Kashayas: Passions in Jainism

June, 2024 by Kishor B. Shah
Kashayas – Passions in Jainism are the main cause of Karma bondage. Passions distort the true nature of the soul. As long passions are present, the soul will remain in the endless cycle of birth and death. The word Kashaya can be broken down into “Kash”, meaning worldly life and “aya” meaning gain. Therefore, Kashaya means to gain worldly life again and again.

Indulging in passions gives the soul karmas that come into effect in present life or be carried forward into the next life. To bear the consequences of the previously acquired karmas is mandatory – even Tirthankaras cannot escape this.

  • “By renouncing passions, the soul attains the state of complete freedom, the state beyond attachment and aversion (Vitaräga). On attaining the state of non-attachment and non-aversion, the soul becomes indifferent to worldly pleasure and pain.” (US 29-36)

There are four types of Kashayas namely: Krodha (anger), Mana (ego), Maya (deceit) and Lobha (greed). (A good way to remember these is to use the acronym AGED – Anger- Greed-Ego -Deceit).

  • Anger (Krodha), pride (Mäna), deceit (Mäyä), and greed (Lobha) add to demerit (Päp). He, who is desirous of his own well-being, should completely give up these four passions. (DVS 8-36)
  • One should suppress anger by tranquility. Pride should be replaced by humility. Deceit should be avoided through straightforwardness. One should overcome greed through contentment. (DVS 8- 38)
  • If anger and pride are not controlled, and if deceit and greed are allowed to increase, then these four evil passions serve to water the roots of the tree of transmigration (Samsär, cycle of birth and death). (DVS 8-39)

Kashayas are usually grouped into two categories: attachment (raag) and hatred (dwesh). Raag includes deceit (maya) and greed (lobha) whilst dwesh includes anger (krodha) and ego (mana). Raga and dwesh bring about the bondage of eight-fold karmas and considered to be bhava-karma. The root cause of raga -dwesh is moha (passions / infatuation).  Acãrya Haribhadra suggests that like anointing body with oil, karmic particles are deposited on the soul, similar to how dust particles are deposited on anointed bodies.

The degree of karmas is dependent upon the intensity of the passions. Jainism states there are four levels of intensity of passions known as Anantänubandhi, Apratyäkhyaniya, Pratyakhyaniya, Samjvalan.

Anantänubandhi – is the most intense level causing long term bondage and leads to endless samsara. Its duration is usually more than 12 months to one lifetime or even many lives. This most intense passion prevents a person from attaining samyaktva – right faith. It is likened to line in a rock.

Apratyäkhyaniya – considered a strong level likened to a line in earth. Its duration is usually at least 4 to 12 months. Under the influence of this level of passion, although the person has right faith, however, cannot take vows, therefore cannot rise above the fourth stage of spiritual development.

Pratyakhyaniya – mild level likened to line in sand. Duration is usually more than 15 days to 4 months. Under the influence of this level of passion, person has right faith, and taken minor vows only.

Samjvalan – a very mild level likened to a line in water created by a moving finger. Its duration is spur of the moment to less than 15 days. Person takes major vows and becomes an ascetic.

In addition to the above mentioned four main Kashayas, Jainism states that there are nine pseudo-passions or sub-passions called No-Kashayas, which are responsible for generating and the intensification of the four main passions of anger, greed, ego and deceit. These nine are:

1. Hasya (Laughter).
2. Rati (Improper liking).
3. Arati (improper dislike).
2-3 Emotions of happiness or unhappiness are founded upon the experience of favourable or unfavourable circumstances that in turn are the product of our past karmas (Shätä and Ashätä Vedaniya Karmas). Jainism suggests equanimity in both circumstances.
4. Shoka (Grief/sorrow) – loss of a loved one.
5. Bhaya (Fear) – Fear of authority, enemy, next life, loss of wealth, loss of life due to an accident, not being able to earn a livelihood, death, and loss of reputation.
6. Jugupsa (disgust /contempt).
7 -9 – Sexual passions for female (Streeveid); male (Purushveid) and bisexual (Napusankveid).

Anger:

Anger is one letter closer to danger. Whether it comes on suddenly or gradually over time, anger is a strong emotion that individuals frequently feel and express. Anger may be detrimental when combined with other negative emotions like hate, retaliation, and violence. The degree of anger expressed varies on an individual’s personality type. Angry people frequently act out of rage because these feelings can stay in their minds for a very long time.

