Nirjara – How to Get Rid of Karma?

Jainism defines distinctly the theory of Karma. According to Tattavartha Sutra, the following definitions are important to understand the theory of Karma.

Attracting of Karma is Ashrav (+)

Stopping of Karma is Sanwar ( = ) and

Shedding of Karma is known as Nirjara ( -).

In the previous post, we saw 57 ways a soul can avoid attracting of new Karma. Today we will discuss Nirjara. But before we discuss Nirjara we should know about the status of various Karmas.


Actual attachment of Karma to the soul is known as Bandh. There is a difference between Ashrav and Bandh. Ashrav is actions (of mind, body, and words) which attract Karma while Bandh is the actual physical attachment of Karma to the soul. One is the cause and other is the effect.


Out of the physically attached Karmas, there are some which are operative and giving its fruits in the present moment. These Karmas are known as Karma in Uday.


We have seen earlier Karma when attached has its maturity time. But bringing the Karma to Uday before its maturity by some means (Nirjara) is known as Udirana.


This means Karmas which are attached to the soul in dormant form and yet to give its fruits.

When a Karma is in operation i.e. Uday Karma, it gives its fruit and vanishes that is Nirjara. This is natural Nirjara and every soul is doing this every second. However, there are possibilities of extinguishing the existing Karma before it matures i.e. in Uday. Tattvarthigum Sutra suggests this kind of Nirjara is possible in twelve ways.

Penance is the way of doing it. There are twelve types of penance as the Sutra suggests. These are divided into Six external and six internal.

Penance, which others can see is known as external and penance which is known only to the self is known as internal penance. In external penance, the focus is on detachment from Pudgala (things) while in external penance focus is on refrainment of Kasyaha (anger, ego, deceit, greed).

Handpicked related post: Laws of Karma – 3 – Attracting Karma

Both types of penance are equally important. Let’s look at it one by one:

External Penance:

  • Anashana: Refrain from eating is known as Anashana. It can be fasting the whole day or fasting for many days, it also could be eating only once or twice a day. It even could be eating tasteless food. This is known as Ayambil.
  • Unodari: Eating less than hunger. This also helps in avoiding procrastination and laziness.
  • Vruti Parisankhyan: Controlling desire. Using fewer resources and limiting the use of personal things.
  • Rasaparityaga: Not eating food which toxicities or causes disorder in the body.
  • Vivikta Saiyasana: Sitting or meditating on the aloof place to avoid distraction from religious activities.
  • Kaya klesh: To make the body suffers and not to make it comfort friendly. Tolerate difficult physical condition. Tolerate sufferings from other living beings or natural situations.

Maintaining equanimity in the above six condition helps in destroying existing Karma.

Inward Penance

Now we turn to internal penance. This is invisible to others, but a soul can practice this for its own betterment. The body is not impacted in these types of penance as much it’s impacted during practicing external penance.

However, this kind of penance enhances the quality of the soul. These are:

Internal Penance:

  • Prayaschit: Accepting the mistake and committing not repeat the same again. Asking for forgiveness and tolerating penalties for the mistake to come clean. This is further divided into nine subheads. All nine are the causes of Nirjara.
  • Vinay: Respecting elders and helping them. Speaking with love & compassion with them. This is further divided into four subheads. All four are the causes of Nirjara.
  • Vaiyavrutya: At service to the people doing external penance, helping noble souls, saints and serving enlightened souls. Always remain alerted to serve them. This is further divided into ten subheads. All ten are the causes of Nirjara.
  • Swadhyay: Thinking about the self, i.e. soul, reading and help others read religious texts, reading books which help in detachments and enhances the qualities of the soul. This is further divided into five subheads. All five are the causes of Nirjara.
  • Vyutsarg: To get rid of extra and unwanted material things. To get rid of extra social responsibilities and Kashaya. This is further divided into two subheads. Both are the causes of Nirjara.
  • Dhyana: To meditate about the self i.e soul to control mind, body & speech. This is further divided into four subheads. Dharma Dhyana and Shukla Dhyana help in Nirjara while Aantar Dhyana (Worries) and Raudra Dhyana (Anger) are the causes of attracting bad Karma i.e. Aahrav.

Handpicked related post: Laws of Karma – 4 – Avoiding Karma

All these twelve penances are the means to get rid of existing Karma before it matures. This can speed up the journey of the soul to Moksha. (Remember: Karmaless soul is the state of Moksha.)

We the souls, not only need to stop Ashrav but also practice Sanwar and Nirjara to become Karmaless as quickly as possible.

However, before one thinks of indulging in these penances, do not forget this will only work to extinguish Karma if the doer is in a soul mode and not consider self as a body. (The Real Maths)

Believing self as a body is Mithyatva i.e. wrong knowledge and in that case, Nirjara becomes the cause of Ashrav. Soul attracts good Karma. The objective to attain Moksha is to get rid off and not attract good or bad Karma.

When the living beings are suffering due to the wrong belief about the self and not knowing the laws of Karma which operates for every soul, the knowledge of AshravSanwar and Nirjara as explained in this and previous two posts will be immensely useful.

Source Credit: 1) Tattvarthigum Sutra 2) Karma Granth – 1


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