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Microcosmology: Atom In Jain Philosophy & Modern Science: [3.3.3] A Critique - Pudgala : General Properties - Kriya: Matter Is Energy

Published: 14.03.2008
Updated: 13.08.2008

Kriya is characterised by motion [1]. Oscillation and vibrations are inherent attributes of matter and that is why pudgala is dynamic. Actually all types of motion come under kriya, but motion is only one type of kriya. Fission and fusion are also kriya. In fact, transformation of energy of any kinds is kriya and thus kriyavan means capable of exerting forces and producing energy.

Because matter is inherently active, Galileo, Newton and Einstein were able to describe and explain many mysteries of the universe by formulating laws of mechanics. Motion of matter evolved a mechanical universe of forces, pressures, tensions, oscillations, and waves. Two fundamental forces exerted by matter are gravitation and electromagnetism. Save for gravitation, nearly all other forces in the material universe - frictional forces, chemical forces which hold atoms together in molecules, cohesive forces which bind particles of matter, elastic forces which cause bodies to maintain their shape are of electromagnetic origin, for all these involve the interplay of matter which is composed of electrical particles.

To describe the mechanics of dynamic, material universe, three parameters are necessary:

  1. distance in space,
  2. time and
  3. mass.[2]

In classical physics the mass of any body is fixed and unchanging property. But Einstein established the relativity of mass, asserting that the mass of a moving body increases with its velocity according to the following equation:

mo = the mass of a body at rest,
m = its mass when moving,
v = the velocity of the body,
c = the velocity of light,

It can be readily seen that if v is small, the difference between mo and m is practically zero. But when v approaches the value of c, then the increase of mass becomes very great, reaching infinity, when the velocity of the moving body reaches the velocity of light.

By further deduction of this principle of relativity of mass, Einstein concluded that energy has mass and disclosed a fundamental truth about physical reality viz., matter and energy are not different elements as pictured by pre-relativity scientists - the former inert, tangible and characterised by a property called mass and the latter active, invisible and without mass. He established that mass is simply concentrated energy. In other words, matter is energy and energy is matter.

He expresses the interchange ability of matter and energy by the most famous equation in history: E-mc2. The mass/energy dualism of our ordinary conceptualisation does not exist in the formalism of relativity or quantum theory.

Einstein's equation E-mc2 means that mass is energy and energy is mass. Therefore, strictly speaking, mass is not a particular form of energy. Every form of energy is mass. Mass does not change into energy or vice versa. Wherever energy, E is present, mass m is present also and the amount of mass m is given by E-mc2. The total amount of energy, E, is conserved and hence, the total amount of mass, m, is also conserved. This mass, m, is defined by the fact that it is a source of the gravitational field. It explains how radioactive substances are able to eject particles at enormous velocities for millions of years. It reveals the magnitude of energy that slumbers in the nuclei of atoms. Translated in concrete values, it shows that one kg of coal, if converted entirely into energy, would yield 25 billion kilowatt-hours of electrical energy. Inter-changeability of matter and energy explains the dual role of the electron as a unit of matter and a unit of electricity and the baffling interplay of matter and radiation, waves and particles become more understandable.

The inter-changeability of matter and energy established by modern science is analogous with the Jain concepts of paryaya parinama, kriya etc., being inherent attributes of pudgalastikaya The energy of electromagnetic radiations and the particles ejected from radioactive substances are but two different paryayas of the same attribute viz., kriyavatva. We shall have occasion to examine this point again while dealing with the nature of paramanu a little later.

Finally, we come to the processes of Bandha (fusion) and Bheda (fission) which are the basis for the nomenclature of matter viz., pudgala. These processes are, according to Jain views (as we have seen)[3] inherent properties of the material universe. Paramanu, being indivisible, is, of course, not fissionable but all other categories of matter undergo both these processes.

Modern science, also, (as we have seen)[4] accepts that fission and fusion are essential whenever energy is released, whether it is the chemical energy from coal or the atomic energy from nuclei of uranium or deuterium. Again, the process of spontaneous decay of the atoms, consisting of emission of alpha particles is not restricted to the so-called radio-active elements; all elements heavier than silver (which, as we know, occupies the central position in the atomic table) are subject to the process of decay but the process is very very slow. Release of enormous atomic energy through the fission process of uranium nuclei and fusion process of the (heavy) hydrogen nuclei is already described in the previous chapter.

[1] Parispandana-laksana kriya - Pravacanasara Pradlpika Vrtti, 2-37.
[2] Mass is not heaviness or weight but denotes a fundamental property of matter, namely resistance to a change of motion.
[3] Chapter II, pp.
[4] Chaper I, pp.

  • 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. Bandha
  2. Bheda
  3. Body
  4. Einstein
  5. Kriya
  6. Newton
  7. Paramanu
  8. Parinama
  9. Paryaya
  10. Pudgala
  11. Pudgalastikaya
  12. Quantum Theory
  13. Science
  14. Space
  15. Vrtti
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