Sage Kanada was a famous philosopher and scientist from ancient Indian times. He was known by many names like Kashyapa, Kannada and Uluka. He was the founder of the Indian philosophy school named “Vaisheshika”. This school did the work of representing early Indian physics as well. Kanada was known to have lived from the 6th to 2nd century BCE. People have very limited information about his life and day to day lifestyle.
“Vaisheshika” aimed at educating and enlightening people about aspects like the creation of the universe and the existence of it using terms like logic, realism and atomic theory. The traditional name of the philosopher ”Kanada” comes from the term which means “atom eater”. It is only right to believe that this name has to do with his profession and his field of study. He is popular for developing the base and foundation of an outlook based on atoms in subjects like Philosophy and Physics. These texts were prominently in the Sanskrit language. Along with Vaisheshika Sutra, the texts written by Kanada are also known as Kanada Sutras or composition of short phrases that express a truth in a very clever way.
Sage Kanada in his texts suggests that everything can be divided further but the divisions can’t keep happening just like that. There has to be a limit to how much an element can be divided in total. The smallest elements named Parmanu cannot be divided further. They claim to be eternal. These complex substances and bodies have a distinctive identity. These Parmanus, when mixed with heat, become the basis of all kinds of material existence. Kanada, with his brilliant wit and bright intelligence, developed the approach and means to attain moksha for the human soul using these very studies and observances.
Kanada Rishi was born in Gujarat and he was fondly called the “Father of Atomic Theory” in the latter stages of his life. Kanada speaks about 6 padarthas (properties/elements) that are known. He bases them to be the foundation of the universe and that these six properties can explain anything in the universe. “Dravya” meaning substance, “Guna” meaning quality, “Samanya” meaning generic species, “Samavaya” meaning inherence, “Karman” meaning motion, and “Vishesh” meaning a unique quality These properties/elements are further divided into sub-types. They are atomic, non-atomic and pervasive in nature.
The Dravya element is further divided into nine elements which are “Prithvi” (Earth), “Teja” (Light), “Jala” (Water), “Vaayu” (Air), “Disha” (Direction), “Kaal” (Time), “Manasa” (Mind), “Atma” (Soul) and “Aakasa” (Ether). This gives us a great understanding of his deep research, his ideology and his thought process. This also is a mirror to his intellect and brilliance. He is considered as the “Sad-Uluka” in Jain literature as he created the basis of 6 elements that form an answer to all the questions in the universe.
Sage Kanada’s expert fields are Meta-Physics and Ethics Physics. He has been the inspiration for not only people in similar fields but also people in the medical field like Charaka. Charaka’s “Charaka Samhita” was created after studying Kanada’s work carefully.