Is Jain Loka a Multi-region (or Multiverse!) Structure?

Published: 09.03.2016
Updated: 10.03.2016


The universe we live in has always been an object of inquiry. All ancient civilizations have pondered over this matter and developed different philosophical understanding. The omniscient Tirthankaras experienced reality in its absolute form and knew the whole loka. Mahavira replied to all questions about loka and some of these are recorded in agama texts. These descriptions are based on direct experience.

Modern science has explored the universe by theoretical analysis as well as by experimental observations. Correlations have been established between the theoretical predictions and the experimentally obtained data to arrive at the most likely form of explanation. In this endeavor the Big Bang theory is the most accepted cosmology today. However, there are still many unanswered questions and efforts are on way in scientific circles to improve the understanding of nature and to present a realistic theory of the universe.

Jainism admits an eternal, finite universe, loka, having a well-defined shape and also describes its parts in detail. The Jain ideas are at variance with the modern theories and calls for a comparative study to solve the enigma of the universe. In this article we briefly review the modern theories like Big Bang theory, inflation theory, chaotic inflation theory, etc., and examine them in Jain perspective. We also try to understand the Jain loka in modern perspective. This kind of study is hoped to improve our views about the reality of the universe and loka.

The Multiverse Hypothesis

The Big Bang theory is the most accepted cosmology of the Universe today. According to Big Bang theories, everything in the universe, all forms of matter and energy, and even space-time itself, came into being at a single event, a gravitational singularity; as space expanded with time, the matter and energy cooled sufficiently to allow the stable condensation of elementary particles into primordial nuclei and atoms. With further cooling the atoms aggregated into mass forming large structures like stars, planets, galaxies, and clusters and super clusters of galaxies

In the past few decades an extraordinary claim has captivated cosmologists that the expanding universe we see around us is not the only one; that billions of other universes are out there too [1]. There is not one universe- there is a multiverse. The multiverse (or meta-universe) is the hypothetical set of finite or infinite possible universes including the universe we live in. The various universes within the multiverse are called “parallel universes” or “alternative universes”.

Gravitational waves rippling through the aftermath of the Big Bang, physicists suggest, point to inhabiting a multiverse. That is because these gravitational waves results point to a particularly prolific and potential kind of “inflation” of the early universe, an exponential expansion of the dimensions of space to many times the size of our own universe in the first fraction of second of the Big Bang, some 13.82 billion years ago.

According to Guth [2] a multiverse explains a lot of things that now confuse cosmologists about our universe. For example, there is the 1998 discovery that galaxies in our universe seem to be spreading apart at an accelerating rate, when their mutual attraction should be slowing them down. This discovery is generally thought to imply the existence of “dark energy” that counteracts gravity on cosmic scales. Its nature is a profound mystery as yet. Guth says “There is tremendous mismatch between what we calculate the dark energy ought to be and what we observe. This discrepancy has been a great source of embarrassment to physicists. A multiverse could offer solution to this problem. Of all possible universe spawned by inflation, our universe might just happen to be one of the few universes in which the dark energy is relatively lame. In others antigravity force might conform to physicists’ expectations and be strong enough to rip all matter apart

A multiverse might also explain the number of dimensions predicted by modern “superstring” theory. String theory describes subatomic particles as being composed of tiny strings of energy, but it requires there to be 11 dimensions instead of the four we actually observe. Maybe it is just describing all possible universes instead of our own.

Andrei Linde [3] developed the theory of “eternal chaotic inflation” giving rise to multiple universes including ours) separated by unimaginable gulfs of distance, stretching perhaps to infinity. In this model our universe is full of stars and planets and it extends to encompass many more dimensions devoid of such mundane things as atoms or photons of light. That means that spread across space at distances far larger than the roughly 92 billion light years width of the universe we can observe, other universes reside, some with many more dimensions and different physical properties and trajectories. That is what we had called ‘the universe’ can be divided into extremely large regions which may have different laws of physics. And one part may be suitable for life, and other parts unsuitable.

The multiverse may even help explain one of the more vexing paradoxes about our world, sometimes called “anthropic” principle: the fact that we are here to observe it. To cosmologists, our universe looks disturbingly fine-tuned for life. Without it the perfect alignment of the physical constants - everything from the strength of the force attracting electrons to atoms to the relative weakness of gravity - planets and suns, biochemistry, and life itself would be impossible.

What is the evidence for these theories of cosmic inflation, eternal chaotic inflation and multiple universes? It is challenging considering that cosmic inflation began and ended within the tiniest fraction of the first second of our universe’s existence. And, eternal chaotic inflation, by definition, cannot be seen, as other universes are disconnected permanently from our universe. Yet lines of corroborative evidence (beyond the elegance of equations) have convinced many cosmologists to such a degree that cosmic inflation and eternal cosmic inflation has become, in essence, the “standard model” of cosmology. As for cosmic inflation, it seems to solve at the same time, several, separate enigmas in the origin and structure of the universe (including the horizon problem). Moreover, cosmic inflation makes interesting predictions, especially about the cosmic microwave background radiation, a remnant of the Big Bang - predictions that have been confirmed and reconfirmed by increasingly precise data from satellites.

Max Tegmark [4] goes further. He envisions four kinds of multiverses that may exist, labeling them Levels.

Level I:

Beyond our Cosmological Horizon. Space in our universe goes on far beyond that which we can see, and perhaps goes on forever - which would mean that infinitely many regions exist in our own pocket universe, regions like our observable universe, where the laws of physics are the same.

