Shaddravya, The Six Substances


Everything in the universe is either animate or inanimate. Animation denotes Chaitanya or consciousness while inanimate is Jada or lifeless. These two concepts are described differently by different schools of thought. Vedanta calls them Ishwar and Maya; Sankhyas call them Purush and Prakriti; we call them Jiva and Ajiva. We however consider Ajiva as made up of five different substances. They are Pudgala or matter; Dharma, which is an ethereal substance that is instrumental in making movement; Adharma, an other ethereal substance that is instrumental in maintaining stability; Akash or space and Kaal or time. It should be noted that the terms Dharma and Adharma in this context do not denote religion or absence of religion. Here, they are to be taken simply as two natural substances that pervade the universe. In order to avoid confusion and for the reason that would be clear later, we will use the terms Dharmastikaya and Adharmastikaya instead of Dharma and Adharma.

Concepts of consciousness, lifeless matter, space and time are acceptable to other schools as well. Those of Dharmastikaya and Adharmastikaya however are exclusively Jain concepts. It is generally accepted that soul and matter are endowed with mobility. T hey are not stationary. Motion is one of their characteristics. As such they make movements on their own. Every action however has some instrumental cause. There has therefore to be some medium that could be instrumental in their making movements. We call that medium as Dharmastikaya. Similarly there has to be some medium that could be instrumental in maintaining stability. We call that medium as Adharamastikaya.

Most of the people can easily accept the necessity of a medium for making movement. Justification for a medium to help stability may not be so obvious. It is however not very hard to understand it. Since Dharmastikaya pervades the entire universe, soul an d matter, being capable of making movements, would for ever continue to move in absence of another medium that would be instrumental in their staying stable as well. In Jain terminology that medium is known as Adharmastikaya.

So we believe in six basic substances. This is known as Shaddrayas. Shat (which is changed to Shad) means six and Dravya means substance or basic element. There are infinite number of Jivas(souls). They are categorized as worldly souls and liberated soul s. Worldly souls are embodied, while liberated ones are unembodied. Each soul is a separate entity. They never combine with each other or with any other matter, even though they may be found habiting the same abode.

Everything having some semblance of life is an embodied soul. Touch, taste, smell, sight and sound are the five senses. Number of senses that a being may possess is variable. Depending upon their sense faculties, living beings are categorized as Akendriya or one sensed organism that possesses only the sense of touch; Dweendriya or two sensed organism that possesses the senses of touch and taste;

Treendriya or three sensed organism that possesses the senses of touch, taste and smell; Chaturendriya or four sensed organism that possesses senses of touch, taste, smell and sight and Panchendriya which means five sensed organism that possesses all the five senses. Most of the seemingly lifeless objects and the plant life constitute Akendriyas. Earth worms, leac hes etc. are Dweendriya. Ants, bugs etc. are Treendriyas. Flies, bees etc. are Chaturendriyas. Most of the animals, human beings and heavenly as well as infernal beings are Panchendriyas. We shall give more details about Jiva in the next chapter.

Pudgals are infinite particles of matter pervading the universe. These particles called Paramanus are too minute to be visible. Our scriptures have described them as being more microscopic than atoms. They have however the capacity to combine with each ot her. When they so combine, they are called Skandhas or molecules. Depending upon their combination, these Skandhas can be visible and can also be experienced by other senses. Color, smell, taste and touch are the principal properties of Pudgal and are kno wn as its Gunas. Soulless bodies and everything in the environment that is lifeless, constitute Pudgal. Pudgals do undergo change. Their changing states are known as their Paryayas. Paramanus and their Skandhas have capacity to give scope to other Paraman us and Skandhas. As such, any number of them can simultaneously occupy the same space. Infinitesimal minute space occupied by a single Paramanu is called a Pradesh.

There is one indivisible Dharmastikaya pervading the Lokakash part of the universe and is instrumental to Jiva and Pudgal in making movements. Similarly there is Adharmastikaya that is instrumental in maintaining stability. They have the capacity to give space to other substances.

