Structure of lok

<< Previous Class

With a broad enough idea of everything that exists – living and non-living from our previous three sessions dealing with classification of everything, a fundamental question persists where do all these exist. In one of the previous sessions, we had briefly touched upon the same. Anyone for a refresher?

“Everything exists in lok, which is humongous but finite”, recalled Dhyān.

Good. All except ākāshastikāy, which exists both in lok and beyond, in the all infinite alok, as well. So, if we leave out the alok ākāsh, then all matter, energy, infinite living beings exist in the finite lok.

But, how do infinite exist in the finite?

How many points are there on a line?


What if the line is of fixed length?

Even then infinite.

Now you see that’s how infinite (points) can exist in finite (length line).

But points are infinitesimally small to fit in.

Similarly, the infinite living beings are also infinitesimally small compared to the size of lok.

But we human beings are so big?

But then we are not infinite.

So, being finite, lok must have some definite shape as well.

Yes, it has. And that’s what our topic of discussion today would be – structure of lok.

“Wow! So I hope, today we are talking about our unanswered questions also”, interrupted Ātmā.

Which questions?

How big actually is the lok?

“And yes, where exactly in the lok, do the various beings, especially celestial & hellish beings live?”, added Danḋak.

“Seems like, you guys are totally into it, holding onto getting all the answers to the unknowns”, smiled the prof.

Couldn’t help, the way you have created the curiosity for the world around us – making us feel that how little do we know about it.

Okay. So, coming to the point, the shape of lok is sort of one and a half sand clock. Imagine a sand clock and then bottom half of an another sand clock placed over the first sand clock, making it one and half sand clock.

Beautiful. How tall would be this structure, I mean the lok?

It is 14 rajju. However, the middle point is the slimmest part of the sand clock. The bottom half sand clock is 7 rajju and the upper half plus the another half at the top is 7 rajju.

What is this rajju?

Just hold on. For time being, just assume some unit of length. 1 rajju height of the slimmest portion is the madhya (middle) lok, with its width also of 1 rajju. The portion below it, is the adho (bottom) lok, with the seven hells, one after the other – seventh one being the bottom-most, with the maximum width of 7 rajju. The portion above the madhya lok is the ūrdhva (upper) lok, having maximum width of 5 rajju at its middle and topmost width of 1 rajju again, where the mokṡ-shilā is situated. Between the madhya lok and the mokṡ-shilā are the planetary, moon, sun, and star systems, followed by the 26 heavens one after the other.

Everyone was mesmerised, visualizing the lok in all its glory, interrupted by, “Hey friends, don’t just get lost in the heavens. Come back. Your goal should be not that but beyond that.”

“Yes! yes! we know – it should be mokṡ”, came a chorus, after an awakening.

“Where do the bhavans of the bhavanpati beings exist?”, jump started Gati.

They are in the adho lok above all the hells but below the madhya lok.

With such a detail and I guess there is more to it, we should definitely be able to reach at least the closest ones.

Not really, because even they are away in rajju.

Tell us what rajju is and possibly over time, humans would work out, how to reach there.

We are not yet able to reach beyond our solar system itself – so reaching even a fraction of rajju is unimaginable. One rajju consists of an innumerous (mahā) yojan, where a (mahā) yojan is 4000 miles.

But what is this abstract innumerous? How do you even define this?

That’s what – it is so huge that it is inexpressible.

Meaning infinite.

No. It is finite, but huge.

How can that be? If finite, it has to be expressible.

Not really. If you want to just get a feel of innumerous, mathematically, check this video out:

Morover, the overall volume of the complete lok is 343 cubic rajju. In case you are interested in more details like the curve equation of lok, volume calculation of lok, how to define innumerous, varieties of infinity, you may refer to the book: ‘The Enigma of the Universe’ by Prof. Muni Mahendra Kumar.    Send article as PDF   

Unknown Worlds of Living Beings

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Last class, we completed classifying living beings based on their senses. In that, all one to four sensed beings belonged to the earlier defined category of tiriyanch. However, the five sensed beings included humans, celestial beings, hellish beings, and tiriyanch – the animals.

“So does that mean, all who are not tiriyanch, are five sensed?”, asked Danḋak.

Yes. And in tiriyanch also there are five types of five sensed beings.

Yes, yes – you told us in the previous class.

I just told some examples. However, they can also be further classified into five, viz jalchar (creatures living in water like crocodiles, fish, …), sthalchar (creatures walking on land like elephants, horses, cows, …), urparisarp (creatures creeping using their chest like snakes, …), bhujparisarp (creatures creeping using arms like rats, …), khechar (creatures flying in the air like birds, bats, …)

Do we need to remember these names?

Not necessarily. But, knowing them helps you relate & understand things better, when you come across such names. Anyways, today, we would further explore the scientifically unknown world of vanaspatikāy, celestial and hellish beings.

“Isn’t vanaspatikāy the biological plant kingdom?”, clarified Rāshi.

All plant kingdom as in biology is definitely included in vanaspatikāy. But there are infinitely many beings in vanaspatikāy way beyond the plant kingdom.

Yes, even biology accepts that there would be a whole lot more of unknown species of plant kingdom.

I am not talking of the unknown species of observable visible plant kingdom, which may be known one day using our sense organs & instruments – but the observable invisibles, which couldn’t be known using our sense organs, even with the help of instruments.

Why not, when they are observable?

Because they are infinitesimally tiny, way smaller than the observable lower space limit of science, forget about our sense organs. Vanaspatikāy could be classified into two: avyavahār rāshi, vyavahār rāshi – the invisibles and visibles. Vyavahār rāshi includes all plants what we know, use, and usually talk about – also the unknown species, we talk about. In fact, all beings other than vanaspatikāy are also vyavahār rāshi. Avyavahār rāshi is the scientifically unknown world of vanaspatikāy.

So then, would science ever be able to observe avyavahār rāshi beings?

