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Jain philosophy is the oldest Indian philosophy that separates body (matter) from the soul (consciousness) completely. Jain philosophy deals with reality, cosmology, epistemology (study of knowledge) and Vitalism. It attempts to explain the rationale of being and existence, the nature of the Universe and its constituents, the nature of soul's bondage with body and the means to achieve liberation.
Jain texts expound that in every half-cycle of time, twenty-four tirthankaras grace this part of the Universe to teach the unchanging doctrine of right faith, right knowledge and right conduct. Jain philosophy means the teachings of a Tirthankara which are recorded in Sacred Jain texts. The distinguishing features of Jain philosophy are:
Jainism strongly upholds the individualistic nature of soul and personal responsibility for one's decisions; and that self-reliance and individual efforts alone are responsible for one's liberation.
According to the Jain texts, the vitalities or life-principles are ten, namely the five senses, energy, respiration, life-duration, the organ of speech, and the mind. The table below summaries the vitalities, living beings possess in accordance to their senses.
|Senses||Number of vitalities||Vitalities|
||Four||Sense organ of touch, strength of body or energy, respiration, and life-duration|
||Six||The sense of taste and the organ of speech in addition to the former four|
||Seven||The sense of smell in addition to the former six|
||Eight||The sense of sight in addition to the former seven|
|Nine||The sense of hearing in addition to the former eight|
|Ten||Mind in addition to the above-mentioned nine vitalities|
In the animal world, the five-sensed beings without mind have nine life-principles with the addition of the sense of hearing. Those endowed with mind have ten with the addition of the mind. According to Tattvarthasutra, a major Jain text, "the severance of vitalities out of passion is injury". According to the Purushartha Siddhyupaya, "non-manifestation of passions like attachment is non-injury (ahiṃsā), and manifestation of such passions is injury (hiṃsā)." This is termed as the essence of the Jaina Scriptures. Vegetarianism and other nonviolent practices and rituals of Jains flow from the principle of ahiṃsā.
The knowledge of these reals is said to be essential for the liberation of the soul.
Right faith, right knowledge, and right conduct (together) constitute the path to liberation.— Tattvārthasūtra (1–1)
|1. Mithyātva||The stage of wrong believer (Gross ignorance)|
|2. Sasādana||Downfall from right faith|
|3. Misradrsti||Mixed right and wrong belief|
|4. Avirata samyagdrsti||Vowless right belief|
of Right conduct)
|5. Deśavirata||The stage of partial self-control|
Mahavratas (Major Vows)
|6. Pramattasamyata||Slightly imperfect vows|
|7. Apramatta samyata||Perfect vows|
|8. Apūrvakaraņa||New thought-activity|
|9. Anivāttibādara-sāmparāya||Advanced thought-activity (Passions are still occurring)|
|10.Sukshma samparaya||Slightest delusion|
|12.Ksīna kasāya||Destroyed delusion|
|13.Sayoga kevali||Omniscience with vibration / Omniscience with Yoga [ Mind or Speech or Bodily Activity]|
|14.Ayoga kevali||The stage of omniscience without any activity / Omniscience without Yoga [ Mind or Speech or Bodily Activity]|
Those who pass the last stage are called siddha and become fully established in Right Faith, Right Knowledge and Right Conduct.
According to Jainas, the world is composed of two different kinds of substances, the Jīva (conscious) and the ajīva (unconscious). These are the uncreated existing constituents of the Universe which impart the necessary dynamics to the Universe by interacting with each other. These constituents behave according to the natural laws and their nature without interference from external entities. Dharma or true religion according to Jainism is Vatthu sahāvō dhammō translated as "the intrinsic nature of a substance is its true dharma."
The five unconscious (ajīva) substances are:
According to the Jain philosophy, there are infinite independent souls. These are categorised into two—liberated and non-liberated. Infinite knowledge, perception and bliss are the intrinsic qualities of a soul. These qualities are fully enjoyed unhindered by liberated souls, but obscured by karma in the case of non-liberated souls resulting in karmic bondage. This bondage further results in a continuous co-habitation of the soul with the body. Thus, an embodied non-liberated soul is found in four realms of existence—heavens, hells, humans and animal world – in a never-ending cycle of births and deaths also known as samsāra. The soul is in bondage since beginningless time; however, it is possible to achieve liberation through rational perception, rational knowledge and rational conduct. Harry Oldmeadow notes that Jain ontology is both realist and dualist metaphysics.
In Jainism, karma is the basic principle within an overarching psycho-cosmology. It not only encompasses the causality of transmigration, but is also conceived of as an extremely subtle matter, which infiltrates the soul—obscuring its natural, transparent and pure qualities. Karma is thought of as a kind of pollution, that taints the soul with various colours (leśyā). Based on its karma, a soul undergoes transmigration and reincarnates in various states of existence—like heavens or hells, or as humans or animals.
