Jainism: The Eternal and Universal Path for Enlightenment: 07.2 Jainism and Modern Physics (2)

Published: 04.10.2011
Updated: 02.07.2015

Principle of Complementarity

The principle of complementarity implies that opposites are complementary and, together they describe the real world. Niels Bohr who propounded the basics of quantum mechanics had great difficulty explaining it, and he did it through the principle of

Complementarity, considered to be the most revolutionary and significant concepts of modern physics. The Western philosophers and scientists had a lot of difficulty in understanding and developing quantum mechanics. Some experiments gave contradictory results, implying that sometimes light or a photon (or electron) behaves like a compact object i.e. a particle (like a solid ball) and some times like a wave such as a ripple we see in a pond. In the famous two slit experiment (Figure 7.2), a beam of photon shines through two slits and hits upon a photographic plate behind the slits. The experiment can be run in two ways: one with photon detectors right beside each slit so that the photons can be observed as they pass through the slits and /or without detectors so that the photons can travel unobserved. When the detectors are in use, every photon is observed to pass through one slit or the other and the photons essentially behave like particles. However, when the photon detectors are removed, a pattern of alternating light and dark spots, produced by interference of light are observed indicating that the photons behave like waves, with individual photon spreading out and surging against both the slits at once (Fig. 7.2). The outcome of the experiment then depends on what the scientists want to measure i.e. the properties of particles or waves. But how do photons "know" or realize that they are being observed by the detectors remains a mystery. In the living world, change of behaviour when being watched is a well known psychic phenomena but change of behaviour in the material world is baffling. Does it mean the particles have a psyche? Scientists don't agree with this interpretation but have explained it on the basis of plurality of attributes.

This dual behaviour of a photon could not be reconciled because of the basic nature of waves and particles were considered to be exclusive or different from each other. Bohr explained this by saying that contradictory behaviour is complementary and used the Chinese concept of Yin and Yang (Fig. 7.3), which are both opposite but exist together and are required for sake of completeness. This is easily understood in the framework of Anekāntavād (Chapter 3) which accepts that opposites and extremes allow us to learn the true nature of reality. As propounded in Jainism, reality can manifest different attributes at different times. It may be noted that, in contrast, Buddhism avoided extremes and Buddha favoured the path of the 'Golden Mean' to reconcile contradictory views. This is a fundamental difference between Jainism and Buddhist approach, but we will not go into this aspect here. Complementarity thus became the corner stone of quantum behaviour.


Principle of Symmetry

Nature loves symmetry. Symmetry has been the backbone of understanding nature. The life forms, galaxies, planets, trees, minerals, molecules, atoms etc are all symmetrical. There are many forms of symmetry. Left and right symmetry, mirror symmetry, time symmetry and so on. The conservation laws, on which both classical and quantum physics are based are an outcome of the symmetry principle. Elements (Mendeleeve's Periodic Table of elements) are arranged in eight fold symmetry. The 118 elements can be arranged in the form of octets, their properties repeat after every eighth member and so are the elementary particles. In fact, symmetry principle has been used as a powerful tool to predict the existence of many unknown particles by Gellmann, a Nobel Laureate and a profound thinker. He arranged the elementary particles in "eightfold way" and was eventually able to predict and discover quarks, the smallest constituents of matter known to day. It is known now that elementary particles (called hadrons) can be organized in octets (8) and decuplets (10) whereas leptons in nonets (9). The universe itself is known to be formed by super-symmetry.

Sometimes symmetry is also violated. Parity, an attribute of a nucleus, for example, is a mirror symmetry which is found to be violated in certain reactions. Thus existence of symmetry and its violation, both are of fundamental importance in understanding the nature of the basic processes governing the behaviour of fundamental particles.


Uncertainty Principle

Applicable mainly to the microworld, the Heisenberg's Uncertainty principle states that it is impossible to completely quantify all the parameters describing the state of a particle precisely. If measurement of some physical quantity is made, then according to quantum physics, the state of the particle is deemed to have changed instantly into a different state. It is not because of limitations of the instruments or their precision that one cannot measure the parameters accurately but that the measurement cannot be made without changing the state of the particle. For example, both of the parameters in the coupled (conjugate) pairs of energy (E) and time (t), or position (x) and momentum (p) can be known only within some minimum uncertainty ∆: (∆E∆t>ħ; ∆p∆x>ħ), defined by the Planck's constant h (ħ=h/2π), which is quantum of action and is very small (6.625x10-34 joule.sec.), but none the less, has finite value. Uncertainty principle is one of the fundamental principles applicable to the realm of all the physical microworld. This can also be extended to the realms of consciousness (jiva) because consciousness of the observer (or jyātā) is changing all the time by interaction with matter (fig.6.1).

