The Concept of Soul, Karma and Liberation in Jainism
Prof. K. S. Ramakrishna Rao
Jainism is a kind of realistic and pluralistic philosophy, as it accepts the existence of the eternal world and many ultimate realities, As a religion it unveils the meaning and purpose of life. Its attitude towards other forms of religion is that of non-criticism. It preaches universal tolerance and humanitarianism Its main contents are: Soul and its transmigration, Karma, bondage and liberation According to Jaina Philosophy, the world is not created. It is everlasting and exists by the power of its substances, Viz., Soul, Matter, Space, Time, Dharma and Adharma (principle of motion and that of rest).
The essential character of the soul-substance is consciousness and its accidental characters are desire, volition, pleasure, pain etc. The soul possesses varying degrees and kinds of knowledge. At the highest is the perfect soul (mukta-jiva) and at the lowest end, the fettered soul (baddha-jiva) There are two. kinds of fettered souls-moving (trasa) and non-moving (sthavara). Five categories of fettered souls are: Ekendriaya having one sense of touch (plants etc.), 2 Dvi-Indriya having the senses of touch and taste (worms etc.), 3. Tri-Indriya having the senses of touch, taste and smell (ants etc.), 4. Caturindriya having the senses of touch, taste, smell, sight (mosquitoes etc.) and 5. Panchendriya having the senses of touch, taste, smell, sight and hearing (beasts, birds, men etc.) The Jaina philosophy says that the soul is formless, independent and eternal. It is an agent who knows, acts and enjoys the fruits of its Karma. It manifests itself and others like the light. It pervades the body in which it lives and thus it is co-extensive with the body. But it changes its forms due to its association with Karma-matters.
Karma, subtle invisible substance composed from one of the types of matter which flows into and clogs the Jiva, causing the bondage of life and transmigration. fetters the soul. Fruits of its virtuous Karma lead the soul to the heaven of gods and to the birth among men and those of its sinful Karmas to the hell or to the birth among lower animals. Thus inflow of sinful Karma can be stopped by many types of penance and disciplined conduct, resulting in the final moksha or ultimate goal of human endeavour. Karmic matter is elaborately clasified actor- ding to its effect; for instance, one type is that which prevents true knowledge; another which causes pleasure or pain comes to occupy a very central position in it. Since God has no place in Jainism, Karma liberation, the
The soul in itself possesses inherent perfectness and infinite potentiality, Karma associates soul with Karmic matter (Pudgala). Thus it falls into bondage. Karma of the past life generates in the soul cravings and passions. Passions of anger, pride, deceit and greed (krodha, mana, maya and lobha) attract Karmic matter to the soul, Thus bondage of the soul to the matter is due to its clinging to pinions.
Liberation means the expulsion of matter from the soul. It is the freedom of the soul from all bondage to Karma and thereby comes the stoppage of its re- birth. The path to liberation requires right faith, right knowledge and right conduct. These three are called three jewels of Jainism. Right faith means res pect for truth. Right knowledge is the detailed knowledge of all truths. On the removal of Karma. Kevalajnana is attained. Right conduct lies in refraining from wrong and doing right. It puts a fullstop to old Karmas, puts an end to the influx of new Karmar and thus helps the soul to be totally free from Karmas,
Right conduct consists in observing live great vows:-1. Ahimsa (non- injury) Satya (truthfulness), Asteya (non-stealing) Brahmacharya (chastity) and Aparigraha (non-possession) along with the (1) practice of samiti (extreme care- fulness in walking etc.) (ii) practice of ten dharmas (forgiveness, humility, straight forwardness, puirty self-restraint, austerity (internal and external), sacrifice, non-attachment and celibacy). (iii) meditation, (iv) conquering of all discomforts and (v) attainment of equanimity. The soul then achieves the merit of fourfold perfection-infinite knowledge, infinite faith, infinite power and infinite bliss.
Thus Jainism is neither agnosticism, nor sceptitism of the 20th century. With this attitude we should step into twenty first century. The spiritual awareness lies in the recognition of the spiritual self in others. The eternal sayings of Tirthankaras bring us close to the world religion and world philosophy. Shall we hope for a complete peaceful co-existence in 21st century with the adoption of this doctrine of self?