The Nature Of Reality: [08] Matter (Pudgala)

Published: 15.07.2005
Updated: 02.07.2015

Matter (Pudgala)

The Jaina term pudgala is traditionally said to be derived from pum- (joining) plus - gala (breaking). This gives an idea of how Jainas envision the formation and destruction of matter: through atomic aggregation (samghata) and disjunction (bheda), respectively.

Atoms (paramanu) are indivisible and infinite in number; being, furthermore, without extension, they are invisible and do not fill up even a single space-point of the loka-akasa.

Each atom has the four material qualities noted above - form/color, taste, smell, and palpability (defined in terms of moist versus dry and heavy versus light). These qualities, moreover, undergo constant changes of modes along their respective continua.

Although atoms do not have extension, they are said to be capable of combining with other atoms to form aggregates that do. This process of combination can occur because of palpability differences between various atoms, specifically those along the moisture - dryness dimension (snidha­ruksatva); hence atoms that are equally most cannot be joined together, while one that is very dry will forge a strong bond with one that is very moist. In this way material aggregates (pudgala-skandha) are formed.

These aggregates are capable of producing the effects (that is, the visible formations) of earth, water, fire, and air, as well as sound, darkness, shade, light, hear, and various shapes.

Most significantly, they provide the body, speech, mental organ, and vital breath, which house the soul in the state of embodiment.

They also form the generalized karmic matter, which, after being defiled in various ways by the force of volitions, constitutes the physical basis (karmana-sarira) of bondage itself.

Chapter 3: The Jaina Path of Purification, 1979
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  1. Bheda
  2. Body
  3. JAINA
  4. Jaina
  5. Karmic matter
  6. Paramanu
  7. Pudgala
  8. Soul
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