Tag Archives: pudgalāstikāy

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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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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Classification of Everything

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Philosophers & Scientists specifically Physicists, and humans in general have been driven by the quest to find a unified theory of everything. However, scientists themselves believe that they may never be able to find the same.

“By that, do scientists mean that it doesn’t even exist?”, asked Driṡṫi

No, not really. They do believe that such thing might exist. But that would go beyond the materialistic world – the world of space, time, matter, energy – which is what the current science typically deals with.

Then, why are they still striving for it?

Because they believe that even with materialistic world science, they can go far more closer to it, than what they are today.

That’s at least motivating. And I assume, philosophers do have a different view.

You got it. They believe that if we attain kewal knowledge, we’d know the theory of everything, as that knowledge, by definition itself, is complete and infinite, going beyond the materialistic world.

Ok. Then the philosophers must be working towards it?

They do and they had. In fact, in the past, people have attained kewal knowledge. That’s how we know that it’s possible.

Then, why don’t we know it? Didn’t they share or tell it to the whole world, as the scientists do by publishing papers.

The only challenge is that all our means of knowledge sharing or transfer are all finite, and hence incapable of sharing the infinite knowledge.

So, everyone interested in theory of everything has to get to it, on its own.

Yes. At the least, to the final major part of it. However, the techniques to get there are somewhat shareable.

At least, do we know those?

They were known, but many got lost with the sea of time. Not all are currently available. But we can definitely start with the ones available and work towards exploring the rest.

Great. So, when do we start?

All of our these classes & concepts therein are steps in that direction only. Getting to know more and more of it. So, let’s take a leap further into it by doing a classification of everything.

“Wow! Classification of Everything – that sounds interesting”, quipped Tatva.

Okay gals n guys, so if we would like to categorize everything in two baskets, what would it be?

“Gross and subtle”, replied Tatva.

Not a very clear classification, as it would be relative.

“I guess, living and non-living”, responded Dhyān.


“Aha! that was easy – I thought unnecessarily complex”, interrupted Tatva.

No worries. That’s were we start – simple & obvious. But then dive into it to understand the more complex & non-obvious details in there. So, now what would be the categorization of non-livings?

“Matter and energy is all non-living”, answered Dravya.

“But if everything have to be categorized in two, wouldn’t all which is not living is non-living”, interrupted Dhyān.

“Yes, but we would like to further list them out all”, professor emphasized.

Okay… Then, also add space (आकाश) and time (काल) to the list.

Good. And there are two more to complete the list of non-livings.

Students went thinking but ran out of choices.

I know its difficult, as science has not yet recognized them. They are dharmāstikāy (धर्मास्तिकाय) and adharmāstikāy (अधर्मास्तिकाय) – the two non-observable implicit assistants of motion and non-motion, respectively.

Motion and non-motion of what all?

Matter, Energy, and Living beings.

So, does that mean they are in vacuum also?

Yes. In fact, both of it occupies the complete lok – lok as understood in our previous class.

But definitely not in alok, right?

Yes, perfect – as alok consists only of space and nothing else. Moreover, each of dharmāstikāy and adharmāstikāy, as such, are single stationary entities, composed of innumerable inseparable pradesh.

What is pradesh?

Smallest indivisible unit of anything is called its pradesh. For another example, even space is composed of inseparable pradesh, just that it is not composed of innumerable but infinite pradesh.

So, even time is composed of pradesh?

No. However, that’s the only exception, as it is only a conceptual non-living thing.

Being the tiniest, would it be anywhere possible to separate out the pradesh?

Yes, it may be, in case of matter & energy, together called pudgalāstikāy (पुद्गलास्तिकाय). And in such case, the separated pradesh is called parmāṅu. Contrast that, this is not the atom of current science, neither any sub-atomic particle like electron, nor photon. It is way too smaller than all these. In fact, a sub-atomic particle, or even a photon is composed of infinte number of parmāṅu. It can be termed as wavicle, a thing yet unknown to science.

If I understood correct, parmāṅu is a pradesh – just that it is separable from other pradesh, right?

Yes. Additionally, parmāṅu are the only pradesh which has attributes of colour, smell, taste, and touch.

These attributes at this tiniest level?!


“What exactly do you mean by attribute of touch?”, queried Viṡay

It includes the attribute of temperature, charge, hardness, mass, where the latter two are optional, and if present are created by the combination of the former two.

That’s quite a different way of putting the stuff around.

Yes it is and it is not.

With that rings the bell.

And, I am sure you’d like to explore this further. Check out ‘Microcosmology: Atom in Jain Philosophy & Modern Science’ by J S Zaveri & Muni Mahendra Kumar, for further reading. We are still to do further classification of living beings. Let’s do it in our next session.

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