The Universe is the only reality. The word “reality” has many meanings, but as meant here that which is real is called substance (Dravya). The universe is a universe of substance; and by universe we mean every thing and being that there is, visible or invisible, tangible or intangible, sentient or insentient.

If the universe is regarded as one whole, in the past, present and future then there is but one example of it, there is no other reality. That which is other than real is not real, but is false or fanciful, and impossible of existence except as a false idea.

The following paragraph is of interest only to the logical mind:

Now, as the universe is all that is, it becomes necessary to understand what is meant by nothing or all that is not. Given a universe of real substance, the absolute non-existence of any part of it, large or small, is impossible, as is the absolute non-existence of the whole of it, to leave an empty nothing. Outside away beyond all the worlds, heavens, hells, or other abode of living beings, there is empty space, but space is real and something. Empty nothing is a false idea or ignorance of what is. Nothing is not real when it means absence of all reality. Regarding the universe as one whole, we must include ourselves in it. In thinking of ourselves we exclude the remainder; and in the remainder we ourselves are excluded. Thus, immediately, the universe, regarded as one whole, consists of two mutually exclusive parts, – oneself, and the rest. Directly we get two mutually exclusive things, there is non-existence of one in the other beyond it! Knowledge is final ground, and no one can know or truly feel, believe or maintain that the rest of the universe is himself, or that he is the rest of the universe. He knows and can truly believe and maintain that he is related to the rest of the universe, also that the rest is related to him. Thus, to think of one’s own non-existence is simply to think of the part of the universe which lies beyond oneself; there, non-existence of oneself is to be found, while he himself exists where he is. Hence non-existence of oneself is a false idea if it is thought to mean absolute non-existence anywhere, complete annihilation or ceasing to be. So, in a universe of inter-related but mutually exclusive units, regarded as one whole, (though not as one individual whole), while it is universe of everything that is (itself), it is also a universe of everything that is not (something else). The universe is always the one universe with its same contents of mutually exclusive units. Thus the words `existence’ and `non-existence’ of the universe produce in the mind the self-same mental picture of the actual positive omnipresent universe. “Hegel’s Logic” is said to show that existence and non-existence are the same if the universe is regarded as one whole. The idea which prevents us from conceiving this is the fixed false idea that non-existence of the universe means absolute non-existence or empty nothing.


The universe is one reality but it is not one homogeneous substance. In that part of the universe which is not ourselves we find insentient matter as well as other beings sentient like ourselves; also space, time and something to account for movement and for stationariness.

As religious doctrine concerns only living beings, we may make the simple division of the universe into: Substance (Dravya):- 1) Alive (Jiva), 2) Not alive (Ajiva)

Substance not alive may for the moment be left without sub-division.


The particular substance in organized beings which makes them alive, in the sense of having feeling, awareness, and self-conscious activity is not generally acknowledged by science to exist, and some proof of its existence is, therefore, necessary.

All proof starts from some known fact which does not itself need to be proved. The fact upon which the proof of the existence of conscious substance is built is the fact that motion of matter (pudgala) is not consciousness, whether the motion is in the shape of nerve tremor or in the shape of brain molecules vibrating. Consciousness is different in kind and not only in degree from vibration of matter or any other activity of matter.

If this fact is not known it can be learned by comparing in thought an example of consciousness with an example of movement of physical mater. Take, for instance, the consciousness of the swinging of a pendulum, as an example of awareness; and the swinging of the pendulum as an example of physical matter. If these two example are compared in thought it will be seen or learned that the one is a different kind of fact from the other. Or, if we had sufficient insight to see the molecules in the brain vibrating as they are said to be, the perception would be a different kind of event from the vibration of the molecules. The vibration is one kind of kind of activity. The swinging and the vibrating are the behavior of the pendulum and of the molecules respectively; our consciousness or knowledge of these events is not in the pendulum or in the molecules.

Consciousness is a quality. Qualities do not exist apart from substance. Thus some substance different from the matter which moves is proved to exist. This conscious substance, which also feels, and is self-active, is invisible and intangible; but the signs of its existence are seen in others, and each being experiences his own feeling, consciousness, and self-activity.

Visibility, tangibility, and movement; self-activity, feeling, and consciousness are found or are conceivable in men, animals, cells, devils, and angels, all of which are living beings. Here are two different sets of qualities :

  1. Visibility, tangibility, movement;

  2. Self-activity, feeling, consciousness.

The last set is never manifested by pure physical matter; the first set is manifested by physical matter. These livings beings are thus provided to be compounds of two different kinds of substance namely, soul and body.

The body is only temporarily a unit, being a vast multitude of cells which come and go; while the soul is one homogeneous irresolvable substance not composed of separable factors; its qualities (guna) do not come and go; it is also permanently itself, never becoming or merging into another soul. Each set of feeling, self-activity, and consciousness with all their changing modifications (paryaya) forms a separate, different, individual soul from every other changing set. These qualities (guna) are an irresolvable complexity; they (guna) never part company, become scattered, or float away from or change their point of attachment; though in their modifications (paryaya) they are ceaselessly changing.

The above named examples of this substance (jiva), men, angles, etc. are examples of it in an impure state. In them the naturally invisible soul is compounded in a very subtle way with visible, tangible matter, and is in a sense thereby rendered visible, as water is colored by the addition of coloring matter. In its pure state the soul is invisible just as in itself water is colorless.

Thus is the existence of the first kind of substance, soul, established. And it is not one individual universal great big soul, but a mass of mutually exclusive, individual souls. We may now sub-divide substance not-alive.


