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Microcosmology: Atom In Jain Philosophy & Modern Science: [5.11] Atomic Theory And Paramanuvada - Motion Of Paramanu

Published: 13.04.2008
Updated: 13.08.2008

Mechanics and mathematics of paramanu as discussed in the Bhagavati Sutra2 shows that the activities and movements of paramanu are both complex, inexplicable and unpredictable. It is particularly emphasized that there is an element of uncertainty in the activities of the paramanu. We have already discussed at length the dynamic nature and various types of motion of paramanu. The alternate periods of rest and motion to a certain extent agrees with quantum mechanics.

Difference in the kinds of motions of a paramanu are shown by different terms such as eyati, veyati, etc. Some of these terrns indicate simple vibratory motion, whereas some others denote simple migratory motion. While still others indicate complex mixture of vibrations, oscillation, emission, absorption, spin and wave-propagation in space. By the word 'so on' it is understood that besides these, there are many other kinds of motion also. It is extremely difficult to interpret each of these terms into modern scientific terminology. We shall, however, attempt to do so in a general way with the assistance of the available commentaries on this Sutra.


Simple vibrations

Paramanu sometimes merely vibrates.


simple motion

It sometimes migrates, i.e., it goes from one space-point to another.


Complex motion

It sometimes vibrates and migrates simultaneously.


Complex vibration

It sometimes vibrates and spins simultaneously.



It sometimes oscillates.



It sometimes collides with other pudgala.


Forceful penetration

It sometimes penetrates forcefully into other pudgala, and so on. i.e. it is emitted, absorbed etc. Over and above the above-mentioned motion, revolutionary motion or standing wave in a space-point are possibilities. It probably means linear motion accompanied with vibratory motion or state of vibration with changing frequency.

Linear motion of a paramanu means moving about from one space-point to another. This motion or change of motion may take place under the influence of outside forces exerted by another paramanu or an aggregate or it may be spontaneous. Jiva, however, can never exert any influence on the motion of a paramanu.

While discussing the movements of a paramanu as described in the Bhagavati Sutra, we had mentioned that while in some respects movements (gati) of a paramanu follow definite rules, in many other respects they are indeterminate and uncertain.

 Now we have seen, Principle of Uncertainty is also a scientific dictum enunciated by an eminent physicist Werner Heisenberg in 1927. At that time, quantum physics had defined with great accuracy the mathematical relationships governing the basic units of radiation and matter. But it had failed to reveal the true nature of either.

Werner Heisenberg and other eminent physicists declared that there is an element of caprice in atomic behaviour which stems from the very nature of matter and cannot be blamed on man's coarse-grained implements. They added further that there is an element of indeterminacy about the events of the atomic universe, which cannot be dispelled by the refinement of measurements, and hence, it is futile to hope that invention of more delicate tools may enable us to penetrate further into the microcosm.

A physicist can give an accurate account of electron behaviour so long as he is dealing with great numbers of them collectively, but he cannot locate an individual electron in space in respect of its position and momentum (velocity x mass). The Principle of Uncertainty asserts that it is impossible to determine the position and velocity of an individual electron at the same time, because by the very act of observing its position, its velocity is changed - and conversely, the more accurately its velocity is determined, the more indefinite its position becomes.

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

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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Bhagavati Sutra
  2. Gati
  3. Heisenberg
  4. Jiva
  5. Paramanu
  6. Pudgala
  7. Quantum Mechanics
  8. Quantum Physics
  9. Space
  10. Sutra
  11. Werner Heisenberg
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