Microcosmology: Atom In Jain Philosophy & Modern Science: [3.2.3] A Critique - Pudgala : Attributes - B) Characteristic Qualities : Touch (Sparsa)

Published: 27.02.2008
Updated: 13.08.2008

The quality of touch (sparsa) is also of great importance. It should be carefully noted that besides the four touch given above which are inherent in all states of pudgala there are four additional touch viz. light, heavy, hard and soft which are acquired by certain types of composite bodies.

The four additional touch are formed by combination of four basic touch as follows:

  1. The negative charge (i.e. ruksa) is associated with lightness.
  2. The positive charge (i.e. snigdha) is associated with heaviness.
  3. Combination of cold sparsa and positive charge results in production of soft sparsa.
  4. Combination of hot sparsa and negative charge results in production of hard sparsa.[Bhag. Joda: 18/6/117; Jiva-ajiva, p. 76]

Thus, there are two classes of material objects

  1. those possessing four touch i.e., catuhsparsi
  2. those possessing eight touch i.e., astasparsi.

Out of the eight varganas (categories) of pudgala, which interact with the psychical existence, the last four are chatuhsparsi while the first four are astasparsi. [Out of the last four categories, the category of svasocchawas is considered to be astasparsi by some acaryas.]
The eight touch which can be grouped into four pairs refer to the following four physical properties of modern science:

  1. Hot, cold correspond to temperature.
  2. Dry, gluey correspond to positive and negative electrical charges.
  3. Light, heavy correspond to mass (density).
  4. Hard, soft correspond to measure of hardness.

1. Temperature (Hot, Cold)

The first pair hot (usna) and cold (sita) refers to the physical property of temperature, which is the measurement of heat level. The range of temperature existing in nature is very wide.[The highest temperature is found in stars, which is estimated to be nearly, 40 million degree Celsius, by Eddington. The lowest temperature, on the other hand, cannot be less than minus 270 degree C. which is called absolute zero, according to modem science.]

2. Electric Charge (Dry, Gluey)

The qualities of dryness and glueyness refer to the physical property of electric charge. The qualities play an important part in the formation of aggregates (skandha) [We shall discuss this in greater detail while discussing the qualities of paramanu], just as positive and negative electric charges of subatomic particles play important role in the formation of atoms and molecules.

3. Mass or Density (Light, Heavy)

The third pair-light (laghu) and heavy (guru) refers to the physical property of mass or density. According to the Jain concept, this pair is acquired by astasparsi aggregates only, and therefore, the catuhsparsi aggregates are devoid of mass. They are agurulaghu i.e. neither heavy, nor light. When compared with the modern particle physics, it can be said that all catuhsparsi aggregates are in the form of energy and their entire mass is in their motion.

4. Measure of Hardness (Hard, Soft)

Hardness (kathoratvd) and softness (mrdutvd) or roughness and smoothness indicate the condition of the surface of the object to the sense-organ of touch.

In science, the relative hardness of material objects is mined empirically by scratching. Thus, steel is harder than copper and diamond is harder than steel.
Smoothness/roughness of the surface of the body fundamentally depends upon the arrangement of the crystals in surface.

Chatuhsparsi aggregates are devoid of this pair like mass.

  • 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. Acaryas
  2. Agurulaghu
  3. Body
  4. Eddington
  5. Guru
  6. Pudgala
  7. Ruksa
  8. Science
  9. Skandha
  10. Snigdha
  11. Sparsa
  12. Varganas
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