Jains cite inequalities, sufferings, and pain as evidence for the existence of karma. Jain texts have classified the various types of karma according to their effects on the potency of the soul. The Jain theory seeks to explain the karmic process by specifying the various causes of karmic influx (āsrava) and bondage (bandha), placing equal emphasis on deeds themselves, and the intentions behind those deeds.[incomplete short citation] The Jain karmic theory attaches great responsibility to individual actions, and eliminates reliance on supposed existence of divine grace or retribution. The Jain doctrine also holds that it is possible for us to both modify our karma, and to obtain release from it, through the austerities and purity of conduct.
Jain cosmology denies the existence of a supreme being responsible for creation and operation of universe. According to Jainism, this loka or Universe is an uncreated entity, existing since infinity, immutable in nature, beginningless and endless. Jain texts describe the shape of the Universe as similar to a man standing with legs apart and arm resting on his waist. The Universe according to Jainism is narrow at top and broad at middle and once again becomes narrow at the bottom. Mahāpurāṇa of Ācārya Jinasena is famous for his quote:[incomplete short citation]
Some foolish men declare that the creator made the world. The doctrine that the world was created is ill advised and should be rejected. If god created the world, where was he before the creation? If you say he was transcendent then and needed no support, where is he now? How could god have made this world without any raw material? If you say that he made this first, and then the world, you are faced with an endless regression.
According to Jainism, time is beginningless and eternal. The Kālacakra, the cosmic wheel of time, rotates ceaselessly. The wheel of time is divided into two half-rotations, Utsarpiṇī or ascending time cycle and Avasarpiṇī, the descending time cycle, occurring continuously after each other. Utsarpiṇī is a period of progressive prosperity and happiness, while Avsarpiṇī is a period of increasing sorrow and immorality. Each of this half time cycle consisting of innumerable period of time (measured in Sagaropama and Palyopama years) is further sub-divided into six aras or epochs of unequal periods. Currently, the time cycle is in avasarpiṇī or descending phase with the following epochs. The aras defined in Jain texts are:
In utsarpiṇī the order of the aras is reversed. Starting from Duḥṣama- duḥṣamā, it ends with Suṣama-suṣamā and thus this never ending cycle continues. Each of these aras progress into the next phase seamlessly without apocalyptic consequences. The increase or decrease in the happiness, life spans and length of people and general moral conduct of the society changes in a phased and graded manner as the time passes. No divine or supernatural beings are credited or responsible with these spontaneous temporal changes, either in a creative or overseeing role, rather human beings and creatures are born under the impulse of their own karma.
The early Jains contemplated the nature of the earth and universe and developed a detailed hypothesis on the various aspects of astronomy and cosmology. According to the Jain texts, the universe is divided into 3 parts:
During the each motion of the half-cycle of the wheel of time, 63 Śalākāpuruṣa or 63 illustrious men, consisting of the 24 Tīrthaṅkaras and their contemporaries regularly appear. The Jain universal or legendary history is basically a compilation of the deeds of these illustrious men. They are 24 Tīrthaṅkara, 12 Chakravartī, 9 Baladevas, 9 Vāsudevas and 9 Prativāsudevas. Besides these there are 9 Narada, 11 Rudras, 24 Kamdeva, 24 Fathers of the Tirthankaras, 24 Mothers of the Tirthankaras and 14 patriarchs (Kulakara) who are also important figures in Jain universal history.
Jainism made its own unique contribution to this mainstream development of philosophy by occupying itself with the basic epistemological issues, namely, with those concerning the nature of knowledge, how knowledge is derived, and in what way knowledge can be said to be reliable. Knowledge for the Jains takes place in the soul, which, without the limiting factor of karma, is omniscient. Humans have partial knowledge – the object of knowledge is known partially and the means of knowledge do not operate to their full capacity. According to Tattvārthasūtra, the knowledge of the basic Jaina truths can be obtained through:
Pramāṇa are of five kinds:
The first two are described as being indirect means of knowledge (parokṣa), with the others furnishing direct knowledge (pratyakṣa), by which it is meant that the object is known directly by the soul. Jains came out with their doctrines of relativity used for logic and reasoning:
One of the most important and fundamental doctrines of Jainism is Anēkāntavāda. It refers to the principles of pluralism and multiplicity of viewpoints, the notion that truth and reality are perceived differently from diverse points of view, and that no single point of view is the complete truth.
