This chapter answers the following questions:
What is ahimsa?
Why do we observe ahimsa?
What is jiva?
What are different types of jiva?
What is worldly jiva?
What is liberated jiva?
What is pratyek vanaspatikäya jiva?
What is anantkäya vanaspatikäya jiva?
Why is the human life important?
Where do jiva live?
What is paryapti?
What is pran?
Why should we know about pran?
How do we do himsa?
In Jainism, Jiva and soul are more or less described synonymously. When
the spiritual or psychic status of the Jiva is described it is referred
to as the soul, and when the physical structure about the soul is
described it is called Jiva.
The jiva is that which grows, decays, fluctuates, varies, eats, sleeps,
awakes, acts, fears, rests, has knowledge and perception, attempts to
self defend, and reproduces. These and more qualities of the jiva are
obvious through a physical body when the soul is present in it but when
the soul leaves these qualities cease. These qualities are external
features and consciousness (chetan) is the basic inner feature of the
soul. This also makes it clear for us that the body and the soul are
Since the soul has a flexible size, pervades the entire body that it
occupies. For example, the same soul can occupy the body of an ant or
an elephant. Such bodies stay alive as long as there is a soul within.
A live body, or rather, a body with a soul is described here as a
Jivas are categorized in two groups.
1. Liberated Jiva or Siddha.
2. Non-liberated Jiva or Sansari Jiva.
Liberated souls have no karmas and therefore, they are no longer in the
cycle of birth and death. They do not live among us, but reside at the
uppermost part of this universe called Siddhashila. They are formless
and shapeless, have perfect knowledge and perception, and have infinite
vigor and bliss. All siddhas are equal and there is no difference in
On the other side, non-liberated (worldly) jivas have karmas, and are
continually going through the cycle of birth and death. They experience
happiness and pain and have passions, which in turn cause the soul to
wandering more. Except for the jiva of Arihants, non-liberated jivas
have limited knowledge and perception.
Jivas are found on earth, as well as in the water, air, and sky, and are
scattered all over the universe. Human beings, celestial beings,
infernal beings, animals, fish, birds, bugs, insects, plants, etc. are
the most common forms of Jiva with which we can easily relate. However,
Jain scriptures state that there are 8.4 million species of Jiva in
all. They are known by the senses they possess. There are five senses
in all, namely those of touch, taste, smell, sight and hearing.
Different types of Jivas possess one or more of these senses. Based
upon the number of senses and mobility, Jivas are classified into two
Based on mobility, all Jivas are divided into two broad categories:
A) non-mobile or Sthävar Jiva - those that can not move and have only
B) Mobile or Trasa jiva - those that can move and have two to five
A) Non-Mobile (Sthavar jiva, single sense being, or ekendriya jiva):
Jivas having only one sense, the sense of touch are called Ekendriya.
Ekendriya Jivas are further divided into the following five
(1) Prithwikäya or earth bodied:
Seemingly inanimate forms of earth are actually living beings, e.g.
clay, sand, metal, and coral, etc. They have earthly bodies, hence the
name Prithwikaya which is derived from the Sanskrit term for earth,
(2) Apkäya or water bodied:
Seemingly inanimate forms of different types of water are living beings,
e.g. dew, fog, iceberg, and rain, etc. They have water bodies, hence
the name Apkäya which is derived from the Sanskrit term for water, Ap.
(3) Teukäya or fire bodied:
Seemingly inanimate forms of different types of fires are living beings,
e.g. flames, blaze, lightening, forest fire, and hot ash, etc. They
have fire bodies, hence the name Apakaya which is derived from the
Sanskrit term fire, Tejas.
(4) Väyukäya or air bodied:
Seemingly inanimate forms of air are actually living beings e.g. wind,
whirlwinds, and cyclones, etc. They have gaseous bodies, hence the name
Vayukay which is derived from the Sanskrit term for gas, Väyu.
(5) Vanaspatikäya or plant bodied:
It is well known that plants grow, reproduce, etc., and they are
accepted as living beings. Trees, plants, branches, flowers, leaves,
and seeds, etc. are some examples of plant life. The Sanskrit term for
plant is Vanaspati and therefore such Jivas are called Vanaspatikäya
A plant life can have one or more souls in a single body and, depending
upon this, plant life is further divided into the following two
A. Pratyek Vanaspatikäya:
Pratyek means one. Such plant life has one soul in one body. Therefore,
they are called pratyek vanaspatikäya. Trees, plants, bushes, stem,
branches, leaves, and seeds, etc. are all examples of pratyek
B. Sädhäran Vanaspatikäya:
Sädhäran means common. In such plant life many souls occupy the same
body making this type of plant life multi-organic. Therefore, such
plant life is called sädhäran vanaspatikäya. Such plant lives have an
infinite number of souls in one body are called "Anantkäya". Roots such
as potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, beats, etc. belong to this
B) Mobile (Tras jiva, multi sensed being, bahu indriya jiva):
These two, three, four or five sensed beings are divided into the
(1) Two sensed beings (Beindriya Jiva):
Two sensed beings have the senses of touch, and taste. e.g. shells,
worms, insects, microbes in stale food, termites, etc.
(2) Three sensed beings (Treindriya Jiva):
Three sensed beings have the senses of touch, taste, and smell, e.g.
bugs, lice, white ants, moths and insects in wheat and other grains,
(3) Four sensed beings (Chaurindriya Jiva):
Four sensed beings have the senses of touch, taste, smell and sight,
e.g. scorpions, crickets, spiders, beetles, locusts, flies, etc.
