Let’s understand Pudgala (matter) in Jainism

  • Matter is the only SUBSTANCE which is non-living
  • Etymologically, pudgala is a combination of
    • “pul (पूल)” which means bundle or pack, implying integration
    • “galana (गलन)” which means melting or dropping, implying disintegration.
  • Only those forms of matter are perceived which are gross compound, made by
    infinite atoms
  • Pudgalastikaya exists in the universe in various forms: earth, water, air, shadow,
    objects of 4 senses, physical mind, speech bodies, etc upto karmic matter and parmanu. Thus, in this manner the spectrum of matter extends from gross or subtle.

Properties of Matter

Non-livingIntegrating / disintegrating
CorporealInfinite in number
ConcreteCo-extensive with universe

From a substantial point of view it is infinite in number; from a time perspective it is eternal; from a qualitative viewpoint it possesses touch, taste, smell and colour; from a spatial perspective it fills the entire cosmic space.

Interaction between matter and consciousness

Pudgala is capable of being taken in and transformed by Jiva (consciouness).

Interaction between physical and psychical existence is three fold:

  1. Karma:
    Specific groups of matter called karma vargana are attracted and assimilated by Jiva
  2. Body:
    Each Jiva (consciouness) must have a body as an instrument of experiencing pleasure and pain during its wordly existence
  3. Prana (vital functions):
    Breathing, Nutrition, Speech and Thought

Modifications of Pudgala (matter)

  • Sound: integration or disintegration of material bodies results in sound
    • Produced by conscious effort e.g. speech
    • Natural and spontaneous e.g. thunder
  • Light: It is cause of visibility. Darkness is not absence of light, but specific combintion of particles of matter in which black colour is prominent. Three kinds of light radiations are-
    • Hot effulgencce (tāpa) e.g. sunlight, light from fire or lamp (more heat than light)
    • Cold effulgence (udyota (उद्योत) → “emitting cool lustre”) e.g. moon light (more light, less heat)
    • Lustre (prabhā प्रभा → diffused light) e.g. light emitted by gems
  • Shape (संस्थान) / configuration: ability to extend into space
    • Regular / symmetrical e.g. circular, triangular, rectangular
    • Irregular or asymmetrical e.g. shape of clouds

Properties of Pudgala (matter)

