Category Archives: Philosophy

Philosophy of Everything

Philosophy Quiz

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Today we come to a closure of our philosophical journey together. I hope you enjoyed it.

“Noooooo”, came a chorus.

“Don’t say closure. It was so much fun, and we hope we continue with it”, echoed Ātmā.

“Yes sirrrrrrr”, again came a chorus.

I too hope, you continue with it in your life, as I guess it had opened a lot of doors of possibilities for you. So, to make it a memorable closure with me, I thought, we would run a quiz today, by asking each one of twenty five of you, some questions. You may add extra info in your answers, though.

“Wow! a quiz”, exclaimed Gati.

Ok. Let’s start with you. How many types of sense organs?

Gati: Five.

What are the further divisions of each of the sense organs? (pointing to Jāti)

Jāti: Dravyendriya (Observable Organ made of pudgal) and Bhāvendriya (Non-observable Organ made of soul)

What are the divisions of dravyendriya?

Kāy: Dravyendriya is divided into the matter and energy components. The materialistic form & structure (nirvritti), and the organ energy (upkaraṅ) needed to drive a sense organ. The form & structure could be further divided into internal & external sense organs.

How do we understand the bhāvendriya?

Indriya: Bhāvendriya is the aspect of a sense organ because of its being driven by life / soul. It also has two aspects: labdhi (organ’s soul power) and upyog (organ in live action).

As, even a sense organ is fundamentally driven by two types – observable dravyendriya and non-observable bhāvendriya, wouldn’t the whole of a living being be so driven?

Paryāpti: Yes. We living beings are also driven by the observable paryāpti, and the non-observable prāṅ.

What are the varieties of paryāpti (matter & energy) needed to live a life?

Paryāpti: There are six varieties. Food, body, sense organ(s), breath, speech, mind, and they are acquired in that order, for taking birth.

What are the corresponding prāṅ (life support due to soul)?

Prāṅ: They are actually ten. 5 indriya (prāṅ) for organs, manobal for mind, vachanbal for speech, kāybal for body, shwāsochchhwās for breath, āyuṡ for food, and they go away in that order, while dying.

Excellent. And if you know, as both dravyendriya and bhāvendriya are required for the proper functioning of any sense organ, similarly both paryāpti and prāṅ are required for the proper functioning of the corresponding aspect of any living being. Next, minimum how many bodies does a worldy being possess?

Sharīr: Two (tejas & kārmaṅ) during transition from one life form to another.

What are the different types of (soul initiated) activities aka yog?

Yog: They are three – activities of body (physical), speech (verbal), mind (mental).

What is the philosophy of multi-perspective called?

Upyog: Anekāntvād

What are the two types of karm particles at broad level?

Karm: Ghāti (Hindering) & Aghāti (Non-hindering).

In which all guṅasthān do you not die, or are you immortal?

Guṅasthān: Third, Twelfth, Thirteenth. Third because it is a doubtful state. Twelfth and Thirteenth as from these you are destined to go the the next state.

What are the subjects of the sense organs?

Viṡay: 3 (types of) sounds, 5 colours, 2 smells, 5 tastes, 8 touches.

Which karm particles get accumulated on using sense organs?

Mitthyātva: Good ones if used without any bias of anger, ego, deceit, greed. Otherwise, bad karm particles.

What are the ways of stopping the karm particles?

Tatva: 5 sanvar (opposite of āshrav), viz right faith, right conduct, alertness of right conduct, no-kaṡāy, non-activity.

What are the types of ātmā?

Ātmā: As such all are same – the substance ātmā. But based on its worldly state, it could be infinite, but could be broadly classified into 7 more apart from dravya (substance): kaṡāy (anger, ego, deceit, greed), yog (activity), upyog (business), knowledge, faith, conduct, power.

Our hormones trigger our thoughts. Our thoughts trigger our behaviour. But what trigger our hormones?

Danḋak: Leshyā, types of which are typically represented by six enhancing colours of black, blue, gray, red, yellow, white.

And what triggers the leshyā?

Leshyā: Vibrations of the karmic body or karm particles.

What are the types of faith?

Driṡṫi: Right, Wrong & Mixed.

What are the types of meditation?

Dhyān: Four: ārtt (continuous focus on unfavourables & desirables), roudra (concentration in ruthless thoughts), dharm (philosophical concentration), shukla (thought to thoughtlessness). Obviously the first two are not the good forms of meditation.

What is the relation between the three faiths with guṅasthān?

Dravya: First guṅasthān is the stage of wrong faith, third one of mixed, and the rest are of right faith.

Which all forms of living beings can go to mokṡ?

Rāsi: As such any. But directly only from human being form. So, others also will have to come into human form to go to mokṡ.

So, ultimately can all living beings attain mokṡ?

Vrat: No. There are two varieties of all living beings: bhavi and abhavi. Only bhavi are capable of going to mokṡ.

Would all bhavi go to mokṡ?

Mahāvrat: Not really. They are just capable – doesn’t mean they will go. And moreover they are infinite.

In what different ways can the activities (yog) be executed?

Bhāngā: Each of the three activities (body, speech, mind) can be executed in three ways: by oneself, or can be gotten executed by someone else, or can be executed by supporting someone else. (In terms of karm accumulation, all three of them are equivalent.) Hence in detail, there becomes 3 x 3 = 9 varieties of activity execution.

And finally, in how many ways can the level of an ascetic be classified?

Chāritra: Five, viz sāmāyik, chhedopsthāpya, parihār vishuddhi, sūkṡm sanprāy, yathākhyāt.

On a closing note:

As a scientist does lot of experiments trying to unravel the mysteries of observables. In the same way, a philosopher need to do a lot of experiments to unravel the mystery of everything.

In fact, philosophy had been studied, experimented with, and being explored since ages.

Moreover, in the past there have been humans, who have decoded the mysteries of everything. And based on their knowledge, they had conveyed the secrets as the various philosophies. Hence, we do not have to reinvent the wheel, from the scratch. Rather, study these philosophies, and get to know, where to start from. Though finally, everyone has to know on its own.

In fact, even students of science, should use these for inputs to their studies and experiments, providing them a deeper insight to discoveries.

However, as philosophy also deals with the unobservables, the experiments go beyond the usual physical types. To be specific, they need to start with diving into the closest non-observable – the self – the soul.    Send article as PDF   

The Foursome Kasaay

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Today’s topic is something we have touched upon many times. So many times that I thought necessary to dedicate a day for it – the topic of the foursome kaṡāy – anger (क्रोध), ego (मान), deceit (माया), greed (लोभ). Interestingly, almost every philosophy says that these are the cause of the bondage, sufferings, etc. And if you reverse question as why are these four there. It would come back as because of the karm bondage we have.

“That looks like a vicious cycle. Kaṡāy because of bondage, and bondage because of kaṡāy”, interrupted Ātmā.

Yes, it is.

If it is a cycle, can we ever come out of it and be a free soul aka go to mokṡ.

Yes, sure. But for that, one needs to understand as how to break the cycle. The key is puruṡārth – one’s own effort.

Yes. We had talked about it under the drivers of our activities.

Correct. That is the only one which could break the cycle. Bondage would lead to kaṡāy, but with our conscious efforts, we can prevent them to further cause bondage – thus breaking the cycle.

How do we do that?

Simply by being equanimous in the situations of provocation of kaṡāy.

“That’s hell lot of effort”, exclaimed Yog.

Ya but that’s what is needed to break the cycle. In fact, it looks complex only at its face. There are ways to make it simple.

Tell us that.

The kaṡāy could be broken up into four stages, and then we may master its control to equanimity through these stages, one by one.

Are these four stages for all the four kaṡāy?

