Jain Biology: Characteristic Features III

Published: 20.10.2009
Updated: 02.07.2015


Every mundane soul transmigrates from one form of living being to another one. This is called as "upapāta" or metempsychosis. In this description, it is given that from which type, the soul will come to this (present) life-form.

In the following eleven types of living beings, the humans except those which belong to akarmabhūmi (i.e. the region where agriculture, trade etc. are not the means of livelihood, but only through nature, the livelihood is obtained), antaradvīpa (i.e., the islands situated in between the main continent and the ocean) and which have a life-span of innumerable years, and the sub-humans except those which have a life­span of innumerable years can take birth—

1. Subtle earth-bodied
2. Gross earth-bodied
3. Subtle water-bodied
5. Subtle fire-bodied
6. Gross fire-bodied
7. Subtle air-bodied
8. Gross air-bodied
9. Subtle vegetation-bodied
11. Two-sensed
12. Three-sensed
13. Four-sensed
15. Five-sensed sub-humans born by agglutination

In the following types of living beings, the humans and the sub-humans as above and the gods belonging to the first and second heavens can take birth—

2. Gross earth-bodied
4. Gross water-bodied
10. Gross vegetation-bodied

In the 14. Infernal beings—only the humans which have accom­plished bio-potentials except those which belong to the akarmabhūmi, antaradvīpa and have life-span of innumerable years, and the five-sensed sub-humans except those which have life-span of innumerable years can take birth.

In the 16. Five-sensed sub-humans, born of the womb (or egg etc.)— only the humans and sub-humans except as described in the eleven types of beings, the infernáis and the gods upto the eighth heaven can take birth.

In the 17. Humans born by agglutination—only the humans and subhumans except as above and except fire-bodied and air-bodied beings can take birth. (Gods, infernáis, fire-bodied, air-bodied and humans and sub-humans of innumerable years' life-span cannot take birth here).

In 18. Humans born of womb—the infernáis except those from the seventh hell, the sub-humans except fire-bodied, air-bodied and those which have innumerable years' life-span, the humans except those which belong to akarmabhūmi, antaradvīpa and have innumerable years' life­span and all types of gods can take birth here.

In 19. Gods—only the five sensed sub-humans (both boni of womb etc. or born by agglutination) and the humans born of womb can take birth here. 20. STHITI - DURATION OF LIFE-SPAN

The total duration of the soul in a particular life-form is ils life-span (sthiti). The units of time used to measure the life-span are:

1 Samaya = individual unit of time Innumerable Samayas = 1 Āvalikā
4446 2458 3773 Āvalikās = 1 Prāṇa
7 Prāṇa = 1 Stoka
7 Stoka = 1 Lava
38 1/2 Lava = 1 Ghaḍi
2 Ghaḍi = 1 Muhūrta
30 Muhūrta = 1 Ahorātra
30 Ahorātra = 1 Māsa
12 Māsa = 1 Varṣa
8400000 Varṣa = 1 Pūrvāṅga
" Pūrvāṅga = 1 Pūrva
" Pūrva = 1 Truṭiāṅga
" Truṭiāṅga = 1 Truṭita
" Truṭita = 1 Aḍaḍāṅga
" Aḍaḍāṅga = 1 Aḍaḍa
" Aḍaḍa = 1 Avavāṅga
" Avavāṅga = 1 Avava
" Avava = 1 Hūhūkāṅga
" Hūhūkāṅga = 1 Hūhūka
" Hūhūka = 1 Utpalāṅga
" Utpalāṅga = 1 Utpala
" Utpala = 1 Padmāṅga
" Padmāṅga = 1 Padma
" Padma = 1 Nalināṅga
" Nalināṅga = 1 Nalina
" Nalina = 1 Arthanipurāṅga
" Arthanipurāṅga = 1 Arthanipura
" Arthanipura = 1 Ayutāṅga
" Ayutāṅga = 1 Ayuta
" Ayuta = 1 Prayutāṅga
" Prayutāṅga = 1 Prayuta
" Prayuta = 1 Nayutāṅga
" Nayutāṅga = 1 Nayuta
" Nayuta = 1 Cūlikāṅga
" Cūlikāṅga = 1 Cūlikā
" Cūlikā = 1 Śīrṣaprahelikāṅga
8400000 Śīrṣaprahelikāṅga = 1 Śīrṣaprahelikā

As explained in the 9th characteristic feature, the third type of samudghāta is undertaken when the death is in proximity. During this samudghāta, the soul projects its soul-units outside the present body and reaches the place of new birth, and returns back and then after death, it leaves the present body and takes birth in the new life-form.

In the present topic, it is described whether a soul belonging to a particular soul-group (life-form) would undertake the māraṇātika samudghāta or not.


When the soul leaves a particular life-form, it is called cyavana - departure. In the present topic, it is described whereafter departure, where they can take their reincarnation.


All life-forms are divided into four kinds of'order of existence', viz.,

  1. Inferna
  2. Sub-human
  3. Human
  4. God

In the present discussion, we get the information about the gati and āgati in a particular life-form.

In the following table, the numbers of gati and āgati are given, the serial number of them being the same as given above.

Sūtrakṛtāṅga Sūtra

Though the title of Chapter No.3 of Part II of this scripture is given as "Science of Nutrition (āhāra parijña)", a more appropriate title would be "Science of Living Organisms". More than 40 paragraphs deal with vegetable kingdom, i.e. Botany and the remaining ones deal with other classes of living organisms, i.e. zoology.

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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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Akarmabhūmi
  2. Antaradvīpa
  3. Body
  4. Cyavana
  5. Gati
  6. Palyopama
  7. Prāṇa
  8. Pūrva
  9. Pūrvāṅga
  10. Samaya
  11. Samayas
  12. Samudghāta
  13. Science
  14. Science Of Living
  15. Soul
  16. Sthiti
  17. Sūtra
  18. Sūtrakṛtāṅga
  19. Upapāta
  20. Āgati
  21. Āhāra
  22. Āvalikā
  23. āhāra
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