Scientific Vision Of Lord Mahāvīra ► [04] Theory Of Pudgala ► Pudgala : Classification

Posted: 22.07.2009

Classification means grouping of similar things in accordance with some system of aspect. The infinite varieties of material objects constituting the physical order of existence can be classified in various ways, and from various aspects, both systematic and arbitrary. As we have already seen, the Jain philosophy describes the character of an object through fourfold determinants: substance (dravya), space (kṣetra) time (kāla) and attributes (bhāva).

Thus, to emphasize infinitely infinite multiplicity of the physical substance, it is described as under:

  1. Substance-wise—Pudgala is infinite. It means there is infinite number of atoms (Paramāṇu) existing either independently (in free or unattached state) or in combination making infinite composite bodies (skandhas).[109 ]Conversely, infinite composite bodies break up into infinite smaller components or infinite ultimate atoms.[110]
  2. Space-wise—Each and every space-point of cosmos is occupied by infinite number of ultimate atoms and composite bodies.[111] There is not a single space-point where there is neither an ultimate atom nor a composite body. According to Jain Cosmology, there is no vacuum anywhere in the cosmos. That is, the entire cosmic space is 'plenum'. It is only the (tarns-cosmic space) which is totally vacuum.[112]
  3. Time-wise—The physical existence is eternal and indestructible, not a single new ultimate atom is created nor destroyed. Inspite of infinite fission and fusion occurring at every time-point, the total existence persists; it has neither a beginning nor a end.[113]
  4. Quality-wise—Pudgala is a substratum of infinite qualities. Each of these qualities undergoes infinite mutations and transformations. Because of this multiplicity of changing each substance in itself is infinite.[114]

(A) Mono or Single Type

We have already seen that non-absolutist Jains do not find any contradiction in the basic unity and the diversity of an existent. This is the reason why in regards physical reality, infinity of the diversity of its quality and modes do not contradict its inherent unity. It is in the sense that all the physical reality is composed of atoms. Thus, there is only one or single class of Pudgala i.e. atom.

Here, it should be remembered that this unity is substance-wise (dravyārthika) and not modification-wise (paryāyārthika). Jains do not accept the concept of 'absolute monism' in which all atoms are absolutely one.[115]

(B) Two Types

Paramanu is the ultimate building block of the physical reality. It can exist in a free state and because it has innate capacity to combine with other atoms, it unites with others and produces composite bodies that are called skandha. Every modification takes place because of fission or fusion of atoms. On this basis the physical reality is classified into following two ways:

  1. paramāṇu i.e. freely existing ultimate atom
  2. Skandha i.e. aggregate composed of two to infinite number of atoms

Composite aggregates are again of two types: (i) catusparśi and (ii) astasparsi.116 Catusparsi, as the name indicates, has only four kind of touch, viz., hot or cold, dry or viscous. Astasparsi bodies, on the other hand, have in addition heaviness or lightness and hardness or softness (or roughness or smoothness). This means that catusparśi bodies are agurulaghu i.e. neither heavy nor light. In other words, they are massless. The quality of mass is acquired when the material bodies become astasparsi clusters.

From another point of view Pudgala can be classified into two categories, viz; (I) sukṣma i.e. subtle and (ii) bādara i.e.gross.[117] One type of Pudgala that cannot be an object of sensory perception is subtle. While those aggregates that are perceivable by the sense organs are called gross. It should be noted here that the former is not devoid of sense data, but it is so miniscule that normal sense organs are incapable of being stimulated by them. For example, catusparsi bodies and atoms are out of sense organs' power of perceiving and therefore they fall in this category i.e. subtle. Again, all aggregates composed of two to innumerable atoms are also under this category if they are subtle. The aggregates that are composed of infinite particles and astasparsi are both gross as well as subtle.

Pudgala is, again, classified into two categories on the basis of capability of being associated with jīva i.e. consciousness. There are some groups Pudgala, which interact with jīva and become associated with it. Thus, there are two types of Pudgala—(i) capable of interaction or association and (ii) incapable of interaction or association.[118] All atoms in their free state fall in the second category. So far as the composite bodies are concerned, some of them interact with Jiva and some do not.

