The Nature Of Reality ► [06] Categories Of Being

Posted: 13.07.2005

The Jainas divide all existents into three main categories:

  1. those which are sentient;
  2. those which are material;
  3. those which are neither sentient nor material.

"Sentient" here refers to the jiva or soul, which is characterized by consciousness.
"Material" designates atoms (pudgala) possessing

  • form/color,
  • taste,
  • smell, and
  • palpability.

The third category, called arupi-ajiva. is understood to include four insentient, formless, yet existent substances (dravyas):

Although "soul" is unquestionably the most important of these categories for the Jaina, our discussion of the existents cannot begin there; we must first understand the context of temporal, spatial, and material factors in which the soul finds itself the very fabric of bondage from which it strives to escape.

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Chapter 3: The Jaina Path of Purification, 1979