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Jaina Metaphysics by A.Chakravarti

  Jaina Metaphysics

Jaina Metaphysics speaks about the nature of reality. This world of reality consists of two items – Loka and Aloka, the concrete world which is the object of our experience and the beyond, which consists of pure space, respectively. The concrete world is constituted by 5 real categories which are Asthikayas. These are:

1. Jiva (soul)
2. Pudgala (matter)
3. Dharma (principal of rest)
4. Adharma (principal of motion) 5. Akasa (space)

These are eternal and uncreated by any external agency and in magnitude; it may be minute or huge. Since we saw the real and existing categories, they are called Kayas. Hence, the term “Asthikata” means an existent reality that is related to space. The material objects are related to space. This is quite obvious. Jiva or Soul is also considered to be Asthikayas. Living being is always associated with an organic body which is also an object in space. Because of this relation to a body, Jiva is also an Asthikaya.

Dharma and Adharma, the principle of rest and motion, are different from matter. They are of a subtle form like ether. Since they pervade the whole world space, they are also called Asthikayas. Space is also considered an existential real. Hence, space is also Ipso Facto an Asthikaya. Unlike the various idealistic systems of philosophy for which space is unreal, Jainism maintains that the space has a reality.

The nature of the Asthikayas is such that they manifest themselves through their various qualities and modes. These 5 existing reals or Asthikayas undergo change while maintaining their identity. They have three characteristics, appearing, disappearing and remaining permanent in spite of the above qualities. They are Utpada, Vyaya and Drowvya – creation, destruction and permanence respectively. These are the three fundamental qualities of real existence. The reality in process of development exhibit these 3 qualities of appearance, disappearance and underlying permanent identity called Drowvya. The above mentioned 5 Asthikayas exhibit this quality of change of development. For that reason, they are called Dravyas. Dravya means that which flows.

Kala or time has no relation to space. Hence, it is not included in the class of Asthikayas. But Kala or time has these qualities of Dravya. Kala is also considered as a Dravya. Hence, the class Dravyas consists of six items, the 5 Asthikayas and Kala or time. These six Dravyas are mutually interpenetrating. Though they exist together in the same world space, they maintain their individual nature. The nature of Dravya is described thus: That which maintains its identity while manifesting in various qualities and modifications and which is not different from Satta or substance is called Dravya. In Jaina Metaphysics, there is no unchanging substance or Satta. Satta or substance is manifesting itself through various qualities and modes. Hence, it is identical with Dravya or the development reality. Further, Dravya is defined thus : What all has substantiality as the dialectical triad of birth, death and permanence, and is the substratum of qualities and modes, is Dravya.

Here the three characteristics of Dravyas are described. First Dravya has the quality of Sat or existence. Secondly it has quality of permanence through birth and death. Thirdly, it is the substratum of attributes and conditions. The quality of “Sat” emphasises the substantial reality of Dravya. It is not merely the from of the intellect. It has existence in Rerum Natura. The triple quality of dialectical change is the second attribute. Utpada is appearance i.e., assuming new modification. This does not mean creation out of nothing. Creation by the flat of a will is not recognized by the Jainas.

Utpada therefore means that phase of the process of the development when a new form is assumed. Vyaya is losing the previous form. Here also it is different from absolute disappearance. It only means that phase in the process of development where the earlier form is replaced by the succeeding one. Dhruva refers to the persistence of the essential nature of Dravya which undergoes development and which makes both Utpada and Vyaya simultaneously possible. In fact, the process of development includes all the three phases. This fact in not only recognized by the scientists like Drawing and Spencer but by the great French philosopher Bergson who raised it to an important philosophical principle. Lastly, Dravya is the substratum of qualities and modes. Attributes and modifications will have no basis if they do not rest on something real. This does not mean the Dravya is merely a prop, supporting an alien fact the attribute; but still the Jainas do not admit that the attributes alone are sufficient to constitute a reality. For them, Esse is not Percipii. Attributes in order to be objective and not merely psychical do require an objective basis ; such a basis is Dravya. Finally it is to be noted that these three characteristics are inseparable from one another. Satta pre-supposes Utpada, Vyaya, Dhruvatva and also is the substratum. Similarly, process of development implies Satta, which again cannot exist apart from qualities and modes. Neither of the three can exist apart from the other two. In short, the three characteristics express the same essential nature of Dravya in the different ways.

