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Jain Biology: Zoology II

Published: 23.10.2009
Updated: 02.07.2015


Para nos. 77 to 81 deal with the vertebrate animals which are possessed of five sense-organs. The process of reproduction in their case is very much similar to that of the humans requiring two parents and generally as described above. However while humans are viviparous, the sub-human animals are of three kinds:

  1. Viviparous—animals which bring forth their young in a developed state and whose embryo develops within its mother, obtaining nourishment from maternal tissues, e.g., placenta. All placental mammals are viviparous and so are certain animals (in botany germinating while still attached to the parent plant).
  2. Oviparous—animals which produce their young by means of eggs and lay eggs at the stage when there has been little of any development of embryo.
  3. Ovoviviparous—animals which produce their young by means of eggs which develop and hatch within its mother's body and may obtain nutriment therefrom but is still separated from its mother by membranes of the fertilized egg.

Phrase, "tao kāyāo abhiṇivaṭṭamānā aṃdaṃ vegayā jaṇayaṃti, poyaṃ vegayā jaṇayaṃti" refers to this alternative manners of birth of the young from the mother's womb: "abhinivaratmāna" means emerges out from the mother's body; "amdam" means egg; and "potam" means fully developed infant.

These sub-human vertebrate animals are of three kinds:-

1. Aquatic animals 2. Land animals 3. Aerial animals

  1. AQUATIC ANIMALS: Para 77 deals with aquatic animals, (jalacara). Their subdivision in this scripture is identical to that given above in Uttarādhyayana, viz.; fishes, turtles and tortoises, crocodiles and alligators, Magaras, whales & dolphins. Some of them are born as eggs and some are brought forth as fully developed young animal. Their varieties caused by (difference of) colour, smell etc., are counted by thousand.
  2. LAND ANIMALS: Pp. 78 to 80 deal with two types of terrestrial or land animals (sthalacara)—quadrupeds and reptiles, the latter again being of two kinds—snakes and lizards. All these are again sub-divided into many kinds as under: the quadrupeds are of four kinds on the basis of the shape of their feet.[1]
    1. Solidingular—animals with solid hoof, as horses; (ekakhura)
    2. Biungular—animals with cleft hoof as cattle; (dvikhura)
    3. Multiungular—animals as elephants; (gaṇḍipada)
    4. Animals having toes with nails, as lions; (sanakhapada)

    The reptiles are of two kinds:

    1. Those which are limbless and walk on their breasts, as snakes, pythons, āsālika and mahoraga.
    2. Those which have short limbs and walk on their arms as all varieties of lizards such as iguanas, ichneumons, chameleons, geckos, etc. all varities of rodents such as rats, mice, porcupines, etc. frogs, khoras, mongooses, and many others.

    (These names are not to be found in Uttarādhyayana but they are given in Prajñāpanā).

    In the case of reptiles, some are brought forth as eggs while some are born as fully developed young ones.

  3. BIRDS AND FLYING ANIMALS: The birds and flyng animals (khecara), are dealt with in para.81. On the basis of the types of their wings they are divided into four kinds:
    1. Those with membranous wings as bats
    2. Those with feathered wings as common birds
    3. Those with wings which never open[2]
    4. Those with wings which never close

This sub-division of the flying animals is again identical to that given in Uttarādhyayana. Samudaga, the third type mentioned above are said to live outside the human habitat. The passage, "as long as they are young, they are hatched by their mothers' warmth" is special to these organisms.

After the completion of the treatment of vertebrate sub-human animals with five sense-organs, as above, we would have expected that organisms with four, three and two sense-organs would be dealth with. Instead, we find the following three paras dealing with parasities and vermin and there is no indication whether these are possessed of two or three or four sense-organs.