Yes. Thus, there becomes four x four = sixteen kaṡāy, but for the time being we’d consider it just as four stages, each with the four kaṡāy. The various insights into the four stages of kaṡāy is tabulated as follows (alongwith the various stages of soul purification):

Kaṡāy stage Guṅasthān Max period of the stage Next birth Avoid falling back to previous stage by effort of Forgiving
anantānubandhī (severest) 1, 3 Life long Hell Already at the lowest
apratyākhyān (severe) 2, 4 1 year Tiriyanch Forgive within 1 year
pratyākhyān (light) 5 1 month Human Forgive within 4 months
sanjwalan (lightest) 6-10 15 days Heaven Forgive within 15 days
Zero kaṡāy stage 11 < 48 minutes Heaven Not controllable by puruṡārth – would eventually fall back to previous stages
Zero kaṡāy stage 12-14 Permanent Mokṡ Not controllable by puruṡārth – would be maintained forever

“What I understand from the chart is that once we reach 12-14th stages of soul, we don’t need to put any efforts to be equanimous”, clarified Ātmā.

Yes – there you are already equanimous and it is self-sustaining – basically you have broken the cycle and are heading to permanent mokṡ.

That’s great. I think the last column in the chart is really something that gives us the direction to conquer our kaṡāy.

Yes. And other columns shall give you motivation.

Before we close for today, can you please provide some analogies for us to understand the four stages for each of the four kaṡāy? That way we could be more alert of our kaṡāy, so as to take some actions to conquer it.

Ya sure. In fact, I’ll quote the analogies from the philosophical text, itself:

Anger Ego Deceit Greed
(Strong as) (Stubborn as) (Twisted as) (Sticky as)
anantānubandhī Etching on a stone Stone pillar Bamboo roots Colour of silk
apratyākhyān Etching on hard land Bone pillar Sheep horns Colour of mud
pratyākhyān Etching on sand Wood pillar Pee-line of a walking ox Grease
sanjwalan Etching on water Vine pillar Stripping bamboo bark Colour of turmeric

Thanks. That looks cool.

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Stages of Soul Purification

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Stages of soul purification will be our focus of discussion today.

“But, I have a question related to the previous session“, interrupted Ātmā.

Go ahead.

Once on the pathway to mokṡ, can we track ourself as to where are we on the pathway? Are we on the right direction, or the opposite direction?

Right question at the right time. Yes, we can track. And the various stages of soul purification could be the guide for the same. As such, there would be infinite stages of soul purification because of infinite gradations in soul purity. However, broadly they can be classified into fourteen guṅasthān.

What is guṅasthān?

Stage of purification. Under each, there could be infinite varieties. But they are classified into one because of some common characteristics.

What is the basis of classification?

As such there are 5 doorways of karm accumulation (āshrav), which obstructs the pathway to mokṡ. Depending on the level and number of doors being closed, the progress / purification stage of the soul is determined on the pathway to mokṡ.

What are the five āshrav?

They are wrong faith (मिथ्यात्व), wrong conduct (अव्रत), neglect of right conduct (प्रमाद), kaṡāy (कषाय) (foursome of anger, ego, deceit, greed), activity (योग) (threesome by mind, speech, body).

O! So even activity accumulates karm?

Yes. In fact, that is the key one, which leads to karm accumulation. It is just the addition of kaṡāy or no kaṡāy alongwith, which decides the badness or goodness of the accumulated karm. So, when all the 5 doors are open, it is the stage one – mithyādriṡṫi guṅasthān. When the faith is shaky in an undecided state of right and wrong, the soul is in the stage three – mishra guṅasthān.

“What about the second stage?”, asked Guṅasthān.

Don’t worry. We’ll come to that. When the faith is completely right, the soul is at the fourth stage – avirati samyak driṡṫi guṅasthān. So, in all stages four and above, the first door of wrong faith is closed. If partial right conduct is added, the soul gets into the fifth stage – desh virati guṅasthān, and with complete right conduct, it is in the sixth stage – pramatt sanyat guṅasthān. From sixth and onwards, the second door of wrong conduct is closed, but the neglect may still happen. The stage where even that third door is closed, takes the soul to stage seven – apramatt sanyat guṅasthān. And from there onwards it is the diminishing foursome kaṡāy which keeps the soul moving upwards to stages eight (nivritti bādar guṅasthān) and nine (anivritti bādar guṅasthān).

What is the difference between the eight and ninth stage?

Eighth is with diminished kaṡāy. Ninth is with so further diminished kaṡāy, that towards the end of it, only the last one greed (of the foursome) is left, and then the soul enters the stage ten (sūkṡm sanprāy guṅasthān) with a very minute greed. The next stage would be with zero kaṡāy, where even the fourth door is closed. But here comes an interesting twist in the tale. The diminishing kaṡāy could be diminishing in two ways: 1) By elimination, 2) By suppression. If it was due to suppression, the soul enters stage eleven (upshānt moh guṅasthān) with zero kaṡāy due to complete suppression. Otherwise it enters stage twelve (kshīṅ moh guṅasthān) with zero kaṡāy due to complete elimination of its causing karm – the perception hindering aka deluding (mohaniya) karm – one of the eight karm types.

But isn’t the stage eleven a danger zone? How long would the kaṡāy remain suppressed?

Yes, very rightly pointed out. It is a danger zone, because the soul can’t stay longer here, as the suppressed kaṡāy would erupt again within 48 minutes, meaning the soul would fall back to the lower stages.

Which lower stage would it go to?

It may go to starting from tenth till back to the first stage.

That’s really bad.

And it is for this falling soul which is heading towards the stage one, there comes a pre-stage two (sāswādan samyak driṡṫi guṅasthān), where only the taste of right faith remains.

O! This is the missing stage two.

Yes. It is better than one but worse than three, as from it the soul would definitely go to stage one. From stage three, the soul would have gone to either four or one.

So, it is always better to skip stage eleven and jump to stage twelve from the stage ten.

Yes indeed.

But how do we know, whether we are heading towards eleventh or twelfth?

May not be perfectly with the current level of knowledge. But you may get a feel of it. Say you are being bothered by someone to trigger one of your kaṡāy, say anger. Now, whatever that someone does, you don’t get angry. That’s really great, your soul is getting into the better stages. But did you not get angry by letting it go forever, or by ignoring for the time being. That decides the pathway to twelfth vs eleventh stage, respectively.

Okay. Isn’t then getting to the twelfth stage near impossible? I guess all of us would go to eleventh and fall back.

Even if you keep falling back in this birth, you should keep trying – so that you would have enough practice to get to the twelfth stage at least in your later births. And once the soul is in the stage twelve, there is no returning back – mokṡ is for sure, in that life (birth) itself. From stage twelve, it would get rid of three more hindering karm types (knowledge hindering (jyānāvaraṅiya), vision hindering (darshanāvarṅiya), power hindering (antarāy)), leading it to attain the stage thirteen (sayogī kewalī guṅasthān) – the state with the infinite kewal knowledge.

“What I understand from our discussions is that mohaniya karm has to be the first karm type to be completely gotten rid of”, clarified Karm.

Yes. Absolutely correct. And if it is gotten rid of, others would any way go away. And that’s why it is called the king of karm among the eight karm types.

And then, while attaining the kewal knowledge, three more karm types are removed.


So, does that mean even in stage thirteen, there are still four more karm types associated with the soul?

Absolutely. And in fact, it is because of these only, the soul is able to continue its physical aka worldly existence till before its mokṡ.

What are these four more karm types?

Pain / Pleasure causing (vedaniya), Age deciding (āyuṡ), Body deciding (nām), Status deciding (gotra). And as you see, they are non-hindering to any of the soul attributes of knowledge, vision, perception, power. Moreover, they are the basic ones needed to live in this world.

So, mokṡ can’t be attained unless these are also gotten rid of, right?

Yes. And that is where the soul has to stop all its activities, closing the fifth door, to enter the stage fourteen (ayogī kewalī guṅasthān). With all doors closed for karm particle entry, no new karm particle gets attracted towards the soul. And the above four karm types also get disassociated from the soul, leading it to mokṡ, beyond all stages of purification – the ultimate purification.

