever binding new karman, through the consumption of karman, no decrease of it is produced. A reduction of karman is only possible, if, through suitable measures the binding of new karman is prevented and the existing karman is annihilated. The suppression of the inflow of new karman is called "impeding" (samvara). It is attained by 6 means. These are:

1.   gupti, control, i.e. the right regulation of the activity of body, speech and mind.

2.   samiti, carefulness in walking, speaking, collecting alms, in the lifting up and laying down of a thing, and in the discharging of the body, to avoid sins against laws, and to hinder the killing of living beings.

3.   dharma, the 10 duties of a monk, namely: forbearance, humility, purity, self-abnegation, truthfulness, self-control, asceticism, abstinence, voluntary poverty, and spiritual obedience.

4.   bhavana, anupreksa, the 12 reflections, namely: the consideration of the transitoriness of all things, of the helplessness of man, of the samsara, of the isolation of the soul, of the heterogeneity of soul and body, of the impurity of the body, of the inflow of karman, of its impeding and destruction, of the world, of the scarcity of enlightenment, and of the truth well proclaimed by religion.

5.   parisaha,

the patient endurance of the 22 troubles, i.e. the jiva must be indifferent to:

1. hunger, 2. thirst, 3. cold, 4. heat, 5. mosquitoes, 6. nakedness or bad clothing, 7. the discomfort connected with long wandering, 8. women, 9. a vagrant life, 10. the place where he meditates, 11. the couch he finds, 12. abusive words, 13. ill-treatment, 14. the unpleasantness of begging, 15. the failure in begging 16. sickness, 17. the pricking of the grass-blades on which he lies, 18. the dirt on the body, 19. praising, 20. conceit of knowledge, 21. despair concerning ignorance, 22. doubt of the truth of the doctrine.


The troubles are caused through udaya of the following karmans: 20 and 21 through veiling of knowledge, 22 through disturbance of belief 6,7,9,10,12,14,19 through disturbance of conduct, 15 through hindrance, the remaining 11 through vedaniya. (Comp. Ps. 45 et seq., Js. II, 8).


6.   caritra, conduct (its 5 degrees, see above).


The annihilation of karman is called destruction (nirjara). It is attained by:

1.   external asceticism, namely: fasting, reduction of food, restriction to certain food, renunciation of delicacies, a lonely resting place, and mortification of the flesh.

2.   internal asceticism, namely: penitence, modesty, eagerness to serve, study, renunciation and meditation.