Jain World
Sub-Categories of Passions - ASPECTS OF JAINA RELIGION

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Fore Word




The fundamental principles of Jainism can be briefly stated as follows .

(1) Man�s personality is dual

The first fundamental principle of Jainism is that man�s personality is dual, that is, material and spiritual. Jaina philosophy regards that every mundane soul is bound by subtle particles of matter known as karma from the very beginning. It considers that just as gold is found in an alloyed form in the mines, in the same way mundane souls are found in the bondage of karma, from times immemorial. The impurity of the mundane soul is thus treated as an existing condition.

(2) Man is not perfect

The second principle that man is not perfect is based on the first principle. The imperfectness in man is attributed to the existence of karma embodied with soul. The human soul is in a position to obtain perfection and in that free and eternal state it is endowed with four , characteristics, viz., ananta-darsana, ananta-jnana, ananta-ilrya and ananta-sukha, i.e. infinite perception or faith, infinite knowledge, infinite power and infinite bliss.

(3) Man is the master of his material nature

Even though man is not perfect, the third principle states that by his spiritual efforts man can and must control his material nature. It is only after the entire subjugation of matter that the soul attains perfection, freedom and happiness. It is emphatically maintained that man will be able to sail across the ocean of births and achieve perfection through the control of senses and thought processes.

(4) Man alone is responsible for his future

The last basic principle stresses that it is only each individual that can scientifically separate his own soul from the matter combined with it. The separation cannot be effected by any other person. This means that man himself, and he alone, is responsible for all that is good or bad in his life. He cannot absolve himself from the res�ponsibility of experiencing the fruits of his actions.

It is pertinent to note that this principle distinguishes Jainism from other religions, e.g., Christianity, Islam and Hinduism. According to Jainism no God, nor his prophet or deputy or beloved can interfere with the destiny of any being, with creation of the universe or with any happening in the universe. Jainism also stresses that the universe goes on of its own accord.

In view of this specific attitude towards God, Jainism is accused of being atheistic. This accusation is based on the fact that Jainism does not attribute the creation of universe to God. But at the same time it must be realised that Jainism cannot be labelled as atheistic because of the basic facts that Jainism firmly believes in Godhood, in an infinity of Gods, in Punya and Papa, i.e., merit and demerit, and in various religious practices, etc. Jainism believes that the emancipated soul is itself God. It is thus clear that Jainism cannot, in general, be considered as an atheistic religion.


With a view to achieve emancipation of soul from the bondage of karmas man has to acquire the knowledge of the. beatific condition and of the causes which stand in the way, of its attainment. To find out these causes it is necessary to understand the nature of reality as it exists, sat is the concept the explains the nature of reality.

Jainism believes that sat, i.e., the reality, is uncreated and eternal and further asserts that sat,i.e., the reality, is characterised by : utpada, i.e., origination or appearance, vyaya, i.e., destruction or disappearance, and dhrauvya, i.e., permanence. Jainism categorically states that every object of reality is found possessed of infinite characters, both with respect to what it is and what it is not. In other words, according to Jainism every object of reality has its paryayas, i.e., modes, and gunas, i.e., qualities, through which persist the essential substrata through all the times. That is why it is asserted that the basic substance with its gunas, i.e., qualities, is something that is permanent, and that its paryayas, i.e., the modes or changing characteristic appear and disappear. Thus both change and permanence are facts of experience. For example, the soul or spirit is eternal with its in�separable character of consciousness, but at the same time it is subjected to accidental characters like pleasure and pain and super�imposed modes such as body, etc., both of which are changing constantly. For instance, gold with its colour and density is something that is permanent though it is subjected to different shapes at different times.

Jainism believes that in this world dravyas, i.e., the substances, are real as they are characterised by existence. Jainism also believes that the entire substances of the universe can be broadly divided into two major categories, viz., fiva i.e., living, or soul and ajrva, i.e., non living, or non-soul. These two categories exhaust between them all that exists in the universe. Jaina philosophy is based on the nature and interaction of these two elements:

It is this interaction between the living and the non-living, when they come into contact with each other, that certain energies generate which bring about birth, death and various experiences of life. This process can be stopped; and the energies already forged can be destroyed by a course of discipline leading to salvation.

