The Capability of Salvation

Preliminary Survey of the gunasthanas

The Attainment of samyaktva

The upasama-sreni

The ksapaka-sreni




Gandhi 76 et seq., Warren 45.


The souls, the number of which is infinite, are of a two-fold kind: 1. worldly souls (samsarin) provided with karman-matter, and 2. released souls (mukta, siddha) free from karman. The former are again separated into 2 groups: 1. into souls, in which a spiritual development has not yet begun, and 2. into such, in which it has begun. Each of these 2 latter species comprises two classes of jivas, namely, 1. such as can attain salvation (bhavya) and 2. such as cannot (abhavya).


The entire universe is filled with very minute, fine living beings (nigoda), imperceptible to our senses, which pervade everything and which nothing can destroy. The jivas have undifferentiated unbelief (avyaktva mithyatva), they have no tendency either for good or evil; a spiritual development has not yet begun in them. Special circumstances are rousing the nigoda out of its apathy; its unbelief differentiates itself, assumes a certain form (vyakta mithyatva); through it the nigoda awakes from indifference and starts a spiritual development, which, under favorable circumstances, leads finally to salvation.


The beginning of development as well as the capability of salvation are solely dependent upon accidental circumstances: "In a whirlpool some bit of stick or paper or other matter may in the surging of the water get to one side and become separated from the rest, be caught by the wind, and dried by the sun; and so some such thing may happen to a nigoda which would awaken just a spark of the latent potential power of development" (Gandhi 77). The same parable is used in order to show that also the bhavyatva is dependent upon chance.


The number of abhavyas is small in comparison to that of the bhavyas. Jivas incapable of being released, are existing in all classes of beings; they never reach beyond the mithyatva (and thereby not beyond the 1st gunasthana) and feel themselves quite well in the embodied state, because they do not know anything better. The bhavyas, on the contrary, finally become tired of the wandering in ever new forms of existence, they recognize the truth of the religion of the Jina, practice self-control and asceticism, and in the end, after the lapse of longer or shorter periods of time, attain salvation.



From the state of complete dependency upon the karman to the state of complete detachment from it, 14 stages, the so-called gunasthanas (states of virtue) can be distinguished. There are stages of development in which the soul gradually delivers itself, firstly from the worst, then from the less bad, and finally, from all kinds of karman, and manifests the innate faculties of knowledge, belief, and conduct in a more and more perfect form. They are named according to their owners, the characteristics of these always being associated with the word "gunasthana". The owners of the different stages are the following:

1.   mithyadrsti, the unbeliever.

2.   sasvadana-samyagdrsti, the one who has only a taste of the true belief.

3.   samyag-mithya-drsti (or misra), the one who has a mixed belief.

4.   avirata-samyagdrsti, the one who has true belief but has not yet self-control.

5.   desavirata, the one who has partial self-control.

6.   pramatta-samyata, the one who has complete self-control, sometimes, however brought into wavering through negligence.

7.   apramatta-samyata, the one who has self-control without negligence.

8.   apurva-karana (or nivrti-badara-samparaya), the one who practices the process called apurva-karana, in whom, however, the passions are still occurring in a gross form.

9.   anivrtti-badara-samparaya, the one who practices the process called anivrtti-karana, in whom, however, the passions are still occurring in a gross form.

10.  suksma-samparaya, the one in whom the passions still only occur in a more subtle form.

11.  upasanta-kasaya-vitaraga-chadmastha (or shortly upasantamoha) the one who has suppressed every passions, but who does not yet possess omniscience.

12.  ksina-kasaya-vitaraga-chadmastha (or ksina-moha), the one who has annihilated every passion, but does not yet possess omniscience.

13.  sayogi-kevalin, the omniscient one who still practices an activity (yoga).

14.  ayogi-kevalin, the omniscient without yoga.


The gunasthanas are arranged in a logical order, according to the principle of the decreasing sinfulness and the increasing purity. In the 1st gunasthana all 4 causes of bandha are operating: unbelief, lack of self-control, passion and activity; in the 2-5th, only 3: i.e., unbelief is absent; in 6-10th only passion and activity exercise their influence; in the 11-13th only activity. In the last gunasthana a bondage of karman no longer takes place. With the single causes of bondage, the bandha of the karman-species conditional upon them disappear. Likewise also, with every step the number of the karmans which have udaya and satta, decrease. Further details on this subject will be given later.


