Samaväya- Five causes


Introduction: Who is responsible for the actions taking place in this world? Hegel  said it is history.  Marx said it is system. Freud said it is sexual activities, sensual feelings and teachings of parents.


Believers in God’s grace think that whatever happens, is as per God’s wish. They think that a) God has created the universe, b) God manages the universe and c) God decides who gets what.


Jains believe that a) Nobody has created the universe.  Six basic substances of the universe are: soul (Jivästikäy), material atoms (Pudgalästikay), the medium of motion (Dharmästikay), the medium of rest (Adhärmastikay), space (Äkashästikay) and time (käl)]. They are indestructible and cannot be created. As such, soul also is indestructible. Therefore, it cannot be created.  If  God has created the universe, he has to have a desire to create. The desire makes the God imperfect and he cannot be imperfect. Therefore, he could not have created the universe. B) Nobody manages the universe. Everything in the universe takes place in accordance with the laws of nature. C) Nobody decides who gets what.  Every individual gets an appropriate consequences (or retribution) in accordance with his/her own Karma.


Samväya: There are five causes that have a deep connection with every action taking place. Without a cause, no action can take place.  Samaväy is the name given to the connection between action and causes. According to the Jain philosophy, there are five Samaväys (group of factors functioning simultaneously); 1) Time (Käl), 2) Own-nature (Svabhäva), 3) Karma, 4) Fate (Niyati) and 5) Self-effort (Purushärtha) that are responsible for all events (changes – positive or negative) in the universe. Only by means of these five, every event in the universe takes place.


Some give importance to one of them and ignore others. From the multiplicity of view points (Anekäntväd), the comprehensive vision of the Jain philosophy rejects this absolutely one-sided view or the way of viewing things from a single angle. The Jain philosophy views and reveals the importance of every Samaväy from the multiplicity of view points (Anekäntväd); and considers these five Samaväys as the causes for any action or reaction. Without these five, nothing can take place.


1.      Käl – Time: Time gives the sequence to whatever happens in universe.  If we sow seeds to-day They do not give fruits right away. It requires some time. It takes certain amount of time before sprouts, buds, branches, leaves and fruits appear. We were born on a certain date. In summer, we have hot weather. In winter, we have cold weather. The fruit of Karma also appears at the destined time. Another example, you get to drive when you’re 16.


2.      Svabhäv- Own-Nature: Time is not everything. Even if the right time arrives, certain seeds do not sprout. Why are the thorns sharp? Why most flowers have beautiful colors? Why some animals are cruel? Why some of the animals are clever and capable of rapid movement? Why does a dog bark? Answer to all these question is: it is their nature (svabhäv). For example, to bark is dog’s nature. The chain of gold will not have the characteristics of silver. You will not be able to grow mangoes on a lemon tree. In matters like these, own-nature is considered as the main cause.


3.      Niyati - Fate or Destiny: This means destiny or fate. Everything is pre-determined. Whatever has been destined will take place. In this matter, neither time nor nature has any effect or influence. Whatever has to happen, keeps happening. In this process, change cannot be made despite the best efforts. For example, even if we make all possible efforts, we cannot prevent the aging process or may not be able to save some one’s life. If someone was going to hit our car from behind, he/she would do, despite our best efforts.


4.      Karma: The results that we get depend upon our actions.  All the strange things, all the sad things we witness; all the happy things we experience, and all the varieties we see in the life are due to Karma. A mother gives birth to two children together (twins). Still one turns out to be different from the other. This is because of one’s own-Karma. Rich becomes poor, poor becomes rich, rich becomes richer and poor becomes poorer. This is also because of own-Karma. Every one has to experience both the good and evil consequences of Karma.


5.      Purushärth- Self-efforts: Purushärth or self-effort or endeavor has its special place. A person cannot improve if he/she depends on Time or Nature or Destiny or Karma and if he/she does not put forth efforts. The human race has progressed because of the efforts and initiatives. It is not possible to improve any thing without self-efforts.


One in Our Control: Which one is the most important of these five? Which is the most effectual? The controversy regarding these questions is not of today; but it has been there for centuries. Countless arguments and refutations have been made for and against one or another proposition. One who supports one view disagrees with other causes. But Jain philosophy does not consider these five from a single point of view; nor does it consider anyone of them as the only right one. The Jain philosophy considers their collective effect as valid and right. Whole truth can be understood only if all the five are considered as existent. Also the Jain philosophy puts more emphasis on self-effort  (purushärtha), because the self-effort is the only one in our control. The self-effort can change one's Karma. The self-effort can eradicate the Karma. Purushärtha of past = Karma of present and Purushärtha of present = Karma of future. If we continue to put self-effort to shed our Karma, our destiny will improve, it will get more desirable nature, and that can happen sooner depending upon the eradication of Karma. But we must understand that it takes all the five causes for any action to take place.


Summary: Jainism puts most emphasis on the Purushärtha (to rely a great deal on one's own efforts and initiatives) since it is the only one in our control and can make impact on other samaväyas in future.  No progress can be made if one depends on only fate or Karma. Individual's self-effort (Purushärtha) can help in shedding the Karma and in purifying his/her consciousness. Believing in these five causes is the beginning of the theory of multiplicity of views (multi-faceted truth or Anekäntväd).