Level II:

Universes with different physical constants. Infinitely many other regions exist in the same space-time as that of our universe, but they are disconnected permanently from our pocket universe, and within each of them the laws of physics are different.

Level III:

Many - worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics.

Level IV:

Ultimate ensemble. This level considers all universes to be equally real which can be described by different mathematical structures.

Tegmark’s Level I is accepted by almost all cosmologists. Level II has become the “standard model” of cosmology. His level III is speculative and controversial and the Level IV seeks deep truths of existence (i.e. reality is mathematics).

Not every cosmologist is a full convert to the multiverse. Paul Steinhardt [5] claims that multiverse theories have gained currency mostly because too much has been invested in theories that have failed e.g. inflation or string theory. He tends to see them an attempt to redefine the values of science to which he objects even more strongly. Physicist Paul Davies [6] says that although there are good reasons for supposing that what we see may not be all that exists, the hypothesis falls far short of being a complete theory of existence. A multiverse is often presented as solving the mysteries of existence by assuming that if there are an infinite number of universes, then “everything is out there somewhere, so that is the end of the story”. Davies said there are about 10 different basic assumptions of physical laws that are required to get the multiverse theory to work. He dismissed the idea that “any universe you like is out there somewhere. He thinks that such an idea is just ridiculous and it explains nothing”. He feels that an infinite number of universes do not make sense. Something is amiss.

Matter in Jain Philosophy

Before we describe the Jain cosmology we briefly review here the properties of matter, called Pudgalastikaya, in Jainism that is pertinent to our discussion.  Pudgalastikaya is one of the six constituent dravyas (substances or realities) of loka in Jainism and is the only substance that is sense perceptible. The sense attributes of pudgala are colour, taste, smell and touch properties which become the basis of its diversity of forms and structures. The smallest constituent of pudgala is paramanu, the other forms are its combinations.  Pudgala is tangible reality within the sensuous and super sensuous experiences in perceptible and imperceptible conditions. Pudgala is permanent, non-living, non-conscious, extensive, physical, corporeal and concrete, active, disintegrating and integrating, and changeable substance [7]. It is characterized by origination, decay and permanence without giving up its essential nature of existence.

Based on sense qualities the matter substance in nature is of three types [8].

    1. Matter substance having one colour, one smell, one taste and two touches.
    2. Matter substance having five colours, two smells, five tastes and four touches.
    3. Matter substance having five colours, two smells, five tastes and eight touches.

Paramanu is the two-touch matter substance (pudgala); it has only one colour, one smell and one taste [9]. In modern terminology the paramanu is a dynamic entity having a thermal state and a charge either positive (snigdha touch) or negative (ruksa touch). So the fundamental form of matter is energy in the form of electric charge at a temperature. The four-touch pudgala comprise the subtle (suksama) class of matter substance, as aggregates (skandha), which has substantial energy. This matter has five colours, two smells and five tastes. On the other hand the eight-touch matter constitutes the gross (badar) class of aggregates comprising of energy and matter. These aggregates have the five colours, two smells and five tastes. Mass is not a fundamental property of matter in Jainism. The weight (or mass) of the aggregate is said to relate to the light and heavy touch qualities. The four touch aggregates and paramanu are weight (mass) less. The weight is a property of gross aggregates having eight- touch

Vargana is an important concept to understand nature of matter particularly at subtle level. Vargana has been defined as pudgala aggregate made up of similar paramanus or as a cluster of paramanus. Gommatsara Jivakanda provides classification of varganas on the basis of number of paramanus present in the cluster [10]. According to this there are 23 types of main varganas found all over loka (universe). The varganas fall into two broad categories, one has four- touch and the other having eight-touch. The 2nd to 14th order varganas are four-touch type and weight less. The 16th to 23rd order varganas are eight- touch type and have weight. The 15th order vargana falls in between the two categories and its nature is uncertain [11].

            The lower order weight less varganas can be divided in two groups.

    1. Associable varganas - varganas that associate with the soul and form various kinds of subtle bodies and other structures that assist the soul in its worldly functioning.
    2. Non associable varganas - varganas that do not associate with the soul.

The higher order varganas can be divided in three groups.

  1. Varganas that is helpful in formation of gross bodies of plants and small microorganisms (nigodas), belonging to category of non-mobile beings (Sthavara jivas).  These varganas assist in formation of plant bodies and bodies of small microorganisms. The vargana that assists in formation of plant body compares with sun light (photons).
  2. Permanent Nil (Sunya) Varganas. Detailed information about these varganas is not available in scriptures.
  3. Gross Matter (Maha skandha) Vargana (GMV). This vargana is supposed to constitute all ordinary matter, visible and invisible, e.g. electrons, protons, neutrons, gases, liquids, solids, etc., in the universe including bodies of mobile beings.

Dark Energy and Dark Matter

There is no direct mention of dark energy and dark matter in Jain scriptures. The non associable varganas described above are weight less and gravity free. These varganas may comprise a good fraction of the total mass present in the loka that is gravity free. The Permanent Nil Varganas may be considered to constitute the dark matter as they are not detected by ordinary means. These varganas may constitute a significant portion of mass present in the loka. The matter formed by these varganas could be non-baryonic as the baryonic matter is formed by higher Gross Matter Vargana (GMV). Jainism supports the scientific view that mass is not the exclusive property of ordinary matter. According to Jainism even photons have mass.