In examining the nature of Dravya, we may attend to the underlying permanent substance or the changing modes. The former point of view is called Dravyarthika Naya and the latter Paryayartika Naya. According to Dravyarthika Naya, for example, the substance, gold is neither created nor can be destroyed. It exists as a permanent substance. But this gold may be made into various ornaments and other things. These are its modes or Paryayas. These modes are liable to change. One ornament may be melted and another made. In melting ornament, its shape is destroyed. In making a new ornament, a new shape is created. Hence creating a new shape and destroying the old shape are associated with the modes of the substance gold. Hence, these modes are associated with Utpada and Vyaya creation and destruction. Though substance and modes may be studied separately, still they should not be assumed to be exiting independent of each other. Substance cannot exist independent of its modes and mode cannot exist independent of the substance. What is true of the substance and its modes is equally true of the substance and its qualities. For example, the qualities of gold, which are yellow, heavy and malleable, are inseparably associated with the substance. The qualities are but the manifestation of the nature of the substance. No substance without its qualities and no quality without its substance, are independent.

Each of the six Dravyas has its own special qualities and modes. Let us take up the first Dravya, Jiva or soul. Its nature is Chethana or consciousness. Its essential qualities are perception and knowledge. These two Darsana and Gyana are called Upayoga. Jiva may be born as a Deva or as a man or as a hell being or an animal. These various stages of its existence are called its Paryayas or modes. Life in any one of these forms subjected to birth, growth and old age and death. These changes in its life are brought about by its association with Karma. The Jiva because of its association with Karma undergoes the above changes of birth, old age and death. This Jiva is called Samsara Jiva. Because of its intimate connection with Karma, Samsara Jiva is said to be impure. Its nature being impure, its qualities and modes are necessarily impure. When the Jiva completely liberates itself from Karma, it becomes pure. Then it is called Suddha Jiva, the pure self. In this pure state, its qualities are pure. The soul, which liberates itself from Samsara and realises its pure nature in Moksha, is not entirely distinct from the soul, which was in Samsara. They are not two different entities. For example, a gem picked up from the mine may be covered with impurities. But when it is purified and cut, the very same gem becomes brilliant. Even so, every Jiva in Samsara is in the shackles of Karma. When it breaks these chains and liberates itself, it attains its state of Nirvana.

The attributes of Samsaric Jiva are (1), life, i.e., its 10 pranas or life-principles, (2) Chethana or consciousness, (3) Upayoga – knowledge and perception or Gyana and Darsana which are the two Upayagas associated with Jiva or soul, (4) Prabhutva or Lordship capacity to take different status of existence in Samsara, (5) Kartha – who is the actor of his own Karmas, (6) Bhokta or enjoyer – he enjoys the fruits of his own Karmas; (describing the Jiva as a Kartha, the Sankhya view that the Purusha is not the actor but only the enjoyer is rejected. The statement that Jiva is a Bhokta rejects the Buddhistic view that the soul that acts and that which enjoys the fruits of its action are two different entities). The next (7) Dehamatra – of the same size as the body. Its nature pervades the whole of its body. This rejects the theory that the soul is a minute atom situated inside the particular organ of the body i.e., the heart. The next is (8) Amurtha – being a spiritual entity has no corporeal form and the last (9) Karma Samyukta – which means always in association with Karma.

