Jain Science and Spirituality

by Medhavi Jain | 2020 | 61,419 words

This essay studies the elements of Jainism and investigates how Jain science and philosophy can give the world answers to through science and spirituality. Instead of interpreting it as a confined, strict philosophy, it is shown that Jainism represents a path towards self-awakening through self-improvement....

1.1. Substance (Introduction)

Beyond men’s innumerable quests, its failures and successes, to know the universe and its workings, the eternal truth stays untouched and unexplored.

In our daily lives we are acquainted with science as a subject which is rational and can prove something through an experiment.

Hence it is a favourite subject of many, who believe in logic and are curious to know about how things work.

‘Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe.’[1]

However we all will admit that irrespective of the numerous growth it has made, science has its limitations and there are many things in the world which cannot be described logically but can be experienced and felt by everyone.

All of us are aware of the vastness of the topic called universe and perhaps no one can cover its fullness in just one paper or book or, to be precise, in many books. Only a part can be covered, can be thrown light upon, that too with a certain, particular perspective.

Though we may agree that,

‘Before the universe was made, there was Dharma (laws). There is nothing all-inclusive aside from the laws of Physics. Nothing is absolute, neither time, nor space, nor properties of substance. Everything relies upon the casing of reference utilized.’[2]

Absolutism may exist though understanding it again depends on one’s intellect.

Absolute texts or talks can be simplified and can only be understood through relativity.

‘Science is really ubiquitous, since it depends on specific laws which are endless, objective, material all over the place, consistently and administer the procedures including matter. It is free of the onlooker and the outcomes are certain and in this manner adequate to everybody.’[3]

The beauty of objectivity is that it cannot be moulded according to one’s inability or constricted mindset. When we talk about Jain philosophy we analyse that it does not talk about a super natural power nor it emphasizes on living life in a particular way.

It provides freedom of free will and enhances the strength of consciousness.

‘Both Jainism and Science do not subscribe to miracles. Thus Jainism is quite scientific in its approach.’[4]

Whereas science talks about the universality of the non-living (ajiva) matter, Jainism talks about the objectivity of both, non-living and the living (jiva), simultaneously.

‘Kant likewise considered the idea of 'substance' as essentially one type of 'synthetic unity of apperception.’[5]

In fact each query of man starts from the apperception of that particular quest.

Contemplating about science displays some topics like substance(s) (of which the universe is made of), cosmology, space-time (and their smallest indivisible units) and metaphysics.

ajivakaya dharma-dharma-kasha-pudgalah
  —(Tattvarth Sutra 5.1)

‘The media of motion and of rest, space and matter are extended non-sentient entities.’[6]

dravyani jivas cha
  —(Tattvarth Sutra 5.2)

‘These entities are substances. Souls are also substances.’[7]

The beauty of being human is that we are always curious to know about our roots. Our mind is always at work to search, to know and this quest takes us to many successes. Being the most intellectually developed species on the planet we are similar in many ways, this is the reason why two people in two different parts of the world may discover the same thing, may have similar experiences and realisations.

When we talk about the smallest indivisible part of matter, we can gratefully remember the Greek philosophers, like Aristotle and Plato to name a few, who have done marvellous brain work.

‘Since the time of Greeks, researchers have accepted that the building blocks of the universe were modest point particles. Democritus begat the word atomos to portray these extreme, indestructible units of matter.’[8]

The uniqueness of Jain philosophy lies in what is considered substance here. The universe is made of mainly two substances: Living, called jiva and non-living called ajiva, they are eternal and self-existing. The ajiva consists of five substances namely -(a) pudgala (matter), (c) akasha (space), which is further subdivided into two parts: lokakasha (where all the six substances of the universe exist) and infinite alokakasha (beyond that), (d) dharmastikaya (medium of motion) (e) adharmastikaya (medium of rest) (f) and kala (time) which is again subdivided into two parts namely nishcaya kala (absolute time) and vyavahara kala (the time we experience and measure in our daily chores).

However existence of two of the above mentioned substances, dharmastikaya and adharmastikaya, has not been proven experimentally.

‘The five central substances establish the loka (grandiose space or the universe), or, rather the lokakasha and the alokakasha (supracosmic space). They all share perpetuity. The space grasps both the world (loka) and the non-world (aloka), though the remaining four are concerned with the development of the world (loka).’[9]

Where, according to Jain philosophy, all the denizens of all the three loka i.e. Madhya loka (our human and animal world and the stars and the moons), Adho loka (the hells), and the urdhva loka (the heavens) are located.

‘All astikaya aside from the jivas are insentient (ajiva), and with the single exemption of matter, all are formless (arupi). Materiality is characterized by saying that among all lifeless major substances matter alone is detectable, while this does not have any significant bearing to movement, rest (dharma and adharma individually) or space, despite the fact that they fill the universe totally. They are, in fact, as little palpable as are the light of a thousand candles lighting a closed room.’[10]

The time (kala) despite being included in the six substances, does not have a being (asti), or kaya (extended body); it is there in an abstract form. Hence the five substances having an asti (astitva) and extension, together are called ‘Pancastikaya.’

Dharma and adharma, exist since it is just by their presence that any movement and condition of rest become conceivable by any means. Inside the domains of souls, dharma and adharma produce every single imaginable state of versatility and its inverse, from one viewpoint "going back and forth, talking, moving an eyelid, movement of the inward sense, discourse and body" and on the other "standing unmoving, sitting, lying, control to the action of the internal sense.”[11] Dharma and Adharma dravyas are unique and very interesting features of Jain philosophy. They enhance the contemplation about substances further.

Footnotes and references:


www.wikipedia.org/wiki/science (Retrieved on 16/05/2017 @ 11:50 AM)


Bhandari Narendra. Jainism: The Eternal and Universal Path to Enlightenment (A Scientific Synthesis) (JEUPE). Prakrit Bharati Academy, Jaipur. 2015. pp. 96


JEUPE. pp. 96


JEUPE. pp. 96


Prof. Kumar Muni Mahendra. The Enigma of The Universe (TETU). Jain Vishva Bharati University. Ladnun. 2010. pp. 12


Tatia Nathmal (Translator). That Which Is (TWI). English Translation of Tattvartha Sutra of Umasvati). Yale University Press. New Haven & London. First Edition: 2011. pp. 123


That Which Is. pp. 123.


Kaku Michio. Beyond Einstein (BE). Anchor Books, New York. 1995. pp. 4


Schubring Walther. The Doctrine of The Jainas, (Described after the old sources) (TDTJ). Motilal Banarasidass Publishers Pvt. Ltd. Delhi. 2000. pp. 126


TDTJ. pp. 126,127


TDTJ. pp. 127

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