Jainism: Basic Jain concept of the Universe

Siddha Shila and Lokapurusha

This image depicts Siddha Shila (also known as mukti shila or siddha kshetra) or the abode of liberated beings at the apex of universe as per the Jain cosmology.
This image depicts Siddha Shila (also known as mukti shila or siddha kshetra) or the abode of liberated beings at the apex of universe as per the Jain cosmology. | Source
Shape of Universe as per Jain cosmology in form of a cosmic man. From Samghayanarayana loose-leaf manuscript India; ca. 16th century Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper. The Jain universe is divided into three basic realms, which together form
Shape of Universe as per Jain cosmology in form of a cosmic man. From Samghayanarayana loose-leaf manuscript India; ca. 16th century Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper. The Jain universe is divided into three basic realms, which together form | Source

Manushyaloka, Map of the Human World

Jain Geography: The chart shows the Adhai-dvipa, or the two and a half continents inhabited by mortals. The continents are shown as concentric circles surrounded by ring-shaped oceans complex networks of rivers and lakes, and mountain
Jain Geography: The chart shows the Adhai-dvipa, or the two and a half continents inhabited by mortals. The continents are shown as concentric circles surrounded by ring-shaped oceans complex networks of rivers and lakes, and mountain | Source

Jainism: The eternal and finite Universe


The Universe is eternal entity according to Jainism. It is never created hence beginningless. According to Jainism beginningless substances are also endless. Hence, the universe is eternal.

Most of the religions and philosophies believe that the universe has a beginning and a creator God has created the Universe. However, Jainism does not believe in a creator God and the concept of Universe in Jainism is self-supported. This is the unique concept of Jainism that also matches by and large with modern sciences and astronomy.

Another unique concept of Jainism is that the Universe is finite. No other philosophy or religion speaks of a finite universe. Even the astronomers and modern scientists were speaking of an infinite universe till Einstein came into the picture with his Theory of relativity.

Albert Einstein proved that the universe is finite using his theory of relativity. He also told that no one could get out of universe due to its special curvature hence it is unlimited. Einstein was the first one to differentiate between an unlimited and infinite universe. Jain texts clearly speak of a finite universe at various places.

Jain texts also speak of change phenomenon of the universe. Though eternal, the universe is constantly and continually changing. This is the law of impermanence. The catch, difficult to conceive is, it is permanently impermanent. In other words, it is constantly changing.

I will describe the philosophy and science behind this theory in next paragraphs.

Understanding the universe according to modern science

The Universe is made of Six substances


The universe is consist of six basic substances according to Jainism. These basic substances are

1. Dharmastikaya
2. Adharmastikaya
3. Akashastikaya
4. Pudgalastikaya
5.Jeevastikaya
6. Kala

These six basic substances are called Shad Dravya in Jain texts and Jain terminology where Shad means six and Dravya mean substance.

I will try to define these six substances suit to modern terminologies.

The first one is Dharmastikaya. It is the substance that helps as a catalyst or media for Pudgala (Matter) and Jeeva (Soul) in traveling.

It is to be noted that Dharmastikaya is only a media. It neither provokes or motivates any substance to move from a place to place nor it supplies energy for the same. "Kriya" (Movement) is an internal quality of two substances Pudgala and Jeeva and when these substances start traveling due to their own motion Dharmastikaya work as media. It is a mass-less, colorless and invisible substance. Dharmastikaya resembles"Ether" of modern sciences.

Adharmastikaya is just opposite to Dharmastikaya. It helps Pudgala and Jeeva to rest. Other properties are similar to Dharmastikaya.

When Jeeva and Pudgala are in rest Adharmastikaya becomes the vehicle for that and while in motion Dharmastikaya. There is no similar substance described in the modern sciences, however, it can be somehow compared with the field.

Now I will discuss Akashastikaya (Space) according to Jain philosophy. Akashastikaya provides space to live into all other substances. Akasha is infinite and divided into two parts Lokakasha and Alokakasha. Lokakasha is finite and Alokakasha is infinite. All five other substances dwell in the Lokakasha only. There is nothing except Akasha or space in the Alokakasha. Hence, Alokakasha of Jainism is an absolute void.

