Philosophical Foundations Of Jainism (An Introduction): [17] Jīva Caitanya Saṃbandhavāda (Doctrine Of Relation Between Jīva And Consciousness)

Published: 25.08.2008
Updated: 02.07.2015

Quizzing has been a popular form to interpret philosophical riddles e.g., a question like—Is a Jīva, 'Jīva'?—Once Gautam asked Lord Mahāvīra—"Jīve ṇaṃ bhaṅte! jīve? jīve jīve?' The Lord replied - Goyama! Jīve tāv niyamā jīve jīve vi niyamā jīve" Here both the question and its answer have been put as a riddle. In tine Jain Āgamas, this style has been adopted at many a places. The direct reply to the above question would be—"Jīva is naturally (niyamataḥ) a jīva."

Here the word 'jīva' has two shades of meanings: Jīva is 'a living being' in one sense, while it is 'pure consciousness' in the other. The former means 'dravya' (substance), the latter is 'guṇa' (attribute). Many philosophers regard that dravya and guṇa are absolutely identical, where as the Naiyāyika and the Vaiśeśika schools say that they are different in all respects. They may have relationship through 'samavāya' (universal adherence). This leads us to the 'ekāntika' view, i.e., absolute abheda or bheda between Jīva and cetnā. Acharya Hemachandra calls for adoption of non-absolutistic outlook in dealing with such issues.

The Jain philosophy holds that Jīva and caitanya are inseparable. They have 'avinābhavi' relationship. They cannot exist without each other. One is dravya (substance) and the other is guna (attributes). This interpretation is 'Anekāntika'. You can reach the truth both ways through 'bhedātmaka' (analytical) or 'abhedātmaka' viewpoints. This way the integration of dravya and guna can be achieved. This is Anekānta view-point.

The Bhagvatī Sūtra has raised a very important question—"Is ātmā (soul) identical with jñāna or is it identical with ajñāna?"

The answer is—"Ātmā is identical with both jñāna and jñāna" but jñāna (knowledge) is ṇiyamataḥ (necessarily) ātmā'. Caitanya (consciousness) has also two states—one is the state of jñāna and the other is the state of ajnana. So, knowledge and soul are not one in all respects, for jñāna is the state of 'kṣyayopaśama' (destruction-cum- subsidence) of the knowledge-obscuring karma, while a jñāna is the state of kṣyayopaśama of the person who is also having the rise of 'darśana mohanīya' (view-deluding) karma. Only a person who is free from the rise of view-deluding karma or, in other words, whose, view is right can have jñāna as the state of his consciousness, but ajnana as defined above is the state of a person who is undergoing the rise of the view-deluding karma. The difference between the two is due to difference in the 'pātra' (the person). Jñāna is also differentiated in two states on account of the pātra who possesses it. If soul has 'samyak darśana' (right view), what is known is 'jñāna' (knowledge); and if it has 'mithyādarśan' (perverted view), it is 'ajñāna' (ignorance). This is the basis on which "bheda (difference)-abheda (identity)" between jñāna and caitanya could be explained. If we say that the two are absolutely identical in all situations, there could not be two shades like jñāna and ajnana.

Jīva and Jīvātmā

In Indian philosophy, two terms have been frequently mentioned 'jīva' and 'jīvātmā'. According to 'Vedānta', the original ātmā is jīva, which is Brahma. It is all pervading and is cumulative of all. Those souls which live in separate bodies are 'pratyag ātmā jīvātmā'. 'Vedanta' says that it is only jīvātmā which can get involved into wicked acts, not the original ātmā, which is Brahma. The use of the term jīvātmā aims at resolving the discrepanies which might come in the belief that jīva (or Brahma) is absolutely pure and ubiquitous. Thus the ātmā which indulges in evils is actually  jīvātmā and not jīva. As the jīvātmā is an embodied one or possessed of body, it indulges in evils. The jīva (or Brahma) has nothing to do with it.

