Life is ambiguous and mysterious. It begins a kind of simple phenomenon but it is equally challenging for philosophers and scientists. Science defines it with a quite different branch of knowledge and names it life-Sciences. Philosophers also explain it with a concept of Jivana-Vidya. The contents of discussion of Jainamasters (Jainacaryas) regarding Life-sciences are quite amazing and scientific.
According to Jainism, animation (life) is caused by the unity of a nonphysical (non-material) entity called `soul’ or `spirit’ with a material body. That is, there is a subtle spiritual self associated with the gross physical during the life, death is the separation of the two.
Until emancipated, the soul is always developed by karmana sarira (as Karma-Sarira). Thus, on death, what is separated from the physical body is soul-cum-karma-sarira. It is the karma which is responsible for the `organization’ of the Physical body. An organism lives’ for the duration of the life span which is determined by one of the main categories of karma i.e. ayusya karma.
However, Jainas believe that there are only two fundamental entities viz.
|1. Jiva (living)||2. Ajiva (non-living).|
These two exhaust between them all that exists in the universe and Jaina philosophy is based on the nature and interaction of these two elements. It can be said that the living and the non-living, by coming into contact with each other, forge certain energies which bring about birth, death and various other experiences of live. Spiritually these are considered as miseries but for practical consequences they are granted as the different stages of livingness. Hence, they are called the riddles of life.
We have varities of riddles of life. Jaina metaphysics through its sevcen fold approach provides a satisfactory solution to the so called riddles of life, viz. creation, birth, death, pleasure, pain etc., is seven fold approach of Jaina Metaphysics not only solves the so called varieties of life riddless, but also puts a platform which leads to the path of liberation of the soul form sufferings and also for the realization of its full powers.
These seven are rightly known as tattavas or the fundamentals or truths. These seven tattavas are termed as Jiva (living), Ajiva (non-living), Asrava (The influx of karmic matter towards the soul), Bandha (bondage), Samvara (The stoppage of Asrva), Nirjara (gradual removal of karmic matter), Moksa (liberation).
Out of the above seven fundamentals, there are only two tattavas viz. Jiva and ajiva, which deal with the nature and condition of the universe. The rest five tattavas are explained as the different status of combination and association of these two fundamentals, i.e., jiva and ajiva. This interplay of soul (jiva) and matter (ajiva) is in the form of
1. influx of matter into soul, known as asrva.
2. attachment or bondage of matter with soul (considered as bandha).
3. stoppage of influx (called as samvara).
4. separation of this bondage (taken as nirjara).
5. complete liberation of soul from the matter (granted as moksa).
Birth of an individual organism in a particular species at a particular time and in a particular place is neither arbitrary nor accidental but the very precise result of the individual’s karma, which again is comfirmed as the result of different actions of jiva done in its past life or lives. The determination of the species, the life-span, the social status, feeling of pain and pleasure and such other fundamental factors of other individual’s `life’, according to Jaina Life-sciences are the combined result of four aghatin categories of karma i.e.
|(1) nama-karma,||(2) gotra karman|
|(3) vedaniya-karm,||(4) ayusya-karma and their relevant sub-categories.3|
According to Modern Biology life means a composition of living cells which is made up of different kinds of material substances having several types of physical and chemical actions. Irrespective of this, Jainas believe that life is not merely a composition of material substances. A non-meterial soul-substance (jivastiktya) is also essential to create a living which is made by cells.
Soul is a conscious substance but is not considered like a physical one. It is non-materal/non-physical but is etermal too. It can neither be created nor be destroyed. A soul animates a particular organism and manifests itself into various kinds of vital functions of a Jiva. According to Bio-sciences, living organism is qualitatively distinct from non-living matter. Functioning of the former is governed by some unique biological laws. The essence of living is the set of principales determining the transmission of genetic information from one generation to the next.
Living organisms are composed of the same constituents as the rest of the earth, but they possess, besides free will. which is a characterstics of life, all of the following attributes, organization, excitablity, conductivity, contractility, metabolisms, growth, reproduction. One or more of these, but not all, may be possessed also by non-living matter.
In its composition, a living organism contains no special element made up of some elements that occur naturally on the earth. Not only are these have elements a very special set but they are combined together to make molecules more complicated than any others known in the universe. However, Biologists do not accept that jiva depends upon a non-physical soul or spirit but they agree that a vital force is produces by the combinaion of these unique molecules.
Jainas specify them in several technical names such as pranas, paryaptis, indriyas etc. They are organised into living organisms which are not closed systems in equhilibrium, but in a steady state of interchange with the external environment maintained by continual intake of fuel and expenditure of energy.
