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Pudgala – Matter In Jainsim

In Jainism, Pudgala denotes ‘matter’ or ‘material objects’in general. Matter possesses color, flavor, odor and touch. Sound is considered not as a quality but as a mode of it. Matter is not created but is indestructible and real. It is real, independent of the perceiving mind. The basic character of pudgala (in Jain religion) is ‘that which can be experienced by the five senses.’

The second definition of pudgala denotes the dynamic conception of reality. The definition is derived from the etymology of the compound word pudgala (pud combination and gala disassociation). The ultimate constituent of matter is anu (the atom). The atoms are all of the same kind yet they can give rise to an indefinite variety of things. Even the four elements – earth, water, fire and air are divisible and have a structure. By developing the respective characteristics of odor and flavor, the atoms become differentiated and thus the material world is divided, though the atoms are not different from one another qualitatively. Therefore, matter has two forms, atomic (made up of one or one type of atoms) and skandha (compound). The process of combination of atoms gives rise to the skandha (molecules). All perceivable objects are skandhas. It is the combination of atoms that is responsible for the different types of objects with varying qualities.

Matter is extremely subtle form and beyond sense perception constitutes karma, which by its influx into the jiva brings on samsara (bondage). From the atomic theory, it is clear that the Jaina view of reality is identity and change. To suffer change, and yet endure, is the privilege of existence. The paryayas (changes or modes), which come into being, persist for at least one instant and then disappear. The change is due to the different modes of combination of atoms. Underlying all the changing modes is the identity of the ultimate constituents, the atoms. Thus, in atoms, we find the identity element combining to form skandhas (compounds) and in the division and addition of atoms, we find the elements of change.