At the Maharishi Panini Sanskrit and Vedic University convocation in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh, on May 24, 2023, ISRO Chief S Somnath said that the concepts of algebra, square roots, time, architecture, the structure of the universe and even aviation were first found in the Vedas.
This knowledge travelled to the Arab world and, through them to Europe, subsequently framed and posited as discoveries of scientists from the Western World.
According to the Space Commission (ISRO) Chairman and Space Department secretary, the problem was that the scientists of the time used the Sanskrit language as the lingua franca, which had no written script. “It was listened to and learned by heart, and this is how the languages survived.” Only later the people began to use Devnagari Script for Sanskrit.
As per Somnath, Panini was the person who wrote down the rules of Sanskrit grammar. The language makes it ideal to “convey scientific thoughts and processes.”
He added that “Engineers and scientists like Sanskrit a great deal. It suits the language of computers, and those learning artificial intelligence should learn it.
Much research is being done on the Sanskrit language, and it can also be used for computational purposes.” To be sure, much of this work is still in progress, although the narrative itself has become taller in the telling.
Learning Sanskrit has multiple benefits, Somnath added, which extend beyond science. “Indian literature written in Sanskrit is extremely rich in its original and philosophical form. It is also important in the scientific form. There is no separation of the cultural, spiritual, and scientific study in Sanskrit,” he said.
The imprints of the contribution of the scientists in Sanskrit can be seen in the journey of Indian Culture over thousand years. “Findings in astronomy, medicines, sciences, physics, chemical and aeronautic sciences were written in Sanskrit. But that was not fully exploited and researched,” he pointed out.
Somnath gave the example of The Surya Siddhanta, a book mentioned in astronomy that is believed to date back to the 8th century. “Being a rocket scientist, I was fascinated by this book in Sanskrit that talks about the solar system, time-scale, size and circumference of the earth,” he said.
ISRO is working on several key space missions, including Chandrayaan-3 lunar mission and Aditya-1 Mission to the Sun.