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Pathway to Moksh

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After going through the various aspects of the world and their inter-relations, especially the ones between the living and the non-living beings, and more in particular about the soul and the karm particles, we are all set to unravel the pathway to mokṡ – the complete purification of soul.

“But why do we even need to go to mokṡ?”, questioned Gati.

That’s a good question. In general, you don’t need to. You must have a strong reason for it, and then only you need to bother about its pathway.

But typically, what would that reason be?

It would be your want for the ultimate never ending bliss. Our life is always a roller-coaster ride with happiness and sadness interleaved. If you are enjoying that and whatever comes to you, you don’t need to bother about mokṡ. But if you are fed up of sadness, worries, … and want to get rid of it all permanently, mokṡ is the way to go. In that state, you are neither happy nor sad – you loose both and be in eternal bliss.

“So is mokṡ a place, or just a state of soul?”, asked Danḋak.

It is the purest state of soul without any karm particles. However, all such pure souls reside in a particular place in the universe named mokṡ-shila. So, more often than not, people colloquially refer to that place also as mokṡ.

I guess, we had already discussed as to how to attain mokṡ.

How was it?

Basically do good deeds without having AGED, i.e. Anger, Greed, Ego, Deceit.

Yes perfectly correct. But that’s easier said than done.

“Yes. Most of the times, the AGED don’t leave us. But why is it so? Does it mean we can’t go to mokṡ?”, asked Yog anxiously.

It is because it is just one part of the 4-step process to mokṡ.

Just one part. We thought that was all.

That *is* the key part to practise. But there are other supporting parts needed for that effective practice. And if one follows all the four parts in unison, it becomes a natural part of our life to get rid of AGED and attain mokṡ.

“What are the other parts?”, wanted Tatva.

First one is to have Right Faith (सम्यक दर्शन), i.e. to have faith in soul, karm, re-birth, mokṡ, etc, i.e. have faith in their existence. As if you don’t have faith in these, then you’d have no strong reason to get rid of AGED.

And with no strong enough reason, no effort becomes effective enough for its fructification.

Excellent, you philosopher. Second one is to have the Right Knowledge (सम्यक ज्ञान).

But once we have blind faith in something, what is there to know about it?

Don’t have blind faith. Just start with not denying the possibility. Then, explore to get more knowledge about it, which will naturally boost your belief. And then with better belief you’d rather crave for more knowledge about it.

Isn’t it sort of a cycle? Right Faith leads to getting Right Knowledge and vice-versa.

Yes it is. But the journey starts from having right faith and concludes when you have the infinite knowledge.

But what if, after getting more knowledge it disproves the belief rather than boosting it?

That is fine until and unless you are exploring with the sole goal / mindset of disproving it.

But many times we do that.

Yes, that’s where the right faith is required. Once you have that, you are open to further exploration, rather than just final conclusions. Don’t forget, knowledge is infinite, and we have too less of it, to conclude its disapproval.

Too less for its approval as well.

Exactly. That’s where we need to keep exploring without final conclusions. We need to keep exploring objectively with the mindset that what further am I missing to be able to prove it.

Got it – basically apply the principle of anekāntvād – have a multi-perspective view in exploration.

You are already a damn philosopher. Third part is the Right Conduct (सम्यक चारित्र). Once the first two are on the right track, applying the principles derived from there to our conduct in our day-to-day life is the right conduct. Once we start doing that getting rid of AGED will automatically fall in place.

“Any guidelines on the principles for Right Conduct?”, asked Mahāvrat.

Yes. Broadly, these can be put into 5 baskets called mahāvrat: 1) Non-violence – not killing or hurting, 2) Truthfulness – no lies in any form, 3) Non-stealing, 4) Brahmacharya – Celibacy & control over senses, 5) Non-possessiveness.

But aren’t they too difficult to follow?

Not easy for everyone to follow them completely. That’s where there are moderated versions of those called aṅuvrat, for day-to-day practices of common man. So, everyone can start with whatever minimal possible under each category, and they would naturally find themselves progressing towards more and more of it. In fact, the fourth part of the pathway to mokṡ is the one which boosts the inclination towards all these.

What is the fourth part?

It is Stoicistic Practices (तप). It is a collection of 12 various practices taking oneself towards upliftment of the soul.

“Can you tell us about them at least briefly?”, intervened Ātmā.

I’ll just list out the names. You may further study about them under the 7th topic nirjarā in chapter 14 of the book ‘Jīv Ajīv’ by Acharya Mahaprajna (in Hindi) – pdf pg 95 (A-86) & 96 (A-87).

Are nirjarā and tap same?

Yes. The twelve varieties of nirjarā / tap can be understood as: 1) Fasting (अनशन), 2) Eating Less than Hunger (ऊनोदरी), 3) Condition based Fast Breaking (भिक्षाचरी), 4) Not eating oil & milk products (रस-परित्याग), 5) Bearing body discomforts with patience (कायक्लेश), 6) Control on senses organs (प्रतिसंलीनता), 7) Repentance (प्रायश्चित), 8) Humility (विनय), 9) Service to Saints (वैयावृत्य), 10) Study for Right Knowledge (स्वाध्याय), 11) Meditation (ध्यान), 12) Leaving behind the passions of anger, greed, ego, deceit (व्युत्सर्ग).

Till now most of the times, we have been talking about the theoretical philosophy. Is there any practical application of it as well? Can I apply it to my life to attain mokṡ?

Definitely. In fact, all the four parts we discussed today are actually meant for practical applications only – otherwise there is no point of these discussions.

In that case, can we have some practical sessions on how to practise these?

They are already happening. Just go ahead and attend the practical hands-on rather soul-on workshop on Prekṡā Meditation to begin your journey towards mokṡ.

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Types of Proofs

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Proofs are something what we rely on in our quest for truth. But what is a proof? What all shall we consider as a proof? Why a proof is to be considered as proof? Answers to these very fundamental questions are some of the foundational elements which constitutes the foundation of science and philosophy.

“That’s an interesting question, why a proof has to be considered as a proof. Because behind any proof there is always a set of axioms, which we believe in”, added Upyog.

Yes. So it is basically boils down to what belief system we want to setup, and then prove according to it. And accordingly, the proofs can be classified as 1) Direct (pratyakṡ), and 2) Indirect (parokṡ).

I guess direct would include what we observe with our sense organs.

Not really. Even that is not direct but indirectly through our sense organs, because the proof is finally for our self – the soul.

But aren’t we – the souls – getting the proof directly through our sense organs?

In day to day language and usage, yes – but not in the real sense, as sense organs are not the real “we”. That’s why the direct proof is further divided into two parts: 1) Ultimate (pārmārthik) Direct, 2) Transactional (sānvyavahārik) Direct. The one which takes the help of sense organs and mind is transactional direct, as it is direct only from our day to day usage / transaction perspective. And it is a four step process.

Isn’t it that as soon as something contacts our senses, it is a proof (of truth) of its existence? Why four steps?

Contacting is not even the first step of the proof. It is the zeroth step. First step is that the something is detected (avgrah) by our sense organs, which could be clear or unclear detection. Second step involves mind to estimate (īhā) that something, as what all could it be. Third step is the final decision after all analysis (avāy), as to what is that something.

Once analyzed & decided, it is proved, right? Why the fourth step?

Till now it is a temporary proof. Fourth step makes it permanent by storing it in the memory (dhāraṅā).

Okay. After this level of detailing, now what is left for the ultimate direct.

Don’t forget that with this transactional direct, we can only perceive the observables, and that also not all of them, only the gross ones. So, the ultimate direct proof deals with the minute observables and the non-observables. It is by virtue of the soul itself, directly knowing them, and that’s why the ultimate direct.

How and when does that happen?

