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Pragya, Pragya (2022) The Concept of Samudghāta In Jaina Philosophy. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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Just as liberation-theory is crucial for Jaina soteriology, and karma-theory is crucial for liberation-theory, samudghāta-theory is crucial for karma-theory. This thesis examines the concept of samudghāta (Pkt. samugghāya) in Jaina-philosophy on the basis of published Jainascriptures. It is the first detailed study devoted to this central and highly technical topic of classical Jaina scholasticism. Samudghāta refers to the process in which a soul under special circumstances can partially leave its main body, act outside of it, and return back to the body. During this process, the specific related karma is annihilated, i.e., an ‘ejection’ of karmic particles occurs due to their expedited ‘fruition’ (udīraṇā). Whilst in the metaphysical and cosmological context samudghāta is described as an expansion of the soul, in the soteriological framework of karmatology, the crux of samudghāta is the elimination of karma. According to the taxonomy in the Bhagavatī-sūtra, samudghāta is a projection executed by an enlightened and a non-enlightened being. Certain types of samudghāta can be accomplished through supernatural potencies (labdhi) influenced by desires. Varied factors such as cause, purpose and process together formulate the classical seven-fold taxonomy of types of samudghāta in Jaina-literature. In all these types, the process by means of which the soul expands itself outside the main-body (mūla-śarīra), escorted by the subtle-bodies (sūkṣmaśarīra) and the supernatural-bodies (samudghātita-śarīra), is governed by karma, and regulated by cosmic rules. One of the seven types, kevali-samudghāta (KS), in particular, is crucial for Jainaphilosophy as it serves to resolve fundamental theoretical problems of the Jaina karma-theory. The quandary created by an imbalance of age-rendering-karma and excessive other aghātikarma, with impending liberation, is resolved by an omniscient by projecting the soul into the entire cosmos. Although the omnipresence of the soul during KS is akin to the Vedāntic God entity, the Jaina omnipresent soul reverts to its main-body before liberation and hence this is neither an everlasting state nor is it mandatory for all souls. This thesis presents an analysis of the Jaina samudghāta-theory. It is also an endeavour to explore the Jaina concept of the body through the window of samudghāta. The concept of samudghāta comes into play in two contexts: as an explanation of processes of body formation and processes of body dissociation, i.e., as a means to partially discard the main-body before liberation. The concept of samudghāta is predicated on the theory of the soul’s relation with different sets of bodies: the projected-body (samudghātita-śarīra), body serving as a platform for projection and the accompanying subtle-bodies (sūkṣma-śarīra). The investigation of each 4 of these unique roles in the process of samudghāta renders a better understanding of the Jaina concept of body. This thesis shows that the Jaina five-body-theory cannot be justified without the samudghāta concept. This thesis also demonstrates that each type of samudghāta is unique with its own special context and purpose within Jainism, and answers to its own set of questions. Thus, each chapter concentrating on individual type1 of samudghāta stands alone. The link between the different types of samudghāta is indirectly provided by the Jaina theories of karma and of the body. Overall, this thesis serves as an example of Klaus Bruhn’s Sectional Studies and contributes to a deeper understanding of Jaina-philosophy by systematically employing crossreferencing methodology. Examining samudghāta unveils the nexus of Jaina-philosophy. The research examines the mereology of body and soul within the frame of samudghāta. Overall, the research presents a comparative investigation of the variant interpretations of aspects of samudghāta in Jaina-philosophy.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: Peter Flugel
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 01 Mar 2022 10:47

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