From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Paramāmi literally means ‘atom’.

Generally, all the six systems of philosophy known as the Saḍ-darśanas, propound their own theories of creation of this world. The Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika systems put forward the theory that the physical world is evolved out of a gradual combination of the paramāṇus of the four basic elements:

  1. Pṛthvī - earth
  2. Ap - water
  3. Tejas - fire
  4. Vāyu - air
  5. Ākāśa - ether
  6. Jīvas - individual souls

It is in accordance with their karma by īśvara or God. When an element like the earth or water is broken into smaller parts, the smallest ultimate particle beyond which further division is impossible, is called ‘paramāṇu’. Only the first four elements can be in the form of paramāṇus or atoms.


  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore