How to Attain Moksha

Moksha means liberation or salvation of the soul from the bondage (karmic matter). Moksha is said to be the state of perfection. The soul who attains moksha is called siddha (God in Jainism).

According to the Sacred Jain text, Tattvārthsūtra (Liberation Scripture): "Right Faith, Right Knowledge and Right Conduct together constitute the Path to Liberation."[1]


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    The fourteen steps to attain moksha are called Gunasthāna.[2]
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    Try to shed ignorance, i.e. wrong beliefs about reality. According to Jain Philosophy, the universe is made up of six simple substances and is therefore eternal.
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    Look out for the "Fall" from Right Faith.
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    Try to remove doubts about Reality. At this stage, a person generally hovers between certainty and doubt on Right Belief. Knowledge of Seven fundamentals or truths (tattva) that constitute reality is essential. These are[3][4]
    • Jīva, the living or conscious substance, i.e., the soul;
    • ajīva, the non-living, i.e., the unconscious substance;
    • Āsrava, i.e., inflow of matter into the soul;
    • bandha, i.e., bondage;
    • stoppage- obstruction of the inflow of karmic matter into the soul (called samvara);
    • nirjarā, the removal of matter from the soul; and
    • moksha, i.e., freedom.
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    Become a samyagdrishti (true believer). You will reach this stage when doubts are removed. The doubts may be removed by meditation or the instruction of a spiritual teacher. (Right Belief but no self-discipline) After developing Right Faith, Right Knowledge must be acquired. Knowledge can acquired through scriptures or meditation.
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    Observe the Right Conduct. Right Conduct includes[5]:
    • Five kinds of spiritual purity:
      • 1. Equanimity,
      • 2. Penalties for faults arising from inadvertence, or negligence, on account of which one loses equanimity,
      • 3. Refraining from himsā (injury)
      • 4. Control of passions,
      • 5. Contemplation of one's own soul
    • Observance of the vows:
      • Ahiṃsā- Not to hurt any living being by actions and thoughts. Out of the five types of living beings, a householder is forbidden to kill, or destroy, intentionally, all except the lowest (the one sensed, such as vegetables, herbs, cereals, etc., which are endowed with only the sense of touch).
      • Satya- Don't lie or speak what is not commendable.
      • Asteya- Not to take anything if not given.
      • Brahmacharya (Celibacy) - Refrain from indulgence in sex-passion.
      • Aparigraha (Non-possession)- Detachment from material property.
      • Digvrata- restriction on movement with regard to directions.
      • Bhogopabhogaparimana- vow of limiting consumable and non-consumable things
      • Anartha-dandaviramana- refraining from harmful occupations and activities (purposeless sins).
      • Samayika- vow to meditate and concentrate periodically.
      • Desavrata- limiting movement to certain places for a fixed period of time.
      • Fasting at regular intervals.
      • Vow of offering food to the ascetic and needy people.
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    Observe the major vows (that of a homeless ascetic). Some negligence is possible at this stage.
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    Move on to observing complete self-control. No negligence is allowed at this stage (partial realisation of natural joy possible).
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    Experience your passions occurring in gross form. Also, a new channel of thought opens here.
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    Utilise meditation to further minimize passions.
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    Expect your passions to occur in a subtle form. Very slight greed is left to be controlled.
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    Suppress every passion (here, you still do not possess omniscience).
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    Do intense meditation. Through this process, every passion is annihilated and delusion is destroyed.
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    Attain Omniscience (Kevala Jnana). It is characterised by the destruction of all inimical (ghātiā) karmas. (Omniscience is with vibration).
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    Attain Moksha. The soul destroys the four aghātiā karmas. It is marked by Omniscience without any activity. This is the last stage on the Path, Those who pass this stage are called siddha and become fully established in Right Faith, Right Knowledge and Right Conduct.
    • Right Faith (Samyak darshan)[6] means "Belief in substances ascertained as they are."
    • Right Knowledge (Samyak Jnana) is the Knowledge of the substances (tattvas) without any doubt or misapprehension.
    • Right Conduct (Samyak Charitra) means being free from attachment i.e. not committing hiṃsā (injury).


  • The first four Gunasthāna are related to belief or rationality in perception. As and when the soul acquires rationality in perception it moves on to 4th Gunasthāna. Stages 5 to 14 relate to conduct. The purity in conduct determines the gunasthana from 5th stage onwards. Those who have taken the anuvratas {minor vows} may reach up to the 5th Gunasthāna. The 6th to 14th Gunasthāna can only be attained by those who have taken the Mahavratas (major vows) of Jain ascetic.
  • Note some motivational lines to strengthen your will like:
    • "The man who incessantly observes all the supplementary vows and sallekhanā (together, these are called śeelas) for the sake of safeguarding his vows (vratas), gets fervently garlanded (a gesture to indicate her choice for a husband) by the maiden called ‘liberation’."- Verse 180, Purushartha Siddhyupaya (Realization of the Pure Self)
    • "Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free"- John, VIII. 32.
    • "Be ye therefore perfect even as your father which is in heaven is perfect" - Matthew, 5:48
  • Walking on 'The Path' refers to perfect release from all karmas is liberation. The path to liberation is the method by which it can be attained.[7] The singular ‘path’ is used in order to indicate that all the three together constitute the path to liberation. This controverts the views that each of these singly constitutes a path. Hence it must be understood that these three— right faith, right knowledge and right conduct — together constitute the direct path to liberation.[8] They are called Ratnatraya (lit. The Three Jewels).
  • Right Knowledge must be accompanied by Right Conduct which is necessary for the destruction of karmic bonds.[9]

Things You'll Need

  • Scriptures that propound the 'Path to Liberation' and are free from allegories and parables should be referred.

Sources and Citations

  1. Acharya Umasvami's Tattvārthsūtra (isbn=978-8190363921)
  2. The Practical Path (page no. 118-121)
  3. S. A. Jain (1992) Reality Page No.-7
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Categories: Religion