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Concept of Jiva in Jainism

Jiva (the soul) is a beginningless, endless and eternal entity.

Jiva is self-proven. Jiva is so called because it remains alive in all the three phases of time-past, present, future.

An entity having sentience is called jiva. Jiva is called Atma (the soul). Jivas are infinite and multifarious.

"Chetana" is one of its names and one of its characteristics. Atma is a sentient, formless substance, It has no word, form (colour), taste, smell and touch. It is free from faults and is formless. It is a collection of many sentient minute space points.

The activity of sentience is the characteristic of the soul. It is manifested through knowing, perceiving, joy and sorrow. The soul has the power to contract and expand. It can stay in a small body like that of an ant and also big body like that of an elephant.

External Characteristics

The soul receives food through the senses and excretes it; it remains awake and sleeps. It labours and also rests. It experiences the feeling of fear. It strives for self-defence. It copulation and is born through copulation. It increases and decreases. It collects various things.

Internal Characteristics

Sentience (chetana) is the internal characteristic of the soul. Sentience is found in every living being, be it in a small or a large size. This power is seen as less or more according to the obstruction of karmas.

Atma pervades the whole body.

It receives the Karma Pudgalas (Karmic Matter) and takes various births according to its Karma.

It also becomes liberated by annihilation of its karmas.

Thus, there are two types of Jiva :

(1) The liberated soul
(2) the bound soul

Divisions and sub-divisions of Jiva

The soul which has fully and completely destoryed all Karmas, which does not to take birth again, which is without a body, is faultless and formless, is called a liberated (mukta) soul. There are infinite liberated souls.

Those, bound by various Karmas, move in the circle of birth and death and take to various bodies. They are called bound transmigratory souls.

There are two types of transmigratory souls -

(1) Trasa (mobile)
(2) Sthavara (immobile)

Mobile Jivas

Those that move according to their will, contract or expand their body, cry, experience fear and terror, etc are trasa jivas

Birth :
Trasa jivas are born in 8 ways :

(1) through eggs-birds, etc.;
(2) through uterine bag-elephants, etc;
(3) through the womb-cows, humans ,etc,;
(4) through juice - insect;
(5) through perspiration - lice, bugs, etc,;
(6) through breaking open the ground-locusts, etc,;
(7) asexually through excreta, urine etc; - ants, flies, etc,;
(8) in the bed or a pot (kumbhi) - hellish beings and, gods, etc.

Divisions :

Trasa Jivas are of four types according to the senses :

1 Having 2 senses - Souls having 2 senses, viz., the body and the mouth; such as conches, shells, earth-worms, etc.

2 Having 3 senses - Souls having 3 senses, viz., the body, the mouth and the nose; such as lice, bugs, big ants, etc.

3 Having 4 senses - Souls having four senses viz., the body, the mouth the nose, and the eyes such as mosquitoes, scorpions, spiders, etc.

4 Having 5 senses - Soul having five senses, viz., the body, the mouth, the nose, the eye and the ear, such as the residents of hell, the lower animals, human beings and gods.

Sthavara - immobiles Jivas

They are sthavara Jivas who have soul in their body but who do not try to remove their misery or derive happiness.

Such souls have only one sense, viz the body. Such soul are of five types.

(1) Pruthvikaya (having the body in the form of earth) - the souls of the earth; such as red earth, white earth, sand, stone, salt, diamond, mica etc.

(2) Apkaya (kaving the body in the form of water) - the Jivas of water; such as rain-water, ice-water, fog, frost, etc.

(3) Teukaya (having the body in the form of fire) - the Jivas of fire; such as sparks, flame, light, submarine fire, furnace, etc.

(4) Vayukaya (having the body in the form of wind) - the Jivas of wind such as winds of various types, storms, typhoons, hurricanes etc.

(5)Vanaspatikaya (having the body in the form of vegetation) - the Jivas of vegetation; such as fruits, flowers, creepers, grass, vegetables, etc.

There are divisons and sub-divisions of these Jivas : -

198 types of gods
308 types of human beings.
48 types of animals and
14 types of residents of hell, and plants
Literature - For further study please read "Jiva-Vicara" "Tattvarthasutra".


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