  • Eternal / indestructible
  • Avasthita (अवस्थित) – not transmutable
  • It is Ajiva (non-living)
  • Possesses touch, taste, colour and smell
  • Perceivable
  • Kriyāvān (क्रियावान्) – incessantly active
  • Parināmi (परिणामि) – subject to mutation
  • Fusionable and fissionable
  • Numerically infinite
  • Spatially fills the entire universe
  • Ultimate / smallest unit of matter is called parmānu
    • Etymology of parmānu → param (ultimate) + anu (extreme limiting unit of the process of division)
    • It is a singular entity (cannot have half parmānu, middle of parmānu)
    • Ultimate building block of the physical universe
    • It has no length, breadth or depth. It is dimensionless. Thus, it is the ultimate and eternal unit of matter.
    • A parmānu has a single state of colour, 1 type of smell, 2 kinds of touch (hot/cold, dry/viscous); Sound is not an attribute of a parmānu as it is an attribute of skandha (aggregate of 2 or more parmānus).
    • Not an object of sense perception. Its existence is inferred by collective action / reaction of infinte parmānus.
    • Due to its own motion (vibration / oscillation) it becomes a measure of time (i.e. 1 Samaya {smallest unit of time} corresponds to a unit shift of parmānu from one position to the immediately next).
    • By itself it is not astikaya (i.e. not an extensive particle)
    • By rule of permutation, there can be 200 (=2 x 2 x 5 x 2 x 5) varieties of parmānus
      • Either hot or cold (2)
      • Either dry or viscous (2)
      • One of the 5 types of taste [bitter, sour, acrid, sweet, astringent] (5)
      • One of 2 kinds of smell [pleasant, unpleasant] (2)
      • One of 5 types of colour [black, blue, red, yellow, white] (5)
  • Fusion of parmānus
    • It is fusionable, but not fissionable as by definition parmānu is itself indivisible
    • Two parmānus can after fusion occupy either a single space point or two space points
    • Aggregate compound of numerable, innumerable or infinite parmānus can be accommodated in a single space point (due to its compressibility) or extend to numberable or innumerable space spoints
      • Concurs with science → 99.9% mass of atom is condensed in its nucleus which occupies 1/100,000 size of the whole atom
  • Laws of Motion and Principle of Uncertainty
    • unless acted upon by external forces, parmānus move in a straight line
    • when acted upon by external forces, it can change direction and speed
    • the minimum distance a parmānu can travel in the smallest unit of time (samaya) is its adjacent point and the maximum distance a parmānu can travel in the smallest unit of time (samaya) is the entire length of the universe (loka).
    • it is uncertain after what time a parmānu at rest will become dynamic (release energy)
      • the time interval can vary from 1 samaya (smallest unit of time) to innumerable samayas.
    • it is uncertain for what duration a dynamic parmānu will continue to be active
    • it is uncertain what direction the parmānu will move at commencement of motion
    • it is uncertain what kind of activity an inactive parmānu will commence
      • vibration, rotation, migration, or all these simultaneously
  • Dhrauvya (ध्रौव्य) → perpetual / persistent.
  • Niyata (नियत) – fixed, permanent, constant, steady i.e. quantitatively infinite in number and can neither be created or destroyed. This concurs with the scientific Law of Conservation of Mass which states thatmatter cannot be created nor destroyed; it can only be transformed.
  • Shāsvat (शाश्वत) → eternal, perpetual, everlasting
  • Aksaya (अक्षय) → imperishable
  • Avyaya (अव्यय) → not liable to change, imperishable, undecaying, immutable
  • Nitya (नित्य) → eternal
  • Dynamically active
    • Parinām (परिणम) → mutation i.e. does not involve motion in space. It is a change of one state into another (e.g. hot becomes cold)
    • Kriyā (क्रिया) → motion in space, vibration, oscillation, etc. It involves release or absorption of energy
      • Spontaneous → due to its own innate capacity
      • Caused by external forces
  • Modification is of two types
    • Artha paryāya (intrinsic modification) → individual, instantaneous, continuous, incessant change. This is neither perceivable nor expressible (e.g. our subtle hormonal secretions)
    • Vyanjana paryāya (explicit modification) → gross, has duration and amenable to verbal expression
  • Aggregates of particles of matter is called skandha (स्कन्ध). They can be of two types:
    • Catuhsparshi (having 4 types of touch) → hot/cold, dry/viscous.
      • They are agurulaghu (अगुरुलघु) which mean “neither heavy nor light” implying that they have no mass. Thus, these particles can never be detected by any scientific instruments. The Jain Karmic philosophy states that karmic particles are catursparshi and therefore they cannot be seen or detected scientifically, but its experience is certainly felt.
        • Since a parmanu is weightless, there is no upper limit to its speed. It can be at one end of the universe to the opposite end of the universe in the smallest unit of time (samaya).
          Comparing this to modern science, the maximum speed at which an electron can travel is the speed of light (300,000 kms/second).
    • Astasparshi (having 8 types of touch) → hot/cold, dry/viscous, heavy/light, hard/soft
      • Since these particles have the property of heaviness and lightness, they have mass and can be detected by scientific instruments.
  • Link to modern science
    • dry / viscous property of pudgala can be correlated to the positive and negative charges of particles
    • guru (heavy) and laghu (light) corresponds to mass of particles
    • physicists have certainly classified leptons (light weight), mesons (medium weight) and baryons (heavy weight) particles.
      Will scientists ever find “no weight particles” as elucidated by the Jains?

I apologise and seek pardon for any unintentional errors in the above post.

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