May not be, unless it goes beyond sensing based instruments. However we may, using our inner knowledge. Avyavahār rāshi beings constitute the biggest infinite population of worldly beings. One can imagine – as even after being so tiny, complete lok is filled up by them. They are sādhāraṅ, i.e. infinity of them in a single body. Contrast that with pratyek, i.e. one body with one being. Moreover, their bodies are further invisible and there are infinity of such invisible bodies.

“Wow! They are all here, around us. I can smash them”, exclaimed Leshyā along with action of her hands.

Not really. By the nature of their tininess, they can’t be killed or even hurt by our movement or say even fire – for that matter, by anything visible. However, they themselves die and gets reborn 35 times by the time we take two breaths.

That’s too small a life to live.

Not only small but spatially too constrained and painful. In fact, there is a variety of mindless humans – so called asanjyni manuṡya, which are also equivalently tiny and having a similar life style, so as to say.

Where do we find such humans?

“I guess, we’ll find many around”, naughty Bhāngā answered in a lighter vein.

“Yes you may. But mind that, we are not referring to we humans without mind”, the prof added to the fun. “These humans are too tiny to find, but they do get born in many of the excreta of ‘mindful’ humans in 48 minutes of their excretion”.

Is it the bacteria in there?

No. They are even tinier and five-sensed humans. I know it sounds odd. But that’s what reality is way weirder than what we see. So, let’s get more weird. There are seven hells, where the hellish beings live, viz ratnaprabhā, sharkarāprabhā, bālukāprabhā, pankaprabhā, dhūmaprabhā, tamahprabhā, mahātamahprabhā – each more merkier, darker, painful than the previous. Painful due to harshest of climate, continuous fights, extreme hunger and thirst – to list some.

Can we go and check them out?

Ya sure. But not in this life; by taking a rebirth in a hell.

Why not in this birth?

As the hells are too far away, beyond human reach. Same is the case with the heavens. Why else do you think, they are still the unknown worlds from the scientific perspective. However, unlike the hellish beings, the celestial beings can visit other places including ours. In fact, there are many celestial beings which reside not very far away from us.

Okay, so I’d be able to see the celestial beings, in case they come down to meet me.

That might still not be possible as hellish & celestial beings have vaikriya bodies, which are not visible through naked eyes. Though you may feel them. In a broader sense, the celestial beings may be further categorized into four: bhavanpati, vyantar, jyotiṡ, vaimānik. bhavanpati beings reside in bhavans or palaces quite far away, though nearer than the hells. vyantar beings typically reside on trees, in jungles, in isolated places, and the likes, not very far away from us.

“By vyantar, are you referring to ghosts? Don’t tell me, they do exist”, asked Chāritra.

They do exist, though not as shown in movies. And they are not visible to our naked eyes, due to their vaikriya bodies. They are just one of the vyantar beings. Broadly speaking, there are eight varieties of vyantar beings: pishāch, bhūt, yakṡ, rākṡas, kinnar, kinpuruṡ, mahorag, gandharv. jyotiṡ beings reside on various celestial bodies like suns, moons, planets, stars, …

“Does it mean that the bhavans of bhavanpati beings, these celestial bodies, etc are the heavens, we have been talking about?”, quizzed Danḋak.

Not really the 26 heavens, we earlier talked about. These are all just the living places of the close by celestial beings. The far away heavens we typically refer to, are the places where the vaimānik beings reside. There are first 12 of them, viz soudharm, īshān, sanatkumār, māhendra, brahmalok, lāntak, mahāshukra, sahasrār, ānat, prāṅat, āraṅ, achyut – each one above the previous one. Above them are 9 more, in a neck-like formation for graiveyak beings (a category of vaimānik beings). And finally 5 more, viz vijay, vaijayant, jayant, aparājit, sarvārthasiddh for anuttar beings – the topmost category of vaimānik beings – thus a total of 12 + 9 + 5 = 26 heavens.

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Variety of Living Beings

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Did anyone of you got a chance to read the reference suggested in our previous class?

After a pause of silence.

Seems like none. Anyways, once you get a peek into it, I’d know it for sure, as you can’t but have a lot of questions to discuss here. So, after our first level of classification of non-living beings, let’s continue the same, now for living beings, beings having consciousness, beings having soul.

“Didn’t we already do it during our discussion of cycle of birth and death?”, questioned Dravya.

Yes, but that was just from one perspective. Now, we’d like to dive deeper and apply anekāntvād to see the multi-perspectives.

“And I believe, that didn’t even classify all the living beings, and currently we are classifying everything”, completed Rāshi.

Sort of yes. So, can you tell us the first level of classification of all living beings?

All living beings could be classified into two: the emancipated beings and the worldly beings.

Exactly. The beings who are now just pure souls, out of the cycle of birth and death. And the worldly beings who are still wandering through the four gati, taking birth and dying, leaving one form of body to enter an another body.

“Doesn’t the pure souls have any body?”, asked Leshyā.

No. They are just pure souls, with no non-living things attached to them.

Now, I have a fundamental doubt. I remember we discussing that once a soul reaches its pure form, then it can never get impure again, and that’s how mokṡ, the pure state, is permanent.

Yes, perfectly correct.

So, when the soul is leaving a body from one gati and going to another, wouldn’t there be even a momentary state, when it is pure, devoid of any body, any non-living thing? And if it is, then that would be its state of mokṡ, and so shouldn’t even further enter into any body. So, everyone should go to mokṡ, as soon as they die.

“Seems like a full proof argument, but just with a little flaw”, smiled the professor.

What’s that? Would there be no moments between the transition from one body to another?

No, there could be moments between the transition. But during those moments the soul is not pure, it has non-living particles attached around it.

O yes! I remember. You said the karm particles would be there always and they are non-living things.

Exactly. Now that can also be viewed from a different perspective. There are five kinds of bodies: oudārik, vaikriya, āhārak, tejas, kārmaṅ. And, any of these bodies can be had only by worldly souls. One or two of the first three types of bodies can be had by a worldly soul only when it is living in any gati. However, the last two bodies are always there with the worldly soul, even during the gati transition.

“This kārmaṅ body sounds very similar to karm”, commented Vrat.

