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Jain Biology: Mobile Organisms I

Published: 14.10.2009
Updated: 02.07.2015

The mobile organisms an- classified into—two-sensed, three-sensed, four-sensed and five-sensed organisms.


The immobile organisms (sthāvaras) possess only one sense-organ, that of touch. Among the mobile organisms (trasa) are those which possess two sense-organs   touch and taste, Some of these are:

Earthworms, roundworms and Other worms; shells, conches and cowries; vāsīmukha, whose mouth is like a chisel at adze—insects such as Curculionidae suit this description; and many others. All of them are samūrcchima, i.e., they originate by generation acquivoca and their sexual organs are not developed. On the basis of their place of birth (yoni) and other variables, there are 200,000 varieties of organisms with two sense-organs.


Besides the two sense-organs mentioned above they also possess the sense-organ of smell. Some of these are:

All varieties of ants and white ants; bugs, centipedes and cochineal etc.They are of many kinds. As stated above, they are all samūrcchima and their sex organs are not developed. On the basis of their place of birth and other variables, there are 200,000 varieties of organisms with three sense-organs. (They do not possess eyes and ears).


Here the sense-organ of sight is added. Some of these are:

All types of flies, mosquitoes, bees, moths, butterflies, scorpions, and crickets etc. They are of many kinds. As above, there are 200,000 varieties of organisms with four sense-organs. (They do not have ears).


Here the sense-organs of hearing is added. They are classified into four categories:

  1. Denizens of hell
  2. Sub-human animals with five sense-organs
  3. Human beings
  4. Denizens of heaven or gods (devas)

Since they have been dealt with similarly in both this as well as in Uttarādhyayana Sūtra, we shall refer the reader to the following section for details, to avoid duplication.

Uttarādhyayana Sūtra

As can be seen from the synopsis above, the treatment of living organisms starts from verse no. 48 and the first few verses (up to 68) deal with the emancipated souls.

Mundane or Saṃsārī organisms are of two kinds; Immobile, i.e. devoid of the power of locomotion (Sthāvaras), and mobile, i.e. endowed with the ability of locomotion (Trasas). The sub-divisions of these two is slightly different here than in the preceding scripture. Sthāvarasare of three kinds: (a) Earth-bodied, (b) Water-bodied, and (c) Plants or vegetables. Fire-bodied and Air-bodied organisms are classified as they are not totally immobile.

(A) Earth-Bodied Organisms

First to be dealth with amongst the mundane organisms, are the organism whose bodies are the molecules of Earth. Anything that is dug out, i.e., raw earth—minerals, rocks, metal ores, precious stones, clay etc.,—is animate, psychical order of existence, i.e., the molecules of raw earth are not dead matter. Every molecule is united with a conscious principle—a soul—as its physical body. 'Being animate' means it possesses a sense-organ and has the ability to experience pleasure and pain through it. The sense-organ is that of touch which is also that of pain. Thus digging of earth or handlintg or processing raw earth amounts to imposing pain on the earth-bodied organisms. When processed by fire, water, etc. the organisms are killed and the soul transmigrates and the product from the earth is rendered inanimate.[1]

Firstly, they are divided into subtle (sukṣma) and gross (bādara) and both of them are again divided into underdeveloped (aparyāpta) and fully developed (paryāpta). The subtle ones are distributed all over the entire cosmos but the gross ones are found in a part of it. [These divisions apply to all immobile organisms (sthāvaras)].

Then follow the division of gross and fully developed into two kinds: smooth and rough. Smooth ones are of seven kinds:

  • Black, blue, red, yellow, white, pale dust, and clay.

The rough ones are of 36 kinds:

  • Stones etc. - Earth, gravel, sand, stones, rocks, rock-salt;
  • Metal ores - Iron, copper, tin, lead, silver and gold;
  • Minerals—Orpiment (arsenious trisulphide), Vermilion (mercuric sulphide, Realgar (arsenic disulphide), Sasyaka (dhātu viśeṣa), antimony, coral, mica, micadust,
  • Precious stones—Diamond, hyacinth, natron, aṅka, crystal, lohitākṣa, emerald, masāragalla, bhujamocaka, sapphire,

The maximum duration (life-span) of the earth-bodied organisms is 22 thousand years, the minimum being less than 48 minutes (antarmuhūrta).


All types of natural raw water—sea, river, lake, pond, well, etc. are animate and belong to the psychical order of existence, this is they are possessed of 'soul'. Molecules of water are their bodies. As in the case of earth-bodied organisms, they are endowed with the ability or experiencing pain through the sense-organ of touch, which as we know is also the sense-organ of pain. Processing, i.e., handling of raw water in any manner whatsoever imposes pain on these organisms and is therefore a sinful act. Until processed, the raw waterremains animate, processing - boiling, chlorinating, etc., kills these organisms and renders the water inanimate.

The gross and fully developed water-bodied organisms are of five kinds:

Pure water, dew, snow, fog, and exudation. Their varieties caused by differences of colour, smell, taste, touch, figure, and place are counted by thousands.

The maximum duration (life-span) of water-bodied organisms is seven thousand years, minimum being less than 48 minutes (antarmuhūrta).


All types of plants, growing from earth or from water or from other plants as well as the parts of plants—roots, tubers, trunk, branches, leaves, flowers, fruits, seeds, etc. are animate and belong to the psychical order of existence. They remain animate until they are subjected to processing—boiling, baking, roasting, etc. which renders them inanimate.

The gross and fully developed plants are of two kinds:

  1. Individual-bodied—each soul has its own gross body.
  2. Common-bodied—infinite souls have a common gross body

Those who have their own body severally are of many kind:

Trees, shrubby plants, shrubs, large plants, creepers, grass palmi plants with knotty stems, mushrooms, aquatic plain,, annual plants and herbs. (Details of these have been given in the section in Prajñāpanā Sūrtra above).

Plants which have organisms which have one common gross body are again of many types:

  • Āluya, Mūlaya (radish), ginger,
  • Hirilī, Sirilī, Sissirilī, Jāvaī, Keyakandalī, onion, garlic, Kuḍuṃbaya, Lohinihuya, Thihū, Kuhaga, Kriṣṇakanda, Vajrakanda, Suraṇa.
  • Assakaṇṇī, Sihakaṇṇī, Musumḍhi, turmeric, and many more.

The maximum duration (life span) of plant organisms is ten thousand years, minimum being less than 48 minutes.
[The section on plants has been dealt with more thoroughly in the previous scripture]


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Edited by:
Prof. Muni Mahendra Kumar

Ladnun-341 306 (Rajasthan, India)

First Edition: 2008 Printed at: Shree Vardhman Press, Naveen Shahdara, Delhi- 110032

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  1. Body
  2. Devas
  3. Niryukti
  4. Paryāpta
  5. Soul
  6. Sūtra
  7. Trasa
  8. Uttarādhyayana
  9. Uttarādhyayana Sūtra
  10. Ācārāṅga
  11. Āyāro
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