The transfer of knowledge from the object to the knower changes both the object and the observer. This is precisely what happens according to the Uncertainty principle so that with every measurement, the object changes and it is not possible to determine its state completely. The Heisenberg's Uncertainty principle is silent about the knower. How does the measurement of an attribute of a physical object will change the state of the knower (jiva) has not been investigated by physics but Jainism asserts that any observation instantly brings about a change in consciousness.

Now let us frame the question in another way! If I hold "a particular perspective" of a thing or "concept", is it a limitation of my consciousness or it is the way the object reveals it to me. I take the premise that the human consciousness has no limitation of comprehension and is capable of conceiving many or all the perspectives at once. It is the object which exhibits different perspectives at different times, in different contexts. In other words "multiple perspectives" is the inherent quality of an object of the physical world. Thus Anekāntvād is not simply a multiview perception theory but indicates that reality manifests in multiple ways, sometimes at the same time. It is not a limitation of consciousness that it has limited capability of perception of the physical world. Neither it is looking at an object from different perspectives but that the object itself exhibits multiple perspectives which cannot all be known at the same time, even by the Omniscient Kevalis". Thus, in the physical realm, Anekāntvād is as fundamental as the Uncertainty Principle, which states that some properties cannot be measured accurately, because of the inherent nature of the behaviour in the microworld.

In a broader perspective, the Uncertainty Principle offers a choice, though limited, in behaviour of nature. In the domain of biology, such uncertainty can allow evolutionary changes. The uncertainty in energy levels, for example, provides a scope for a variance in chemical reactions, leading to different products and thus bring about evolutionary changes.


Exclusion Principle

The Principle, first enunciated by Pauli states that two elementary particles in the same "state" cannot exist at the same place. Nobody can state it better or more rigorously or elegantly than Kabir, when he, after he gained enlightenment said " When I am there, God is not there and when God is there I don't exist, because the space is too narrow to accommodate both of us (who are in the same state).

Separately, the various quantum numbers may describe only a part of the reality, but taken together they described the whole. In the microworld, we encounter two other phenomena which have some relevance in the present discussion: confinement and entanglement. The property of "confinement" of quarks in the quark-gluon plasma has been observed. Simply stated, quarks can not be isolated and can not exist in free state as particles, just as the soul can not exist without a body in a free state in this world. They remain confined in the gluon plasma like the soul is in the body. It will only be speculative to think of what other attributes will be observed as one goes to further finer constituents of quarks, if there are any.



Entanglement implies that all the particles in the universe, produced in the same process, behave in an inter-related manner, Briefly stated, when two systems of particles, of which we know the states, enter into temporary physical interaction due to known forces between them, and after a time of mutual influence, the systems separate again, then they can no longer be described in the same way as before. By interaction, the quantum states have become entangled. All the particles in the Universe were produced together at the time of Big Bang and therefore they are all entangled in some way. Conceptually it is similar to the Buddhist theory of Dependent-origination or sunyavād discussed above. Nothing is independent in the universe. This is what we have basically learnt from physics that everything and every process in the universe, howsoever trivial, affects everything else or from chemistry that something of everything exists in everything.

Greenstein and Zajonc in the quantum challenge exemplify another aspect of micro world of atoms. In the gross world, if we hit a ball on a wall within a room having two windows, the ball can go out only through one or the other window. In the quantum world, when an electron, proton or neutron his a barrier with two or more holes, they can go out of all the holes simultaneously. Notions of causality and of impossibility of being at the several locations simultaneously at the same time are shattered by the quantum theory. This is called the phenomena of superposition of being at two places at once and is related to the phenomena of entanglement. It breaks down our perception of spatial separation.

