A History of Indian Philosophy Volume 1

by Surendranath Dasgupta | 1922 | 212,082 words | ISBN-13: 9788120804081

This page describes the philosophy of pudgala: a concept having historical value dating from ancient India. This is the seventeenth part in the series called the “the jaina philosophy”, originally composed by Surendranath Dasgupta in the early 20th century.

The ajīva (non-living) is divided into

The word pudgala means matter[1], and it is called astikāya in the sense that it occupies space. Pudgala is made up of atoms which are without size and eternal. Matter may exist in two states, gross (such as things we see around us), and subtle (such as the karma matter which sullies the soul). All material things are ultimately produced by the combination of atoms. The smallest indivisible particle of matter is called an atom (aṇu). The atoms are all eternal and they all have touch, taste, smell, and colour. The formation of different substances is due to the different geometrical, spherical or cubical modes of the combination of the atoms, to the diverse modes of their inner arrangement and to the existence of different degrees of inter-atomic space (ghanapratarabhedena).

Some combinations take place by simple mutual contact at two points (yugmapradeśa) whereas in others the atoms are only held together by the points of attractive force (ojaḥpradeśa) (Prajñāpanopāñgasūtra , pp. 10-12). Two atoms form a compound (skandha), when the one is viscous and the other dry or both are of different degrees of viscosity or dryness. It must be noted that while the Buddhists thought that there was no actual contact between the atoms the Jains regarded the contact as essential and as testified by experience. These compounds combine with other compounds and thus produce the gross things of the world. They are, however, liable to constant change (pariṇāma) by which they lose some of their old qualities (guṇas) and acquire new ones.

There are four elements, earth, water, air, and fire, and the atoms of all these are alike in character. The perception of grossness however is not an error which is imposed upon the perception of the atoms by our mind (as the Buddhists think) nor is it due to the perception of atoms scattered spatially lengthwise and breadthwise (as the Sāṃkhya-Yoga supposes), but it is due to the accession of a similar property of grossness, blueness or hardness in the combined atoms, so that such knowledge is generated in us as is given in the perception of a gross, blue, or a hard thing. When a thing appears as blue, what happens is this, that the atoms there have all acquired the property of blueness and on the removal of the darśanavaranīya and jñānavaraṇīya veil, there arises in the soul the perception and knowledge of that blue thing. This sameness (samāna-rūpatā) of the accession of a quality in an aggregate of atoms by virtue of which it appears as one object (e.g. a cow) is technically called tiryaksāmānyn.

This sāmānya or generality is thus neither an imposition of the mind nor an abstract entity (as maintained by the Naiyāyikas) but represents only the accession of similar qualities by a similar development of qualities of atoms forming an aggregate. So long as this similarity of qualities continues we perceive the thing to be the same and to continue for some length of time. When we think of a thing to be permanent, we do so by referring to this sameness in the developing tendencies of an aggregate of atoms resulting in the relative permanence of similar qualities in them. According to the Jains things are not momentary and in spite of the loss of some old qualities and the accession of other ones, the thing as a whole may remain more or less the same for some time. This sameness of qualities in time is technically called ūrdhvcisāmānya[2]. If the atoms are looked at from the point of view of the change and accession of new qualities, they may be regarded as liable to destruction, but if they are looked at from the point of view of substance (dravya) they are eternal.

Footnotes and references:


This is entirely different from the Buddhist sense. With the Buddhists pudgala means an individual or a person.


See Prameyakamalamārtaṇḍa, pp. 136-143; Jainatarkavārttika, p. 106.

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