--> Skip to main content

Mati – Jaina Concept Of Mind – Understanding And Knowledge

Mati denotes mind, intellect, understanding and knowledge. Jain religion epistemology developed a systematic theory of knowledge. The analysis of the Jainism theory of mati shows conflict between the metaphysical and the psychological approaches to the problem.

Mat is an inner faculty for knowing and thinking. Mental process like doubling, imagining, expecting, etc., characterize it. It is also characterized by desires for pleasure and avoidance of pain.

Nandi Sutra describes mati as that which grasps everything. The Jainas found the evidence of mati in the experiences of the world and also gave empirical proofs for the operation of the mind. It defines mati as the one that controls the mental functions. It covers the whole field of internal experience. Mati assigns meaning to all sense object contact. It has functional connotation.

Mati jnana is knowledge obtained through sense perception and scientific knowledge gained through observation, classification, generalization, induction, etc.

Sruta jnana is knowledge gained by word of an authority – all recorded knowledge, including scriptural knowledge. They are both indirect forms of knowledge, as they are mediated by the senses and the mind.

The remaining three – avadhi (clairvoyance), manah paryaya (telepathy) and kevala jnana (omniscience) are distinct knowledge, as they are gained by the soul directly and intuitively through a non-discursive method without any mediation.

The two phase of mati – the structural and psychical aspects, can be compared to the description of mind given by modern philosophers. Perception through senses and mati are analyzed in the four stages of avagraha, iha, avaya and dharana. The Jains give an exhaustive description of mati jnana and also of extrasensory perception.