Jain World
Sub-Categories of Passions

Publisher's Note

Something About Late Shri V.R. Gandhi
I - The Sankhya Philosophy
  II - The Yoga Philosophy
  III - The Naya Philosophy
  IV - Mimamsa
  V - The Vedanta Philosophy
  VI - Buddhism
  VII - Jainism
  Sanskrit Terms

VII - Jainism



How can that soul live in matter when its attributes are of a different nature? By our own experience we know that, we are obliged to live in surrounding which are not congenial to us, Which are not of our own nature. People feel that they are not related to their surroundings, there must be some reason for their being obliged to live in those surroundings, but there must be a reason in the intelligence itself; it cannot be in the material substance. We know that this is fact, because intelligence cannot proceed from any thing, which is purely material. No material substance has given any evidence of having possessed intelligence; it might have done so when there was life in it, but without this it has no intelligence.4 That intelligence is, we are quite sure, influenced by material things, but it does not arise from the material things. Persons of sound intelligence take a large dose of some intoxicating drink and the intelligence will not work at all. Why should this material thing influence the immaterial, the soul? The soul thinks that the body is itself and therefore anything, which is done to the material self, is supposed by the real self to be done to it. That is where the Christian scientists and the Jaina philosophy will agree; that if the soul thinks that the body is real self anything done to the body will be considered by the soul to be done to the soul, and therefore what happens to the body will be felt by the soul; but if the soul for a moment thinks that the body is not the self but altogether different and a stranger to the soul, for that reason no feeling of pain will exist; our attention is taken away in some other direction shows that the self is something higher than the body. Still under ordinary circumstances the soul is influenced by the body, and therefore we are to study the laws of the body and soul so as to rise above these little things and proceed on our path to salvation or liberation, which is the real aspiration of the soul. There is power of matter itself, but that power is lower than the power of the soul. If there was no power at all in the body or in matter, the soul would never be influenced by it, for mere non‑existence will never influence anything; but because there is such a thing as matter when the soul thinks that that the soul would never be influenced by it, for mere non‑existence will never influence anything; but because there is such a thing as matter, when the soul thinks that there is a power of the body and a power of the matter, these powers will influence it. Bodily power as we see it is on account of the presence of the soul. There is a power in matter, as cohesion etc, and this will work although the soul does not think anything about it. If the moon revolves around the earth there are some forces inherent in the earth and moon. What I mean to say is that the influence of these material powers on soul powers depends on the soul's readiness or willingness to submit to these powers. If the soul takes the view that it will not be influenced by any thing, it cannot be so influences.


(b) This being the soul's nature, what is its origin? Everything can be looked upon from two standpoints, the substance and the manifestation. If the state of the soul itself is to be taken into consideration that state has its beginning and its end. The state of the soul as living in the human body had a beginning at birth and will have an end at death, but it is a beginning and an end of the state, not of the thing itself. The soul taken as a substance is eternal; taken as a state every state has its beginning and end. So this beginning of a state implies that before this beginning there was another state of the soul. Nothing can exist unless it exists in some state. The state may not be permanent, but the thing must have a state at all times. if therefore the present state of the soul had beginning, it had another state before the beginning of this state, and after the end of this state it will have another state. So the future state is something that comes out of or is the result of the present state. As the future is to the present, so the present is to the past. The present is only the future of the past. What is true with regard to the future state is true with regard to the past and present state. The acts of the past have determined our present state, and if this is true the acts of the present state must determine the future state.


This brings us to the doctrine of rebirth, transmigration of souls, metempsychosis, reincarnation, etc. as they are variously known. First take incarnation, which means literally becoming flesh; and, really that which is spirit is always spirit or soul. The spirit does not become flesh. If reincarnation means to become flesh there can be no reincarnation, but if it means simply the life in flesh for a short time, then there is reincarnation. Reincarnation means also to be born in some state again and again. Metempsychosis means in Greek only change; that the animal itself, body and soul, everything together, is changed into some other thing and so on. That is the idea of metempsychosis. Transmigration of souls is, especially in the idea of the Christians, the idea of the human soul going into the animal body, as if this were a necessity. But that is not the real idea; the real idea is simply going from one place to another or from one body to another, but not necessarily going from the human body to the animal body, but simply travelling. It implies the idea of form. Nothing can travel unless it has form and occupies space and is material; so in our philosophy we reject all these terms if that is the idea connected with these terms, and use the idea of rebirth; that is, the soul is born in some other body, and the birth does not imply the same conditions [as those] applying to the human birth6. There are certain conditions in which human beings are born; the seed itself takes several months to ripen and then there is the birth. This may be due to certain acts or forces, which are generated by human beings?7 These are in a condition to be observed by beings whose forces will take them to some other planet, and we say that there is another condition of birth there. There is no necessity for gestation and fecundation. The karmic body has in itself many powers and has a force to take to itself another body, which is in the case of the human beings a gross body, but in the case of other beings a subtle body is generated and this body is changeable so far as its form and dimensions are concerned. Therefore, if the forces generated, while we live any kind of life are of different kinds then in the case of some being it may be necessary that he should be born in the human condition and pass through the actual conditions which must be obeyed if the human being is to be born, while if the forces generated are different in their character he may be born on some other planet, where birth is manifested in different way, without any necessity of the combination of the male and the female principle. There are so many different planes of life that the mere study of the human life ought not to be made to apply to all the affairs of life. We have studied only a few forms of the life of animals, human beings, etc., but that is only the part which under the present development of our science of our eyesight even, we are able to study. We are not able to study other forms of life, innumerable in the universe, and therefore we ought not to apply the laws thus discovered to all forms of life.


