The Greek philosopher Democritus (460–370 BCE) may not have been the
first to propound atomism.
Debate has played an important role within Hinduism, showing that
spiritual commitment was not inconsistent with philosophical
inquiry. Hinduism has little time for armchair philosophy, and
demands high standards of personal integrity. If a scholar lost a
debate, he would often become the student-disciple of the victor.
This painting shows a debate between the bhakti revivalist,
Chaitanya, and a famous religious leader of the day.The scholar was
defeated, and became one of Chaitanya's leading followers.
Vaisheshika, another orthodox school, was founded by Kanada (circa
600 BCE). In much the same way as the Greeks, he describes the
elements, their characteristics and their interrelations. He mentions
atoms and molecules and infers the existence of the atman
through specific symptoms. Despite a philosophical approach, he
stresses dharma as a means to both prosperity and liberation,
and prescribes many traditional practices such as fasting, celibacy,
and service to the guru.
Kanada states that since all material objects are constructed from
atoms, they are products rather than causes, and the causes are the
irreducible particles themselves. He introduces the principle of
adrishta, an unknown invisible cause. Although Kanada's
philosophy is non-theistic, later doctrines built upon the notion of
adrishta to propose God as the remote cause of everything: it
is God who orchestrates the dynamic interrelations between the