Jiva – Atma

December, 2020 by Vidyadhar Danawade
Acharya Kunda –Kunda in his scripture “Samay sar “quotes

Sudaparicidanubhuya savvassa vi kamabhogabandhakaha

Eyattassuvalanbho navari na sulaho vihattassa. |4|

Tam eyatta vihattam dayeham  savihavena |

Jadi dayejja pamanam  cukkijja chalam na ghettavam |5|

People enjoy life by eating, drinking, luxury, profession, sex, reading and listening stories on these subjects, but the knowledge and experience of unity with self, which is a different kind is not easily available. I will explain you this rare experience by my own wisdom. If you get that experience take it as standard, if not do not bother.

Introduction:-An organism is said to be alive until Jiva is inside the body. After death nobody dares to touch that body. Why so? Because the body has no value or respect without Jiva inside it. The identification of that organism is only Jiva. What is Jiva? Those who believe in the existence of Jiva told that it is animation (Chaitanya) in body. Atma is another name for it. Western philosophers call it as Soul. All living beings have soul inside body. This soul is invisible, untouchable, and non-physical in nature. It is not perceivable by senses so it is Amurt or abstract. For this reason soul is a mystery to comprehend. Religious Prophets of the world have proposed their own concepts of soul and established different religions based on their philosophical views. Almost all schools of philosophy accept existence of soul, but they describe it in different nature. Buddha and Charvak philosophers do not accept existence of eternal soul. Gautam Buddha says those who believe in the existence of a soul are not in a position to explain what and where it is. The Buddha’s advice is not to waste our time over this unnecessary speculation and devote our time to strive for our salvation. As per Jain tenets, we have described Jiva by two Naya (Views). This predication comes from divine voice of omniscient lord Mahavira. Some scientists do not believe in soul because it cannot be proved in laboratory or seen through instruments. They say consciousness is the result of complexity of brain and nervous system. Emotions and personality originate from physical brain. They do not agree with reincarnation or life after death.

Live example of reincarnation

I will now tell one interesting event, on the 7th of May, 2016 one TV channel IBN-7 showed one real event.  This show was aired from 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM. Personally I have watched this show. A 7 year old boy named Tushar, from a village named Faridabad in Uttar Pradesh claimed that he was Surendra of Bahadarpur which is a nearby village in his previous birth. This news reached the TV channel. Then they came for an interview. They captured his story on camera in front of villagers and his parents. They asked the boy about his previous family and death. He told names of his sons, daughter and wife. One day in evening he was drunk and approached the water tank in his farm. As he was in intoxication he slipped and fell in the tank. He then died. Now he is born as Tushar in nearby village. The Channel team took him to Bahadarpur along with the villagers and family members. The boy showed the road to Surendra’s house. He identified his elder son, wife, and bedroom, farm and tank where he died and so many things. Surendra’s family agreed this boy was Surendra. So this is a proof that soul exists and it takes rebirths. These events were shown to a group of various experts. But one scientist did not agree with reincarnation of that boy. So we should not bother about what some people think. 

 Jiva as per Jain doctrines  

Jiva or soul is an amurta or intangible substance. It resides in the body, as self-consciousness. Even though Jiva spreads all over the body it never becomes homogeneous with it, but retains self-existence separately. Attributes (Guna) or inherent qualities of Jiva are knowledge and vision (Darshan) jointly they are called as Upayoga (consciousness). These attributes are found only in Jiva and nowhere else. Every Jiva has these attributes: 1) Even though all jiva are identical in nature they are independent and separate from each other. 2) There are no male or female Atma, but   all are similar. 3) Knowledge is inseparable, inherent quality of Jiva. It is not separate entity and joined to soul later as Vedic philosophy predicts. Since Jiva is Amurta we can’t perceive it by sense organs. What we see as living beings is visible by their bodies. We can’t visualize their souls. Jiva spreads all over in body so its size and shape are similar to body. There are infinite numbers of Jiva in the Loka (Finite Universe) .All are independent. Jains do not believe in omnipresent and omnipotent Atma, spreading all over in space which Vedic followers call as Isvar. These jiva are not parts of that Isvar. A Jiva who destroys all karma by observing code of conduct and penance attains status of God and liberation. These liberated souls continue in permanently stable place. Existence of a Jiva is immortal. It is neither created at birth nor destroyed after death. Deva (Deity), Manushya (Human), Naraki (Hellish being) and Tiryanch Subhuman, creature, plants etc. are modifications of Jiva. A human form   after death may take rebirth as deva, manushya or tiryanch, here human body is destroyed, but jiva is not destroyed.The same soul enters new body. These are called as worldly Jiva (Sansari Jiva). They are bonded by Karma. Because of karma bondage, a sansari jiva wanders in this world through wheel of rebirths. When a Jiva destroys all bonded Karma by accepting religious vows, observing code of conduct and penances the same becomes Liberated (Mukta) Jiva. Liberated Jiva is not destroyed. It continues to be Jiva with bliss for ever. 