The Laws of Subtle Cosmos

Modern science has discovered that as we go down from the macro to the micro state of matter, new attributes of matter come in action and the number of attributes increase. The macro world is deterministic and follows the laws of classical mechanics. The micro world follows the laws of quantum mechanics. Some laws of classical mechanics are not valid in the micro world. It may be noted that macro and micro world of science are comprised of 8-touch gross aggregates containing mass, which consists of higher-order varganas in bonded form. The weight less four-touch vargana subtle aggregates which exist only in energy form is a different class of matter. The weight less, four-touch varganas do not carry the fundamental forces as their paramanus are supposed to be in unbound state. Their behavior, therefore, must not be governed by known laws of science. On extrapolating, we expect that at subtle level of the physical world e.g. weight less four-touch vargana there may be yet another set of principles in operation, which is still not discovered by science.

Jain Cosmology: Loka

The universe in Jainism is the space that contains all the six real - Jiva (soul), pudgala, akasa (space), kala (time, kala is the passive agent of change of modes of real), dharmastikaya (passive agent of motion of soul and matter) and adharmastikaya (passive agent for non-motion of soul and matter). The term ‘time’ used in science is equivalent to empirical time (vyavahara kala) in Jainism, which is the means of measuring duration of time intervals. The empirical time is defined with respect to movement of some chosen object like sun or moon and is applicable to events related to pudgala only. The empirical time is not defined for soul and other real which are eternal. For example, akasa (space) is eternal, it did not come into being at any particular instant, as is supposed in Big Bang theories. In Jainism the universe is eternal, it has neither been created by any super power like God nor did it come into being through any event like Big Bang. Akasa is infinite and our universe, called loka, is a tiny spot located in this infinite space. Akasa beyond the universe, called aloka, contains no other real, it is only empty space.

Loka being finite has a shape. Bhagwati Sutra 7.3 describes the shape of the loka as trisharavsamputakar which means that the shape of loka is obtained by assembling three bowls of nearly truncated conical shape as shown in fig 1. The lower loka is an inverted bowl and two bowls placed one above another constitute the upper loka, the lower one in upright position and the upper one placed inverted over it. The two bowls of the upper   loka provide the shape of mridanga, a musical instrument of drum family. The total height of   loka is 14 rajju and the height of lower loka and upper loka is 7 rajju each. The width at the bottom of lower loka is slightly less than 7 rajju. The width is 1 rajju at middle loka, 5 rajju at brahma loka and 1 rajju at the top. The cross section of loka at any height is circular. Some other geometries of loka have been described in Digambara and Svetambara texts [12], but these geometries have corners that are unlikely to exist in nature as all astronomical structures in nature are seen to be nearly circular or spherical, without corners.

The worldly souls, which are impure due to association with karma, exist in four classes of forms. These are animals, sub-human beings having one to five senses, human beings, infernal beings living in hells and celestial beings living in heavens. All these beings fall in two groups mobile and immobile. Mobile beings can move on their own and include all the four classes of beings. Immobile beings are lowest class of animals having only one sense of touch. These beings cannot move by their own effort and are called nigoda.

Figure 1. Three Bowl Shape Loka. Distances are in rajju.


The loka is divided in regions according to the class of beings living in that region. The central region of loka is called transnadi, or mobile zone, the abode of mobile organisms and is shown in fig 2. The cross-section of mobile zone is circular with a diameter of 1 rajju. The height of mobile zone is 13 rajju (leaving 1 rajju at bottom) All-mobile beings, including celestial beings and infernal beings, in habitat this zone and nigodas, small sub-microorganisms, are found all over loka. This means that the mobile beings are found in a region of space of about 10 cubic rajju out of the total space of 343 cubic rajju of whole loka.

Figure 2. The Mobile Zone of Loka. Distances are in rajju. 

Middle Loka

The structure of middle loka is of special interest and we describe it first. This part of loka contains innumerable (asamkhyat) ring shaped circular islands (dweepas) separated by that many ring shaped circular oceans (samudras) arranged in circumscribing fashion one after another. The middle circular island is called Jambudweepa which is supposed to be related to our planet Earth. Such a structure is not found practically anywhere in nature and requires proper interpretation. The description is supposed to be symbolic, the oceans representing large distances between the islands and the ring shaped islands representing circular orbits of the moving islands. The island could be any astronomical object like planet, star and galaxy. This means that the middle loka contains stars, planets, galaxies, etc., separated by large distances and moving in orbits. According to present scientific knowledge there are about 100-140 billion galaxies containing a total of about 7x1022 stars [13]. According to Jainism there are innumerable islands, orbiting astronomical objects, and the value of innumerable, according to Acharya Kanaknandhi, is estimated to be about 10140. So, even if we account for all the planets, satellites, meteorites, inter stellar and inter galactic moving objects the number of islands in Jain system appears to be many order of magnitude greater than the expected number of astronomical objects in the scientific universe. Further, scientific observations show that the observable universe is almost flat and is estimated to be nearly 200 billion light years across, approximately 2x1022 kilometers wide [14]. According to one estimate one rajju, the diameter of middle loka, is about 1.85x1021 kilometers, other estimates give much higher values [15]. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that the universe that science is exploring is actually the middle loka of Jainism. This is very important inference because it means that science knows only about a part of the total universe and Jainism describes the whole universe that exists. Animals are found on all islands but human beings are supposed to exist on two and half islands only. That means intelligent activity, like that on our Earth, is possible in a very limited part of middle loka.