Carbon is the most common content of foodstuffs. After taking meal the carbon element goes through the stomach and intestines into the blood and from there to muscle where it is burnt to give energy when the muscles contract. In a couple of hours after eating. it will be breathed out of the lungs as carbon-di-oxide. According to modern biology, this process is self maintained and is called homolysis, It is not a static condition but considered as a dynamic process of equilibrium.
In most parts of the body, there is a rapid turnover in many tissues and even the cells themselves are continually replaces by new ones. And yet, as all these interchanges go on, the integrity of the whole organism is preserved. Thus the process of homeostasis, which consists, as it were of a contiunal death and rebirth, is the essential property of life. A vital force or vitality is the principle at work, which prevents the dissociation of the body inspite of continual expenditure of energy. End of vitality results in death. Jainas declare is as a dissociation of soul from the physical body. It is also considered as the game of karma and dissociation of tattavas from each other.
It is very much established that, out of the seven fundamentals, there are only two basic substance i.e. jiva and ajiva. Jaina biologists differentiates the two opposite constituents on different grounds but the most adopted fact is that it differentiates the living from the non-living by using the word `jivastikaya’ (organism) to refer to any living things, either plant or animal.
Hence, it is relatively, easy to see that a developed Jiva like man, less developed jiva like insects, most developed plant like sala tree, less develped plant like creeper etc. are living. Whereas pieces of matter (pudgala) viz. earth, stones etc. are not so. However, it is more difficult to decide such kinds of clear-cut division about living and non-living for modern biological sciences, but Jaina biology has some concrete idea.
The idea that living systems are distinguished from non-living ones by some mysterious vital-force (paryapti)4has gained acceptance in Jaina biology, while one of the basic tenets of modern biology is that the phenomena of life can be explained in terms of chemistry and physics.
There appears to be no exceptions to the generalization that all life comes only from living things. Like the experiments of Pasture. Tyndal and others, just a century ago, finally the Jainacaryas, provided convincing proofs that micro-organism, such as nigodas, (Nigodiyas), earth quadrates, etc. i.e. bacteria, are also incapable of originating from non-living material by spontaneous generation. It seems clear that nigodas require the presence of pre-existing nigodas, just as the virus of modern biology does so, Nigodas (micro organism) do not arise de novo from non-nigodas, just as viruses do so from non-viral material.
There appears to be no exceptions to the generalization that all life comes only from living things. Like the experiments of Pasture, Tyndal and others,6 just a century ago, finally the Jainacaryas, provided convincing proofs that micro-organism, such as nigodas, (Nigodiyas), earth quadrates, etc. i.e. bacteria, are also incapableof originating from non-living material by spontaneous generation. It seems clear that nigodas require the presence of pre-existing nigodas,7 just as the virus of modern biology does so. Nigodas (micro organism) do not arise de novo from non-nigodas, just as viruses do so from non-viral material.
Sex is a very intensive urge of living organisms. It is a kind of instinct and is also taken as biological need of jiva. Normally, a living indulgas in sex to reporduce own offsprings, otherwise, it is nothing but a kind of enjoyment. Modern biology explains it as a normal physiological process of jiva whereas Jaina biology suggests sex arousal is a sensual by-product of activation of different kinds of karma and is caused for production of new individuals, The sex arousal of jiva is processed in many ways like copulation, conjugation, transformation, transduction etc. It is viewed as a series of events that following programmed sequence.
The motto of sex of indulging for sensual satisfaction or living organism is to perpetuate their own species from one generation to another through reproduction10. The actual process of reproduction varies tremendously from one kind of organism to another, but there are two basic types of reproduction
|(a) Sammurchima (a sexual)||(b) garbhayukrantika (uterine).|
Besides these two kinds of reproduction Jaina mention another kind of reproduction that is upapada (ayanija). The very kind of reproduction is consist of deva (heavenly) and naraka (hellish) varieties of jiva.11 A-sexual reproduction involves only a single parent (it does not require parents) which splits, buds or fragments to give rise to two or more offsprings which have hereditary traits identical to those of the parents12. Sexual reproduction involves with two parents, each of which contributes a specialized cells or gamete (egg and sperm) which fuse to form the Zygote or fertilized egg.
In human and higher organism, sex comes into operation for sexual reproduction. It requires two beings-a male and a female. Reproductive cells, called gamates, which are produced in the reproductive organs of both sexes, are a variant of cell. The female gamete is egg and male is called sperm. Meiosis is a special process of cell- divisions and takes in the reproductive organs. It is a sequence of two divisions. In the first division, each daughter cell receives only one of each pair of homologous chromosomes. Thus, in meiosis daughter cell differ in their sets of genetic information both from each other and from the original cell.