The entire Universe remains within the Lokakasha according to Jainism. It is clearly depicted in ancient Jain texts that the Lokakasha is finite and gives space to dwell to all other five substances i.e. Dharmastikaya, Adharmastikaya, Pudgalastikaya, Jeevastikaya, and Kala.

Jeevastikaya is the soul. This is the only substance among all six that is living and has wisdom which is referred as Chetana or Upayoga. The goal of mundane souls is to be liberated and to attain Moksha or Nirvana. This is the purpose of spirituality in Jainism.

Pudgalastikaya refers to the matter of modern sciences. This is the only substance that can be experienced through our senses and various machines. It has mass and color, Both matter and energy are Pudgalastikaya. Modern sciences and technologies mainly deal with Pudgalastikaya.

Kala is the sixth substance that refers to time. It is divided into three as past, present and future. Kala or time is the catalyst to all changes in substances.

Travel the universe

Jain universe quiz

Space-time and Jainism


The universe was considered as three-dimensional till Einstein. Einstein advocated the four-dimensional theory of the universe. The fourth dimension included was the time. According to the theory of relativity three dimensions can not exist without the fourth dimension time. Similarly, Jain texts depict that everything in the universe can be manifested with Kala (time) only.

Five other Astikaya manifest themselves through time frame. Hence, Jain theory of universe fits in the space- time diagram framework of Einstein.

There is no time or other substances in the Alokakasha according to Jainism. This specifically informs us that there is no dimension except space. Hence this is beyond the universe. Though there is an infinite space, no matter or soul can get out from the Lokakasha to an infinite journey to Alokakasha because of the absence of Dharmastikaya, the media of movement.

Einstein, in his general theory of relativity, has claimed that no matter or energy can get out of this finite universe because of its special curvature. And, he advocated for a finite universe.

Jain theory about the universe is very similar to the general theory of relativity of Einstein.

Space- time diagram of Universe expansion

 This illustration shows abstracted "slices" of space at different points in time. It is simplified as it shows only two of three spatial dimensions, to allow for the time axis to be displayed conveniently.
This illustration shows abstracted "slices" of space at different points in time. It is simplified as it shows only two of three spatial dimensions, to allow for the time axis to be displayed conveniently. | Source

More by this Author


Comments 27 comments

JYOTI KOTHARI profile image

JYOTI KOTHARI 2 years ago from Jaipur Author

Thanks Sachin for reading and commenting on this article about Jainism..


sachin 2 years ago

Thanks for making understand us about jainism


jayakeerthy jain 3 years ago

jaina theory on universe is most scientific.


Shashin Chheda 3 years ago

Hello,

Can you please comment on how Jainism relates to the concept of "Holographic Universe" as described by various Theoratical Physicsts ?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lMBt_yfGKpU


JYOTI KOTHARI profile image

JYOTI KOTHARI 5 years ago from Jaipur Author

Hi Shaisty,

Thanks for your comment.

Darkness, light, energy are Pudgalastikaya, Space is Akashastikaya- already mentioned and spirit (Soul)is Jeevastikaya.


Shaisty-Chase-Tea profile image

Shaisty-Chase-Tea 5 years ago from The Outskirts

i would call them, in debating Jainism within Jainism by comparing the six elements with other concepts i rationalized in this order... however i would add many many many many many many unrelated subtsances

1)darkness 2)space 3)light 4)spirit 5)energy 6)now


KrupaL 5 years ago

Hi,

In jainism consuming alcohol is strictly prohibited. Wines can also be prohibited similarly as there are rotten fruits used even though it has very less alcohol, so I want to know that even curd is formed by fermentation (i.e. there r also micro-organisms). So why don't we avoid curd...????