All the following real things have the common characteristic of being unconscious. There are five kinds of substance not-alive, namely :

  1. Matter (pudgalstikaya)

  2. Space (akasastikaya)

  3. An ether, the fulcrum of motion (dharmastikaya)

  4. Another ether, the fulcrum of rest, in the sense of not moving (adharmastikaya)

  5. Time, which is in only a figurative sense a substance (kala)

In all these things there is no feeling or consciousness.


This is well understood in physics and chemistry. Here the real substance is the ultimate indivisible atom. Matter is made up of atoms, but the atom is not made up of other units. Atoms as at present understood by modern chemistry are far grosser than those contemplated by the Jains. Innumerable atoms as understood by the Jains make, when combined, the atom of modern chemistry, which is not an ultimate atom.


Ether, mentioned above, is no matter in the Jain view. Matter has various qualities and relations which these two ethers do not posses. It is only the Jain philosophy that believes in these two substances. They are the accompanying causes (hetu) respectively of the motion of moving things and beings, and of the stationary state of things and beings that are resting, in the sense of not moving. In each case it is the accompanying cause without which you cannot do.


Space is that which acts as a receptacle of all the other substances; and it is not a kind of thing that needs to be contained. It has not that nature of needing to be contained. It is a reality, but not matter (pudgala).


Time is not a collection of indivisible inseparable parts, as are the other five substances. Time is called a substance only as a matter of convenience. It is really the modification of a substance. It is the modification of a thing or being by which we know the anteriority or posteriority of it, the oldness or newsness. And it is a modification which is common to all the other substances. Time is really the duration of the states of substances.


Having mentioned the kinds of substance that there are in the universe, the next thing will be to give the definition of substance. The definition must be such that it shall include not only matter, visible and tangible to the senses, but also spiritual substance (soul) not cognizable by the senses.

Any substance can be looked upon in four different ways, and so it shall be defined from each of these four points of view. This is only possible in thought and not in actual fact.

  1. Substance is that in which the differences of time, space, and modifications inhere together. This definition is from the point of view of the permanent nature of the thing. In spite of the differences in the units making up the mass of any substance, still there is the unity in the mass. Conscious individuals, for instance, are not identical with each other, but still there is a mass, soulness; it is one substance.

  2. Substance is the subject of qualities (guna) and modifications (paryaya). This definition is from the point of view of the state of a thing that is, of its changing nature or modification. The quality stays with the substance, and is constant; the modifications succeed each other. A particular piece of clay always has form, but not always the same form. It is never without form; for is a constant quality; it may be now round, then square; these are modifications.

  3. Substance is that in which there are origination, destruction, and permanence. This definition is from the two previous points of view taken together. With the origination of a new mode of existence there was the destruction of the old mode of existence, while the substance has remained permanent. With the destruction of a house three is the origination or coming into existence of heap of debris, while the bricks, etc. are the same. The substance is neither destroyed nor originated, only the mode of existence; only the relations between the parts, in this case.

  4. Substance is that which performs a special action. This is from an ordinary point of view, and would hold good only of a special substance.

Substance has now been defined, and each definition is application not only to matter but also to spiritual substance or soul. The next thing to introduce is the natures of substance. What are its natures?


There are two kinds of natures found in all substance. Any real, concrete, existing thing or being, can be looked upon in a general way or in a particular way; that is to say, it has natures in common with other things (samanya svabhava), and at the same time it has natures peculiar to itself (vishesh svabhava). For instance, this book is matter, in common with all other material things; and at the same time it is a particular matter, namely, paper.

According to Jainism three is no such thing as matter (pudgala) or any substance (dravya) only in general; wherever there is matter (pudgala) it is matter (pudgala) of a particular kind, paper for instance, not stone; or wherever there is substance (dravya) it is substance (dravya) of a particular kind, matter (pudgala) for instance, not space (akasa), space is substance (dravya).

Of the general natures of substance, one is existence (astitva); another is knowableness (prameytva). This latter differentiates Jainism from Kant’s philosophy: according to Jainism things are knowable.

The general natures are always everlasting; and are not analyzable. Other natures common to all substance are the fact of being in one sense permanent, un-created, and indestructible (nitya samanya svabhava); and the fact of being in another sense perishable (anitya samanya svabhava); gold may perish as a ring, but it is always something somewhere. Other common natures are the fact of being one or a unit, the fact of being many the fact of being separate, and the fact of being not separate. From the point of view of omniscience the general natures of a thing are infinite.

Of the particular natures of substance consciousness (cetana) is one, and belongs only to live substance (jiva). Another particular nature is the fact of having form, and is peculiar to matter (pudgal). Another is the fact of containing, which is peculiar to space (akasastikaya). From the point of view of omniscience the particular natures of a thing are, like the general natures, infinite.

Everything, then, has its natures, both those peculiar to itself, and those in common with other things. The next subject in connection with substance is the ways of knowing it, or the aspects it has (nayas). One of the functions of philosophy is to advance from the known to the unknown. The Jain procedure is as follows: Synstatis, analysis, synthesis.

Synstatis comes first: it is the state of mind prior to analysis; it is the definite cognition of a thing or idea as an isolated object; that condition of things to which analysis is to be applied. “This is what is really meant by unity, or identity, of the universe with the real which many philosophers proclaim.”

Analysis comes next: resolving, separating, or differentiating the parts, elements, properties, or aspects of the object of cognition.

Synthesis comes last: it is the putting together of the first vague indefinite cognition with the subsequent analysis to form a relational unity of a variety of aspects. Thus the next subject, the consideration of aspects, is introduced.