maitreya’s atomism

The bhagavata purANa preserves the 5 anuShTubhs composed by glAva maitreya, the udgAtA of the kurus, when he was asked about the atomic doctrine by vidura vaichitravIrya. It contains a clear exposition of the atomic doctrine. It is interesting that these openly vaisheShika mantras are preserved along side the more theistic formulation of typical of the sAMkhya associated with pA~ncharatra. It may also suggest the source for the elements of atomism in vaiShNava tantras like the lakShmI tantraM.

maitreyovAcha :
caramaH sad-visheShANAm aneko .asaMyutaH sadA |
paramANuH sa viGYeyo nR^iNAm aikya bhramo yataH || 3.11.1

maitreyaH | uvAcha |
charamaH | sat | visheShANAm | anekaH | asaMyutaH | sadA | parama-aNuH | saH |
viGYeyaH | nR^iNAm | aikya | bhramaH | yataH

maitreya said:
The ultimate reality is know to be made of numerous particles, which are always elemental, called paramANu and it is an error of men to consider it seen [existance] as continuous

sata eva padArthasya svarUpAvasthitasya yat |
kaivalyaM parama-mahAn avisheSho nirantaraH | |3.11.2

sataH | eva | pada-arthasya | svarUpa| avasthitasya | yat | kaivalyam | parama | mahAn | avisheShaH | nirantaraH |

These particles indeed comprise all substances, but retain their structure, even if the substance transforms, these are the eternally unchanging, original, supreme, indivisible [existence].

evaM kAlo .apy anumitaH saukShmye sthaulye ca sattama |
saMsthAna-bhuktyA bhagavAn avyakto vyakta-bhug vibhuH || 3.11.3

evam | kAlaH | api | anumitaH | saukShmye | sthaulye | ca | sattama | saMsthAna | bhuktyA | bhagavAn | avyaktaH | vyakta-bhuk | vibhuH

O great [vidura], in the same way time also has its discrete divisions, which comprise its gross form and this can be measured by the movement and combination of particles; viShNu is that which is unmanifest, existing in movement and in potential.

sa kAlaH paramANur vai yo bhu~nkte paramANutAm |
sato .avisheSha-bhug yas tu sa kAlaH paramo mahAn || 3.11.4

saH | kAlaH | parama-aNuH | vai | yaH | bhu~nkte | parama-aNutAm | sataH | avisheSha-bhuk | yaH | tu | saH | kAlaH | paramaH | mahAn

Those discrete units of time, which are verily further indivisible, correspond to the time required by a paramANu to cover the space equivalent to a paramANu; this is verily the primal, supreme time.

aNur dvau paramANU syAt trasareNus trayaH smRtaH |
jAlArka-rashmy-avagataH kham evAnupatan agAt || 3.11.5

aNuH | dvau | parama-aNu | syAt | trasareNuH | trayaH | smRtaH | jAla | arka | rashmi | avagataH | kham | eva | anupatan | agAt

Two paramANus are combine to form an aNu, and 3 aNus combine to form a trasareNu*; the rays of light emerging from a mesh can make these [trasareNus] move up in empty space.

*This idea follows the nyAya pattern of akshapAda as opposed to that provided by kaNAda.

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