A study of the philosophy of Jainism

by Deepa Baruah | 2017 | 46,858 words

This page describes the The concept of matter or Pudgala from the study of the philosophy of Jainism: one of the oldest religions in India having its own metaphysics, philosophy and ethics. Jainism is regarded as an ethical system where non-violence features as an important ethical value.

Chapter III.e - The concept of matter or Pudgala

Matter has been studied by every system of Indian philosophy in its own manner, like bhūta of the Cārvākas, pudgala of the Jainas, jaḍadravya of the Naiyāyikas-Vaiśeṣikas, Prakṛti of the Sāṃkhya-Yoga etc., are some diverse point of views.

The term pudgala is used in the sense of matter in Jainism. That means pudgala is nothing but matter. Pudgala or matter is one of the five extensive substances (pañcāstikāya-dravya) recognized by the Jainas. It is a non-living substance. Matter and self are active. Activity has been stated to be characterized by vibration. Matter is also vibrating, so, activity takes place in it due to its vibrating nature. It is rūpiṇ, i.e., murta. Matter is only rūpiṇ, so, it is mūrta. Mūrtatva of matter is brought about by particular pariṇāma of colour, taste, smell and touch. Therefore, a thing which is rūpiṇ is pudgala-dravya; no form of matter can be arūpiṇ. Rūpitva can never be apart from matter. That means, which is arūpi is not pudgala. Samavāya of colour, taste, smell and touch in matter is called rūpitva. The aggregation of these four qualities is called rūpatvaguṇasamavāya of matter. It is also infinite in number. Matter is conceived as a substance endowed with quality and mode, and it is studied from the aspect of dravya, kṣetra, kāla and bhāva. The word pudgala has two parts, viz., pud and gala. Here pud means ’to combine’ and gala means ’to dissociate’. So, etymologically, the whole word pudgala means that substance which undergoes modifications by the combinations and dissociations of parts. Pudgala is the only substance which undergoes modifications by combinations and dissociations; this process does not occur in other substances.

Properties of Matter:

Matter is endowed with two types of specific characters, viz., those which are found in atoms as well as in aggregates, and those which are found only in aggregates. Actually pudgala possesses four qualities, viz., (i) touch (sparśa), (ii) taste (rasa), (iii) smell (gandha) and (iv) colour (varṇa). Each and every pudgala possesses these four characteristics or qualities. These four qualities are also subdivided into manifold. Among them, touch is of eight kinds, viz., soft (mṛdu), hard (kaṭhina), heavy (guru), light (laghu), cold (śīta), hot (uṣṇa), smooth (snigdha) and rough (rukṣa). Taste is of five kinds, viz., bitter (tikta), sour (amla), astringent (kaṣāya), sweet (madhura) and pungent (kaṭu). Smell is of twofold, viz., fragrant (surabhi) and stench (asurabhi); and colour is also of five kinds, viz., white (śukla), black (kṛṣṇa), blue (nīla), yellow (pīta) and red (lohita). Thus, the four characteristics are divided into twenty categories.

Effects of Matter:

There are various kinds of effects of matter or pudgala. Body, speech, mind, prāṇa, apāna etc. are the effects of matter. Pleasure, pain, life and death are also the effects of matter. Śarīra is of five kinds, viz., audārika, vaikṛiyika, āhāraka, taijasa and kārmaṇa. Vāk is of two kinds, viz., dravyavāk and bhāvavāk. Mind is also of two kinds, viz., dravyamana and bhāvamana. Again in Tattvārthādhigamasūtra, Umāsvāmī says that śabda, bandha, saukṣmya, sthaulya, saṃsthāna, bheda, tamas, chāyā, ātapa and udyota are some manifestations of matter or pudgala.

Śabda is of two kinds, viz., bhāṣātmaka, i.e., sound incorporated in languages and abhāṣātmaka, i.e., sound which does not find place in languages. The former is sub-divided into two categories, viz., sākṣara and anakṣara. The latter is also of two kinds, viz., prāyogika and vaisrasika. The prāyogika sound is further sub-divided into four categories, viz., tata, vitata, ghana and sauṣira.

Bandha is of two kinds, viz., vaisrasika and prāyogika. The first one is caused by the mixture of smooth and rough particles of matter. The second one is of two types, viz., combination of non-living things and combination of living and nonliving things.

Saukṣmya is the subtle manifestation of the material substances. It is of two kinds, viz., antya and āpekṣika. The first one is found in indivisible ultimate atoms. The second one is found in apple, myrobalan, plum etc.

Sthaulya is the gross manifestation of the material substances. It is also of two kinds, viz., antya and āpekṣika. The first one is found in the biggest molecule of matters pervading the entire universe, while the second one is found in plum, myrobalan etc.

