Jain Biology ► [01] Biology : Science Of Living Organisms ► Introductory

Posted: 31.08.2009

The word Biology is defined as Science of living beings, dealing with the classification, morphology, physiology, nutrition, origin, and reproduction etc. of living organisms, i.e., animals and plants. Modern Biology is an experimental science capable of verification and not a descriptive or passive discipline based on observation of nature. It is considered as one subject, the emphasis being on unity amongst diversity rather than on description of diverse organs and organisms. MAN is included in it both as part and parcel of the ecosystem as well as the only organism capable of influencing it for better or for worse.

Biology divides the entire psychical order of existence into two domains, Animal kingdom and Vegetable kingdom or plants. They can be distinguished from their morphology and anatomy.

The word 'Animal' means—an organised living being, endowed (more or less perceptibly) with life, sensation and voluntary motion. Popularly the word is also used to mean—animal other than man, or sub-human animal; while the word 'Plant' means—living organism generally capable of living wholly on inorganic substances and having neither the power of locomotion nor special organs of sensation or digestion; member of vegetable kingdom. Popularly the word is frequently restricted to smaller plants excluding trees and shrubs. In this essay, the word 'plant' is used in the wider sense to mean trees, shrubs, herbs, grasses, i.e., the entire vegetable kingdom.

In Biological world, plants and animals are connected by the food chain. Green plants make food for themselves and also for animals. Animal food consists of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and water. Plants draw minerals and water from the soil but prepare the rest. Photosynthesis and transpiration [1] are restricted to plants. Other vital processes like digestion, respiration and growth are common to both plants and animals. Circulatory and nervous systems of animals have no parallel in plants. Photosynthesis consumes carbon dioxide and releases oxygen. Respiration in plants and animals does the reverse and so these two gases are balanced. Thus Biology has two branches:

  1. Zoology, the branch of Biology dealing with animal kingdom and the physiology, classification habits, etc., of its members.
  2. Botany, the branch of biology dealing with vegetable kingdom or the science of Plants.

In this essay, we shall try to compare the dissertation on this subject given in the Jain scriptures with known facts given by modern Biology, in simple language avoiding technical terms as far as possible. Let us begin with the scientific view of what life is.

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