The pure and liberated self has got its own 9 qualities. They are: (1) Pure and perfect self, (2) Perfect consciousness or Chethana, (3) Suddha Upayaga or pure Upayaga – consisting of Kevala Gyana and Kevala Darsana, (4) Lordship- having destroyed the Karmas the self attains perfect sovereignty, (5) he is true Kartha being entirely uninfluenced by the alien conditions i.e., self determination, (6) True Boktha – enjoying the transcendent and infinite bliss, (7) Spiritual in nature – has a form similar to the last body, (8) Completely devoid of corporeal form having destroyed the karmic body and (9) completely free from Karmic body – Karmanirumukta.

A living organism has 4 Pranas or vital forces. They are (1) Bala Prana consisting of Mano Bhala – strength of mind, Vak Bhala, strength of speech and Kaya Bala - strength of body, (2) Indrya Prana – which are the vital forces represented by the senses Sparsa – contact, Rasa – taste, Grana – smell, Sabda – sound, and Chakshu – visual sense thus the Indrya Pranas are five, (3) Ayush Prana – which is the duration of life and (4) Utchavasa Prana – respiration. These four main Pranas  become 10 when the subdivisions are taken into consideration. That which manifests through the 4 Pranas  and is living at present, was living in the past and will continue to live in the future, that is Jiva.

Pudgala or matter refers to the physical objects perceived by us. Pudgala exists in two forms, Paramanu primary atom and Skanda aggregates of atoms of molecules. These molecules or Skandas have the characteristics of touch, taste, smell, sound and colour. These aggregates may increase in volume or decrease, according as more molecules combined with or break away as the case may be. These Skandas are of 6 different forms, such as earth, air, water, shade the objects of the four senses, karmic matter and molecules which are unfit to become karmic matter. These 6 kinds of  Skandas are described thus: (1) Bhadra Bhadra, solid; (2) Bhadra – liquid; (3) Sukshma Bhadra – apparently solid by the shadow; (4) Bhadra Sukshma – minute particles evident to the senses; (5) Sukshma – minute and imperceptible and (6) Sukshma Sukshma – extremely minute. All these Skandas are constituted by Paramanu, the basis atom. Ordinary physical objects are all formed out of these basic primary atoms. Like Jiva, primary atom is also uncreated and indestructible. Some Indian systems of thought postulate different kinds of atoms corresponding to 4 Bhuthas, earth, air, fire and water. But according to Jaina philosophy, all atoms are all of identical nature. With their differences in composition, they produce various kinds of Dhathus such as earth, air etc. Hence, there is no qualitative differences among Paramanus.

Skandas constituted by Paramanus when they strike one another, produce sound. But the Paramanus cannot produce sound. Hence, they are said to be soundless. All objects of sense perception are constituted by Pudgala or matter. Anything that has the quality, colour, taste, smell, touch and sound, comes under this head. Not only objects perceived by the senses but also the sense organs are physical or material. The various Sariras  of the organic bodies of the Jivas are also physical or material. Manas or mind is also considered to be physical. The term Sarira have means all the 5 kinds of Sariras viz., Aoudarika Sarira, Vaikriyaka Sarira, Aaharaka Sarira, Thaijasa Sarira and Karmana Sarira. The term Karma Pudgala denotes minute material particles which constitute the Karmana Sarira of a Jiva. No- Karma-Pudgala refers to matter assimilated by the ordinary organic body through the process of digestion and metabolism.

Dharmastikaya is devoid of the sense qualities such as taste, colour, smell, touch and sound. Hence it is different from Pudgala or matter. It pervades the whole world. This description is also applicable to its opposite Adharmastikaya. The former is the principle of motion and the latter is the principle of rest. It is Amurtha or non-corporeal. It is not physical and hence sense qualities cannot be associated with it. It is not the aggregate of the simple elements as matter. It is co-existent with the world space. It is permanent and real. It forms indispensable condition of movement of physical objects and living beings. In itself, it is not capable of movement nor is it capable of creating movement in other thing. The analogy of water is used to illustrate its nature. Water is the necessary condition of the movement of fish. But water does not in any way impel the fish to move. Similarly, Dharmastikaya is the necessary condition of motion among physical objects of living beings. But it is not the cause of movement of those objects.

