We have plenty of laws which govern our lives. We have a parliament to legislate and have lawyers to guide us about these new laws we are governed by. Important is we are expected to know all these laws and our courts do not accept ignorance as an excuse if we fail to abide by these laws.
Point to ponder is, we human beings are governed by a plethora of men made laws, but all other living beings are not governed at all by these laws legislated by the Parliament. But there is one law which equally applies to us, the human beings and animals. However, we are oblivious of these laws because we are oblivious to who we are. We all are souls living with a body. If you don’t agree, just find out the difference between a dead body and a living body.
The only difference is the presence of the soul in a living body, which a dead body doesn’t have. Every Body is different and every Soul is similar – be it human or animal. The living thing is a soul. Though invisible, but a reality, living body and the dead body example proves this. All laws legislated by the parliament is governing human BODY and not the SOUL. All laws legislated by the parliament are ONLY governing human BODY that too of respective countries and not any other BODIES.
But SOULs are governed by natural laws – be it in human being or animal being, whether in India or in the US or in Ethiopia. With the BODY, SOUL becomes so much engrossed in bodily responsibilities, pain, and pleasure that it forgets to realise the true nature of the self and laws governing the true nature i.e. SOULs.
The law of Karma governs every soul in the universe. It is a science. It has nothing to do with religion. Souls are nature’s creation and so is the law governing the souls. Like the laws of maths or physics or biology are same for every human being irrespective of following any religion and living in any parts of the world, laws of Karma is uniformly applicable to every soul.
The question, therefore is: What are these laws and who knows this right? As per the Jain philosophy, Soul attains Moksha or Salvation or Nirvana after it sheds all the layers of karma. The existence of Karma with the soul is the reason for life and death and soul getting a new body after every death. The existence of different Karmas with the soul is the reason for different body and different lives of everybody. The existence of different Karmas with the soul is the reason for bodily pain, pleasure, happiness, sorrow and everything the soul suffers and enjoys.
There are numerous types of Karma which a soul attracts by its body, thoughts and spoken words. Out of these numerous types of Karma, there are eight types of main Karmas. These are:
- Gyan-avarniya – which layers knowledge potential of the soul
- Darshan-avarniya – which layers capacity of the soul to know the truth, reality
- Mohniya – which layers capacity of the soul to know what is right and what is wrong
- Antrai – which stops the soul to get its wishes fulfilled
- Naam – which decides the type of different body, soul gets
- Gotra – which decides the quality of family the soul will get a body
- Aayushya – which decides the time the soul spent in a particular body
- Vedniya – which makes the soul feel pain and pleasure in different situations
When a soul sheds the first four types of Karma, it attains the omniscient potential of the soul. They are known as Kevalgyani. In this condition, Soul can know everything that is there to know in the universe. Jain Tirthankaras had attained this status before their Nirvana i.e. shedding all eight types of Karma. According to Jain philosophy, these are the Gods. They don’t manage the universe or do anything but by shedding the Karmas from the soul, these souls have become liberated from the cycles of life and death.
After shedding first four types of Karma, they deliver sermons, many times before finally attaining Moksha. When Jain Tirthankaras deliver their sermon after becoming Omniscient (Kevalgyan), they do it in a specially designed place called ‘Samavsharan’. Their speeches are captured by scholars known as ‘Ganadharas’ i.e chief disciples. They are renowned scholars so as to understand the speech of an Omniscient soul. These Ganadharas have to remember the speech and then pass it on to the future generations. After hearing the speech, whatever they could comprehend and remember they write it down. These written documents by Ganadharas are known as ‘Agams’.
Enlightened souls are omniscient so what they know and experience cannot be fully understood by non-enlightened souls. These Ganadharas though highly scholars also could not comprehend 100% of the sermons of the Tirthankaras. Like Physics students howsoever knowledgeable can’t fully understand what professor, who is Ph.D. in physics, speaks. Therefore, knowledge available in Agams, though mammoth, is not the complete knowledge expressed during sermons by the enlightened Souls.
In these Agamas, the theory of Karma applicable to every soul is given quite in-depth. Every doubt or question of an inquisitive soul is answered. There are various books that are written about the laws of karma after the sermons of Mahavira which he had delivered before attaining Moksha some 2550 years back.
I am referring to the book called ‘Karma Vipak’, a commentary by Mr. Dhirajlal Mehta on ‘Karma Granth – 1’ written during 12th or 13th century by Acharyashri Devendrasuswarji.
What is Karma, its characteristics, types of Karma, how the soul attracts new Karma, how it can be stopped, how it can be discarded – everything is there in the Jain scriptures.
Rather than seeing it narrowly as Jain or some religious things, the ideal way to look at it is as a science. Science and rules of science governing our souls, every soul. We cannot afford to remain ignorant about it, as only the human being has the potential to know this and must know it before the soul gets a new body and the human body is lost. Not knowing the self as a soul is the biggest reason for our misplaced priorities.
Aren’t we living in the state of The Highest Ignorance? More on the laws of Karma in the next post.