Arihant (Jainism)

Sculpture depicting Rishabhanatha, the first Arihant of the present half cycle of time (avasarpini) moving over lotus after attaining omniscience.

Arihant (Jain Prakrit: arihant, Sanskrit: árhat "conqueror") is a soul who has conquered inner passions such as attachment, anger, pride and greed. Having destroyed four inimical karmas, they realize pure self.[1] Arihants are also called kevalins (omniscient beings) as they possess kevala jnana (pure infinite knowledge).[2][3] An arihant is also called a jina ("victor"). At the end of their life, arihants destroy remaining karmas and attain moksha (liberation) and become siddhas. Arihantas have a body while siddhas are bodiless pure spirit. The Ṇamōkāra mantra, the fundamental prayer dedicated to Pañca-Parameṣṭhi (five supreme beings), begins with Ṇamō arihantāṇaṁ, "obeisance to the arihants".

Kevalins - omniscient beings - are said to be of two kinds[2]

  1. Tirthankara kevalī: 24 human spiritual guides who after attaining omniscience teach the path to salvation.[4]
  2. Sāmānya kevalī: Kevalins who are concerned with their own liberation.

According to Jains, every soul has the potential to become an arihant. A soul which destroys all kashayas or inner enemies like anger, ego, deception, and greed, responsible for the perpetuation of ignorance, becomes an arihant.[1]

Philosophy

According to Jain texts, omniscience is attained on the destruction of four types of karmas– deluding, the knowledge-obscuring, the perception-obscuring and the obstructive karmas, in the order mentioned.[5] The arihants are said to be free from the following eighteen imperfections:[6]

  1. janma – (re)birth;
  2. jarā – old-age;
  3. triśā – thirst;
  4. kśudhā – hunger;
  5. vismaya – astonishment;
  6. arati – displeasure;
  7. kheda – regret;
  8. roga – sickness;
  9. śoka – grief;
  10. mada – pride;
  11. moha – delusion;
  12. bhaya – fear;
  13. nidrā – sleep;
  14. cintā – anxiety;
  15. sveda – perspiration;
  16. rāga – attachment;
  17. dveśa – aversion; and
  18. maraņa – death.

Omniscience

Kevala Jñāna of Mahavira

In Jainism, omniscience is said to be the infinite, all-embracing knowledge that reflects, as it were in a mirror, all substances and their infinite modes, extending through the past, the present and the future.[7] According to Jain texts, omniscience is the natural attribute of the pure souls. The self-attaining omniscience becomes a kevalin.

The four infinitudes (ananta cātuṣṭaya) are:[6]

  1. ananta jñāna, infinite knowledge
  2. ananta darśana, perfect perception due to the destruction of all darśanāvaraṇīya karmas
  3. ananta sukha, infinite bliss
  4. ananta vīrya – infinite energy