Categories of Jiva , Quality of ï¿½Self', 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 ï¿½transcendent' 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 ï¿½Life' and not the ï¿½logic' 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 ï¿½Not 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 ï¿½Jiva', 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 ï¿½Self' and by what process of reasoning we can comprehend its
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 ï¿½spirit' is variously known as Soul,
ï¿½Atman', ï¿½Purusa' or ï¿½Jiva'. The connotation of the word is the same,
namely the element (Dravya) known as ï¿½Jiva' 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
All the elements, not covered by this category of ï¿½Jiva',
are ï¿½Ajiva'. 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 ï¿½atoms' (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 ï¿½Sakti'. This spirit, this
motivating force, is known in Jaina terminology as ï¿½Jiva'. 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 ï¿½kasaya', 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 ï¿½Paryaya'. 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 ï¿½appears' that he is born for the
first time. Similarly when one dies it ï¿½appears' 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 ï¿½I' remains the same. It was this ï¿½I' 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 -- ï¿½Who am I'. This ï¿½I' 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) ï¿½Siddhas', liberated soul and
(2) ï¿½Samsarins', worldly, not liberated. The latter are further classified
as ï¿½Tras' (mobile), ï¿½Sthavara' (immobile) and ï¿½Nigoda', i.e., dormant and
lost souls with a common body and respiration, representing the lowest
stage of existence. ï¿½Tras' (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
(3) Those having four senses of touch, taste, sight and
(4) Those having five senses of touch, taste, sight,
smell and hearing. The ï¿½Sthavara' (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
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."