Jainism contrasted and compared with Bhagavad-Gita concerning the soul
Jainism which was founded in 6th century B.C has taught several ideals which previously existed in Hinduism. Despite being a heterodox system, the teachings of Lord Mahavira on the soul are quite similar to what Lord Krishna had preached to Arjuna in the Bhagavad-Gita.
As an atheistic philosophy, Jainism has not accepted the existence of God but has given primordial significance to the soul. In fact, the soul in Jainism is a perfect entity which is always omniscient and endowed with pure consciousness. It is on account of karmas that the omniscience of the soul is concealed. Thus, Lord Mahavira has taught that the main cause of the bondage of the soul is karma.
Similary, Lord Krishna seems to be of the same opinion. In fact, Lord Krishna has also accepted that the sol is pure, eternal and unchanged. It is always omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent. Neither water can wet the soul, nor can the wind dry it. It does not burn in fire and it always remains the same. It is only the karmas of the individual which are accumulated in order to bound the soul. This is why Lord Krishna had always explained to Arjuna how to perform good actions so that the soul is not victimized by the results of the actions. So, it is true that both Lord Krishna and Lord Mahavira are of the same opinion that the soul is pure and omniscient but bound by the karmas of the individual.
According to Jainism, 3 categories of souls exists namely bounded, partly liberated and liberated souls. As a result, the bounded souls are those which are completely covered by the particles of karmas. Partly liberated souls are those which have been partially liberated from the particles of karmas whereas liberated souls are perfect souls which are completely freed from all matter particles.
Similarly, the B.G describes 2 types of souls namely one which is bound by karmas and the other which is completely liberated. Those who perform bad actions, accumulate bad results in the form of karmas. Thus, those accumulated karmas will follow the soul at the time of rebirth. It is only when all these karmas have been exhausted that the individual can attain liberation. Therefore, it is a fact that man should always perform good actions in order not to bound the soul towards accumulated karmas.
The soul which is always perfect and omniscient in Jainism is also bound to bondage when karmas are accumulated around it. These karmas in the form of tiny particles flow towards the soul. When they have been accumulated around it, they form a thick layer of karmas which completely conceals the omniscience of the soul. This thick layer of accumulated karmas has also been described in the B.G as Karman Savira which is not destroyed even if the physical body is destroyed. The Karman Savira is in a form of a subtle body which follows the soul in order to cause its bondage. Until and unless this karman savira is destroyed, the individual will not attain liberation. This is why Lord Krishna has taught in the B.G. about the path of action knowledge and devotion so that the soul is not affected by this karman savira. In fact, one can destroy this karman savira by performing good actions or by following the path of knowledge just like the Sthithi Prajra.
Lord Mahavira has been quite similar to what Lord Krishna has taught in the B.G. He has also specified 2 means by which the soul can be purified from the particles of karmas. First of all, he declared that by practicing samvaras one can prevent the influx of karmas towards the soul. Secondly, by practicing Nirjana one can destroy the accumulated karmas from the soul, so that it can be restored to its original state of purity and omniscience. Thus, it is obvious that Lord Krishna and Lord Mahavira are of the same opinion that the soul must be delivered from bondage in order to attain the state of liberation.
Moreover, the soul in the B.G. is considered to be identical to God. This is because it has the same potentialities as the supreme. But, this concept has not been accepted by Lord Mahavira since his philosophy is against the existence of God. In fact, Lord Mahavira has stated that God does not have any relation with the soul because only the latter is real and exists. God does not have any existence. It is only on this point that the opinion of Lord Mahavira differs from that of Lord Krishna.
Therefore, it is obvious that the teachings of Lord Mahavira regarding the soul are similar to those of Lord Krishna in the B.G. Both of them agree that the enlightened soul which is free from karmas makes the individual both a Jivan and Vedeha Mukta.