Jun 4, 2011

Jainism and non-creationism

Jainism does not support belief in a creator deity. According to Jain doctrine, the universe and its constituents - soul, matter, space, time, and principles of motion have always existed (a static universe similar to that of Epicureanism and steady state cosmological model). All the constituents and actions are governed by universal natural laws. It is not possible to create matter out of nothing and hence the sum total of matter in the universe remains the same (similar to law of conservation of mass). Similarly, the soul of each living being is unique and uncreated and has existed since beginningless time.[a][1]

The Jain theory of causation holds that a cause and its effect are always identical in nature and hence a conscious and immaterial entity like God cannot create a material entity like the universe. Furthermore, according to the Jain concept of divinity, any soul who destroys its karmas and desires, achieves liberation. A soul who destroys all its passions and desires has no desire to interfere in the working of the universe. Moral rewards and sufferings are not the work of a divine being, but a result of an innate moral order in the cosmos; a self-regulating mechanism whereby the individual reaps the fruits of his own actions through the workings of the karmas.

Through the ages, Jain philosophers have adamantly rejected and opposed the concept of creator and omnipotent God and this has resulted in Jainism being labeled as nastika darsana or atheist philosophy by the rival religious philosophies. The theme of non-creationism and absence of omnipotent God and divine grace runs strongly in all the philosophical dimensions of Jainism, including its cosmology, karma, moksa and its moral code of conduct. Jainism asserts a religious and virtuous life is possible without the idea of a creator god.[2]

Jaina Conception of the Universe
According to Jains, this loka or universe is an entity, always existing in varying forms with no beginning or end. Jain texts describe the shape of the universe as similar to a man standing with legs apart and arms resting on his waist. Thus, the universe is narrow at top, widens above the middle, narrows towards the middle, and once again becomes broad at the bottom.[3] [b]
[edit] Concept of Reality

This universe is made up of what Jainas call the six dravyas or substances classified as follows –

Jīva - The living substances

Jains believe that souls (Jīva) exist as a reality, with a separate existence from the body that houses it. It is characterised by cetana (consciousness) and upayoga (knowledge and perception).[4] Though the soul experiences both birth and death, it is neither destroyed nor created. Decay and origin refer respectively to the disappearance of one state of soul and appearance of another, both merely various modes of the soul.[5]

Ajīva - Non-Living Substances
Pudgala or Matter - Matter is solid, liquid, gas, energy, fine karmic materials and extra-fine matter or ultimate particles. Paramānu or ultimate particles are the basic building block of matter. One quality of paramānu and pudgala is permanence and indestructibility. It combines and changes its modes but its qualities remain the same. According to Jainism, it cannot be created nor destroyed.
Dharma-tattva or Medium of Motion and Adharma-tattva or Medium of Rest - Also known as Dharmāstikāya and Adharmāstikāya, they are distinct to Jain thought depicting motion and rest. They pervade the entire universe. Dharma-tattva and Adharma-tattva are by itself not motion or rest but mediate motion and rest in other bodies. Without dharmāstikāya motion is impossible and without adharmāstikāya rest is impossible in the Universe.
Ākāśa or Space - Space is a substance that accommodates living souls, matter, the principles of motion and rest, and time. It is all-pervading, infinite and made of infinite space-points.
Kāla or Time - Time is a real entity according to Jainism and all activities, changes or modifications are achieved only in time. Time is like a wheel with twelve spokes divided into descending and ascending: half with six stages of immense durations, each estimated at billions of "ocean years" (sagaropama).[6] In each descending stage, sorrow increases and at each ascending stage, happiness and bliss increase.

