Jayendra Soni: Jaina Dharma of Beings and Things

“Unlike the Buddhist view that Buddha set in motion, the law of beings and things is eternal,” said Jayendra Soni in his paper on Jaina Dharma of Beings and Things during the Dharma in Jainism conference. He talked about the Jaina theory of non-violence and how it finds its root in Jaina metaphysics, linked also to their theory of karma.

He spoke about the Tattvartha Sutra, written by Umasvati around the 4th or 5th century CE and its importance as the first endeavor to present Jaina Dharma in the form of sutras in Sanskrit, as with other classical schools of Indian philosophy. His paper on the topic worked closely and with great detail with particular reference to this text.

The Dharma of Beings and Things in Jainism has the categories of the Jiva and the Ajiva, the sentient and insentient principles which make up Jaina ontology. These two terms are closely linked with Jaina metaphysics and are principles mentioned with 5 other principles that form the Law of Beings and Things in Jainism. The other five principles – asrava, bandha, samvara, nirjara and moksa – are the metaphysical principles.

Mr. Jayendra Soni translates ‘Dharma’ as the ‘law’. He broke down this concept with reference to Umasvāti’s work, which had two versions that is the Digambaras and the Shvetambaras. Mr Soni also spoke about the relation between the matter and soul, how matter comes in contact with the soul as we carry out actions, and about how when there is an excess of matter on the soul, it begins to weigh it down and prevent its movement into higher worlds, how there is a natural tendency of the soul to move upwards into the Siddha Loka. He also spoke of their being a way to purify the soul through a process in order to attain liberation or moksa.

In addition to Dharma, he also talked about the existence of the concept of Adharma in Jainism, which is a part of the Jaina Metaphysics, and how it plays a role in perpetuating motion. Along with this Jayendra Soni also spoke about the notion of space and time in the Jaina World.

The talk was an enlightening one that revealed a lot about the Jaina World in many senses, as was revealed by the lively Q&A session that followed.


Report by: Nandini Rao and Nadine Almeida


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