It is attained by clearing off knowledge hindering (jyānāvaraṅiya) karm particles typically using deep meditation & study. Depending on the levels, the ultimate direct ways of knowing and hence proving can be broadly classified into three varieties: 1) Awadhi, 2) Manh Paryav, 3) Kewal.

“O Yes! I remember, we already talked about five types of knowledge in one of our previous sessions“, exclaimed Sharīr.

Yes. And out of the five, the above three types of knowledge comes under the purview of ultimate direct. As discussed earlier, awadhi and manh paryav knowledge are still limited to observables though extended to really minute observables, which may not be observed even by science. Various levels of awadhi knowledge are defined based on the amounts of pudgal (matter & energy) known, and by the bounds of space, time, and properties, in which it is known.

And manh paryav is knowledge of knowing the thought particles – mind reading.

Absolutely correct.

And kewal knowledge is the ultimate infinite knowledge of everything – observable and non-observable, in all forms, of anywhere, of anytime.

Yes. Excellent. And the other two, mati & shrut knowledge are the two (means & hence) classifications of the indirect proofs. Just to refresh, mati knowledge is what one self perceives through sense organs and analyzed by mind. And shrut knowledge is the one which lets us exchange our knowledge with others, again through senses organs and mind. Hence, both are indirect means for the soul.

So, exchanging knowledge through books, discussions, speaking, etc fall under mati or shrut knowledge? I guess shrut.

Yes. Note that mati knowledge is limited to oneself. It can be classified into four varieties of intellect, to understand it better: Intuition (outpattikī), Knowledge due to Studying (vainayikī), Knowledge gained by Practice (kārmikī), and Experience (pariṅāmikī).

What about our knowledge of our past lives?

That is also a form of mati knowledge, though it could be a combination of more than one of the above four.

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The Ultimate Atom

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Parmāṅu – the ultimate atom is our topic of discussion today. As it is a big topic, we may have to extend our today’s class.

“O! Finally! I have been waiting for it. No problem in extending the class”, exclaimed Dravya. “So, is it really the ultimate?”

Yes, the ultimate eternal unit of all the observables. It can neither be created nor destroyed and cannot even be transformed to & from something else. It cannot be broken any further.

Basically it means that each parmāṅu was always there and will always be there. And even the total number parmāṅu in the lok also never changes.

Yes. And hence permanent, from that perspective. Moreover, it is a true point, occupying just one space point.

So, it doesn’t have any length, breadth or depth?

Yes, it doesn’t. It is truly infinitesimal having no beginning, end or middle.

So, does it not have shape?

No, it doesn’t. Only pudgal aggregates, spanning over multiple space points, create the notion of shape.

What about its mass?

It is truly massless, i.e. have zero mass, and hence its speed is not limited by the speed of light. In fact, it can travel from one end of the lok to the other end in one samay (smallest unit of time), thus achieving its maximum speed.

But isn’t even light massless?

Not really. Light consists of photons which are not really zero mass equivalent, as they have energy.

So then, how does aggregates composed of parmāṅu get mass?

It is not all aggregates. Only those with infinite parmāṅu, as then zero into infinity becomes some finite quantity. Interestingly, also note that, parmāṅu and other zero mass aggregates are as such of no use to jīv. Hence, if any pudgal is getting used or perceived by us – the jīv – it must have mass.

That’s really interesting.

Coming to motion or movement, parmāṅu is the only thing, ultimately responsible for all dynamism. All but pudgal & jīv are motionless. And jīv also is dynamic only in its worldly existence and that also due to its association with pudgal of karm & other vital functions.

“So basically pudgal is the only one with dynamism – motion or movement”, summarized Gati.

Sort of. More correctly, pudgal is the only substance with inherent dynamism. But that doesn’t mean that it is always dynamic. Let’s dig into it, to understand it further. Dynamism could be classified into two types: 1) Motion and 2) Fusion-Fission

Fusion is combining & Fission is separation of pudgal, right?

Yes, we already talked about this dynamism as differentiator of pudgal, and also that this doesn’t happen always. Motion can be further divided into three types: 1) Vibratory, 2) Rotatory, and 3) Migratory. Even these motions don’t happen always – there are periods of motion & rest interleaved. However, these motions could be either inherent or influenced by external forces. And this self-induced inherent motion is the one which makes pudgal inherently dynamic.

Could this vibratory motion be treated as the reason for say spontaneous release of energy?

Yes – very well thought.

Laws of Motion

Note that, these details of dynamism reveals that even dynamism of pudgal is quantized. All these and more are summarized in the following laws of motion:

  1. A parmāṅu can remain at rest on a single space point for a minimum of one samay (time point) and a maximum of innumerable samay, after which it must do one or more types of the above mentioned motion.
  2. A parmāṅu can remain in motion for a minimum of one samay and a maximum of innumerableth part of an āvalikā (Refer to our discussion on the expanse of time for detail on āvalikā), after which it must come to rest.
  3. Minimum and maximum distances covered by a parmāṅu in one samay are one space unit (space between two adjacent space points) and entire length of lok, respectively. And that defines its minimum and maximum speed.
  4. Parmāṅu moves in a straight line unless acted upon by external forces. This movement is called anushreṅī gati. The movement in one samay is always of this type.
  5. When acted upon by external forces, parmāṅu may change direction and speed, but within the above limits.

Some of these sound like Newton’s laws of motion.

Yes. In fact, these are the governing principles for Newton’s laws of motion.

Principle of Uncertainty

However, even after these definites, there are the following sets of uncertainties about the motion of a parmāṅu, which shows up as the principal of uncertainty:

  1. Exact durations of rest and motion, though minimum and maximum are defined.
  2. Direction & Speed to be taken by the parmāṅu, at the commencement of its motion.
  3. Kind of motion to be taken up by a parmāṅu at rest, i.e. one of vibratory, rotatory or migratory, or any of their combinations.

Eye opener detail with both certainties & uncertainties coded into the signature of parmāṅu. Does that mean that a parmāṅu can do whatever it likes, go wherever it likes?

Again anekāntvād in action, both yes & no – apratighāti (not restricted) and pratighāti (restricted). It is not restricted to move, by any other pudgal or jīv as such. It can without any hindrance, penetrate through them, pass through them, occupy & leave a space point occupied by them, without any effect on its rest & motion due to rest of the occupants of the space point. However, its motion & rest are restricted only within the lok (upkārbhāv pratighāti), i.e. it cannot cross the boundaries of lok into alok, as dharmāstikāy (medium of motion) and adharmāstikāy (medium of rest) are absent from alok. Moreover, its motion is restricted & influenced by others in an aggregate, when it is not lone but part of the aggregate (bandhan pariṅām pratighāti). And finally, two self-activated parmāṅu moving at high velocity may cause restrictions in the motions of each other (ati veg pratighāti).

That’s lot of pointers to research into the field of particle physics as well as astronomy, possibly to find the unifying laws of the universe.

Yes indeed, as parmāṅu is the ultimate unifier.

Laws of Fusion

As you are already motivated for further research, it’s right time to talk about the fusion & fission dynamism as well, like we have talked about the motion dynamism. The laws governing fusion in particular are:

  1. A parmāṅu with just one ultimate intensity unit of positive or negative touch never fuses with anything. However note that, parmāṅu inherently keeps changing its intensities of touch, taste, smell, and colour, i.e. the intensities are not permanent. So, it is non-fusable only till it has just one unit of positive or negative touch.

“Can a parmāṅu inherently change its colour, smell, etc, not just their intensities?”, asked Yog.

No it cannot, in its lone state. However, colour etc can be changed by the parmāṅu after its union with others.

  1. Two parmāṅu of same touch (i.e. both positive or both negative) can fuse/combine only if the difference between their corresponding touch intensities is at least two units.
  2. Two parmāṅu of opposite touches (i.e. one positive and one negative) can always combine if each of their intensities is greater than one.

