The Eighth Section

8. The Five Sense Faculties


8.0 Now for the senses of curottiram and so forth. They arise from taicata ahankaram mentioned earlier.

8.1 The faculty that apprehends the sounds that reach the ears with space as the location is curottiram.

8.2 The faculty that apprehends the touch sensations with air as the location is tuvakku.

8.3 The grasping of the visible forms of objects by the light from the eyes which come initially from burning fire is the sense faculty of catcu.

8.4 The tatva that grasps tastes with water as its location with the tongue is cingnuvai.

8.5 Using the nose grasping the various smells emanating from earth is the function of the sense faculty of akkiranam.

8.6 Since the deaf and so forth do not hear even though they have ears , it must be said that their ears do not have the sense faculty (indriya) of hearing.

8.7 As distinct from these the executive utensils such as speech and so forth (Karmendriyas) arise from vaikari ahankaram.



8.0 The sensory utensils are the sense faculties or competencies that afford the creatures perceptual experiences of various sorts. These though intimately associated with the sense organs of eyes, ears and so forth are different in being Competencies underlying the functioning of these sense organs.

The Taicata Ahankaram is the primordial tatva from which these faculties are said to arise. It is called ahankaram in view of the fact that it contributes to the generation of self-consciousness.


The Five Executive Utensils

8.8 The vakku is the capacity for uttering words with the tongue as the location.

8.9 Standing, walking, running and so forth using the legs is the capacity of Patam.

8.10 The capacity for giving, taking and so forth using the hands is Pani.

8.11 The capacity for excreting faeces and so forth using the anus is Payu.

8.12 With the genital organs as the location the capacity for producing sexual bliss is upattam.



8.9 The Karmendriyas are the executive utensils, competencies that exist in the body for effecting physical, mental and verbal acts and activities. Included in these acts are also the strictly physiological.


The Five Sense Particulars (tanmattirai)


8.13 The five different sense particulars arise from the putati ahankaram.

8.14 The sound in itself abstracted from the meanings it communicates is the sound sense-particular.

8.15 Without the specific features of heat and cold, the sound in its ordinary form, and the combination of sound and feeling is the feeling sense-particular.

8.16 Without the further qualifying colours of whiteness, blackness, redness and so forth, the visible form in itself and the combination of sound form and feeling is the visual sense-particular.

8.17 Without the specific taste of sweetness and so forth, the taste in itself and the combination of sound, feeling, form and taste is the taste sense-particular.

8.18 Without the differentiation of pleasant odour and so forth, the smell in itself and the combination of sound, feeling, form, taste and smell is smell sense-particular.


8.19 In this manner beginning from feeling sensation, there is gradual increase in the gunas perceived. Because of the collective presence of many sensations, such elements as air and so forth also have an increasing number of gunas in them.

8.20 Such sensations as sound and so forth are the subtle functions (cukkuma avattai) of the basic elements of space and so forth. It could be said the basic elements of space and so forth are generated from the sense particulars of sound and so forth.



8.13 The Tanmattirai is translated here as sense-primitive. The term means what is in itself, the absolutely primitive that underlies the sense experience. It can be related to the eidetic essences of Husserlian phenomenological reduction; the most primitive pure data of sense experience that we can arrive at through a process of bracketing off the interpretive and conceptual However it could be something different as the author includes complexes of specific sense informations.


The Five Basic Elements (putam)


8.21 Space: originates in the sound sense-particular, allows location; it is gross and pure, with elementary sounds as its form. Also it has various sounds as its guna.


8.22 Air: other than being the material cause of sound such as drum and so forth, it has no other guna. It has sounds that feel neither hot nor not-hot. It differentiates into pranan, apanan and other similar kinds of winds. It acts to bring things together.


8.23 Fire: Originates in the visual sense-particular (rupa tanmattirai); has the colour of redness, brightness and the feeling of 'hotness'. It produces also sound and is capable of melting solid objects.


8.24 Water: originates in the feeling sense-particular; it has the colour of whiteness, taste and coldness. It produces sounds of a sort (calacala), has fluidity and is capable of collecting tiny particles and turn them into hard solids.


8.25 Earth: originates in the smell sense-particular; exists with pleasant and unpleasant odours, the six types of taste of sweetness and so forth, a variety of colours such as whiteness and so forth. It is produced by the interaction of fire and sun; has a 'feel' that is neither hot nor not-hot and a loud sound (katakata captam). It is hard to feel and has the ground (tarakam) as its form.


8.26 In view of the fact that a product must issue from its own causal base, the above five basic elements do not issue from one another.


8.27 Since tatvas exists till the time of cosmic destruction (pralayam), the physical bodies and so forth (saritati) are not tatvas - they are complexes generated from the basic elements (puta vikaram).


8.28 The sixty-six tatvas from civa-tatva to pritivi tatva (Earth) can be divided into two groups - the common and uncommon. The common tatvas are gross and constitute the ground of the object realm (puvanam). The uncommon tatvas are abstract/subtle and constitute the basis of the cognitive processes of the psyches assuming different functional characteristics in different psyches.


8.29 Now the products of cuttamaya are also known as civa-tatva, cutta-tatva, cuttatva and pirera kantam. The seven tatvas of mayai and so forth are also known as vittya-tatva, icuratatva, poka kantam, miccirattuva and cuttacutta tatva. The twenty four tatvas of cittam and so forth are also called anmatatva, acutta tatva, pokkiya kantam and acuttattuva.


8.30 All the products of these tatvas can also be classified into three different types: general, unique, instrumental generally or specifically. Since the object realms are common to all, they are general. The subtle body (puriyattatekam) formed by the union of the eight tatvas of manam, buddhi and ahankaram and the five sense-particulars is unique as it constitute the unique causal body for the cognitional activities of the individual psyches. The ego has births and deaths even though united to this subtle body. The body of a female is instrumental in nature (upaya rupam) for it serves a psyche helping it to attain cognitional experiences and it also serves a male as an object of enjoyment. In this manner the instrumental or tool aspects of other objects can also be known.


8.31 Now the gross physical body without dissociating itself from the basic elements, grows in the sperm plasma (cukkilam) and ovum plasma (curonitam) of the father and mother.


8.32 This is how the physical body grows: bone, flesh, hair, skin, nail, teeth, nerves and so forth grow from the subtle pritivi; urine, blood, phlegm, sweat, sperm plasma and so forth grow from the subtle fluid stuff (appu); desires of the heart (producing heat), the pitta forms in the eyes are from the subtle fiery stuff; the winds pranan, apanan, utanan, viyanan, camanam, nakan, kurman, kirikaran, tevattan, tanancayan arise from the subtle spatial stuff. In this manner the generation of gross physical bodies from subtle elements can be understood.


8.33 The cakalar type of psyches mentioned earlier who are bound to tatvas and tatvikas that are anavam, mayai and karma, have existential states (avattai) of kevala and so forth. Each one of these have different experiential states of cakkiram and so forth. Hence there are altogether fifteen different experiential states.



8.21 Putam is derived from Tamil root puu__to arise, emerge, flower and so forth and corresponds roughly in meaning to Greek physis, that on account of which there is physical reality as such. Such terms as Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth should not be taken in the literal sense. They are in fact the primitives of the physical reality as a whole.