Jainism states that the universe is without a beginning or an end, and is
everlasting and eternal. Six fundamental entities (known as Dravya) constitute
the universe. Although all six entities are eternal, they continuously undergo
countless changes (known as Paryäy). In these transformations nothing is lost or destroyed. Lord Mahavir explained these phenomena in his Three Pronouncements
known as Tripadi and proclaimed that Existence or Reality (also known as Sat) is
a combination of appearance (Utpäda), disappearance (Vyaya), and persistence
The Jain philosophy believes that the universe and all its entities such as soul and matter are eternal, no one has created them and no one can destroy them.
Jains do not acknowledge an
intelligent first cause as the creator of the universe.
Jains do not believe that there is a supernatural power who does favor to us if
we please him. Jains rely a great deal on self-efforts and self-initiative, for
both - their worldly requirements and their salvation. Jainism appeals to common
sense. Jains accept only those things that can be explained and reasoned. Jains
believe that each living being is a master of his/her own destiny.
Jainism is a religion of purely human origin. It is propagated by self realized
individuals who have attained perfect knowledge, omniscience, and self-control
by personal effort and have been liberated from the bonds of worldly existence,
and the cycles of all future life and death.
In ancient times Jainism was known by many names such as the Saman tradition,
the religion of Nirgantha, or the religion of Jin. Jin is one, who has
conquered the inner enemies of worldly passions such as desire, hatred, anger,
ego, deceit and greed by personal effort. By definition, a Jin is a human
being, like one of us and not a supernatural immortal nor an incarnation of an almighty God. Jins are popularly viewed as Gods in Jainism. There are an
infinite number of Jins existed in the past. All human beings have the potential
to become a Jin.
The Jins are not Gods in the sense of being the creators of the universe, but
rather as those who have accomplished the ultimate goal of liberation of
sufferings through the true understanding of self and other realities. The
concept of God as a creator, protector, and destroyer of the universe does not
exist in Jainism. The concept of God's descent into a human form to
destroy evil is also not applicable in Jainism.
The Jins that have established the religious order and revived the Jain
philosophy at various times in the history of mankind are known as
Tirthankars. The ascetic sage, Rishabhadev was the first Tirthankar and Mahavir was the last
Tirthankar of the spiritual lineage of the twenty-four Tirthankars in the
In summary, Jainism does not believe in a creator God, however this does not
mean that Jainism is an atheistic religion. Jains believe in an infinite number
of Jins (Gods) who are self- realized omniscient individuals who have attained
liberation from birth, death, and suffering. Jains believe that from eternity, the soul is bounded by karma and is ignorant
of its true nature. It is due to karma soul migrates from one life cycle to
another and continues to attract new karma, and the ignorant soul continues to
bind with new karma. This way it provides a logical explanation of our
sufferings on Earth. It is traced to jiva and ajiva, the two everlasting, uncreated,
independent and coexisting categories. Consciousness is
which has no consciousness is ajiva.
There are five substances of
Dharma - the medium of motion
- the medium of rest
Akasha - space
Kala - time
Pudgala (matter) has form and consists of individual atoms (paramanu)
and conglomerates of atoms (skandha) which can be seen, heard,
smelt, tasted and/or touched. According
to Jains, energy, or the phenomena of sound, darkness, shade, heat,
light and the like, is produced by conglomerates of atoms.
The jiva (soul) has no form but, during its worldly career, it
is vested with a body and becomes subject to an inflow of karmic
`dust' (asravas). These
are the subtle material particles that are drawn to a soul because of
its worldly activities. The asrawas bind the soul to the
physical world until they have brought about the karmic result when
they fall away `like ripe fruit' by which time other actions have
drawn more asravas to the soul. With the exception of the
Arihantas (the Ever-Perfect) and the Siddhas (the Liberated), who
have dispelled the passions which provide the `glue' for the asravas,
all souls are in karmic bondage to the universe.
They go through a continuous cycle of death and rebirth in a personal
evolution that can lead at last to moksha (eternal release). In this cycle there are countless souls at different stages of
their personal evolution; earth- bodies, water-bodies,
fire-bodies, air-bodies, vegetable-bodies, and mobile bodies ranging
from bacteria, insects, worms, birds and larger animals to human
beings, infernal beings and celestial beings.
The Jain evolutionary theory is based on a grading of the
physical bodies containing souls according to the degree of sensory
perception. All souls are
equal but are bound by varying amounts of asravas
(karmic particles) which is reflected in the type of body they
inhabit. The lowest
form of physical body has only the sense of touch.
Trees and vegetation have the sense of touch and are therefore
able to experience pleasure and pain, and have souls.
Mahavira taught that only the one who understood the grave demerit and
detriment caused by destruction of plants and trees understood the
meaning and merit of reverence for nature.
Even metals and stones might have life in them and should not be dealt with
Above the single-sense jivas are micro-organisms and small
animals with two, three or four senses. Higher in the order are the jivas with five senses. The highest grade of animals and human beings also possess
rationality and intuition (manas). As
a highly evolved form of life,
human beings have a great moral responsibility in their mutual
dealings and in their relationship with the rest of the universe. It is this conception of life and its eternal coherence, in
which human beings have an inescapable ethical responsibility, that
made the Jain tradition a cradle for the creed of environmental
protection and harmony.