Can two parmāṅu of same touch, one with intensity of one unit and other with three or more units combine?

No. As per the first law, a parmāṅu with just one unit intensity can never combine. Then only, the second and third law comes into picture.

Okay. So second law can be stated as two parmāṅu with same touch can combine only if their touch intensities are X & X + n, or viceversa, where X > 1 and n >= 2.

Yes mathematician smiled the professor. Furthermore, fusion could be of two types: 1) Natural, and 2) Produced by jīv. Natural one can have three possible causes: 1) Fusion due to opposite touch properties – bandh pratyayik, 2) Fusion due to being in same container – bhājan pratyayik, 3) Fusion due to mutation – pariṅām pratyayik.

Do we have laws governing fission also?

Not anything specific. Just that parmāṅu is non-fissionable. And, other aggregate pudgal can fission/separate into as many smaller parts as possible with all possible combinations of parmāṅu in them.

Meaning say a four parmāṅu aggregate can break into two aggregate of 1 & 3 or 2 & 2 parmāṅu, or three aggregates of 1, 1 & 2 parmāṅu, or four aggregates each of 1 parmāṅu.

Perfect. Now, after extensive discussion on dynamism, let’s come back to the four characteristic qualities of pudgal. A parmāṅu would exactly have any one colour out of the five, any one smell out of the two, any one taste out of the five, and exactly two touches each one out of the first two & next two, respectively.

“Yes, as we talked earlier. Specifically, one touch of either cold or hot, and one of either positive or negative”, completed Viṡay.

Perfect. You guys are awesome.

And, various combinations of these four touches form the remaining four touches. But can you tell us the various combinations?

Plentifulness of rukṡ (negative) touch leads to laghu (light) touch. Plentifulness of snigdh (positive) touch leads to guru (heavy) touch. Plentifulness of cold and snigdh touches leads to mridu (soft) touch. Plentifulness of hot and rukṡ touches leads to karkash (hard) touch.

“Are all parmāṅu, of different varieties, or all are identical?”, suddenly questioned Dravya.

Interestingly, parmāṅu just means the ultimate unit, and hence it could be of pudgal (matter & energy), or space, or time, or sensuous qualities, and correspondingly being referred as pudgal parmāṅu (the ultimate atom), kṡetra parmāṅu (the space point), kāl parmāṅu (samay – the time point), bhāv parmāṅu (the indivisible unit aka quantum of intensity of sensuous qualities, viz touch, taste, smell, colour). However, colloquially by parmāṅu we typically refer to the pudgal parmāṅu only, as this is the trigger or reference for the quantization of the other parmāṅu.

How is this (pudgal) parmāṅu, reference for the other parmāṅu?

Because it occupies exactly one space point – no less no more, i.e. kṡetra parmāṅu is quantized as the ultimate unit of space because it is the space exactly occupied by the smallest pudgal – the parmāṅu. However, note that even densely packed pudgal aggregates made up of upto infinite parmāṅu may occupy one space point.

How is that possible? Then, each parmāṅu of that aggregate must occupy less than a space point.

Not really. This is possible because of the true point nature of a parmāṅu. Similar to the space occupancy, movements of parmāṅu are always in integral space units per samay. For example, the minimum motion speed of a parmāṅu is one space unit (from one space point to its adjacent space point) in one samay – it can’t be a fraction, as it can’t take more time once it is moving. Hence, samay is the quantization of time due to parmāṅu’s movement. And the intensity of sensuous qualities is anyways quantized by virtue of the parmāṅu, itself. So, by the word parmāṅu, here or otherwise, we typically refer to the pudgal parmāṅu only.

So, are all of these (pudgal) parmāṅu identical to each other?

Yes & No. Yes for their overall characteristics – that’s how they all are pudgal. But no for their specific characteristic values, e.g. they could have different colours, smells, tastes, and touches.

Yes. But including these possibilities, can we conclude that total varieties of parmāṅu are just 200, i.e. 5 colour x 2 smell x 5 taste x (2 x 2 touches) = 200.

High level, yes. But, if you want to go in further detail, intensity of each colour, smell, taste, touch in different parmāṅu varies from one unit to infinite units. Thus, we have infinite varieties of parmāṅu, and hence, depending on the infinite varieties of parmāṅu participating in making an aggregate, we will have infinite varieties of pudgal aggregates. And thus, the material universe comprised of solids, liquids, and gases, atoms and molecules, light and darkness, sounds and shadows, is therefore, infinitely infinite.

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Classification of Pudgal

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Pudgal is infinite, i.e. have infinitely infinite varieties – at least from parmāṅu perspective. Infinite number of parmāṅu occupy each space point in the lok. All the pudgal have been there since minus infinity and would be there since plus infinity. Pudgal as such have four fundamental characteristic qualities, viz touch, taste, smell, colour. However, there could be infinite gradations in each one of them. Thus making infinite varieties of the characteristic qualities, as well. This is what we have discussed till now. But, just talking about infinite and infinite doesn’t make pudgal cognizable (knowable). So, that’s where we start classifying pudgal in various ways, from various aspects. And, that’s what would be our topic of discussion, today.

“Wouldn’t this just become another way of identifying pudgal?”, questioned Indriya.

Yes, you are correct. In a way, it would definitely help. But, here the purpose of classification is a better understanding of pudgal.

One Type

As a first classification, pudgal is just one, different from all other substances, viz dharmāstikāy, adharmāstikāy, space, time, and jīvāstikāy (souls).

Two Types

Then, we can classify pudgal into two types.

That’s interesting. Pudgal is both one and more than one, at the same time.

That’s the beauty of anekāntvād – viewing from different perspectives. So, what do you guys think would pudgal’s classification into two types be?

“It could be divided into parmāṅu & non-parmāṅu”, attempted Dravya.

Very good. And there is a separate term for non-parmāṅu – skandh, i.e. aggregates. And the skandh could be further classified into chatusparshī (four-touch) aggregates and aṡṫasparshī (eight-touch) aggregates, which we have discussed earlier. From another perspective, pudgal could be categorized into subtle & gross. Subtle are the invisibles – pudgal, but not perceivable by sense organs. Gross are the perceivable pudgal – perceivable just means could be perceived, need not necessarily be perceived as of today.

Parmāṅu is an example of subtle pudgal, right?

Why only parmāṅu? Aggregates of two or more parmāṅu, upto innumerable (असंख्य) parmāṅu are all subtle. Even in the aggregates of infinite parmāṅu, all the chatusparshī aggregates are subtle. And even among the aṡṫasparshī aggregates, there are only some which are gross.

And that gross is only what we see.

And that also not all through naked eyes but possibly through instruments – and even that many are yet to be seen.

Then, how huge is the whole pudgal world?

Just keep your imagination going. Another way of dividing pudgal into two could be based on its capability of being associated with jīv. All aggregates without infinite parmāṅu are incapable of associating with jīv. And only some with infinite parmāṅu are capable of associating with jīv, and those we have already classified, in our introductory class on pudgal, into eight vargaṅā.

Three Types

Using this capability of being associated with jīv, pudgal can also be classified into three varieties:

  1. Prayog pariṅat – pudgal which is taken in and transformed by jīv. Examples: Bodies of all living beings, pudgal utilized in their vital processes viz speaking, thinking, breathing.
  2. Mishra pariṅat – pudgal which was associated with jīv, but not anymore. Examples: Leather. Pudgal whose transformation is partly influenced by jīv and partly automatic (aka self induced) also belongs to this category.
  3. Visrasā pariṅat – pudgal which undergoes only auto transformation, i.e. transformation induced by itself. These pudgal had, have and will have, no interaction with jīv.

“I guess all the pudgal aggregates without infinite parmāṅu belong to the third category”, quipped Viṡay.

Absolutely. And among the aggregates with infinite parmāṅu also, there are many belonging to this category. To be precise, any aggregate with less than infinitely infinite (अनन्ता नन्त) parmāṅu cannot associate with jīv, and hence belongs to this category.