Yes indeed. kārmaṅ is nothing but the body made of karm particles – our past impressions, attached closest to the soul. Just an another perspective of putting across the same concept.

“That explains, how our previous births could have impact on our current and future births, even after the body change”, added Leshyā.

And our current one on the future one as well, as our current actions are getting encrypted into our kārmaṅ body.

“What then is this tejas body?”, queried Vrat.

Tejas is the energy body attached next around the kārmaṅ body.

Hmmm! That possibly explains experimentalists claiming to have taken pictures of soul going out of a dying person, even though soul is non-observable.

Yes. The pictures would possibly be depicting the tejas body leaving along with the soul, not really the soul. Now, coming back to classification. The emancipated souls doesn’t need any further classification, as they all are just pure souls, and hence identical in their properties. So, all our further classification of living beings would refer only to the worldly living beings.

“So, can we say that gati was just a classification of worldly beings alone?”, clarified Dravya.

Yes. As emancipated souls are beyond gati. And just to complete the complete classification of worldly beings, we can add the fifth gati – antarāl gati, the worldly being form when it is under transition from death to birth.

What is a typical time interval of this antarāl gati?

1-4 samay, where samay is the smallest indivisible unit of time. Now, we would like to do an another classification of the worldly beings – based on the senses they possess.

“As we were discussing in one of our previous sessions, each of the four gati themselves have so many varieties. So, shouldn’t we just further sub-classify the four gati?”, interrupted Leshyā.

Yes we definitely would. And once we go in that direction, there is so much to explore into the unknowns that we would easily need at least one complete session for it. So, we’ll possibly do that in our next class. And before that, it would be great, if you all can skim through the book ‘Jīv Ajīv’ by Acharya Mahaprajna.

“‘Jīv Ajīv’ meaning living beings and non-living beings?”, clarified Mahāvrat.

Yes. It would give you a glimpse of what we have been discussing, and what we are going to discuss further. So, continuing with our last perspective of classification for today – the senses.

“Senses meaning the five senses of touch, taste, smell, light, sound, right?”, recalled Viṡay.

Right. And with that, you have already laid down the foundation for the senses-based classification of worldly living beings. Note that emancipated beings are anyways beyond these bodily senses, as they don’t need them anymore.

One I can think of is living beings with only the sense of touch, like plants.

Very good. It would also include water, earth, fire, air life forms. And from there, you can gradually move on to living beings with only two senses namely touch and taste, like snail, oyster, mites, etc

Then, living beings with only three senses. But which three senses? Is it any three senses?

That’s an interesting point. You’ll note that in nature, there’s a beautiful sequence. The senses develop exactly in that order. And hence, three-sensed beings would exactly have the sense of touch, taste, and smell, like in lice, ants.

So, four-sensed beings would additionally have the sense of light, like in cockroaches, lizards, etc.

Yes. And five-sensed beings will have all the five senses, like in humans, celestial beings, hellish beings, crocodiles, cows, horses, lions, elephants, snakes, rats, birds, …

But snakes don’t have ears?

We are not talking of (external) ears here, but sense of sound. Snakes do have that.

Are Celestial & Hellish beings also five-sensed?

Yes. Let’s dig deeper into those in our next session.

Next Class >>

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Classification of Everything

<< Previous Class

Philosophers & Scientists specifically Physicists, and humans in general have been driven by the quest to find a unified theory of everything. However, scientists themselves believe that they may never be able to find the same.

“By that, do scientists mean that it doesn’t even exist?”, asked Driṡṫi

No, not really. They do believe that such thing might exist. But that would go beyond the materialistic world – the world of space, time, matter, energy – which is what the current science typically deals with.

Then, why are they still striving for it?

Because they believe that even with materialistic world science, they can go far more closer to it, than what they are today.

That’s at least motivating. And I assume, philosophers do have a different view.

You got it. They believe that if we attain kewal knowledge, we’d know the theory of everything, as that knowledge, by definition itself, is complete and infinite, going beyond the materialistic world.

Ok. Then the philosophers must be working towards it?

They do and they had. In fact, in the past, people have attained kewal knowledge. That’s how we know that it’s possible.

Then, why don’t we know it? Didn’t they share or tell it to the whole world, as the scientists do by publishing papers.

The only challenge is that all our means of knowledge sharing or transfer are all finite, and hence incapable of sharing the infinite knowledge.

So, everyone interested in theory of everything has to get to it, on its own.

Yes. At the least, to the final major part of it. However, the techniques to get there are somewhat shareable.

At least, do we know those?

They were known, but many got lost with the sea of time. Not all are currently available. But we can definitely start with the ones available and work towards exploring the rest.

Great. So, when do we start?

All of our these classes & concepts therein are steps in that direction only. Getting to know more and more of it. So, let’s take a leap further into it by doing a classification of everything.

“Wow! Classification of Everything – that sounds interesting”, quipped Tatva.

Okay gals n guys, so if we would like to categorize everything in two baskets, what would it be?

“Gross and subtle”, replied Tatva.

Not a very clear classification, as it would be relative.

“I guess, living and non-living”, responded Dhyān.


“Aha! that was easy – I thought unnecessarily complex”, interrupted Tatva.

No worries. That’s were we start – simple & obvious. But then dive into it to understand the more complex & non-obvious details in there. So, now what would be the categorization of non-livings?

“Matter and energy is all non-living”, answered Dravya.

“But if everything have to be categorized in two, wouldn’t all which is not living is non-living”, interrupted Dhyān.

“Yes, but we would like to further list them out all”, professor emphasized.

Okay… Then, also add space (आकाश) and time (काल) to the list.

Good. And there are two more to complete the list of non-livings.

Students went thinking but ran out of choices.

I know its difficult, as science has not yet recognized them. They are dharmāstikāy (धर्मास्तिकाय) and adharmāstikāy (अधर्मास्तिकाय) – the two non-observable implicit assistants of motion and non-motion, respectively.

Motion and non-motion of what all?

Matter, Energy, and Living beings.

So, does that mean they are in vacuum also?

