Jaina afterlife beliefs and funerary practices

Authored by: Peter Flügel

The Routledge Companion to Death and Dying

Print publication date:  May  2017
Online publication date:  May  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138852075
eBook ISBN: 9781315723747
Adobe ISBN:


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Jaina metaphysics is dualistic. Living beings are regarded as products of the amalgamation of the immortal substances, soul (j?va) and matter (pudgala). This process of inter-penetration produces karman, that is, in the Jaina interpretation, a dynamic aggregate of subtle atomic particles, held together by a homogenous receptacle, the karman body (k?rma?a-?ar?ra), which, contingent on its particular structure, generates between two and four further types of bodies: the gross (aud?rika-), transformation (vaikriya-), translocation (?h?raka-). and fiery bodies (taijasa-?ar?ra). The individual configurations of these bodies constitute all varieties of living beings existing in the lower-(adho-), middle- (madhya-), and upper-world (?rdhva-loka) across four birth categories (gati): humans (manu?ya), gods (deva), hell-beings (n?raka), and animals and plants (tiryañc). Theoretically, at the outset of the body constituting processes, subtle matter is attracted and transformed into karman due to the soul’s own meta-physical action (yoga), that is, volition, which is conceived as a vibration of its parts (prade?a). Empirically, the interpenetration of soul and matter is without beginning and, generally, without end. Because the embodied soul’s intrinsic quality of active consciousness (upayoga) is conditioned by karman, every act (kriy?) produces new karman particles, which function again as the seeds for acts of the same type in a feedback loop.

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