Jain Science and Spirituality

by Medhavi Jain | 2020 | 61,419 words

This essay studies the elements of Jainism and investigates how Jain science and philosophy can give the world answers to through science and spirituality. Instead of interpreting it as a confined, strict philosophy, it is shown that Jainism represents a path towards self-awakening through self-improvement....

1.3. Paramanu in Jain Philosophy

Here we are going to throw light upon what is atom in Jainism?

‘That which associates and dissociates, such corporeal inert substance is termed as matter or atom.’[1]

As aijva is also called pudgala, which is pum+ galan, means that which has the qualities of aggregation, disintegration and fission is pudgala.

‘An atom called paramanu is the littlest indissoluble, indestructible particle of matter. There is just a single sort of paramanu known to mankind and all other material atoms and particles are totals of huge number of paramanus.’[2]

‘Being a dimensionless and formless particle, a paramanu can't be seen using any and all means, it must be gathered in a gathering of numerous paramanus which is called skandha. Also, it just has two sets of touch in it, for example warm (cold or hot) and electric charge (positive and negative).’[3]

Here it is to be clarified that though atom is translated in hindi as paramanu, but paramanu in Jainism is different. An atom is made up of electrons, protons and neutrons whereas paramanu is the smallest indivisible part of matter.

‘The terms Atom and paramanu are connected in their essential importance as a 'concrete body'. Pudgala connotes the one which shapes (pud) and breaks down (gala), demonstrating that it is partnering and separating constantly. However, it generally endures and is eternal just like the substance of which it is made of. Paramanu is a ultimate particle and among the essential substances, it is the only one bearing any physical character. Attributable to the fineness of its structure by which it escapes perception, it is outside the grasp of instruments and is unbreakable (this is the thing that the paramanu shares for all intents and purpose with the samaya and the pradesha).’[4]

Considering the tiny-ness of paramanu, samaya (smallest indivisible unit of time) and pradesha (smallest indivisible unit of space), they can only be observed when they join with other units to form larger entities, noticeable time and observable space respectively.

‘This tremendous zoo, we call our universe, with its countless assortment of objects, embodying the enormous decent variety of matter and life, is comprised of only 118 components. These components consolidate, in huge number of ways, to shape a few thousand chemical compounds and many rough minerals which structure the building blocks of different species just as the material structures.’[5]

Indeed if this huge universe is made up of only 118 elements, there will be no wonder if the smallest paramanu is the same for these elements as well.

‘Each presence has an augmentation, a body, a structure, a group of atoms and a size. Aggregate changes happen just in pudgala. Just pudgala has detectable presence. Various objects of the universe are made through matter. This is the performance centre of the world. If anyone has the prime job, it is pudgala. This single entertainer comes before us in various jobs. Despite the fact that the soul adds to this, the fundamental entertainer remains pudgala.’[6] [7]

According to Jain philosophy, despite being the main doer, soul is incorporeal, its existence can only be experienced. Even the body is considered as the accumulation of material atoms named as nama karma, in context of karma.

Footnotes and references:


Varni Jinendra. Jainendra Siddhanta Kosh (JSK). Bhartiya Gyan Peeth. New Delhi. 10th Edition 2014. Volume-3, pp. 67


Dr. Tater Sohan Raj, The Jaina Doctrine of Karma & The Science of Genetics (TJDKTSG). First published 2009. Readworthy Publications (P) Ltd. pp. 28


As told by Dr. Narender Bhandari in a telephonic interview on 16/05/2017 at 12 PM


TDTJ. pp. 132


JEUPE. pp. 98


Acharya Mahaprajna. The Quest For Truth (TQFT). Jain Vishva Bharati Institute, Ladnun. 2003. pp.



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