Jain philosophy can be described in various
ways, but the most acceptable tradition is to describe it in
terms of Tattvas or fundamentals. They are:
(soul): All living beings are called Jivas. Jivas have
consciousness known as the soul, which is also called the atma
(soul - chetan). The soul and body are two different
entities. The soul can not be reproduced. It is described
as a sort of energy which is indestructible, invisible, and
shapeless. Jainism divides jivas into five categories ranging
from one-sensed beings to five-sensed beings. The body is
merely a home for the soul. At the time of death, the
soul leaves the body to occupy a new one. Tirthankaras
have said that the soul has an infinite capacity to know and
perceive. This capacity of the soul is not experienced in its
present state, because of accumulated karmas.
(non‑living matter): Anything that is not a soul is called
ajiva. Ajiva does not have consciousness. Jainism divides ajiva
in five broad categories: dharmastikay (medium of motion),
adharmastikay (medium of rest), akashastikay (space),
pudgalastikay (matter), and kala (time).
Punya (results of good deeds): By undertaking
these wholesome activities, we acquire punya or good karmas.
Such activities are: providing food or other items to the needy
people, doing charity work, propagating religion, etc. When
punya matures, it brings forth worldly comfort and happiness.
Digambar consider "Punya" as part of Asrava.
(results of bad deeds): By undertaking bad
activities, we acquire pap or bad karmas. Such activities
are: being cruel or violent, showing disrespect to parents or
teachers, being angry or greedy and showing arrogance or
indulging in deceit. When pap matures, it brings forth worldly
suffering, misery, and unhappiness. Digambar consider "Pap" as
part of Asrava.
(influx of karmas): The influx of karman particles to the
soul is known as asrav. It is caused by wrong belief,
vowlessness (observing no vows), passions, negligence, and
psychophysical activities. Such an influx of karmas is
facilitated by mental, verbal, or physical
(bondage of karmas): This refers to the actual binding of
karman particles to the soul. Bandh occurs, when we react to
any situation with a sense of attachment or aversion.
(stoppage of karmas): This is the process by which the
influx of karman particles is stopped. This is achieved by
observing samiti (carefulness), gupti (control), ten fold
yati‑dharma (monkshood), contemplating the twelve bhavanas
(mental reflections), and parishaha (suffering).
(eradication of karmas): The process by which we shed off
karmas is called nirjara. Karmas can be shed off either by
passive or active efforts. When we passively wait for karmas to
mature and give their results in due time, it is called Akam
Nirjara. On the other hand, if we put active efforts for
karmas to mature earlier than due time, it is called Sakam
Nirjara. Sakam Nirjara can be achieved by performing penance,
repentance, asking for forgiveness for the discomfort or injury
we might have caused to someone, meditation, etc.
(liberation): When we get rid of all the karmas, we attain
liberation or moksha.
Now, let us use a simple analogy to
illustrate these Tattvas. There lived a family in a farm house.
They were enjoying the fresh cool breeze coming through the
open doors and windows. The weather suddenly changed, and a
terrible dust storm set in. Realizing it was a bad storm, they
got up to close the doors and windows. By the time they could
close all the doors and windows, much dust had entered the
house. After closing all of the doors and windows, they
started cleaning away the dust that had come into the
We can interpret this simple illustration in
terms of Nav‑Tattvas as follows:
1) Jivas are represented by the people.
2) Ajiva is represented by the house.
3) Punya is represented by worldly enjoyment
resulting from the nice cool breeze.
4) Pap is
represented by worldly discomfort resulting from the sand
storm, which brought dust into the house.
is represented by the influx of dust through the doors and
windows of the house which is similar to the influx of
karman particles to the soul.
is represented by the accumulation of dust in the house,
which is similar to bondage of karman particles to the
7) Samvar is represented by the closing of
the doors and windows to stop the dust from coming into
the house, which is similar to the stoppage of influx of karman
particles to the soul.
8) Nirjara is represented by the cleaning up
of accumulated dust from the house, which is similar to
shedding off accumulated karmic particles from the soul.
is represented by the clean house, which is similar to the
shedding of all karmic particles from the