jainrahul 5 years ago

Sir,In Jainism,jain thirthankars have defined infinite to be finite.Or in other words they have counted the uncountable.This was because they wanted to define the age of Devas(demi-gods) in Heaven.Although devas have a very long life ie they remain alive for a seemingly infinite time they have to die one day when their life span is over.This life span is defined by a unit called as sagar.Now,as in present day when the distance between stars is counted it is counted by light years.i.e distance travelled by a ray of light in one year.so infinite is counted using finite medium.Here in Jainism it was important to show that life in heavens is not eternal and there is no other way,but to attain moksha.our simple good deeds may be heplfull to gain us a place in heavens,but for eternal or ultimate happiness,when we(Means our soul or atma) wont take a rebirth only when it reaches moksha.So to define seeminlyinfinite bit not eternal life span of a god in swarg or heaven they measured it with sagar.


jcbmack profile image

jcbmack 5 years ago from Stillwater Oklahoma

Very well written and though provoking article. How do you explain an eternal universe in light of the immutable laws of thermodynamics? What is the nature of the substance that needs no beginning? Thanks!


KrupaL 5 years ago

Hi,

Jain religion believes in non-creation of this world. But we can observe that universe as a whole is a very perfect design. We also know that to design anything so perfectly huge intelligence is needed. So how can we beleive that there is no creator...?? ( Ex. to design even small things we need to use so much of our brain )


rajkumar mohanty 6 years ago

the on going debate over universe is encouraging and it helps one understand the jain religion which is complete in all aspects of life.Unfortunately many of its finer aspects remains unexplained as per present day scientific language. Scholars should work over it. Thank you.


m'vir 6 years ago

Is it mentioned in any Jain scriptures that the Universe is finite? It mentions LokAkasha and AlokAkasha as you've mentioned above. Clearly you are interpreting the Universe to be LokAkasha(which is finite)-which I agree.But that leaves us with the question about Alokakasha, right? Shouldn't it also be included in the definition of the "Universe"? AND then the Universe would be INFINITE.

I guess it can be explained by the "Anekantavada" principle in Jainism- check out in google books page 82 of- The scientific foundations of Jainism By K. V. Mardia

In simple terms--we are like the blind men trying to figure out what the elephant would be like by touching its body parts separately- getting the picture right-but only partly- and missing the whole(holistic)view.

I guess that means- the universe maybe finite- the universe maybe infinite- the universe maybe finite and infinite- the universe maybe neither finite nor infinite etc.-- seems irrational--right--but that's what it is-- unless we have the "real eyes" we would never know!!Just like the blind men. difficult to comprehend?-- well its like--imagine yourself in the era before Newton--didn't gravity exist then? yet no one could've believed it existed. even today we can't see gravity- yet we know it exists.

similarly -- we are yet to evolve-reach a stage when we can understand everything!- maybe we can hasten it--maybe that's what is nirvana!

but in jainism--even though it advocates the path of nirvana-the basic funda of detachment shouldn't be forgotten--i.e.--we shouldn't even be attached to the notion of attaining nirvana, right! ironical, oxymoronic but true!


JYOTI KOTHARI profile image

JYOTI KOTHARI 6 years ago from Jaipur Author

Hi,

Infinite does exist. If you can not quantify something, does it mean it not exist?

Thanks for your comment.

Jyoti Kothari


TheGlacier 6 years ago from USA/INDIA

Hello Jyoti Sir,

Einstein said the universe is finite but has no ending. It means it is like a globe, wherever you go you can go in any direction, it is not ending.But it is finite.

And you said infinite does exist, which is wrong. Infinite is a definition given to something that can not be quantified.

How is it proved mathematically ? when universe itself is finite, How come something under universe can be infinite ?


JYOTI KOTHARI profile image

JYOTI KOTHARI 6 years ago from Jaipur Author

Hi Bobb,

Thanks for your comment. I am only partially agree with you. Universe is finite both according to Jainism and modern astronomy. However, it does not mean infinite is non existent. It exists at many places and it can be proved mathematically.

I agree that many times simple things are made complicated.

Jainism is not only a faith but also a rational way of thinking.

is it not irrational to reject something without examining? It will be better if faiths tasted on rational ground. If find right / rational why to exclude?

