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A History of Indian Philosophy, Volume 1

Two atoms combine to form a binary molecule dvya@nuka

Tht Nyaya-Vais'e@sika Physics.

The four kinds of atoms are earth, water, fire, and air atoms. These have mass, number, weight, fluidity (or hardness), viscosity (or its opposite), velocity, characteristic potential colour, taste, smell, or touch, not produced by the chemical operation of heat. Akas'a (space) is absolutely inert and structure-less being only as the substratum of sound, which is supposed to travel wave-like in the manifesting medium of air. Atomic combination is only possible with the four elements. Atoms cannot exist in an uncombined condition in the creation stage; atmospheric air however consists of atoms in an uncombined state.

Two atoms combine to form a binary molecule (_dvya@nuka_). Two, three, four, or five dvya@nukas form themselves into grosser molecules of trya@nuka, catura@nuka, etc. [Footnote ref 2]. Though this was the generally current view, there was also another view as has been pointed out by Dr B.N. Seal in his _Positive Sciences of the Ancient Hindus_, that the "atoms have also an inherent tendency to unite," and that


[Footnote 1: See Jayanta's _Nyayamanjari,_ pp. 190-204, and Udayana's _Kusumanjali_ with _Prakas'a_ and _Is'varanumana_ of Raghunatha.]

[Footnote 2: _Kadacit tribhirarabhyate iti trya@nukamityucyate,

kadacit caturbhirarabhyate kadacit pancabhiriti yathe@s@ta@m kalpana. Nyayakandali_, p. 32.]


they do so in twos, threes, or fours, "either by the atoms falling into groups of threes, fours, etc., directly, or by the successive addition of one atom to each preceding aggregate [Footnote ref l]." Of course the atoms are regarded as possessed of an incessant vibratory motion. It must however be noted in this connection that behind this physical explanation of the union of atoms there is the ad@r@s@ta, the will of Is'vara, which gives the direction of all such unions in harmony with the principle of a "moral government of the universe," so that only such things are produced as can be arranged for the due disposal of the effects of karma. "An elementary substance thus produced by primary atomic combination may however suffer qualitative changes under the influence of heat (_pakajotpatti_)" The impact of heat corpuscles decomposes a dvya@nuka into the atoms and transforms the characters of the atoms determining them all in the same way. The heat particles continuing to impinge reunite the atoms so transformed to form binary or other molecules in different orders or arrangements, which account for the specific characters or qualities finally produced. The Vais'e@sika holds that there is first a disintegration into simple atoms, then change of atomic qualities, and then the final re-combination, under the influence of heat. This doctrine is called the doctrine of _pilupaka_ (heating of atoms). Nyaya on the other hand thinks that no disintegration into atoms is necessary for change of qualities, but it is the molecules which assume new characters under the influence of heat. Heat thus according to Nyaya directly affects the characters of the molecules and changes their qualities without effecting a change in the atoms. Nyaya holds that the heat-corpuscles penetrate into the porous body of the object and thereby produce the change of colour. The object as a whole is not disintegrated into atoms and then reconstituted again, for such a procedure is never experienced by observation. This is called the doctrine of _pi@tharapaka_ (heating of molecules). This is one of the few points of difference between the later Nyaya and Vais'e@sika systems [Footnote ref 2].

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