(C) Three Types

Pudgala can be classified into three types in respect of the cause of transformation viz;[119]

  1. Transformed by consciousness (prayoga-pariṇata)
  2. Transformed by consciousness in post and itself at present (misra-parinata)
  3. Auto-transformed (visrasā-pariṇata)
  1. The Pudgala that is taken in and transformed by conscious substance is prayoga-pariṇata. Bodies of all categories of living beings and those that are being transformed by their vital processes are instances of this class.
  2. The Pudgala that was associated with conscious substance in the past, but is now abandoned by it and therefore is no longer being transformed by the agency of vital processes, and which undergoes auto-transformation is miśra-pariṇata. Shoe-leather is an instance of this class. Transformation that is partly under the influence of conscious substance and partly auto-transformation is also miśra-pariṇata.
  3. The matter that undergoes auto-transformation and has no interaction with conscious substance is visrasā-pariṇata. Clouds, rainbow, meteors, etc. are instances of this class.

(D) Four Types

From structural viewpoint, physical reality can be classified into four types:[120]

  1. Aggregate (Skandha)
  2. Conceptual part of an aggregate (Skandha-deśa)
  3. Conceptual unit of an aggregate (Skandha-pradeśa)
  4. Atom (Paramāṇu)

These are the four basic structural modification of Pudgala, out of which infinite modes are produced.

  1. SkandhaSkandha is defined as an individual aggregate formed by combination of ultimate atoms of small composite bodies. The smallest skandha is a 'dvipradeśīya skandha' (diatomic aggregate)[121] produced by the combination of only two atoms and the largest is 'accitta mahāskandha' which is the material body extending over the whole cosmos.[122]
  2. Skandha-deśaDesa means a fraction and not a whole.[123] A skandha is divisible, because it is made up of number of parts. Thus, if a skandha is conceptually divided, any fractional portion (1/2, 1/4 and so on) is skandha-deśa. This is an example of physical division. Chemically a substance may be a compound of two or more elements. In this case, each element is a skandha-deśa. For example, a molecule of water is a compound of two elements, viz. hydrogen and oxygen. A molecule of water is a skandha, while atoms of hydrogen and oxygen units are skandha-deśa. This is an example of chemical division. It should be remembered that division is merely conceptual. On the other hand, When a skandha breaks up physically or chemically into fragments, each fragment becomes a whole aggregate i.e. skandha and not skandha-desśa.
  3. Skandha-pradeśa—Pradeśa means an indivisible undetached part of a cluster.[124] The smallest deśa, which is further indivisible, is thus a pradeśa. Like deśa, pradeśa is also merely conceptual. In other words, a pradeśa is an attached part of a thing whose dimension is equal to that of an atom. Another term used for pradeśa is avibhāgi paricheda (i.e. indivisible fragment). An atom, however, being a separate entity is different from a pradeśa. The former is an objective entity whereas the latter is only an ideal construct.
  4. Paramāṇu—The word is made of 'parama' and 'aṇu'. Parama means the 'ultimate' and anu means 'atom'. According to Jain Microcosmology, paramāṇu is the eternal and indestructible ultimate unit and also the primary constitutive cause of the entire physical universe. Thus, the infinitesimally small, indivisible and free i.e. unattached to another particles of matter is paramāṇu. Paramāṇus are the ultimate building blocks that by mutual combination produce the whole of physical universe. So long as it is considered to be a portion of an aggregate, it is pradeśa, while in its free i.e. unattached state, it is paramāṇu.[125]

(E) Six types

Generally, largeness is equated with grossness (sthaulya) and smallness is equated with subtlety (saukṣmya). However, size is not the criterion in this classification. Gross is that which prevents other substances to pass through and which cannot occupy the space already occupied by others or which cannot pass through others and which does not allow others to occupy the space occupied by it.

Conversely, subtle is that which does not hinder others and cannot be hindered by others (or which can occupy the space which is already occupied by others or can pass through others).

From the point of view of penetrability Pudgala is divided into six classes:[126]

  • Bādara-bādara—means gross-gross, i.e. very gross. This kind consists of very large solid aggregates of Pudgala such as mountains, rocks, wood, etc. which do not unite by themselves when broken or divided, and also such bodies which can be physically transported without a container.
  • Bādara—means gross. This kind consists of large aggregates of Pudgala in liquid-form, such as, water, oil, milk, juice, etc. which do themselves unite again when broken or divided and which have to be carried in containers.
  • Bādara-sukṣma—means gross-subtle. This kind consists of aggregates which can neither be cut nor broken, nor can they be physically transported, but are visible, such as, light, shadow, image, etc.
  • Sūkṣma-bādara—means subtle-gross. This kind consists of aggregates that are not visible but can be perceived by other four senses—ultravisible but infra sensual, e.g., gases.
  • Sukṣma—means subtle. This kind consists of aggregates that are ultrasensual, i.e., they are not perceivable by any sense organ. However, they interact with conscious substance and are transformed by it in the form of thought, speech and karma, etc.
  • Sukṣma-sukṣma—means extra-subtle. This kind consists of aggregates that are so subtle that they do not interact with conscious substance. They include the aggregates that are composed of less than infinite to two number of atoms.