The quantum mechanics allows us to create the whole universe out of nothing because virtual particle pairs (matter and antimatter) can be created out of nothing (vacuum). The whole universe is virtual, created out of nothing, as Shankara said and the modern science agrees with this concept, at least in principle. Yet there are laws that govern the quantum processes and there are principles which cannot be violated. It is debatable whether any of these principles which are applicable to subatomic processes are also applicable to the soul, which apart from being non-material, is infinitely fine (ati-sukshma).

Thus we have seen that in the microworld, where quantum physics is applicable, particles show particle-wave duality. Wave mechanics give probability of a particle being present at any location but it can materialize when looked upon by an observer. A spread-out wave, when observed, suddenly becomes localized and become a particle. Thus we can say that looking changes possibility in to actuality. A quantum of light, for example, has no attributes till a measurement is performed. Quantum non-locality extends not only over space but also over time. Thus we can say that in quantum world, there is neither space nor time unless consciousness has chosen to collapse an event. We can invoke consciousness to explain delayed choice experiment, in which the particle changes its behaviour at the nick of time, even after it has already set out on a path, long ago, but no physical proof of "consciousness" has been found. We have also seen that two correlated photons are phase-tangled. Non-locality means communication or influence without exchanging signals through space-time and although non-locality of correlated photons cannot be used to transfer information, they are in some kind of "communication".

Some similarities between physical and sentient phenomena can be found. It is well known that looking can change the behaviour of sentient beings. It is claimed that joint meditation together can make the minds correlated or tangled and as a consequence, "intentionality" of one can be affected by the other. In case of correlated brains, consciousness is involved in establishing and maintaining correlation. It is possible to transfer thoughts (telepathy) in this state. To agree is to vibrate in phase in quantum correlation.

Quantum physics may not be the end of physics. One can speculate that even finer "particles" will be discovered as science progresses where not only duality but even tri-ality involving particles, waves and consciousness may have to be invoked to explain various phenomena. Or even multi-ality (Anekāntavād) may come into action where more attributes would come into play.

Science Sūtras

Having pointed out that some of the laws which operate upon the gross universe and the micro universe are different, and nature follows some principles, we briefly summarise the basic understanding of physics in the following Sūtras:

    1. The processes occurring in the physical universe are deterministic in the sense that they all obey certain laws.
    2. These laws are universal, applicable at all places, at all times and govern all processes.
    3. The universe can be divided in two parts, the macro (gross) and the micro (fine, sukshma). The laws governing these two regimes are different.
    4. The macro world as well as micro world is symmetric in nature in most attributes.
    5. The macro (visible to eyes and telescopes, as big as they can get) follows the laws of classical mechanics. The governing law is that the whole is the sum of parts. This is the law of addition of various properties of the gross world, like mass, volume, and parameters of motion etc.
    6. In both regimes, mass (M) and energy (E) are inter-convertible given by the simple relation E= Mc2, where c is the velocity of light. Mass can take many forms and so can energy but the sum of mass and energy of a system is always constant known as the "law of conservation".
    7. In any transformation, laws of conservation are obeyed. Energy can never be destroyed or created.
    8. Conservation laws are applicable to energy, momentum, charge, symmetry and a large number of other attributes.
    9. Time always moves in forward direction. This arrow of time is determined by increase in entropy (disorder).
    10. The micro world (molecules and smaller entities i.e. atoms, elementary particles, as small as they can get) is governed by quantum mechanics. Some laws of classical physics are not valid in this regime.
    11. In the micro world, new properties (attributes) come in to play. One such attribute is duality i.e. the same particle, such as photon, can behave as matter or wave at different times. It is possible that as one goes to finer and finer particles, new attributes (called quantum states) will arise.
    12. In the micro world, particles exist in certain discreet states. There is no continuous transition from one state to another but any change is a quantum jump.
    13. Some of these attributes may be contradictory. Contradictory properties are in fact complementary and enables us to understand the nature of the whole.
    14. Processes in the micro world follow certain principles: These are Principle of Uncertainty, Exclusion Principle, entanglement etc.
    15. Uncertainty principle requires that some of the attributes ofa particle (like position and momentum or energy and time) cannot be simultaneously measured with precision. This is not a limitation ofthe observer or measurement but a fundamental law which prohibits precise measurements of both the parameters in a coupled set.
    16. Exclusion principle ensures that two identical particles (identical in all the attributes) cannot coexist at the same time at the same place.
    17. Entanglement ensures that all the particles produced in the same process influence each other, no matter where they are.
    18. The whole universe can be built by 61 "elementary" particles which are basic building blocks of matter. These include four carrier particles (photon, graviton, W± bosons and Z0). Quarks and gluons are the smallest particles known so far.
    19. Certain "Forces" operate on any material particle in the universe. There are seven forces in all. Electricity, magnetism and gravitation follow the inverse square law. Nuclear forces are of two types, weak and strong. Electricity, magnetism and weak nuclear forces are manifestation of the same basic force called electro-weak. Thus we are left with three basic forces: Electro-weak, strong and gravitation. These may all possibly be manifestation of a single force resulting in a Grand Unification theory of all the forces of nature.
    20. Under the influence of the strong nuclear force, elementary particles combine to form aggregates. They, in turn, combine to form protons, electrons and neutrons,
      which make atoms and atoms combine to form molecules. Molecules combine under the influence of electromagnetic forces to form compounds and compounds
      form minerals. Minerals form rocks and rocks, under the influence of gravitational force, form planets, stars and galaxies (see Chapter 9 for the theory of association and dissociation).
    21. Presently the universe is made of 4% matter, 20% dark matter and 74 % dark energy.
    22. Space and time form the four dimensional universe but the universe may have more dimensions.
    23. Velocity of photons is the highest speed material particles can achieve. This is the basic principle of Special theory of Relativity.
    24. The present Universe, which is expanding, was created in an explosion, called Big Bang, 14 billion years ago. The previous history of the Universe is not known but it would fit in an oscillating Universe, successively going through expansion and contraction. Or maybe the Universe is in some kind of overall "Steady State".