Sanasari Jiva are bonded with karma since beginning. Bonded Karma decides life of a Jiva. These sansari Jiva are of two types Stable (Sthavara Jiva) and Mobile (Trasa Jiva). Sthavara Jiva are Single sense (Ekendria Jiva). They are of 5 types: 

1) Eartha as body (Prithvi Kayika), 2) Water as body (Jala Kayika), 3) Fire as body (Agni Kayika) 4) Air as body (Vayu Kayika) and 5) Plants (Vanaspati Kayika) 

From two sense to five sense Jiva are known as Trasa Jiva. Amongst these Jiva upto four sense and some five sense have no mind. All these Jiva are under the strong effect of Karma. They can’t do anything against karma. They only suffer by the influence of Karma. Only five sense Jiva with mind can act against karma. Humans are lucky to act against karma bondage and find a way to be happy. So now we shall know more about how to act against karma. 

Way of Happiness:-At present there are many educated people in our Jain community. Many are religious minded. They eat vegetarian food, visit regularly Jinalaya and pay obeisance to God, respect monks etc. by these they earn Punya karma. It is OK. But to break through this Sansar which is cycle of rebirths, it is necessary to mitigate and destroy Karma bondage. This is possible only by right faith, right knowledge and right conduct. In this article I have tried to explain way of happiness by Vyavahara naya and Nishcaya nay in brief. For novice aspirants (Sadhaka) the tenets are explained by Vyavahara Naya which are necessary in the starting stage. For spiritual aspirants the tenets are explained by Nishcaya Naya. One can destroy past karma and mitigate active karma by Nishcaya nay.

Vyavahara Naya: – An ignorant person thinks that he is bound by karma who render him happiness or misery. His body, mind and health are done by these karma. The person thinks family, friends, enemies, property, profession etc. are related with him. Some of them were related with him in past, some were his property in past, some would belong to him in future. By vyavahara naya Karma udaya (radiation) produce emotions in Jiva and these emotions cause influx of karma (Ashrava) in Jiva and later bondage (Bandha) takes place. Inauspicious emotions are created by false faith (Mithyatva), Evil emotions (Kashaya), Incontinence (Asamyama) and Fickleness (yoga). These cause bondage of evil karma which gives misery during fruition. Until a person does not know this process he involves in all such emotions. So he/she goes on accumulating karma. 

Introducing a different kind of Soul       

Acharya Kunda Kunda elucidates nature of Atma by Nischaya naya. An aspirant should comprehend both the nayas, if a spiritual person understands this Nishcaya Naya and observes codes of conduct according to them, he can break through miserable worldly life and attain happiness in present life, without waiting for future favourable time. Nischay Naya perceives a Jiva in its original form without karma. So by Nischay Naya a Jiva is pure. Those who are perfect in faith and know the tenets fully are eligible to have this Nischaya Naya. An ascetic does not wait till soul is free from Karma bondage, but he neglects the same and unites with pure self-soul (Sva Samaya).  

Thoughts of Nischaya Naya: – A wise person thinks that body, mind, family, friends, relatives, property etc. are all not related with him. They are all related with this body and transitory in this birth. Only knowledge and vision are his eternal assets. An aspirant (Sadhaka) who conquers sense organs along with infatuations (Moha) and later perceives self, is known as a real ascetic.   A gentleman identifies others belongings and discards them immediately, similarly a wise person discards attachment of all material and emotions which do not belong to him.  