According to Jain Philosophy the loka is beginning less but the matter follows the basic rule of origination-cessation-permanence. This means that any aggregate like star and planet can disintegrate into particles and paramanus and such particles and paramanus can reassemble and aggregate to form new stars and planets. In the same way islands are also not permanent; they may disintegrate and lose their identity. Astronomical observations confirm that this is a regular process in space, old stars and galaxies are destroyed and new stars and galaxies are formed. This may be one reason that the number of islands in middle loka is said to be countless, as their number is not fixed and keeps on changing over time. But the overall structure of the middle   loka is invariant.

There are two other important features of the middle loka described in Jain texts. One, the human beings are found in a small part of the middle loka, consisting of two and half islands including the Jambudweepa, only, and two, the Jyotishka deva outside this part are stationary according to Bhagwati Sutra.  The two and half island region is also known as samaya ksetra or the time zone (of vyavahara kala). We know that the duration of day and night on Earth is defined by rotation of Earth on its axis and the year is defined by the orbital time of Earth around the Sun. The question is what do we understand by the statement that Jyotishka deva are stationary? We note from the ring shaped structure of middle loka that the astronomical objects must have orbital motion. Therefore the only possibility is that these objects are not rotating about their axes. Whether such a structure would be stable is to be examined. But it appears that day and night system is essential for human existence. Animals having one to five senses, however, can survive in the absence of such system.

The vyavahara kala is measured by human beings only and has no meaning to animals and therefore it can be assumed to be absent in the middle loka beyond the time zone. The region of two and half island has not been identified in the modern context but according to one view (see reference 11) this could consist of the Milky Way galaxy, the Andromeda galaxy and half of Triangulum galaxy. Notwithstanding this, it is implied that human beings are found only in a small part of the observable universe. Further, the possibility that human beings more intelligent than us are present in some other parts of the universe (e.g. Videha ksetra) is not denied.

Lower Loka

There are seven infernal lands in lower loka as shown in fig 2. Starting from top these are Ratnaprabha (gem hued), Sharkararaprabha (pebble hued), Balukaprabha (sand hued), Pankprabha (mud hued), Dhumprabha (smoke hued), Tamahprabha (dark) and Mahatamahprabha (pitch dark) [16]. The upper part of first infernal land Ratnaprabha is situated in the middle loka. The second infernal land is at a distance of one rajju below this. Likewise all infernal lands are situated at a distance of one rajju from each other. The Ratnaprabha has three divisions Khara division, Pank division and Abbahul division. These three divisions are 1600 yojana, 84000 yojana and 80,000 yojana thick (high) respectively. Khara division is inhabited by mansion dwelling infernal beings (Bhavanvasi deva), Pank division by demons Kalodaka and fiendish youths (Raksasas) and Asur Kaumar (Vyantar deva) and the Abbahul division by infernal beings (Narki). Sharkaraprabha is 32000 yojana, Balukaprabha is 98000 yojana, Pankprabha is 24000 yojana, Dhumprabha is 20000 yojana, Tamaprabha is 16000 yojana and Mahatamaprabha is 8000 yojana thick. Different kinds of infernal beings live in these six lands. The first four hells starting from Ratnaprabha are supposed to be hot, the heat increasing in the higher hells [17]. The major part of the fifth hell is hot and the rest part is cold. The sixth and seventh hells are cold, the seventh being colder. The nitya nigoda region is perhaps the coldest and darkest part of loka.

Upper Loka & Celestial Beings.

            Celestial beings are of four main types:

    1. Mansion dwelling celestial beings (Bhavanvasi deva)
    2. Wandering celestial beings (Vyantar deva
    3. Stellar celestial beings (Jyotishka deva
    4. Empyrean celestial beings (Vaimanic deva).    

Only empyrean celestial beings (Vaimanic deva) in habitat the upper loka, the other three types of celestial beings live in the middle loka. There are sixteen heavens (Digambara belief, 12 in Svetambara) in the 6 rajju region of upper loka as shown in fig 2. After these heavens, nine Graiveyaka, nine Anudisha and five Annuttara celestial lands are there in a region of one rajju. The region between the last Annuttara land and the first outer layer (vata valaya) is called the Eighth Land (Ashtama Prithvi) having a height of 8 yojana. The Sidhha   Shila, abode of liberated souls, is situated in the middle of this Eighth Land.  The age, power, happiness, radiance, purity of emotions (lesya), purity of senses and power of clairvoyance of the empyrean celestial beings is minimum in the first heaven and increases as we go up to higher heavens. The empyrean celestial beings of non-ranked category do not leave their lands (Vimana).

Some Special Features of Heavens and Hells

Much of the description of heavens and hells given in the Jain texts is of mythological nature but we can perceive some broad view of these lands.  The Empyrean celestial beings and the infernal beings do not have gross body like ours; they have protean bodies which are invisible to our eyes. The protean bodies are composed of special kind of four touch matter known as ahara vargana. Such bodies do not require water and oxygen for living and solid lands for supporting them and therefore the lands in heavens and hells do not have stars, planets and galaxies. It also means that the stars, planets and galaxies of middle loka do no enter the upper and lower loka, implying that the objects made from Mahaskandha Vargana are confined to middle loka only. Other varganas, both eight touch and four touch types can travel all over loka. So, the lower and upper loka are entirely different from middle loka in their structure.

The movement of heavenly beings and hellish beings has different limits. The beings (deva) in higher heavens can travel through the heavens of lower category but the beings in a lower heaven cannot travel to a heaven of higher category. Similarly, in the case of hells a being in lower hell cannot travel to the hell of higher category but a being in higher category hell can travel through lower category hell. Further, the infernal cannot enter the heavens and the empyrean beings do not travel to hells.