There is one all pervading. indivisible, universal space or Akash. Its property is to accommodate or give space. The above mentioned four substances however habitate only a part of Akash. That part is known as Lokakash. Other part is simply space not havi ng anything within it and is called Alokakash.

It would be clear from the above definition of Pradesh that Jivas, Skandhas of Pudgals, Dharmastikaya, Adharmastikaya and Akash occupy more than one Pradesh. In fact, Pradesh is so minute that each of the souls and Skandhas are said to be occupying countl ess number of Pradeshas. Anything occupying more than one Pradesh is termed as Astikaya. Therefore these five substances together are known as Panchastikaya comprising Jivastikaya, Pudgalastikaya, Dharmastikaya, Adharmastikaya and Akashastikaya.

The last substance is Kaal, the Time. It may not seem appropriate to treat Kaal as a separate substance. Jain scholars have different views about Kaal. Digambaras generally treat it as an independent substance; Shwetambaras generally treat it as an instru mental substance useful for comprehending changing states of the other five substances. Usually we measure time in terms of hours, minutes, seconds etc. Our scriptures have however conceived of an infinitesimal part of time which is called Samaya that is infinitely shorter than a second. People who accept time as an independent substance, believe that Samayas are strewn all over the Lokakash. Every Samaya is supposed to occupy one Pradesh. As such, even if time is admitted as an independent substance, it is not an Astikaya. There is therefore no term as Kaalastikaya.

NAV TATTVA : Jiva and Ajiva

It was stated in chapter 3 that Jiva, Ajiva, Punya, Paap, Asrava, Bandha, Samvar, Nirjara and Moksha are the nine fundamentals or Nav Tattva that every one should know. Some description of Jiva has been given in the last chapter while dealing with Shaddra ya. It would however be clear from the discussion so far that the knowledge of these fundamentals or of anything else is meant for knowing the Self. This Self is variously known as Jiva, Atma, Paramatma, Chaitanya, Brahma, consciousness, etc, Thus soul be ing the focal point and ultimate objective of all knowledge, it would be useful to discuss it here at some length.

A question may arise, ‘What is this soul after all?’ No one has ever seen it. Therefore the atheists, who refuse to believe in anything that cannot be perceived or grasped by senses, deny the existence of soul. Most of the scientists contribute to this v iew. They think that the body is a biochemical composition arising from a peculiar combination of productive genes of the parents. As long as the composition is active, it is said to be living organism; and when the activity comes to an end, it is conside red to be dead. But science does not clarify what exactly makes it active and why does the activity come to an end. This is not the place to enter into pros and cons of the genetic theory. It is however, a fact that when a person dies, his heart, kidneys and other limbs may still be active but that body is unable to use them and therefore they cease to function. If however they are removed from that body in time, they can be transplanted in other body and they happen to function effectively in the new bod y. Does it not mean that there was some sort of invisible energy that was activating different limbs of the body, while it was alive? That energy happens to disappear at the time of death and the presence or loss of that energy makes the difference betwee n life and death. Spiritual science calls that energy as soul.

There are infinite number of souls and every living body has a soul. It is invisible and has no form or shape. It cannot therefore be experienced by the senses. It is an element on its own and cannot be produced by any sort of combination or composition. As such it is stable and can never be decomposed. It is eternal and lasts for ever. From time to time, worldly soul has been abiding in different organisms through which it manifests itself. It leaves the body of one organism when it is rendered useless and assumes other body suitable for its manifestation. This type of transmigration and new embodiment birth after birth, has been going on since the time without beginning. Even though a particular body happens to be its temporary residence, soul tends to take it as its permanent abode and gets happy or unhappy depending upon the type of that body and its environments. Forgetful of its true nature, it aspires to get maximum happiness within the framework of given embodiment and surrounding situations. Whe n one body becomes useless for fulfilling its purpose, it gains a new one in tune with its yearnings and degree of attachment during its earlier embodiment. This attachment results from delusion of soul about its true nature. Attachment gives rise to the disposition of craving for the desirables and of aversion for the undesirables. These craving and aversion are the causes of the bondage of Karmas that have been described in earlier chapters.