Adharmastikaya is the principle of rest. Its nature is quite similar to the  Dharmastikaya. It is also devoid of sense qualities. Hence it is also non-corporeal. It is co-extensive with Loka-Akasa. But it has its own special quality. It is the basic condition of rest. Because of this, the moving objects are brought to rest. The analogy of earth is given in this respect. Earth does not actively arrest the movement of objects – physical and living. But it serves as a place of rest for moving things. The existence of these two principles is postulated as a necessary condition of the world structure. The world is an organised system. It owes its organised systems to these two principles of Dharma and Adharma. Otherwise, material particles will be scattered through the whole space converting the cosmos into chaos. Then there will be no world as such. Though they themselves are Nishkriya Dravyas or non-active things, yet they form the necessary condition of motion or rest of things both living and non-living. In order to explain the systematic structure of the cosmos, Jaina philosophy introduces these two postulates of Dharma and Adharma. If these two principles exist within the limit of world space causing motion and rest, then things in motion must be moved forever and things at rest must be stationary forever. But our experiences are quite different. One and the same thing may be in motion or in rest. Therefore, Dharma and Adharma must not be considered as efficient causes. They are quite neutral in themselves. Without these two entities, the world is impossible and incomplete.

The Akasa term means space. What give accommodation to things living and non-living is called Akasa or space. According to Jaina metaphysics, space is objectively real. According to philosophical idealism, space cannot be real because it is considered to be self contradictory. But modern mathematicians do not consider space as self contradictory and impossible. It is assumed to be real. Space contains the other 5 Dravyas. That portion of space where these Dravyas exist is called Loka Akasa. Beyond this, there is empty space called Aloka Akasa or Ananta Akasa. No things exist in this infinite space.

Cannot Akasa or space be taken as a condition of motion and rest? Why should the two other categories Dharma and Adharma be postulated? Such a supposition would be impossible and conflicting with the facts; for wherever there is space, there should be free chance for motion and rest. But as a matter of fact, not a single thing living of non-living steps beyond the limit of Loka Akasa. Hence Akasa is not endowed with the function of motion and rest. If space cannot be the condition of motion and rest, these must be explained. Dharma and Adharma are such condition. Hence they are the necessary constituents of the system of reality. Dharma  Adharma and Akasa – all the three are inter-penetrating and co-incident. They pervade the whole world. These 3 are Amurtha Dravyas. They have no corporeal form. Ordinary physical objects are having sense qualities. Jivas have psychic qualities. These 3 Dravyas have no such differentiating characteristics. They are differentiated from one another according to their function.

Kala Dravya or time Kala or time is one of the Dravyas according to Jaina metaphysics. The whole world is a dynamic reality. Since it consists of real, which are constantly changing, the idea of development or change naturally implies time duration in which the development takes place. If development is taken to be real, then time duration which is the condition of development must also be real. The system of philosophy which dismisses time as unreal must also dismiss change and development as unreal. Since the Jaina thinkers recognize the reality of development in the world, they do postulate real time as an assessed condition of this development. Hence time is one of the real Dravyas according to Jaina metaphysics.

Kala or time is of two kinds: (1) the absolute or real time and (2) the conventional or relative time. Conventional or relative time is measured by the movement of physical objects. A period of relative time measured by an external object like the sun or the moon has a definite beginning and end. But real time, Dravya kala, is of an infinite duration. It has neither beginning nor end. Idealistic system of philosophy denies the reality of time. Time and space are considered to be unreal because they are supposed to be self contradictory in nature. The continental mathematicians such as Cantor, Peano and Frege have shown clearly the fallacy of the idealistic argument against the reality of time and space. The British mathematicians Bertrand Russell and Whitehead have emphasized the philosophical importance of these mathematical discoveries of the modern days. Thus according to Jaina metaphysics, time is not only a reality but it is also a potent factor in explaining the change and development in the real world. Hence, time is included in the class of Dravyas or real categories. Though it is endowed with existence, it has no Kayatva or corporeal form. Hence, it is not included in the class of Astikayas


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