The nitya nigoda region at the far end of lower loka is yet of special kind. The nigoda beings can go out of this region but no being from other parts of loka can enter it. On the other hand the Siddha Shila at the far end of upper loka is the place where a pure soul (only) can enter into it but does not go out of this place. However, nigoda beings can move in and out of this Siddha loka.

The empyrean beings can travel to middle loka and they have the power, known as vaikrayika power, to assume any form of their choice on any planet. For example, an empyrean being from heaven can travel to Earth and materialize in a gross form of any animal or human body. The protean bodies of empyrean beings and hellish beings do not undergo aging process. The aging process is characteristic of bodies composed of solids and liquids. The empyrean beings and hellish beings have upapada type (spontaneous) birth that is they instantaneously assume the full form on birth and retain this form till death, without aging.

The empyrean beings are supposed to live on vimana (some kind of aircraft like subtle structure). The vimanas are also source of brightness and can move freely in space like clouds. The infernal are supposed to live in holes (cell). That is, the movement of their lands is very limited, and they are confined to the space of their small cell. This may also be indicative of the type of lands existing in these regions. The lands of upper loka favour movement whereas the lands of lower loka offer resistance to movement. So, the lower and upper loka are entirely different from middle loka in their structure.

The souls having merit karma more than demerit karma take birth in heavens. The merit karma is composed of lighter karman varganas having negative charge. The lands of heaven provide attraction to these meritorious souls and so must have a net positive charge. This means that heavens must contain majority of positive varganas, the souls having demerit karma cannot enter these lands. Similarly, the lands in lower loka should be made of net negative varganas attracting the souls with more demerit karma than merit karma, and the demerit karma are made of heavier positive karman varganas. Such souls cannot enter the heavens made of positive varganas. It is interesting to note that the positive upper loka and negative lower   loka constitute an electrical system on cosmic scale in the trasnadi. The mobile zone space may in fact work as an active electrical system having positive pole in the upper loka and negative pole in the lower loka. This may have important significance on the stability of structure of loka.

When the excess merit or demerit karma are exhausted by fruition process the karma body has equal amount of merit and demerit karma and the soul in this state is pushed out from the heaven or hell and immediately takes birth as human being in the middle loka, a place of neutral region. It may be noted that to satisfy the equilibrium condition a soul leaving the hell cannot be born in hell again or in heaven, and similarly a soul leaving the heaven cannot be born either in heaven again or in hell. This means that a human being at the time of birth in the middle loka has a balance of merit and demerit karma. The balance is at different level in different souls and it is the cause of diversity of individuals we observe on Earth. The soul in middle loka now further bonds karma of merit and demerit type depending on his actions and this decides the future of the soul. So, it does not mean that the humans in middle loka cannot have unequal demerit and merit karma. They do have these types of imbalances in karma but because of the gross body they cannot leave the middle loka. As soon as the gross body is left out on death the jiva immediately travels either to hell or to heaven depending on the nature of majority karma. So, it is the middle loka that ultimately determines the fate of jiva, and, therefore, the human birth out of all births is given the utmost importance in Jainism, and also in other religions and civilizations. Humans have the power and will to decide their destiny.

The Outer (Enclosure) Loka

The loka outside the mobile zone, and the inter-hell and inter-heaven spaces in the mobile zone, contains only nigoda beings. The bodies of these beings are supposed to be composed of a particular eight touch vargana (suksma nigod vargana). The nigoda beings do not require oxygen for living and can exist in any part of loka. This part of loka of about 333 cubic rajju comprises the biggest part of loka having a total volume of 343 cubic rajju. This means that the vast majority part of loka has only nigoda beings and only a small fraction, consisting of middle loka, hells and heavens, has mobile beings of which again a small part forms the observable universe. The boundary of the outer loka determines the shape of loka. The edge of the outer loka has a special structure that resists movement of paramanu and varganas.

It is mentioned in Jain texts that a paramanu with maximum negative charge has slowest velocity without any external influence. The pudgala near the boundary of the lokakasa by nature are “abaddha-parsva-sparsa” meaning that they are neither bound nor touched by other ruksa pudgalas, negatively charged particles, and become ruksa themselves so that this region is not favourable for motion. Although it is difficult to comprehend the exact meaning of  “abaddha-parsva-sparsa” yet it can be said that it is a natural phenomenon on account of which the pudgala near the boundary of the lokakasa would ultimately become negatively charged and thus would lose their capacity to move further out in alokakasa. As dharmastikaya and adharmastikaya are absent in alokakasa no motion is possible there.  

The edge of loka does not end abruptly; it is thinned down in its consistency gradually to a rarefied condition. There are three layers at the edge of loka, the innermost being little dense and the outer most is in rarefied state. The inner layer is called ghanodadhi layer (dense like water), the middle layer is ghan layer (dense like air) and the outer layer is tanu layer which is rarefied. The ghanodadhi layer is supposed to support the loka, the ghana layer supports the first layer and the tanu layer supports the second layer. The tanu layer is supposed to be supported by akasa. The three layers have varying thicknesses at different parts of loka perhaps for stability of size and shape of loka. These layers are supposed to contain negative paramanus and varganas which retard movement as mentioned above.

If the loka is viewed as a cricket ground than the pitch can be compared to the middle zone where the jiva is running about according to his karma. The human zone in the middle loka is like the cricket ball placed at the center of the pitch and our planet Earth is just a point in this ball. The jiva does go out of the pitch and in its time journey he scans the entire field at some point of time.