These uncreated constituents of the universe impart dynamics upon the universe by interacting with each other. These constituents behave according to natural laws without interference from external entities. Dharma or true religion according to Jainism is vatthu sahāvo dhammo translated as "the intrinsic nature of a substance is its true dharma." [c]

Cause and Effect
According to Jainism, causes are of two types – Upādanā kārana (substantial or material cause) and Nimitta kārana (instrumental cause). Upādanā kārana is always identical with its effect.[7] For example out of clay, you can only produce a clay pot; hence the clay is the upādanā kārana or material cause and clay pot its effect. Wherever the effect is present, the cause is present and vice versa. The effect is always present in latent form in the material cause. For transforming the clay to pot, the potter, the wheel, the stick and other operating agents are required that are merely nimitta or instrumental cause or catalysts in transformation. The material cause always remains the clay. Hence the cause and effect are always entirely identical in nature. [g] Potter cannot be the material cause of pot. If this were the case, then Potter might as well prepare the pot without any clay. But this is not so. Thus a clay pot can only be made from clay; gold ornaments can be made only from gold. Similarly the different modes of existence of a soul are a result of activities of soul itself. There cannot be any contradiction or exceptions.

In such a scenario, Jains argue that the material cause of a living soul with cetana (conscious entity) is always the soul itself and cause of dead inert matter (non-cetana i.e. without any consciousness) is always the matter itself.[8] If God is indeed the creator, then this is an impossible predication as the same cause will be responsible for two contradictory effects of cetana (life) and acetana (matter).[9] This logically precludes an immaterial God (a conscious entity) from creating this Universe, which is made up of material substances.

The Soul
According to Jainism, Soul is the master of its own destiny. One of the qualities of the soul is complete lordship of its own destiny.[10] The soul alone chooses its actions and soul alone reaps its consequences. No God or prophet or angel can interfere in the actions or the destiny of the soul. Furthermore, it is the soul alone who makes the necessary efforts to achieve liberation without any divine grace.[11][12]

Jains frequently assert that “we are alone” in this world. [h]Amongst the twelve contemplations (anupreksas) of Jains, one of them is the loneliness of ones soul and nature of the universe and transmigration. Hence only by cleansing our soul by our own actions can we help ourselves.[13]

Jainism thus lays a strong emphasis on the efforts and the freewill of the soul to achieve the desired goal of liberation.

Jain opposition to Creationism
Jain scriptures reject God as the creator of universe. 12th century Ācārya Hemacandra puts forth the Jain view of universe in Yogaśāstra as thus [i] –
“ This universe is not created nor sustained by anyone;

It is self sustaining, without any base or support

Besides scriptural authority, Jains also resorted to syllogism and deductive reasoning to refute the creationist theories. Various views on divinity and universe held by the vedics, sāmkhyas, mimimsas, Buddhists and other school of thoughts were analysed, debated and repudiated by the various Jain Ācāryas. However the most eloquent refutation of this view is provided by Ācārya Jinasena in Mahāpurāna as thus [j] –
“ Some foolish men declare that creator made the world. The doctrine that the world was created is ill advised and should be rejected.

If God created the world, where was he before the creation? If you say he was transcendent then and needed no support, where is he now?

How could God have made this world without any raw material? If you say that he made this first, and then the world, you are faced with an endless regression.

If you declare that this raw material arose naturally you fall into another fallacy, For the whole universe might thus have been its own creator, and have arisen quite naturally.

If God created the world by an act of his own will, without any raw material, then it is just his will and nothing else — and who will believe this silly nonsense?

If he is ever perfect and complete, how could the will to create have arisen in him? If, on the other hand, he is not perfect, he could no more create the universe than a potter could.

If he is form-less, action-less and all-embracing, how could he have created the world? Such a soul, devoid of all morality, would have no desire to create anything.

If he is perfect, he does not strive for the three aims of man, so what advantage would he gain by creating the universe?

If you say that he created to no purpose because it was his nature to do so, then God is pointless. If he created in some kind of sport, it was the sport of a foolish child, leading to trouble.

If he created because of the karma of embodied beings [acquired in a previous creation] He is not the Almighty Lord, but subordinate to something else

If out of love for living beings and need of them he made the world, why did he not make creation wholly blissful free from misfortune?

