The Five Bodies

First Steps To Jainism (Part-2)


The Five Bodies

Due to the Karma connection the soul, interlalia, acquires or is clothed in bodies through which it carries on its activities, discharging old karma (and generally acquiring more in the process). In the chapter on Karma, while discussing Naam or Physique Determining Karma, one subdivision has been noted called Bodies or Sharir Naam Karma. These Karmas are of five types and result in the soul acquiring five types of Bodies viz. (1) Audarik (Physical), (2) The Vaikriya (Transformation), (3) the Aharaka (Translocation), (4) the Taijasa (Fiery) and (5) the Karmana (Karmic). Some light is thrown on these in the discussion that follows as these are important and relevant in Jain Metaphysics as well as in the day to day experience. It may be reiterated in advance that the Bodies are found with only unliberated or worldly souls, the liberated or mukta souls are free from bodies of any type and are also known as “Ashariri” or Bodiless.

The five types of Bodies are described below in brief –

  1. The Gross Physical Body or Audarik Sharir – 
    As the name indicates this is the type of Body which is gross or solid and which can be felt by the senses, such as eyes, which can see it. This is the body belonging to human beings (Manushya Gati) as well as animals and plants (Trinyanch Gati) Amongst all the five types of Bodies this has the least number of Pudgals, but it occupies the maximum space as the distribution of the Pudgals is the least subtle. Therefore, it is considered Gross or solid and is capable of being broken or burnt.

  2. The subtle Transformation Body or Vaikriya Sharir – 
    This type of body is the fine invisible body occupied by Godly beings (Dev Gati) and the Denizens of Hell (Narak Gati). The occupants of such Bodies can make them invisible and also transform their shapes at will and the bodies are, therefore, also called Transformation Bodies as Vaikriya means transformation. Such bodies occupy less space than the Physical Bodies, though the number of pudgals forming such subtle bodies are innumerable times more than those of the Physical Bodies. The reason is the fineness or suksham nature of such Pudgals. Human beings can also attain such bodies through Labdhies or Purification. Such Bodies can travel in a limited part of the Universe (Loka) knowing no impediments.

  3. The Translocation body or Aharak Sharir – 
    This is a special type of Body created by developed souls (Labdhi Dhari) for a short time (less than 48 minutes) for travelling to other galaxies (Dwipa) to pay respects to or consult the Teerthankars there, to clear doubts. This body is described as white in colour, one hand length in size, handsome, and capable of travelling millions of miles in one samaya crossing all impediments in a limited part of Universe-Loka. It arises out of the head of the creator and is reabsorbed by the physical body after performing its duties. This translocation body is finer than Vaikriya or Transformation Body but possesses pudgals which are innumerable times more than the latter.

  4. The Fiery Body or Taijas Sharir –
    This type of body is formed by fire pudgals and provides external glow and internal digestive power. It can also be used by the powerful beings to destroy the opponents, when angry when its colour is red. Similarly if they are kind, the ascetics can use it to end pestilence etc., for amelioration of the sufferings of general public, its colour being white. This body contains pudgals which are infinite times (Anant Guna) more than the aharak or translocation body even then it is finer. This type of body can pass through all types of impediments throughout the Universe or Loka and is present in every worldly being. At the same time it is imperceptible to the senses e.g. the eyes can not see it.

  5. The Karma Body or Karman Sharir –
    It has been noted earlier (Chapter on Karma) that due to activity (Yoga) and passions (Kashaya ) the soul attracts matter or Karma Pudgals which bind it by becoming the Karma Body, or Karman Sharir, the fifth type of body. This is the finest body occupying the least space, yet containing infinite times more pudgals than the Fiery Body or Taijas Sharir. This can also pass through all impediments throughout the Universe and is a constant companion of the worldly being. It is the root cause of the worldly existence in all its forms and aspects including the other types of Bodies. The Karma Body is constantly renewing itself as old karma matter is shed after giving results and further new Karma matter is acquired till liberation or Mukti, when all Karma are exhausted as also all types of bodies and bodily existence. It is also imperceptible to the senses, and accompanies the soul, on death, to the place of new birth, where it (Karma body) forms the basis of the other new bodies that the soul (jeeva) may acquire.

Some futher general observations

The association of soul with bodies imply its bondage by Karma and fettering of its unlimited powers and is therefore to be got rid of. From the essential point of view the continuous beginnigless change of bodies through births and deaths involves circulation in the world and is, therefore, a curse-an evil. However the bodily existence is also a means of destroying the Karma and can, therefore, be a blessing as a vehicle of attainments of liberation or Mukti. Thus the true followers of the path of liberation put the evil body to good use by involving it in shubh Karma-good deeds-as also in Penance-Tapa. This is the real concept of bodies and bodily existence from truly Anekantvadi or non-onesided point of view.

All these five types of Bodies are material or Pudgalik i.e., made of Pudgals or pudgal-skandh. However, each subsequent category of Bodies contain much larger number of Pudgals than its predecessor (type of body) in the order stated in para The five types of Bodies are described below in brief -above. Inspite of this the subsequent type of body is finer than the earlier and occupies less space. Thus the Transformation body (Vaikriy Sharir) contains a much larger quantum of Pudgal than the Physical or Audarik Body and is also finer. This will be clear from the example of cotton and steel, where the latter may contain greater amount of Pudgal but occupies less space.

A worldly soul or beings is always connected with the two types of Bodies viz., Karman, and Taijas Bodies for the obvious reason that without these the worldly existence is not possible. As such this association is beginningless (anadi) but it ends with the liberation of the soul. In addition it may have the Vaikriya or Transformation Body as in the case of angels, or Audarik or Physical Bodies as in the case of human beings. In such cases these bodies go together. Some human being with requisite powers may acquire either the Vaikriya (Transformation) body or the Aharak or Translocation Body which will mean four types of bodies with one soul. However, since Aharak or Vaikriya bodies cannot be acquired together, the maximum number of Bodies connected with one worldly being is four.