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


All your above info has been debunked long back, what u said everything is false, it is written by racist euro centric white historians, u are not at all aware of the Indian civilization, Indian civilization started 20,000 yrs ago, Indus Valley is their 6th civilization which was 15,000 yrs ahead of its time, they had already excelled in the fields of Medicine, Physics. Maths, Economics , Navigation at that time when the rest of the world including Greece was still under stone age, Nalanda and Takshashila universities in India were the first international universities in the whole world, Navigation and Maths started in India long back around 500,000 yr ago, Writing started around 600,000 yrs ago, there are many excavations in India which date their civilization to 600,000 to 700,000 yrs old, at that time they already knew about, Meta physics, Quantum Physics when the rest of the world was still under stone age, recent research has proved that both Mahabharata and Ramayana took place in reality, Ramayana took place 28,000 yrs ago, Indians are the real pioneers of Everything. No one else. Alexander never invaded India, Raja Porus of Alexander literally mauled Alexander, Real history has been manipulated and distorted by racist Euro Centric Writers and historians, Greece and India only had trade relations, India influenced most of the Greek Philosophy, Greek Maths, Science everything, India is the cradle of civilization and Mother of Everyone

Yes I do agree that ancient swastika existed all over europe and Europe was Hindu/Pagan before. But the sad part is that Europe got christianised and rest of the world too. Only India is the one which maintained ancient civilization being Hindu/pagan still. But it is true that India did do a lot of things first maybe not everything cause at that time before 7000 BC, HInduism, pagan practices was followed all over the world. It was part of one big civilization. Lord Krishna was known as Hercules in Southern Europe and Thor was Lord Indra.

Funny, how you are guilty of the sin that you accuse Indians of - Self Praise and boasting. ! Even the Great Alexander was happy to learn from the Indian Ascetic Nagarjuna.

Yes, yes everything was discovered by the Greeks ! Talk about pomposity !!

All too frequently we have failed to give credit to ancient people for their hard work and discoveries. Practically all we have has already been discovered elsewhere!


Register to become part of our active community, get updates, receive a monthly newsletter, and enjoy the benefits and rewards of our member point system OR just post your comment below as a Guest.

Next article