Anger can lead to loss of judgement and destruction of virtues like love and forgiveness. It arises when someone acts against our desires or causes obstacles, inviting revenge.
Passions of greed, ego, and deceit brings on anger. Anger makes one forget about the difference between good and bad and reacts blindly without discretion. Anger ruins relationships and love in a split second. Anger is harmful to our body, mind and emotions, and to the purification process of our consciousness.

Anger can have harmful and negative consequences not only in this life but also in our next life and future, as seen in our scriptures describing past lives of Tirthankaras. Scientific studies have shown that anger can increase heart rate, blood pressure, sugar levels and muscle tension. Long-term effects of anger include heart disease, weakened immune system, and diminished life expectancy. In conclusion, rage is a strong feeling that can harm people both physically and socially. Effectively identifying and controlling anger is essential to avoiding negative long-term effects.

To minimize anger’s effects, we should follow the example of virtuous people who calm down and immediately seek forgiveness. Cultivating virtues like forgiveness, patience, love, penance, and repentance can help mitigate anger effects and promotes a more harmonious and compassionate life.

  • “Anger causes the degradation of the soul. Pride leads to a low state of existence. Deceit is an impediment to progress towards a better state of existence. Greed spoils both present and the future lives.” (US 9-54)
  • “Anger leads to delusion, delusion to bewilderment of memory, from bewilderment of memory to loss of intelligence, and when one loses intelligence, he falls down fast.” -Lord Krishna in Gita (2:63)
  • “Whether we consider the individual, family, local, national or international level, peace must arise from inner peace. For example, making prayers for peace while continuing to harbour anger is futile. Training the mind and overcoming your anger is much more effective than mere prayer. Anger, hatred and jealousy never solve problems, only affection, concern and respect can do that.” -Dalai Lama
  • “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another and forgiving.”   (Ephesians 4:31)

Greed:

Greed is the mother of all evils because it is a strong and perilous feeling and the most difficult passions to remove. It is the root of the other passions – because of greed, we are deceitful, angry and egoistic. Greed can take many forms, from materialistic demands to basic requirements. A greedy person never settles for what they have and will stop at nothing to acquire more, regardless of the cost to others. Greed is the source of all cravings and the destroyer of happiness and tranquilly. The more we have, the more we desire, and when our desires are not met, we feel resentful and envious. Wealth, power, celebrity, or the indulgence of all five senses can all be sources of greed. Greed obliterates happiness and harmony and is typically the cause of international conflicts.

Remedy for greed is contentment and caring for others. We must learn to be happy with what we already have. When we are generous, our greed will disappear, and life becomes a cornucopia filled with amity.

  • “Just as fire is not quenched by the fuel and the oceans by thousands of rivers, similarly no living being is satisfied even with all the wealth of all the three worlds.” (Bhagavati Aradhana -1143)
  • “Knowing that greed has no bounds – all the rice and barley of the entire earth, all the stocks of gold and all the cattle of the earth are not sufficient to satisfy the desires of a single individual; the wise should practice austerities.” (US 9-49)
  • “Greed always increases with possessions. The more we get, the more we want. In the beginning, we desire little wealth and think that it will be sufficient for our needs. On acquiring it, we think that even millions will not be sufficient for our needs.” (US – 8-17)
  • “The world has enough for everyone’s needs, but not everyone’s greed,” .. Gandhi

Ego:

Ego can result in a loss of discretion and civility, which can be disastrous. Ego is linked to conceit, pride, arrogance, self-admiration, and self-centeredness. Eight categories of ego are listed in Jain scriptures: accomplishments, physical prowess, race, intelligence, wealth, physical strength, appearance, penance, and family. Our ego grows when we believe we have accomplished something amazing, making us conceited and obnoxious. On the other hand, our ego collapses when we receive criticism and fail to grow from it, upsetting and harming the people we care about.

One way to deflate our ego is to recognize that there is always someone better than us, regardless of our wealth, power, knowledge, talent, or appearance. Karma theory teaches that our arrogance and good fortune are the fruits of our past karmas, which could all disappear one day.

Respecting all life and human beings is crucial in Jainism, as all souls are equal. Any temporary perception of superiority should not blind us and make us arrogant.