The order of the gunasthanas is logical and not chronological. The succession in which they are to pass is different with each individual, because relapses can throw the jivas down from the arduously attained height and can, wholly or partially annul the development hitherto achieved. This becomes still more comprehensible, if we call to mind the fact, that the remaining on one stage may only last a few minutes, so that in the morning one can be on a high level, sink down from it an noon, and climb up to it again in the evening. But even if we put aside the possibility of a relapse, it is impossible to pass through all 14 gunasthanas successively, because a direct transition from the 1st into the 2nd stage is out of question (Kg. II, 19b) and the 11th stage cannot be passed before the 12th to 14th. The different possibilities of the succession of the gunasthanas are conditional upon the process which lead to the attainment of samyaktva and upon the two ways, by which a methodical reduction of karman can be brought about. Before we turn therefore to a detailed analysis of the gunasthanas, a description of the events in the attainment of the true belief and in the suppression or annihilation of the disturbances of the true belief, is necessary. The samyaktva-labha and the two srenis belong to the most difficult points in Jain metaphysics; all sources at my disposal treat psychic events always in the same dry, stereotyped way, without giving any clues which could facilitate our understanding or still less the feeling of the spiritual conditions which underlie them, As hitherto I have not succeeded in learning anything essential from the texts or from modern Jains which would contribute to the solution of these difficult problems of "occult Jainism"--as Mr. J.H. Jaini, the President of the All-India Jain-Association mentioned them to me--I restrict myself here to a short reproduction of that which the Kgs. offer and leave it to further research to explore these psychological labyrinths.



Kg. I 57a,113a, II 107a, 200b; Kp. 161b et seq.; Ps. 1139 et seq; Lp. III 596 et seq.


The spiritual development is conditional upon the elimination of the mohaniya-karmans. As the realization of a mohaniya-k causes the bandha of a new karman of the same kind which is, in addition, still provided with a great sthiti, the binding of new mohaniya-k cannot be hindered by a good state of mind. The reduction of k has to be achieved in another way: three processes (karana) must be undergone for this purpose, psychical conditions all of which only last during the fraction of a muhurta. Five-sensed, reasonable, fully developed beings of all 4 states of existence are qualified for the karanas, beings which have an activity of body, speech and mind, formaliter differentiated knowledge and one of the 3 best lesyas; their state of mind ought to be one of sufficient purity. These bind, one muhurta before the beginning of the karanas, the best possible karman-species but no ayus because they are too pure for that. They reduce the anubhaga of the 4th degree of bad prakrtis to one of the 2nd degree, convert the anubhaga of the 2nd degree of good prakrtis to one of the 4th degree, and bind s sthiti of, at the utmost, a fraction of sagaropama kotikotis. During the 1st process "yathapravrtti-karana: they continue to do so and increase in purity from moment to moment. This process can be repeated several times--even by abhavyas--it leads, however only to the goal, if the other karanas follow it.


The 2nd process (apurva-karana) augments again the purity of the jiva. It consists of the following 4 processes: sthiti-ghata, rasa-ghata, guna-sreni and anya-sthiti-bandha. Sthiti-ghata is destruction of the duration of karman: in every moment portions of the sthiti ate annihilated, so that the sthiti is at the end of the process considerably smaller than at the beginning of it. With the decrease of the duration of the k already existing, there simultaneously takes place the bandha of the sthiti of the new karman ; this sthiti is likewise considerably smaller than before. By rasa-ghata is to be understood the reduction of the intensity of the existing karman; gunasreni (comp. Kg. II 79b) means the expulsion (viracana = samnyasa) of karma-pudgalas; the number of the eliminated atoms increase from moment to moment to an incalculable extent. With this karana the "knot" (granthi) within us (i.e. the disturbances of belief and conduct, residing in the heart) is split, then the road is open to spiritual progress.


