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Microcosmology: Atom In Jain Philosophy & Modern Science: [4.4] Classification (4) Intellect (Buddhi)

Published: 20.03.2008
Updated: 13.08.2008

Intellect (Buddhi)

It will not be out of place to mention here (very briefly of course) an interesting feature of the Jain epistemology viz., four buddhis or intellects. Intellect is a variety of matijnana i.e. perceptual cognition. There are four categories of matijnana viz., knowledge

  1. exclusively due to the sense-organs
  2. exclusively due to the mind
  3. due to the joint activity of the senses and the mind and
  4. knowledge independent of both mind and sense-organs viz., instinctive intuition.

According to the Jain epistemology, all cognitions are nothing but different states of soul and as such are only cases of emergence and not origination proper, the senses and the mind being auxiliary conditions or instruments only. Instinctive intuitions of the plant kingdom as well as the underdeveloped animal organisms fall under category (iv). Memory, recognition and discursive thoughts are cases of matijnana under (ii) and (iii). Sensuous cognition of the fivefold sense-data -touch, taste, etc., are instances of (i).

Buddhi or intellect falls under category (ii) inasmuch as, it is a purely mental perception. It is a special gift of nature and independent of the previous education of the perceivers. Fourfold intellects are:

  1. Autpatiki buddhi means immediate comprehension. It is defined as the intellect which comprehends the true nature of a previously unknown complicated problem and successfully solves it It is by a flash of genius that the solution of a difficult and strange problem dawns upon the mind.
  2. Vainayiki buddhi means intellect born of humility and service. It is defined as the intellect, which is capable of completing a difficult task, and is born of humility and faithful service (and not learning).
  3. Karmiki or Karmaja buddhi means intellect acquired by practice. It is defined as intellect, which comprehends the truth due to breadth of vision of both the practical and the theoretical sides of actions. Such an intellect is the result of extraordinary development of talent through practical experience rather than theoretical learning e.g. valuation of diamonds and other precious stones.
  4. Parinamiki buddhi means mature intellect. It is defined as the intellect which attains its goal through reasoning, deduction, inference and analogy, developed with the maturity of age.

It can be easily seen that all these intellects are founded on mental faculties. Could flash of genius, humility, reasoning, etc., be constituted and produced by physiological changes alone?
Let us return to the material stuff called manah vargana, which is fit for the purpose of forming dravya manah. Admittedly none of the current theories of psychology conceive the necessity of fine material particles (or are they radiations of extremely short wave-length?) for the process of thinking and other mental activities.
Many scientists, however, see drastic changes on the horizon. There would have to be some revolutionary paradigm to explain telepathy, psychokinesis and precognition. At-least one serious physicist, Gerald Finberg of Columbia University, thinks that psychic transmissions may one day be linked to yet undiscovered elementary particles which may be called mindons or psychons [1]. If modern scientific instruments became really successful in detecting such particles, they could be equivalent to the group of matter called manah vargana by Jains. But since, such matter is devoid of mass, it is extremely unlikely to be found in its original form.

[1] Time (Weekly).

  • 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. Buddhi
  2. Dravya
  3. Manah
  4. Matijnana
  5. Soul
  6. Vargana
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