Jainworld
Jain World
Sub-Categories of Passions
Preface
Publisher's Note
Author’s Note
Mahavira: A Non-Violent Revolutionary
Transfer of Embryo
  Socio-political Conditions
  Vajji's Democracy
  Magadha and Srenika
  Ajatasatru Vajjis
  Princely following of Mahavira
  Social Conditions
  Intellectual Fervour
  Revolutionary push by Mahavira
  Significant Events
  Indra's Offer of Protection
  Five Resolves at Morak Hermitage
  Education Rather than Exposure
  Poisonous Fangs of Canda Kausika
  States of a Digambara
  Association with Gosala
  Candanabala : First Head of Women Disciples
  Final Act of Nirjara
  Attainment of Kaivalya
  First Ganadharas
  Muttanam-Moyaganam
  THE ULTIMATE REALITY
  ONTOLOGY OF ATMAN, THE SELF
  FACT OF THE MATTER
  JOURNEY TO FREEDOM
  ETHICS OF RESPONSIBILITY
  Actions follow the Doer
  Search for Responsibilty and Sramana Line
  Mahavira's Synthesis
  Psychological Approach of Mahavira
  Categories of Karmas
  Duration of Karmic Bondage
  Nature of Bondage
  Mitigation of Bondage
  Fresh Karmas
  Life's activities
  Even good actions bind, if motivated
  Consequences of Karma Theory
  MECHANICS OF CHANGE
  Process of Change and Nine Tattvas
  Essential Tendency of Jiva
  Papa' and ‘Punya' : Both of Binding Nature
  Asrava (Influx)
  Bandha (Bondage)
  Samvara
  Nirjara (Shedding of Accumulated Karmas)
  Moksa (Final Liberation)
  PLURALISTIC REALISM
  THEORY RELATIVITY
  MODUS OPERANDI
  Enlightened Consciousness
  Self, the starting point
  Will and Eagerness
  Upadana-Nimittan
  Bhavana or Anupreksa (Reflection)
  Twelve Vratas of House-holder
  Prayer
  Dhyana (Meditation)
  Lesya (Disposition)
  Code of Conduct for Monks - Modus Operandi
  Austerities (Tapascarya)
  Sanllekhana
  A PATH-WAY OF LIFE
  APPENDICES
  Appendix - A
  Appendix - B
  Appendix - C
  Appendix - D
  Appendix - E
  BIBLIOGRAPHY

ONTOLOGY OF ATMAN, THE SELF

Justice T.U.Mehta

Categories of Jiva , Quality of �Self', Avataravada ruled out , Proof of Existence .

"Access to truth demands the passage beyond the compass of ordered thought, and by the same token, the teaching of transcendent Truth can not be by logic, for what �transcendent' means is the transcending (among other things) of the bounding and basic logical laws of human mind." H. Zimmer.

Truely, the ultimate reality, the final Truth is always beyond the reach of logic and reasoning. Reason and logic are the products of mind and the human mind, however advanced it may be, has its own limitations -Yardstick which is limited, cannot measure up the unlimited. This has been repeatedly emphasised by Indian thinkers and it is only for that reason that they have always emphasised that to have the taste of the transcendental Truth �Life' and not the �logic' is the means of achievement. The great masters of the history of Indian philosophical thought, though have widely divergent views in their formulations of the essence of the ultimate Truth, but none-the-less, they are unanimous in proclaiming that the ultimate Truth is beyond description (Nama) and beyond any form (Rupa). That is why, they preferred a negative course of describing it as �Not this, Not this' (Neti-Neti).

Therefore, our attempt to show the existence of the self, the Atman, by a metaphysical process, is bound to remain imperfect. This metaphysical process would, however, serve its purpose if it is able to kindle a desire to know further, to think further and then to perceive further. Comprehension, rather than conclusion, should be our aim.

The Atman, known in Jaina terminology as �Jiva', is the corner-stone of Jaina philosophy. If self is excluded from the philosophical structure erected by the Jainas, the whole edifice of that structure will collapse. It is, therefore, essential to consider first what is this �Self' and by what process of reasoning we can comprehend its existence.