Comparison and Discussions

Jain philosophy admits an eternal finite loka of a well-defined (supratisthit) shape at any point of time. The Big Bang theory proposing creation of universe at a particular event, and the universe continuously expanding with time, is opposed to Jain concept.  Big Bang theory assumes that space and time also came into being at that instant, whereas space in Jainism is eternal and has always been in existence. Akasa is a dravya (substance) that neither can be created nor can be destroyed. Then how can the Big Bang theory describe the reality? The time referred to in this theory, and in the scientific world in general, is the empirical time (vyvahara kala) of Jainism that measures the time elapsed since an event. The empirical time is not a substance and it does not have the same conceptual standing as space which is a substance. This means that the concept of space-time does not describe combination of two substances space and time but a combination of space substance with a time measuring standard. The empirical time is defined with respect to movement of a physical object, usually astronomical, and is relevant to the material world only. So in the General Relativity when the space-time is correlated to matter no conceptual inconsistency is involved. But the relationship between matter and space-time is a partial description of reality as it does not account for the presence of dharmastikaya and adharmastikaya, the two substances essential for motion. These limitations must be borne in mind when reviewing the mathematical theory of universe. Further, jiva is active substance that interacts with matter and it is not considered in the mathematical theories.

The inflation theory is a follow up of the Big Bang theory and is equally questionable. The theory of chaotic inflation that requires continuous generation of matter and space is more like fiction than reality. All these theories are not supported by Jain philosophy. However, the fact that the universe could consist of separate regions, which may also be called multiverse, having distinct character is also described in Jain philosophy as discussed below.

We have seen above that different parts of loka like lower loka, middle loka, and upper loka are different in many ways. They differ in structure as well as in the living conditions for jiva. It may be noted that the universe must be described considering the matter and the jiva, the two interacting substances, and not matter alone as is the case in science. We describe the loka with respect to these two major aspects, the structure and the living conditions for jiva.

Dharmastikaya and adharmastikaya are supposed to determine the size and shape of loka in Jain philosophy. It is stated in Bhagwati Sutra [18] that the particular shape of upper, middle and lower loka is due to dharnmastikaya and adharmastikaya. These two substances are supposed to be present in different measures in the three parts of loka and this variation decides the shape and size of loka. We know that movement of beings in the lower loka is restricted indicating a major presence of adharmastikaya there. The beings in the upper loka move freely in space indicating major presence of dharmastikaya there. So, we infer that the presence of adharmastikaya is dense in the lower loka and it gradually reduces as we move towards upper loka. On the other hand dharmastikaya is dense in the upper loka and it gradually reduces as we move towards the lower loka. The two substances are likely to be present in equal measure in the middle loka, where the cross section of loka is minimum. We therefore note that dharmastikaya predominates in the upper loka and adharmastikaya in the lower loka.

On the basis of living conditions we can divide the loka in six major divisions.

    1. Nitya Nigoda. In this part of loka, having infinitely infinite nigoda beings, the jivas are present from beginning less time and are immobile having almost no activity. This region is storehouse of inactive jivas and is intense dark. The size of this region is seen to be much larger than the size of middle loka, the observable universe. This region may have highest negative charge in the loka for reasons mentioned below.
    2. The Hells. There are seven hells having varying living conditions. The living conditions are least unfavourable in the first heaven just adjoining the middle loka and the adversity of conditions, and hence the pain the jivas experience, gradually increases towards higher ranks of hells and is at the highest level in the seventh hell. The darkness in the hells increases in the same order, the seventh hell being the most dark. The hells are negatively charged spaces having varying intensity of charge, the intensity increasing in higher heavens. A soul having positively charged karma body travels to the hell where there is equilibrium between the charge of the karma body and the charge of the hell. For example, a soul with highest demerit karma shall travel right up to the seventh hell and a soul with least demerit karma shall only travel to the first hell to satisfy the equilibrium condition. From this point of view the hells can be divided in seven regions having different living conditions. Each hell is almost of the size of the same order as that of the middle loka.
    3. The Middle Loka. The jivas in the middle loka have a mix of pleasurable and painful experiences and its parts are marked by light and darkness both. The middle loka has a special place in loka, it is here that jiva can exercise his free will, engage in spiritual activities and make efforts to attain the state of omniscience that leads to liberation. The jivas in lower and upper loka cannot obtain liberation; they must necessarily be born in middle loka before liberation. The middle loka is electrically neutral place. This fact is also confirmed by scientific opinion according to which the observable universe is supposed to have no net charge. 
    4. The Heavens. The heavens are the places where the beings experience pleasure of varying degree. There are 16 heavens and three upper heavens as shown in fig 2. The degree of pleasure increases from lower level heavens to higher level heavens, and is highest in the upper heavens at the far end of upper loka. All these heavens are well lighted, the light being of different kind as there are no stars. The brightness of light increases from lower to higher heavens. The lighted conditions exist all the time, the system of day and night is absent there. From the point of living conditions the heavens can be divided in 11 regions (8 pairs of heavens and 3 upper heavens), each being of the same order of size as the middle loka. The heavens are positively charged spaces the intensity of charge increasing in higher heavens. A jiva travels to the heaven in which the equilibrium condition is satisfied, as explained above for hells.
    5. The Siddha Shila. This is the abode of the liberated souls, having no karma body. The liberated souls being non-physical any number of them can occupy the same space. No other life besides nigoda beings is found in Siddha Shila, even devas from the neighbouring upper heaven having karma body cannot enter it. This is the brightest part of loka. The liberated souls experience infinite bliss all the time and have infinite jnana and perception power of all times, past, present and future, i.e. the concept of empirical time does not apply to them. Siddha Shila may be little smaller than middle loka in size. What is the electrical charge of Siddha Shila? This space may have the highest positive charge maintaining the trend of increasing charge in the upper loka. The maximum merit karma of a soul is such that it finds equilibrium in the 11th heaven and does move to the Siddha Shila. For a liberated soul it is immaterial whether the space is charged or not.
    6. Outer (Enclosure) Loka. The vast expense of space of enclosure loka contains only nigoda beings and is supposed to be dark i.e. without light. This is the biggest region of loka and has negligible activity. The nigoda beings have demerit karma, the karma body is positively charged. So, the outer loka must be a negatively charged space. This kind of space shall also retard motion and favour a finite loka.

