(ORDO NEWS) — Although John Dalton, an English chemist and physicist, is today credited with developing atomic theory in the early 19th century, the theory of atoms was formulated 2,500 years before Dalton by the Indian sage and philosopher known as Acharya Kanada.
Acharya Canada was born in 600 B.C. at Prabhas Ksetra (near Dvaraka) in Gujarat, India. His real name was Kashyap.
Kashyap was on a pilgrimage to Prayag when he saw thousands of pilgrims strewn the streets with flowers and rice grains that they offered at the temple.
Kashyap, fascinated by the small particles, began to pick up the rice grains scattered on the ground. While he was doing this, a crowd gathered to watch the strange man picking grains from the street.
An Indian sage was asked why he collects grains that even a beggar will not touch. He replied that individual grains in themselves may seem worthless, but the collection of several hundred grains constitutes the food of man.
He further explained that collecting many dishes can feed an entire family, and ultimately the whole of humanity is made up of many families. Thus, he explained, even one grain of rice is no less important than all the precious riches of this world.
Since then, people began to call it Canada, since Kan in Sanskrit means “the smallest particle.” Canada continued his fascination with the invisible world and the conceptualization of the idea of the smallest particle.
He began to write down his ideas and teach them to others. Thus, people began to call him Acharya (meaning “teacher”), which explains the name Acharya Kanada, meaning “teacher of small particles.”
Canada walked with food in his hand, breaking it into small pieces, when he realized that he could not divide the food into any more parts, it was too small.
From that moment on, Canada was struck by the idea of a particle that cannot be divided into parts. He called this indivisible matter Parmanu, or anu (atom).
Acharya Kanada suggested that this indivisible matter cannot be felt by any human organ or seen with the naked eye, and that an innate drive causes one parmana to join with another.
When two Karmanu, belonging to the same class of substances, were combined, a dvanuka (binary molecule) was obtained. This dvanuka has properties similar to the two parent Pockets.
Canada suggested that it was Karmanu’s different combinations that led to the formation of different types of substances.
He also put forward the idea that atoms could be combined in various ways to produce chemical changes in the presence of other factors such as heat. As an example of this phenomenon, he cited the blackening of a clay pot and the ripening of fruit.
Acharya Kanada founded the Vaisheshika (“Darshan”) philosophical school, where he taught his ideas about the atom and the nature of the universe. He wrote a book about his research called “Vaisheshika Darshan” and became known as the “Father of Atomic Theory”.
However, S. K. Arun Murthi wrote in The Wire that the equivalence of Canada’s anu doctrine with modern atomic theory of science is “outrageous and Vaisheshik Darshan does not deserve the merit of science.” Instead, he emphasizes that this doctrine belongs firmly to the category of metaphysics.
The Vaisesika school claimed that there are seven categories in the universe: Dravyam (matter), Guna (quality), Karma (action), Samanya (general appearance), Vishesha (unique feature), Samavaya (an integral part of the whole) and Abhava (non-existence).
Meanwhile, dravyam (matter) was further subdivided into nine categories: Prithvi (Earth), Jala (Water), Teja (Light), Vaayu (Gas), Aakaasa (Ether), Dika (Direction/Spatial Dimension), Kaala (Time) , Maanas (Mind) and Atma (Soul).
In the West, atomism arose in the 5th century BC. among the ancient Greeks Leucippus and Democritus, although their philosophy is not considered “scientific”. Whether Indian culture influenced them, or vice versa, or whether both of these philosophies developed independently of each other is a moot point.
John Dalton (1766-1844) is the founding father of atomic theory, and his theory is “the first scientific theory of atoms” based on empirical evidence.
Although the concepts he used to create his theory were actually based on the work of other scientists, he combined them into a theory that was measurable and verifiable. His conclusions were drawn through analysis and experimentation.
“Every piece of creation is made up of atoms, which in turn combine with each other to form molecules,” Canada said. His theory of the atom was abstract and philosophical, as it was a speculative thesis based on logic rather than personal experience or experimentation.
However, his theories “were brilliantly pictorial explanations of the physical structure of the world and were in great agreement with the discoveries of modern physics,” argued A. L. Basham, a veteran Australian Indologist.
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