Ancient Indians, by proof of evidence and documents have been proven to be evolved in all walks of life. Whether it be in the field of medicine, astronomy, mathematics and even chemistry, sages already had solutions to most of the “scientific discoveries” made later. How they found answers to problems that confront scientists even today, we do not know. But there are some interesting people with interesting stories of what they found and left behind!
Kanada, an Indian sage and philosopher, who lived during the 6th century BC, had contributed much to the field of Chemistry. He had founded Vaisheshika School, a school of philosophy which often contributed to developing scientific ideas and existence of life. It is this elementary question that Kanada researched upon and found an answer to- the substance of matter.
The Truth About Matter
What is matter made up of? Ancient Indians had this belief that, essentially all beings are made up of 5 elements in varying proportions- fire, earth, water, sky and wind. This is the foundation stone of the principle in Hinduism – “what comes from the earth goes back to it”. Kanada however wanted to delve deep into the matter.
On years of pondering he explained that matter can be divided and subdivided to reach a point where further division becomes impossible. That idea is fairly strong, given the basic logic behind it. The great sage then called this indivisible element matter- Paramanu. According to earliest forms of languages used in India, “anu” means small particle, so “paramanu” means something acutely minute. This paramanu is what the modern scientists call atom.
Kanada did not leave his observations there. He said that these particles have an inherent urge to combine with each other. When two atoms collide to form what is a binary molecule, he named it-dwyanuka. This was the basis of the sage’s research, from where he went on to discover different chemical reactions.
It is indeed fascinating to note that, in the era where no form of microscope or magnifying glasses existed, Sage Kanada had an accurate idea of what particles and chemicals compounds where and how they functioned. It is on his basic groundwork that many future generations based their foundlings upon. Remarkable indeed how progressive our past generations was !