But I guess, the gross pudgal would not belong to this category. Right?

Why not? In fact, all three categories could have both subtle & gross pudgal.

Four Types

From structural aspect, pudgal can be classified into four types:

  1. Skandh
  2. Desh
  3. Pradesh
  4. Parmāṅu

Skandh and Parmāṅu are the ones we have already categorized as the (individual) aggregates and the ultimate atoms. Now, desh means fraction of a whole. And as skandh is made up of many parts, it can be mentally divided into parts, each being a desh.

“Why mentally?”, asked Dravya.

Because if you actually divide, then those new parts would themselves become skandh, and not desh. So, half chapāti is a desh of a full chapāti, as long as the chapāti is not split into two, otherwise it is a skandh. This is an example of physical division. Similarly, you may think of a chemical division. A water molecule is a skandh whose desh are the hydrogen and oxygen atoms, but only as long as they are forming the molecule. As soon as the molecule breaks up, each atom is a skandh in itself.

That’s an interesting division. What is pradesh?

Pradesh is the ultimate smallest indivisible desh of a skandh.

You mean parmāṅu.

In a way. But pradesh is undetached from its skandh, whereas by parmāṅu we mean it to be in free state.

So, all parmāṅu in an aggregate are pradesh?


Six Types

Here’s an another interesting subdivision into six types:

  1. Bādar-bādar (gross-gross), i.e. solid aggregates, e.g. mountains, rock, wood, etc
  2. Bādar (gross), i.e. liquid aggregates, e.g. water, oil, milk, etc
  3. Bādar-sūkṡm (gross-subtle), i.e. aggregates which can neither be cut nor broken, nor can be physically transported, but are visible, e.g. visible light, shadow, etc
  4. Sūkṡm-bādar (subtle-gross), i.e. aggregates which are not visible but can be perceived by other four senses (ultra-visible), e.g. gases, infra-red rays, X-rays.
  5. Sūkṡm (subtle), i.e. aggregates which are not perceivable by any sense (ultra sensual), but they interact with jīv and are transformed by it in the form of speech, thought, karm, etc
  6. Sūkṡm-sūkṡm (subtle-subtle), i.e. subtle aggregates which do not interact with jīv, e.g. all aggregates composed of two to less than infinite parmāṅu.

“Wow! This categorization makes lot of sense from the perspective of science”, expressed Viṡay.

Wasn’t the four type categorization, also relevant from science angle?

Ya, it was. But this is on the spot – solids, liquids, gases, energy, and the invisibles (useful and not useful for jīv).

Twenty Three Types

Ok. And finally, here’s a detailed philosophical categorization into twenty three types:

  1. Aṅuvargaṅā, i.e. category of unattached solitary parmāṅu
  2. Category of aggregates with two to numerable parmāṅu
  3. Category of aggregates with innumerable parmāṅu
  4. Category of aggregates with just infinite parmāṅu, but not infinitely infinite

Note that all the above four are not associable with jīv and are in subtle to less subtle order. All the following categories are of pudgal aggregates with infinitely infinite parmāṅu, and in gross to subtle order.

  1. Āhār vargaṅā, literally meaning category of pudgal endowed with associability with jīv, viz oudārik, vaikriya, āhārak (body) vargaṅā, and shwāsochchhwās (breath) vargaṅā
  2. Pratham agrāhya, literally meaning first category of non-associable pudgal
  3. Tejas vargaṅā, i.e. pudgal aggregates essential for energy body
  4. Second non-associable pudgal category
  5. Bhāṡā vargaṅā, i.e. pudgal aggregates essential for speech
  6. Third non-associable pudgal category
  7. Man vargaṅā, i.e. pudgal aggregates essential for thinking
  8. Fourth non-associable pudgal category
  9. Kārmaṅ vargaṅā, i.e. pudgal aggregates responsible for contaminating jīv

“Is even this kārmaṅ category have aggregates with infinitely infinite parmāṅu?”, asked Guṅasthān.

Yes, even though this is the most subtle pudgal category, having any practical significance. The next 9 categories from 14 to 22 are of little practical significance and more of academic interest. And finally, the most gross category.

  1. Mahāskandh, i.e. the largest pudgal aggregate which pervades the entire lok

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Identifiers of Pudgal

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Continuing our discussion in understanding, defining, and identifying pudgal (matter & energy), let’s check out some more perspectives. There are many other important & unique qualities of pudgal, which only exist in pudgal, but only in some of its paryāy. Thus, presence of these, leads us to identify pudgal. However, absence of these doesn’t mean anything, as these are not the characteristic (always present) qualities of pudgal.

Today, let’s talk about five such identifiers or modes:

  1. Sound
  2. Radiation
  3. Integration & Disintegration
  4. Minuteness & Largeness
  5. Shape aka Configuration

“I guess we have already talked about the pudgal’s property of integration & disintegration under the name of fusion & fission”, interrupted Tatva.

Yes, exactly. In fact, that’s where we started with when defining pudgal. And had also summarized that fusion & fission is an identifier of pudgal, only when the pudgal is changing, and hence is not a characteristic quality. However, the reason to take that up again is today we are going to discuss all these non-characteristic qualities from their classification perspective.

You mean to say, today we are going to further sub-divide all these five top-level non-characteristic qualities.

Yes. Doing that would throw light into their details, helping us to better identify pudgal, using them.

Okay. That’s interesting. I wonder, what do you further sub-classify sound into?

No worry. Let’s begin.

Sound is produced only when two or more physical objects collide or separate – and hence it is not an characteristic quality of pudgal. In fact, a parmāṅu cannot produce sound by itself. So, let’s sub-classify sound based on its origin. 1) Natural or spontaneous (vaisrasik), e.g. thunder and 2) Produced by living beings (prayogik), e.g. speaking, clapping, etc.

“What about the sound produced by dropping of a stone?”, questioned Indriya.

If natural drop, them it belongs to the first category. If dropped by you, it would fall under the second category. The second category can be further sub-classified into 1) Lingual (bhāṡātmak) and 2) Non-lingual (abhāṡātmak). Lingual could be articulate, i.e. made up of alphabets (the one spoken by humans), and inarticulate, e.g. the one spoken by animals. Non-lingual is basically produced using non-living things like musical instruments, which could be further divided into 1) tat – produced by percussion instruments like drum, 2) vitat – produced by stringed instruments like violin, 3) ghan – produced by bells etc, 4) suṡir – produced by wind instruments like flute.

That’s a lot of sub-classification.

Worry not. To simplify it, and triggered by your thought of dropping of a stone, sound could be simply classified in 3 categories: 1) Jīv – produced by living beings, 2) Ajīv – produced by non-living things, 3) Mishra – produced jointly by both.

And for sure, speaking, animal sounds would fall in the first one. Natural phenomenon sounds like thunder, stone drop, etc would fall into the second. And clapping, hitting a stone, etc would fall into the third.


That’s easy to remember.

Coming to radiation, again it is there only in pudgal but not all. For example, the invisibles (pudgal vargaṅā with only four touches) have no radiations. So, not a characteristic quality of pudgal. It could be divided into light & darkness, both being the attributes of pudgal, causing visibility & obstructing visibility of the (visible) pudgal, respectively. Darkness is not just absence of light, but combination of black &/or light not visible to our eyes.

“Do you mean the light not visible to our eyes is being referred to as darkness, here?”, clarified Leshyā.

Yes – the infra red, ultra violet, x-rays, radio waves, etc. And the visible light radiations could be further classified into 3 categories:

  1. Hot effulgence (ātap) – Radiations with more heat than light, e.g. sun light (35% light), lamp light (7-10% light)
  2. Cold effulgence (udyot) – Radiations with more light than heat, e.g. moon light, light from a firefly (99% light)
  3. Lustre (prabhā) – Light Radiations emitted by certain gems

But isn’t that, gems only reflect the light which fall on them?