Yes. In fact, both of it occupies the complete lok – lok as understood in our previous class.

But definitely not in alok, right?

Yes, perfect – as alok consists only of space and nothing else. Moreover, each of dharmāstikāy and adharmāstikāy, as such, are single stationary entities, composed of innumerable inseparable pradesh.

What is pradesh?

Smallest indivisible unit of anything is called its pradesh. For another example, even space is composed of inseparable pradesh, just that it is not composed of innumerable but infinite pradesh.

So, even time is composed of pradesh?

No. However, that’s the only exception, as it is only a conceptual non-living thing.

Being the tiniest, would it be anywhere possible to separate out the pradesh?

Yes, it may be, in case of matter & energy, together called pudgalāstikāy (पुद्गलास्तिकाय). And in such case, the separated pradesh is called parmāṅu. Contrast that, this is not the atom of current science, neither any sub-atomic particle like electron, nor photon. It is way too smaller than all these. In fact, a sub-atomic particle, or even a photon is composed of infinte number of parmāṅu. It can be termed as wavicle, a thing yet unknown to science.

If I understood correct, parmāṅu is a pradesh – just that it is separable from other pradesh, right?

Yes. Additionally, parmāṅu are the only pradesh which has attributes of colour, smell, taste, and touch.

These attributes at this tiniest level?!


“What exactly do you mean by attribute of touch?”, queried Viṡay

It includes the attribute of temperature, charge, wave, mass, where the latter two are optional, and if present are created by the combination of the former two.

That’s quite a different way of putting the stuff around.

Yes it is and it is not.

With that rings the bell.

And, I am sure you’d like to explore this further. Check out ‘Microcosmology: Theory of Atom in Jain Philosophy & Modern Science’ by J S Zaveri & Muni Mahendra Kumar, for further reading. We are still to do further classification of living beings. Let’s do it in our next session.

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Cycle of Birth and Death

<< Previous Class

While discussing about knowing the knowledge, we concluded that soul is the beholder of knowledge, in fact complete knowledge, and also from time immemorial. Moreover, it would have it forever.

“Wouldn’t that mean existence of everyone’s soul also from time minus infinity to time plus infinity?”, questioned Jāti.

Yes, it does. And not only that, they have been even bound by karm particles from time immemorial.

So you mean, there was worldly existence of my soul before my birth, and would be there after my death, as well?

Yes Jāti, we all had a worldly existence before our *this* birth. In fact, we had already gone through infinite births and deaths. And that’s what our topic of discussion today – the cycle of birth and death.

So, would we have infinite births and deaths in the future also?

That depends. Going forward, if we get rid of all our karm particles and attain mokṡ, we come out of this painful cycle – no worldly existence – no rebirths, no deaths – just stay forever in mokṡ-shila. Otherwise, yes we would further keep going through this cycle of birth and death.

“Where is this mokṡ-shila?”, asked Ātmā curiously.

It is within this universe only, but at one of its ends.

O! So this universe have an end also.

Yes, the universe which contains matter, energy, soul, … is humongous but finite – and is referred to as lok (लोक). However, outside that, is alok (अलोक), which is infinite and has nothing in it and cannot have anything in it, except the empty space.

Can’t we go in alok?

No, nothing can be there, and so nothing can go there either.

How old are these lok and alok?

Again, like the soul, they were never created, they would never be destroyed. They have been there without any beginning (अनादि) and would be there forever without any end (अनंत).

How big is this finite lok?

I think, we are going off-topic for today. We would talk about lok in detail, some other day. So, we were talking about our existence before birth. In broad level, there are four gati (गति), so called forms through which soul can move through, while being in this world.

“How does the soul decide its gati?”, queried Danḋak.

It is decided by the karm particles, the soul has accumulated in its previous gati, by its puruṡārth (deeds).

Do you mean the karm particles keep moving around with the soul, through these gati?

Yes. Because if they don’t, the soul would attain its purest form and attain mokṡ, getting rid of moving through the various gati.

Ok. What do you exactly mean by gati?

These are the four forms or categories of worldly living beings, namely Celestial being (देव), Human being (मनुष्य), Tiriyanch being (तिरियंच), Hellish being (नारक).

So do these celestial and hellish kind of beings really exist? If yes, then why don’t we see them.

Yes, they very well do exist. We do not see them because their bodies are of different kind, which are not visible to our eyes. Moreover, they generally do not live here among us.

Where do they live? Heaven & Hell?

Sort of. Most of the celestial beings live in the various heavens (स्वर्ग) and all the hellish beings in the various hells (नरक). To be more precise, we’d need to understand the structure of lok.

Did you say heavens & hells? Are they not just one-one each?

No. There are 26 heavens & 7 hells.

And for sure, all of them are in this lok only, as there can’t be anything in alok?

Yes, exactly. We’ll talk more about their positions in our detailed discussion on lok.

What are these tiriyanch beings? I hope them to be the normal living beings, we see.

Yes, all the living beings except human beings, which biology talks about falls into this category.

So, the complete animal kingdom (except humans) & plant kingdom constitute the tiriyanch gati.

Animals, plants, and four more living beings.

“What else is left?!”, exclaimed Kāy.

Water (अपकाय), Earth (पृथ्वीकाय), Fire (तेजसकाय), Air (वायुकाय).

What?! Even they are living beings?!

Yes – they have souls residing in them, as well. In fact, one drop of water, one pinch of soil, a spark of fire, handful of air, each may contain innumerable number of souls.

You mean to say they may contain so many microbes.

No, not microbes – microbes would come under the biological animal or plant kingdom. Here, we are referring to living beings, whose body is water, earthly components (soil, minerals, …), fire, air, respectively.

That will take some time to digest.

No problem. Bose’ experiments had already shown signs of living beings from various minerals. In future, science will possibly verify others also.

Oh! Okay. I hope gati of human beings at least contains just we humans.

Human beings, yes. But not just we, there is at least one more variety, in there – though not getting in detail of that right now. With this, I hope you have got a bigger picture of the four gati, through which soul can travel.