The stars, planets, moons, and therefore galaxies, exist in the middle loka and not in the upper and the lower loka. Why these celestial objects cannot move to upper and lower loka? This is perhaps due the distribution of dharmastikaya and adharmastikaya. Their equal proportions in the middle loka appear to permit existence of dense structures like stars, planets and moons. It appears that such dense structures cannot exist in a place where these two substances are present in unequal proportions, which happens in upper and lower loka. This means that dharmastikaya and adharmastikaya have important role in determining the structure and shape of the loka. Another possible reason is the neutral nature of the middle loka and electrically charges spaces in upper and lower loka..

In this manner the loka can be divided in six major divisions having 22 regions of different character. These regions separated by great distances provide a multi-region, or multiverse, structure of the loka.

Some Specialties of Non-gravitational Subtle Matter

Another important aspect concerning the structure of loka that needs our attention is the presence of non-gravitational subtle matter. We mentioned above that this class of matter comprises of the associable and non-associable varganas. We do not know much about the non-associable varganas but information is available on associable varganas in Jain texts. These varganas are of five type’s ahara vargana, taijas vargana, bhasha vargana, mano vargana and karman vargana. Ahara vargana constitutes the protein bodies of infernal and the celestial beings, taijas vargana constitutes the taijas (energy) bodies of all beings, bhasha vargana provides medium of speech and its transmission, mano vargana forms the minds of human beings and other five sense animals, and karman vargana constitutes the karma (information) bodies of all beings. All beings in the mundane state have karman bodies made from karman vargana and taijas bodies, or prana bodies, made from taijas vargana. We can infer the properties of taijas vargana from the performance of humans.

The prana is an electric force. All physical and mental activities in humans are due to the prana force. This force can act against gravity. The Yogis work wonders with the help of prana energy. Yogis can increase the prana energy in the body by practicing pranayama and other yogic exercises. In general there are three kinds of forces acting on the body. The gravity force pulling the body down and keeping it on the ground, the biological forces causing movements in the body and the prana forces. With the help of biological forces, due to metabolic activity in muscles, and acting through the bones, we can lift our limbs up against gravity. This makes walking possible. But jumping may not be possible purely by biological forces, it needs additional upward force and this is supposed to be provided by prana energy forces acting against gravity. So an athlete practicing jumping has to muster enough prana force for his act.

An increase in prana energy in the body can accomplish other feats. For example:

    1. Yogic flying. Many followers of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi are seen to practice yogic flying in which their bodies are lifted up for a short time and the practitioner jumps a small distance in sitting posture. This is supposed to become possible by the practitioner collecting enough prana energy to lift his body up against gravity. 
    2. On further increase in the prana energy the yogi experiences lift for a greater duration of time and he can walk on the surface of water. This has been demonstrated by many yogis. In this case the lifting force of prana energy equals the force of gravity of the body.
    3. With a still higher level of prana energy a yogi can fly in air, a feat that is rare. In this case the lifting force of prana is greater than the force of gravity of the body.

In all above cases the prana energy is stored in the body space and the body experiences the forces acting on this space. The inference to be drawn from these observations is that the taijas vargana, prana, can produce a force that acts against gravity, or it has anti-gravity property. Another feature of prana is that it can travel at astonishingly high speeds. It is mentioned in Jain texts that a soul having karman body and taijas body can move, on death, from middle loka (say Earth) to any heaven or hell in maximum time of four samaya (samaya is the time taken by a paramanu to move a distance of the size of the paramanu when moving at slowest speed). This becomes possible because the karman body and the taijas body are gravity free and the prana  body applies an electric force. Like the taijas vargana in fact all other associable varganas, and also non-associable varganas, are expected to have such properties.  The four-touch matter makes up a significant proportion of the total matter in the loka and this has important bearing on the structure and size of loka.

A complete description of loka must explain the processes taking place in the material world as well in the living world. Mathematical theories considering matter only do predict some events in the physical world successfully but do not say anything about the living beings. They, therefore, do not provide a complete theory of the existence of total reality. As far as the material part of the loka is concerned we find that paramanus and varganas (excluding GMV) are moving about the whole loka. This means that the same physical laws hold good for all regions of the loka and the Levels II, III and IV multiverses of Tegmark are not admissible.

