The last two Tirthankars Lord Parshva (877-777 B.C.E.) and Lord Mahavira (599-527 B.C.E.) were very close to us and we have their teaching recorded in the scriptures. People all around the world will have some basic knowledge of physics. We know that everything what we can see, smell is made of particles or atoms. Atoms get together and create some state of matter (i.e. liquid, gas, plasma or solid). Everything is made of particles. A table, a chair, water, a star, or a galaxy everything is made of particles. Now according to Jainism, the Universe is made of six Dravyas or substances. They are Soul, Pudagal, Medium of motion, Medium of rest, Space and Time. All these six are eternal. Nobody has created them and nobody can destroy them. Bhagwan Mahavir said that all these six Dravyas are eternal. The second Drayva Pudagal means atoms and molecules. “Pud” means “to accumulate” and “gal” means “to depart”. Atoms are getting together and depart. This process is eternal. By getting together they form some state of matter like liquid, solid, gas etc. Our sun is a giant ball of plasma, our earth is solid, the water is liquid etc. But they don’t last forever. Their present state will change and some new form will emerge. We are the first Drayva, the soul.
Like sub-atomic particles, our soul is also eternal. Our soul also goes through the process of change. It gains various bodies according to its Karma. But such soul can be liberated and can be free from the cycle of birth and death.
Lord Mahavir has said that, “everything emerges, everything vanishes but their essence is unchangeable. For example, many particles accumulate and form a cloud in the sky. You will see a cloud but after sometime it will disappear. The particles will disintegrate. Infinite particles create a star (or sun) and after billions of years due to the chain-process the star will lose its previous form and will gain a new form (a planetary nebula). But the total amount of the particles will remain the same hence their total density is constant. That is called dravya (substance or matter), guna (essence) and paryaya (modification). The total amount of the particles remains constant.
We all in this world focus directly on paryaya (form or mode). We take paryaya different from dravya but actually both are same. We are soul and we possess a physical body which is ultimately made of particles and thus it is Pudagal. We take this body as our self but in fact, our real self is consciousness, the soul. So whenever we face death we become unhappy because our focus is on the body (paryaya). Whenever we experience paryaya (change of form) we become either happy or unhappy.
A person will like a thing made of gold and will value it more than a stone. If someone steals gold from him then he would be unhappy but if someone steals a stone then he won’t be unhappy that much. In fact both the gold and a stone are made of same particles (electron, proton and neutron)!
The sole cause behind everyone’s happiness or sorrow is paryaya (form). If we change our vision and take paryaya and dravya to be same then all the problems can be solved and we can attain the state of perfect equanimity. All the Tirthankars and other Shramanas gained Omniscience or Perfect Knowledge by practicing the highest equanimity. They take their helper and enemy to be same. They take a bacteria and an elephant the same because they directly focus on their essence, the soul or the conscious energy. We should not feel happy on good occasions and sad on bad occasions because now we know that whatever happens is the change of state but the essence remains the same. Thus we can attain Samyak Darshan (Right Vision) and Samyak Darshan is the root of Omniscience (Kewal Gyaan) and thus the final liberation.