In summary, the basic constituents of the physical universe are Mass (and Energy), Space and time and the three forces (Electro-weak, gravitation and strong).

We have discussed the major scientific concepts and summarized them in this style of Sutras so that they can be directly compared to Jain thinking. We now turn to Tattvartha Sūtra (chapter 5) where some of these aspects are mentioned to see what is common between science and Jainism.

Jainism believes that the Universe (material world) is real, perceived by mind through senses, which are not perfect and still evolving (Chapter 1). When mind perceives an object or a process, what is real? The object, the mind which perceives (acts like a mirror) or the perception? In the ultimate analysis, matter has many attributes (Anekāntavād), all of which cannot be perceived at once. Furthermore, the mind perceives an object or a phenomena based on its past experiences so that it is conditioned by the past perceptions and need not be perfect. The perception depends on the observer and as the consciousness evolves, the perception comes closer to truth (say from the perception of an ant to that of an elephant to that of a human). Only in case of a Kevali (omniscient) their perception, being supersensory and not depending on the imperfect sensory organs, is correct.

Jainism postulates that the finite Loka (Universe) is immersed in an infinite Aloka.

The Universe consists of two group of entities Jiva and Ajiva. Ajiva consist of five "substances": ākāsh (space), Dharmāstikāya, Adharmāstikāya, matter and time. The extent of these six basic "substances" define the universe and they all are eternal and inexhaustible. Jiva (psychical or sentient beings), and matter (Pudgalāstikāya) are active, i.e. capable of interacting, corporeal and mobile, and others (Ākāsh, Dharmastikāya, Adharmastikāya and time are passive or inert, are coexisting, and do not interfere with each other. "Substance" here does not mean "matter" but is taken to mean as basic constituent, Dravyas, reals or "varities1". Akāsh is not considered to be cosmic space but something which provide abode (space) to these "substances". Substances are subject to modification and can exist in various modes (forms). Ākāsh, Dharmāstikāya, Adharmāstikāya and time by themselves are incorporeal and stationary (motionless). Ākāsh, Dharmāstikāya and Adharmāstikāya are single entities, homogeneous, isotropic, uniform and indivisible. Akāsh, matter and time are made of infinitesimal indivisible units and akāsh is homogeneous in all directions. The smallest unit of Ākāsh is called pradesha and of matter is called Parmānu. A parmānu is dimensionless. One to infinite parmānus can occupy one pradesha. Parmānus or their clusters constituting matter have corporeal properties like touch, smell, taste and colour. Parmānus combine to make Varganās as discussed in Chapter 10 and give rise to various types of matter, their properties and powers.