Not always. There are certain gems, which even if you keep in absence of any light, would keep emitting light from themselves. Also note that as shadow (chhāyā) is produced by light, it is also pudgal.

Isn’t the shadow, more like the darkness attribute?

You may say so.

Coming to integration (bandh) & disintegration (bhed), they also can be classified into two: 1) Natural or spontaneous, and 2) Done by living beings. Clouds, lighting, rainbow, etc are examples of natural integrations. Radioactive decay, breakdown due to wind, rain, etc are examples of natural disintegrations. Integration & Disintegration by living beings could be further divided into two types: 1) Between pudgal & pudgal, and 2) Between pudgal & living beings.

“Various reactions like chemical, nuclear, etc would be the examples of integration & disintegration between pudgal & pudgal”, added Karm.

Yes. But why only reactions, even mixtures, cutting, grinding are all examples of the same.

I guess body is an example of integration between pudgal & living beings.

Yes, absolutely. In fact, the integration between pudgal & living beings could be broadly categorized into two: 1) karm bandh – bonding of karm particles with soul, and 2) akarm bandh – bonding of all other particles with soul, e.g. particles of breath, thought, speech, various bodies except kārmaṅ. And similarly, the disintegration between pudgal & living beings could also be classified into the same two.

“I see – this detailing gives further clarity on integration & disintegration”, added Tatva.

Minuteness & Largeness is something we talk only about physical objects. Hence, it becomes a special attribute (identifier) of pudgal, though not a characteristic quality, as minuteness & largeness are mostly relative. For example, a dot is smaller than a ball, but at the same time, it is larger than an electron.

“But you only said, there is this ultimate smallest indivisible unit of pudgal called parmāṅu – nothing should be smaller than that?”, doubted Dravya.

Absolutely right. And that is the only exception to relative minuteness. Similarly, there is just one exception to relative largeness. The ultimate largest aggregate of pudgal which pervades the entire lok, called achitt mahāskandh.

Is it a single entity?

It is the perspective from which you look at it. In a way, it is a collection of all pudgal. In another, it is the all pervading single pudgalāstikāy.

Finally for today, the shape aka configuration (sansthān). It is the ability of physical objects to extend in the (3-D) space. However, this again is irrelevant for pudgal which fits into a single space point (smallest unit of space), e.g. a parmāṅu. Hence, not a characteristic quality of pudgal.

“But isn’t it a characteristic quality of all our, so as to say, visible pudgal?”, interrupted Viṡay.

You may think so, as it is a very important & relevant attribute in our day-to-day visible world. However, from pudgal as a whole perspective, it can’t be put as a characteristic quality.

Now, how do we classify shapes? They could be of infinite varieties.

Yes. So, we can broadly classify them as regular and irregular shapes. Regular like sphere, pyramid, etc. And all the non-defined ones as irregular.

That’s nice.

Even after all these identifiers & the earlier perspectives, beware that there are many pudgal forms, which we are & would be incapable of perceiving. parmāṅu of all pudgal is definitely one such. But even many vargaṅā like kārmaṅ vargaṅā would be never perceivable by us. In fact, all the four-touch vargaṅā will never be perceivable by us.

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Matter and Energy

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We started with the understanding of science as a branch of philosophy, and after that we have talked about a whole lot of things under philosophy. Lot of new information – many beyond the realm of science, like knowledge, rebirth, … – most of which seemed not directly connected with our today’s science – some seemed to have some connection, like classification of everything, living beings, space, time. And now we shall take up the one, which has the most direct connection with science, or rather is the topic of science. And this, without any doubt, would show science as one of the aspects of philosophy. Any guesses as to what it is about?

“I guess energy, atom, …”, tried Dravya.

Yes, it is about matter & energy – the physical existence – the observable world. And as it is THE topic of science, but from a different perspective, we would like to spend a few sessions on this. The philosophical term for the same is pudgal, the collection of all of which is termed pudgalāstikāy, one of the six fundamental substances of reality.

So, it includes all the sub-atomic particles, elements, compounds, all forms of energies like heat, light, sound, …

Absolutely. And till date, all of you have been knowing all of these from purely science perspective. So, now let’s look at them from the philosophical perspective. And let’s see what more do we get, to further open up doors for deep farther reaching research into science.

“That would be amazing!”, exclaimed Tatva.

The word pudgal is formed of two parts: pud meaning combine / integrate, and gal meaning separate / disintegrate. So, fundamentally anything which undergoes modification through integration and disintegration is pudgal. In the words of modern science, anything which is fusionable and fissionable is pudgal.

Okay. But that is a definition based on when its changing. How do we identify it, if it is not changing?

Exactly, that’s why that is a definition just from one perspective. Depending on the perspective, pudgal can be defined, characterized, classified from many more ways. And to start with, we would look at a few important ones.

But fundamentally all of these would be based on its qualities only, right?

Yes obviously. And not just qualities, it is specific qualities possessed exclusively by pudgal, which distinguishes it from the other five fundamental substances. Now, out of these qualities, some are found in all paryāy (forms & form changes) of pudgal, and some only in some paryāy. The former ones are called characteristic qualities (lakṡaṅ). Pudgal has four such characteristic qualities. Anyone?

“Yes, yes, we already discussed that under the 16 specific qualities: colour, taste, smell, and touch”, quipped Viṡay.

Excellent. So, pudgal can be identified by these as well.

So you mean, every pudgal will have all four of them, or at least one of them?

All four of them.

But how about energy, like sound, heat, … – they don’t have any taste or smell?

Fundamentally, even they have – just that, it is subtle in them. Moreover, as these are the characteristic qualities of pudgal, it is the only observable or mūrt substance out of the six fundamental substances. All others are non-observable aka amūrt. But beware that, pudgal is observable doesn’t mean that we’d be always able to observe it. Observing even the observables is finally limited by our capabilities, not just of our senses but even of our instruments. So in fact, there are many observables aka pudgal, which we won’t be able to observe.

“So, humanly is it not always possible to identify pudgal using even these four characteristic qualities”, questioned Indriya.

Yes. And that’s why, we have various perspectives to look at, so that it at least fits in some. On those lines, let’s explore a very commonly used method (in philosophy) of characterising any substance. It is using the four fold determinants: dravya (substance), kṡetra (location in space), kāl (time), bhāv (qualities), plus the fifth one swabhāv (also at times called guṅ) (behaviour).

Can all substances be characterized using this technique?

Yes. But remember that it is just one of the perspectives of defining. Let’s apply the technique for pudgal. Substantially, i.e. by dravya, pudgal is infinite in number, meaning there are infinite number of different physical entities. Spatially, i.e. by kṡetra, pudgal fills the complete lok (universe). Temporally, i.e. by kāl, pudgal is eternal, i.e. without any beginning and without any end. Qualitatively, i.e. by bhāv, pudgal possesses colour, taste, smell, and touch. Behaviourally, i.e. by swabhāv, pudgal is fusionable and fissionable.

In a way, we have summarized all our (till now) understanding of pudgal in the above five determinants.

Sort of. Additionally, we can talk interactionwise, i.e. about pudgal’s interaction with soul. pudgal is capable of being taken in and transformed by soul in eight forms. Five in form of the five types of bodies, we have already discussed, while discussing variety of living beings.

“You mean: oudārik, vaikriya, āhārak, tejas, kārmaṅ”, confirmed Sharīr.

Yes. The corresponding pudgal vargaṅā (collection) is taken in by soul to transform into the respective body, e.g. oudārik pudgal vargaṅā to form the oudārik body, and so on. And, the remaining three forms are to do with the vital functions of breathing, speech, and thought. All these physiological functions of living beings are possible only by taking in the corresponding pudgal vargaṅā possessing specific properties useful for specific function.

Is it that all pudgal falls into these eight vargaṅā?

