Moksha (Jainism)

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Depiction of Siddha Shila as per Jain cosmology which is abode of infinite Siddhas

Sanskrit moksha or Prakrit mokkha means liberation or salvation. It is a blissful state of existence of a soul, completely free from the karmic bondage, free from saṃsāra, the cycle of birth and death. A liberated soul is said to have attained its true and pristine nature of infinite bliss, infinite knowledge and infinite perception. Such a soul is called siddha and is revered as a God.

In Jainism, it is the highest and the noblest objective that a soul should strive to achieve. In fact, it is the only objective that a person should have; other objectives are contrary to the true nature of soul. With right view, knowledge and efforts all souls can attain this state. That is why Jainism is also known as mokṣamārga or the "path to liberation".

According to the Sacred Jain Text, Tattvartha sutra:

Owing to the absence of the cause of bondage and with the functioning of the dissociation of karmas the annihilation of all karmas is liberation.

— Tattvārthsūtra (10-2)[1]


From the point of view of potentiality of mokṣa, Jain texts bifurcates the souls in two categories–bhavya and abhavya. Bhavya souls are those souls who have faith in mokṣa and hence will make some efforts to achieve liberation. This potentiality or quality is called bhavyata.[2] However, bhavyata itself does not guarantee mokṣa, as the soul needs to expend necessary efforts to attain it. On the other hand, abhavya souls are those souls who cannot attain liberation as they do not have faith in mokṣa and hence never make any efforts to attain it.[citation needed]

The Path to Liberation

According to Jainism, the Ratnatraya or "three Gems", samyagdarśana (correct perception), samyagjñāna (right knowledge) and samyakcāritra (right conduct), together constitute the mokṣamarga or the path to liberation.[3] According to Acharya KundaKunda's Samayasara:

Belief in the nine substances as they are is right faith (samyagdarśana). Knowledge of these substances without doubt, delusion or misapprehension, is right knowledge (samyagjñāna). Being free from attachment etc. is right conduct (samyakcāritra). These three, together, constitute the path to liberation.[4]

Samyak Darsana or rational perception is the rational faith in the true nature of every substance of the universe.[5]

Samyak Caritra or rational conduct is the natural conduct of a (soul) living being. It consists in following austerities, engaging in right activities and observance of vows, carefulness and controls.[6] Once a soul secures samyaktva, mokṣa is assured within a few lifetimes. The fourteen stages on the path to liberation are called Gunasthāna. These are:[7]

Gunasthāna (Stages on the Path) Meaning
1. Mithyātva The stage of wrong believer (Gross ignorance)
2. Sasādana Downfall from right faith
3. Misradrsti Mixed right and wrong belief
4. Avirata samyagdrsti Vowless right belief
5. Deśavirata The stage of partial self-control
6. Pramattasamyata Slightly imperfect vows
7. Apramatta samyata Perfect vows (Mahavratas)
8. Apūrvakaraņa New thought-activity
9. Anivāttibādara-sāmparāya Advanced thought-activity (Passions are still occurring)
10.Sukshma samparaya Slightest delusion
11.Upaśānta-kasāya Subsided delusion
12.Ksīna kasāya Destroyed delusion
13.Sayoga kevali Omniscience with vibration (destruction of all inimical karmas)
14.Ayoga kevali The stage of omniscience without any activity

Those who pass the last stage are called siddha and become fully established in Right Faith, Right Knowledge and Right Conduct.[8]


Nirvāna means final release from the karmic bondage. When an enlightened human, such as an Arhat or a Tirthankara, extinguishes his remaining aghatiya karmas and thus ends his worldly existence, it is called nirvāna. Technically, the death of an Arhat is called their nirvāṇa, as he has ended his worldly existence and attained liberation. Moksa (liberation) follows nirvāṇa. However, the terms moksa and nirvana are often used interchangeably in the Jain texts.[9][10] An Arhat becomes a siddha, the liberated one, after attaining nirvana.

In that night in which the Venerable Ascetic Mahavira, died, freed from all pains, the eighteen confederate kings of Kasi and Kosala, the nine Mallakis and nine Licchavis, on the day of new moon, instituted an illuminations on the Poshadha, which was a fasting day; for they said: 'Since the light of intelligence is gone, let us make an illumination of material matter!'(128)[11]

The terms moksa and nirvana are often used interchangeably in Jain texts.[9][10]

Liberated soul

A liberated soul dwell in Siddhashila with infinite faith, infinite knowledge, infinite perception, and infinite perfection. According to the Jain text, Puruşārthasiddhyupāya:

Having achieved the ultimate goal, knowing everything that needs to be known, and enjoying eternal and supreme bliss, the Omniscient, Effulgent Soul, rests permanently in the Highest State (of liberation).

— Puruşārthasiddhyupāya (224)[12]

See also


  1. Jain 2011, p. 146.
  2. Jaini, Padmanabh (2000). "Chapter 5. Bhavyata and Abhavyata : A Jaina Doctrine of 'Predestination'". Collected Papers on Jaina Studies. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publ. ISBN 81-208-1691-9.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Kuhn, Hermann (2001). Karma, The Mechanism : Create Your Own Fate. Wunstorf, Germany: Crosswind Publishing. ISBN 3-9806211-4-6.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Amritchandra 2012, p. 165.
  5. Jaini, Padmanabh (1998). The Jaina Path of Purification. New Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 81-208-1578-5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. *Varni, Jinendra (1993). Prof. Sagarmal Jain, Translated Justice T.K. Tukol and Dr. K.K. Dixit (ed.). Samaṇ Suttaṁ. New Delhi: Bhagwan Mahavir memorial Samiti.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Verse 262 - 4
  7. Jain, Vijay K (26 March 2014). Acarya Pujyapada's Istopadesa – the Golden Discourse. p. 14. ISBN 9788190363969.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Champat Rai Jain (1917), The Practical Path, The Central Jaina Publishing House, p. 121<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. 9.0 9.1 Jaini, Padmanabh (2000). Collected Papers on Jaina Studies. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publ. ISBN 81-208-1691-9.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>: "Moksa and Nirvana are synonymous in Jainism". p.168
  10. 10.0 10.1 Michael Carrithers, Caroline Humphrey (1991) The Assembly of listeners: Jains in society Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521365058: "Nirvana: A synonym for liberation, release, moksa." p.297
  11. Jacobi, Hermann; Ed. F. Max Müller (1884). Kalpa Sutra, Jain Sutras Part I, Sacred Books of the East, Vol. 22. Oxford: The Clarendon Press.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Amritchandra 2012, p. 178.