PHILOSOPHY OF JAINISM
Jainism emphatically asserts that every soul is capable of attaining
perfection if it willfully exerts in that direction. But the real
situation is that from time eternal the soul is bound with matter and it
is the aim of every person to get the soul rid of matter so that soul can
assume its true state. This spiritual emancipation requires 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 what
are the existing elements or substances of nature and mode of their
interaction. Jainism believes that the whole universe can be divided into
two categories, viz., Jiva, i.e., soul and Ajiva, i. e. non-soul. These
two - Jiva and Ajiva - exhaust between them all that exists in the
universe and Jaina philosophy is based on the nature and interaction of
these two elements. It can be said in short that the living and the
non-living, by coming into contact with each other, forge certain energies
which bring about birth, death and various experiences of life; this
process could be stopped, and the energies already forged destroyed, by a
course of discipline leading to salvation.
A close analysis of this brief statement shows that it
involves following seven propositions.
Firstly, that there is something called the living.
Secondly, that there is something called the
Thirdly, that the two (i. e. the living and
nonliving) come into contact with each other.
Fourthly, that the contact leads to the production of
Fifthly, that the process of this contact could be
Sixthly, that the existing energies could also be
Lastly, that salvation could be achieved.
These seven propositions are called the seven tattvas
or realities in Jainism.
These seven tattvas are termed as follows:
Jiva (i. e. Living substance)
Ajiva (i. e. matter or non-living substance)
Asrava (i. e., the influx of Karmic matter in the
Bandha (i. e., bondage of soul by Karmic matter)
Samvara (i. e., the stopping of Asrava)
Nirjara (i. e., the gradual removal of Karmic
Moksha (i. e., the attainment of perfect freedom or
It is clear that the first two of the tattvas deal with
the nature and enumeration of the external substances of nature and the
remaining five tattvas deal with the interaction between these two
substances, viz., Jiva, i. e., spirit and Ajiva, i. e., matter.
Further, much importance has been given to these seven
tattvas as every would be aspirant for Moksha has to understand the nature
of these tattvas. Again, out of these seven tattvas the substances are
really two viz., soul and non-soul, and among these two, the non-soul is
all that is not soul, i. e., devoid of sentiency. Therefore, among these
two substances, the really sentient object is the Jiva, i.e., the soul.
Naturally, the living substance, viz. Jiva, assumes highest importance in
the context of Ahimsa.
As regards the characteristics of Jiva, i.e., the soul,
it is stated that there is an infinite number of souls; in fact, the whole
world is literally filled with them. The souls are substances and as such
they are eternal. Again, their characteristic mark is intelligence, which
can never be destroyed. Further, the soul is ever all perfect, all
powerful; but by ignorance it identifies itself with the matter and hence
its degradation and troubles start.
Furthermore, souls are of two kinds, viz.,
Samsari, i. e., mundane souls and
Siddha or Mukta, i. e. liberated souls.
Out of these, the samsari jivas, i. e. the mundane
souls, are the embodied souls of living beings in the world and are still
subject to the cycle of Births and Deaths and the Siddha or Mukta Jivas
are the liberated souls and as such
they will not be embodied in future,
they have accomplished absolute purity,
they dwell in the state of perfection at the top of
they have no more to do with worldly affairs,
they have reached Mukti or Nirvana or Nivrtti, i. e.
liberation, and in their condition they have four enjoyments, viz.,
Ananta-darsana, i.e.,. unlimited perception, Ananta-jnana, i. e.,
perfect knowledge, Ananta-Virya, i.e., infinite power, and Ananta- sukha,
i.e., unbounded happiness.
In addition, from the Metaphysical point of view the
difference between the Samsari-Jiva, i.e., the mundane soul, and the Mukta
Jiva i.e. the liberated soul, 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.
Moreover, the mundane or embodied souls, i.e. the
Samsari Jivas, are further classified in different ways and this
classification 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.
