Jainworld
Jain World
Sub-Categories of Passions

Jivaraja Jaina Granthmala, No. 20

General Editorial
Preface to The First Edition
Preface to The Second Edition
Synoptic Philosophy
  Approach to Reality
  The Jaina Theory of the Soul
  Critique of Knowledge
  The Doctrine of Karma in Jaina Philosophy
  The Pathway to Perfection
  In this Our Life
  Men and Gods

THE JAINA  THEORY OF THE SOUL

 

 

Conception of soul in philosophy -- Jaina theory of soul  -- considered from noumenal and the phenomenal points of view -- Upayoga as characteristic of soul -- bahiratman, antaratman and paramatman -- compared with distinction between `ME' and 'I' of William James -- seat of the soul-classification of Samsari Jivas -- freedom of soul from Samsara.

 

I. The problem of the soul has been a perennial problem in religion and speculative philosophy. Primitive man ha made a distinction between body and soul. The burial of the dead with their belongings and even the mummification of the Egyptians are based on such a distinction between body and spirit. The philosophical concept of the soul has developed from such primitive distinctions.

 

Anthropological evidence shows that the notion of Sol and spirit was first formed by primitive man as an explanation of certain features of his experience like dream an sleep.  For him soul is an ethereal image of the body. It is ethereal, tennous or filmy; and it possesses the power (flashing quickly from one place to another. Yet it was not conceived as purely immaterial. In Plato we find the emphatic primacy of the psyche or soul in the dialogues from the Apology onwards to the Laws.

 

In the Homeric thought psyche appears as a shadow double of the body. But Socrates and Plato recognized the soul as mans real selfSocrates said that we should aim at the perfection of our souls. Plato shows that of all the things that man has 1 next to the gods, his soul is the most divine and most truly his own.' Body in fact is the shadow of the soul.  Jowett says that Plato was concerned wit emphasizing the priority of the soul to the body, towards the end of his life, as he gave importance to the idea of good in the Republic and of beauty in the Symposium.2 Plato said that the soul is immortal because its very idea and essence is the self-moved and self moving, that which is the foundation and the beginning of motion to all that moves besides.3

 

Plato reversed the primitive conception of the soul as shadowy double of the body and identified the true as the soul, but he preserves and accentuates the original animistic dualism.  Approaching the question with the scientific spirit, Aristotle started with the living organism and defined the psyche as the principle of life. He distinguished the different levels of psychical functions, from the vegetative to the rational. The soul is the actualisation of the potentiality of life, and, therefore defined as the 'entelechy', 'as the fulfilment of the body'.  The idea of the soul is intrinsically independent of the body implies the conception of its substantiality. Conceiving the soul as a simple and indestructible substance, the scholastic metaphysics was argued to demonstrate its immortality.[4] So did Plato emphasize the simple and unitary nature of the soul.

 

In modern psychology, the idea of the soul is no longer important. In its place has come the notion of self or 'the centre of interest.' The word 'soul' is ambiguous. Sometimes it stands for mind, sometimes for self and sometimes for both. The English word points to an entity as the cause or vehicle of physical or psychical activities of the

individual person. The soul is a spiritual substance. In Indian thought the word atmanhas undergone various changes. It is little used in the Vedas. It primarily meant breath. In the Upanisads another word, prana, is used for breath, and atman stands for the innermost part of man. Man was atmavat.  For the Upanisadic seers, the soul as a propocition for all experiences Indian philosophies, with the exception of Miayavada of Samkara and Ksanikavada of the Buddhists, fundamentally agree about the nature of the soul as a pert manent, eternal and imperishable substance. But the primitive Aryans believed that the essence of man is continued after death in a shadowy existence in some subtle bodily form. This is not the soul of the later philosophers.  Jacobi calls it psyche.[5] This is the development of the primitive motion of life after death lingering in some form.  It is found even today in the practice of sraddha. The psyche frequently spoken of as purusa and of the size of the thumb (angustha-matra). At the time of death it departs from the body.  In the oldest Upanisads the psyche is described a eonstituted by the prdnas, psycho-physical factors. Still these factors were not regarded as principles of personality .

 

II. The idea of the soul has occupied an importar position in Jaina philosophy. Jainism aims at the liberation of the soul from the cycle of birth and death. The saving the soul is the Christian ideal. In the Apology, Plato makes Socrates say that his mission was to get men to care for their souls and to make them as good as they can be.

 

Jainism is dualistic. There is a dichotomous division of categories. All things are divided into living and nonliving, souls and non-souls. In the first verse of the Dravya samgraha, we read, "The ancient among the great Jainas have described the dravyas as jiva and ajiva." Jiva is a category and jiva personalized becomes human. Jainism believes in the plurality of souls. Souls are substances distinct from matter. Souls influence one another. But they are quit distinct from one another and not connected in any higher unity. They may be called spiritual monads. Jainism emphasizes the diversity of souls. Amongst the Muslim theologians, Nazam and his school maintained that the soul is spiritual substance.