If he were transcendent he would not create, for he would be free: Nor if involved in transmigration, for then he would not be almighty. Thus the doctrine that the world was created by God makes no sense at all,

And God commits great sin in slaying the children whom he himself created. If you say that he slays only to destroy evil beings, why did he create such beings in the first place?

Good men should combat the believer in divine creation, maddened by an evil doctrine. Know that the world is uncreated, as time itself is, without beginning or end, and is based on the principles, life and rest. Uncreated and indestructible, it endures under the compulsion of its own nature.

Criticisms of Jaina non-creationist theory
Jainism along with Buddhism has been categorized as atheist philosophy i.e. Nāstika darśana by the followers of Vedic religion. However, the word Nāstika corresponds more to heterodox rather than atheism. Accordingly, those who did not believe in Vedas and rejected Brahma as the creator of Universe were labeled as Nāstika.

Mrs. Sinclair Stevenson, an Irish missionary, declared that “the heart of Jainism is empty” since it does not depend on beseeching an omnipotent God for salvation. While fervently appealing to accept Christianity, she says Jains believe strongly in forgiving others, and yet have no hope of forgiveness by a higher power. Jains believe that liberation is by personal effort not an appeal for divine intervention.[21] “The Heart of Jainism” was written from her missionary point of view without respecting Jain sensibilities.

If atheism is defined as disbelief in existence of a God, then Jainism cannot be labeled as atheistic, as it not only believes in existence of gods but also of the soul which can attain godhood. As Paul Dundas puts it – “while Jainism is, as we have seen, atheist in a limited sense of rejection of both the existence of a creator God and the possibility of intervention of such a being in human affairs, it nonetheless must be regarded as a theist religion in the more profound sense that it accepts the existence of divine principle, the paramātmā i.e. God, existing in potential state within all beings”.[22]

The Jaina position on God and religion from a perspective of a non-jain can be summed up in the words of Anne Vallely.
“ Jainism is the most difficult religion. We get no help from any gods, or from anyone. We just have to cleanse our souls. In fact other religions are easy, but they are not very ambitious. In all other religions when you are in difficulty, you can pray to God for help and maybe, God comes down to help. But Jainism is not a religion of coming down. In Jainism it is we who must go up. We only have to help ourselves. In Jainism we have to become God. That is the only thing.[13]

a. Self is not an effect as it is not produced by anything nor it is a cause as it does not produce anything. Samayasāra Gāthā 10.310 See Nayanara (2005b)
b. See Vācaka Umāsvāti's decription of the Universe in his Tattvārthasutra and Ācārya Hemacandras description of the universe in Yogaśāstra “…Picture a man standing with his arms akimbo - This is how Jainas believe the Loka looks like. 4.103-6
c. See Kārtikeyānupreksā, 478 - Dharma is nothing but the real nature of an object. Just as the nature of fire is to burn and the nature of water is to produce a cooling effect, in the same manner, the essential nature of the soul is to seek self-realization and spiritual elevation .
d. Vamdittu savvasiddhe .... [Samaysara 1.1] See Samaysara of Ācārya Kundakunda, Tr. By Prof A. Chakaravarti, page 1 of main text – "Jainism recognizes plurality of selves not only in world of samsara but also in the liberated state or siddhahood which is a sort of a divine republic of perfect souls where each soul retains its individual personality and does not empty its contents into the cauldron of the absolute as is maintained by other systems of philosophy"
e. See Tattvārthasūtra 1.1 "samyagdarśanajñānacāritrānimoksamārgah" - Translated as "Rational Perception, Rational Knowledge and Rational Conduct constitutes the path to liberation."
f. Sarvārthasiddhi "Moksa mārgasya netāram bhettāram karmabhubrutām jnātāram vishva tatvānām vande tadguna labhdhaye." Translated as "We pray to those who have led the path to salvation,who have destroyed the mountains of karma, and who know the reality of the universe. We pray to them to acquire their attributes."
g. See Samayasāra 3.99-100] "If soul were indeed the producer of alien substances, then he must be of that nature; as it is not so, he cannot be their creator"
h. Hemcandrācārya, Yogaśāstra. "eik utpadyate janturek eiv vipadyate" Translated as "each one is born alone and dies alone."
i."Nishpaadito Na Kenaapi Na Dhritah Kenachichch Sah Swayamsiddho Niradhaaro Gagane Kimtvavasthitah". see Ācārya Hemacandra, (1989). In: S. Bothara (ed.),Dr. A. S. Gopani (Tr.), Yogaśāstra(Sanskrit). Jaipur: Prakrit Bharti Academy. Sutra 4.106
j. This quote from Mahapurana finds a mention in “Salters Horners Advanced Physics” by Jonathan Allda, which contains various scientific theories on Universe. The author quotes this extract from Mahapurana to show that Cosmology (the study of Universe) is an ancient science, which today is still probing some of the deepest questions about the origins and future of the Universe. (P 268)

