Paramanu, aka: Paramāṇu, Parama-anu; 12 Definition(s)


Paramanu means something in Buddhism, Pali, Hinduism, Sanskrit, Jainism, Prakrit, Marathi. If you want to know the exact meaning, history, etymology or English translation of this term then check out the descriptions on this page. Add your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary article.

In Hinduism

Ayurveda (science of life)

Paramāṇu (परमाणु):—Caraka has explained that the body parts can be divided and re-divided into innumerable individual components called ‘Paramāṇus’. These are innumerable because of their huge number, highly minute structure a nd limited perceptive ability of sense organs (Carakasaṃhitā Śārirasthāna 7.17). This statement indicates that there existed a concept of minute and numerous individual living units in the body. Today we call such microscopic units by the name ‘Cell’.

(Source): Cogprints: Concepts of Human Physiology in Ayurveda
Ayurveda book cover
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Āyurveda (आयुर्वेद, ayurveda) is a branch of Indian science dealing with medicine, herbalism, taxology, anatomy, surgery, alchemy and related topics. Traditional practice of Āyurveda in ancient India dates back to at least the first millenium BC. Literature is commonly written in Sanskrit using various poetic metres.

Vastushastra (architecture)

Paramāṇu (द्रोणी, “atom”) is the Sanskrit name for a unit of measurement, used in Vāstuśāstra literature, according to the Mānasāra II.40-53. A single Paramāṇu unit corresponds to the smalles unit possible. It takes 8 Paramāṇu units to make a single Rathadhūli unit.

Below follows a table of the different units of measurement in relation to one another:

  • 8 Paramāṇu = 1 Rathadhūli, chariot-dust
  • 8 Rathadhūli = 1 Vālāgra, hair-end
  • 8 Vālāgra = 1 Likṣā, nit,
  • 8 Likṣā = 1 Yūka, louse
  • 8 Yūka = 1 Yava, barley-corn,
  • 8 Yava = 1 Aṅgula, digit (finger-breadth),
  • 12 Aṅgula = 1 Vitasti, span,
  • 2 Vitasti (24 aṅgulas) = 1 Kiṣku, cubit,
  • 4 Dhanurmuṣṭi (26 aṅgulas) = 1 Daṇḍa, rod,
  • 8 Daṇḍa = 1 Rajju, rope

The smallest unit, which is paramāṇu, atom is stated ta be perceived (only) by the sages. For all practical purposes, aṅgula is the smallest unit of measurement. For this reason, it is seen to be treated in a special way in the text with regards to its universality that significantly downplays its semantic reference to the body.

(Source): Wisdom Library: Vāstu-śāstra
Vastushastra book cover
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Vastushastra (वास्तुशास्त्र, vāstuśāstra) refers to the ancient Indian science (shastra) of architecture (vastu), dealing with topics such architecture, sculpture, town-building, fort building and various other constructions. Vastu also deals with the philosophy of the architectural relation with the cosmic universe.

Vyakarana (Sanskrit grammar)

Paramāṇu (परमाणु).—A time-unit equal to one-half of the unit called अणु (aṇu), which forms one-half of the unit called मात्रा (mātrā) which is required for the purpose of the utterance of a consonant; cf. परमाणु अर्धाणुमात्रा (paramāṇu ardhāṇumātrā) V. Pr.I.61. परमाणु (paramāṇu), in short, is the duration of very infinitesimal time equal to the pause between two individual continuous sounds. The interval between the utterances of two consecutive consonants is given to be equivalent to one Paramanu; cf. वर्णान्तरं परमाणु (varṇāntaraṃ paramāṇu) R.T.34.

(Source): Wikisource: A dictionary of Sanskrit grammar
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Vyakarana (व्याकरण, vyākaraṇa) refers to Sanskrit grammar and represents one of the six additional sciences (vedanga) to be studied along with the Vedas. Vyakarana concerns itself with the rules of Sanskrit grammar and linguistic analysis in order to establish the correct context of words and sentences.


Paramāṇu (परमाणु).—See under Trasareṇu.

(Source): Puranic Encyclopaedia
Purana book cover
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The Purana (पुराण, purāṇas) refers to Sanskrit literature preserving ancient India’s vast cultural history, including historical legends, religious ceremonies, various arts and sciences. The eighteen mahapuranas total over 400,000 shlokas (metrical couplets) and date to at least several centuries BCE.

In Buddhism

Mahayana (major branch of Buddhism)

Paramāṇu (परमाणु, “atom”).—The Buddhas and dharmakāya Bodhisattvas who are able to number the atoms (paramāṇu) that arise and cease in the whole of Jambudvīpa, according to Mahāprajñāpāramitāśāstra (chapter XIV).

(Source): Wisdom Library: Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra
Mahayana book cover
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Mahayana (महायान, mahāyāna) is a major branch of Buddhism focusing on the path of a Bodhisattva (spiritual aspirants/ enlightened beings). Extant literature is vast and primarely composed in the Sanskrit language. There are many sūtras of which some of the earliest are the various Prajñāpāramitā sūtras.

