Scientific Vision Of Lord Mahāvīra ► [02] The Model of the Universe in Bh.S & Its Scientific Assessment ► The Line of Demarcation of the Universe

Posted: 12.06.2009

The new discoveries of modern science such as the dual nature of matter i.e. (mass and energy) and the dual nature of sub-atomic particles (wave and particle) are all associated with the reality of space and its contents. Space in itself, according to the Jain philosophy, is infinite extension and only a portion of it is filled with other real substances. It is this finite portion known as universe.

The four Astikāyas i.e. the medium of motiom, the medium of rest, matter and consciousness and the cosmic-space (Lokākāśa) together make up the entire universe. It is the theatre of the entire cosmic dance. The space is finite because of the two substances, viz., the medium of motion and medium of rest. The systematic structure of the cosmos is seen because of the two media. In the absence of the media the world had been chaos. Here, it will, therefore, be relevant to know about the medium of motion and medium of rest to understand the systematic order and end of the universe.

Like the beginning, the end of the universe is also questionable. Once the disciple Indrabhuti asked Mahāvīra about the end of the universe.[116] The answer given is non-absolutic i.e. the universe is with and without end. It is with end because of number and space occupied.[117] Universe is one in number and therefore it is with end. It means Multi-universe theory of science is not acceptable to the Jain cosmologists. Universe is limited and not without boundary. This is the reason why it is with end from the spacial point of view. The boundaries are the medium of motion and the medium of rest. The living and non-living objects are confind themselves only to the media. In other words, where the two media are there is the universe. They prevail in innumerable points of space. Therefore, the universe is also of innumerable space-points.[118] Thus, the two cosmic principles i.e. the medium of motion and the medium of rest are the line of demarcation of universe.[119]

Being essential constituents of the cosmos the medium of motion and the medium of rest are called cosmos as such.[120] Both are mutually interpenetrating and concomitant with cosmic space. Without them cosmos is impossible. Their existence and influence do not extend beyond the cosmos, but within the cosmos. They are all pervasive and co-extensive. Their separate existence cannot be inferred from the difference of locality as there is no such difference, It can be inferred by their different functions. In other words, they have a unity of locality with a diversity of functions. Being devoid of physical qualities as well as consciousness, they can be distinguished by their respective functions.[121]

The Bh.S gives detailed explanation about the medium of motion and the medium of rest in different contexts at many places. Accordingly, they can be understood in the following five respects, such as, substance, space, time, quality and function as given below.[122]

As substance, the medium of motion and the medium of rest are only one.

As space, both are co-extensive with the cosmos.

As time, both of them were never non-existent, they are never nonexistent and they will never be non-existent; they were, they are and they will be, so both are eternal, fixed, perennial, indestructible, imperishable, ever present and persistent.

As quality, they have no colour, no smell, no taste and no touch.

As function, the medium of motion is an indifferent condition of motion and the medium of rest is an indifferent condition of rest.

In the Bh.S the word 'guṇa' in the case of the two media is used to denote function and not concurrent properties as in popular parlance. It has been used in the sense of function or an auxiliary feature (upakāra).[123] It does mean that the substances called as the medium of motion and the medium of rest are not the initiator of motion and rest but they are only their auxiliary condition.[124] Without the help of the two media nothing can move or agitate and rest. Hence, these two substances are essential to any type of motion and rest throughout the world.

Acceptance of the two principles is important to understand motion as such. If one accepts the reality of the physical object, one must accept the reality of motion also. Although looked upon with suspicion by idealist metaphysicians, both realist philosophers as well as scientists accept the doctrine of reality of motion.

In order to accept the reality of motion of physical objects not only the reality of space but also that of the two media of motion and rest must be accepted. None of the non-Jain Indian schools of thought has paid attention to this problem. It is to the credit of the ancient Jain sages alone that they boldly grappled with the problem with significant success.

Actually, the cosmos is nothing but an integral system of infinite living beings, infinite physical objects, the medium of motion and the medium of rest and time existing in a limited space. This is quite natural to suppose some force or power that holds the constituent elements of the universe together. According to the Jain thinkers that force is the medium of motion and the medium of rest. "It is really wonderful that Jain thinkers several centuries ago felt the same intellectual necessity of supposing a physical force which maintains the cosmic unity".[125] The thing worthy to note here is that in the above-said statement the word 'physical' is used before the 'force', in my opinion it should be 'non-physical' because both the media are devoid of physical properties.