Humility brings good thoughts, where there is no room for pride or ego and generates respect and cooperation. We can reduce our egocentrism through selfless service and humility.

  • Mahavir said, “Become victorious over ego by humility.” He was once asked “What do we achieve by practicing humility?” to which he replied, “With humility, our inner feelings become purified and such inner feelings eradicate the eight types of ego.”
  • “If we practice gratitude as opposed to maintaining an attitude of entitlement, we’ll automatically extend inspiration wherever we go. Being grateful helps remove the influence of our egos, which is certain that we’re better than everyone else. An attitude of gratitude allows us to adopt the radical humility that’s very persuasive in helping others connect with the Spirit that unites us all. Gratitude and humility send signals to all who meet us that we’re all connected to something larger than life itself.” ….Dr. Wayne W. Dyer
  • “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” ….Aristotle …then so too is Ego, a habit.
  • “The most common ego identifications have to do with possessions, the work you do, social status and recognition, knowledge and education, physical appearance, special abilities, relationships, person and family history, belief systems, and often also political, nationalistic, racial, religious, and other collective identifications. None of these is you.” …. Eckhart Tolle

Deceit:

Deceit implies falsehood, cheating, dishonesty, trickery, corruption, bribery, and crookedness. Deceit is the cause for a dishonest life. The human mind has an uncanny ability to craft devious means and cheat others to satisfy one’s low-level desires to procure more money, power, prestige, or many other worldly objects. Cunning individuals hide their malice thoughts behind sweet words, leading to ego and hurting others. Deceitful individuals are fearful, restless, and lack peace of mind.

Deception often involves unethical and immoral means, resulting in social, monetary, and mental consequences. The karmic consequences of deceptive behaviour are horrendous, and it is believed that deceptive thoughts and behaviour can cause one to suffer in this life and be born as an animal in the next.

Honesty helps to realise the truth. Honesty and straight forwardness can prevent occurrences of deceit and manipulation. The opposite of deceit is Saralatä (straightforwardness). A straightforward person acts without hidden agendas, has a lighter karmic burden, and leads a more peaceful life.

  • When asked “What does a person achieve from straightforwardness?”, Mahavirswami replied “Straightforwardness purifies body, mind, and speech. True religion resides only in the hearts of straightforward people.”

Possible Physiological and Spiritual Effects of Passions:

Physiological Effects:

  • Increased body tension and stress leading to high blood pressure.
  • Potential heart blockage, stroke, heart attack, paralysis, and premature death.

Loss of vital energy, hormone imbalance, and weakening immune system. Breakdown of body’s ecosystem.

Social Effects:

  • Activation of negative feelings like anxiety, agitation, irritation, and depression.
  • Disordered mental faculties and loss of mental peace.
  • Loss of memory power, materialism, and severed family relations.

Spiritual Effect:

  • Attachment leads to destruction and accumulation of intensive karmas.
  • Absence of spiritual practices.
  • One suffers endless cycles of birth and death.
  • Inherent qualities of soul become obscure, which hinder the attainment of eternal peace and happiness.

We are not helpless victims of our Kashayas. We have our inner spiritual consciousness which, when awakened due to our right karmas, can guide us through the right path. Our endeavour should be to turn these passions into Karuna, Maitri, Forgiveness, Contentment and Love. The art of life is to reduce the complexity into simplicity. In simplicity, as our ascetics have shown, is a great virtue. Contemplating on Kashayas is beneficial in our daily reflections as overcoming these passions is the starting point on the road to moksha.

Quotes: (DVS -Dasha-vaikälika Sutra) | (US – Uttarädhyayan Sutra)

Quotes from scriptures and other quotes – Various sources

References:
ISJS Study Notes Volume 2
Jain Philosophy & Practice
Jainism a Theistic Philosophy
First steps to Jainism

About Author

Kishor is resident in UK and a Banker.  He has served the Oshwal Association of UK as Trustee, Area Secretary, Editor of Oshwal News and Web Chairperson developing and successfully launching a new website.
He is very passionate about Jainism and has produced Jain Exhibitions, Jain Calendars in English, Insights Magazines and written various articles on Jainism, for the Jain Community.
Kishor was part of the team that worked for nearly two years on Jainpedia V2.0, which was officially launched in April 2022 and is involved in the continuing development of the site.
He is the Regional Editor of UK for Jain Avenue Magazine (jainavenue.org).

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