Jain World
Sub Categories of Jain Books
Books on Line

Panoramic View of Jainism







  Jain Books
  Catalog of Books in English
  Catalog of Books in Hindi
  Catalog of Books in Gujarati
  List of Books, Topics & Sub-topics and Authors




(b) Conscious or Living Beings:

A living being is a conscious entity. It is the most important aspect of reality. The conscious being (jiva) is also called soul. It knows and feels. It acts and is acted upon. It suffers by its association with matter and is born again and again, only to suffer. There is a plurality of souls in the universe. Each soul is subject to the same laws of karma and rebirth. The highest endeavor of the soul is to free itself from this bondage of karma and attain salvation.

Souls are divided into two major groups: Liberated (mukta) souls and worldly (samsari) souls. Worldly souls are in the bondage of karma and are subject to birth, growth, old age and death which are characteristic of this world.

The classification of the living beings (worldly souls) is based on the number of sense organs (indriyas) present in the living beings. The lowest of these are the one-sensed (ekendriya) living beings which are immobile (sthavar). They are endowed with only one sense, that of touch (sparsh). Plants and trees belong to this class of living beings. There are also other microscopic single-sensed organisms (sukshma ekendriya jivas) which are subtle and invisible to the naked eye. These

microscopic organisms are found in earth, water, air, etc.

The next higher living beings are mobile (trasa). These are:

two-sensed (dwindriya) having the senses of touch and taste

three-sensed (trindriya) having the senses of touch, taste and smell

four-sensed (chaturindriya) possessing the senses of touch, taste, smell and sight

five-sensed (panchendriya), having the senses of touch,

taste, smell, sight and hearing

All higher animais belong to the class of five-sensed beings. Almost all five-sensed living beings are endowed with a mind (manas), the faculty of thinking. Man is a five-sensed living being with a mind. Besides human beings, according to Jainism, there are heavenly beings (devas) and beings living in hell (narak).

The five nonliving entities together with the living beings are aspects of reality in Jainism.


Bhagwan Mahavir visualized that the world is full of misery and sorrows, and, therefore, he concluded that the fundamental object of religion should be to help the worldly souls cross the river of sorrows and obtain deliverance from the cycles of births and deaths. The root cause of the soul's worldly career is its own actions which associate it with different types of external material particles (karma). There are the following eight types of karma:

1. The perception-obscuring (darshanavarni) karma

2. The knowledge-obscuring (jnanavarni) karma

3. The feeling-producing (vedaniya) karma

4. The deluding (mohaniya) karma

5. The life-span-determining (aayu) karma

6. The physique-determining (naam) karma

7. The status-determining (gorta) karma

8. The obstructing (antaraya) karma

All living beings, whether human or sub-human, are subject to the influence of these eight types of karma.

According to another classification, karma are of two kinds:

physical (dravya) karma which are material particles and

abstract (bhava) karma which are impure mental dispositions.

The physical karmic particles constitute the karmic body

associated with the soul. Around this subtle body, the gross material body is built through nutrition from the environment.

It is the abstract karma (the feelings and emotions) which is responsible for attracting material karmic particles to the soul. The physical karma in its turn influences the

psychological disposition. Thus a psycho-physical cycle is maintained between the physical karma and abstract karma.