From atomic theory to astronomical treatise, from mathematics to medicine, ancient Indians have given world the knowledge that far surpasses the intellect of western scientists and learned men. And yet for long, the West has always tried to take credit for everything. They even came up with the Myth of Aryan Invasion that supposedly shaped the Indian culture. All the western people did for millennial is just belittle the grandeur or Indian culture, calling it a country of hermits and sages who were capable of nothing but philosophical blabbering.
The truth however is that when the rest of the world was roaming around in caves, making wall murals out of dried flower dyes, the Indian culture built strong empires, unlocked the mysteries of universe and played around with medicine. Let’s not beat around the bush and head straight for the topic – the Atomic Theory.
For centuries we have been taught in schools that the Atomic Theory was first introduced by John Dalton. But that’s not really true. Almost every Indian in this world (whether he or she lives in India or abroad) knows the term ‘Paramanu’. This was a term coined by an ancient Indian sage who became popular by the name Acharya Kanad.
That wasn’t his real name. His real name was Acharya Kashyap who was born c. 600 BCE. Acharya Kanad, who was a philosopher and a sage didn’t coin the term Paramanu out of philosophical or whimsical thoughts. He, in fact, came up with the entire Atomic Theory nearly 2,400 years ahead of John Dalton (1766-1844).
Kashyap Becomes Acharya Kanad
The chain of events that led to the incredible theory of Paramanu by Acharya Kanad is pretty interesting. Kashyap, who was born in Prabhas Kshetra (close to Dwarka in modern day Gujarat) once went to Prayag for pilgrimage. That’s where he noticed that pilgrims from various parts of India littered the roads with rice grains and flowers. These rice grains and flowers were from the Pragay temple.
The littered rice immediately caught Kashyap’s attention and he was fascinated by the small grains. He started picking up the rice grains one by one. His act was unusual and caught attention of the surrounding people who asked the reason why he was picking the grains that not even the beggars bother pick up.
To this question, Kashyap came up with a very interesting answer. He said, ‘While a single grain is really worthless, approximately a hundred of these grains will make a decent meal for one person. In same way, several of these meals will nicely feed an entire family because several people make up a family. Eventually, the entire mankind on this planet is made up of many families. So, a single rice grain is no less in value than the gold or other riches of this world‘.
It was a surprising theory for people and they started calling Kashyap as Kanad, a name derived from the Sanskrit word, Kan, which in English translates into ‘the smallest particle’.
Kashyap was so fascinated by his theory and the world that could be conceptualized using the smallest particle that he eventually started writing about his theory and ideas. Not just that, he also started teaching people about the same, which is why people started calling him Acharya Kanad which means, the teacher of small particles.
Indian sage Acharya Kanad gave the Atomic Theory 2,600 years ago but unfortunately the credit is give to English chemist John Dalton.