Science agrees with existence of Space (Ākāsh), time and matter being the substances of the Universe and the Universe is expanding. Expanding into what?, one may ask. In to space surrounding it and if the Universe is going to expand for ever, the space surrounding it has to be infinite. But "Space" of modern cosmology is distorted by gravitational field and itself expands, according the current theories of the Universe, and is not strictly the Ākāsh of Jainism which is passive and cannot expand or contract or get distorted in any manner. This subtle difference between Space and Ākāsh is significant. The other two constituents are Dharmāstikāya and Adharmāstikāya. In Jainism, they are traditionally considered to be media of motion and rest respectively. Their equivalents in science are not known. Their existence can possibly explain the origin of "inertia" and can be the cause of first law of motion, according to which a body continues to be in uniform motion or condition of rest (unless acted upon by an external force), since Dharmāstikāya will facilitate motion and Adharmāstikāya will ensure that a body continues in a state of rest. Matter has form and energy has no form but the contradiction in shloka 5.3 and 5.4 of Tattavārthsutra can be resolved if matter can have form and is also formless, if we consider the interconvertibility of matter and energy.

Nityavasthitāny arupāni ca   (5.3)
Rupināh pudgalāh                  (5.4)

Could Dharmāstikāya and Adharmāstikāya be kinds of entities from which various forces emerge? Attempting to find agreement between science and Jainism, we may speculate that the three known forces (gravitation, electroweak and strong nuclear) can possibly originate from two entities, one a source of motion and the other resisting motion to fit the description of Dharmāstikāya and Adharmāstikāya. Since much effort is being made by scientists to unify all the forces in one, this speculation can be a subject of further investigation.

Jainism divides matter into six categories from gross to subtle. The examples given are Earth, water, light and shadow, smell and taste, Karmānu, and Parmānu respectively. There is some conflict in the order of subtleness in this sequence in view of our scientific understanding but we may agree with the end members of this sequence from grossest Earth to the subtlest Parmānu.

There are areas of geography (Jambu dweep etc, Chapter 2 of Tattvārthsūtra) and astronomy (Sun, Moon, Universe etc, Surya and Chandra Prajnapti and chapter 3 of Tattvārthsutra) which have major disagreements with our current understanding. The observations, as far as geography of the earth and astronomy of solar system and Milky Way etc are concerned, are firmly based on remote sensing and telescopic observations. There is no scope of modifying them and therefore the discrepancies existing in scriptures need to be corrected. Some of these aspects are mentioned in Appendix 1.

Having considered the physical universe from the view point of modern physics as well as Jainism, we now turn to jiva. Whether these laws applicable to subatomic particles are applicable to soul, which is infinitely small and fine is not clear. We consider three principles here: Anekāntvād, Mach's principle and Entanglement. Anekāntvād is equally applicable to microworld as well as sentient universe. We have already discussed above (as well as in Chapter 3) the similarity of Anekāntvād and Syādvād with quantum mechanical concepts in the domain of physical universe.


Mach's Principle and Ahimsa

Although Newton's laws of gravitation are well formulated and understood, we do not yet know how the inertial mass of a body comes into existence. Ernst Mach gave some idea on this vital question by proposing that the inertial mass of a body is solely due to interaction of other bodies in the universe (see e.g. Barbour and Pfister, 1995). The implication of Mach's principle is that inertial mass cannot exist in isolation. Now we may ask if this principle can be extended to jiva? We are living in a mutually and totally interactive world and nothing is independent of the other. This is true for life (jiva) or soul. Life certainly cannot exist in isolation. If all living species, except one, in the universe or even on Earth, or even in a country or even in a society vanish, the last one also will not be able to survive. If all the bacteria in our body die, we will also not survive. Every bacteria, every cell is vital to our existence. We exist because of them. Therefore the life is a result of interdependence (or interaction) with other living species. This is the essence of Sunyavād according to Nagarjuna and implies that one is nothing (Sunya), without life in the rest of the Universe. Zero or Sunya is a complete circle, complete, full and wholesome like the self but, without others, its value is zero. Its value is only contextual. Self is similar. It is complete but it has no value or existence without the rest of the life in the universe. Mach's principle for material world (mass) is the same as Sunyavād in the living world. The principle of non-violence immediately follows from the above discussion since the whole becomes a cause for the existence of a part of it (and vice versa) and both, the whole and the part, are indistinguishable. In effect, when, one does any harm or kills some body, howsoever primitive, one is actually killing a part of one self, because his very existence is interactive in nature and depends on others. It is like committing suicide to a minor extent. Thus the inertial mass, which is a physical entity and the consciousness, which is a spiritual attribute, are both interactive in nature and their origin is a consequence of interaction with the rest of the Universe. We will return to this argument at the end when we discuss entanglement.