A close analysis of this brief statement about 3aina philosophy shows that it involves the following seven propositions:

(i) that there is something, called living ;

(ii) that there is something, called non-living ;

(iii) that the two come into contact with each other;

(iv) that the contact leads to the production of some energies;

(v) that the process of contact could be stopped ;

(vi) that the existing energies could also be exhausted; and

(vii) that the salvation could be achieved.

These seven propositions imply the seven tattvas or principles of Jaina philosophy. These tattvas are termed as follows:

(i) jiva, i.e., living substance,

(ii) ajiva, i.e., non-living substance,

(iii) asrava, i.e., the influx of karmic matter into the soul,

(iv) bandha, i.e., bondage of soul by karmic-matter,

(v) sammvara, i.e., the stopping of asrava, the influx,

(vi) nirjara, i.e., the gradual removal of karmic matter, and

(vii) moksa, i.e., the attainment of perfect freedom from the karmas.

It is clear that the first two tattvas deal with the nature and enumeration of the eternal substances of nature, and the remaining five tattvas are concerned with the interaction between and separation of these two eternal substances, viz., jiva and ajiva, i.e., spirit and matter. In Jaina religion much importance has been given to these seven tattvas as every soul would be aspirant for moksa, i.e., salva�tion. To achieve the ultimate goal a person has to understand the nature of these tattvas. These seven tattvas point to two groups of substances: soul and non-soul. Non-soul is all that is not soul, devoid of sentience. Hence the really sentient object is the soul.

A recognition of these two entities-soul and non-soul-at once marks out the Jaina philosophy as dualistic and quite distinguishable from the monistic Vedanta philosophy which accepts only one reality without a second.

In view of this distinguishing feature of Jainism it is necessary to have a proper conception of these seven tattvas of Jaina philosophy.


The seven tattvas, i.e., principles of Jainism mentioned above are explained in Jaina religion as follows :

(1) Jiva

The Jiva means atman, i.e., soul or spirit. The Jiva is essentially an undivided base of consciousness and there is an infinity of them. The whole world is literally filled with them. The souls are substances and as such they are eternal. Their characteristic mark is consciousness, which can never be destroyed. Basically the soul is all perfect and all powerful. Bui by igorance soul identifies itself with matter and hence all its troubles and degradations start.

(A) Kinds of souls

The souls are of two kinds, viz,

(I) samsarin, i.e., mundane, or

Baddha, i.e., those in bondage, and

(II) siddha, i.e., liberated, or

mukta, i.e., those that are free.

Mundane souls are the embodied souls of living beings in the world and are still subject to the cycle of births. On the other hand, siddha jivas are the liberated souls and they will be embodied no more.

(B) Liberated souls

The liberated souls without any embodiment dwell in the state of perfection at the top of the universe. So to say, they have no more to do with worldly affairs as they have reached Nirvana or Mukti, i.e., complete emancipation. The liberated souls in their pure condition possess four attributes known as ananta-chatustaya, i.e. infinite quater�nary, viz.,

(i) ananta-darsana, i.e., infinite perception

(ii) ananta-jnana i.e., infinite knowledge,

(iii) ananta-virya, i.e., infinite power, and

(iv) ananta-sukha, i.e., infinite bliss.

Thus the most significant difference between the mundane and the liberated souls consists in the fact that the former is permeated with subtle matter known as karma; while the latter is absolutely pure and free from any material alloy.

(C) Mundane souls

The mundane or embodied souls are living beings, the classification of which is a subject not only of theoretical but also of great practical interest to the Jainas. As their highest duty is not to injure any living beings, it becomes incumbent on them to know the various forms which life may assume.

The mundane souls are of two kinds, viz., (i) samanaska, i.e. those who have a mind (the faculty of distinguishing right or wrong), and (ii) amanaska, i.e., those who have no mind.

Further, the mundane souls are also classified into two kinds from another point of view: (a) sthavara, i.e., the immobile or the one- sensed souls, that is, having only the sense of touch; and (b) trasa, i.e., the mobile or , having a body with more than one sense organ.

Again, mobile souls are those which, being in fear, have the capacity of moving away from the object of fear. But immobile souls do not have this capacity.