The Muslim and the British invaders hammered home the message in the Indian mind that their religion, language, literature, culture and philosophy were superior to that of India and everything Indian was inferior and useless. To a great extent they succeeded too. It instilled in us an inferiority complex in whatever was Indian. Our winning freedom was just a moral victory over the English but it failed to be a real victory over our slavish sense of inferiority in ourselves. Yet, regrettably, it failed to instil in our minds a sense of self-pride.
The worst was the field of science. It was repeatedly said that the sun of scientific knowledge rose in the West from where we got the first rays through a reflection. But with his scholarly exposition, in his latest book, India'sGlorious Scientific Tradition, the Sah Sarkaryavah of RSS Shri Suresh Soni has smashed the myth that ?the first rays of science broke out in the West and thus started the wheel of development throughout the world?. He regrets that this ?unawareness of the fact that we had a scientific tradition and a scientific point of view, resulted in the lack of faith that we could have a role in today'sworld?.
The main reason seems to be that the treasure of knowledge (included science) of India lay in our Vedas, Upnishads, Smritis, shrutis, shlokas, classics Ramayana, Mahabharata and other literature. These were made to appear as if these contained only Hindu philosophy and ideology. These classics had no tag of science. In fact, scientific knowledge formed the very part and parcel of our philosophy and dharma trove. All this knowledge, for our invader-rulers, was only religious and, therefore, for them detestable. They never tried to study. They never believed it. For them it was only heresy, imaginary and unbelievable. They only tried to impose their piece of knowledge, their literature and that philosophy. Those who got education under the system of education introduced by aliens in non-Hindu stream of thought got swayed by the alien thought and became their vocal champions.
Shri Soni has highlighted the fact that in the beginning of 20th century, many scholars, like Acharya Prafulla Chandra Rai, Brajendra Nath Seel, Jagdish Chandra Basu, Rao Saheb Vaze, to name only a few, had proved that from the earliest times of civilisation not only in religious philosophies, even in science and technology India was second to none.
In ancient India the quest for knowledge was unending, unfettered. In India no Bruno had to be burnt alive and no John Kepler had to die for not apologising to Pope for his scientific discovery which the latter did not approve. Here in India Charvak said those who created the Vedas were hypocrites, cunning and evil was never maltreated, yet he was not persecuted but was accorded the status of a philosopher.
The writer has detailed the scientific knowledge and acumen through presentation of information in different chapters of the book devoted to Indian Concept of Science, Electrical and Mechanical Science, Metallurgy, Aeronautics, Measurement of Time, Astronomy, Architecture, Chemistry, Botany, Zoology and others.
Scientific tradition, according to the writer, is not something new; it is as old as the Indian civilisation itself. Sage Bhrigu mentions ten shastras?agriculture, hydrology, mining, shipping, charioteering, rocket science, Weshm Shastra (house, buildings etc.), Praakar Shaastra, town planning and mechanical engineering, etc.
Metallurgy formed part of Ayurveda and ancient Indian physicians like Charak, Sushruta and Nagarjuna have described in detail how to prepare medicines from gold, silver, copper, iron, mica, mercy, etc. Qutab Minar is another example of India'sexcellence in metallurgy. Al Baruni makes a mention of it in 11th century. Qutab Minar was ?made in the 4th century?it is also called the Garuda pillar. It was brought to Delhi in 1050 by Anang Pal, the founder of Delhi?.
Sage Bharadwaj had authored Yantra Sarvaswa one part of which deals with aeronautical science (Vaimanik Shastra). He mentions six aeronautics scholars before him, defines a plane and speaks of 32 secrets to fly a plane and mentions four kinds of energy sources needed to fly an aeroplane. Sage Shaunaka divides the airways in five different ways while Dhundinath speaks of the different whirlpools on the heights of various paths and then gives an indication of hundreds of paths on each of those heights. Viman Shastra speaks of 31 kinds of machines and their specific places in the plane.
Referring to the strength of India'sflourishing economy, Shri Soni quotes Samuel Huntington'sbook, The Clash of Civilisations, that in 1750 ?India'sproduction was 24.5 per cent, while Europe'swas 18.2 per cent and that of the Soviet Union was 5 per cent in the world. He quotes the President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam that the British admitted that rockets used by Tipu Sultan were the first ones to be used in war in the world against the British army.
Cotton plant, cotton fibres, thread made of it and the cloth were all new to the British. Hence, they used to say that Indians were very clever. They grow the wool on plants that ought to be on the sheep and weave cloth with it. Traders from abroad started ordering cotton cloth from India, especially the mulmul from Bengal. The British destroyed this cottage industry and cut off the thumbs that made such fine cloth.
He says electrical science is very ancient in India and quotes Agastya Samhita which states: Take an earthen pot, place of copper sheet, and put the shikhigreeva in it. Then, smear it with west sawdust, mercury and zinc. Then, if you join the wires, it will give rise to Mitravarunashakti?. In Samarangan Sutradhar?it is stated: ?The mass and momentum of flowing water current is used in hydraulic machines or turbines for the generation of power?.
The writer quotes Agastya Samhita to highlight India'sadvancement in electricity generation and electroplating. Sage Kanaad'sVaisheshik Darshan holds mirror to India'sancient mechanical science. During Chalukyas reign India had a self-operational system of draining water from a tank.
