Punya (Meritorious) and Päp (Sinful) Karma-Pravin K Shah

In Jain philosophy, karma are classified in many different ways.  They are classified as Ghäti or Aghäti karma depending upon whether they subdue the qualities of the soul or create physical environment of a living being.  The same karma are also classified in a different way into Punya and Päp karma categories. 

Ghäti karma subdue the quality of soul namely; infinite happiness, infinite knowledge, infinite perception or vision, and infinite power or energy.

Mohaniya Karma Deluding Karma obscures blissful nature or happiness of the soul
Jnänävaraniya Karma Obscures infinite Knowledge of the soul
Darshanävaraniya Karma Obscures infinite Perception of the soul
Antaräya karma Obstructs  infinite Power and Energy of the soul

 Aghäti karma are non-destructive to the qualities of the soul but are responsible for the creation of physical body, physical mind, and social environment, life span.
Vedaniya Karma Creates Favorable or Unfavorable Physical environment
Näm karma Body and Physique Determining Karma
Gotra karma Status Determining Karma
Äyu karma Life Span Determining Karma

Relationship among Ghäti, Aghäti, Punya and Pap karma

All Ghäti karma subdue the qualities of the soul and hence all four Ghäti karma are classified as Päp or sinful karma. 
Only Aghäti karma which are responsible for the physical environment of a living being are classified into Punya karma or Pap karma.
Aghäti karma which provides a human life, a healthy body, high social status, and a longer life span are considered the result of Punya or virtuous karma. 
Aghäti karma which produce an unhealthy body, a shorter life span, low social status, poverty, birth in hell, or as an animal, insect, or in a vegetative state or similar  categories are considered the result of Päp or sinful karma.
How do we acquire Punya or Pap karma
In general we acquire the bondage of karma due to illusion or ignorance (Mithyätva), Kashäya (anger, ego, deceit, greed etc.) and activities of the mind, body, and speech.
Activities, such as compassion, Jivadaya, charity, offering food, water, shelter, protection of environment, honesty, purifying thoughts, physical and mental state of true happiness, result in producing Punya or meritorious karma.
Activities such as violence, dishonesty, stealing, unchastity, attachment to worldly objects, anger, conceit, deceit, lust, and impure thoughts result in producing Päp karma.
Discussion on Punya and Pap Karma

Under normal circumstances, the environment created by Päp or sinful karma are not conducive to the spiritual progress of a soul because it produces an unhealthy body, a shorter life span, low social status, poverty, birth in hell, or as insects, animals etc.
Under normal circumstances,  the environment created by Punya karma are conducive to attain higher spiritual state because they result in human birth, healthy body, good education, a longer life span and so on.
Also without a human life and healthy body one cannot progress spiritually and attain Vitaräga state (a spiritual state beyond attachment and aversion) and hence Keval jnän (infinite knowledge) and Liberation.  So Punya karma are very essential in the attainment of liberation.
Jain philosophy states that at every moment, a person acquires all seven of the eight types of karma (except Life span karma) and once in a life one acquires all 8 types of karma. 
If we think in terms of Punya and Pap karma, we can conclude at every moment a person may acquire all Pap karma by reflecting on and doing non-virtuous activities or both Punya and Pap karma by reflecting on virtuous action under the influence of Kashäya.  Under no circumstances one can acquire only Punya karma because our spiritual state is always below state the state of Vitaräga (below 12th Gunasthänak) where Kashäya is always present.
Hence at every moment, we should be very alert and try our best to acquire maximum Punya karma and minimum Pap karma.  This can be accomplished by continuously reflecting and doing virtuous activities and reducing our Kashäya or vices such as anger, ego, deceit, and greed.

A Word of Caution with Regards to Punya Karma
While doing virtuous activities, many a times due to our ignorance of reality (Mithyätva) and ego (Kashäya), a person feels (reflects) that because of his good effort or actions many people are being helped or he is a big donor to build a temple or hospital.  He receives a high social status and he takes great pride of this status.
Such a person acquires some Punya or virtuous karma because of his good deeds but at the same time he acquires maximum Pap karma because he has done the good work under the influence of Mohaniya karma (meaning for power and fame). 
Hence Jainism always warns that any virtuous activity done under Mithyätva and Kashäya state ultimately results in a sinful activity to that person even though other people, animals, and environment are being helped. 
The Mohaniya karma (Mithyatva and Kashaya together) is the single most dangerous karma because only due to this karma one cannot attain Vitaräga state and hence Keval-jnän and liberation.
One can conclude that in order to attain liberation, Jain philosophy teaches us that we continuously need to do virtuous activities like helping others, be compassionate to all beings, and protect our environment.  However while doing virtuous activities, one should remain very alert and should not get trapped by fame, power, high social status or frustration of not accomplishing the result. 
Never think that Jainism teaches that Punya is a karma and all karma hinder the soul in attaining liberation.  Only Ghäti karma and in particular Mohaniya karma hinders the soul in acquiring the Vitaräga State.  We can easily remove Mohaniya karma with the help of Punya karma.  Once a person removes Mohaniya karma, he attains a state of Vitaräga.  Now the other three Ghäti karma are automatically destroyed within 48 minutes and a person attains Keval-jnän.  Then at the end of the life one attains liberation.
Jain philosophy clearly states that to attain liberation, one should continuously do virtuous activities without any expectation of the fruits of his work.  This will provide more more conducive environment to eliminate Mohaniya karma which is the only karma that hinders a person in attaining liberation.


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