Intro: In ancient India, science was closely related to spirituality. But leftist and secular intelligentsia refute anything and anyone who quotes ancient Indian texts to cite scientific discovery which others arrived on much later.
“India was the motherland of our race and Sanskrit the mother of Europe's languages. India was the mother of our philosophy, of much of our mathematics, of the ideals embodied in Christianity… of self-government and democracy. In many ways, Mother India is the mother of us all.”-Will Durant-American Historian 1885-1981.
But who cares about Will Durant when we have Leftist and Secularist working on only one framework named “suppressio veri suggestio falsi”. It seems as per Leftist-Secularist “Hindus ideas are cheap, at best; they are primitive especially concerning the field of science and technology. Highlight anything related to Bharat’s scientific heritage invites being branded as a Hindu fanatic bent on making a Hindu state; where minority rights will be suppressed along with the rational and scientific ideas of Leftist or Secularist.”
Stalinist league continue their operation “suppressio veri suggestio falsi”. In a recent event, Minister of Science and Technology remarked in the inaugural session of Indian Science Congress that “Pythagoras’s theorem was actually an Indian discovery”. Indian Leftist and Secularist got yet another chance to criticise Modi led BJP government, and Minister of Science and Technology minister. While criticising, they also invoked their secret agenda to attack RSS in particular and Hinduism in general; whatever the case may be they find Hindutva angle in every debate going throughout the country.
In the entire debate they fail to understand that in ancient India Science was very closely related to spirituality. The so called liberal elites refute anything, especially if anyone quotes ancient Indian texts to cite scientific discovery which others arrived on much later.
Sri Aurobindo one of the greatest authority on India mind and spirituality explained that “Spirituality is indeed the master key of the Indian mind; the sense of the infinite is native to it. India saw from the beginning—and, even in her ages of reason and her age of increasing ignorance, she never lost hold of the insight—that life cannot be rightly seen in the sole light, cannot be perfectly lived in the sole power of its externalities. (From an essay in A Defense of Indian Culture, as quoted in The Vision of India (1949) by Sisirkumar Mitra)…The seers of ancient India had, in their experiments and efforts at spiritual training and the conquest of the body, perfected a discovery which in its importance to the future of human knowledge dwarfs the divinations of Newton and Galileo, even the discovery of the inductive and experimental method in Science was not more momentous. (The Upanishads–II: Kena and Other Upanishads (2001), p. 355)”
We must understand Sri Aurbindo in order to understand science and spirituality especially in context of Indian minds and when we speak about Indian minds in terms of spirituality it means we are speaking about “Hindu Mind”. Ancient Indian scientific tradition means science in coordination with spirituality because Indian science was born out of practical needs; Gandhi Ji also saw spirituality in science and vice-versa; as per his views science and spirituality must go hand in hand. But our secular friends fail to see the truth behind Indian scientific heritage
I thought to give a rejoinder to this entire debate on which leftist as well as secularist are going gaga; but then I decided why not to compile from various sources that what people who worked in the field of science and mathematics said about “Pythagoras’s theorem and Indian Mathematics”.
Dick Teresi stated in his book “Lost Discoveries” that how other cultures developed the same knowledge at earlier dates. For example, according to Teresi, Pythagoras's theorem was discovered in India in 800 BC much before Pythagoras.
Subhash Kak in “History of Indian Science, an Essay in Grolier Encyclopaedia, 2000” affirmed that “Two aspects of the “Pythagoras'' theorem are described in the texts by Baudhayana and others.”
Jawaharlal Nehru himself dedicated substantial portion to “Mathematics in Ancient India” in his book “The Discovery of India”. Nehru stated, “Highly intellectual and given to abstract thinking as they were, one would expect the ancient Indians to excel in mathematics. Europe got its early arithmetic and algebra from the Arabs—hence the ‘Arabic numerals’—but the Arabs themselves had previously taken them from India. The astonishing progress that the Indians had made in mathematics is now well known and it is recognised that the foundations of modern arithmetic and algebra were laid long ago in India.”
It should be noted that the theorem, which goes by the name of Pythagoras, is found in the Shulva Sutra, a part of Vedic literature (c. 1500-c.200BC), though, there was no proof given for the theorem. The noted Indian astrophysicist Professor J. V. Narlikar has observed that the statement should be renamed as Shulva theorem. (Source: – Pythagoras Greek mathematician, astronomer and mystic)
Pythagoras theorem was known in other ancient civilisations like the Babylonian, but the emphasis there was on the numerical and not so much on the proper geometric aspect while in the Sulbasutras one sees depth in both aspects-especially the geometric.
Edmund F Robertson and John J. O'Connor creator of noted project “MacTutor History of Mathematics archive” wrote in one of their paper titled “An overview of Indian mathematics—References to paper (28 books/articles). “It is without doubt that mathematics today owes a huge debt to the outstanding contributions made by Indian mathematicians over many hundreds of years. What is quite surprising is that there has been a reluctance to recognise this and one has to conclude that many famous historians of mathematics found what they expected to find, or perhaps even what they hoped to find, rather than to realise what was so clear in front of them.”
Pierre Simon Laplace, one of the greatest mathematicians of history said: The ingenious method of expressing every possible number using a set of ten symbols (each symbol having a place value and an absolute value) emerged in India.
Charles Whish in an article published in 1835 corroborate that Indians knew the so called Pythagoras theorem well before anyone else.
Professor HG Rawlinson writes: “It is more likely that Pythagoras was influenced by India than by Egypt. He said, “It seems that the so-called Pythagorean theorem of the quadrature of the hypotenuse was already known to the Indians in the older Vedic times, and thus before Pythagoras (Legacy of India 1937- Page 5).
Pythagoras was particularly influenced by Indian philosophy. Professor RG Rawlinson remarks that: “Almost all the theories, religious, philosophical, and mathematical, taught by the Pythagorians were known in India in the sixth century BC”. “Two thousand years before Pythagoras, philosophers in northern India had understood that gravitation held the solar system together, and that therefore the sun, the most massive object, had to be at its center.”
American mathematician, A Seindenberg has demonstrated that the Sulbhasutras, the ancient Vedic mathematics, have inspired all the mathematic sciences of the antique world from Babylonia to Egypt and Greece. “Arithmetic equations from the Sulbhasutras were used in the observation of the triangle by the Babylonians and the theory of contraries and of inexactitude in arithmetic methods, discovered by Hindus, inspired Pythagorean mathematics,” writes Abraham Seidenberg.
“Two thousand years before Pythagoras, philosophers in northern India had understood that gravitation held the solar system together, and that therefore the sun, the most massive object, had to be at its center.The Sanskrit speaking Aryans subscribed to the idea of a spherical earth in an era when the Greeks believed in a flat one. The Indians of the fifth century AD calculated the age of the earth as 4.3 billion years; scientists in 19th century England were convinced it was 100 million years.” (Source: Lost Discoveries-The Ancient Roots of Modern Science, by Dick Teresi. Page 1–8, 159 and 174 -239. For more on Dick Teresi refer to chapters Hindu Culture, Glimpses VI and Glimpses VII).
Hitesh Rangra (The writer is a political commentator and social media activist)