Jainism: Metaphysics-The Theory of Anekant-Vada: Classical Indian Philosophy for NTA (UGC)-NET

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Theory of Anekant-Vada

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Jainism and Metaphysics - Classical Indian Philosophy (Philosophy)

Metaphysics - the Concept of Sat

  • Jaina metaphysics give a realist concept of reality or sat.
  • At the same time, it gives the doctrine of many-ness of reality or it gives a pluralist concept of reality.
  • According to Jaina philosophy, there are innumerable material atoms and innumerable or infinite souls which are all separately and independently real.
  • This is precisely why Jaina metaphysics is known as the doctrine of pluralistic realism.

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The Concept of Dravya or Substance

  • According to Jainism, there is nothing which is permanent.
  • All things are becoming, in a flux of change and end.
  • In other words, all things are produced, they continue to exist and then they are destroyed. (Similarity with Heraclitus՚ Philosophy- the doctrine of flux)
  • So, anything which has an origin, and exists and is destroyed is a substance or dravya according to Jainism.
  • Also, according to the school, a dravya is a substance which has innumerable characteristics.
  • Yet, there are two types of characteristics which are found in every substance. They are;
    • Essential characteristics or Gunas
    • Accidental characteristics or Paryaya
  • Essential characteristics or Gunas:
  • According to Jainism, qualities in here in substances as materiality exists in atoms.
  • Qualities cannot exist all by themselves.
  • Some of the chief qualities are; existence, consciousness, enjoyability, substantiveness, knowability, essence, etc.
  • So, according to them, there is no substance without quality and no quality without substance.
  • In other words, a thing exists in and through its qualities and the qualities constitute the thing.
  • The difference is one of reference and not existence.
  • Hence, the relation between substance and quality is one of the coeval identities, unity, inseparability and essential simplicity.
  • Accidental Qualities or Paryaya:
  • There are some accidental qualities which exist in the substance and as the name suggests, they are subject to change.
  • Unlike, essential characteristics, they are not permanent in nature.
  • In other words, the gunas continue, while the paryayas change.
  • There are two kinds of paryayas or modifications. They are;
  • Modifications of the essential qualities of a thing or a dravya. For instance, the colour of water in the lake is subject to change, although colour is a constant property.
  • Modifications of the accidental qualities of a thing or a dravya, for instance, the muddiness of water is subject to change, it may increase in rainy seasons.
  • Note: Jainism believes in both permanence and change. Unlike, Buddhism which believes only in change and Advaita Vedanta which believes only in permanence.

The Concept of Jiva

  • Jiva/purusha/soul is an extended dravya or asti-kaya dravya. It is so because it is formless and it fills space.
  • The essence of Jiva is consciousness or Chetnalakshano Jivah. So, every soul from lowest to highest possesses consciousness.
  • According to Jainism, Jivas (souls) are qualitatively alike and quantitatively different.
  • Jivas are qualitatively alike because they all possess consciousness in them.
  • On the other hand, they are quantitatively different because of the presence of karmas or the doings of the past lives.
  • Jainism believes that Jivas are further divided into two groups;
    • Bauddha Jivas: or souls in bondage due to the presence of Karma.
    • Mukta Jivas: or liberated souls. According to Jainism, liberated souls possess infinite knowledge, infinite bliss, infinite power and infinite faith.
  • Soul or the Jiva is the karta (the doer) , bhogta (the enjoyer) and the jnata (the knower) .
  • Note: A similarity can be drawn between Jainism՚s concept of Jivas and Leibniz՚s philosophy of monads. According to Leibniz, monads are also qualitatively alike and quantitatively different.

The Concept of Ajiva

  • Ajiva means non-living or without soul.
  • Ajiva is an extended dravya or asti-kaya dravya. They extend in space.
  • It is further divided into matter or pudgala, space or akasha, motion or dharma, rest or adharma and time or kala.
  • They are all without life and consciousness or soul.
  • Matter or pudgala:
    • It is without soul or consciousness.
    • It literally means to integrate and disintegrate.
    • The smallest matter is anu or atom which can lead to compound objects (skanda or sangata) like body, senses and mind. Skanda or sangata means combination or integration of atoms.
    • Matter has four qualities; 1. colour, 2. taste, 3. touch, 4. smell.
    • Sound or hearing is not accepted as a quality of matter because it is only a modification or parinama of matter.
    • It is because of the presence of matter, there is the presence of karma and samsara or cycle of re-birth.
    • Matter is qualitatively same but quantitatively it differs because of the four qualities of smell, taste, touch and sight or colour.
  • Space or akasha:
    • Space is ajiva, it is without soul or consciousness.
    • It is asti-kaya or extended in nature.
    • It is infinite, eternal and imperceptible. It is only inferred.
    • Space is the locus of extension.
    • There are two types of space;
      • Loka-akasha: it is also called filled space. Here, motion is possible. In other words, it is our everyday living world or the phenomenal world.
      • Aloka-akasha: it is also called empty space. Here, motion is no possible. In other words, it is the abode of the liberated souls. It is also called siddha-shila.
  • Time or Kala:
    • It is Anasti-kaya dravya because time does not extend in space.
    • It is infinite and eternal in nature.
    • It is not perceived; it is only inferred from its characteristics.
    • Following are some of the characteristics of time;
      • continuity or vartana
      • modification or parinama
      • activity or kriya
      • new, now or paratva
      • old, then or aparatva
  • Time is one.
  • Time is of two types;
    • Real time or paramarthika kala: it deals with continuity or vartana. It is indivisible and one.
    • Empirical time or vyavharika kala: it deals with modification or change. It is divisible into moments, hours, days, minutes, seconds, etc.
  • 4&5 Dharma & Adharma or Motion and Rest:
    • It means motion and rest in Jainism. Unlike, the way the rest of the schools of Indian philosophy understand this term as merit and de-merit.
    • It is astikaya dravya or extended in space.
    • It is imperceptible and infinite and eternal.
    • As the name suggests, they help us in movements and coming to rest. But it is important to note that, they do not cause motion and rest. They only help us to move and rest.
    • It is passive and formless in nature.


  1. ________ believes in both permanence and change

A. Jainism

B. Jainism and Buddhism

C. Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta

D. Jainism and Advaita Vedanta

Answer: A

2. Astikaya dravya means

A. Extended in space

B. Non-extended in space

C. Extended in time

D. Non-extended in time

Answer: A

3. Dharma and Adharma means

A. Merit and De-merit

B. Good and Bad

C. Motion and Rest

D. Moral and Immoral

Answer: C

4. Pudgala or matter has ________ qualities

A. Four

B. Five

C. Three

D. None

Answer: A

5. Continuity or vartana, modification or parinama, activity or kriya , new, now or paratva , old, then or aparatva are the characteristics of

A. Time

B. Space

C. Dharma and Adharma

D. Matter

Answer: A

Continuity or vartana,

modification or parinama,

activity or kriya

new, now or paratva

old, then or aparatva






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