An ascetic knows ashubha bhavana (Inauspicious Emotions) are cause of evil ashrava (Influx of Karma). He does not feel ashubha emotions by whatever incidents happen to him. So he does not have bondage of evil Karma. In this way by only knowledge an ascetic avoids karma bondage. A wise man knows all sorts of Karma and their various fruits but he is never affected by influence of karma. Karma radiation is cause (Nimitta) for emotions in Jiva and Emotions of Jiva are Nimitta for bandage of Karma. Jiva itself is doer (Karta) of emotions and not karma. So Jiva experiences fruits. So by Nischaya Naya, Atma itself is doer of own emotions and events. So Atma itself is responsible for self-modifications. A potter makes a pot from clay and a weaver weaves cloth from threads. By Nischay Naya. Potter and Weaver are not karta of the products. If the clay is not sticky then even though potter be an expert but won’t be able to make pot. So clay itself is karta of pot. If the threads and loom are not in order the weaver can’t weave cloth so he is not karta. Similarly a person is not karta of karma, karma vargana (particles) are karta of bondage. A person expressing good or bad emotions by Nischaya Naya would be karta (doer) of them. Those emotions would be his deeds 

Conduct of a Spiritual Person: – The soul which is situated in right faith, right knowledge and right conduct is said to be Self soul (Sva samaya). This is original nature of a Jiv and is superior state of the soul. A soul which is influenced by karma radiation is known as other Soul (Par Samaya) Such Jiva experiences contradictions in life.

Right conduct of an aspirant leads to happiness and ultimately salvation. This conduct should be along with right faith and right knowledge. Conduct is the real dharma for a spiritual person. Dharma means being in tranquil state of self.  

Auspicious karma radiations bestow happiness and inauspicious radiations bestow misery. An ascetic would not be influenced by both radiations, as both of them keep the soul in Sansara, but he would be free from both.

Pure state of soul leads to salvation and auspicious emotions give heavens, by inauspicious emotions a Jiva gets misery, tiryancha or hellish births. Not taking any vows enjoying banned food, no control over kashaya (Evil Emotions), by such behaviour a person would wander in Sansara for long period.     

A monk who has faith in omniscient god, understood perfectly tenets, and doctrines preached by him , realized difference between self and other matter and is observing right conduct is said to possess Shuddhopayog (Pure Consciousness ) or Pure state. Such monk will acquire Keval gyan (Omniscience). By shubhopayoga (Auspicious Consciousness) or auspicious state a person gets Deva or manushya births and enjoy there all sorts of pleasures by senses. But they are not real happiness.      A monk by Nischaya Naya does not make any difference between Punya and Paap because Punya is acquired by wish of heavens and Paap is by incontinence. The fruits of both are Sansara.

 A person who worships god and monks, donates to needy persons and religious works, observes vows, fasts, renounces banned food is said to possess Shubhopayoga or auspi-cious state. Such person take birth as Deva, Manushya and or Tiryanch. There they enjoy pleasures of senses. By Nishcaya Naya a soul is not touching karma vargana even though they are residing in it, also it is not bound with them. Lotus flower grows in water, even though its leaves are submerged in water they do not stick to water. In this way karma vargana reside in soul but soul does not bind with them.

Right Conduct: – An aspirant should practice right conduct like eight basic qualities and, five minor vows etc., until he/she attains higher state. Basic principle of Jainism is Ahimsa (Non-Violence). All codes of conduct are composed on this principle. As a first step to spiritual life, an aspirant should accept “Ashta Mula Guna”. This is renouncing eight items of beverages and eatables.   

Ashta Mula Guna: – wine, meat, honey and five udamber (fig) fruits should be renounced from consuming. Wine intoxicates mind and in such condition a person forgets right conduct he is attracted towards enjoyments. Meat is obtained by killing an animal. This is violence and cruelty. Honey is food of bees and contains innumerable microbes. Fig fruits contain innumerable insects.   

Five minor Vows (Pancha AnuVrata):- After accepting above said basic qualities, the aspirant should take five vows called as “Pancha Anuvrata” 1) Non-violence (Ahinsa) 2) Truth (Satya) 3) No Stealing (Achaurya) 4) Celibacy (Brahmacharya) and 5) non-possessiveness (Apraigraha). 

Non Violence: – With kashaya in mind hurting or killing of any Jiva is known as Violence (Hinsa). Without kashaya in mind motivated violence cannot be done. These kashaya create influx of Ashubha (inauspicious) karma which in future render misery. By negligence also we hurt or kill many insects. This is also hinsa. The intensity of fruits of hinsa do not depend on deed of hinsa but they depend on intensity of kashaya in mind. For this reason if an insect or any other Jiva is hurt, killed by an aspirant   who acts with awareness would not bind karma. Minute insects are present everywhere in the world. It is difficult for householders to avoid hurting these microbes. Similarly they cannot give up plantation of crops and cutting of trees. So religious house holders should take vows of non-violence of trus jiva (Mobile Jiva). 