Jains contrast all attempts to proclaim absolute truth with andhagajanyāyah, which can be illustrated through the parable of the "blind men and an elephant". In this story, each blind man felt a different part of an elephant (trunk, leg, ear, etc.). All the men claimed to understand and explain the true appearance of the elephant, but could only partly succeed, due to their limited perspectives. This principle is more formally stated by observing that objects are infinite in their qualities and modes of existence, so they cannot be completely grasped in all aspects and manifestations by finite human perception. According to the Jains, only the Kevalis—omniscient beings—can comprehend objects in all aspects and manifestations; others are only capable of partial knowledge. According to the doctrine, no single, specific, human view can claim to represent absolute truth.
Anekāntavāda encourages its adherents to consider the views and beliefs of their rivals and opposing parties. Proponents of anekāntavāda apply this principle to religion and philosophy, reminding themselves that any religion or philosophy—even Jainism—which clings too dogmatically to its own tenets, is committing an error based on its limited point of view. The principle of anekāntavāda also influenced Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi to adopt principles of religious tolerance, ahiṃsā and satyagraha.
Syādvāda is the theory of conditioned predication, which provides an expression to anekānta by recommending that the epithet Syād be prefixed to every phrase or expression. Syādvāda is not only an extension of anekānta ontology, but a separate system of logic capable of standing on its own. The Sanskrit etymological root of the term syād is "perhaps" or "maybe", but in the context of syādvāda, it means "in some ways" or "from a perspective". As reality is complex, no single proposition can express the nature of reality fully. Thus the term "syāt" should be prefixed before each proposition giving it a conditional point of view and thus removing any dogmatism in the statement. Since it ensures that each statement is expressed from seven different conditional and relative viewpoints or propositions, syādvāda is known as saptibhaṅgīnāya or the theory of seven conditioned predications. These seven propositions, also known as saptibhaṅgī, are:
Each of these seven propositions examines the complex and multifaceted nature of reality from a relative point of view of time, space, substance and mode. To ignore the complexity of reality is to commit the fallacy of dogmatism.
Nayavāda is the theory of partial standpoints or viewpoints. Nayavāda is a compound of two Sanskrit words—naya ("partial viewpoint") and vāda ("school of thought or debate"). It is used to arrive at a certain inference from a point of view. An object has infinite aspects to it, but when we describe an object in practice, we speak of only relevant aspects and ignore irrelevant ones. This does not deny the other attributes, qualities, modes and other aspects; they are just irrelevant from a particular perspective. As a type of critical philosophy, nayavāda holds that all philosophical disputes arise out of confusion of standpoints, and the standpoints we adopt are, although we may not realise it, "the outcome of purposes that we may pursue". While operating within the limits of language and seeing the complex nature of reality, Māhavīra used the language of nayas. Naya, being a partial expression of truth, enables us to comprehend reality part by part.
The Jain morality and ethics are rooted in its metaphysics and its utility towards the soteriological objective of liberation. Jaina ethics evolved out of the rules for the ascetics which are encapsulated in the mahavratas or the five great vows.
||1. Ahiṃsā||Not to hurt any living being by actions, speech and thoughts|
|2. Satya||Not to lie or speak what is not commendable.|
|3. Asteya||Not to take anything if not given.|
|4. Brahmacharya||Chastity / Celibacy in action, words & thoughts|
|5. Aparigraha (Non-possession)||Detachment from material property.|
||6. digvrata||Restriction on movement with regard to directions.|
|7. bhogopabhogaparimana||Vow of limiting consumable and non-consumable things|
|8. anartha-dandaviramana||Refraining from harmful occupations and activities (purposeless sins).|
||9. samayika||Vow to meditate and concentrate periodically.|
|10.desavrata||Limiting movement to certain places for a fixed period of time.|
|11.upvas / Paushad||Fasting at regular intervals / Living a day of Life as similar to a Jain Monk with Fasting.|
|12.atihti samvibhag||Vow of offering food to the ascetic and needy people|
These ethics are governed not only through the instrumentality of physical actions, but also through verbal action and thoughts. Thus, ahimsa has to be observed through mind, speech, and body. The other rules of the ascetics and laity are derived from these five major vows.
Jainism does not invoke fear of or reverence for God or conformity to the divine character as a reason for moral behaviour, and observance of the moral code is not necessary simply because it is God's will. Neither is its observance necessary simply because it is altruistic or humanistic, conducive to general welfare of the state or the community. Rather it is an egoistic imperative aimed at self-liberation. While it is true that in Jainism, the moral and religious injunctions were laid down as law by Arihants who have achieved perfection through their supreme moral efforts, their adherence is just not to please a God, but because the life of the Arihants has demonstrated that such commandments were conducive to the Arihant's own welfare, helping them to reach spiritual victory. Just as the Arihants achieved moksha or liberation by observing the moral code, so can anyone, who follows this path.
