Acharya Kanad

The Indian Sage who developed Atomic Theory 2,600 years ago


John Dalton (1766 – 1844), an English chemist and physicist, is the man credited today with the development of atomic theory.  However, a theory of atoms was actually formulated2,500 years before Dalton by an Indian sage and philosopher, known as Acharya Kanad.

Acharya Kanad was born in 600 BC in Prabhas Kshetra (near Dwaraka) in Gujarat, India. His real name was Kashyap.

Kashyap was on a pilgrimage to Prayag when he saw thousands of pilgrims litter the streets with flowers and rice grains, which they offered at the temple. Kashyap, fascinated by small particles, began collecting the grains of rice. A crowd gathered around to see the strange man collecting grains from the street. Kashyap was asked why he was collecting the grains that even a beggar wouldn’t touch. He told them that individual grains in themselves may seem worthless, but a collection of some hundred grains make up a person's meal, the collection 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. Since then, people began calling him ‘Kanad’, as ‘Kan’ in Sanskrit means ‘the smallest particle’. 

Kanad pursued his fascination with the unseen world and with conceptualising the idea of the smallest particle. He began writing down his ideas and teaching them to others.  Thus, people began calling him ‘Acharya’ (‘the teacher’), hence the name Acharya Kanad (‘the teacher of small particles’)

Kanad’s conception of Anu (the atom)

Kanad was walking with food in his hand, breaking it into small pieces when he realised that he was unable to divide the food into any further parts, it was too small. From this moment, Kanad conceptualised the idea of a particle that could not be divided any further. He called that indivisible matter Parmanu, or anu (atom).

Acharya Kanad proposed that this indivisible matter could not be sensed through any human organ or seen by the naked eye, and that an inherent urge made one Parmanu combine with another.  When two Parmanu belonging to one class of substance combined, a dwinuka (binary molecule) was the result. This dwinuka had properties similar to the two parent Parmanu.

Kanad suggested that it was the different combinations of Parmanu which produced different types of substances. He also put forward the idea that atoms could be combined in various ways to produce chemical changes in presence of other factors such as heat. He gave blackening of earthen pot and ripening of fruit as examples of this phenomenon.

Acharya Kanad founded the Vaisheshika school of philosophy where he taught his ideas about the atom and the nature of the universe. He wrote a book on his research “Vaisheshik Darshan” and became known as “The Father of Atomic theory.”

In the West, atomism emerged in the 5th century BC with the ancient Greeks Leucippus and Democritus. Whether Indian culture influenced Greek or vice versa or whether both evolved independently is a matter of dispute.

Kanad is reporting to have said: ”Every object of creation is made of atoms which in turn connect with each other to form molecules.”  His theory of the atom was abstract and enmeshed in philosophy as they were based on logic and not on personal experience or experimentation. But in the words of A.L. Basham, the veteran Australian Indologist, "they were brilliant imaginative explanations of the physical structure of the world, and in a large measure, agreed with the discoveries of modern physics."

By April Holloway


The Father of Atomic Theory: Acharya Kanad – Sanskaar Varg

Ancient India’s Contribution to Physics – United India


just a quick point -a comment is usually something like "wow,i really like your new car." what you've just wrote has more bloody words than a stephen king novel.. here's a tip-if you really want people to read what you have to offer then maybe you need to simplify and condense your material.

Hear, hear!

There was never any Aryan invasion into India. There is overwhelming evidence that the Aryan Invasion Theory (AIT) was concocted. You should refer to published materials by Dr David Frawley and Stephen Knapp, among many other scholars. Also, I wrote a book, "India: Wisdom and Achievements" in which I have enumerated and discussed the evidence to prove the elaborate concoction of the AIT by Europeans, in particular the British, who employed the German scholar who invented the AIT out of thin air. He decided on the year 1500 BC as he said, according to the Bible, the world was created in 4004 BC and that Noah's flood was in the year 2500 BC. Therefore, the invasion would have been around 1500 BC before the period when Buddha was around (approx. 6 century BC). He subsequently relented some 20 years before his death when criticised by other scholars.
The suggestion that Dravidians were the people who were involved in the ancient Indian civilisation at Harapa and Mohenjo Daro is incorrect. The people you claim to be the "Aryan invaders" from the West were always indigenous to India, and archaeological evidence have been unearthed from the 1920s to prove this. In addition, there is also a great deal of other evidence as explained in my book. In particular, mention is made about the Sarswati River in ancient Indian texts which were composed over 5,000 years ago that this river was a very powerful river, along the banks of which there were many towns and human settlements. This river ceased to exist since around 1900 BC, before the year 1500 BC when Max Mueller claimed that there was the "Aryan invasion". Recent pictures from space are now available to show the route of this river, and archaeological excavations have been carried out to map the location sites of the towns and cities along the banks of the river. An important point to note is that the name of this river could not have been mentioned in several places in the ancient Indian texts, which were wrongly claimed to have been composed by the nomadic intruders after their purported arrival in the year 1500 BC or later. I rest my case. Dr Nat Khublall

Almost all the Indian scientists who won the noble prize were of the Dravidian stock not Aryan.

You are so obsessed ......... as an Indian I felt bad and realized that you are one of those people because of whim the name of entire Greece gets spoil..... way to degrade the name of your country dude.


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