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Pitharapakavada – Heating of Molecules

As per Hindu philosophy, Pitharapakavada is the heating of molecules. According to Hindu philosophers, matter is divided into five kinds – prithvi (earth), ap (water), agni (fire), vayu (air) and akasha (ether), each of which consists of anus (atoms). While the atoms of ether remain as such, the atoms of the other four forms of matter combine together to form molecular units of dvyanuka (two atoms), traynuka (three atoms), caturanuka (four atoms) and so on. Atoms and molecules also have a tendency to unite to form substances of innumerable kinds as found in the world, each differing from one another in the matter of smell, taste, heat and touch, which are the basic qualities of the four primary elements. The atoms are also supposed to possess an incessant vibratory motion, which gives them the tendency to combine together to form molecules of the same element or with the atoms of other elements.

According to the Nyaya and Vaiseshika schools, a substance produced by the combination of atoms or molecules may undergo qualitative changes under the influence of paka (heat) or other energies. These qualitative changes can be of any kind, in color, smell, density and any other of physical qualities. The most common example cited in this regard is the brown clay pot turning red when placed in the fire of a furnace. It is held that the energy of the heat particles which impinge on the corpuscles of the clay pot is capable of disintegrating the molecules into atoms. It is also held that the atoms so decomposed can integrate themselves into another substance possessing different qualities, here, the red color of the roasted pot.

The Vaiseshika School of thought holds that in the above cited case of the brown, wet clay pot turning red in the furnace, there is first a disintegration of the pot-matter into simple atoms under the influence of heat, and that subsequently the same atoms integrate themselves to form the red roasted pot with a new quality, being its color. This is called pilupaka or heating of atoms. The Vyaya School of philosophy, on the other hand, holds that the change occurs at the molecular stage itself of the pot, i.e., heat transforms the wet pot into the roasted pot directly. This view is called Pitharapakavada, or “heating of molecules.”