/jee"veuh/, n.
1. Hinduism. the individual soul, regarded as a particular manifestation of Atman.
2. Jainism.
a. the individual soul or life monad, compared to a transparent crystal stained by karmic matter with colors, or lesyas, of varying hues.
b. all such monads collectively, regarded as the animating principle of the universe. Also called jivatma /jee vaht"meuh/.
[1800-10; < Skt: lit., living]

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In Jainism, the soul or living spirit.

Jivas are believed to be eternal and infinite in number. Many are bound to earthly existence by karma that requires them to move through the cycle of rebirth in successive bodies. Eventually a jiva may obtain release, whereupon a replacement is promoted from the lowest class of jivas, the tiny invisible souls called nigodas that fill the whole space of the world.

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Sanskrit“life essence”

      according to the philosophy of Jainism, “living sentient substance,” or “soul,” as opposed to ajiva, or “nonliving substance.”

      In the Jain tradition, souls are understood as being eternal and infinite in number and are not the same as the bodies that they inhabit. In a pure state (mukta-jiva), souls rise to the top of the universe, where they reside with other perfected beings and are never again reborn. Most souls are, however, bound to samsara (mundane earthly existence), because they are covered with a thin veil of good or bad karma, which is conceived as a kind of matter, accumulated by the emotions in the same way that oil accumulates dust particles.

      Jivas are categorized according to the number of sense organs that they possess. Humans, gods, and demons possess the five sense organs plus intellect. Minute clusters of invisible souls, called nigodas, belong to the lowest class of jiva and possess only the sense of touch, share common functions such as respiration and nutrition, and experience intense pain. The whole space of the world is packed with nigodas. They are the source of souls to take the place of the infinitesimally small number that have been able to attain moksha, release from the cycle of rebirth.

      Hindu (Hinduism) thinkers also employ the term jiva, using it to designate the soul or self that is subject to embodiment. Since many Hindu schools of thought do not regard selfhood as intrinsically plural, however, they typically understand these individual jivas as parts, aspects, or derivatives of the unifying ontological principle atman, which is in turn identified with brahma. In this usage, jiva is short for jiva-atman, an individual living being. Schools differ as to whether the relation between jivas and atman/brahma should be understood as nondual ( Advaita), nondual in a qualified way (Vishishtadvaita (Viśiṣṭādvaita)), or simply dual ( Dvaita).

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Universalium. 2010.

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