Physics in Ancient India4: Passing by that was Muni Somasharma a learned Sage. He wondered why the crowd had gathered time when everybody should have been at the bathing ghats for the morning’s ritual bath. After going near he saw for himself reason and heard the derogatory remarks being made about the young Kashyapa. Muni Somasharma knew who Kashyapa was, he silenced the crowd and said that, knew who the boy was.

Somasharma was also curious to know the reason for Kashyapa’s strange behavior. Hence, he asked him why he was counting discarded grains which even a beggar would not care to collect. Somewhat hurt at the question, Kashyapa replied that howsoever minuscule an object might be; it nevertheless was a part of the universe.

Physics in Ancient India4

Individual grains in themselves may seem worthless. But a collection of some hundred grains made up a person’s meal. This collection of many meals would feed an entire family and ultimately the entire mankind was made of many families. Thus even a single grain of rice was as important as all the valuable riches in this world.

This reply of the young Kashyapa deeply impressed Muni Somasharma who said that one-day Kashyapa would grow into a celebrated philosopher. He further also said that in recognition of Kayshapa’s unusual sense of perceiving minuscule objects he would henceforth be Kanada. Kanada was derived from the word Kana which meant a grain.

Physics in Ancient India4

This was how Kashyapa came to acquire the Kanada. Kanada was made immortal in the history of Indian science due to his path-breaking conception of atom and relativity. He propounded the Vaisheshika-Sutra or Peculiarity Aphorisms.

These Sutras were a blend of science and philosophy. Their subject was the atomic theory of matter. On reading these Sutras we find that Kanada’s atomic theory was far more advanced than their Greek counterparts. These Greek philosophers were Democritus and Leucippus.


It was Kanada who first propounded that the Parmanu (atom) was an indestructible particle of matter. According to the material, the universe is made up of Kana. When matter is divided and subdivided, we reach a stage beyond which no division is possible. This indivisible element of matter is Parmanu.

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Concept of Atoms was actually formulated by Acharya Kanada

Kanada explained that this indivisible, indestructible y cannot be sensed through any human organ. There are different types of Parmanu for the five Pancha Mahabhootas, Earth, water, fire, air and ether. Each Parmanu has a peculiar property which depends.

This property depended on the substance to which it belongs. It was because of this conception of the peculiarity of Parmanu (atoms) that this theory undid by Kanada came to be known Vaisheshika-Sutra (Peculiarity Aphorisms). In this context, Kanada seems to arrive at conclusions which were surpassed only many centuries after him.

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