JAINISM – THE CREED FOR ALL TIMES
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Universal Space –
This chapter affords the reader an idea about the spatial expanse of the universe and its various parts such as the nether world (Adholoka) comprising the seven hellish grounds, the middle universe (Madhya Loka) where the humans dwell (Manuṣya Loka) including the Jambūdvīpa, the upper universe where the gods live in their respective heavens (Devaloka) are and, ultimately, the abode of the liberated perfect souls (Siddhaloka).
Spatial Dimensions (Aṅgula, Yojana And Rajju) –
The universe is immense and equally immense are the units of measures that are used to describe its dimensions. Here, we start with introducing these units first.
Aṅgula (The Finger–Measure) –
The basic Jaina units of measuring lengths is Aṅgula or finger–measure. The practical unit of finger–measure is an Utsedhāṅgula (UA – used for measuring heights of bodies and idols), which is 1/7,68000th of an Utsedha Yojana. According to Dr. NL Jain, the value of one Utsedhāṅgula comes to about 1.7 cm on the average. Also, the Utsedhāṅgiula is taken as equivalent to the width of eight barley grains put side by side. The other finger measures are Ātmāṅgula (the length of the finger tip of an average healthy person :1/84th of his height) that is equivalent to two Utsedha–aṅgula and Pramāṇāṅgula, which is equivalent to 500 or 1000 Utsedhāṅgula. These three finger–measures were used for measuring heights of bodies and idols, lengths of items of utility and lands, land and sea distances as well as astronomical distances.
Yojana (The Larger Unit of Distance) –
The Yojana, too, has been variously described. According to one view an Utsedha Yojana is equivalent to 7,68,000 UA or eight miles. Another view expressed in the book entitled Our True Geography’, published by Jambūdvīpa Vijñāna Saṁśodhana Kendra, Palitana, holds it that the present day equivalent of an Utsedha Yojana, which equals four Gāu or nine miles or 15 Km.
Again, the Utsedha Yojana was only a measure of terrestrial measurement. For astronomical measurements the unit in vogue was the Pramāṇa Yojana, which is 400 times that of an Utsedha Yojana or equivalent to 3600 miles at the very least.
Rajju : The Measure Of Universal Space –
When the distances are immensely incalculable, the units also have to be equally immense. Rajju is one such unit. The universal space has been mentioned in terms of this unit in the Jaina scriptures. To have an idea of the immensity of Rajju, we have this formula that beats all imagination – “If a heavenly god were to go at a speed of a hundred thousand (Pramāṇa) Yojana in an instant, for a period of six months, the distance described by him will be one Rajju. It is also the diametrical distance between one end of the outermost Svayambhūramaṇa Samudra (of the middle universe)to the other. No known measurable distance comes anywhere near. The present day concept of a ‘Light–year’ distance is quite stupefying but the finite but incalculable distance of a Rajju is decidedly flabbergasting.
The Siddhaloka –
At the very apex of the universal space is the abode of the liberated perfect souls known as —ṣatprāgbhāra Pṛthvī or Siddhaloka. It lies 12 Yojana above the Sarvārthasiddha, the topmost heaven. It is of shiny white colour, forty–five hundred thousand Yojana in diameter and eight Yojana thick in the middle, which tapers down to the thinness of a fly’s feather at the edges. The universal space extends up to one Yojana above this land and the liberated souls reside in the rarest atmosphere in the uppermost sixteenth part of this space over the Siddhaśilā.
The Upper Universe –
The upper part of the universe that is above the middle universe and extends upwards up to somewhat less than seven Rajju are located the heavenly grounds where the gods of various categories reside. These are – 1.Heavens of the twelve types of KalpaVaimānika gods, 2. Nine Graivaiyaka heavens, and 3. Five Anuttara–vimāna heavens. (The gods of the Bhavanapati,Vāṇa–vyantara and Jyotiṣka categories reside in the nether and the middle parts of the universe respectively).
1. Twelve Kalpa–Vaimānika Heavens – Directly over the middle universe are the twelve Vaimānika heavens. They are 1. Saudharma, 2. —śāna, 3. Sanatkumāra, 4. Māhendra, 5. Brahma, 6. Lāntaka, 7. Mahāśukra, 8. Sahasrāra, 9. Ānat, 10. Prāṇat, 11. Āraṇa, and 12. Acyut.
2. Nine Graivaiyaka Heavens – 1. Sudarśan, 2. Amogha, 3. Suprabuddha, 4. Yaśodhara, 5. Vatsa, 6. Suvatsa, 7. Sumanasa, 8. Somanasa, and 9. Priyadarśan.
3. Five Anuttara–vimāna Heavens – 1. Vijaya, 2. Vaijayanta, 3. Jayanta, 4. Aparājit, and 5. Sarvārthasiddha.
The Middle Universe –
According to Jaina cosmology, this part of the universe, which is also known as Tiryak–loka is one Rajju wideand 1800 Yojana thick (900 Yojana above the middle level and 900 Yojana below it). It has innumerable oceans and continents in the form of concentric rings. Right in the middle is the continent called Jambū–dvīpa that is one hundred thousand Yojana in diameter and, which is surrounded by the Lavaṇa–samudra or the salty ocean, which is two hundred thousand Yojana in diameter. The outermost ring of the Madhyaloka is the ocean known as Svayambhū–ramaṇa samudra. This middle universe is the habitat of the human–beings as well as the creatures of the animal kingdom. One of the subcontinents of the Jambū–dvīpa is Bharatkṣetra or the land of our residence.
The Bharatakṣetra –
Our subcontinent of Jambūdvīpa is somewhat more than 526 yojana wide which is divided into two halves by a great mountain range known as Vaitāḍhya that runs from east to west. The northern half of the subcontinent is irrigated by two great rivers called Gangā and Sindhu that flow eastwards and westwards respectively and finally into the Lavaṇa–samudra. These two rivers and the Vaitāḍhya mountain divide the Bharatkṣetra into a total of six parts, by conquering which a king could earn the title of Cakravartī. The land of our habitation is supposed to be in the south–central part of this subcontinent, which is known as the Ārya–kṣetra or the land of the noble people. This is the part of the subcontinent on which the Jina Prophets take births and prophesy the right–faith from time to time in the eternal time–cycles.
There is yet other subcontinent, called Mahāvidehakṣetra, which is ever blessed with the presence of Jina Prophets. It isbelieved that twenty Viharmān Jinas are presently touring this subcontinent and preaching the Jina gospel there.
The Nether Universe (Adholoka) –
As we have already mentioned, the seven hellish grounds are suspended in the nether universal space, one above the other. The vertical expanse of the nether universe is 900 Yojana less than seven Rajju. The seven hellish grounds therein are –
1. Ratnaprabhā Pṛthvī,
2. Śarkarāprabhā Pṛthvī,
3. Bālukāprabhā Pṛthvī,
4. Paṅkaprabhā Pṛthvī,
5. Dhūmraprabha Pṛthvī,
6. Tamaḥprabhā Pṛthvī, and
7. Mahātamaḥprabhā Pṛthvī.
All these hellish grounds are wider than the previous ones the seventh ground being seven Rajju wide.
This is a very brief description of the universal space. All worldly living beings constantly transmigrate into its various parts except the Siddhśilā; form where there is no coming back. Even this cursory coverage on Jambūdvīpa and Bharatkṣetra is enough to tell us that it does not conform to the modern cosmic and geographic details. The reasons for this difference are buried in the antiquity and a lot of research and further discovery is needed before the two may eventually reconcile.
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