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Kevala Jnana – Perfect Knowledge In Jainism

In Jainism, a realistic, relativistic, plural system, knowledge has been classified into aparoksha (immediate) and paroksha (mediated). Aparoksha jnana has been further divided into avadhi (clairvoyance), manahparyaya (telepathy) and kevala (omniscience). Paroksha jnana has been divided into mati (perceptual and inferential knowledge) and sruta (knowledge obtained from scriptural authority). Immediate knowledge subscribes to the view of extraordinary and extrasensory perceptions, which is direct in reaching the knower. Though limited to a certain extent, avadhi and manahparyaya give direct knowledge immediately, since the role of the mind and senses is absent. On the other hand, kevala jnana is unlimited and absolute knowledge and can be obtained by liberated persons only. It transcends time and space or even zest.

Kevala jnana means “perfect knowledge or immediate realization”. Jaina scholars have used this term to refer to paripurna (perfectio), samagra (completion), asadharana (unique), nirapeksha (absolute), visuddha (pure), sarva-bhava-jnapaka (all-comprehensive), and ananta-paryaya (infinite wisdom). This is the stage where the individual intuits the Reality completely and comprehensively. On the contrary, the knowledge obtained through the senses and mind are incomplete and are really sources of obstruction. Perfect wisdom, on the other hand, is free of obstruction and transcends spatiotemporal categories. Perfect wisdom, which constitutes the substance of all other knowledge, is the consummation of every cognition where the sensuous and mental blockings are totally annihilated. In Jainism, this perfect wisdom is epistemic in its outward form, while from the context of a human ideal it becomes an ethical concept. Various activities which hinder spiritual progress are to be destroyed if perfect wisdom is to dawn. The jiva (being) is, however, potentially capable of his perfect wisdom.