Scientific Vision Of Lord Mahāvīra ► [02] The Model of the Universe in Bh.S & Its Scientific Assessment ► What is the Universe?

Posted: 27.05.2009

The Jain view of cosmos cannot be unerstood untill and unless the Jain view of space becomes clear. According to Jainism, space is infinite because we cannot conceive of any limit beyond which space does not exist. But it is divided into two parts, viz.; cosmic and supra-cosmic. The cosmic-space is one in which the sentient and the insentient do find accommodation. In fact, what is cosmic-space is the cosmos. This is the reason the universe has been defined in two ways. According to Bh.S unierse (loka) is a collective form of five substances, viz.; dharmāstikāya (the medium of motion), adharmāstikāya (the medium of rest), ākāśāstikāya (space) jīvāstikāya (soul) and pudgalāstikāya (matter)."[1] Indrabhuti Gautama (the chief disciple of Lord Mahāvīra) raised a question with reference to the universe. The Lord Mahāvīra answered to the question. The conversation went on as follows:

Gautam: "What is this universe, O Lord!"

Mahāvira: "O Gautama! The universe is composed of five extensive substances, viz., dharmāstikāya (the medium of motion), adharmāstikāya (the medium of rest), ākāśāstikāya (space) jīvāstikāya (soul) and pudgalāstikāya (matter)."[2]

It means the space where these entities are found together is universe. According to the scripture Uttardhyayana [3] and all other latter works, the universe is consisting of six substances including time with the above five entities. There can be no movement without dharma i.e. the medium of motion and no rest without adharma i.e. the medium of rest. Therefore the part of space in which these two mediums are spread over is called the cosmic space or universe. The remaining space is simply empty. The empty or void space outside the universe is known as Supra-universe (Aloka).

According to the the scripture Sthānāṅga, what is existent has always its opposite.[4] On the basis of the very reference the Jain cosmology accepts that there is supra-universe also.[5] Without it the universe has no meaning. The supra-universe is nothing but pure and endless space. The whole universe is very small in comparison to it The universe looks like a continent in a boundless ocean of the supra-universe.[6]

The multiformity of the cosmos is only on account of the multiformity of the interaction of the two.[7] When one analyzes any object of the world, he will find it either sentient or insentient or both. Thus, the universe is the combination of the two basic realities i.e. living and non-living. The five or six substances mentioned above are noting but the elaboration of the two.

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