Scientific Vision Of Lord Mahāvīra ► [03] Space and Time in the Bh.S ► Nature Of Time

Posted: 24.06.2009

The Bh.S. never mentions time as an Astikāya. It means that time is not a homogenous entity. The Digamber tradition also explains that time does not form a magnitudinal extension (kāya), though it has got existence like the heaps of pearls.[92]

In the Bh.S, time is considered as paramāṇu i.e. atom of time. It is characterized as colourless, smellless, and tasteless and touchless.[93] This theory reveals the atomic conception of time which is found in detail in the literature of the Digambara tradition. The smallest time-unit is samaya that is eternal and instantaneous by nature. Commentary on Pañcāstihaya[94] defines samaya as the time taken by an atom to traverse one space point to the next one.

However, in the non-absolutistic philosophy of Lord Mahāvīra, the two different ideas about time are not contradictory, but they are complementary to each other. From nominal point of view time is a mode of the other substances and not an independent real. But from phenomenal point of view it is a substance because of its utility. In fact, time has relevancy in the world of men and also in the astronomical and astrological calculations. The rotations and revolutions of planets are possible in time. In this sense time has relevancy with reference to human intellect. In the Digambara tradition time is not merely considered as an expression of human intellect with reference to human activity, but it is objective and is also pervading the entire universe as mentioned before.

Moreover, being different in opinion about the objectivity of time even though all the Jain Acharyas are unanimous on the issue that time is a single unitary substance. It is a substance but not like other five substances that have extended existence. It is, in fact, of atomic nature. The time series are always in forward direction technically called ūrdhva pracaya. It flows in a linear series. The span of time is considered to be uni-dimensional. Time always moves in one direction. It is always forward looking. Every unit of it is discrete, since at a particular moment of time the present alone exists and the past is gone and the future is yet to come. Hence, there is only one instant (samaya) every time.[95] Therefore, the possibility to be an aggregate of the instants is negated automatically. As it is uni-dimensional it cannot present itself in a reverse direction, i.e. tiryak pracaya.

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