(4) Five sensed beings (Panchendriya Jiva):
Five sensed beings have all the five senses of touch, taste, smell,
sight and hearing e.g. human beings, cow, lions, fish, birds, etc.
The following are four sub-categories of the Panchendriya Jivas.
a) Infernal (Näraki) - Jivas living in hell,
b) Tiryancha - Non-human beings i.e. elephants, lions, birds, fish,
c) Celestial (Dev) - heavenly beings,
d) Manushya - Human beings.
Among the five sensed beings some have minds, while others do not. Those
having a mind are called Sangni Panchendriya and those without a mind
are called Asangni Panchendriya.
Among all of these Jivas the most happiness is found in the celestial
being, while the most suffering is found in the infernal beings.
Neither celestial nor infernal beings can perform any austerities and
cannot attain salvation during this life. Animals possess limited
restraint only and therefore, they also cannot attain salvation
directly. The human state of existence is the most preferable because
during this life one can use logic to the fullest extent, can perform
austerities, can live with restraint, and thus only through this human
phase can a jiva attain salvation or Moksha.
All jivas have special attributes related to the body such as paryäpti
(power), pran (vitality). The inert or ajiva substance does not
possess any such qualities. The following is the discussion relating to
paryapti and pran.
Paryapti means a special power through which the jiva takes in matter
(Pudgals) like food and converts it into separate kinds of energy.
There are six kinds of Paryaptis:
(1) Ahar (food) (2) Sharir (body)
(3) Indriya (senses) (4) Shwasoshwas (respiration)
(5) Bhasha (speech) (6) Man (mind)
When the life of a jiva is over, the soul along with tejas and karman
bodies leaves the current body and acquires a new body. As soon as a
jiva is born, the first thing it does is consume food. The jiva, with
the help of Tejas body, digests food. After this, the jiva gradually
attains the power of the body and the power of the senses. The
activities of consuming food, developing the body, and forming and
strengthening the sense-organs go on continuously. The body is formed
in a duration called the Antarmuhurt (within 48 minutes). Next, the
jiva receives the matter of respiration which allows it to acquire the
power of respiration and eventually the power of mind.
The Ekendriya, one sensed jivas have (1) Ahar, (2) Sharir, (3) Indriya,
and (4) Shwasoshwas Paryaptis. Beindriya, Treindriya, Chaurindriya
and Asamjni Panchendriya jivas also possess (5) Bhashas paryapti in
addition to the above four. Samjni Panchendriya jivas also possess (6)
Man paryapti in addition to above five. Depending upon the development
of paryaptis the jivas are also classified as (1) Paryapta Jiva, (2)
Aparyapta Jiva. Paryapta Jiva means that their corresponding paryaptis
have developed to full capacity. While, Aparyapta Jiva means thst their
paryaptis are not developed to the full capacity.
Depending upon the development of the Jiva, there are up to ten kinds of
prans or vitalities present in each jiva. These vitalities are:
1) Sparsh-Indriya (Touch): The ability to feel the sensation of touch.
2) Ras-Indriya (Taste): the ability to taste
3) Ghran-lndriya (Smell): the ability to smell
4) Chakshu-lndriya (Vision): the ability to see
5) Shravan-Indriya (Hearing): the ability to hear
6) Mano-bal (Mind): the ability to think
7) Vachan-bal (Speech): the ability to speak
8) Kaya-bal (Body): the ability to move the body
9) Shwasoshwas (Respiration): the ability to inhale and exhale
1O) Ayushya (Longivity): the ability to live
The Ekendriya jivas possess only four prans:
(1) Touch (2) Respiration
(3) Body (4 ) Longevity
The Beindriya jivas possess six prans. They possess the taste and speech
vitalities in addition to the above four prans.
The Treindriya jivas possess seven prans. They possess the smell
vitality in addition to the above six prans.
The Chaurindriya jivas possess eight prans. They possess the vision
vitality in addition to the above seven prans.
The Panchendriya jivas are divided into two groups: (1) Asamjni
(non-sentient) jivas, those whose minds are not developed and (2)
Samjni (Sentient) jivas, those whose minds are developed.
The Asamjni (non-sentient) Panchendriya jivas possess nine prans. They
possess the hearing vitality in addition to the above eight prans.
The Samjni Panchendriya jivas possess ten pranas. They possess mind
vitality in addition to the above nine prans.
The reason we need to know these prans, because any injury no matter how
little it may be to anyone of these prans is considered himsa
(violence). When himsa occurs by us, our soul accumulates karmas. But,
one of our aims is to stop a new karmas coming in so that liberation of
the soul can happen faster. Therefore, to accomplish our aim we have to
observe Ahimsa (nonviolence) related to all of these ten prans and of
all categories of Jivas. The first vow of the householders, monks and
nuns is related to protect these ten prans. Now you may understand why
we say "Ahimsa Parmo Dharma", because by observing Ahimsa we are
protecting the vitalities of the soul.
The summary of number of Paryäptis and Prans in various Jivas.
Abilities Paryaptis Prans
Ekendriya - those having one sense 4 4
Dwindriya - those having two senses 5 6
Teindriya - those having three senses 5 7
Chaurindriya - those having four senses 5 8
Asanjni Panchendriya- those having five
senses without a mind 5 9
Sanjni Panchendriya- those having five
senses with a mind 6 10
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