Saṃsthāna is the shape of matter. It is of two types, viz., itthaṃlakṣaṇam, i.e., which can be defined and anitthaṃlakṣaṇam, i.e., which cannot be defined. The regular geometrical shapes, such as, circle, triangle, rectangle, square are the examples of first one; while an irregular shape, such as, cloud is the example of second one.

Bheda is of six types, viz., (i) utkara—sawing a piece of wood; (ii) cūrṇa—grinding of wheat into flour; (iii) khaṇḍa—separate parts of a broken pitcher; (iv) cūrṇikā—separation of chaff from rice;(v) pratara—dividing mica into many layers and (vi) aṇucaṭana—causing spark of fire to fly out from a glowing ball of iron etc.

Tamas or darkness is opposite to light. It is an independent existence.

Chāyā or shadow results from the obstruction of light by an object.

Ātapa is heat and light combined emanating from the sun, fire etc.

Udyota is light emitted by the moon, the firefly, jewels etc. All of these, i.e., śabda, bandha, saukṣmya etc. are the paryāyas of matter.

Forms or Parts of Matter:

Matter consists of numerable, innumerable and infinite particles. One atom will necessarily occupy one pradeśa. But, it is not necessary that one pradeśa would always be occupied only by one atom. It is said that in one pradeśa of lokākāśa, one atom of matter will find place, but in an aggregate form any number of atoms can occupy one or more units of space. As a matter of fact, one atom occupies only one unit of space, but two atoms in the state of combination may also occupy the same unit. Two free atoms occupy two units of space, but two atoms in an aggregate form will occupy one as well as two units of space; three free atoms can occupy three units of space, but three atoms in an aggregate form occupies one, two as well as three units of space. In this way, numerable, innumerable and infinite particles of matter will find place in the pradeśas of the space (lokākāśa).

Pudgala has been classified into two forms, viz., (a) aṇu or paramāṇu (ultimate atom) and (b) skandha (molecule or aggregate of ultimate atoms). So, matter exists in the form of paramāṇu and skandha. The smallest particle of matter which cannot be further divided is called aṇu or paramāṇu. Further, the part of matter which has its own beginning, its own middle and its own end in itself, and is also inapprehensible by the sense-organs is known as atom. So, it is the smallest indivisiblepart of matter.

“Atom is eternal and it occupies only one space point. The substance which has a single taste, colour, smell and two kinds of touch; which is the cause of sound while itself unsounding; which is different from skandhas though constituting them is called aṇu or paramāṇu”. Atom is imperceptible. It is perceptible only in the form of skandha. Atoms are produced only by division, but not by the process of union or combination.

Skandha has been defined as an aggregate or compound of atoms. It possesses a gross form and undergoes process of association and dissociation. Matter has four modes from the point of view of parts of skandha, viz., skandha, skandhadeśa, skandhapradeśa and paramāṇu. Skandha means the aggregates of atoms. Half part of skandha is called skandhadeśa and half of that half is called skandhapradeśa. That means, the smallest piece of matter possessing all the characteristic properties of a material substance is a complete skandha. Of these four parts, i.e. skandha, skandhadeśa and skandhapradeśa may be denoted by the term skandha also. Skandha is formed in different ways, viz., (a) by division or dissociation (bheda), (b) by union or association (saṅghāta) and (c) by combined process of dissociation and association (bhedasṅnghāta). As a matter of fact, by division the atoms are produced. But sometimes by division of some skandhas other skandhas are produced. But sometimes by the association of some atoms skandhas are produced. While in sometimes by the division and associations of some atoms skandhas are produced. In this way, the innumerable parts of skandhas are produced by the process of both dissociation and association, and also by the process of association, dissociation. Some skandhas are not seen by the eye, i.e., acākṣuṣa. But, after the process of dissociation and association, these skandhas are seen by the eye, i.e., cākṣuṣa.

Atoms and skandhas are the two aspects of matter. Atoms are combined together to form skandhas or gross things and when skandhas are decomposed they terminate into atoms. It is said that matter unite by virtue of their two properties, viz., snigdha (smooth) and rūkṣa (rough) which are inherent in atom.

Matter is also divided into six groups from the standpoint of grossness and fineness in its size. These are—(i) sthūla-sthūla—the objects which cannot become combined when broken, (ii) sthūla—the objects which again become combined when broken, (iii) sthūla-sūkṣma—the objects which are seen by the eyes, but cannot be caught, (iv) sūksma-sthūla—the objects which are not seen by the eyes, but only felt, (v) sūkṣma—the object which is beyond sense-perception, and (vi) sūkṣma-sūkṣma—the forms of very minute elementary particles of skandha.

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