Principles of Jainism

The fundamental principles of Jainism can be briefly stated as follows.

  1. The first fundamental principle of Jainism is that, man’s personality is dual, that is, material and spiritual. Jaina philosophy regards that every mundane soul is bound by subtle particles of matter known as Karma from the very beginning. It considers that just as gold is found in an alloy form in the mines, in the same way mundane souls are found along with the Karma bondage from time eternal. The impurity of the mundane soul is thus treated as an existing condition.

  2. The second principle that man is not perfect is based on the first principle. The imperfectness in man is attributed to the existence of Karma in his soul. The human soul is in a position to attain perfection and in that true and eternal state it is endowed with four characteristics, viz., Ananta-darsana, Ananta-Jnana, Ananta-virya and Ananta-sukha, i. e., infinite perception or faith, infinite knowledge, infinite power and infinite bliss.

  3. Even though man is not perfect, the third principle states that by his spiritual nature man can and must control his material nature. It is only after the entire subjugation of matter that the soul attains perfection, freedom and happiness. It is emphatically maintained that man will be able to sail across the ocean of births and achieve perfection through the control of senses and thought.

  4. The last basic principle stresses that it is only each individual that can separate his own soul and the matter combined with it. The separation cannot be effected by any other person. This means that man himself, and he alone, is responsible for all that is good or bad in his life. He cannot absolve himself from the responsibility of experiencing the fruits of his actions. This principle distinguishes Jainism from other religions, e. g., Christianity, Islam and Hinduism.

No God, nor His prophet or deputy or beloved can interfere with human life. The soul, and that alone, is directly and necessarily responsible for all that it does. God is regarded as completely unconcerned with creation of the universe or with any happening in the universe. The universe goes on of its own accord. Because of this definite attitude towards God, Jainism is accused of being atheistic. It is true in the sense that Jainism does not attribute the creation of universe to God. But at the same time Jainism cannot be labeled as atheistic because it believes in Godhood, in innumerable gods, in Punya and Papa, i. e., merit and demerit, in religious practices, etc. According to Jainism the emancipated soul is considered as God and it is absolutely not concerned with the task of creation of this world.