Eight Types

The most important types of physical order of existence (Pudgala) are those, which interact with psychic order of existence. There are five types of Pudgala that are associated with conscious substance in the form of body.[127] In addition, there are three types of Pudgala that are associated with the conscious substance to carry out the vital functions of life, viz., breathing, speaking and thinking. In toto, there are eight types of Pudgala known as eight vargaṇā which interact with the conscious substance.

The word 'vargaṇā' means a category that applies to the group having the same definable attributes-in-chief. The eight groups are as follows.

(i) Audārika Vargaṇā (A class of gross matter)

The word audarika can etymologically be explained in two ways: [i] udarana meaning gross, audārika means 'constituted by gross matter' and [ii] udara meaning womb, audārika thus means 'what is produced from the womb'. All organic bodies—human, animal and vegetable are audārika.

All physical compositions, large and small, which are/can be made perceivable by sense organs belong to this category. All organic material which make the cells (blood, bone, skin, etc.) comprising the bodies of all living (including the entire vegetable kingdom) and dead organisms and inorganic atoms, molecules and compounds, in short, almost all things, encountered by us in everyday life belong to Audarika Vargna.

(ii) Vaikriya Vargaṇā (A class of protean matter)

The term vaikriya means "protean" body, i.e. 'what is capable of transformation at will'. The term vaikriya implies transformations (of the body), which are associated with a divine being or deva who can transform the body from, minute to huge, and vice versa. Celestial bodies of the inhabitants of heaven (devas) and hell (narakis) are composed of the material of this group which is very much more subtle than the previous category.

(iii) Āhāraka Vargaṇā (A class of matter related to the communication body)

The structure of this category is subtler than the preceding ones. Ascetics who have acquired special powers to create a unique subtle body called aharaka sarira use it. The learned sage uses this type of body for visiting omniscient persons at far off places, for the purpose of clarifying some doubts about intricate facets of truth. The subtle body stretches out so as to be in communication with the omniscient (kevali) from whom the information sought for, is secured. Thus, aharaka sarira means—communication body.

(iv) Taijas Vargaṇā (A class of matter related to Luminous Body)

The material belonging to this group is used by the soul to make a subtle body, which always accompanies the soul in its mundane existence i.e., until it achieves emancipation. The body forms an essential link between the soul and its karmana sarira. The taijas body provides energy required by the vital processes of the living organism such as effulgence and digestion.

(v) Kārmaṇa or Karma-Vargaṇā (A class of karmic matter)

Matter of this group also called karmic matter is responsible for contaminating the soul and keeping it in bondage. Minutest activity of a living being—physical, mental or oral—attracts the karmic matter that unites with the soul and is then transformed into kārmaṇa śarīra that is the basis of the mundane existence (in bondage) of the soul. Every worldly living being roaming through the cycles of births and deaths (saṁsara) carries the karma-śarīra with itself until it is finally emancipated.[128]

Out of the above five bodies, the first alone is perceptible by the sense organs and the others are subtle and imperceptible bodies. Each succeeding one is minuter than the preceding one in order.[129]

(vi) Svāsocchvāsa or ānāpāna Vargaṇā (A class of matter belonging to respiration)

Svāsocchvāsa means respiration, as indicated by its name, matter in this group is what all living organisms need and use for the vital function of breathing.

(vii) Bhāṣā Vargaṇā (A class of matter belonging to sound)

Bhasa means speech. Living organisms that are capable of producing speech give voice to their feelings. The matter of this group is essential for this process.

(viii) Mano or Manas Vargaṇā

Mana means mind. According to Jains, mind is an instrument of thinking, which a soul makes for itself out of material bodies and becomes capable of thinking through its agency. The material in this group fit for this purpose is mano vargaṇā.[130]

It is to be noted that a composite body of the group successively consists of greater number of atoms that are more compactly packed and thus occupy less space. Thus, a body of āhāraka vargaṇā is more compact and occupies less space than a body of vaikriya vargaṇā which itself is more densely packed in comparison with a body of audarika vargaṇā.

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