The Jainas broadly divide the whole universe, including all its animate objects, into two categories, viz. Jiva and Ajiva, i.e. Soul and matter. This Soul or �spirit' is variously known as Soul, �Atman', �Purusa' or �Jiva'. The connotation of the word is the same, namely the element (Dravya) known as �Jiva' in its pure form, is all conscience and knowledge, sentient and possessing limitless motivating force. This force is apparent in all living beings including the plant life, but it is dormant even in inanimate thing such as earth, water, air and fire.

All the elements, not covered by this category of �Jiva', are �Ajiva'. For the present, we shall neither discus the sub-categories of Jiva and Ajiva; nor the qualities and attributes of Ajiva, rather we shall concentrate on the metaphysics of Jiva.

Physical science has by now disclosed that every matter in this universe is composed of atoms. Democritus, an early Greek philosopher (460 to 370 B. C.) was a brilliant mechanic and inventor and also had profound knowledge of mathematics and astronomy. He taught that world consisted of innumerable and infinitesimal atoms. He used the term atom or �atoms' (the Greek word meaning indivisible) and held that these atoms moved in the universe in a whirlwind fashion and formed composite substances like fire, water, air and earth.

Several centuries before Democritus, Indian philosophers and especially the Jain and the Sankhya philosophers, not only came to the same conclusion but went further by stating that all things of the universe including the atoms can be divided into two categories, namely, spirit and matter. Physics now tells us that all objects are made up of atoms and, if each of these atoms is split, it will be found composed of electrons, protons and neutrons, which can supply such a forceful energy that all-destructive and forceful bombs can be constructed therefrom. It is this energy, this power which is identified by Jainas as real spirit. Hindus identify it as �Sakti'. This spirit, this motivating force, is known in Jaina terminology as �Jiva'. Terminologies may differ but the essence is the same. In terms of Psychology this motivating force is pure consciousness, pure knowledge (Kevala Jnana) unhindered and unobstructed by any �kasaya', i.e., passions such as pride, prejudices, predictions, anger, avarice and malice. It is true to emphasise that it is this energy, this spirit, this motivating force, which enables humans to perform all their small and big adventures in life and animal as well as plant life to grow into this bewildering multiplicity of existence. Even otherwise, various mental experiences of man point to something which is experiential, some constant entity which gives meaning and significance for changing modes. This is the soul or the self. From whence this energy came ? Jaina answer is that it is eternal and is also indestructible. It has no beginning and will have no end. Moksa - Salvation, according to Indian thinking in general and that of Jaina in particular is not an end of the spirit. It is the state of total liberation from the bondage of matter - Ajiva. Science also believes that matter is indestructible. It may change forms, but the essence, the substratum, is not destroyed. This change of form or circumstances is known in Jainism as �Paryaya'. The principle is illustrated by taking the case of an earthen pot. Earth can be shaped in form of a pot or of any other vessel, just as gold can be shaped in any ornamental form. However, whatever, be that form or shape, the substratum, namely the earth and the gold, remains the same. Similarly Jiva may assume the form of a plant or an animal or a human being, it remains the Jiva of equal potentiality, though at a different stage of development. Thus, the Jaina philosophers do admit that the Jivas is born, it �appears' that he is born for the first time. Similarly when one dies it �appears' that the Jiva has come to an end. Both these attributes of birth and death are known as Utpada and Vyaya. But so far as the soul is concerned they are mere appearances, mere modifications known as Paryaya because the real characteristics of soul are beginninglessness, that is, Anadi and endlessness, that is, Ananta. Its permanence - Dhravya is experienced even when it undergoes modifications - Paryayas. For instance, every human being undergoes the states of childhood, youth and old age involving serious modifications of body, mind and intellect. However, it is the experience of everyone that pure ego �I' remains the same. It was this �I' which was made the subject-matter of inquisition by the greatest saint of our modern times Sri Raman Maharsi, who admonished us to go on constantly asking ourselves the question -- �Who am I'. This �I' is the Soul, the Spirit, the Jiva.