Truth: – If a person speaks lie with some intention in mind, ashrava (Influx) turns to ashubha (inauspicious) karma bandha. House holders cannot speak pure truth. Sometimes they have to speak lie. Only omniscient god can speak perfect truth. So for householders gross truth vows are recommended. They should not speak gross lie by mind, speech and body. Similarly they should not give false statements through others or support false statements of others. In a special case if a jiva is rescued by speaking lie, then that is allowed. 

Not stealing: – By error or with intention taking possession of anything without permission of the owner is called as theft. Stealing is profession of thieves, robbers and burglars. They get punishment for their deeds. But common people are also in the habit of indirect theft. Earning by illegal way, taking corruption, producing false documents and acquiring other’s property, avoiding government taxes, collecting property by using power, etc. are all thefts. Water, minerals, soil, sand etc. are all government property. So an aspirant should take them with government permission. He should take vow of gross non stealing vow. 

Celibacy:- By the influence of Vedaniya karma men and women engage in sex act. During sex act innumerable microbes present in vagina of women are killed. Also men and women are strongly excited with kashaya. So by sex both are bound with inauspicious karma. But married men and women cannot discard sex life. So it is advised that until marriage youngsters should discard sex act. After marriage sex should be restricted between husband and wife only. Men should not enjoy other women, maids, or prostitutes. Day time sex should be avoided. An aspirant should not look at another woman with amorous emotions. 

Non possessiveness: – By the effect of infatuation karma (Mohaniya Karma) emotions, desires, longing and possession of worldly material is known as Parigraha. These are two types 1 Internal Parigraha and 2 External Parigraha.

Internal Parihraha: – Four Kashaya (anger, pride, cheating, and greed) and nine nokashaya (laughter, desire, hate, mourning, fright, disgust, desire of woman, desire of man, impotent) are internal praigraha.

External Parigraha:- Family, relatives, friends, servants, animals, etc. are living parigraha Property, wealth, buildings, vehicles, cloths, luxury items etc. are non-living Parigrah. 

Both of these parigrahs create bondage of inauspicious karma. So an aspirant should try to minimise these Parigraha. An aspirant should control over kashaya and fix limits of each type of living and non-living possession like cloths, vehicles, houses, lands, wealth etc. and try to maintain the limits. 

Supplementary Vows: – An aspirant observing the above said vows is called as “Shravak”. He should renounce night eating. He should not eat subsoil vegetables like onion, garlic, potato, carrots, and butter after half an hour, etc. Women should not cook after sun set. After sun set lot of microbes spread all over and they may enter food,   so to avoid violence and protect health night cooking and eating should be renounced. A common householder can accept the above said conduct. A house holder who wishes to lead spiritual life should further accept 3 Guna Vrata and 4 Shiksha Vrata as supplementary vows. An aspirant who has lost interest in worldly life but cannot leave family and home should accept “11 pratima’’ which are steps to higher spirituality. Those who have no responsibility of family may approach an acharya and accept suitable Muni Dharma (Conduct of a Monk)  

Reference Books:-

1 Pancasti kaya Sangraha Author: – Acarya Kunda (2nd century) 

Publisher: – MahavIra jnaopasana Samiti Karanja Maharastra 1982 

2 Pravacana Sara Author: – Acarya Kunda Kunda

Publisher: – Srimad Rajacandra Ashram Agasa Gujarat 1999

3 Samaya Sar Author:- Acarya Kunda Kunda    

Publisher: – RajaKrishna Jain Ahinsa Mandir 1 Dariya ganja Dilli 7 1956 

4 Purushartha Sidyupaya Author Acarya Amruta candra 

Publisher: – Manikcandra Vimalcandra Jain Sirohi Rajasthana 1978

About Author

Vidyadhar Danawade

Vidyadhar Danawade

Vidyadhar Danawade is a Civil Engineering professional residing in Sangli, India. An avid reader and in constant pursuit of Jain Knowledge directed him to a part of group studies, discussions and interactive sessions on Jain Literature and Philosophy. With years of understanding and study he has presented 3 research articles and written a book on “Science and Spirituality in Jainism” to be published.


co-edited by Hiloni Doshi.

Notify of
1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Nilesh vasava
Nilesh vasava
8 months ago

Thank you very much ,
At least I can start my spiritual life.
Good explanation. Salute to you.