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Fundamentals of Existence

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Hope you guys had enough time to go through the reference text ‘Microcosmology: Atom in Jain Philosophy & Modern Science’ by J S Zaveri & Muni Mahendra Kumar?

“Yes Sir”, came a chorus from a big bunch of the class.

That’s great. Then, today let’s start discussing about what is reality, with reference to your reading. Then, we could dive into more “realistic” stuff like matter & energy.

“There is so much of information in the text, and so much to relate with science & beyond”, added Viṡay.

Yes. Exactly that’s why I asked you guys to go through it, so that here we could just summarize the key points, and get into more of Q & A style discussions.

“After going through it, our thinking perspective have hugely expanded, many previous questions got answered, and some more new questions added. It would be really enriching to have such discussions”, supported Tatva.

So, what is Reality?

Reality is self-existing, self-consistent, and self-contained. It doesn’t depend on something outside it for its existence.

Perfect. Alongwith, it is free from all absolutism (single perspectives), and rather a composition of opposites.

“How can opposites be in together?”, quizzed Gati.

That is what is non-absolutism, multi-perspective, or so called anekāntvād. Now, take this. Reality is both change and permanence, it is both universal and specific.

That sounds really weird.

Yes. But if you dig deeper, you will see a beautiful coherence between the opposites. In fact, anything which is real aka exists, i.e. padārth is characterized by persistence-through-change, is a culmination of opposites. If it is not, it is not real. This is the ultimate truth, the very nature of things, since our common experience gives this as a fact.

Padārth meaning any thing or substance which exists?

Yes. Other synonyms for the same are sat, tatva. At times, we use the term dravya for it, as well.

“Can you please elaborate on this persistence through change?”, asked Dravya for further clarification.

Any padārth was there, is there, and will be there, in whatever form, thus proving its persistence. However, no padārth remains in its same form, thus continuously changing – leaving one form and entering the next – through infinite past, present, and infinite future.

Any example for a better understanding?

Let’s take example of say gold. Now that is permanently gold. It was gold, is gold, and would be gold. But it could have been raw in mines, or as biscuits, or coins, or ornaments, etc. These are the various forms. So, while the gold is changing through various forms, it still remains gold.

But gold can be changed into other elements using nuclear reactions?

Ya ya! That’s fine. That was just for an example to understand. The permanence goes even more fundamental, say for gold it would always be pudgal.

Pudgal meaning matter, right?

Yes, which includes energy as well. So, to elaborate further, any substance has permanence of its fundamental attributes or qualities called guṅ. And has change of its forms or modes called paryāy. This trinity of substance (padārth), its qualities (guṅ), and its modes (paryāy) is inseparable, and forms the ultimate truth of everything existing in the world, i.e. reality.

And there are a total of six (mutually exclusive & exhaustive) fundamental substances.

Yes. Can you name them?

Dharmāstikāy, Adharmāstikāy, Ākāshāstikāy (Space), Kāl (Time), Pudgalāstikāy (Matter & Energy), and Jīvāstikāy (Soul aka Psyche).

Excellent. And, their fundamental qualities are permanent. Thus, giving them their unique identity. Let’s dive a little deeper into their qualities. Can anyone list them out?

“Fundamentally there are two types of qualities: Universal & Specific. Further elaborating, there are 6 universal and 16 specific qualities, which sums up all types of guṅ”, answered Rāsi.

Can anyone else elaborate more on what is universal & what is specific qualities?

“Universal meaning quality which exists in every of the six substances. And specific quality meaning which is found in only a particular substance or a set of of substances, but not all – making it a unique characteristic of the substance, or the set.”, replied Bhāngā.

Now, who is going to list out the 6 universal qualities of all substances?

“I’ll”, jumped in Yog, as these were fresh in his mind from his recent read.

Go ahead.

Astitva, Vastutva, Dravyatva, Prameyatva, Pradeshatva, Agurulaghutva. Astitva means Eternal Existence, i.e. the quality which makes the existence of a substance permanent, making it to be never created or destroyed. Vastutva means Causal Efficiency, i.e. the quality which emphasizes the aspect of change of the substance, leading it to have various modes. Dravyatva means Substancehood, i.e. the property of the substance by which it becomes the platform for its qualities and modes to exist with it, i.e. it being a substance in complete sense. Prameyatva means Objectivity, i.e. the property of being an object of knowledge, i.e. by virtue of which a substance is known. Pradeshatva means Extension in Space, i.e. the property of occupying space. It is also called kṡetratva. Agurulaghutva means Eternal Persistence, i.e. the quality which makes the identity of a substance persist, giving it its unique identity, maintaining its individuality.

Wonderful. Excellent. Anyone else about the 16 specific qualities?

When no one approached to answer, professor continued, “16 as a number may be big, but it is logically easy to remember the 16 specific qualities as well”.

Out of the 6 substances, each of the first four have their own one specific quality, pudgalāstikāy & jīvāstikāy each have their own four specific qualities – that makes it twelve.

“I’ll try categorizing the first four”, interrupted Tatva.

Gatihetutva – Property of being Medium of Motion – A property of dharmāstikāy.
Sthitihetutva – Property of being Medium of Rest – A property of adharmāstikāy.
Avagāhahetutva – Property of being Space Provider – A property of ākāshāstikāy.
Vartanāhetutva – Property of causing Temporal Succession – A property of kāl.

Good. To add to the temporal succession, it is this which becomes the necessary condition for duration (continuity), change (modification), motion, newness and oldness of substances.

“I think the four specific qualities of pudgalāstikāy are touch, taste, smell, and colour”, added Viṡay.

Correct. Anyone on the four specific qualities of jīvāstikāy?

“Knowledge (jynān), Perception (darshan), Bliss (sukh), Power (vīrya)”, added Ātmā.

With these twelve in place, the last four are:
Chetanatva – Property of Consciousness – A property of jīvāstikāy.
Achetanatva – Property of No Consciousness – A property of the other 5 substances
Mūrttatva – Property of Perceptibility by Senses – A property of pudgalāstikāy.
Amūrttatva – Property of Non-Perceptibility by Senses – A property of the other 5 substances
That makes up the 16 specific qualities, with first four substances having 3 specific qualities each, and the last two having 6 each.

With that rings the bell.

We have summarized reality, real substances, and their permanent qualities. We are yet to discuss about their ever-changing modes. Guys who have not yet had a chance to go through the reference text ‘Microcosmology: Atom in Jain Philosophy & Modern Science’ by J S Zaveri & Muni Mahendra Kumar, please go through it. That would make the discussion more fruitful. And, let’s continue our discussion on the ever-changing modes in our next session.

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