One question has been raised—cannot space be credited with the function of motion and rest in addition to its own function of accommodating things? According to the reply given by Acharya Kundakunda, such a hypothesis would be impossible because it would be conflicting with other facts. If the space is endowed with the attribute of motion and rest then why do the emancipated souls (siddhās) whose tendency is to go upwards come to stay at the summit of the world. Moreover, wherever there is space there should be free chance for motion and rest. But neither a living entity nor a single atom of matter could travel beyond the limit of cosmos though there is space beyond. Therefore, Kundakunda concludes that space is neither the condition of motion, nor of rest. These require independent principle as their condition.[126]

Besides, if space had been the condition of motion and rest, then there would have not been any transcosmos and a systematic cosmos at all because space is everywhere. All the sentients and insentients would have not been confined to the universe only. They would have been scattered throughout the space.[127]

Thus, the medium of motion and the medium of rest are essential for the smooth functioning of the universe. Just as the medium of motion is a guarantee for motion, so the medium of rest puts limits to the objects in motion. One and the same body has motion as well as rest. It may move or it may come to stay. Therefore, the medium of motion and the medium of rest are free from the principle of causality. They can only be an auxiliary cause (bahiraṅga hetu or udāsīna hetu), i.e., they must be indifferent and neutral in themselves and yet, they are indispensable (āvaśyaka) to the composition of the world. The most approximate modern conception answering to the description of the medium of motion will be about ether of the physicist. Though the concept of ether is not acceptable today yet, it has been mentioned here only to show the necessity of the medium of motion in the field of science. Besides, the properties of ether, which had been accepted later on also come close to the properties of the medium of motion contended by the Jains.

Ether, in Physics, a theoretical, universal substance believed during the 19th century to act as the medium for transmission of electromagnetic waves (e.g. light and X-rays) similar to sound waves transmitted by elastic media such as air.[128] It was believed that the ether was a kind of matter having properties, such as, mass, rigidity, motion like ordinary matter. But after the Michelson experiment and the theory of Relativity, it is agreed that ether is not a kind of matter. Being non-material, its properties are sui generis (quite unique). Characteristics, such as, mass and rigidity which are seen in matter are naturally absent in ether but ether has new and definite character of its own. On the basis of latter scientific evidences two points are well established—the medium of motion is non-material, filling all space and not moving. The Jain view expressed in the following quotation regarding the medium of motion and of rest is quite close and clear to the two points. "The medium of motion being a non-corporeal substance has none of the properties ordinarily associated with matter, i.e., it is devoid of qualities of touch, taste, smell and colour. It is a continuous medium pervading the whole universe. Although, it is non-atomic in nature, for purpose of practical convenience, it is regarded as made up of innumerable units."[129]

Acharya Kundakunda further writes, "it (the medium of motion) undergoes an infinite number of modifications of an incorporeal nature and persists through modes. Hence, it is a real and permanent substance. It remains unchanged by the motion of objects inspite of being condition of motion of all those that can move."[130]

The Bh.S is quite clear about the functional feature of the medium of motion. When Indrabhuti Gautama asked Lord Mahavir about the utility or function of the two media to the living beings and non-living, the Lord replied that the medium of motion is the cause of all the mental, vocal and physical activities of a living being. In the same way, all the activities of non-living take place with the help of the medium of motion.[131] It behaves like water towards the fish in the world. As water is indifferent to the movement of fish, so the medium of motion is indifferent to the movement of living and non-living things. Truly speaking, it neither moves nor causes any motion in other objects. It supplies only the necessary support for the motion of a movable body. In this regard, Science comes closer to the Jain physics when it deals with ether as non-material, non-atomic, non-discrete, continuous, co-extensive with space, indivisible and unmoved but a necessary medium for motion.

Like the medium of motion (Dharmāstikāya) described above, the medium of rest (Adharmāstikāya) is also non-living, formless, inactive, and continuous. The difference lies in their functions. Whereas the medium of motion helps in motion, the medium of rest helps in rest to the objects in motion. It is a binding force to the living and non-living. It is responsible for the stability of every kind. In the case of living beings, standing, sitting, sleeping and mental concentration etc., all such things take place with the help of the medium of rest.[132]

Apart from this difference, both the medium of motion and the medium of rest pervade through space unto world-limit. They are absolutely non-physical, non-atomic and non-discrete in structure. The qualities of matter are not found therein. They have different constituents than space. These non-physical principles are perfectly simple. They are spacial and yet they are not spacial. They are neither heavy nor light. Their existence is inferred only through their function. The characteristics of these two principles are distinctly peculiar to Jain physics.

