In Jainism, there is a great deal of importance given to Leshya. Leshya
refers to the state of Mind. Our activities reflect our state of mind.
The following illustration shows how our activities vary with the state
of our mind.
Once there were six friends who were going on a trip, but along the way
got lost in a forest. Soon they became hungry and thirsty. They
searched for food for sometime and finally found a fruit tree.
As they ran to the tree, the first man said, "Letís cut the tree down
and get the fruits." The second one said, "Donít cut the whole tree
down, cut off a big branch instead." The third friend said, "Why do we
need a big branch? A small branch has enough fruit." The fourth one
said, "We do not need to cut any branches, just climb up and take the
bunches of fruit." The fifth man said, "Why pick that many fruits and
waste them, instead just pick the fruits that you want to eat." The
sixth friend said quietly, "There are plenty of good fruits on the
ground, so letís just eat them first."
You can see that the states of minds of these six friends cause a range
of thoughts which begin with the destruction of a tree and end with
picking up what is on the ground. The six friendsí minds represent six
types of leshyas.
The first friendís state of mind represents krishna (black) leshya.
The second friendís state of mind represents neel (blue) leshya.
The third friendís state of mind represents kapot (brown) leshya.
The fourth friendís state of mind represents tejo (red) leshya.
The fifth friendís state of mind represents padma (yellow) leshya.
The sixth friendís state of mind represents shukla (white) leshya.
The first leshya is the worst and the sixth leshya is the best. The
first three leshyas lead the soul to ruin and the last three lead the
soul to spiritual prosperity. Therefore, people should strive for the
white leshya and not the red leshya. It is not so that a personís state
of mind remains the same at all times and therefore, it can be changed
for the better or for the worst. The popular story of King Prasanraj,
who lived during Lord Mahaviraís time, illustrates the effects of
One day King Shrenik was on his way to pay homage to Lord Mahavira and
on the way he saw a sage who was meditating and illuminating very
brightly. He bowed down to the sage and continued on his way to pay
homage to Lord Mahavira. After reaching Lord Mahavira, King Shrenik
asked the Lord, "Oh Lord, I saw a very illuminated sage who was engaged
in meditation on the way here. Supposing he died at that moment, what
state would he have acquired?"
The Lord replied, "He would have been hurled down to the seventh
The king was much astonished to hear this reply from the Lord. He
"Why would such a sage go to hell? Perhaps the Lord might have
misunderstood me." He asked the Lord again, "Oh Lord, if the sage
leaves this body just now, then what
state will he attain?"
The Lord replied, "He will be an angel in Sarvarthasidha, a heavenly
The king was much surprised at this reply, too. He thought, "The Lord
first said he would attain the seventh hell and now he says that the
sage would be an angel." The king was perplexed. At that very moment
drums began sounding in the sky and voices of `victory' were
proclaimed. The king asked the Lord, "What is the cause of these
The Lord said, "Oh, king, the sage about whom you were inquiring has
omniscience and so the angels are beating the drums and proclaiming
The king was extremely surprised by these answers and therefore, he
requested the Lord to explain them.
Thereupon the Lord said, "Oh king, right before you approached the sage,
two soldiers leading your procession diverted the mind of the sage by
their conversation. His mind began thinking about his kingdom where his
ministers turned out to be untrustworthy and would eventually kill his
son. He was inflamed with rage and he lost his mental equanimity.
Therefore, he started mentally fighting against his ministers. He very
violently discharged his weapons one after the other against his
ministers. Soon his weapons were exhausted and his foes were not
destroyed. So, he thought of throwing his steel helmet against them in
order to destroy them. You bowed down to him at that time when he was
reflecting on such thoughts. I, Therefore, replied that he would
attain the 7th hell.
Thereafter, when the sage placed his hand on his head for the steel
helmet, he realized that he was not King Prasanraj but that he was a
sage. His anger calmed down immediately. He remembered that he has
been initiated into the vow of equanimity and of non-violence to any
living being mentally, verbally, and physically. He deeply regretted
and repented for the breach of his vow and indulgence in acute anger.
He further thought that he ought to have maintained love for all
creatures of the world, ought to have no malice for the ministers, and
no attachment for his son. He severely condemned his mental act. He
despised it and withdrew himself from such a feat of anger and malice.
Oh king, when he thought this way, you asked me the next question and I
replied that he would be born in the Savartha Siddha (heaven) as an
angel. Even thereafter, he continued the purification of his mental
reflections and gradually he reached the stage of `Kshapaka', where he
annihilated all of his ghati karmas, and attained omniscience."
King Shrenikís doubts were resolved and he learned how mental
reflections can fluctuate. He also learned that not only can physical
acts or verbal abuses have such devastating effects, but so can mental
acts. We too must learn from this episode. Let us understand the
characteristic of personalities and the outcomes resulting different
1) Krishna (Black) Leshya:
People in this state of mind do not show no compassion or mercy.
Everyone is afraid of them as their anger turns into violence. They
always burn with jealousy and have ill-will for everyone. They are
filled with animosity and malice and do not believe in religion. This
state of mind is the worst and most dangerous. If anyone dies in this
state of mind, they will go to hell.
2) Neel (Blue) Leshya:
People in this state of mind are proud, haughty, and lazy. They are
unreliable and other people avoid their company. They are cheaters,
cowards, and hypocrites. Such people also avoid the religious
lectures. If anyone dies in this state of mind, they will be reborn as
3) Kapot (Brown) Leshya:
People in this state of mind always remain sad and gloomy. They find
faults in others and are vindictive. They boast about themselves,
become excited over small matters, and lack mental balance. If anyone
dies in this state of mind, they will be reborn as a bird or an animal.
4) Tejo (Red) Leshya:
People in this state of mind are very careful about their actions and
discriminate between good and evil. They know the difference between
what is right and what is wrong. They are kind, benevolent, and
religious and lead a harmonious life. If anyone dies in this state of
mind, they will be reborn as a human being.
5) Padma (Yellow) Leshya:
People in this state of mind are kind and benevolent and forgive
everyone, even their enemies. They observe some austerities and are
vigilant in keeping their vows till their last breath. They remain
unaffected by joys and sorrows. If anyone dies in this leshya, they
will be reborn in heaven as a celestial being.
6) Shukla (White) Leshya:
People in this state of mind strictly observe the principles of
non-violence, truth, non-stealing, celibacy, and non-attachment. They
are trustworthy, treat every soul as if it was their own soul, and do
not have ill feelings even for their enemies. They remain calm even if
someone abuses them. If anyone dies in this state of mind, they will be
reborn as a human being or an angel. People who perfect this state of
mind have no attachment or hatred and treat everyone alike. They do not
become happy or sad. Their state of mind is the purest. If anyone dies
in this perfected state of mind, they will be liberated from the cycle
of birth and death.
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