Indian Navy'smotto reads: Sham No Varunah, meaning ?Lord of the water be compassionate or kind to us?. Information on manufacturing of ships can be found in Brihat Samhita, written by Varahmihir in 5th century and Yukti Kalpataru by Raja Bhoj in 11th century. A foreign traveler named Nicolo Conti who visited India in 15th century writes, ?The Indian ships are much bigger than our ships?. In the early 19th century Dr. Taylor writes, ?When the Indian ships laden with Indian goods reached the port of London, it created such a panic amongst the British traders as would not have been created, had they seen the enemy fleet of ships on the River Thames, ready for attack?.
According to famous archeologist Padmashri Dr Vishnu Shridhar Wakankar, Vasco da Gama had not discovered India but he came following a Gujarati navigator Chandan from near Zanzibar in Africa.
In India, Mathematics is as old as the Vedas. A Yajush jyotisham shloka says ?just as the crest of the peacock and the gem of the cobra stays right at the top, similarly mathematics is established right at the topmost position in the Vedas and the shastras.? We have two kinds of thinkers?iti, the one who said something about completeness and neti who said something about the zero. In his book The Foundation and Process of Mathematics, Prof. G. P. Halstand says, ?The significance or importance of the discovery of zero can never be explained. Giving not just a name but authority, in fact, power to ?nothing?, is the characteristic of the Hindu community, whose invention, it is?. Decimal system too is India'scontribution.
The oldest European book on mathematics Coda Vigilanus kept in Museum at Madrid (Spain) says: ?From the signs of counting (numerals), we experience that the ancient Hindus had very sharp brains and that the other countries were much behind them in counting and in geometry and others sciences?.
Algebra and Geometry had their origin in India. Bodhayan had described 1000 years earlier what Pythagoras stated later and came to be known as Pythagoras Theorem. Based on Bodhayan Theorem the principles of trigonometry have naturally been given in the Shulbhasootra
Shankaracharya Bharati Krishna Teerth of Puri discovered a new mathematical process, called ?Mathematics Without Tears?. He also called it Vedic Mathematics. This was unbelievable for European mathematicians. When the Shankaracharya gave a live demonstration, Prof. Nicholas of England called it ?magic and not mere mathematics?. When asked to explain, Teerathji said, until you do not know it is magic; when you get to know it, it is mathematics. Vedic Mathematics has now come to be taught for competitive examinations.
In the science of measurement of time too, India was much far ahead of all others. The famous astronomer Bally of Europe says, ?According to the planetary calculations of the Hindus, the present age, that is Kaliyug, started 3,102 years ago on the 20th of February at 2 hours 27 minutes and 30 seconds. As such, these calculations were made even to the second. The Hindus further say that all the planets were under the same zodiac sign at the time of Kaliyug and their tables also say so.?
In his book, Cosmos, famous Cosmologist of Europe, Carl Segan, said, ?The Hinduism is the only one which is dedicated to the belief that a particular sequence of the creation and destruction of the universe is going on and this is the only religion which has made calculations from the ordinary day and night to Brahma'sday and night of 8 arab 64 crore years which, by coincidence, is close to the modern astronomical calculations. This calculation is older than the age of the earth and the sun. Besides, they possess measures for even larger calculations?.
Astronomy was called ?the eyes of the Vedas? because the behaviour of all creations is determined by time and time is known through the movement of the planets. The history of direct observation and accurate/exact calculations of time and planets is more than 6000 years old. There was an observatory in Pataliputra where Aryabhatta drew many conclusions after observing the sky. Famous astronomer John Playfair (1790) says: India had knowledge in astronomy for more than 6000 years and that Indian calculations were applied throughout the world?. He goes on, ??Hence, we can say that in 4300 BC, astronomy was developed in India on the basis of direct experiences?.
Mohanjodaro (Sind), Dwarka, Lothal Port (Saurashtra), Varanasi are the living legends of Indian architecture. So about the Lingaraj temple (Orissa), Khajuraho, Ramaeswaram and Meenakshi temples. The ancient architecture was quite comprehensive encompassing in itself the concepts of town planning, buildings, temples, sculpting, fine arts and literally everything. In Bhrigu Samhita sage Bhrigu says that before buying land it must be tested in five different ways and each item to be used in construction should be tested. Vishwakarma Vastushastra and Kashyap Shilp are other treatise on construction and town planning. Kanjivaram is an excellent example of city planning.
India had a great history of ancient chemistry. We had a plenty of Indian chemists in the persons of Nagarjuna, Vagbhatta, Govindacharya, Yashodhar, Ramchandra and Somdev etc. who wrote a number of authoritative books based on personal knowledge and experimentation. Nagarjuna explained how to purify mercury. Until the 17th century, Europe did not know what mercury was, but India knew it for thousands of years.
Shri Soni concludes quoting Sir Jagdish Chandra Baso, the great scientist of modern India who in foreword to one of his books wrote:
To my countrymen
Who will yet claim
The intellectual heritage
Of their ancestors.
The book contains chapter-wise references and is profusely illustrated with diagrams, illustrations and sketches to make the reader understand the subject easily. The book is well produced with an excellent get-up. The avid reader will definitely derive a sense of pride and pleasure by discovering the hitherto facts unknown to the common Indian. The effort of the author needs to be applauded.
It is a book every Indian should read. It will instil in him a sense of pride in the country and inspire him to achieve still higher.
Another important point that emerges after a study of this book is that every student of science who wishes to achieve something must acquire a working knowledge of Sanskrit and also study our Vedas, Puranas, Smritis and other classics which can only enhance his knowledge, sharpen his intellect and motivate him further lest Sir William Jones has to say that ?Had Linius (the father of modern science of classifcation) learnt Sanskrit, he would have developed his method of giving names more perfect?.
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