India : Past & Present

The Glorious PAST

There are many countries in the world. If we go deep into history, we realise that for ages, India has been the source of inspiration for humanity. Our ancient ancestors transmitted the feeling of –

Krinvanto Vishvam Aryam” – We shall make the entire world excellent

Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam” – the entire world is one large family

Swadesho Bhuvantrayam” – all three worlds (Bhoomi , Swarg & Pataal ) are our own native land.

Beside this, they also contributed arts, skills and philosophy for happiness and worldwide prosperity. It is for this reason that India was called the ‘PRECEPTOR OF THE UNIVERSE’ (JAGATGURU) in ancient times.

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One can see reflections of it in the writings of the western philosopher, Mark Twain. He says,

” India is the land of religious orders, the cradle of humanity, the birthplace of languages, mother of history,grandmother of the PURANAS and the great grandmotherof tradition. Whatever valuable and creative things are there in the history of man, all are available in India. Everyone is eager to get a glimpse of this land and they will not be ready to sacrifice it for all over things of this world. “

India was not just the leader in dharma, philosophy, metaphysical knowledge and human values, but also in trade, commerce, art and skill.

A famous Swiss writer, Bajoran Landstram who had studied everything from the Ancient Egyptians to the stories about the various travels and the great explorers till the discovery of America, wrote in his book, THE DISCOVERY OF INDIA ,

”There were many paths and means, but only one goal – to reach the famous land of India, which is full to the brim with Gold, Silver, Valuable stones and Gems, tempting foods, Spices and Clothes.

Many thinkers and researchers like Hegel, Galileo and Marco Polo have similar experience as those of Bajoram Landstram. That’s why India has been called ‘The Golden Bird’ of ages.

Country remains the ‘Jagatguru’ and ‘The Golden Bird’ for years. The continuous barbaric invasions on it for 1500 years, some social flaws, the relentless attacks of the Muslims and the Economics exploitation by the BRITISHERS in the 190 years rule, made the Golden Bird BANKRUPT. That is why, today we find India at 124th position in the countries of the world.

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Today’s generation is faced with the challenge of reviving India’s position as the Golden Bird and the Jagatguru. The freedom fighters and thinkers dream of a glorious Indian is to be fulfilled by the present generation.

For this, it is essential that progress be made in the arts, skills, trade, commerce, agricultural etc. Principally, the world still regonises India’s superiority in the fields of Dharma and philosophy or a society whose behavious is in accordance with the philosophy arises, it becomes difficult to reply. Hence, it is necessary to contemplate on the hypothesis of all-round progress and its methods.

Thousands of years ago, Maharishi Kanad, while speaking about all-round progress, said,

YATOBHYUDAYANIH SHREYAS SIDDHIHI SA DHARMAH  –

the medium through which one acquires all kinds of development – from the physical points of view and the philosophy points of view, is called DHARMA.

Unfortunately, during the past, our country has been making efforts from the spiritual point of view, but in the context of all round progress, physical progress was neglected, whereas physical progress, it is even considered compulsory.

When the question of physical progress in society is considered and we think of its medium or device, we realise that they have been changing in the flow of time. For instance, agriculture, cow protection and commerce were the medium of our physical prosperity at one time. This is to say that cow protection and trade were the basis of agriculture which was the basis of the prosperity on the family and social levels. In fact, they remained the medium of our prosperity for thousands of years. Indian agriculture and prosperous business were recognised around the world, as it spread all over the world. Even if we leave the description of ancient times and consider India’s condition on the issue of production in 1750, then in the comparative chart given in Samuel Huntington’s book, THE CLASH OF CIVILISATIONS clarifies that India’s production was more than that of Europe and the Soviet Union.

India’s production was 24.5%, while EUROPE’s was 8.2% and that of the Soviet Union was 5%.

The Significance of SCIENCE

Change comes with time. Today with economic and technological advancement , a change seems to have come about in the means of production. Today, science and technology have become the media for the invention of the tools of physical prosperity, production and distribution. Today, the country with developed science and latest technology will speedily march ahead.

In this context, if we want our country to once again be at the helm of affairs and the top of prosperity, and be able to contribute something to the world, we need to give a boast, not only to our scientific and technological development, but also remember that this development is not contrary to our culture, nature and need. In order to achieve both, we shall have to consider many points :

  1. Are science and technology a gift of the West only or did India also have a tradition of its own? 
  2. In which spheres had science been development in India?
  3. Was there any scientific knowledge in India about the final purpose of science and technology? And if there was any, what was special about it?
  4. Does Indian science vision have any solution to the various problems the world is facing, with regard to the development of science and technology?

THE FACTS TODAY

When we consider the first question to find out about the history of science in India, we are faced with today’s ground reality. We can understand it from two to three incidents narrated below :

  • Aryabhatta had calculated the value of pi as 3.1416….

He suggested several approximations for π − 3927/1250 (=3.1416) for accurate work, 22/7 (=3.142857142857143) for less accurate calculation, while (=3.142277660168380) for ordinary work.

Many technocrats and scientist were surprised and exclaimed, “WOW ! How our ancestors had calculated the value so many years ago! ” This incident indicates that those who decide the direction of the development of science in India, are so ignorant about the knowledge of scientific tradition in India.

