est. 6th century BCE or est. 8th century BCE|
Prabhas Kshetra (near Dwaraka) in present-day Gujarat, India
|Hindu sage and philosopher|
Kanada (Sanskrit: कणाद) was a Hindu sage and philosopher who founded the philosophical school of Vaisheshika and authored the text Vaisheshika Sutra. He probably lived around the 2nd century BCE, while other sources claim he lived in the 6th Century BCE. It is believed that he was born in Prabhas Kshetra (near Dwaraka) in Gujarat, India.
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, Aether (classical element). Vegetables have only water, insects have water and fire, birds have water, fire, earth and air, and Humans, the top of the creation, have ether—the sense of discrimination (time, space, mind) are one.
The concept of anu (atom)
It was Kanada who originated the idea that anu (atom) was an indestructible particle of matter. An interesting story states that this theory occurred to him while he was walking with food in his hand. As he nibbled at the food in his hand, throwing away the small particles, it occurred to him that he could not divide the food into further parts and thus the idea of a matter which cannot be divided further came into existence. He called that indivisible matter anu, i.e. molecule, which was misinterpreted as atom. He also stated that anu can have two states — Absolute rest and a State of motion.
Adherents of the school of philosophy founded by Kanada, considered the atom to be indestructible, and hence eternal. They believed atoms to be minute objects invisible to the naked eye which come into being and vanish in an instant. Vaiseshikas further held that atoms of same substance combined with each other to produce dvyanuka (Diatomic molecules) and tryanuka (triatomic molecules). Kanada 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.
This Indian conception of the atom was developed independently and possibly prior (depending on which dates one accepts for the life of Kanada) to the development of the idea in the Greco-Roman world. Indian theories about the atom are abstract and enmeshed in philosophy as they were based on logic and not on personal experience or experimentation. Thus the Indian theories lacked an empirical base, 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.”
According to author Dilip M. Salwi, "if Kanada’s sutras are analysed, one would find that his atomic theory was far more advanced than those forwarded later by the Greek philosophers, Leucippus and Democritus."
- Kapoor, Subodh. The Indian Encyclopaedia, Volume 1. Cosmo Publications. P. 5643. ISBN 8177552570.
- Full Text at archive.org of "The Vaisesika sutras of Kanada. Translated by Nandalal Sinha", https://archive.org/stream/thevaiasesikasut00kanauoft/thevaiasesikasut00kanauoft_djvu.txt
- Oliver Leaman, Key Concepts in Eastern Philosophy. Routledge, 1999, page 269.
- Anu and Parmanu—Indian ideas about Atomic physics, http://www.newsinder.org/site/more/anu_and_parmanu_indian_ideas_about_atomic_physics/
- "Kanada," Dilip M. Salwi, http://www.4to40.com/legends/index.asp?p=Kanada&k=kanada
- Bal Ram Singh (2003). "Use of Chemistry to Understand Vedic Knowledge" (PDF). Center for Indic studies, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. Retrieved 29 May 2013.
- Roopa Narayan. "Space, Time and Anu in Vaisheshika" (PDF). Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, USA. Retrieved 29 May 2013.
- Anu and Parmanu—Indian ideas about Atomic physics, http://www.newsfinder.org/site/more/anu_and_parmanu_indian_ideas_about_atomic_physics/
- Early Atomism - Resonance magazine,Oct 2010
- The Development of the Concept of Atoms and Molecules - Resonance magazine, Dec 2011
- Scientists of India by Dilip M. Salwi - Children's Book Trust - ISBN 9798170113187, 2007