Jain Biology ► [02] Scriptural View Of Life ► Soul And Body

Posted: 01.10.2009

According to Jain scriptures, every living organism is an organic unity of two distinct entities: a non-material entity called soul or spirit and a material entity called body. The soul which is the central entity of Jain system is eternal, indestructible and Uncreated. Its characteristic nature is consciousness (cetanā), i.e., soul and consciousness are coextensive. Wherever there is life, there is consciousness, liven the lowest class of living organisms is possessed of it. But this does not mean that in all living organisms explicitness of consciousness is identical. E.g. in one-sensed organisms with earth-bodies, it is mostly latent and implicit, while in humans, it is mostly explicit and in certain exceptional cases of men having highest spiritual purification, it may be supernormal.

The soul is entirely distinct from matter and cannot be apprehended by sense-perception; hence it is non-corporeal. The attributes colour, smell, taste, etc., which are invariably associated with matter, are totally absent in the case of soul.

The consciousness (cetanā) is manifested in two ways:

  1. Cognition - action or faculty of knowing, including sensation, perception, conception etc., and
  2. Conation - desire or volition: exertion of will etc.

Besides these two, conduct or behaviour, which is also assumed to be the natural manifestation of life is also associated with soul.

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