Leshyäs - State of Mind and Karmic Stains
Leshyä means state of mind. In Jainism, a great deal of importance has been given to Leshyäs. Our activities reflect the state of our mind.
Let us understand how a person with different Leshyäs behaves and what the outcomes of such Leshyäs are.
1. Krishna (Black) Leshyä:
People in this state of mind do not show any compassion or mercy. Everyone is afraid of them as their anger turns into violence. They are always burning with jealousy and have ill will for everyone. They are full of enmity and malice, and do not believe in spirituality. This state of mind is the worst and most dangerous. If anyone dies in this state of mind, that living being will go to hell.
2. Neel (Blue) Leshyä:
People in this state of mind are proud, arrogant, and lazy. They are not trustworthy and other people avoid their company. They are cheaters, cowards, and hypocrites. Such people also avoid religious discourses. If anyone dies in this state of mind, that living being gets reborn as a one sense living being.
3. Kapot (Gray) Leshyä:
People in this state of mind always remain sad and gloomy. They find fault in others and are vindictive. They boast about themselves, become excited over small matters, and lack mental balance. If anyone dies in this state of mind, that living being is reborn as a bird or an animal.
4. Tejo (Red) Leshyä:
People in this state of mind are very careful about their actions and discriminate between good and evil. They know the difference between what is right and what is wrong. They are kind, benevolent, religious, and lead a harmonious life. If anyone dies in this state of mind, that living being may be reborn as a human being.
5. Padma (Yellow) Leshyä:
People in this state of mind are kind and benevolent and forgive everyone, including their enemies. They observe some austerities and are vigilant in keeping their vows till their last breath. They remain unaffected by joy and sorrow. If anyone dies in this Leshyä, that living being will be reborn in heaven as a celestial being.
6. Shukla (White) Leshyä:
There are two levels of this Leshyäs. In the first level one strictly observes the principles of non‑violence, truth, non‑stealing, celibacy, and non‑attachment. They are trustworthy, treat every soul as if it was their own soul, and do not have any ill feelings even for their enemies. They remain calm even if someone abuses them. If anyone dies in this state of mind, he will be reborn as a human being or an angel.
In the second level one has perfected the state of mind where there is no more attachment or hatred and treats everyone alike. They do not become happy or sad. Their state of mind is the purest. If anyone dies in this perfected state of mind, he or she will be liberated from the cycle of life and death.
The following illustration shows how our activities vary with the state of our mind.
Once there were six friends, who were going on a hiking trip. Along the way, they got lost in a forest. After a while they were hungry and thirsty and they had no food or water. They searched for food for some time, and finally found a fruit tree.
As they ran to the tree, the first man said, “Let’s cut the tree down and get the fruit.” The second one said, “Don’t cut the whole tree down, cut off a big branch instead.” The third friend said, “Why do we need a big branch? A small branch has enough fruit.” The fourth one said, “We do not need to cut the branches, let us just climb up and get the bunches of fruit.” The fifth man said, “Why pick so many fruit and waste them, instead just pick the fruit that we need to eat.” The sixth friend said quietly, “There are plenty of good fruit on the ground, so let’s eat them first.”
You can see that the state of mind of these six friends caused a range of thoughts that begin with the cutting of the entire tree and ended with the picking up of the fruit fallen on the ground. The six friends’ minds represent six types of Leshyäs.
1. The first friend’s state of mind represents Krishna (black) Leshyä.
2. The second friend’s state of mind represents Neel (blue) Leshyä.
3. The third friend’s state of mind represents Kapot (gray) Leshyä.
4. The fourth friend’s state of mind represents Tejo (red) Leshyä.
5. The fifth friend’s state of mind represents Padma (yellow) Leshyä.
6. The sixth friend’s state of mind represents Shukla (white) Leshyä.
The Krishna Leshyä is the worst and the Shukla Leshyä is the best. Krishna, Neel, and Kapot Leshyäs lead the soul to ruin and the last three leads the soul to spiritual prosperity. We know that our minds wander into different states all the time for better or for worse. Therefore, we should strive for better state of mind -Leshyä progressively.
The story of King Prasannachandra who lived during Lord Mahävir’s time, illustrates how fast surroundings can affect our mind and in turn our Leshyäs as well as our spiritual progress.
One day, King Shrank was on his way to pay homage to Lord Mahävir, and he saw a sage who was meditating and had a bright glow around him. This sage in fact was King Prasannachandra before he became a monk. He bowed down to the sage and continued on his way. After reaching Lord Mahävir, King Shrank asked the Lord, “Oh Lord, I saw a brilliant sage who was engrossed in meditation. If he died at that moment, what would be his destiny?”
The Lord replied, “He would have been hurled down to the seventh hell
The king was very much surprised to hear this reply from the Lord. He thought, “Why would such a sage go to hell? Perhaps the Lord might have misunderstood me”
He asked the Lord again, “Oh Lord, if his soul leaves this body just now, where will it go?”
The Lord replied, “He will be an angel in the Sarvärtha-siddha, a heavenly region.”
The king was much surprised at this reply, too. He thought, “The Lord first said he would go to the seventh hell, and now he says that the sage would be an angel.” The king was puzzled. At that very moment, drums began sounding in the sky and voices of ‘‘praise to the sage’ were proclaimed. The king asked the Lord, “What is the cause of these sounds?”
The Lord said, “Oh, king, the sage about whom you were inquiring has attained Omniscience and so the angels are sounding the drums and proclaiming praise to the sage.
The king was extremely confused by these answers and requested to the Lord if he would kindly explain the situation in detail.
So Lord Mahävir explained, “Oh king, right before you approached the sage, two soldiers leading your procession diverted his mind with their conversation that the sage’s son (who is now a king) was betrayed by his entrusted ministers and they were planning to overthrow his son and even kill him. His meditation was disturbed due to the affection for his son. He was infuriated with rage, and he lost his mental equanimity. Therefore, he started to fight with his ministers in his thoughts. He very violently discharged his weapons one after the other against his ministers. Soon his weapons were exhausted and his enemies were still not destroyed. So, he thought of throwing his steel helmet against them in order to destroy them. If he had died at that moment, he would have gone to the 7th hell.
As he reached for the steel helmet, he realized that he was not King Prasannachandra any more, but that he was a sage. His anger calmed down immediately. He remembered that he had been initiated into the vow of equanimity and of non-violence to all living beings mentally, verbally, and physically. He deeply regretted and repented for the breach of his vow
and indulgence in severe anger. He further thought that he ought to have maintained love for all the creatures of the world, ought to have no malice for the ministers, and no attachment for his son. He severely condemned his mental act. He despised it and withdrew himself from such a feat of anger and malice. Oh king, when he thought this way, you asked me the next question and I replied that he would be born in the Sarvärtha-siddha (heaven) as an angel. Thereafter, he continued the purification of his mental reflections and gradually he reached the stage of ‘Kshapak’, where he annihilated all of his destructive (Ghäti) karmas, and attained omniscience.”
King Shrenik’s doubts were resolved and he learned how mental reflection could fluctuate. He also learned that not only can physical acts or verbal abuses have such devastating effects, but mental acts also can have devastating effects. We, too, must learn from this story.