In the next--following 3rd process (nivrtti-karana), sthiti-ghata, rasa-ghata, guna-sreni and anya-sthiti-bandha again take place. When a calculable part of the karana has ended, the jiva divides the sthiti of mithyatva by intercalation of an interval (antara-karana) into 2 portions. The 1st part of the mithyatva-sthiti lasts for fractions of a muhurta, the 2nd comprises the remainder. Whilst the 1st sthiti realizes itself, the jiva is still a mithyadrsti; but as soon as the 1st moment of it has passed, the jiva enters into the antara-karana and possesses in its duration, which only lasts antarmuhurta, the aupasamika-samyaktva. The cause of it is, that all mithyatva-matter which falls to this interval, is gradually eliminated and attributed to the 1st and 2nd sthiti, so that when the soul arrives there, it finds no mithyatva-pudgalas that could be realized. "For, as a forest-fire, when it reaches a place where all inflammable material has already been consumed, is extinguished, so the forest-fire, consisting in the realization of the mithyatva, ceases when it has reached antara-karana". During this state the jiva makes 3 heaps of the mithyatva-matter contained in the 2nd sthiti: and impure one (for mithyatva), a semi-pure one (for samyag-mithyatva) and a pure one (for ksayopasamika-samyaktva). As long as the aupasamika-samyaktva lasts, through the process called gunasamkrama, matter passes from mithyatva to samyaktva and samyag-mithyatva. As soon as it cease, one of the 3 heaps achieves realization, viz., according to the state of mind mithyatva, samyagmithyatva or (ksayopasamika) samyaktva. If during the last 6 avalikas of the aupasamika-time an anantanubandhin kasaya bursts forth, the jiva attains sasvadana-samyaktva, whence he immediately sinks back again into mithyatva. The entire process was in this case of quite short duration and without lasting effect for the spiritual progress of the jiva. If, however, the semi-pure heap reaches udaya, the soul attains the mixed belief, and is in the 3rd gunasthana. In this the soul remains for the fraction of a muhurta and then reaches samyaktva or mithyatva. Finally, those who acquire ksayopasamika-samyaktva become aviratas, desaviratas or sarvaviratas.


For beings of all 4 states of existence who possess the lower belief, the separation (visamyojana) of the sat-karman of the anantanubandhins is possible. This is achieved, similarly to the obtaining of samyaktva through these 3 processes; in anivrti-karana no antara-karana takes place. A further progress, however, is not practicable for a ksayopasamika-samyagdrsti, he cannot reach beyond the 7th gunasthana. If the wishes to proceed further, he must attain aupasamika or ksayika-samyaktvam, and must cast off in a methodical way the remaining mohaniya-ks. The two ways which cause a systematic reduction of the active sat-karman will be shown in the two following paragraphs.


The upasama-sreni.

Kg. I 60, II 105a et seq., 189a et seq., Kp. 171b et seq., Ps. 1158 et seq.


Upasama means: acquiescing, calming down; he who practices the upasama of karman is capable of governing himself to such an extent that the karmans cannot manifest their effect. The heaped-up satta-k is suppressed, so that it cannot manifest itself, but it is not totally eradicated; it is, therefore, still existing in a latent state and can break out again occasionally. If the suppression of karman is undertaken in a systematic way in a certain succession, an upasama-sreni is existing, a series or scale, which finally ends in a complete suppression of all mohaniya-ks. The upasama-sreni can be "ascended" by an avirata, desavirata, pramatta or apramatta; in the regular course it reaches its end in the upasanta-moha-gunasthana, as then the suppressed passions break out again and the jiva "falls down" from the sreni. In the following I give a short description of the different stages of which the upasama-sreni consists. I restrict myself, however, to that which is most necessary, as a detailed exposition would extend beyond the scope of this work.


