Concept of Substance in Jainism

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According to Jaina’s substance is defined as the substratum of qualities and modes. It is divided into two broad categories namely astikaya (extended) and anastikaya (non-extended). Time or Kal is the anastikaya dravya. The astikaya dravyas are subdivided into two namely- jiva and ajiva. There are again four ajivas namely- dharma, adharma, akash and pudgala. Together they are called the pancastikaya. Consciousness is the essence or the essential characteristics of the Jiva. Every soul from the lowest to the highest possesses consciousness. The degree of consciousness may depend according to the obstacles of the karma. Pure consciousness is to be found in the emancipated souls where there is no shred of karma. The soul in its intrinsic nature possesses infinite faith, infinite bliss, infinite knowledge and infinite power.

Jivas are further divided into those who are liberated (mukta) and those who are bound (baddha). A mukta Jiva is one who possesses pure consciousness and is a liberated soul who has exhausted all karma. It is also called Siddha. All Siddha’s are considered as God in Jainism. They don’t possess a body but possesses perfect vision, knowledge, power and bliss. All Tirthankaras and Kevaljnanis become siddha at the end of their life. They never return again to the cycle of pain, pleasure, life and death. The bound souls are further divided into mobile (trasa) and immobile (sthavara). Sthvara lives in the atoms of earth, water, fire and air and in the vegetable kingdom and have only one sense- that of touch.

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The mobile souls are again classified as those who are having two senses(worms), three senses(ants), four senses(bees) and five senses(higher animals and men). Dharma is the principle of motion and helps in the movement of matter and soul. For example: Water providing the medium for fish to move. It doesn’t have consciousness or knowledge and doesn’t possess colour or body or senses. Dharma itself doesn’t produce motion but mediate motion in other bodies. It is the medium of activities. Adharma is the principle of rest and without it rest and stability is not ossible in the universe. It helps to rest soul and matter. For example: People rest in the shade of a tree. It cannot however arrest the movement of any moving object. It doesn’t have consciousness or knowledge and doesn’t possess colour or body or senses. Akash or space accommodates all the extended substacnes: the jivas, pudgala, dharma, adharma It is all pervading, infinite and made of infinite space-points.

Though Space is imperceptible, its existence is known by inference. Substances which have extension can exist only in space and this is called space. There are two kinds of space: Lokakasha(filled space) and Alokakasha (empty space). Motion is possible in the former but not the later. Lokakasha contains all the world where there is life and movement. Alokakasha stretches infinitely beyond the former. At the summit of the lokakasha is Siddhashila, the Abode of the liberated souls. Matter is called Pudgala which etymologically means ‘that which is liable to integration and disintegration. ” Material substance can combine together to form larger and larger wholes and can also break up into smaller and smaller parts.

An atom (paramanu) is the smallest part of matter which cannot be further divided. Two or more atoms can combine together to form compounds. Our bodies and nature are the compounds of material atoms. Mind, speech and breath are also products of matter. Pudgala possesses the four qualities of colour, taste, smell and touch. Sound is not an original quality but is later produced by the accidental modification of matter. Time (kal) is anastikaya because it doesn’t extend in space. It is infinite.

One and the same time is present everwhere in the world. The continuity, modification, movement, newness and oldness of substances are possible only because of time. It is not perceived but inferred from its characteristics. Time consists of an infinite number of time units. Time has been divided into two categories namely paramarthika (real) and vyavaharika(empirical). Paramarthika kal makes continuity or duration possible and is infinite, one and indivisible. Vyavaharika kal can be divivded into moments, hours, days, months and years.

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Concept of Substance in Jainism. (2019, May 01). Retrieved from

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