“Each gati also seems to have further varieties. So, do all souls travel through all of them?”, asked Leshyā.

Not necessarily, as there are infinite tiriyanch, who would remain as tiriyanch. So, what all varieties, they would not even go through all gati. But highly likely that ours would have gone through at least all the four gati, if not all varieties.

Why do you say so for our souls?

When soul enters into a living form, we refer to it as its birth (in that life), and when it quits that living form, we refer to it as its death (in that life). But, the soul actually never dies. It just moves around from one living form to another. And every soul had already gone through such infinite births & deaths. And our soul is currently out of tiriyanch gati. So, with high probability, it would have gone through all the four gati, at least once.

“Even through tiriyanch?! Eeek! Animals, plants, water, earth, … whatever”, exclaimed Leshyā with an uneasy face & feeling.

Highly likely. That’s why, we in this human gati, should take maximum advantage to understand all these and try our best to get rid of all the karm particles, so as to avoid going into any further gati.

Meaning, even the life in heaven & hell is not permanent, the soul returns from there?

Yes, the only permanent thing is mokṡ – and that’s why the ultimate goal of life should be to settle in mokṡ.

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Drivers of Activities

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“World is made up of precisely two things: living beings and non living things, and then there are all kinds of activities around. Who or What drives these activities, which are happening all around?”, kicked off the 5th session on philosophy.

“As per some philosophies, it is some super power called God, who makes all the things happen around”, answered Viṡay.

“But then does that mean, no one has any control on doing anything, it is all as per the super power”, quizzed Mitthyātva.

“Such philosophies believe so. But I don’t think that is practical. May be God has some control and remaining control is left to the individuals – the living beings”, replied Viṡay.

“Yes, I know of many philosophies, which propound that doer is the individual, but the result provider is the super power”, intervened Tatva.

“There are a few who believe in no super power as well, and dictates that you are the sole controller of your destiny”, added Ātmā.

“But again, that may not be practical, as we have seen incidents which are totally out of one’s control, whatever one may do”, interrupted Viṡay.

“I liked it. A really healthy debate”, praised the professor. “In fact, nothing really right or wrong about these philosophies. It is just that they have been put up from different perspectives, and they may be valid from that perspective.”

“That’s really interesting”, expressed Mitthyātva.

“Yes it is, indeed. And, how about incorporating various of these perspectives in say a unified philosophy?”, questioned the professor.

“O Wow! Don’t tell me that’s possible”, exclaimed Tatva.

Why just possible? In fact, there is a name for the technique of incorporating multiple perspectives.

What is it?

Anekāntvād (अनेकान्तवाद), which is one of the foundation pillars of the philosophy under discussion, all these days.

Okay, so what does it talk about the driver of the activities?

As per it, there is not just 1 or 2 but 5 samvāy (समवाय) or the so called drivers of activities.

Five?! We are already puzzled with two.

Don’t you worry. It would rather help us resolve the unanswered from other philosophies. And the five are:
+ kāl (काल) – time
+ swabhāv (स्वभाव) – the intrinsic property or nature
+ karm (कर्म) – the tiny particles, we learnt about in our previous session
+ puruṡārth (पुरुषार्थ) – one’s effort, we discussed in our previous session
+ niyati (नियति) – the pre-determined activity – the destiny, which can’t be changed

That seems complicated.

Let’s take some examples to simplify. Take for example a mango seed. We sow that for growing a mango plant, and then into a mango tree, to finally bear mangoes. We water it, manure it, for it to grow healthy and faster. Now, whatever be done, it would take a minimum time for the seed to sprout and come out as a sapling, one can’t make it faster – that is the kāl in action. After all these, what size of tree it grows into, what taste of mango it bears, … is all decided by the karm attached with the soul in the mango tree. Now, if one expects berry from the mango tree, it wouldn’t but give only mango – that is its swabhāv in action. Now, even after the first three in action, if one wouldn’t have done the puruṡārth of sowing the seed, it wouldn’t have even grown, forget about bearing fruits.

“So, puruṡārth is the most powerful – that’s why people say don’t stop putting in your effort”, quipped Ātmā.

Your second part is correct that don’t give up your effort, but not the first one. Actually, all the samvāy have their own roles to play. Sometimes one may seem to be more powerful than the other, but all of them have their importance – again that is what is anekāntvād.

If it is not *the* powerful, then what’s the point of doing puruṡārth?

Understand that you may need all the drivers for an activity to happen. So, skipping puruṡārth may cause it not to happen at all. Say you are all planned to become rich, you have the characteristics to earn (swabhāv), opportunities to earn (kāl), and karm supporting it – but then you don’t even attempt to earn. In such a scenario, given all possibilities of you becoming rich, you won’t become rich.

What if any of the others is not supporting?

Exactly. Note that, in this scenario, all may be important – and any one missing may lead to not becoming rich. But the challenge is our inability to know about the state of others. More importantly, out of all the samvāy, it is only puruṡārth, which is under one’s control, none others are – so this is our only key, and *the* key to control or drive the activity – and that’s why we should not stop putting in our effort.

“What is the role of niyati? That has not come in any of the above examples”, asked Tatva with curiosity.

Niyati is what people call the destiny – whatever may happen, if something has to happen, it would happen. For example, if the niyati of the mango seed was to not sprout, even after all the first four supporting samvāy, it would not sprout.

That’s dangerous.

Yes, it is. But typically, only very few things are niyati. And that’s why most of the times, it is not *the* most powerful one, as it may look like in the first go.

But, how is niyati decided? Is it set by a super power? And why is it set, in the first place?

It is set or rather attracted by no other super power but the soul itself. Niyati is basically driven by a special type of karm called nikāchit (निकाचित) karm, attracted & set by soul itself. And it is such, that its effects cannot be altered or removed without bearing them as is, unlike other karm.

But, why would the soul attract the nikāchit karm, in the first place?

As discussed earlier, as long as we do activity, there is continuous inflow & outflow of karm particles. However, if during the inflow, we (as in our soul) is in intense passion of anger, greed, ego, or deceit (AGED), these karm particles get transformed into nikāchit karm.