In Jainism

General definition (in Jainism)

Atom; The smallest (indivisible) particle or unit of matter substance which can not be further divided is called an atom (paramanu).

An atom (paramanu) has also one spatial unit. Even then how is it called an astikaya?

Although an atom (paramanu) has only one spatial unit, even then it has the power of attaining manifoldness of spatial units (pradeshas) by becoming a molecule. It is, therefore, conventionally called an astikaya.

(Source): Atma Dharma: Principles of Jainism

Paramāṇu (परमाणु, “sub-atom”).—What is meant by sub-atom (paramāṇu)? The smallest indivisible part of matter (pudagala) is called paramāṇu.

(Source): Encyclopedia of Jainism: Tattvartha Sutra 1

Paramāṇu (परमाणु) refers to “sub-atom” according to the 2nd-century Tattvārthasūtra 5.1.—The sub-atom (paramāṇu), being without space-points or with one space point, is included as existent body (astikāya). As sub-atom (paramāṇu) has dry and oily attributes and hence has potential to be with many space-points, it is included as existent body.

Paramāṇu (“sub-atom”) refers to one of the two types of matter (pudgala) according to the 2nd-century Tattvārthasūtra 5.5.—What is the meaning of a sub-atom (paramāṇu)? The smallest indivisible part with one space point is its volume is called sub-atom. What are the beginning, middle and end of a sub-atom? A sub-atom is so minute that it is the beginning, middle and end of itself. What are the characteristics of a sub-atom? The peculiarities of an sub-atom is its round shape, two touches, one taste, one smell and one colour and cognized by its activity only.

According to Tattvārthasūtra 5.27, “the sub-atom (is produced only) by division (fission)”. A sub-atom (paramāṇu) can be created by fission (bheda) only. What is the difference between an āṇu and paramāṇu in Jain philosophy? Literally there are same but philosophically we can say it is similar to sub-atom and its smallest constituent (quark identified till now).

(Source): Encyclopedia of Jainism: Tattvartha Sutra 5: The category of the non-living
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Jainism is an Indian religion of Dharma whose doctrine revolves around harmlessness (ahimsa) towards every living being. The two major branches (Digambara and Svetambara) of Jainism stimulate self-control (or, shramana, ‘self-reliance’) and spiritual development through a path of peace for the soul to progess to the ultimate goal.

Languages of India and abroad

Pali-English dictionary

paramāṇu : (m.) the 36th part of an aṇu.

(Source): BuddhaSasana: Concise Pali-English Dictionary
Pali book cover
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Pali is the language of the Tipiṭaka, which is the sacred canon of Theravāda Buddhism and contains much of the Buddha’s speech. Closeley related to Sanskrit, both languages are used interchangeably between religions.

Marathi-English dictionary

paramāṇu (परमाणु).—m (S) An atom, the invisible base of all aggregate bodies. Thirty are supposed to form a mote in a sunbeam. This is the lowest measure of weight. See aṇu.

(Source): DDSA: The Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary

paramāṇū (परमाणू).—m An atom.

(Source): DDSA: The Aryabhusan school dictionary, Marathi-English
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Marathi is an Indo-European language having over 70 million native speakers people in (predominantly) Maharashtra India. Marathi, like many other Indo-Aryan languages, evolved from early forms of Prakrit, which itself is a subset of Sanskrit, one of the most ancient languages of the world.

Sanskrit-English dictionary

Paramāṇu (परमाणु).—an infinitesimal particle, an atom; सिकतात्वादपि परां प्रपेदे पर- माणुताम् (sikatātvādapi parāṃ prapede para- māṇutām) R.15.22; परगुणपरमाणून् पर्वतीकृत्य नित्यम् (paraguṇaparamāṇūn parvatīkṛtya nityam) Bh.2.78; पृथ्वी नित्या परमाणुरूपा (pṛthvī nityā paramāṇurūpā) T. S; (a paramāṇu is thus defined:-- jālāntarasthasūryāṃśau yat sūkṣmaṃ dṛśyate rajaḥ | bhāgastasya ca ṣaṣṭho yaḥ paramāṇuḥ sa ucyate || Tarka K., or less accurately:-jālā- ntaragate raśmau yat sūkṣmaṃ dṛśyate rajaḥ | tasya triṃśattamo bhāgaḥ paramāṇuḥ sa ucyate ||) °अङ्गकः (aṅgakaḥ) an epithet of Viṣṇu.

Derivable forms: paramāṇuḥ (परमाणुः).

Paramāṇu is a Sanskrit compound consisting of the terms parama and aṇu (अणु).

(Source): DDSA: The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary
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Sanskrit, also spelled संस्कृतम् (saṃskṛtam), is an ancient language of India commonly seen as the grandmother of the Indo-European language family. Closely allied with Prakrit and Pali, Sanskrit is more exhaustive in both grammar and terms and has the most extensive collection of literature in the world, greatly surpassing its sister-languages Greek and Latin.

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