Here is a book which shows through reproduction of excerpts from treatises by various scholars and historians that India, along with China, was at one stage the most civilised nation. He quotes W. Brennand to justify his statement: ?No nation in existence can afford to compare to latter [India] in many tenets of science, with its earliest theories and cosmography, without a smile at the expense of ancestors, but the Hindus, in this view, may, with not a little justifiable pride, point to their science of astronomy, arithmetic, algebra, geometry and even of trignometry, as containing within them evidence of a traditional civilisation compared formally with that of any other nation in the world.?
Brennand had said in his book Hindu Astronomy that Chinese religion resembled that of the Indian Vedas and like the Hindus, they had the same days of the week. The moon and five planets were looked upon as the appointed rulers in successive order at par with their respective names. They had the same divisions of the ecliptic?12 parts or signs of Zodiac to divide a year into 12 months with the sun moving through the successive signs during successive months. Brennand had also said, ?Another division of the ecliptic was into 28 parts to form the extent of the same number of constellations or asterisms?spaces to allow to make a daily round in its monthly course round the heavens. These are called Nacshatras in the Indian astronomy designated as Sieu in the Chinese. It was the diligent use which the Hindu astronomers made of these Nacshatras, in the progress of their astronomy, that gave them the superiority were all other ancient nations.?
With the discovery of several bronze articles from Mohenjo-daro, it is believed that the West learnt metallurgy and steel-making from India, which used bronze in its most intricate form not later than the Indus Valley civilisation. Bronze axe-adaze, very fine and about 10 inches long with a hole through the middle of the head, capable of holding a handle, is the first socketed implement to be found in Mohenjo-daro. A bronze figure of a dancing girl is a very fine example of the Indus Valley civilisation. Pear-shaped furnaces were also unearthed at Mohenjo-daro. Traces of a kiln, measuring 4 ft, 8 metres in diameter and a rough column in the centre, which probably suggested a roof, was also found here.
The author says that India was about a millennium earlier than China in the use of iron, i.e. 1400 BC. The iron pillar in Delhi supports this theory of advanced technology in ancient India. According to Sayyed Ahmed Khan, an Indian historian, the pillar, 8 metres tall and weighing 7 tonnes and hundred per cent pure, was made by Raja Mahadev in 896 BC. A maximum temperature of 1527?C is required to melt pure iron. Undesirable elements like corrosion must be removed and the process of doing so is so difficult that it is doubtful if modern science is capable of it. Yet the Indians knew it 2,000 years ago. There is no other example of such an iron column in the world.
India knew about steel as told by Ctesias who has said that swords made of Indian steel were presented to Alexander by Malli and Oxadracae in 325 BC. ?Indian steel had such a dazzling brightness that it reflected an image clearly as a looking glass.? Even Colonel Yule quoted Ramusio stating that ?Ondanique or Humdwaniy, i.e. Indian steel was of superior value and excellence. In the days of yore, a man who possessed a mirror or swords of Ondanique regarded it as he would have some precious jewel.?
Even in surgery India was ahead of other nations. Rigveda mentions the use of an artificial limb as a substitute for a limb accidentally lost. The Mahabharata mentions that when Parikshit, the king of the Kurus, became certain of his approaching death by snake-bite due to a curse uttered by a sage, he tried to protect himself by the constant attendance of a number of physicians, who were well-supplied with antidotes. The Hindus also believed that the surgeon'sknife was not always necessary and suggested the use of poultices, cauteries and other external applications. Sushruta, the surgeon, had remarked that ?of all cutting instruments and their substitutes caustics (or vegetable alkalis) are the most important, because by means of them, deep and superficial incisions and scarfications may be made, and derangement of the three humours (air, bile and phlegm) may be rectified?, adding that ?with regard to surgical treatment, actual cautery is said to be superior to caustics, inasmuch as diseases treated with actual cautery do not reappear, and because it can cure diseases which are incurable by medicines, instruments and caustics.?
The author then goes on to explain how Europe learnt medicine from India, as also the rocket and missile technology, the concept of uran khatola or aeroplanes, textiles, shipbuilding, etc. He concludes by saying that today the Western world finds itself at the crossroads and is desperately looking for a new philosophy ?to get rid of the ecological crisis which threatens man'sexistence on earth.? He suggests that Nature must be treated as a person and ?to acquire such a capacity, we must have a recourse to Indian philosophy which terms such a ?commodity? culture or materialism as something demonic.? He suggests that since the world community has come to be dominated by the struggle for economic power, ?instead of common existence, power has become supreme?. What power means is conquest and ?all conquest is destructive?.
(Paramesh Choudhury, 9 Antonybagan Lane, Kolkata-700 009.)