• Metaphysics & Mysticism

    • Initiated knowledge more than scientific (in modern terms); how the theories of Acharya Kanad are still astounding us with their precision and beauty.

    A wise man from India came up with the atomic theory almost 2,000 years before our era / 

    For thousands of years Western philosophy remained an indivisible mass of knowledge, which was differentiated but related; in this sense, for example, pre-Socratic philosophers worked within realms of knowledge that would eventually become specialized modern sciences: mathematics, physics, chemistry, in the same manner that ethics and aesthetics were for centuries one and the same —a single and indivisible— branch of human experience.

    During the eighteenth century, John Dalton perfected the atomic theory which ancient philosophers like Leucippus and Democritus developed around the fifth century A.C. However, it was actually a Hindu mystic, a holy man named Acharya Kanad, who wrote the first texts concerning the indivisibility of matter, as well as the existence of a microscopic universe that escapes the human senses, but, which can be experienced with an open consciousness.

    Kanad was born in Prabhas Kshetra, a small village near Gujarat, India, in the year 600 B.C. During one of his pilgrimages he found the leftovers from the rice and flower offerings that believers place at the doors of a temple spread on the streets. Kanad (whose real name was Kashyap) was fascinated by the individual particles of rice, which as a whole —conceptualized by believers as garbage— was made with unities that were always smaller than the whole— but he also realized that the whole would be impossible if it weren’t for each of the individual particles of the rice.

    In Hindu idiosyncrasy, the rice that is used in offerings is the cheapest kind —which even beggars refuse to eat. Nonetheless, when the givers asked Kashyap why he was gathering thousands of grains, the wise man answered that each individual grain on its own might seem insignificant, but together, a pile of those individual grains could feed a person and many piles could feed several families, and even humankind: humankind is after all many families and individuals, just like grains of rice.

    From that moment onwards, Kashyap began to be called “Kanad” (from the Sanskrit Kan, which means, “the smallest particle”), and he began to spread his ideas among the erring disciples that followed him, and who additionally called him Charya, master. So, Archaya Kanad means: The Master of Small Particles.

    In his texts, Kanad defends the existence of Anu (atom). The idea emerged when he tried to divide a single grain of rice into smaller particles. He realized that there comes a point when you can’t divide a grain further; however, even if the grain becomes powder, Kanad knew by intuition that each grain was also made of smaller units (Anu), which are imperceptible to the senses. When two or more Anu belonging to same category are joined, the result would be dw inuka (binary molecule), which could continue to join other Anu to form larger bodies. Considering that when Kanad lived, the microscope had not yet been invented, his discoveries were guided solely by reason and deductive logic distilled from experience.

    Kanad founded the Vaisheshika school of thought to spread his ideas on the atom and matter; it is precisely due to the Vaisheshika Darshan text that he later became known as the father of atomic theory. Even when Hindu sources and their inclusion in Greek philosophy are still being discussed by scholars who have not reached a final verdict, Kanad’s contribution to science and the philosophy of his era is unquestionable.

    Kanad once said: “Every object of creation is made of atoms which in turn connect with each other to form molecules.” In the words of A.L. Basham, Kanad’s theories “were brilliant imaginative explanations of the physical structure of the world, and in a large measure, agreed with the discoveries of modern physics."

    Tagged: Metaphysics & Mysticism, atom, science, Acharya Kanad