After successful completion of intercourse between male and female, process of fertilization takes place. Fertilization is union of the ovum with the sperm which takes place in the mother’s womb. In human, a mature viable ovum and egg is surrounded by a barrier (tough membranes). A large number (microbiologists has estimated the number of sperms as needed nearly 35 million) of sperms are needed to break a large enough hole in the barrier for a single sperm to enter the ovum.
As soon as this is accomplished, the ovum fuses with the sperm and prevents the entry of additional sperms. Now the male pronucleus with 23 chromosomes unites with its counterpart the female and the full complement of 46 chromosomes align themselves in 23 pairs in the fertilized ovum. The single cell is now ready to reveive the basic property of jiva consciousness. This will be fulfilled by joining of a transmigrating soul.
Precisely at the stage, when the single cell is ready to receive a soul, a transmigrating soul, which is conscious substance enveloped in microbody (karmana sartra) arrives in the womb (from its previous life) and animates the fertilized ovum which become its physical body through a stage-by stage biological process15. A new offsprings has been conceived. The new human in thus, endowed with
(i) the genetic code contained in the 23 pair of chromosomes which are obtained from the father and mother
(ii) the code contained in the karmana sartra appended to his soul from his previous life/lives.
All these begin and continue to interact and integrate into various programs which would control the life of the new human. Its existence and development is totally dependent on karmic and hereditary programmed instructions. Those for remaining alive come from DNA and Ayusya karmana.
Besides sexual reproduction, organisms can give rise to a new generation a sexually in a number of ways krmis (Amoebas) reproduce by the process of fission, Yeasts involve for budding. Some other higher animals, such as lizavda etc. can grow it snew tailor other organ if one is lost through the process of fragamentation. It is also a kind of sexula reproduction.
Flatworms use a typical kind of process of asexual reproduction, to cut the whole body into pieces and each of which develops into a new worm. Some animals and most of the plants reproduces asexually by means of spores, which are special kind of cells with resistant coverings.
17 During the process of asexual reproduction organisms do not act sexually as happens in the case of sexual reproduction. But getting the sense of animation by a new offspring, Vigrahagati will be required. It is suggested that the same has been processed by the soul which is incurred with karmana sartra.
Whenever any kind of species in the world appear in the form of new embodiement with the signs of livingness and vitalities, it is said that a new jiva has taken birth. Jaina biology suggests that a new embodiement which is formed by assimilation of materials is capable of transforming them into the body, senses etc. The birth of a new Jiva takes place by two possible mechanisms-
|(a) Spontaneous generation||(b) uterin bieth.|
The first involves the primary life as assumed from non-living. The second category of bith involves living from the living one. These mechanism may be equated to the asexual and sexual birth.
Normally, the lower organisms and plants take their birth through a sexual reproduction, whereas higher animals including men get their birth through sexual reproduction. It is also known as uterine birth. In Jaina Biology, the uterine birth is classfied into18—
|(a) Jarayuja (umbilical),||(b) Potaja (non-umbilical)|
|(c) andaja (incubatory).|
Umbilical means with sec-covering. The web-like covering filled with flesh and blood surrounding the developing Jiva in the womb is known as the outer skin or sac covering (Jaradyuja). In modern Biology it is considered as Viviporous. Men, cows, goats, dogs, cats etc. take their birth through this process. The young ones of certain animals (potaja) are known as those who have developed their different body parts in the womb without any covering and who are capable of movement soom after being delivered out of the birth places.
Elephant, rat, leopard, mangoose etc. are non-umbilical born animals. Andaja means egg-born animals. In modern Biology they are considered as oviporous. The offsprings are developed under a white hard shell, which is called egg. It is composed of semen and blood. New offsprings get their nutrients from the constituents of egg and get their development. At a fixed time-interval they come out from the eggs. Serpants, leech, lizards, fishes, crow, pigeon, parrot, crane etc. are oviparous animals.
A new organism before its birth has got its overall developed at certain place. The very place, according to Jaina Biology is called birth-places. Vaginas or womb (yonis). Birth place is a container of birth species for its proper development before it appears freely. Each species has its special types of birth place. As many species, as many birth places are assumed. These are classified on the basis of many general conditions under which the living body is conceived and grows. The body may grow by assimilation of proper extracts or material from surroundings under suitable conditions of
|(a) covering,||(b) climate|
The combination or reverses of these conditions make the total variety of birth places to be nine-
|(i) Sacitta (livingfull||(ii) Sita (cold)|
|(iii) Samvrta (convered)||(iv) Acitta (non-livingful)|
|(v) Usna (hot)||(vi) Anavrta (non-covered)|
|(vii) Sacitta-acitta (livingful-cum-non-livingful)||(viii) Sitosna (cold-cum-hot)|
|(ix) Samvrta anavrta (covered cum uncovered).|
The livingful is defined as the birth place where vilitional consciousness exists. The cold is a specific type of such representing thermal quality. This also denotes the entity having coldness the covered means a place or an area which is well secured or hidden. It may be a non-visible area. The opposite of these three are also to be taken into account. They are non-living, hot and open or uncovered ones. The mixed denotes the dual nature. Thus it in involves living-cum-non-livingful, cold-cum-hot, covered-cum-non-covered.