Parasparopgraho jivānām and entangled souls

Entanglement is superposition of states of two or more particles, taken as one system.Two particles, which are miles apart or in opposite parts of the universe, behave in a concerted way. What happens to one of them affects the other instantaneously, regardless of the distance. Thus entanglement can transcend space. The same principle is valid for sentient beings and all jivas are entangled. In practice it implies that the best way to help one self is to help others.

We have discussed various aspects of Jainism and modern physics and find that there is some common principles involved in both. We thus see that by properly amalgamating Jain concepts with concepts of modern physics, it should be possible to ascertain the true nature of reality and make further predictions. Anekāntavād can be applied to test many predictions of modern science and may have a role to play in making a correct choice between different possibilities. We end this chapter by summarizing these areas of agreement and disagreement.

Jainism divides the universe into Jiva (soul) and Ajiva (matter) and treats the whole universe as an interplay between the two. Everything in the Universe, howsoever trivial, exists for the sustenance of the jiva. Nothing is useless as far as the jiva is concerned. Jainism asserts that both, jiva and ajiva, are governed by certain laws which are eternal, universal and cannot be violated. Science deals with only the matter and asserts that they are governed by laws of physics, which are universal and cannot be violated. Anekāntvād of Jains, applicable to both jiva and Ajiva can be compared with the principle of complementarity found to hold good for micro particles and is a basic concept in quantum physics.

Comparison of some Concepts



• Karmavad

• Causality

• Kramadhha paryay • Determinism

• Anekantvad

• Complementarity

• Syadvad

• Uncertainty

• "Parasparograh Jivanam"

• Entanglement

Anekāntvād in fact goes much beyond complementarity, i.e. instead of just two aspects, it considers infinite aspects. Jainism divides the universe in knower and the known. Both interact through knowledge, which affects both of them. Physics deals with the knowable objects through observation (knowledge) and asserts that observation modifies the object in some ways. This has led to the principle of Uncertainty, postulated by Heisenberg. In comparison, Jainism asserts that knowledge, or measurement modifies both the knower and the known, which of course is true in everyday experience. One of the fundamental aspects of Jainism is Karmavād, which is equivalent to Causality in physics; only it is applicable to sentient as well as non-sentient, both. This law has led to determinism in physics, that everything is predetermined, since it follows the laws. This is equivalent to krambaddha paryāy, a kind of determinism in sentient world. The question of origin of inertial mass in physics led Earnst Mach to postulate that the mass in a body arises because of the mass present in the rest of the universe. Their existence is mutual. This is equivalent to the one of the basic principles of Jainism "Parasparograho Jivānām", which has been reinterpreted here to mean that life at a place exists because of the presence of life in the rest of the universe. This is also similar to the concept of Sunyavad in Buddhism, as discussed above. Sunya is complete in all aspects, whole in itself. Everything in the universe, be it an atom, earth, moon, stars or galaxy is spherical or circular, like zero or sunya, complete in itself. But the value of sunya is zero, i.e. nothing till it is placed in context with some number (say 1). Once placed in context of another number, not only it acquires a value of significance, the value of the other number enhances ten fold. The same is true of Self. It is complete but is nothing till it is placed in the context of the universe or life elsewhere. This, according to Nagarjuna as discussed above, is one of the interpretations of sunyavād. One exists because of the others, otherwise one is nothing.

This Sūtra can also be considered as equivalent to the principle of entanglement, applicable to souls. These principles immediately lead to the principle of nonviolence, because if our life depends on others and all the souls are entangled, every life should be protected.

