Tag Archives: swabhāv

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.

Ok.

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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Drivers of Activities

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“World is made up of precisely two things: living beings and non living things, and then there are all kinds of activities around. Who or What drives these activities, which are happening all around?”, kicked off the 5th session on philosophy.

“As per some philosophies, it is some super power called God, who makes all the things happen around”, answered Viṡay.

“But then does that mean, no one has any control on doing anything, it is all as per the super power”, quizzed Mitthyātva.

“Such philosophies believe so. But I don’t think that is practical. May be God has some control and remaining control is left to the individuals – the living beings”, replied Viṡay.

“Yes, I know of many philosophies, which propound that doer is the individual, but the result provider is the super power”, intervened Tatva.

“There are a few who believe in no super power as well, and dictates that you are the sole controller of your destiny”, added Ātmā.

“But again, that may not be practical, as we have seen incidents which are totally out of one’s control, whatever one may do”, interrupted Viṡay.

“I liked it. A really healthy debate”, praised the professor. “In fact, nothing really right or wrong about these philosophies. It is just that they have been put up from different perspectives, and they may be valid from that perspective.”

“That’s really interesting”, expressed Mitthyātva.

“Yes it is, indeed. And, how about incorporating various of these perspectives in say a unified philosophy?”, questioned the professor.

“O Wow! Don’t tell me that’s possible”, exclaimed Tatva.

Why just possible? In fact, there is a name for the technique of incorporating multiple perspectives.

What is it?

Anekāntvād (अनेकान्तवाद), which is one of the foundation pillars of the philosophy under discussion, all these days.

Okay, so what does it talk about the driver of the activities?

As per it, there is not just 1 or 2 but 5 samvāy (समवाय) or the so called drivers of activities.

Five?! We are already puzzled with two.

Don’t you worry. It would rather help us resolve the unanswered from other philosophies. And the five are:
+ kāl (काल) – time
+ swabhāv (स्वभाव) – the intrinsic property or nature
+ karm (कर्म) – the tiny particles, we learnt about in our previous session
+ puruṡārth (पुरुषार्थ) – one’s effort, we discussed in our previous session
+ niyati (नियति) – the pre-determined activity – the destiny, which can’t be changed

That seems complicated.

Let’s take some examples to simplify. Take for example a mango seed. We sow that for growing a mango plant, and then into a mango tree, to finally bear mangoes. We water it, manure it, for it to grow healthy and faster. Now, whatever be done, it would take a minimum time for the seed to sprout and come out as a sapling, one can’t make it faster – that is the kāl in action. After all these, what size of tree it grows into, what taste of mango it bears, … is all decided by the karm attached with the soul in the mango tree. Now, if one expects berry from the mango tree, it wouldn’t but give only mango – that is its swabhāv in action. Now, even after the first three in action, if one wouldn’t have done the puruṡārth of sowing the seed, it wouldn’t have even grown, forget about bearing fruits.

“So, puruṡārth is the most powerful – that’s why people say don’t stop putting in your effort”, quipped Ātmā.

Your second part is correct that don’t give up your effort, but not the first one. Actually, all the samvāy have their own roles to play. Sometimes one may seem to be more powerful than the other, but all of them have their importance – again that is what is anekāntvād.

If it is not *the* powerful, then what’s the point of doing puruṡārth?

Understand that you may need all the drivers for an activity to happen. So, skipping puruṡārth may cause it not to happen at all. Say you are all planned to become rich, you have the characteristics to earn (swabhāv), opportunities to earn (kāl), and karm supporting it – but then you don’t even attempt to earn. In such a scenario, given all possibilities of you becoming rich, you won’t become rich.

What if any of the others is not supporting?

Exactly. Note that, in this scenario, all may be important – and any one missing may lead to not becoming rich. But the challenge is our inability to know about the state of others. More importantly, out of all the samvāy, it is only puruṡārth, which is under one’s control, none others are – so this is our only key, and *the* key to control or drive the activity – and that’s why we should not stop putting in our effort.

“What is the role of niyati? That has not come in any of the above examples”, asked Tatva with curiosity.

Niyati is what people call the destiny – whatever may happen, if something has to happen, it would happen. For example, if the niyati of the mango seed was to not sprout, even after all the first four supporting samvāy, it would not sprout.

That’s dangerous.

Yes, it is. But typically, only very few things are niyati. And that’s why most of the times, it is not *the* most powerful one, as it may look like in the first go.

But, how is niyati decided? Is it set by a super power? And why is it set, in the first place?

It is set or rather attracted by no other super power but the soul itself. Niyati is basically driven by a special type of karm called nikāchit (निकाचित) karm, attracted & set by soul itself. And it is such, that its effects cannot be altered or removed without bearing them as is, unlike other karm.

But, why would the soul attract the nikāchit karm, in the first place?

As discussed earlier, as long as we do activity, there is continuous inflow & outflow of karm particles. However, if during the inflow, we (as in our soul) is in intense passion of anger, greed, ego, or deceit (AGED), these karm particles get transformed into nikāchit karm.

So, if our soul (as in we), through our puruṡārth, are never in intense passion of anger, greed, ego, or deceit (AGED), we’d never attract the nikāchit karm, avoiding any effect of niyati.

Yes, no more new niyati drivers. But, you’d have to bear the past ones, if you had already accumulated any.

Hmmm! So, that’s one more strong reason for being simple, devoid of anger, greed, ego, deceit, at least the intensest ones.

Excellent recall. And, finally note that the five drivers are for the activities of living beings. For non-living things, it is only the first two, others don’t make sense.

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