Such souls are infinite in number and retain their individuality. Each one has to chalk out its own path of liberation and utilise its inherent potentiality to be fully liberated.

The above approach is obviously different from the one adopted by Advaita Vedantists led by the great Sankara, according to whom there is only one Supreme Reality, the Brahman and the entire visible cosmos is Maya, i.e. an illusion, super-imposed on un-illuminated human mind by Avidya, i.e., ignorance. In other words, Sankara does not recognise the duality of Jiva and Ajiva, and according to him, whatever is Ajiva, the matter is unreal. To a Jaina Philosopher Ajiva is as much real as Jiva. Jiva (the soul) has come into contact with Ajiva from time immemorial, and it is only the reality of Ajiva that results in soul's journey from one birth to the other and its struggle for the ultimate freedom from the bondage of Ajiva.


Categories of Jiva

Consistent with the above approach, the Jainas have seen two man categories of Jiva, namely (1) �Siddhas', liberated soul and (2) �Samsarins', worldly, not liberated. The latter are further classified as �Tras' (mobile), �Sthavara' (immobile) and �Nigoda', i.e., dormant and lost souls with a common body and respiration, representing the lowest stage of existence. �Tras' (mobile) are at a higher level and are classified in accordance with the sense-organs possessed by them, viz.

(1) Those with two senses of touch and taste.

(2) Those having three senses of touch, taste and sight.

(3) Those having four senses of touch, taste, sight and smell.

(4) Those having five senses of touch, taste, sight, smell and hearing. The �Sthavara' (Immobile) have only tactual sensation. They are in the bodies of earth, water, fire, air and vegetables. Jaina seers have gone much deeper into this question and have given detailed enumeration of the number of Jivas in different categories of immobile life.

Such a minute and detailed study of living beings has a great significance as it reveals not only a metaphysical insight but also a highly ethical object of putting emphasis on the inherent potentiality of every type of life to achieve the highest. It thereby shows that every type of life is entitled to protection. One cannot do better than quoting Prof.Zimmer who has lauded this aspect in the following words :

"The systematization of the forms of life in Jainism is anything but primitive. It is quaint and archaic indeed, yet pedantic and extremely subtle and represents a fundamentally scientific conception of the world. In fact one is owed by the glimpse that it gives of the long history of human thought - a view much longer and more imposing than one that is cherished by our western humanists and academic historians with their little story about Greeks and Renaissance.

Twenty-fourth Tirthankara Mahavira was roughly a contemporary of Thales and Anaxagoras, the earliest of the standard line of Greek philosophers, and yet the subtle, complex-thorough-going analysis and the classification of the features of nature which Mahavira's teaching took for granted and upon which it played, was already centuries (perhaps even millenium) old (Prof. Zimmer is of the view that the Sramana School, to which Mahavira belonged, existed in India much prior to the advent of Aryans). It was a systematization that had long done away with the hosts of powerful gods and the wizard-magic of the still earlier priestly tradition - which itself had been as far above the really primitive level of human culture as are the arts of agriculture, herding and dairying above those of hunting and fishing, roof and berry gathering. " The world was already old, very wise, and very learned, when the speculations of the Greeks produced the texts that are studied in our universities as the first chapter of philosophy."

Speaking of the all-comprehensive universally of the idea of a cosmic man in Jainism, Prof. Zimmer says : "In Jainism, the whole Universe, including its infra-human stratifications, is comprised in the Divine anthropomorphic organism-beasts and plants, devoid of man's higher faculties of love, wisdom and spirituality, and also inorganic matter and the mute elements. This accords with the universal scope of India, doctrines of perfection, transformation and redemption. Not only human beings but all existences are included. Though steeped in darkness, the beasts and even atoms are looking for salvation, for they are the members of all-comprehending brother-hood of life -Nomads. Their destiny is to ascend, at last, beyond the bondages of Karmas."