The Smallest Particle

Posted: 01.04.2013
Updated on: 03.04.2013
Speaking Tree

By: Acharya Mahaprajna on Jul 13, 2012

The Smallest ParticleWhat science calls matter, we call pudgal in Jain cosmology, says ACHARYA MAHAPRAJNA who explains that the life particle is indivisible

Behind every act, there is an actor, or one who acts. This is but logical. Who then is the Creator of the world? This has been an eternal question. Is our philosophy capable of answering this question? All I can say is that our philosophy has worked along these lines and has attempted to get answers. However, whether these answers are the only ones and whether they are all-encompassing, is difficult to say.

Six Cosmic Aspects

According to Jain philosophy, the world is categorised into six divisions on the basis of which much of it can be explained. Dharma or the reason for movement, adharma or the reason for cessation of movement, akash or space, which comprises both lok and alok, kal, which is time, jiva which is the soul and pudgal which is matter. What science calls matter, Jain philosophy calls pudgal.

All these divisions called astikayas in Jain philosophy are a collection of small, indivisible particles. Dharma, adharma, akash and jiva cannot be broken down into smaller particles. Pudgal or matter can be broken down into small paramanus. Its indivisible form is the paramanu which is capable of joining with other paramanus and also separating from them. That which is indivisible, undifferentiated, not visible to the naked eye, is the paramanu.

The very word, param plus anu means the smallest particle. Modern science is not comfortable with the idea that the paramanu cannot be broken down because it uses technology to try to do so. But the paramanu is that which cannot be broken up at all. It is the basic particle of life.

Divisible And Indivisible

Jain philosophy has further differentiated between sukshma paramanu and vyavaharik paramanu. Sukshma paramanu is that which has been described above. Vyavaharik paramanu is made with the collection of many sukshma paramanus. The atom or the subatomic particle that science thinks of is this vyavaharik paramanu. Therefore, to a certain extent, Jain philosophy accepts the breaking down of the paramanu.

Paramanus have four basic sensory qualities of colour, smell, taste and touch. They have infinite number of modes; that is, when they combine differently, different material objects are formed. In each paramanu, there is one attribute either of one colour, one smell, one taste or two kinds of feel, hot or cold, or dry or wet. Jain philosophy can visualise the paramanu to change form within the attribute it has, like the colour paramanu may change colour.

Cycle Of Creation

The paramanu cannot be seen, felt or heard by the senses and yet they have form. They can be seen at the very subtle level. The world that we see, the material world is made up of a collection of paramanus. Paramanus collect to make the mass which later takes shape as different objects. These objects, in time, deteriorate or break up into collections of paramanus again and then into a single paramanu. They combine to make a new object.

The paramanus are fast-paced. In very small time, some parts of a second, they travel from one corner of the earth to another. The paramanu has speed built into it. It does not draw its capabilities from Dharma-astikaya. Some paramanus are full of vibrations, some are not.

Eight Categories

There are eight categories of paramanus: the first group makes gross objects like earth, water, fire, wind, trees and the bodies of living beings. The second lend weight, mass and visibility. The third is the paramanu that makes edible matter; the fourth is what gives energy and power of heat.

The fifth is the paramanu that gets added because of the good-bad deeds of living beings; the sixth is the collection that is useful for breath; the seventh is that which helps in speech and the eighth is that which helps us to think. Jain Darshan, Manan and Mimamsa.

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