Life Centered Loka

A question may be asked why the loka exists as it does in separate regions and not as a homogeneous one unit as is assumed by scientific community? The argument that can be advanced is that the loka exists in a form that is appropriate for life to make its journey possible from the most underdeveloped state to the state of perfect knowledge. If not so, what is the purpose of loka? In its time journey the jiva passes through various stages for which suitable conditions are required. The journey of jiva is karma based and he has to experience the fruits of his karma. For experiencing the fruits of demerit karma the hells provide suitable environment. For experiencing the fruits of merit karma the heavens are the suitable places. The middle loka is the place where the jiva experiences fruits of both the demerit and merit karma and where he can exercise his free will and make efforts to attain the state of perfect knowledge, the omniscience. All this would not be possible if the loka were a homogenous place like middle loka, and in that case the loka would not serve any fruitful purpose to jiva. So, the loka has organized itself in several regions suiting to the needs of jiva. The jiva, and not the matter, is the major player in loka.

Mathematical Model of Loka

A mathematical model of nature is useful in the study of the system. A comprehensive mathematical model of loka must consider all the existences to arrive at a realistic result. A simplified model of loka can be made based on the following considerations.

    1. Presence of matter, both gravitational (eight touch type) and non-gravitational (four touch type). A suitable ratio of the two types can be assumed.
    2. A uniform electric field due to dynamic charge of paramanus (two touch) extending the whole loka.
    3. The body of jiva has continuous input and output of matter of both the gravitational and the non-gravitational types.  The jiva, therefore, can be modeled as a pair of source and sink of such matter. A uniform distribution of source-sink pairs can be assumed all over the trasnadi. The nigoda jiva in the outer loka are different class and do not possess this property.
    4. Dharmastikaya and adharmastikaya as agents of motion and non-motion respectively. A linear variation along the trasnadi axis can be assumed.
    5. Presence of GMV matter in the middle loka only, which can be assumed flat.
    6. Presence of electrically charged spaces in the trasnadi having positive pole in the upper loka and negative pole in the lower loka.
    7. Akasa for giving space to all other components.
    8. Empirical time for measuring the duration of events.
    9. Boundary conditions. The outer layers are free of life and therefore they are not supposed to have eight touch matters. These layers contain four touch matters that can provide force against gravity. Further, this matter is supposed to have negative charge. Thus the overall effect of the outer layers is to retard motion of matter and providing a force against any expansion tendency. So, the outer layers can be modeled as a uniform force acting inwards on the boundary. Defining boundary conditions in a way presupposes a finite loka but this is not objectionable as most cosmologists believe that the universe could not be infinite.

Initially as a first approximation a two dimensional model can be made because the loka on all axial planes is expected to be similar.


The mathematical theories of the universe entail creation of substances like space or space and matter and violate the basic principle of Jainism that all substances are eternal, they can neither be created nor can be destroyed. These theories also do not describe the evolution and life of living beings, which are essential components of the universe, and, therefore, are essentially incomplete.

Jain philosophy describes the matter in detail at gross and subtle levels; the later may follow some laws which are yet unknown to science. Jain cosmology posits an eternal and finite loka of a well-defined shape. The loka traditionally divided in three parts can further be divided in six divisions and 22 regions on the basis of dharmastikaya and adharmastikaya, presence of varganas and living conditions of jiva. The loka is supposed to be multi-region structure; all regions are connected and the jiva, and lighter varganas, can move across the whole loka. The observable universe of science is comparable to the middle loka, the other regions having different character are not known to science. The structure of the loka appears to be life centered for meeting the needs of jiva in its time journey from the initial most ignorant state to the final state of perfect knowledge. We see the beauty and perfection in nature that serves the purpose of jiva.


  1.  Multiverse, Wikipedia
  2. Alan Guth, “Inflationary Cosmology:Is our universe Part of a Multiverse?”, You Tube, October, 2014
  3. Linde, Andrei, “Inflation in Supergravity and String Theory: Brief History of the Multiverse”,, January, 2012
  4. Tegmark, Max, “Parallel Universes”, Scientific American 288, May 2003
  5. Steinhardt, Paul, “Big Bang blunder bursts the Multiverse bubble”, Nature 510:9 doi:10
  6. Davies, Paul, “Many Scientists Hate the Multiverse Idea”, The Goldilocks Enigma: Why is the Universe Just Right for Life?, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2008
  7. Acharya Tulsi, Acharya Mahaprajna, Editor, “Sthanang Sutra”, Jain Vishva Bharati, 5.174
  8. Acharya Tulsi, Acharya Mahaprajna, Editor, “Bhagwai”, Jain Vishva Bharati, 12.118
  9. Acharya Tulsi, Acharya Mahaprajna, Editor, “Sthanang Sutra”, Jain Vishva Bharati, 4.135
  10. Acharya Nemichandra Siddhant Chakravarti, “”Gommatsara Jivakanda”, Bhartiya Jnanapith, 594-595
  11. Kachhara, N.L., “Jain Metaphysics and Science: A Comparison”, Prakrit Bhararti Academy, p.109-158
  12. Kachhara, N.L., “Scientific Explorations of Jain Doctrines”, Motilal Banarasidass, 2014, p.296-298
  13. Universe, Wikipedia
  14. Observable Universe, Wikipedia
  15. Prof. Muni Mahendra Kumar, “The Enigma of the Universe”, Jain Vishva Bharati University, 2010, p. 159-167
  16. Acharaya Kanaknandhi, “Vishva Vigyan Rahasya”. Dharam Darshan Sodh Samstahan, 1991
  17. Yativrishabhacharya, “Tiloyapannatti Part 1”, Edited by A.N. Upadhye and H.L. Jain, Sholapur, 1956, p.152-153
  18. Ohira, Suzuko, “A Study of Bhagawati Sutra”, Prakrit Text Society, Ahmedabad, 1994, p. 75-76, 248

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