Nirjara is the exhaustion of karmic matter already acquired. The karmas exhaust themselves by producing their results when it is time for them to do so. Unless they are exhausted before they are mature and start producing results, it becomes difficult to be free. By that time, new karmic matter begins to pour in. Therefore, it becomes necessary for one who desires final liberation to exhaust all karmas before maturity. This is called Nirjara.
Activities of Nirjara in Jainism
Nirjara is to be done by rigorous austerities. According to Jain texts, Nirjara is possible in two fundamental ways i.e., Akama Nirjara and Sakama Nirjara.
1. Akama Nirjara: It happens in the normal course of nature. It does not require any spiritual endeavor. When a particular Karma accumulated in the past fructifies, it gives its results. After giving its fruits, the concerned Karma gets disassociated from the soul. While enjoying the fruits in this process one is likely to bind fresh Karmas. This is effortless automatic process.
2. Sakama Nirjara: This is a result of spiritual endeavor in the form of practice of Tapa (Penance). In this form of Nirjara, the soul is able to shed off Karma by bringing them to fruition prematurely through spiritual practice of penance. This type of Nirjara is normally associated with Samvara, which means stoppage of the inflow of fresh karma.
The practice of penance could be done in 12 different ways. This is to burn karmas before they could give their fruits. They are as follows:
The Bahya or Bahiranga Tapa, External Austerities are meant to discipline the sensual cravings and prepares the person for internal austerities, which come next.
1. Anasana - Fasting, purifies sense organs, reduces attachment of bodily enjoyments.
2. Avamaudarya or Alpahara - Eating less than ones normal diet, removed laziness/ lethargy and brings in fresh energy to the mind.
3. Vritti Parisankhyana or Vritti Sanksepa - Restriction of certain kinds or number of food.
4. Rasa parityaga - Daily renunciation of one or more of 6 kinds of Rasas delicacies: ghee (butter, clarified butter), milk, curd, sugar, salt and oil. Abstention from tasty and stimulating food.
5. Samalinata or Vivikta shayyasana - Sleeping in a lonely place, practicing solitude and introspection.
6. Kaya-klesha - Bodily Endurance, practicing body austerities to get over attachment to bodily comfort.
At some places, alternative to this list include, "Ichhanirodha", control of desire for food and material things.
The Antaranga Tapa or Internal Austerities which follow are:
1. Prayaschita - Atonement/ penance for sinful acts.
2. Vinaya - Practice politeness and humility.
3. Vaiyavritya - Service to others, especially monks, nuns, elders and the weaker souls without any expectations in return.
4. Swadhyaya - Self-study, scriptural study, questioning and expanding the spiritual knowledge.
5. Vyutsarga - Abandonment of passions; especially anger, ego, deceit and greed, distinction between body and soul.
6. Dhyana - Meditation and contemplation.
All the Internal and all six External Austerities are preparatory steps for the practice of Dhyana, which is the primary cause of Moksha.
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