Jyoti Kothari


Bob600 6 years ago

I agree that the Universe is finite, in fact I would argue that infinite is non existent and there is only finite. I did my take on the Universe on bob600 recently and its much simpler than mans concept of it. Mankind seems to be hell bound on taking any simple concept that he does not understand and because he does not understand it he ends up complicating and embellishing it endlessly until it no more resembles the original than the man in the moon. Jainism is as much a religion as any of the others and as such should receive similar consideration. I accept that its important to its believers, but its meaningless to the non believer, so in that sense it's a faith thing and that immediately excludes it for me.


JYOTI KOTHARI profile image

JYOTI KOTHARI 6 years ago from Jaipur Author

I agreed with you. Thanks for reading and commenting on this hub.

Jyoti Kothari


Surendra 6 years ago

Hi Jyoti,

You have explained well about the concept of universe in Jainism. Jain thinkers explained the universe rationally long before modern sciences.

India was well ahead of the rest of the world in astronomical calculations.

Thanks for sharing. Thumbs up!

Surendra


JYOTI KOTHARI profile image

JYOTI KOTHARI 6 years ago from Jaipur Author

Hi JeanMeriam,

Nirvana is the ultimate object in Jainism. It is the accomplishment. It is liberating from all Karma bondage and being freed from the life-cycle. It can only be attained after Kaivalya, the omniscience.

Meditation and feelings in meditation are not Nirvana according to Jainism. However, one can feel part of the peace, happiness and joy of Nirvana during meditation when in a very high stage.

Thanks for your comments.

Jyoti Kothari


JeanMeriam 6 years ago

So, in Jainism what are moments of Nirvana considered to be? Like when one is meditating and feels uplifted from the lower thoughts they usually have.

Is this a forerunner of eternity or am I getting this all wrong?


JYOTI KOTHARI profile image

JYOTI KOTHARI 6 years ago from Jaipur Author

Hi WriteAngled,

Salvation is Moksha /Nirvana. It means being free from all earthly and Karmic bondage. The soul becomes infinitely capable with the quality of omniscience and eternal peace and joy.

However, it is not escaping from the physical finite universe. The soul lives at the top of this finite universe for ever after attaining Nirvana according to Jain concepts.

Even the liberated soul can not get out of this universe because of the absence of Dharmastikaya in the Alokakasha.

Thanks for taking time to read and comment on this article.


prasadjain profile image

prasadjain 6 years ago from Tumkur

Good explanation of the theory.

In answer to WriteAngled's question, i wish to answer-

In Jainism, 'divine' is the soul that has attained moksha. AS every living being is capable of getting that by continuous effort, from that angle, we can say,'there is divinity in everything.' If a soul attains moksha, it definitely escapes from the limitations of this universe.

Modern science is very 'young' when compared to yogic attainments.


WriteAngled profile image

WriteAngled 6 years ago from Treorci, Cymru

This is fascinating. So there is a concept of divinity, which is present in everything, but not deity? Moksha/nirvana, does this mean that the soul escapes from the limitations of the finite universe?

I think many ancient cultures had insights that modern science is only catching up with now.


JYOTI KOTHARI profile image

JYOTI KOTHARI 6 years ago from Jaipur Author

Hi NS,

Thanks for visiting and commenting on this hub.

"Earth moves round the sun" is an old concept established in the medieval age by Gallilio.

Theory of relativity of Einstein has changed this concept. According to the new theory movements of the sun and the earth are relative.

Thanks,

Jyoti Kothari


NS 6 years ago

Hello,

Nice piece of writing. But how do you explain the Sun going round the earth as believed in Jainism as opposed to the modern science which says earth goes round the Sun.

Regards


JYOTI KOTHARI profile image

JYOTI KOTHARI 6 years ago from Jaipur Author

Hi HP,

Thanks for your comment and support. I will be sharing about Jainism for our readers.

Jyoti Kothari


H P Roychoudhury profile image

H P Roychoudhury 6 years ago from Guwahati, India

The concept of Jainism needs to be understood with devotion of thought not in a moment but with a time period.Thanks for sharing.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working