Microcosmology: Atom In Jain Philosophy & Modern Science: [2.2.02] Atom In Jain Philosophy - Pudgala - Characteristic Attributes

Published: 05.09.2007
Updated: 06.08.2008

The characteristic qualities (laksana) of a substance are those, which distinguish it from other substances. As we have already seen, pudgala is the only substance, which is perceivable (i.e. cognizable by sense-organs, murta) [Tat. Sut. Siddhasena's Commentary. 5/3] whereas all other five substances are imperceptible (amurta) through sense-organs. This is because only pudgala possesses the qualities of colour, smell, taste and touch. [Ibid, 5/23] Each of these qualities is capable of stimulating a specific sensory equipment of an animate organism.

The stimuli are then conveyed by the respective sense-organs to the cognizing apparatus, enabling it to perceive the physical object.

All the other five substances are totally incapable of any of these qualities and are, therefore, incapable of being the objects of sense-data and being perceived by the sense-organs. Thus, whatever is perceived or is perceivable must necessarily belong to the physical order of existence. [Ibid, 5/4 (Bhasya)] Conversely, whatever is bereft of sensory qualities is non-physical [Ibid, 5/4 (Siddhasena's Commentary).]

Rupatva/murtatva or sensory perceptibility is the sum total of the four sensuous qualities named above. Colour and/or extension by itself is not the cause of perceptibility of the matter. All the four qualities are concomitant. [Yatra rupa-parinamah tatravasyamtaya sparsa-rasa-gandhairapi byavyam; atah sahacarametac catustayam - Tat. Sut. Siddhasena's Commentary, 5/3]

No modification of matter is such that it possesses three, two or one of the four qualities. Nor is there a modification of a substance other than matter, which can possess one, two or three or all the four above qualities.

All mutation of matter, be it a single ultimate atom or an aggregate constituted by innumerable such ultimate atoms, must possess all the four qualities.

Types Of Characteristic Qualities

Five types of primary colour

Black, blue, red, yellow & white

Five types of taste

Sweet, bitter, acrid, acidic(sour) and astringent

Two types of odour

Good smell and bad smell.

Eight types of touch

Hot, cold; gluey, dry; hard, soft and light, heavy.

  • Jain Vishva Barati Institute, Ladnun, India
  • Edited by Muni Mahendra Kumar
  • 3rd Edition 1995

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  1. Laksana
  2. Murta
  3. Pudgala
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