The Enigma Of The Universe ► 3 ►Jain Cosmology ► (1) What is Universe? ► Metaphysics

Posted: 26.10.2014

In the Jain Metaphysics, the term loka is used to denote the universe. The etymological meaning of the term loka is ‘that which is seen or observed’. [1] This is a general expression of universe. The descriptive definition is ‘The loka is that which is composed of six real entities’ [12], viz.,




Medium of Motion




Medium of Rest












Physical order of existence (matter and energy)




Psychical order of existence.’

Thus, the universe is nothing but the totality of six substances.

At some places, however, it is said to be composed of five astikāyas. Lord Mahāvīra, when asked by his disciple Gautama ‘What is loka?’ the Lord replied, ‘Gautama! the loka is composed of five astikāyas, i.e., extended substances, viz., the medium of motion, medium of rest, space, physical order of existence and psychical order of existence. [3] Here, kāla (time) is not included, because it is not an extended substance. The concept of astikāya, i.e., extended substance is a peculiar concept of Jainism. It means conglomeration or aggregate of pradeśas.[4] Pradeśa is defined as that part of a substance, which itself has no part and which is not detached from the substance. [5] But kāla[6] has no such units, so it can not be considered as an extended substance.

Now, let us first understand the term substance as described by Jain philosophy. First of all, it should be made clear that in the Jain philosophy, the terms reality (sat) and substance (dravya) are used more or less in the same sense. [7] In the Jain philosophy, the reality is defined as ‘possessor of an infinite number of attributes.’ [8] It is also defined as ‘that which is capable of continuous existence undergoing various changes of origination (utpāda) and cessation (vyaya).’ [9] The former is a constitutional definition whereas the latter is a functional one. Combining these definitions we come to a  broader  definition  of  the  term  substance,  ‘that  which  is  the substratum of attributes and modes is substance.’ [10] In other words, a  substance  or  a  reality  is  possessed  of  two  properties-quality, which is a persisting possession, and mode, which is transitory and flowing.

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