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7. Acharya Kanada

7. Acharya Kanada

Modern science credits the atomic theory to an English chemist and physicist named John Dalton (1766-1844). However, not many people are aware that a theory of atoms was formulated approximately 2500 years before Dalton by an Indian sage and philosopher named Acharya Kanada.  

Acharya Kanada, originally known by the name of Kashyap, is believed to have been born either around 600 BC or 800 BC in Prabhas Kshetra near Dwaraka in present day Gujarat, India.  He was the son of a philosopher named Ulka.




It was Kanada who first realized the idea that “anu” (atom) was an indestructible particle of matter. 

around him and started wondering why he was acting in such a strange manner. 

He used these ideas with the concept of Atman (soul, Self) to develop a means to moksha. If viewed from the prism of physics, his ideas imply a clear role for the observer as independent of the system being studied.

The school founded by Kanada explains the creation and existence of the universe by proposing an atomistic theory, applying logic and realism, and is one of the earliest known systematic realist ontology in human history.

His primary area of study was Rasavādam, considered to be a type of alchemy. He is said to have believed that all living beings are composed of five elements: water, fire, earth, air, ether. Vegetables have only water, insects have water and fire, birds have water, fire, earth and air, and Humans...

Adherents of this philosophy further held that atoms of same substance combined with each other to produce dvyanuka (bi-atomic molecules) and tryanuka (tri-atomic molecules). This devinuka has the properties similar to those of the two original paramanu. Kanada also put forward the idea that atom...

Accordingly, the universe is the interplay of seven aspects or states of material things, namely:

Multiple Hindu texts dated to the 1st and 2nd century CE, such as the Mahavibhasa and Jnanaprasthana from the Kushan Empire, quote and comment on Kanada's doctrines.His ideas are also mentioned in Buddhist texts attributed to Aśvaghoṣa of the same period.

He called this indivisible matter, “anu” which literally means atom. He founded the Vaisheshika School of philosophy where he taught his ideas and the nature of the universe.  He authored the text “Vaisesika Sutras” or Aphorisms, pioneering theatomic t...

Kashyap displayed a keen sense of detail since childhood and minute things attracted his attention.As a young boy, he once accompanied his father on a pilgrimage to Prayaga. He noticed that thousands of pilgrims in the town were littering its roads with flowers and grains of rice which they offer...

  1. Prithvi (Earth)
  2. Jala (Water)
  3. Teja (Light)
  4. Vaayu (Gas)
  5. Aakaasa (Ether)
  6. Dika (Direction / space dimension)
  7. Kaala (Time)
  8. Maanas (Mind)
  9. Atma (Soul)

Kanada was influential in Indian philosophies, and he appears in various texts by alternate names such as Kashyapa, Uluka, Kananda, Kanabhuk among others.

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