Journal of Indian Philosophy

, Volume 40, Issue 2, pp 119–176

Sacred Matter: Reflections on the Relationship of Karmic and Natural Causality in Jaina Philosophy


DOI: 10.1007/s10781-011-9150-z

Cite this article as:
Flügel, P. J Indian Philos (2012) 40: 119. doi:10.1007/s10781-011-9150-z


The article examines a fundamental problem in classical Jaina philosophy, namely, the ontological status of dead matter in the hylozoistic and at the same time dualistic Jaina worldview. This question is of particular interest in view of the widespread contemporary Jaina practice of venerating bone relics and stūpas of prominent saints. The main argument proposed in this article is, that, from a classical doctrinal point of view, bone relics of renowned ascetics are valuable for Jainas, if at all, because of their unique physical attributes, rather than the presumed presence of the deceased in the remains as posited in much of the extant literature on relic worship across cultures. The specific focus of the article are Jaina and non-Jaina explanations of the qualities of special matter in terms of karmic and natural processes of transformation.


Ascetic bodyPowerSacred matterRelicsStūpasJaina karman theoryTheory of pariṇāmaTheory of multiple causationPrinciple of the excluded thirddo-kiriyiyā-vāyaterāsiyā-vāyacattara-bhaṃgā

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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of the Study of Religions, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, School of Oriental and African StudiesUniversity of LondonLondonUK