Every living being longs to be happy. The deluded sense of being one with the body however causes soul to feel happy or unhappy depending upon the conditions obtained as consequence of its previous Karmas. Our ancient Seers have dwelt deep in search of tr ue happiness. They tried to explore the Self by raising the question ‘Koham’, which means ‘Who am I’. The appropriate answer that they could obtain was ‘Soham’ which means that I am that(soul). They could also perceive that the ‘I’ or the true Self is th e source of true happiness and abode of perfect bliss. They realized that the lifeless matter does not have the property to make any one happy or unhappy and that happiness is the inherent property of soul.

We however do not experience the lasting happiness, because we do not realize the true properties of soul. After thoroughly exploring the nature of soul, the Seers have concluded that the principal property of soul that distinguishes it from lifeless matt er, is knowability or capability of being aware. None of the five lifeless substances that we have described in the last chapter possesses that property. This property can enable soul to observe and know anything and everything. Scriptures have described this as Upayoga Lakshano Jivo. It means that knowability is the characteristic of soul. That attribute is inseparable from consciousness and therefore forms its basic property. As such, soul should simply stay aware of any given situation without any way reacting to it, because none of the situations really belongs to it. This would generate the sense of detachment; and absence of attachment to any extraneous influence can enable soul to abide forever in bliss which is beyond description. No wonder that the Seers, while describing the properties of soul, have preferred to call the same as indescribable.

To sum up, soul is pure consciousness. Infinite awareness and eternal bliss are its principal properties. Sanskrit words for eternity, consciousness and bliss are respectively Sat, Chit and Ananda. Therefore perfected soul is variously known as Sacchidana nda, Chidanand or Sahajanand. Negatively speaking, it is intangible, invisible, colorless, odorless, tasteless, formless and shapeless. It is therefore described in the scriptures by Neti, Neti(Not this, not that). It is beyond the reach of senses and min d. It can however be experienced by dwelling deep within oneself.

Vaidic and other schools of thought consider soul as immutable. Jainism disagrees. It believes in changing states of soul which are known as its Paryayas. On the basis of two major Paryayas souls are categorized as worldly souls and liberated ones. Depend ing upon the sense organs that they possess, five categories of worldly souls have been described in the last chapter. Of these, Akendriyas are further classified in five sub-categories. They are known as Prithwikaya or earthly bodies, Apkaya or aquatic b odies, Teukaya or fire bodies, Vaukaya or gaseous bodies and Vanaspatikaya or plant life. These five sub-categories are collectively known as Sthavar meaning immobile. Remaining embodied souls are known as Trasa meaning mobile, because those that can move in face of danger are treated as Trasa and others as Sthavar. Sometimes, those five categories of Sthavar together with Trasa category are mentioned as six major categories and are known as Chhakaya Jiva.

Description of Ajiva and of its five categories has been given in the last chapter. Jiva and these five Ajivas are not any way dependent on one another. Each of these six substances has potentialities to undergo changes in its own states. Other substances however play the role of being instrumental in effecting those changes. For instance, Dharmastikaya, Adharmastikaya, Akash and Kaal play the role of being instrumental in locationwise and timewise changes. Worldly soul does not try to identify itself wit h these foursubstances. It therefore hardly has any misunderstanding or delusion in such respect and views the role of those four Ajivas more or less dispassionately. Role of Pudgal on Jiva and of Jiva on Pudgal has however been the source of lot of misun derstanding. Worldly soul does not realize that its embodiment and all its surroundings have resulted from its past Karmas. It tends to identify itself with all those situations ignoring the fact that they are ephemeral. This has been the root cause of it s continuing bondage of Karma and resulting transmigration. The discussion of Nav Tattvas has been undertaken for analysing the state of worldly soul and the factors that inhibit and those that help in attaining liberation. Therefore Pudgal and particular ly Karma Pudgal, would be attracting our major attention in the subsequent chapters.