Our study is introspective because our idea is that soul is able to know everything under the right circumstances. The knowledge acquired under these conditions is of the sounder nature and a more correct kind because the obstacles, which come in the way science, are not there. Science has to commit mistakes and think that they do not;8 still knowledge is derived from inferences which we draw from certain premises which may not be right or if the premises are right the inference may be wrong. We do not mean to say that there are always mistakes in the knowledge, which is acquired through sensation or through matter, but sometimes it is possible, and while it may be correct knowledge in many cases we cannot rely on that. The highest knowledge is immediate knowledge, derived by the soul without the assistance of any external thing, and the knowledge of liberated souls, and also the knowledge of human beings who are just on the point of being liberated, or have passed through the course of discipline, mental, moral and spiritual, and have nearly exhausted past forces, at the same time generating spiritual forces, and on account of discipline and sees everything when this state is arrived at; it knows means that it is something, some reality, and there can be no reality unless it can distinguish itself from other realities. Only the one universal thing could not know itself, because knowledge implies comparing one with another, and if that itself, because knowledge implies comparing one with another, and if that is not done there is no individuality. We say therefore that the soul in its highest existence knows, that it is perfectly separate form other things, so far as experience and knowledge are concerned, but in so far as its nature is concerned, so long as there is a sense of separateness, there is no occasion or opportunity for the soul to rise higher because when the soul thinks that it is living a different existence for its own sake it is considering its own self to be different from another person and thinks that this is its own and a part of its nature, its own being, and therefore anything done in regard to these surroundings will benefit or injure its own.9 It even thinks that its very life consists in doing goods and in loving other souls and taking active measures for carrying into effect the very plan of the sole (Those souls?). Then it comes higher, and ultimately reaches the highest condition. The condition of the soul, as I have said, is the highest in which there is perfect consciousness, there is infinite knowledge and infinite bliss; we express these three ideas in Sanskrit as existence infinite, bliss infinite and knowledge infinite. That condition of the soul cannot be described by us because description is something which proceeds from a finite mind and when the soul becomes infinite no finite mind and when the soul becomes infinite no finite mind can fully express the conditions of that infinite state. The attributes we give therefore to that condition of the soul are always full of comprehension.10We shall always leave out many things; we have not the power to express all our thoughts. How can we express, then, this state of a soul, which so far as its power and knowledge are concerned is infinite?

The Jainas have studied the nature of the soul and the universe from these standpoints and have derived a beautiful principle, and so far as this is concerned there is this difference between this country and other countries and other religions, they can understand all these from these standpoints11. The Bible says, 'Thou shalt not kill', and Jainas practice universal love so that this also means that we should not kill any beings. If we say that the Bible does not mean that we take away a part of the bible. Why should we interpret the laws of any religion from the narrowest standpoint? We should take into consideration the nature, attributes and working of all things. We cannot derive laws, which are to be applied to the whole universe simply by our observation of a part of the conscious nature of the universe. If you wish to state correctly the nature of the universe you will study the nature of all the different parts of the universe and then the laws will be applicable to all parts of it. We think that we are superior to other things because our tenants who live on the ground floor are inferior to us, but we have no right therefore to crush those tenants, who later on will acquire the right to inhabit the second and third floors and finally the highest floor. One living on the highest plane has no right to crush those who live on the lowest plane. If one thinks that he has a right to do this, which he has, not sufficient strength to live without destroying life, our philosophy says that it is still sin to destroy life, and it remains only to choose the lowest form, the less evil, We will in business take such a kind of business as will yield the most profit and will cause us to lose the least, in which we have the less liabilities; and the highest condition will be that in which we have no liabilities and no creditors, the state in which we may live without any creditors or in a perfectly free condition. That is the liberated condition.