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Philosophical Foundations Of Jainism (An Introduction): [14] Relationship Between Jīva & Body

Published: 22.08.2008
Updated: 02.07.2015

In the ancient Jain literature, the word 'pudgala' has been used in many contexts so as to convey different shades of meaning. In one sense, it means mass. It is, therefore, used for all material substances possessed of mass. In the ancient Buddhist literature, it has been used to denote the soul (ātmā). Similarly, the ' Sūtrakṛtāṅga' which is a Jain canonical text also refers to the soul as 'uttama poggale'. Even in the 'Bhagavatī Sūtra', another Jain canonical text, one of the synonyms of Jīva is pudgala. Another meaning of 'pudgala' is non-living matter. When it is used in the sense of paramāṇu, 'pudgalī' could also denote 'Jīva'. In the present chapter, we use pudgala in the sense of physical existence.

The question is—what is the inter-relationship between the 'Jīva' and 'Pudgala'; in the words, that which is possessed of consciousness and what which is devoid of it. However, they cannot be totally independent, since they not only co-exist but intermingle with each other. Jīva is identified through the function of the sense-organs, which are active in the body of the Jīva. Out of the five sens-organs 'touch' is most important, since it is the largest in size and present in all parts of the body of the living organisms. The rest of the sense-organs have their specific centres in the body. All the sense-organs have their own physical structure, made of special pudgala. A 'Jīva' becomes 'Pudgalī' in the context of sense-organs. The liberated souls are not Pudgalī, since they do not possess a body or the sense-organs.

Neither Jīva can be transformed into Ajīva, nor Ajīva into Jīva. Only a Jīva which is bound with an Ajīva can become perceptible to us; otherwise a Jīva which is entirely free from its association with Ajīva is not perceptible to the sense-organs. The manifestation of Jīva in the worldly existence is only through the medium of Ajīva. The doctrine of the relationship between 'Jīva' and 'Śarīra' (body) has been an important topic for discussion in Indian philosophical parleys—known as 'taj-jīva taccharīrvāda'. It means—'that which is Jīva, is identical with its body'. Now, if 'Jīva' and body are one, where is the need to seek interrelationship between them? This is the view of Advaitvādins i.e., monists. But the dualists hold that Jīva and Pudgala are not the same. The question therefore is—what could be their relationship and how it is established?

The Bhagavatī Sūtra says, Do the souls and the material bodies, O Lord, exist bound with each other, in contact with each other, pervading each other, stuck with each other through mutual attraction and mutual identification?

Yes, they do.

For what reason, O Lord, is it said that the souls and the material bodies exist bound with each other, in contact with each other, pervading each other, stuck with each other through mutual attraction and unified with each other through mutual identification?

Gautama, suppose there is a lake that is full, full to the brim, overflowing, ever swelling and evenly full of water like a pitcher.

Now, some person floats a giant boat with hundred inlets and hundred pores. In such a situation, O Gautama, does the boat, with water constantly flowing in through the inlets and the pores, become full, full to the brim, overflowing, everswelling and evenly full of water like a pitcher?

Yes, it does so.

For this reason, Gautama, it is said that the souls and the material bodies exist bound with each other, in contact with each other, pervading each other, stuck with each other through mutual attraction and unified with each other through mutual identification.

Certain terminology conveys this relationship, e.g., 'ogāḍha'—parasparareṇa lolī bhāvam gatā i.e., a state where two independent substances such as fire and iron become so well integrated that when heated at very high temperature, it is difficult to distinguish between their separate identities. This kind of relationship proves integration of Jīva and body.

There is a term sineha used in the above passage in the Bhagavatī Sūtra. It has several meanings, out of which the one which is relevent here is—the power of attracting. It should not be confused with the popular meaning—'oilnes'. The sneha unites the Jīva and Ajīva.

'Snigdha rukṣadvā vidyut'—which means that when the positive (snigdha) and the negative (rukṣa) energies meet, they join together to produce lightening. The Jīva has positive energy whereas Ajīva is negative. The above stated philosophical aphorism indicates their interaction.

In the Encyclopaedia Británica, electricity has been accepted as the interaction of the negative and the positive electric charges. It accepts that the Hindus were the first to know this fact and corroborates it with the quotation from the Jain text—Tattvārtha Sūtra. Snigdha and ruksa are philosophical terms of Jain philosophy. Although, the literal meanings of these words have been in vogue, but have they are irrelevent. Technically, they are positive and negative electricity or energy.

The Western philosophers like Descartes, Spinoza, etc. - have raised a very interesting question—"what is the relationship between body and mind?" This question has been dealt with in Psychology as well, where 'mana' (mind) denotes 'Jīva'. Both Jīva and body are affecting each other. We can explain the human behaviour and attributes through this relationship. The medical science has proved that any disorder that starts from mind manifests itself into the body. (This is termed as psychosomatic disorder). The 'Nandi Sutra'—a Jain treatise says that 'Bhāva' (emotions) is the starting point of many a diseases. For example, if there is any disorder in liver (or spleen) in the body, the nature of a person would become irritative, and if there is any emotional disorder, it might cause the corresponding disease in the liver (i.e., the body). Both the 'psyche' and 'body' are thoroughly interconnected. If we consider the 'Jīva' from the holistic outlook, the discussion about it is equally useful in diverse disciplines like philosophy, psychology, medical science etc.. So, although Jīva (consciousness) and the physical body are distinct elements, yet they get intermingled with each other closely.


This is an edited version of the author's work:
Jain I Darshan ke Mool Sutra
Translated by Prof. M. P. Lele under the guidance of Muni Mahendra Kumar ji and Muni Dulahraj ji, Senior disciples of Acharya Mahprajna.

© Adarsh Sahitya Sangh. New Delhi Published by:
Kamlesh Chaturvedi
Adarsh Sahitya Sangh
210, Deendayal Upadhyay Marg
New Delhi - 110002 (India) Printed at:
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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Ajīva
  2. Bhagavatī Sūtra
  3. Body
  4. Consciousness
  5. Descartes
  6. Gautama
  7. Jain Philosophy
  8. Jīva
  9. Paramāṇu
  10. Pudgala
  11. Pudgalī
  12. Ruksa
  13. Rukṣa
  14. Science
  15. Sineha
  16. Snigdha
  17. Soul
  18. Sūtra
  19. Tattvārtha Sūtra
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