Nav Tattva (Nine Fundamentals)


Entire Sädhanä (spiritual undertaking) of an aspirant can be presented in Nav Tattva. First fortunate thing is that we are born as  human being. Second fortunate thing will be if we are exposed to the right religion. Third fortunate thing will be if we get an opportunity to listen to the discourses on the right religion. Fourth and the most fortunate thing will be if we practice the right religion.


People who have understood the Jainism correctly, reflect it in their conduct, behavior, thinking and day to day activities. The strength of Jainism is that you listen to it once, and it will cause the positive change. Once we adopt Jainism, we will see a positive transformation in our lifestyle. If we have faith in Jainism, it must be mirrored in the lifestyle. Jainism is not about changing the world, it is about changing our own selves. The objective of Nav Tattva is to change the self. If one understands the essence of Nav Tattva, he will understand the mystery behind the ups and the downs of his life. Once he understands Nav Tattva properly, he will be able to do proper Sädhanä.


Before we begin the Sädhanä of Nav Tattva, let’s understand the Nav Tattva conventionally. One can do proper Sädhanä of Nav Tattva if he has proper knowledge of those Tattvas. It is said in a Jain Ägam (canonical book), “padhamam nänam tao dayä” - first knowledge then compassion - first knowledge then conduct - first knowledge then practice of Ahimsä (non-violence). One can have true reflections (Bhävanä - it is difficult to find a good meaning of Bhävanä in English, may be understood as the reflections of the inner aspects) for practicing Ahimsä and for displaying  compassion to all living beings, only if he has the right knowledge. If one does not have the knowledge of Nav Tattva, how will he be able to exercise self-restraint?  Conventionally it can be said that one has Samyag-Darshan (right perception) if he has the faith in and knowledge of Nav Tattva.


Because of the good understanding of Nav Tattva; sometimes one’s life gets to a higher spiritual level and, because of the ignorance of Nav Tattva; sometimes it gets to a lower  level. Mystery of happiness-unhappiness, good-bad, fame-disgrace and similar contradictions (dualities) is resolved in Nav Tattva.  Anything that happens in our life can be explained through Nav Tattva. Per Jain philosophy, one knows many things if he knows Nav Tattva, and one does not know anything if he does not know Nav Tattva. Nav Tattva begins with Jiva (living beings) and ends with Moksha (liberation). Nav Tattvas are: 1) Jiva (living beings), 2) Ajiva (non-living matter), 3) Punya (wholesome Karmas), 4) Päp (unwholesome Karma), 5) Äsrav (influx of Karmas), 6) Samvar (stoppage of influx of Karmas), 7) Nirjarä (eradication of Karmas), 8) Bandh (bondage of Karmas) and 9) Moksha (liberation). We were born as human being innumerable times. All philosophers agree that there is no better destiny (gati) than that of the human being in this Sansär. Sansär means material world where Jiva is subjected to birth and death. One can attain the right knowledge of Nav Tattva only in his life as a human being, not in any other living forms (hellish beings, tiryancha and heavenly beings). One can liberate himself (attain Moksha) only as a human being, not in any other living form.


Nav Tattvas are very simple and it is easy to remember their names. If you can remember one name, you will be able to identify other names automatically. If you know the first one - Jiva (living beings), then the second one is its antonym - Ajiva (non-living matter). If you remember the third one - Punya (wholesome Karmas), then its opposite is the fourth one - Päp (unwholesome Karma). If you recall the fifth one - Äsrav (influx of Karmas) then the next one is its antithesis - Samvar (stoppage of influx of Karmas).  If you recall the seventh one - Nirjarä (eradication of Karmas) then the eight one is its contradiction - Bandh (bondage of Karmas) and when one remembers Bandh (bondage of Karmas) then its nullification is everyone’s objective and that is Moksha (liberation).

Heya, Jneya & Upädeya

Nav Tattvas can be divided in three groups: Heya, Jneya and Upädeya. Heya means worth abandoning - PÄP, Äsrav  and Bandha are Heya. Jneya means worth knowing - all nine fundamentals: Jiva, Ajiva, Punya, PÄP, Äsrav, Samvar, Nirjarä, Bandh and Moksha are Jneya. Upädeya means worth attaining - Punya, Samvar, Nirjarä and Moksha are Upädeya. (Punya is eventually worth abandoning). One who does not know what Jiva is, he does not know what Ajiva is. The individual who does not know Jiva and Ajiva, how will he be able to practice self-restraint (Sanyam)? 


We have earlier discussed about certain aspects of Jiva, Ajiva, Punya, Päp etc. It. would, however be helpful to say about them at some length even at the cost of some repetition.