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Jivastikaya In Jainism

Jiva is the conscious spirit. Due to its formlessness, it cannot be perceived by the sense organs. Jiva is identified with life of which consciousness is said to be the essence. According to Jainism, there are infinite jivas in the universe and each jiva has its innumerable pradeshas. The selves or jivas are classified under two broad divisions, baddha (bound) and the mukta (liberated).

The bound jivas are divided into two groups – trasa (mobile) and sthavara (immobile). The mobile selves can be divided into jivas with five senses, four senses, three senses or two senses depending on the type of organism with which it is associated.

Immobile jivas live in the atoms of earth, water, fire, air, and in the vegetable kingdom. Concerning the worldly jivas, one of the significant features of Jainism is the variable size of the self according to the dimension of the physical body with which it is associated. Its extension is like light which fills up an area with its illumination. Although jiva is formless, it can take the form of the body where it resides. It is capable of expansion and contraction according to the size of the physical body with which it is associated. The self is co-extensive with the body. Thus, it is classified as astikaya Dravya.

Each self from the lowest to the highest possesses consciousness. Due to the union with matter, its essence may be hidden but not destroyed. The lowest appear to be lifeless but in fact have consciousness in a dormant form. Pure consciousness is found in the second division of the jivas, the liberated selves.