In order to understand
fully the Jaina concept of the soul and the process of attaining
emancipation of the soul from the cycle of birth and death, i.e., Moksha,
it, is essential to know the form and nature of nine elements, viz., Jiva,
Ajiva, Punya, Papa, Asrava, Samvara, Nirjara, Bandha and Mokha, which are
explained in much detail in the Jaina scriptures.
According to Jainism,
the universe is composed of six substances, viz., Jiva (the Conscious),
Pudgala (Matter), Dharma (which helps motion), Adharma (which helps to
rest), Kala (Time) and Akasha (Space). Of these six substances, Pudgala,
Dharma, Adharma, Kaia and Akasha are grouped under Ajiva, the
unconscious. Thus, the universe is composed of two main substances, Jiva
Of all the substances,
Jiva is the most powerful substance. It is consciousness which is the
essence of the soul. Souls are of two classes: Emancipated (Mukta) and
Embodied or Worldly (Baddha or Samsarin).
Jainism believes that
there is life not only on this earth, but also on other planets and even
beyond the solar system, i.e., in the whole universe. The Jaina concept
of the Cosmos is given in detail in the Jaina scriptures.
Jainism believes that
the universe is without a beginning and without an end. The universe has
always existed and will exist forever. There is nothing but infinity, both
in the past and in the future. However, the universe is continuously
undergoing countless changes. These changes are effected by the powers of
the six substances, but in essence there is permanence in these changes,
because the substances have three vital characteristics, viz.
Jainism believes in
plurality of soul, i,e., every living being has a soul. Not only human
beings and animals, even trees, plants, bacteria and microscopic viruses
have souls. There is life even in mud, water, air, fire and light, which
we cannot see with the naked eye or with the most powerful microscope.
Jainism has classified 8.4 million different species of life in the
All living beings,
whether big or small, has a soul. All souls are equal. The soul is
independent, eternal, immortal and invisible. It cannot be cut, it cannot
be burnt, it cannot be melted, and it cannot be dried up. At the end of
life the body dies, but not the soul. The soul transmigrates to another
life. It moves from life to life and expands or contracts according to
the size of the body of the living being. The soul thus keeps on
transmigrating from life to life, unless and until it liberates itself
from the cycle of birth and death. When it attains liberation or
salvation, i.e., Moksha or Nirvana, it has never to enter again into the
cycle of birth and death. In order to achieve this highest goal of Moksha,
Jainism explains the Law of Karma and shows the Path of Moksha.