An avirata, desavirata, pramatta or apramatta makes the 3 karmans and suppress thereby the life-long passions. Thereupon he suppresses the 3 disturbances of belief and through that now reaches permanent aupasamika-samyaktva. When this has happened, he proceeds to the upasama of the still remaining mohaniya-ks. For this purpose he again performs the 3 karanas: the 3 karanas: the yathapravrtti-karana falls into the apramatta-gunasthana, the apurva- and the anivrtti karana, into the gunasthanas named after them. If a calculable part of the anivrtti-karana has passed, the jiva performs an antara-karana of the 21 remaining mohaniyas. Then he successively suppresses, within the fraction of a muhurta, the 3rd sex, then the female sex, then joking, liking, disliking, sorrow, fear and disgust; then the male sex, then simultaneously apratyakhyavarana and pratyakhyanavarana anger, then the flaming up anger. Thereupon follows the suppression of the 2nd and 3rd degrees of pride and of the flaming-up pride; then that of the 2nd and 3rd kinds of deceitfulness and of the flaming-up deceitfulness, and here upon that of the 2nd and 3rd kinds of greed. Then the flaming-up greed becomes divided into 3 parts; the 2 first of these the jiva suppress simultaneously, the 3rd he divides into a measurable number of pieces, which he suppresses gradually piece by piece. Through this he has become a suksma-samparaya. When the last little piece of greed is suppressed, he is an upasantamoha. In this state he remains, in the maximum, antarmuhurta, in the minimum for one samaya. As soon as this time has passed, he falls down from this gunasthana. This "pratipata" follows from 2 causes: either through bhava-ksaya, the termination of the existence, i.e. the death of the individual, or through addha-ksaya, the expiration of the time possible for the upasanta-moha-state. If a jiva dies in this gunasthana he is reborn as an Anuttarasura-god, consequently falls immediately from the 11th into the 3rd gunasthana. If he does not die, at the termination of the upasanta-state the separated ks are taken up again, and thus he becomes finally a pramatta, under certain circumstances also, a desavirata, avirata, or even a sasvadana.


The upasama-sreni lasts only antarmuhurta; it can be ascended twice during an existence; if this has been the case, salvation during that life is impossible. If, on the contrary, it is only once ascended, the individual has still the chance after the downfall of reaching the ksapaka-sreni which leads to nirvana.


The ksapaka-sreni.

Kg.I,61a, II, 111b et seq., 205b et seq.


The ksapaka-sreni is the ladder leading to the annihilation of karman. He who has ascended it, extinguishes successively the different species of the satta-k., becomes in the end altogether free from karman, and thereby attains salvation.


Only a person exceeding 8 years of age, endowed with the best firmness of the joints, who is in one of the gunasthanas avirata, desavirata, pramatta or apramatta, is capable of beginning the ascent on this sreni. He annihilates, by the help of the 3 karanas, firstly the anantanubandhins, then the 3 species of disturbance of belief. If he has bound ayus and dies before mithyatva is completely annihilated, he can, in his new existence, eventually bind anew the anantanubandhins; because the germ of them, unbelief, is still existing. If, however, mithyatva is annihilated, this is impossible. If he has bound ayus, but does not die immediately after the annihilation of the 7 mohaniyas, he is satisfied with what he was attained, and for the moment does not undertake any effort in order also to annihilate the other karmans. He must then still experience 3 or 4 births before he is released.


If, however, he has reached the sreni without having bound ayus, he proceeds, after the destruction of the 7 mohaniyas, immediately to the annihilation of the still remaining mohaniyas. For this purpose, he performs the 3 karanas, of which the first falls into the apramatta-gunasthana, the two others into the gunasthanas called after them. During the apurva-karana he beings simultaneously with the annihilation of the 4 apratyakhyanavarana- and pratyakhyanavarana-kasayas. When these have half disappeared, he meanwhile annihilates 3 veilings of undifferentiated cognition, viz. the 3 worst kinds of unconsciousness, 1-, 2-, 3-, 4-sensed class of beings, warm splendor, cold luster, and fine, common and immovable body. Then he annihilates what still remains of the two kasaya-species. Then follows the ksaya of the 3rd and female sex, of joking, liking, disliking, sorrow, fear, disgust, male sex and of flaming-up anger, pride and deceitfulness. When this has happened, he leaves the anivrtti-gunasthana and enters into that of the suksmasamparaya, where he successively annihilates the flaming up greed, divided into little pieces. With the disappearance of the last particle of greed, all passions are destroyed and the summit of the sreni is reached; the jiva is now a ksina-kasaya. In the penultimate samaya of this gunasthana he annihilates the two lightest kinds of sleep (nidra and pracala), in the following samaya the 5 veilings of knowledge, the 4 veilings of undifferentiated cognition and the 5 hindrances. Thereby he has become a sayogi-kevalin, who is still wandering for a time bodily on earth, but thereafter attains salvation.