Although the universe is an interplay between jiva and ajiva, it is the jiva (self) which controls and directs the behaviour of ajiva. The presence ofjiva (ātmā) in the material (inanimate) body controls the body functions with the definite purpose of its sustenance. It has been proposed that the same is true of the whole earth and indeed the universe. Imagine the whole world as a large organism with living species and non-living (matter). The geologic evolution of the earth (such as, for example, the change from reducing environment containing ammonia, methane, carbon dioxide etc in the beginning required for primitive life to oxidizing atmosphere containing 22% of oxygen required for life of higher order) tells us that it has evolved or changed the environmental conditions in sync with the requirements of life so that the life may survive and evolve. This hypothesis, called "Gaia" proposed by the British astronomer Lovelock has very profound implications to the interaction between Jiva and Ajiva. The same hypothesis can be extended to the whole universe where the "Brahma" (or self) dictates all the physical processes to suit its own requirements and the whole universe can thus be considered as a mega-organism, every part of it working for the sustenance of the supreme Brahma. Buddhist cosmology goes a step further when it postulates that an appropriate Universe is created automatically and spontaneously where souls can undergo the consequence of their past karmas.

Based on the various points discussed in this chapter we find that there is some common ground between modern science and Jainism. Some of these aspects are listed in Table 7.1.

We see from this table that there are a few areas where physics and Jainism have basically the same views and apparently agree. However, it may be noted that there are many important areas where there is a serious conflict between them. We mention a few such examples here. Jainism believes that the universe is eternal, grossly never changing on a gross scale, that is similar to Steady State universe, whereas science asserts that it originated in a Big Bang. Whether the Universe is a Big Bang universe, Steady State universe or oscillating, cyclic universe is a continuing point of debate. Some of these aspects are discussed in the next chapter. Science has postulated basic constituents of the Universe as space, matter (and energy), time, forces and fields. Jainism agrees with the first three, i.e. Space, matter and time but has postulated Dharmastikāya and Adharmastikāya as the other two components, besides jiva. These are called the six reals constituting the Universe. Jainism classifies matter in six kinds, varying between gross and fine whereas science classifies matter into macro and micro; the macroworld follows classical physics and fine matter (microworld) follows quantum physics. Both physics and Jainism believe in laws of conservation applicable to certain quantities. For example, Jainism asserts that quantity of the six constituents of the universe, mentioned above, is constant and cannot be changed under any condition. Whereas science considers matter (energy), momentum and several other parameters are conserved in all changes. Science is working on the hypothesis that life can arise from matter but Jainism considers both as independent reals, one cannot be produced from the other and both are eternal. It should be emphasised that scientific concepts are correct since they are based on observations, and even admitting that some of them may be partly incomplete and subject to further modification, as more observations are made and theories are perfected, it is hard to find an agreement between many Jain and scientific concepts.

Surely there are areas of serious disagreement between Jain description related to geography and astronomy, units of time and space and the modern observations, an area in which science has made tremendous progress. They cannot be reconciled and obviously Jain concepts need to be corrected in light of modern scientific findings. Some of them are mentioned in Appendix-1.


Jainism - The Eternal and Universal Path for Enlightenment - Narendra Bhandari- jainismbook_final_28-5-2011.pdf

Edited by:
Acharya Vijay Nandi Ghosh Sūri

Published by:
Research Institute of Scientific Secrets from Indian Oriental Scriptures (RISSIOS), Ahmedabad

Online Edition 2011: HN4U


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  1. Adharmastikāya
  2. Adharmāstikāya
  3. Ahimsa
  4. Ajiva
  5. Aloka
  6. Anekantvad
  7. Anekāntavād
  8. Anekāntvād
  9. Body
  10. Brahma
  11. Buddha
  12. Buddhism
  13. Consciousness
  14. Dark Energy
  15. Dark Matter
  16. Dharmastikāya
  17. Dharmāstikāya
  18. Dravyas
  19. Environment
  20. Ernst Mach
  21. Heisenberg
  22. Jainism
  23. Jambu Dweep
  24. Jiva
  25. Karmas
  26. Karmānu
  27. Kevali
  28. Kevalis
  29. Loka
  30. Mach
  31. Meditation
  32. Niels Bohr
  33. Non-violence
  34. Nonviolence
  35. Omniscient
  36. Pradesha
  37. Pudgalāstikāya
  38. Quantum Mechanics
  39. Quantum Physics
  40. Quantum Theory
  41. Science
  42. Shloka
  43. Soul
  44. Space
  45. Sukshma
  46. Syadvad
  47. Syādvād
  48. Sūtra
  49. ākāsh
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