Samanska and Amanaska Jivas
The mundane souls are divided into two groups, viz.,
`Sthavara Jivas', i. e. those who have a mind (i.e., the faculty of
distinguishing right or wrong) and `Amanaska Jivas' i.e., those who have
Sthavara and Trasa Jivas
The mundane souls are also divided into two groups from
another point of view, viz. `Sthavara Jivas' are the immobile or
one-sensed souls, that is, having only one sense, i.e. the sense of touch;
and `Trasa Jivas' are the mobiles, many- sensed souls, that is, having a
body with more than one sense. Again, the mobile souls are those which
being in fear have the capacity of moving away from the object of fear,
and immobile souls do not have this capacity.
The Sthavara, i.e., the immobile or one-sensed souls
are further divided into following five kinds :
Prthvikaya, i.e., earth-bodied souls,
Apkaya, i.e., water-bodied souls,
Tejahkaya, i.e., fire-bodied souls,
Vayukaya, i.e., air-bodied souls; and
Vanaspatikaya, i.e., vegetable-bodied souls.
The Trasa, i.e., the mobile or many-sensed souls are
also further divided into four classes according to the possession of two
or more of the five senses of touch, taste, smell, sight and hearing :
Dvi-indriya Jivas, i.e., those which have the first
two senses of touch and taste, for example, worms, etc.,
Tri-indriya Jivas, i.e., those which have the first
three senses of touch, taste and smell, for example, ants, etc.
Chatur-indriya Jivas, i.e., those which have first
four senses of touch, taste, smell & sight, e. g. humble-bee
Pancha-indriya Jivas, i.e., those which have five
senses of touch, taste, smell, sight and hearing, for example, man, etc.
Thus, in this classification each class has one sense
more than the preceding it.
Jaina philosophy starts with a perfect division of the
universe into living and non-living substances, Jiva and Ajiva. The
non-soul substances are of five kinds, viz.,
Pudgala, i.e., matter,
Dharma, i.e., medium of motion,
Adharma, i.e., medium of rest,
Akasa, i.e., space, and
Kala i.e., time
These six living and non-living substances are called
Dravyas in Jaina Philosophy.
A Dravya has got three characteristics. First, Dravya
has the quality of existence. Secondly, it has the quality of permanence
through origination and destruction. Thirdly, it is the substratum of
attributes and modes.
The Dravya is thus un-created and indestructible, its
essential qualities remain the same and it is only its Paryaya or mode or
condition, that can and does change.
The third principle Asrava signifies the influx of
Karmic matter into the constitution of the soul. Combination of Karmic
matter with Jiva is due to Yoga. Yoga is the activity of mind, speech and
body. Thus Yoga is the channel of Asrava. The physical matter which is
actually drawn to the soul cannot be perceived by the senses as it is very
When the Karmic matter enters the soul, both get
imperceptibly mixed with each other. Bandha or bondage is the assimilation
of matter which is fit to form Karmas by the soul as it is associated with
passions. The union of spirit and matter does not imply a complete
annihilation of their natural properties, but only a suspension of their
function, in varying degree, according to the quality and quantity of the
Thus, the effect of the fusion of the spirit and matter
is manifested in the form of a compound personality which partakes of the
nature of both, without actually destroying either.
Effective states of desire and aversion, and activity
of thought, speech or body are the conditions that attract Karmas, good
and bad, towards the soul. When those conditions are removed, there will
be no Karmas approaching the Jiva, that is complete Samvara -- a sort of
protective wall shutting out all the Karmas is established round the self.
Thus Samvara is the stoppage of inflow of Karmic matter
into the soul. There are several ways through which the stoppage could be
Nirjara means the falling away of Karmic matter from
the soul. The soul will be rendered free by the automatic falling out of
the Karmas when they become ripe. But this is a lengthy process. The
falling away may be deliberately brought through the practice of
Thus, Nirjara is of two kinds. The natural maturing of
a Karma and its separation from the soul is called Savipaka Nirjara and
inducing a Karma to leave the soul, before it gets ripened by means of
ascetic practices is called Avipaka Nirjara.
Moksha or liberation is the freedom from all Karmic
matter, owing to the non-existence of the cause of bondage and the
shedding of all the Karmas. Thus complete freedom of the soul from Karmic
matter is called Moksha.
Moksha is attained when the soul and matter are
separated from each other. The separation is effected when all the Karmas
have left the soul, and no more Karmic matter can be attracted towards it.