The word `Yoni’ also is defined for birth place, however it has some other meanings too. As we know that it is said that a Java can bears 4 lacs of `yonies’. Here `Yoni’ is perhaps equated with the form of life which has a special birth-place. This is formalisetion of cause into effect thus it is suggested that `yoni’ does not only represent the birth place but it also tells us about the different forms of living species. However, Jainas classify the only four major `yonis’ such as hellish, human, sub-human, celestial but their sub-classification yields 8.4 million `yonies’ which included form `1-sensed earth bodied, human-being, hellish spices alongwith celestial species.
In addition to the number and types, Jaina Biology gives detailed information about the shape of the birth places. The birth places could be20—
|(a) conch-shaped,||(b) tortoise shaped|
|(c) bamboo-leaf like flat shaped.|
It is suggestive that the abortive birth takes place out of conch shaped birth place, common men are born out of flat shaped birth place, greatmen, kings, saints are born out of tortoise-shaped birth place. In contrast, the Modern Biology suggests five types of vaginal shape23—
|1. flat (single)||2. duplex|
|3. bi-partite||4. bi-carmate (tri-partite)|
However it is silent to classify about the birth of general, great men etc. as Jaina Biologists suggest.
When a new offspring comes out from its birth place by taking birth, it is already developed and old one as the case may be. For example, the newly born human baby is nine months old. It has spent these times of its life, since conception, laving as a parasite within the body of its mother or under the shell of egg.
During this period it increases from a single microscopic cell to a developed species having certain amount of protoplasmic constituents and integrated into various functional systems. The whole process follows a series of divison of cells. The cells divide again and again in a long process of development in which many changes occur in a precise sequence22. The nuclens of the fertilizes and animated cell contains full instructions needed to make all the different protiens of all the different type of cells in the body (a livercell, a nerve cell and so on).
Using these instructions the embyro produces the different organs in a precise sequence following a harmoniously regulated time-schedule and spelled out in DNA blue prints contained in the nuclei of the fertilized ovum.
The growing embryo is attached to the maternal nourishing place through different ways as the case may be. For example, in the case of human being, the growing embryo is attached, first by a stalk and then by a rope like ambilical cord, to the placenta. It receives nourishment from the placenta via its umbilical life-line23. It is growing and at the stipulated time it comes out from its birth place. This is called birth of new offspring, as the term birth referes to appear a new embodiement.
Death, the Ultimate Truth of Life
Death is the termination of vitalities. It is a natural and unavoidable phenomenon. Though there is no specific mention of causes of death of different types of organisms but the general causes which are given may be sufficient to judge the death of 1 to 5 sensed beings. It is very much established that the livingness is defined by pranas. Number of pranas are 10 in total viz.
1-5 five senses, 6-8 three strength-speech, mind and body, 9 respiration and 10 age of life-span. The organism is called living or prani because of them.24 Death denotes loss of pranas or devitalization of the destruction of specific life-span karma (Ayusya karma). Jaina Biology refers this karma to either this birth or the other births after death with same form and destiny. However, the Modern Biology refers to the current birth and death only.
Jaina Biology mentions different causes for death, sometimes seven, sometimes 14-(16) causes, but the whole are kept under two classes-
|1. Psychical||2. Instrumental.|
The physical causes of death include fear sorrow, domorse etc. The instumental causes of death have several means as-weapons, fire, cold, smoke, rope trap, overeating, not eating, severe pains, drowning in waters, fall from height, poison, resiperatory obstruction, demigodal, immoral acts etc. All these are normally accepted by Modern Biology as the different causes of death.
It is suggested that, ayusya karma of every living is fixed, It is the chief determinant of life-span of any organism and the very decision is made in the previous life, that is, an organism is born with a predetermined life span. It may run the full (cause of untimely death e.g. fire, drowning, accident etc.) or not, when the bondage of ayusya karma is sopakrama subject to upakrama.