 

Jainism considers the soul from two points of view : the noumenal (niscaya naya) and the phenomenal (vyavahar naya).  The Dravyamcyogatarkana of Bhoja describes the distinction as mentioned in the Visesavasykabhaisya by saying that the niscaya narrates the real things and the vyavahar narrates things in a popular way. In the Samayasarc Kundakundacarya points out that the practical standpoint is essential for the exposition of the inner reality of things, canonAryan is never capable of understanding without the non-Aryan tongue. [6]

 

The existence of the soul is a presupposition in the Jaina philosophy. Proofs are not necessary. If there are any proofs, we can say that all the pramanas can establish the existence of the soul. " Oh Gautama, the soul is pratyaksa", said Mahavlra, " for that in which your knowledge consists is itself soul ". What is pratyaksa need not be proved like the pleasure and pain of the body. It is pratyahsa owing

to the aham-pratyaksa, the realization of the I, which is associated with the functions pertaining to all the three tenses.[7] William James and James Ward present self-consciousness in this form.  Ward talks of the 'internal perception' or self-consciousness. The last order of knowledge of the duality of subject and object is an indispensable condition of all actual experience however simple. It is. therefore, first in order of existence. It is the subject of experience that we call the pure ego or self.[8] William James says, "For, this central part of the self is felt. It is something by which we also have direct sensible consciousness in which it is present, as in the whole life time of such moments.[9] Thus, one who ignores the self-evidence of the soul is like one who says that sound is inaudible and the moon is devoid of the moon. The existence of the soul can be inferred from the behavior of others.  Similarly, the soul exists because, " it is my word, O Gautama" [10]

 

The jiva is described from the noumenal and phenomenal points of view. From the noumenal point of view, the soul is described in the pure form. The phenomenal describes the empirical qualities of the soul. From the pure point of view, it is not associated with body or any physical or mental qualities. Mahavlra points out to the third Ganadhara that the soul is different from the body and its sense is just as Devadatta recollects an object perceived through the five windows of the palace, which is different from the palace and the five windows, so also a person recollecting an object perceived through the five senses of the body is different from the senses and the body.[11] The Buddhist impermanence of the soul is also refuted.  Buddhists had said that there was no self except the khatldas.  Kundakundacarya points out that from the noumenal point of view the soul and the body are not one, although in worldly practice the soul having a beautiful body is called beautiful and fair like the beautiful body of the living Arhat.[12] In the Chandogyopanisad, in the dialogue between Yajnavalkya and Janaka, the idea of the self is progressively brought out by showing that it is not a physical entity nor a dream-state.

 

From the noumenal point of view, the soul is pure and perfect. It is pure consciousness. From the real point of view, the soul is unbound, untouched and not other than itself. The soul is one and not composite. In the Sthanainga we get a description of the soul as one (ege atta). The commentator describes it as 'ekavidhah atmanah.[13] In Sama-yasara, Kundakundacarya describes the absolute oneness of the soul "on the strength of my self-realisation".[14] This does not contradict the plurality of souls in Jainism. Only emphasizes the essential identity of souls. Jivas in all-their in living all characteristics are essentially the same.  If the souls were one, then, "O Gautama, there would not be sukha, duhkha, bandha, moksa etc. ' Individual souls are different like the kumbhas.[15]

 

The nature of jiva has been well described by Nemi candra in his Dravyasamgraha. He describes the soul both from the noumenal and phenomenal points of view. He say that jiva is characterized by upayoga, is formless and is a agent. It has the same extent as its body. It is the enjoyer of the fruits of karama. It exists in samsara. It is siddha and has a characteristic of upward motion.[16] We get a

similar description in the Pancastikayasara of Kundakundacarya. Jiva is formless. It is characterized by upayoga. It is attached to karma. It is the Lord, the agent and the enjoyer of the fruits of Karma. It pervades bodies large or small.  It has a tendency to go upward to the end of loka, being freed from the impurities of Karma.[17] The Tattvarthasutra describes the nature of the soul as possessing upayoga as its essential characteristic.

 

Every Jiva possesses an infinite number of qualities.  Glasenapp, in his Doctrine of Karma in Jaina Philosophy, mentions eight important characteristics:

 

1. The faculty of ominisicence (kevala-jnana)

 

2. The faculty of absolute undifferentiated congnition (kevala-darsana).

 

3. Superiority over joy and grief.

 

4. Possession of belief in complete religious truth (samyaktva), and irreproachable moral conduct (caritra)

 

5. Possession of eternal life (akasayasthiti).

 

6. Complete formlessness (amurtatva)

 

7. Unrestricted energy (viryatva).

 

8. Complete equality in rank with other jivas.