So, if our soul (as in we), through our puruṡārth, are never in intense passion of anger, greed, ego, or deceit (AGED), we’d never attract the nikāchit karm, avoiding any effect of niyati.

Yes, no more new niyati drivers. But, you’d have to bear the past ones, if you had already accumulated any.

Hmmm! So, that’s one more strong reason for being simple, devoid of anger, greed, ego, deceit, at least the intensest ones.

Excellent recall. And, finally note that the five drivers are for the activities of living beings. For non-living things, it is only the first two, others don’t make sense.

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Theory of Karm

<< Previous Class

“As discussed in our last class, karm (कर्म) particles are the impurities surrounding the soul, obstructing it to attain its state of complete knowledge. But what are these karm particles? Are they living or non-living? Do they decide the fate of soul? Can they ever be eliminated from the soul? If yes, how? Why in the first place are they surrounding the soul? I am sure you have one or more such queries bothering you”, jolted the professor.

“Yes”, came a chorus.

These and many more questions around karm are what are dealt in the theory of karm.

“So finally, are we going to learn how to attain the complete knowledge by eliminating the karm particles?”, asked Jāti.

Dear Jāti, it is a continual learning process, not just a pill to eliminate all karm particles. So, knowing the theory of karm is just the beginning into the process.

Great! at least we’ll begin today.

Karm particles are one of the tiniest granules of matter, and as such they are non-living.

“How does the living soul accumulate the non-living karm?”, asked Upyog.

If it is a pure living soul, it in fact cannot accumulate non-living karm, and that state of soul is what is called nirvāṅ (निर्वाण) or mokṡ (मोक्ष), from which it never comes out. However, the worldly soul is already surrounded by karm ma and these karm leads to accumulating more karm – it is a vicious cycle.

“If it is a vicious cycle, would soul ever be able to come out of it”, asked Yog.

Good question. If left on its own, the karm wouldn’t allow soul to attain nirvāṅ. However, soul has the ability of doing puruṡārth (पुरुषार्थ), i.e. “putting effort” to break the vicious cycle.

What kind of effort?

Effort to stop the inflow of karm, and effort to remove the existing karm.

How to do the effort?

For that, let’s first understand the process of inflow & accumulation. Any of our mental, vocal, or physical activity brings in the karm. So, stopping or reducing them, stops or reduces the inflow, e.g. taking vows to reduce our activities – the most common & profound activity being eating.

Is that why so many soul centred philosophies are centred around food restrictions?

Sort of – more precisely food control and management, as food is one major activity driver for all living beings.

So, does it directly relate fasting to removal of karm particles?

Yes, it does – just that it should be done with that intention alone – otherwise it may not be that effective.

“Intentions? Do they have any role?”, asked surprised Karm.

In fact, they are the ones having the major role, as intentions trigger thoughts, and thoughts drive the appropriate effort.

Isn’t putting effort an action in itself?

Putting effort to remove karm is an action indeed.

Then, wouldn’t it further accumulate more karm?

It would, but accumulate only good karm particles, eliminating the bad ones.

“Does it mean, it is good to have good karm particles?”, quizzed Yog.

Not really, as even they would obstruct the soul from reaching its pure form. But once all the bad ones are gone, the good ones cannot stay for long – they would eventually go off. And a thing to understand is that more important than the accumulation of karm particles is the strength with which they are bonded with. As it is almost inevitable to reach zero activity, so karm particles would keep on accumulating, till almost our soul gets into pure form. But, if they are accumulated with the least possible bonding strength, they could all be cleared very easily, in lesser go’s.

And how do we control the bonding strength?

The bonding strength depends on the level of kaṡāy during the bonding.

“What is this kaṡāy?”, asked Guṅasthān.

It is the glue for karm particles. The foursome of Anger, Greed, Ego, Deceit is collectively termed as kaṡāy. So, having the less of these in our character, enables easy removal of our karm. One may remember them as the acronym AGED. I hope all of you understand these four emotions.

I believe anger is best understood but least worked upon. Greed is want of something more than one’s need, even at cost of others. Ego is the “only me” thought. Deceit is cheating.

More or less correct. And with that I believe you understand why various philosophies talk about being simple, devoid of anger, greed, ego, deceit.

You mean being devoid of AGED paves the path towards complete knowledge.

Yes. Shed anger, be peaceful. Shed greed, be satisfied. Shed ego, be accommodative. Shed deceit, be straightforward. And head towards achieving complete knowledge, and henceforth the state of pure soul.

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Types of Knowledge

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“Today, we’ll talk about the types of knowledge. Before we start, you may ask any doubts from our last two sessions”, stated the professor.

“In the previous session, you mentioned that all souls already have the complete knowledge. Then, what do you really mean by types of knowledge? Is completeness also of different types?”, quizzed Sharīr.

Excellent. That’s correct that every soul’s complete knowledge is just one – there is no categorization of it.

Then, what do we mean by types of knowledge?

Hope you also remember the discussion, that just having knowledge doesn’t mean having the ability to use it.

Yes – the worldy bounds and limitations, restricts the ability of the soul to use its complete knowledge.

Exactly. So these types or rather levels of knowledge are classified based on the ability of the soul to use its knowledge. Accordingly, knowledge is broadly categorized into five types:

  1. Mati (मति)
  2. Shrut (श्रुत)
  3. Awadhi (अवधि)
  4. Manh Paryav (मन:पर्यव)
  5. Kewal (केवल)

Okay, so these are basically levels of exercisable/usable knowledge.

You may say so. Mati knowledge is the most basic form, we perceive through our sense organs and processed/analysed by our mind. Mind (मन) is not just what one relates to brain, but it actually is spread throughout our sense organs and body.

Is Mati, the common sense, we talk about?

Let’s not get into that, as that’s a very loose term we use. Common for one may not be common for others. Basically, the knowledge of sound, colour & form/shape, smell, taste, touch could be assimilated as Mati knowledge.