In this context we find some similar declarations of modern science, which have been mentioned by Prof. G. R. Jain in his book 'Cosmology Old and New'. Just as the Jain thinkers have divided space into cosmos (finite) and trans-cosmos (infinite), so is the verdict of the modern mathematicians. Mr. H. Ward, in his book 'Exploring the Universe', writes—

"Strangely enough the mathematicians reckon that the total amount of matter which exists is limited, and that the total extent of universe is finite. They do not conceive that there is a limit beyond which no space exists but that the totality of space is so 'curved' that a ray of light, after travelling in a direct line for a long enough time, would come back to its starting point. They have even made a preliminary estimate of the time a ray of light would require for the round trip in the totality of curvature—not less than ten trillions, i.e., 10000000000000 years. And such a space is very cozy quarters compared with infinity. A mathematician feels positively cramped in it."[133]

Further G. R. Jain mentions—

"Mr. Ward may, please, note that it is not in the least necessary to unmake the brain and visualize finite space if we slightly modify our present theory and accept the Jaina idea of a finite universe and an infinite empty space beyond, in which exists nothing, no soul, no matter and no media necessary for motion and rest. How very reasonable and easily conceivable it is to suppose that beyond the boundary of the finite universe the medium of motion is absent and thus a ray of light or any other forms of energy or even a single particle of matter cannot go beyond lokākāśa i.e., beyond the boundary of the finite universe. Thus, the stability of the universe is established without postulating the idea of 'curving of space', the latter being a difficult pill to swallow."[134]

The point worthy to note here is that in the view of Jain cosmologists actually space is not divided but it is the medium of motion and the medium of rest which cause the treatment of one space as cosmos and transcosmos. It only means, the space pervaded by the two media is cosmos and the rest transcosmos. Curvature in the universe occurs because of the media and not due to space itself. The scientific researches made after Einstein preposition of the curvature of three dimensional space, have proved this truth that space should be flat and not curved.

Prof. G.R. Jain has tried to interpret the concept of medium of rest (adharmāstikāya) in terms of the concept of gravitation in modern physics. In his book 'Cosmology: Old and new', he writes "These considerations lead us to the conclusion that gravitation is the cause of the stability of the macroscopic as well as microscopic systems of the universe. But for the gravitation, there would be all chaos, there would be no world. The atoms would be scattered throughout space; the galaxies would disperse; the members of the solar system would be torn off one from the other. Hence, the necessity of the important postulate of adharmāstikāya, the gravitation is."[135]

The note-worthy thing here is that Newton regarded the force of gravity as an active force, although acting like an invisible agency. The modification of the concept of gravitation introduced by the author of relativity, Prof. Albert Einstein, renders gravitation quite inactive and thus, brings it on the same level as the medium of rest Adharmāstikāya of the Jain philosophers.

G. R. Jain writes—it is the greatest triumph of the Jain theory of Adharma Dravya that science had to postulate the existence of an invisible force of gravitation to account for the stability of the universe, and that Einstein's modification of the law of gravitation had entirely divested the latter of its active character. Gravitation is now regarded as an auxiliary cause and not an active puller, so that its character is now brought in exact conformity with the Jain view:

'The medium of rest (adharmāstikāya), like the medium of motion (dharmāstikāya),is without form, inactive and eternal, it is the auxiliary cause of rest to soul and matter as is the shade of a tree the auxiliary cause of rest for the travellers.'[136]

As the interpretation made by Prof. G. R. Jain is examined critically, the comparison of Adharmāstikāya with gravitation is only an apparent one. When we go into the root cause of gravitational effect, it is mainly the mass of the matter that is responsible for creating the gravitational force. But according to Jain metaphysics only the gross matter possessed of all the eight kinds of touch has mass. All other matter and other substances, such as, the medium of motion, the medium of rest, space and soul are completely massless, and therefore, there cannot be any gravitational force between them. Hence, to consider Adharmāstikāya as an equivalent of gravitational force is not correct.

We should not forget that all the forces in physics are essential due to the qualities of touch etc. of matter, while the principles of Dharma, Adharma etc. are all non-physical in nature. In other words gravitational force and other such forces of physics have a limited application in the universe because of their physical nature. On the contrary, the jain concept of Dharma- Adharma. apply equally to all the substances whether physical or non-physical.

Let us conclude above discussion with the views that the universe is finite and there should be some force in the form of matter or something else which holds all the living and non-living together and keeps the whole universe in a systematic universal order.

Concluding the topic of universe, it can be said that the Bh.S presents a vivid and multidimensional picture of the universe. Its method to deal with the problem is to break the problem up into bits and to invent a number of partial theories. Each partial theory describes and predicts a certain limited class of intuitive perceptions that are sometimes being neutral to the results of the other and sometimes being contrary or even complementary to them. The thing worthy to note is that almost all the predictions that seem contrary are expressed relatively. That is why in depth they have no contradiction as such.

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