Death, however is enevitable, and no organism can live a single instant more than its determined life-span. The time duration or length of the life-span is characteristics of the species of the organism which is determined by the nama karma25 which is thus, the auxiliary determinant of the life span. The death is usually preceded by it ageing and senescence.
Biologically, the life of an organism, from its conception to death, may be viewed as a series of events that follow one another in a programmed sequence26. The sequence of development follows from early helplessness childhood, late and short adolescence, adult life, senelity and death. Before senelity the organism follows all kinds of growth. These are fast and active.
After that the active growth process of development is ceased. Even at this stage, cells that wear out or are destroyed by accident or disease are replaced and a dynamic equilibrium is maintained. But ultimately, the repair processes of wear and tear of cell are become less efficient and cannot adequately replace the day-to-day losses. Thus the various body functions gradually begin to deteriorate and ageing sets in and ultimately results in death.
The end of life is by a definite process of sensecence, which should be distinguished from disease (even though some of its menifestations lend to disease). It has been recently shown that cells from older men are capable fewer divisions that those from younger ones. This proves the sensescence itself is a programmed terminus and death is a part of the programme of life.
Actually, death occurs at each moment throughout life-thousands of blood cells and cells of the intestine die every second, but they are replaced and repaired by programmed mechanisms that allow the attainment of the predetermined age. There are enzymatic mechanisms by which even DNA can be repaired.
The problem is that repair mechanisms themselves need repairing and the regress of what repairs the repairer and repairer of the repraier cannot be indefinitely avoided. Thus, there is a limit on the possible length of survival of any individual homostatic device. This fact is sometimes expressed in a different way in the terms of cell-division.
There is an upper maximum limit to the number of divisions of a cell called `Hayflick limit’ after which they cease dividing and die. In a life time of 100 years, the number of divisions is about fifty.
Thus, senescence or ageing is a complex process with many contrubuting factors not necessarily exclusive “Hayfick limit” of cell division agress with the concept of an inharently programmed finite life-span of about 110 or 120 years. This does not mean that there is no possiblity of improving repair processes. Though the actual life-span could never be exceeded and the idea of much longer life is not althogether pleasing, particularly to those who are already very old, knowledge of some of the factors, would not only reduce the possibility of dying in younger are, but also some of the miseries of old age.
However death, according to Jaina Biology of in view of Modern Biology is sure and ultimate outcome. It is an universal phenomenon of living organisms. Modern Biology defines it as an complete arrest of further cell-division, whereas Jain Biology suggests death means separation of pranas (vitalities) from the physical body of the deceased. Both are agreed that broadly death has two varieties-
|(i) natural||(ii) unnatural.|
Natural is normal kind of death and the organisms are died in timely with normal manner. The term, timely need some elaboration, and in view of Jaina Biology it can be well explained on the basis of Ayusya karma. Unnatural consists of untimely and accidental kind of death. Irrespective of these two kinds of death, Jainamasters define two another varieties of death, which are not explained by Modern Biology. They are31—
|(i) death of fool, or ignornat (Bala-marana)||(ii) death of prudent (Pandita-marana).|
This kind of division of death of Jaina Biology feeds the spiritual in-sense, which is perhaps absent in Modern Biology. It is obvious. In view of Jaina Biology death of a prudent is better than that of the fools. Whatever may be the concept fixed for death, however, it is suggestive to keep devotional religious and pious mind at the time of death for peaceful dying and present a good ideal for the society.
1.Gommatasara (karmakanda), 11
4.Navatattva Prakaravani, v. 6,p.12
5.Biology, C.A. Viliee, p. 9
6.Ibid, p. 9
8.Biology, C.A. Viliee, p. 9
10.Bhagavatisutra, 7/5/282; Jivabhigama, 3/1/96
11.Sarvarthasiddhi, p. 134-135
13.Uttaradhyayanasutra, 36/130, Tandulaveyaliyam, p.5
14.Histology. Allen Stevenson and James Lowe, pp, 24, 25
16.Biology, Viliee, p. 49
17.Uttaradhyaanasutra, 36/146; Biology, Viliee, p. 49
20.Prajnapana pp. 36, 43, 47, 70-72.
21.Chordate Morphology, Malcom, Jollie pp. 186-190
22.Tandulaveyaliya 2, p. 6; Biology, Viliee pp. 430
23.Tandulaveyaliya, 4. p. 9, 5-9; Biology, viliee, 425
24.Bhagvatisutra, p 149
27.Neuroscience and Karma, Z.S. Zaveri & Muni Mahendra Kurma, pp,. 22-23
28.Biology, Viliee, p. 76; Notes on Human Physiology, p 36.
29.Vide neuroscience and Karma, p. 23
30.Ibid, p. 23