No. No. There is a infinite bunch of pudgal which doesn’t interact with soul but only with other pudgal. They don’t fall under these eight. These eight are just an interactionwise understanding of pudgal with soul – so that we know that even these are non-living pudgal, not living things.

“Hmmm. Seems like many angles to understand pudgal, but none seems to completely define it”, Viṡay expressed unsatisfactorily.

Not really true. The four characteristic qualities – colour, smell, taste, touch – completely define pudgal – it is just our incapabilities that we cannot perceive them always. Let’s further categorize them for a better understanding of pudgal.


Colour: There are five fundamental colours – black, blue, red, yellow, white.

Meaning all other colours can be formed using these. But why black & white, they are just absence & presence of all colours, right?

Yes from science perspective, but not from inherent colour perspective of pudgal. Smell: good & bad smell. Taste: acrid / spicy, bitter, astringent (kaṡailā), acidic / sour, sweet. Touch: cold, hot, positive, negative, hard, soft, heavy, light.

So, does each pudgal have one category of quality from each of the four, meaning one colour of the five, one smell of the two, one taste of the five, one touch of the eight.

That’s not really a correct question. pudgal is a general term. So, your question is like asking – does each matter has one category of quality from each of the four. And in that case, the answer also would be a general answer – it could have multiple of them. The more specific question would be about the ultimate constituents of pudgal.

“You mean atom, or electron, or may be sub-atomic particles”, added Paryāpti.

Yes – in those lines. But even they are constituted of infinite of parmāṅu – the smallest unit of pudgal. That’s why, even they could have multiple of colours, smells, tastes, and touches.

So, even these sub-atomic particles are not the smallest unit of pudgal?

No way. Think of energy. That is also pudgal. Smallest unit of pudgal has to be the smallest unit of energy also.

“Okay. So, what colour, taste, etc does this so called parmāṅu have?”, continued Viṡay.

If you talk about a parmāṅu, it would exactly have one colour, one smell, one taste, and two touches.

Any one colour, any one smell, any one taste, and any two touches. But why two touches?

Yes, any one colour, any one smell, any one taste, but NOT any two touches. Specifically, one touch of either cold or hot, and one of either positive or negative.

What about then of the other four touches?

They are formed at a grosser level by the various combination of (parmāṅu having) the first four touches.

“So, the various pudgal vargaṅā (collection) we talked about earlier, would possibly also have the other four touches”, questioned Paryāpti.

Possibly yes, but not always. For example, the vargaṅā of each of kārmaṅ body, speech, thought always constitute of only the first four touches. And the remaining five vargaṅā constitute of all the eight touches. With this level of detailing, I hope that we’d understand the intricacies of pudgal better.

“Yes, that’s lot of detailing, and wow, there is actually an ultimate unit of pudgal – the parmāṅu. Can you share more details about it?”, probed Dravya.

Definitely, we would talk about it separately. But before that we shall complete discussing some more perspectives of defining & identifying pudgal, which might be handy when we are unable to perceive its four characteristic qualities.

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Ever-Changing Modes of Reality

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In our previous discussion on reality, we concluded that all real substances, of which the reality is ultimately made up of, are a culmination of persistence, creation and destruction – all in one. We also listed out the qualities aka guṅ of these real substances aka dravya, which make them persistence across the boundaries of time – past, present, and future.

“So, do these qualities never change for a particular substance?”, asked Dravya.

Qualities as such don’t change in the sense if they are there today, they were there and will be always there. However, their modes may change, rather they do keep changing – creating & destroying. And that’s our topic of discussion today – the ever-changing modes of reality. And only with this trinity of persistence, creation & destruction is the explanation of any real substance complete.

How do we really understand that a quality doesn’t change but its mode does?

As an example, any matter or energy pudgal would have the quality of having colour, it had this quality, and will always have it, as it would never become anything other than matter or energy. That is the persistence of its quality of having colour. However, the modes of colour, or simply speaking the colour itself may change from bright to dull or vice versa. That would be creation of dull & destruction of bright. Thus, in the same real substance, we see the trinity of creation, destruction, and persistence.

“That makes sense. But then, you are saying that this trinity is there in all real substances, ALWAYS”, interrupted Yog.


But, say this book, or the chalk on the table, if left as is, wouldn’t have any creation or destruction.

Not really. Even then, there would be creation & destruction. And exactly to understand that, let’s dig deeper into the changing modes of reality. Mode changes of any substance can be classified into two broad categories: arth paryāy (subtle mode change) and vyanjan paryāy (gross mode change). Subtle mode change is momentary, cannot be observed using our sense organs, doesn’t involve any shape change, but is continuously happening; and gross mode change is stable, observable, explainable by words, and of fixed duration. So, in your example of book and chalk, there may not be any gross mode changes, but definitely there are subtle changes continuously happening. Also, note that in our previous session, we used paryāy to refer to the mode itself. In today’s discussion, we’d use it for the change in a mode. Paryāy thus have two meanings, as per the context.

Who is doing these mode changes aka paryāy?

To understand that, we need to understand the another classification of mode changes: swabhāv paryāy (intrinsic mode change) and vibhāv paryāy (extrinsic mode change). Intrinsic meaning the mode changing by virtue of itself – its own nature, and extrinsic meaning the mode getting changed because of some non-self influence, loosely speaking some external influence.

But how can something change by itself?

There are many such analogies at gross level. For example, all our involuntary actions, like heart beat; rotation of planets; all these happen by themselves. So, there is nothing surprising if all the real substances have intrinsic mode changing by self-interaction at the subtle levels, as well. In fact, it is by virtue of its own existence, because of its quality of vastutva (as discussed in our previous class). Moreover, this subtle intrinsic mode change is the one which is always happening. Thus ensuring the trinity of creation, destruction, persistence.

So, does it mean all subtle mode changes are always intrinsic?

Yes. However, intrinsic mode changes could also be gross, as in the examples given above. Just that, only the subtle one’s are continuously happening. Extrinsic mode changes are always gross, like breaking of a chalk, driven by external factors and immediately noticeable. Let’s take an another example – ageing of a book. It is noticeable over a period of time, but the mode change is actually happening every moment, unnoticeable. Hence, the actual mode change is subtle, and intrinsic, as self-driven.

If I have understood correct, similarly growing of a child to an adult to an oldie is a subtle & hence an intrinsic mode change.

Not really, as here unlike ageing of book, there is lot of gross level changes, cell changes, change in shape, which leads to growing. So, it is actually a gross mode change.

Ok. But then, is it an intrinsic mode change or an extrinsic mode change?

What do you think? Just test it on the criterion of whether it is driven by factors of other than self.

Accordingly, it should be extrinsic only. But wouldn’t the body grow old, even without the external factors?

It may seem like. But ultimately, bottom to the roots, it would be because of the karm particles. Some factors within, but even they are something other than the gross body itself, and hence due to non-self influence only. Thus, it would be a gross extrinsic mode change.

Any similar criteria or trick for determining whether it is a subtle or gross mode change?

Yes. Mode changes could be classified into two more broad categories, based on our previous session discussion:
+ Substance (dravya) – any change in the mode of the substance itself.
+ Quality (guṅ) – any change in the mode of the qualities of a substance.
And all substance mode changes are (defined as) gross, and all quality mode changes are (defined as) subtle.

Any examples?

Examples of substance mode change: Soul transforming into human, animal, etc forms; Breaking & formation of compounds & elements through various reactions. These all are gross mode changes, though could be either intrinsic or extrinsic.
Examples of quality mode change: Change in knowledge & perception; Newness or oldness of colour. These all are subtle mode changes, always intrinsic.

“Do these mode changes happen for all the six fundamental substances, or only to matter & energy?”, asked Dravya.

As already discussed, the trinity is the pre-condition for any thing to be real aka exist. And hence, these mode changes do happen to all the six fundamental substances. And moreover, the intrinsic ones keep ceaselessly happening.

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