THE TATTVAS


 

The first two of the Tattvas deal with the nature and enumeration of the eternal realities, elements or substances of nature, and the remaining five with the interaction between two of these substances, namely, soul, or spirit, and matter. There are six simple substances in existence, namely, Spirit, Matter, Time, Space, Dharma and Adharma. Of theses spirit or soul-substance, called Jiva in Jainism, is to be distinguished from the remaining five, called Ajiva, on account of the quality of intelligence with which it is endowed and of which the other substances are devoid. A substance is to be distinguished from a body or thing, in as much as the former is a simple element or reality while the latter is a compound of one or more substances or atoms. There may be a partial or total destruction of a body or thing, but no substance can ever be annihilated. Substance is the substrate of qualities which cannot exist apart it, for instance the quality of fluidity, moisture, and the like only exist in water and cannot be conceived separately from it. It is neither possible to create nor to destroy a substance, which means that there never was a time when the existing substances were not, nor shall they ever cease to be. From another point of view substance is the subject of modifications. Every substance has its characteristic function, as for instance the special function of Jiva is to know. Every substance is either atomic, that is composed of atoms, or is only one, indivisible expanse of existence. Dharma, Adharma and Space have no parts in their structure, that is to say are non-atomic, while Jiva, Matter and Time consist of an infinite number of individuals, atoms and units respectively. There is an infinity of Jivas (souls) each of which is an individual in its own self, and possesses the potentiality of perfect or right faith, unlimited knowledge, infinite happiness and absolute power. Its nature is freedom which, when obtained, becomes the source of its great joy. In its modifications, it is the subject of knowledge and enjoyment, or suffering, in varying degree, according to its circumstances. The soul is not possessed of sensible qualities, and cannot be perceived with the senses. It has no permanent form of its own till it attains nirvana, when its form becomes fixed once for all and for ever. Like a semi-fluid jelly, it assumes the form of the body in which it might happen to be in soul for the time being.

 

Matter is a non-intelligent substance consisting of an infinity of particles or atoms, which are eternal. These atoms are possessed of sensible qualities, namely, taste, smell, color, and sparse* , (*Sparse means touch which is of eight kinds) , and sound also arises from their agitation in certain forms. Atoms form the material basis of all kinds of physical bodies from the most sukshma (subtle) to the grossest. They also combine with the soul when they obstruct its natural properties, thereby holding it in bondage.

 

Time is the cause of continuity and succession. It is of two kinds, Nishchay and Vyavahar. The former of these is a substance, which makes simple units revolve on themselves, thus giving rise to the idea of progress or change in the same place, that is continuity; but the latter in only the measure of duration, and depends on the succession of regularly recurring events of a universal type.

 

Dharma and Adharma are the two substances, which are helpful in the motion and stationary states of things respectively, the former enabling them to move from place to place and the latter to come to rest from the condition of motion.

 

Space is the substance which finds room for all other substances and things.

 

Four of these substances, namely, Time, Space, Dharma and Adharma, though necessary for the world-process, play no important part in the scheme of spiritual evolution. We shall, therefore, pass on to a consideration of the nature of the interaction between spirit and matter, without stopping to describe the remaining substances any further.