“So, does it mean that, living beings only with all 5 working sense organs have Mati knowledge?”, asked Yog.

Not really. Every living being has it in some form or the other. Depending on its sense organs, or rather capability of sense organs, a particular one may be used / exhibited more profundly than others. In that sense, you may have heard / read about blind people recognizing colours using touch, and similar other cases.

Wow! This foundation that knowledge is within, would possibly answer many such miracles around us.

Yes. In fact, as you dive deeper into the non-observables, the more you’d realise that there is nothing called a miracle, but just connection of some missing dots.

So can we conclude that, what all observable knowledge we currently know, can be called as Mati knowledge?

Don’t be so impatient. Let me first explain the next one – Shrut knowledge. Then, we shall draw some conclusions. Mati is just the basic form of recognition, but it lacks relation. Hence, we may be able to know using Mati, but may not be able to share/exchange/communicate the knowledge with others. The knowledge which enables us to do that is called Shrut knowledge.

“We communicate using languages. So, are they a form of Shrut knowledge?”, asked Upyog.

Yes, one of the forms, or at least a medium for it. And the language could be anything – written, spoken, pictures, or for that matter even sign. However, Shrut is more than just language – it knowledge about relations, e.g. between words and their meanings, which finally conveys the knowledge. For an example, one may know what an elephant is (Mati knowledge), but in absence of the word elephant, or other words describing it, or one’s inability to express it, one may not be able to convey it to others (absence of Shrut knowledge).

“In that case, all our current knowledge is Mati & Shrut knowledge”, said Yog, in a summarizing tone.

If you just consider the knowledge commonly observable through our sense organs & mind, in day to day life, then yes.

Why only day to day? Does knowledge of *all* observables, still not come under these two categories?

Before I answer that, I’d like to elaborate a bit on observables. By observables, we define anything having one or more of sound, colour/shape, smell, taste, touch. However, even within observables, there is a category, which literally cannot be observed using our sense organs, directly or even indirectly, which we would like to call the invisibles.

May not be observable today, but with evolution of science & technology, shouldn’t one day, we would be able to observe at least all the observables?

No. Even science has proved that there are limits of space & time, beyond which we may not be able to observe, even using any level of technology.

So, we cannot know about the so-called invisibles?

No. We just cannot observe using our sense organs and mind, but we can definitely know about them. And it is the knowledge of such observable invisibles, which doesn’t come under the purview of Mati & Shrut knowledge.

“Is that where the Awadhi knowledge comes into play?”, interrupted Upyog.

Exactly. Awadhi is the knowledge of observables, without using sense organs & mind, typically attained by deep meditation. However, it typically is bound by matter, space, time, properties.

“Any examples of invisibles?”, asked Sharīr.

Particles of speech, particles of thoughts, karma particles are all examples of invisibles.

What are these karma particles?

These are the particles restricting the complete knowledge of the soul.

“O! I see. So removing these we would get the complete knowledge and know everything”, spoke the still silent Jāti.


Please tell us how to remove them.

Yes Jāti, we’ll talk about them, but in separate sessions. Let’s complete our discussion on types of knowledge, today.

“What are these particles of speech and thoughts?”, continued Sharīr.

Our speaking and thinking also emits invisible particles. In fact, specialized knowledge of particles of thoughts is called Manh Paryav knowledge. Having this would enable one to know the thoughts of others.

Wooh! Mind reading.

And finally, Kewal knowledge is the complete knowledge of everthing – observable and non-observable, in all forms, in all spaces, in all times, of all properties.

“… which the soul already has. Just that these karma particles are the nuisances”, Jāti concluded as reminder.

Yes, let’s talk about them in our next session.

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Knowing the Knowledge

<< Previous Class

“Today, we’ll talk about knowledge, the very differentiator of our existence”, continued the professor after his invocation.

Still not convinced about knowing the non-observables, Jāti was really keen to know more about knowing.

Before getting into the details of knowledge, let’s try to understand, as who is the one who knows the knowledge. “What do you think, who is the knower?”, asked the prof pointing to Indriya.

“Eyes, I think, as what I see is what I know”, replied Indriya.

If eyes, then why not your other sense organs – ear, nose, tongue, skin – even they acquire their corresponding subjects of sound, smell, taste, and touch.

Ya ya, I think, all the sense organs are the knowers.

Anything else other than the five sense organs?

Hmmm. May be the sixth sense.

Let’s not get into that right away. But we’ll come to it.

Then, may be nothing else.

Okay. Then, with that do you mean that: if you do not see, you do not know; if you do not hear, you do not know; …

“No no professor. I think our mind is the one which knows, sense organs are just the via media, helping it to know”, interrupted Paryāpti.

Quite right, about the sense organs – they are not the actual knowers, they are just the means to acquire knowledge – and that also only some of the means.

Why only some of the means? Are there other means, as well?

Yes. Otherwise, it would mean that one would not know anything without using his sense organs. And then, what about a child, who is blind, deaf and dumb by birth – it shouldn’t be knowing anything other than taste, smell, and touch. But Helen Keller is a famous example pointing against this.

“Possibly, she got to know other stuff using her three sense organs”, quipped Prāṅ.

Very unlikely. But then how does a new born know about crying, say when it is hungry? Or, how does it even know that it is hungry?

That’s basic instinct.

Exactly, that’s what my point is. Where does this basic instinct or basic knowledge come from?

“That’s what I was talking about the sixth sense”, reinforced Indriya.

Yes. But, where does it come from? Isn’t it via something other than the five sense organs?

Possibly yes. Or, may be the mind has it already coded into it, and that’s how it knows it.

Okay. But how did it get encoded into the mind? Or, let’s first understand, what do you mean by mind?

“Mind means our brain, where it is already encoded through genes inherited from parents”, answered Paryāpti.

If it was genes alone, then why didn’t all the knowledge from parents pass along. Why does a kid needs to be taught all over again?

May be only some selected knowledge gets transferred through genes, the one we call basic instincts.

Then, where does the knowledge for intuition, creativity, out of the box thinking, etc come from? Are they basic instincts or not?