Para. 82 deals with mobile organisms which originate and grow on the animate as well as inanimate bodies of various mobile-as well as immobile organisms. They obtain their nourishment from the nutritive fluids (humors) which are produced in these or by these bodies. Similarly, para. 83 deal with the vermin originating and growing in the excreta - filthy substances as urine, faces etc.,—of the humans as well as sub­human mobile organisms (immobile organisms are excluded). Similarly para. 84 describes the vermin 'carmakīṭa', i.e., a skin parasite which originates in the living or dead bodies of mobile as well as immobile organisms. There is no further dissertation about these organisms except the usual statement that they are of thousands of varieties because of the difference in their colour, place etc.

Term, 'anusuya' in para. 82 indicates the parasitic nature of the organisms which are born on the bodies of other organisms. Similarly term, 'duruvasambhava' in para. 83 and 'khuraduga' in para. 84, indicate vermin infesting excreta and the skin of other organisms respectively.


The rest of the chapter, i.e., paras. 85 to 100 is devoted to the dissertation of the four remaining immobile organisms, viz., (a) water-bodied; (b) fire-bodied; (c) air-bodied; and (d) earth-bodied organisms.

(a) WATER-BODIED ORGANISMS: Para.85 deals with those water-bodied organisms which are multiformed-yonikas, i.e., which originate and grow in the form of water on or in the bodies of manifold mobile and immobile organisms. Para. 86 deals with those water-bodied organisms which are water yonikas, i.e., which originate in water produced by manifold mobile and immobile organisms. Para. 87 deals with those water-bodied organisms come forth in water-bodies produced by other water-bodies. And finally para.88 deals with those water-bodied organisms which come forth as mobile organisms in the water produced by water bodies. Thus we have four different yonikas.

The organisms which are born on or in the bodies of other organisms have molecules of water as their bodies. And then it is said that this water body is produced by wind, is condensed by wind and is transported by wind. It moves upward with an upward wind, downwards with a downward wind and moves in the horizontal direction if the wind moves horizontally, (they are of several kinds such as) mist (water-vapour precipitated in droplets smaller and more condensed than those or rain), hoarfrost (ice crystals-formed by condensation of water vapour below freezing point), snow, hailstones (pellets of frozen water falling in shower), dew (water-vapour condensed on cool surfaces on or near the ground) and rainwater. (Note: all these are varieties of RAW water produced as NATURAL phenomena). The water-bodied organisms obtain their nourishment from the nutritive fluids (humers) of the bodies of the various mobile and immobile organisms (in or on which they are originated as stated before). And the bodies of these water-bodied organisms are of many varieties.

The dissertation in respect of other yonikas is similar except that each kind obtain their nourishment from the environment in which they are produced.

(b) FIRE-BODIED ORGANISMS: There is hardly and difference in the treatment of fire-bodied organisms from that of water-bodied ones and the four paras. 69 to 92 just repeat what has been said in the preceding four paras, substituting fire-bodied organisms in place of water-bodied ones.

(c) AIR-BODIED ORGANISMS: Four paragraphs which follow - paras. 93 to 96—treat air-bodied organisms in the same way as the preceding ones treat fire-bodied organisms.

(d) EARTH-BODIED ORGANISMS: Four paragraphs which follow—paras. 97 to 100 deal with Earth-bodied organisms in the same manner. In para. 97 various kinds of earths are indicated. After giving a couple of names reference is made to Uttarādhyayana for the names of many types of earth. Otherwise they treat the Earth-bodied organisms in the same way as the preceding ones treated Fire-bodied and Air-bodied organisms.

We shall now discuss about the Nourishment (of animals) in the scriptures and in Zoology.

A significant difference between the dissertation given in Sūtrakāṅga Sūtra and the other two scriptures is the importance given to nourishment of the organisms here, while this aspect is totally absent in the other two. Organisms on planet earth are chemical beings, whose organic- bodies are made up mainly of carbon compounds. Body of one organism (or its parts) would provide nourishment for another organism.

Scriptures assert that all organisms without exception, mobile as well as immobile, must take nourishment for survival. Food is of three kinds - animate, inanimate, and mixed.

