Article: Leśyā

Contributed by Shruti Malde

Ascetics and leśyās

At the peak of the universe, the crescent-shaped siddha-śilā is where liberated souls – siddhas – exist in neverending bliss.

Image by Anishshah19 © CC-BY-3.0

Independently of the guṇa-sthānas, the colour of the soul is one of the criteria used to distinguish the different types of asceticsnirgranthas. Details of the categories vary according to sect.

This topic is discussed in the Tattvārtha-sūtra (9. 49) and its commentaries. As with other subjects, the versions of the text used by the various sects reflect their teachings on leśyās.

Leśyās and the five types of ascetics

Ascetic category


pulāka – faith in the scriptures but less than full proficiency in the virtues of a monk

only the meritorious types of yellow, red and white

bakuśa – moral defects, failure of conduct, liking of an easy life

all the six types


  1. pratisevanā-kuśīla – inclined to violations of monastic conduct
  2. kaṣāya-kuśīla– passions in mild degree

  1. all the six types
  2. Śvetāmbara – yellow, red and white according to purity of conduct
    Digambara – grey, yellow, red and white, the last only if he has reached the purest state

nirgrantha – not yet omniscient but will acquire omniscience soon


snātaka – omniscient

white or no leśyā if he has reached the 14th guṇa-sthāna

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