Possibly they are also basic instincts.

If they are the basic instincts transferred through genes, then why do they differ drastically even between twins?

“I think they are not basic instincts and their knowledge is rather acquired through our sense organs over time”, interrupted Indriya.

If this knowledge would have been acquired through mere sense organs, it should have been comparable in kids growing in the same environment with similar functional sense organs. But, we have examples of exceptional scientists, grown up among all other ordinary crowd in similar environments, but showing their extra-ordinary knowledge.

“Bottom line is that there must be some means other than the sense organs and the hereditary traits, from which the mind acquires knowledge”, concluded Prāṅ.

And in the purview of science, it is impossible to explain those means. Say e.g. how did Einstein get the extra-ordinary insight into relativity? All kind of observational means would hit some or the other roadblock in answering this question. Then, there has to be something beyond science i.e. something non-observable to answer it. That’s where philosophy pitches in.

“This could be a strong reason to believe that non-observables do exist”, insisted Jāti.

Yes. In fact, the observable mind is just a front-end exhibitor of knowledge and not even the real knower. The real knower is the soul (आत्मा) – the back-end – deep within one self. And it has all the knowledge from time immemorial, so doesn’t need any means to acquire more.

If our soul knows it all, then why don’t we know all?

I just said, that the soul has the complete knowledge. That doesn’t mean that it knows it all, or in other words, it doesn’t mean that it is able to use it all, as well. Having something doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to use it.

So, is knowing, different from having knowledge?

Yes & No. Knowing is having, plus being able to use/apply that knowledge.

Ok, then I’ll rephrase my question. Even after the soul having the complete knowledge, why aren’t we able to know or use it all?

If we were just in our soul form, we would have known everything. But we (the souls) are bound and limited by all kind of worldly observable stuff, restricting our ability to exhibit, or even use our complete knowledge. And that’s why, unaware of that fact, we keep on trying to use various worldly means to keep on knowing more and more of just the observable stuff. Rather, if we are able to remove these worldly bounds and limitations, we’d attain the state of complete knowledge, where, we’d know about everything observable and non-observable.

“Wow! Then, please tell us how to remove these limitations?”, queried the impatient Jāti.

For that, we would first need to understand the various levels of knowledge and their limitations.

“Not now”, was the sigh from Jāti, as the bell rang again.

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Philosophy and Science

“Om Arham”, chanted the philosopher before starting his session.

“Why do you say this every time before starting your lecture?”, asked the curious Gati.

Both the words represent encompassing all sounds, thus representing everything. And so I start remembering everyone, as that is what philosophy is all about everyone and everything.

That’s quite of philosophy, but how does the two words encompass all sounds?

Both ॐ (Om) and अर्हम (Arham) sounds start with the first letter अ (a) and ends with the last letter म (m).

You mean letters of Indian languages, or Sanskrit?

Not only Sanskrit, but even its predecessor Prākrit – one of the oldest known languages. Both of them have the first letter as अ (a) and the last letter म (m) of their major alphabet set.

“Okay. But how can philosophy talk about everything, when even science is not yet able to do it?”, interrupted Jāti.

Let me ask you few questions. What is science?

Science is a study to know about the universe i.e. everything – using observations as the basis of that knowledge.

And how old has been this science around there?

It might have existed in some form or other, since long. But, based on what we have studied, there has been dedicated efforts to understand the universe only since these last few centuries.

Exactly. Science, as we know of today, is a study based on observations. And if you define or assume, only what can be observed in the universe, as everything, then primarily science has been only few centuries old. But, if you accept even for a moment that there could be things, which can never be observed – you open up a whole new range of possibilities, which even science cannot talk about, as they cannot be observed.

You mean things beyond everything observable.


That’s absurd.

Why? There are so many things which you do not know and hence you have not observed. Does that mean, it doesn’t exist? I am just asking for a possibility of things non-observable by the five senses (touch, taste, smell, light, sound), directly or indirectly using any kind of instruments.

Okay. So, then what?

Nothing special. Just wanted to let you know that since time memorial, humans have believed in this possibility and have been studying and exploring on “everything”, which includes both observable and non-observable things. And, that study is what exactly called philosophy. Just that in the last few centuries, the focus have become more on the observable stuff, leading specifically to a branch of philosophy called science. And leaving the non-observables alone to philosophy, making us believe that philosophy is all but science.

So science is a branch of philosophy?!


And there are things beyond science – things which science can’t answer?!

Exactly yes. And going to roots, “All science is philosophy but all philosophy is not science”. In fact, science is just a very tiny fraction of the complete world of philosophy.

I don’t believe!

Yes because, we have been brought up only with the mindset that only what science says, exists. And that’s why, before I go further, I request you all, to at the least open up your mind for other possibilities. Otherwise, no point in discussing further. However, after we discuss, you still have the option to reject everything we discussed, if your conscience doesn’t accept it.

“That’s fine. But how do we proof that any non-observable thing exists?”, asked Kāy.

Note that, many theories even in science doesn’t have any proof, but we believe in them as no observations as yet contradicted with them. The day there is a contradiction, we would start looking out for another more fitting theories. Einstein’s theory did the same to Newton’s theory. So, in the same line, why can’t we believe in a theory of non-observables, at least till it finds any contradiction. FYI, towards the end of his life, even Einstein believed that there are things beyond science.

So, is there a theory about non-observables too?

Yes. Not just one, but many. Same as we have many in science. And they are not just about non-observables, but about everything both observables and non-observables. That’s why if we want to study and know about everything, we’d have to go beyond science and study these theories. But as these may not be tied to observations, they are referred to as philosophical theories, or simply philosophies. And that is what we study in a class like this.

“But before we get into any specific theory, I mean philosophy, just wanted to know, is there any possibility of knowing the non-observables?”, intervened the jolted Jāti.

That’s an apt question. Knowing is different from observing. And yes, we can know about the non-observables. In fact, knowing about them itself would be a proof of their existence.

But how do we know about them?

“For that, you have to continue attending these classes”, smiled the professor, as the bell rang.

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