Animate food refers to the intake of live organisms. This is of six kinds:

  1. Earth-bodied organisms are taken in the form of minerals
  2. Water-bodied organisms are taken in the form of raw water
  3. Fire-bodied organisms are taken in through skin
  4. Air-bodied organisms are taken in through skin
  5. Plants & their parts are taken in as vegetables, fruit etc.
  6. Mobile orgtanisms are taken in by carnivores

Inanimate food consists of the bodies of organisms (from which the soul has transmigrated) mixed with inorganic substances.

Scriptures specify three ways of the intake of nourishment:

'Oja āhāra'—When a soul arrives at the place of its metempsychosis, it is bereft of a physical body, but is accompanied by the subtle bodies. To build up the physical body for the new life, it unites with the body­building matter—earth or water or ovule or the fertilized cell—which is consistent with its new life. This initial intake of the body-building matter, which would become its new body is oja āhāra'.

'Loma āhāra' or 'Roma āhāra'—Intake of nourishment through (the pores of) skin or the sense-organ of touch is loma āhāra'. Intake of sunlight and ingredients of the air—oxygen, carbon-dioxide etc.—are instances of loma ahara. This type of intake is believed to be continuous and ceaseless.

'Prakṣepa āhāra'—Ingestion of nourishment through mouth is called prakṣepa or kavala āhāra'.

Some Acaryas have explained these in a different way:

'Prakṣepa āhāra' is the assimilation of the external matter after ingesting it into the gross body through the sense-organ of taste.

'Oja āhāra' is the assimilation of external matter after its intake through the sense-organs of smell, sight and sound in the gross body.

Loma āhāra' is the assimilation of external matter after its intake through the sense-organ of touch only in the gross body.

It can be seen that whatever is the manner of intake, the significant factor about nourishment is its assimilation (absorption into the system) which is preceded by digestion and metabolic processes inside the body.

The passage which describes the manner of nourishment of all organisms in this scripture and which is repeated again and again is already given [see page no. 85). This passage is translated as................. "these organisms consume earth-bodies, water-bodies, lire-bodies, air-bodies and vegetable-bodies: depriving the life of manifold mobile and immobile organisms they render their bodies to become inanimate; these inanimate bodies which had already been taken-in by them through their sense-organ of touch, are digested, metabolised and assimilated by them."

The identical passage is repeated in all the paragraphs and applies universally to all organisms, mobile as well as immobile- -in respect to their nourishment.

In the case of human beings, this passage is preceded by the following: "(the human beings) at first (i.e. at the instant of their conception) feed on the unclean, foul (substance) which is produced by the menses of the mother and the semen of the father. And afterwards they absorb their nourishment through the placenta, (which is formed by the interlocking of fetal and maternal tissues). Gradually growing and attaining proper dimensions, they come forth from the womb. As long as they are infants they are nourished by their mothers' milk and fat; but when they grow up they ingest boiled rice and gruel and both mobile and immobile organisms." This also applies with minor variation to the vertebrate sub-human animals.

In Biology, organisms are divided into two kinds:

1. AUTOTROPHS - Organisms capable of living and growing by manufacturing all its food from inorganic compounds. A green plant is autotrophic because the only compound it needs are carbon dioxide, oxygen, water and various mineral salts. Such an organism will also need a supply of energy which can come from sunlight (PHOTOTROPHISM) or breakdown of inorganic compounds (CHEMOTROPHISM, i.e., obtaining energy by oxidation of inorganic compounds. When applied to an autotroph the organism is said to be chemoautotrophic or chemosynthetic).

Photosynthesis—Formation within the green plant CHLORO-PLAST—solid body inside plant cell which contains chlorophyll; sight of photosynthesis—(or other pigment system in some algae and bacterial) of organic nutriment (food) in the form of carbohydrate by combination of energy from sunlight and carbon dioxide from air. Oxygen is eliminated during the combination.

2.HETEROTROPHS - Organisms dependent for food on other organisms, living or dead.


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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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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Acaryas
  2. Ahara
  3. Body
  4. Environment
  5. Jalacara
  6. Khecara
  7. Para
  8. Soul
  9. Sthalacara
  10. Sūtra
  11. Uttarādhyayana
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