Author - Dr. L. M. Singhvi
Jains do not acknowledge
an intelligent first cause as the creator of the universe. The Jain
theory is that the universe has no beginning or end. It is traced to jiva
and ajiva, the two everlasting, uncreated, independent and coexisting
categories. Consciousness is jiva. That which has no consciousness is
There are five
substances of ajiva:
Dharma ‑ the medium
Adharma ‑ the medium
Akasha ‑ space
Pudgala ‑ matter
Pudgala (matter) has
form and consists of individual atoms (paramanu) and conglomerates of
atoms (skandha) which can be seen, heard, smelt, tasted and/or touched.
According to Jains, energy, or the phenomena of sound, darkness, shade,
heat, light and the like, is produced by conglomerates of atoms.
The jiva (soul) has no
form but, during its worldly career, it is vested with a body and becomes
subject to an inflow of karmic `dust� (asravas). These are the subtle
material particles that are drawn to a soul because of its worldly
activities. The asrawas bind the soul to the physical world until they
have brought about the karmic result when they fall away `like ripe fruit�
by which time other actions have drawn more asravas to the soul.
With the exception of
the Arihantas (the Ever‑Perfect) and the Siddhas (the Liberated), who have
dispelled the passions which provide the `glue� for the asravas, all souls
are in karmic bondage to the universe. They go through a continuous cycle
of death and rebirth in a personal evolution that can lead at last to
moksha (eternal release). In this cycle there are countless souls at
different stages of their personal evolution; earth‑bodies, water‑bodies,
fire‑bodies, air‑bodies, vegetable‑bodies, and mobile bodies ranging from
bacteria, insects, worms, birds and larger animals to human beings,
infernal beings and celestial beings.
The Jain evolutionary
theory is based on a grading of the physical bodies containing souls
according to the degree of sensory perception. All souls are equal but
are bound by varying amounts of asravas (karmic particles) which is
reflected in the type of body they inhabit. The lowest form of physical
body has only the sense of touch. Trees and vegetation have the sense of
touch and are therefore able to experience pleasure and pain, and have
souls. Mahavira taught that only the one who understood the grave demerit
and detriment caused by destruction of plants and trees understood the
meaning and merit of reverence for nature. Even metals and stones might
have life in them and should not be dealt with recklessly.
Above the single‑sense
jivas are micro‑organisms and small animals with two, three or four
senses. Higher in the order are the jivas with five senses. The highest
grade of animals and human beings also possess rationality and intuition (manas).
As a highly evolved form of life, human beings have a great moral
responsibility in their mutual dealings and in their relationship with the
rest of the universe.
It is this conception of
life and its eternal coherence, in which human beings have an inescapable
ethical responsibility, that made the Jain tradition a cradle for the
creed of environmental protection and harmony.