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Microcosmology: Atom In Jain Philosophy & Modern Science: [5.6] Atomic Theory And Paramanuvada - Qualities And Modes

Published: 06.04.2008
Updated: 13.08.2008

Paramanu is eternal (nitya), indestructible (anasvara), non-transmutable (avasthita), and indivisible (avibhajya). A paramanu cannot be split or scattered or fissioned nor can it be composed or created by fusion.

When it was said that the word pudgala is derived from the properties of fission and fusion, it meant that the formation of material aggregates by the natural association of a number of paramanus is fusion and the splitting of aggregates into its components is fission. Paramanu itself, though subject to mutation, is unfissionable and maintains its individual existence permanently.

The atom of a chemical element as well as its constituents, the subatomic particles-electrons, protons, etc.,-are on the other hand, fissionable, and fusionable: radioactive elements emit alpha and other particles and lose energy by radiation. Protons and neutrons are mutually transformable by losing or acquiring a positive charge. Other elementary particles get transformed into electromagnetic waves and radiation. Thus according to the Jain view, the elementary particles are not fundamental units of matter but masses composed of infinite number of paramanus.

The totality of paramanus in universe cannot be expressed by numbers. It is infinite. Since a paramanu can neither be destroyed nor created, totality of paramanus in the universe is unchangeable. This is comparable to the 'law of conservation of matter and energy' which states that the total amount of matter and energy in the universe is constant and unchangeable. Modification of this law is mooted as a result of some very recent observations and we shall revert to this point in the succeeding paragraphs.

Earlier, we had seen that colour, taste, smell and touch, etc., are intrinsic qualities of all material objects. A paramanu being the fundamental unit of matter must also possess each of these qualities. Thus a paramanu will possess the following five qualities:

  • One (either good or bad) smell,
  • One of the five elementary colours,
  • One of the five elementary tastes,
  • Two of the four elementary sparsa viz., either hot or cold and dry or unctuous.

Thus in respect to the quality of sparsa alone there are four types of paramanus:

  1. Unctuous-cold
  2. Unctuous-hot
  3. Dry-cold
  4. Dry-hot

And with different combinations of colour, etc., we have 5x2x5x4=200 types of paramanus. Now, since the intensities of colour, taste, etc. vary from minimum one unit to maximum infinite units, there will be infinite varieties of paramanus with different intensities and combinations of colour, taste, etc. e.g. in respect to colour, there will be paramanus with one unit blackness, two units of blackness upto infinite units of blackness. The intensities of the qualities of any given paramanu is subject to increase or decrease by its mutations into different states of association and dissociation within aggregates.

  • 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. Anasvara
  2. Avasthita
  3. Nitya
  4. Paramanu
  5. Paramanus
  6. Pudgala
  7. Sparsa
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