Jainworld
Jain World
Sub-Categories of Passions
Shraman Bhagavan Mahavira and Jainism
The Jaina Concept of Soul
The Law of Karma
The Path of Moksha
Anekantavada

The Jaina Concept of Soul

 

 

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 and Aiiva.

 

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.

 

Utpada (Origination)

 

Vyaya (Decay)

 

Dhrauvya (Permanence)

 

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 universe.

 

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.