1 Nayanar (2005b), p.190, Gāthā 10.310
2 *Soni, Jayandra; E. Craig (Ed.) (1998). "Jain Philosophy". Routledge Encyclopedia of
Philosophy (London: Routledge). Retrieved 2008-06-27.
3 Gopani (1989), Gāthā 4.103-6
4 Nayanar (2005a), Gāthā 16
5 Nayanar(2005a), Gāthā 18
6 James (1969) p. 45
7 Nayanar (2005b), p.107
8 Nayanar (2005b), p. 189, Gāthā 10.308-9
9 Nayanar (2005b), p. 73, Gāthā 2.85
10 Nayanar (2005a), Gatha 27
11 Nayanar (2005a), Gāthā 29
12 Ācārya Amrtacandra Sūri, Laghutattvasphota, Sūtra 156
13 a b Vallely (1980), p.182
14 Thrower (1980), p.93
15 Jacobi (1884)Retrieved on : 25th May 2007
16 Nayanar (2005b), p.35 Gāthā 1.29
17 Gopani (1989), emended
18 a b Zydenbos (2006)
19 Kuhn (2001)
20 Acharya Umasvati, Tattvartha Sutra, Ch VIII, Sutra 21
21 Stevenson (1999) (Original 1915) p. 289
22 Dundas (2002) p.111

*Dundas, Paul; John Hinnels ed. (2002). The Jains. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-26606-8.
*Gopani, A. S.; Surendra Bothara ed. (1989). Yogaśāstra (Sanskrit) of Ācārya Hemacandra. Jaipur: Prakrit Bharti Academy.
*Jacobi, Hermann (1884). Ācāranga Sūtra, Jain Sutras Part I, Sacred Books of the East, Vol. 22..
*James, Edwin Oliver (1969). Creation and Cosmology: A Historical and Comparative Inquiry. Netherlands: Brill Publishers. ISBN 9004016171.
* Kuhn, Hermann (2001). Karma, The Mechanism : Create Your Own Fate. Wunstorf, Germany: Crosswind Publishing. ISBN 3-9806211-4-6.
* Nayanar, Prof. A. Chakravarti (2005). Pañcāstikāyasāra of Ācārya Kundakunda. New Delhi: Today & Tomorrows Printer and Publisher. ISBN 81-7019-436-9.
* Nayanar, Prof. A. Chakravarti (2005). Samayasāra of Ācārya Kundakunda. New Delhi: Today & Tomorrows Printer and Publisher. ISBN 81-7019-364-8.
* Stevenson, M.Sinclair (1999). Heart of Jainism. Munshiram Manoharial Publishers Private, Limited. ISBN 8121501229.
* Thrower, James (1980). Alternative Tradition: religion and the rejection of religion in the Ancient World. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter. ISBN 9027979979.
* Vallely, Anne (2002). Guardians of the Transcendent: An Ethnography of a Jain Ascetic Community.. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. ISBN 080208415X.
* Zydenbos, Rober J. (2006). Jainism Today and Its Future. Manya Verlag: Muenchen.
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