The most elaborate and well-preserved Indian theory of atomism comes from the philosophy of the Jaina school, dating back to at least the 6th century BC. Some of the Jain texts that refer to matter and atoms are Pancastikayasara, Kalpasutra, Tattvarthasutra and Pannavana Suttam. The Jains envisioned the world as consisting wholly of atoms, except for souls. Paramāņus or atoms were the basic building blocks of matter. Their concept of atoms was very similar to classical atomism, differing primarily in the specific properties of atoms. Each atom, according to Jain philosophy, has one kind of taste, one smell, one color, and two kinds of touch, though it is unclear what was meant by "kind of touch". Atoms can exist in one of two states: subtle, in which case they can fit in infinitesimally small spaces, and gross, in which case they have extension and occupy a finite space. Certain characteristics of Paramāņu correspond with that of sub-atomic particles. For example, Paramāņu is characterized by continuous motion either in a straight line or in case of attractions from other Paramāņus, it follows a curved path. This corresponds with the description of orbit of electrons across the Nucleus. Ultimate particles are also described as particles with positive (Snigdha i.e. smooth charge) and negative (Rūksa – rough) charges that provide them the binding force. Although atoms are made of the same basic substance, they can combine based on their eternal properties to produce any of six "aggregates", which seem to correspond with the Greek concept of "elements": earth, water, shadow, sense objects, karmic matter, and unfit matter. To the Jains, karma was real, but was a naturalistic, mechanistic phenomenon caused by buildups of subtle karmic matter within the soul. They also had detailed theories of how atoms could combine, react, vibrate, move, and perform other actions, which were thoroughly deterministic.
Jainism had a major influence in developing a system of philosophy and ethics that had a major impact on Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. The scholarly research and evidences have shown that philosophical concepts that are typically Indian – Karma, Ahimsa, Moksa, reincarnation and like – either have their origins in the shramana traditions or were propagated and developed by Jain teachers. The sramanic ideal of mendicancy and renunciation, that the worldly life was full of suffering and that emancipation required giving up of desires and withdrawal into a lonely and contemplative life, was in stark contrast with the brahmanical ideal of an active and ritually punctuated life based on sacrifices, household duties and chants to deities. Sramanas developed and laid emphasis on Ahimsa, Karma, moksa and renunciation.
Jain philosophy arose from the shramana traditions. In its 2500 years post-Mahavira history, it remained fundamentally the same as preached by Mahavira, who preached essentially the same religion as the previous Tirthankara. Harry Oldmeadow notes that the Jain philosophy remained fairly standard throughout history and the later elaborations only sought to further elucidate preexisting doctrine and avoided changing the ontological status of the components. The schisms into Śvetāmbara and Digambara traditions arose mainly on account of differences in question of practice of nudity amongst monks and liberation of women. Apart from these minor differences in practices, there are no major philosophical differences between the different sects of Jainism. The Tattvārthasūtra, which encapsulates major philosophical doctrines, is accepted by all traditions of Jainism. This coherence in philosophical doctrine and consistency across different schools has led scholars like Jaini to remark that in the course of history of Jainism no heretical movements like Mahayana, tantric or bhakti movement developed outside mainstream Jainism. Thus, there are traditions within Jainism, but basically the same philosophy that is at the core of Jainism.
As per the tradition, Jain Sangh was divided into two major sects:
The now defunct Yapaniya sect followed the Digambara practice of nudity and eating from the hands while standing up along with Śvetāmbara beliefs and texts. They notably also permitted their ascetics to be "half-clothed" (ardhambara) in public areas only. The Yapaniya sect was absorbed into the Digambara community during the medieval period.
The period of 16th to 18th century was a period of reforms in Jainism. The following schools arose during this period :
Recent events lead to dissatisfaction with the monastic tradition and its related emphasis on austerities saw the arising of two new sects within Jainism in the 20th century. These were essentially led by the laity rather than ascetics and soon became a major force to be reckoned with. The non-sectarian cult of Shrimad Rajchandra, who was one of the major influences on Mahatma Gandhi, is now one of the most popular movements. Another cult founded by Kanjisvami, laying stress on theological determinism and "knowledge of self", has gained a large following as well.
Jains hold the Jain doctrine to be eternal and based on universal principles. In the current time cycle, they trace the origins of its philosophy to Rishabhanatha, the first Tīrthankara. However, the tradition holds that the ancient Jain texts and Purvas which documented the Jain doctrine were lost and hence, historically, the Jain philosophy can be traced from Mahavira's teachings. Post Mahavira many intellectual giants amongst the Jain ascetics contributed and gave a concrete form to the Jain philosophy within the parameters set by Mahavira. Following is the partial list of Jain philosophers and their contributions:
This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.