In Sydāvādamañjarī, (a treatise on Jain Logic), Acharya Hemchandra has critically examined the above assertion. He contends that "where you get the attributes of a substance (or a thing), there only you also get the thing itself. For example, where you get the attributes of a pot (or earthenware), the pot also will be there, it cannot exist anywhere else. This is a truth beyond any controversy. Still, there are some philosophers who have become deluded on account of their pervert metaphysical doctrine. Hence, they do not accept such evident truth and try to establish the existence of reality of soul as something outside the body."[1]

The Jain philosophy has very clearly put forward its metaphysical belief in this context. When Lord Mahāvīra was asked whether the jīva and the jīvātmā were two distinct realities which were different from the attributes like great vow, intellect, knowledge, self-exertion, life-form, karma, psychic colour, belief, perception, activity, sentience etc., right forth rejected such statement as illogical and asserted that—jīva and jīvātmā were one and the same. It is a very important philosophical truth. Those who believe in the doctrine of pantheistic monism of Soul will be confronted with the problem viz., 'if the Soul is pure and Brahma, then why would be there so many vitiations?' Again, 'if the Soul is one, how is this possible?' Actually, in order to resolve this problem, they have coined a new word—jīvātmā .

All the philosophers who are Ekātmavādi (Pantheistic Monist), base their contention on 'Pratibiṃbavāda' (theory of reflection). In the 'Upaniśadas', it has been said—'eko ghaṭaḥ nānā rūpena pratibiṃbitaḥ' i.e., the same pot is reflected in various replicas. In the Jain canonical text, Sūtrakṛtāṅga Sūtra, we get a reference to this theory as follows—"Just as the same cluster of soil is perceived in the various forms, so also the same cluster of sentience (knowledge) is perceived in various forms."

Although the above reference supports the Pantheistic Monism, but the Jain philosophers have expressed their doubt about such a theory. (They say that the mirror would reflect only those features which are there in any particular thing and not from any other thing).

For the sake of argument, even if it is accepted that all action which is not in the original (biṃba) could get reflected in the image. If the sun is unclouded, its reflection in water would also be like it, how can it be "a clouded sun"?

The doctrine of multiplicity of souls is directly perceived. One cannot deny that all individuals are separate. If we consider the multiplicity of souls as the reflection, then whatever is there in the original object should be there in its reflections. If there is neither good acts not evil acts in the original Soul (Brahma), how they would get appeared in the reflection? From where they would crept in there?

The Jain philosophy accepts independent existence of each of all different souls. Every soul has its own 'substance'. There is, therefore, no need for the Jain philosophy to invent a new theory of reflection. Jīva and jīvātmā are one and the same. Although we find use of both words, their meaning is the same.

If we hold that non-attached ātmā and the one which is attached to matter through Karma are different, we would also fall into a philosophical trap—for, if there are many individual souls, each ātmā is to be considered as pervading the whole śarīra (body) and is therefore, anitya (impermanent). Now, no limited substance can be permanent—this is an accepted theory. That is to say, whatever is unlimited is eternal, but whatever is limited cannot be so. Then God also would become anitya. The Vedanta had to take recourse to ekātmavāda (Monstic Doctrine of Soul) in order to come out of this trap of anitya. So it had to create the concepts like jīvātmā in order to explain 'nānātmavāda and pratyag ātmā.
This way the Jain philosophy avoids the zig-zag of creating the web of nānātmavāda, ekātmavāda and biṃbapratibiṃbavāda.


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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
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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Abheda
  2. Acharya
  3. Acharya Hemachandra
  4. Acharya Hemchandra
  5. Ajñāna
  6. Anekānta
  7. Anitya
  8. Bheda
  9. Body
  10. Brahma
  11. Caitanya
  12. Consciousness
  13. Dravya
  14. Guna
  15. Guṇa
  16. Hemachandra
  17. Jain Logic
  18. Jain Philosophy
  19. Jñāna
  20. Jīva
  21. Karma
  22. Mahāvīra
  23. Monism
  24. Soul
  25. Sūtra
  26. Sūtrakṛtāṅga
  27. Vaiśeśika
  28. Vedanta
  29. Āgamas
  30. Ātmā
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