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  • The other is a slightly older incident. The earlier SHANKARACHARYA of PURI MATTHA , Bharti Krishna Teerthaji had, through his SADHANA and meditation, discovered some amazing mathematical formulae and sub-formulae in the background of SHULBHASOOTRAS and the VEDAS. With the help of these
    • 16 main and
    • 13 sub-formulae,

all types of mathemetical problems and equations can be solved very easily. On the basis of these formulae, he wrote a book in mind, some people went to the TATA INSTITUTE FOR FUNDAMENTAL RESEARCH, and requested the head there, that this was a remarkable contribution in the field of mathematics and to test it out and keep it in their library. But the institute did not accept the book, saying that they did not have any belief in it. The book that was rejected, became the issue of debates and discussions, research and requested the head there, that this was a remarkable contribution in the field of mathematics and to test it out and keep it in their library. But the institution did not accept the book, saying that they did not have any belief in it. The book that was rejected, became the issue of debates and discussions, when a foreign mathematicians, Nicholas came to Mumbai from England and told the mathematicians about the uses of the formulae and called it ‘MAGIC’. This was highlighted and publicised by the TIMES OF INDIA. This incident tells us that if a foreigner had not told us their importance, our mentality would have been not to accept it.

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  • The Third incident – The former HUMAN RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT and SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY MINISTER, Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi became a member of the Uttar Pradesh Curriculum Committee in 1962. During this experience , he realised that the PYTHAGORAS THEOREM, perhaps one of the most feared amongst students, had been solved before PYTHAGORAS by BODHAYAN in India. While Pythagoras method was long, tedious, complicated and boring , BODHAYAN’s was very short and simple. Hence, he requested other members of committee to introduce BODHAYAN instead of PYTHAGORAS, so that on one hand the students would get a simple theorem, on other hand, knowing that this was a contribution of our country, it would increase their self-confidence. However, the Curriculum committee did not agree, he kept trying to convince them.

dhayana

 

  • Another fact Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi came to know about during his efforts. EDWARD TAYLOR, a renowned physicist, associated with the discovery of the HYDROGEN and ATOMIC BOMBS, and a NOBEL LAUREATE, had written a book called SIMPLICITY & SCIENCE. In the book, he argued that the study of science should not be complicated, obscure or boring, instead it should be simple, accessible and enjoyable. From this point of view, he gave the BODHAYAN THEOREM as an example of how simple the solutions can be, to mathematical problems. When Dr. Joshi told the committee members about this example of Edward Taylor, they said that since he was so keen and had been requesting so many times, the theorem could be renamed the PYTHAGORUS – BODHAYAN THEOREM.

baudhayana

The above incidents tell us that generally, in society, there is no belief that there was a scientific tradition in India. Another thing worth noticing is that if there is any discussion with any student of any level ( primary or graduate or post graduate or research scholar) and they are asked whether they have read anything in the context of India’s contribution in the field that they are studying, be it politics or economics or science, the from an ordinary student to prominent people in the country, there is a lack of knowledge about the existence the country, there is a lack of knowledge about the existence of a scientific tradition and its originator in this country.

THE REASON FOR OBLIVION

Lord THOMAS BABINGTON MACAULAY had implemented the BRITISH SYSTEM OF EDUCATION so that future generations do not feel any pride in their tradition, culture and history. Gradually, with the end of Sanskrit schools, English schools became compulsory. In the CURRICULUM that was decided for these schools, no mention of any contribution by India in any field, especially in the field of science, was allowed in the textbooks. As a result, in the course of time, the degree holders that graduated from these schools, were bereft of any information of India’s contributions. This was their colonial agenda; therefore the British tried to cut education from our roots. Yet, it was believed that after independence, India’s traditional contribution would be included in the education in order to arouse self-confidence.thomas-babington-lord-macaulay-and-indian-history.jpg

However, unfortunately, even after independence, the same curriculum continued, which showed Europe as the main contributor to scientific tradition. As a result, ancient India’s discoveries, works and results could not become a part of the education which has been continuing for the past 170 years. Studying this curriculum which is disconnected from INDIANESS, has had an ill-effect on the Indian psyche. It was believed that any contribution in the world from the point of view of development has been by Europe. Therefore, a feeling of pride that we also have contributed something, is missing and has been replaced by one of an imitator and a slave like mentality.

Lord MacAulay

THE CONSEQUENCE OF OBLIVION

In order to realise the absence of self-confidence about ourselves, two experience of our Ex-President, Dr. ABDUL KALAM will be helpful. There is a dream of a self-reliant and developed India in his eyes. This he has expressed in his book INDIA TWO THOUSAND TWENTY : A VISION OF MILLENNIUM. In this book, while the path to a developed India has been laid  down, he has also mentioned the biggest hurdle in this path, through two of his experiences.

On the first incident, he writes, “There is  multicoloured calender hanging in my room. This beautiful calendar has been printed in Germany and it has pictures of EUROPE and Africa taken by satellites. Whoever sees these pictures gets very inspired. However, when the person is told that these pictures have been taken by an Indian Telecasting Satellite, his face shows disbelief and it doesn’t quieten down till he reads the credit given at the bottom of the calendar to the INDIAN SATELLITE for the pictures.

About the second incident he writes, ‘Once I was invited to a dinner where there was many scientists from abroad as well as many important people from India. Discussions moved gradually to rocket technology. Someone said that the Chinese had discovered explosives thousands of years ago. It was later, in 13th century with the help of this gunpowder, fire arrows began to be used in wars. Participating in this discussion, I enumerated one of my experience, when I had gone to England sometime ago to a place called WOOLICH nead London, which has a MUSEUM called ROTUNDA. In this museum, I saw the rocket used by TIPU’s Armies in the battle with the British in SRI RANGAPATNAM and these were the FIRST ROCKETS in the world to be used in a battle.

On my saying this, one prominent Indian immediately retorted that the technology for this had been provided to TIPU by the FRENCH. At this, I very humbly told him that he was not saying the correct thing. I told him about the book called THE ORIGINS AND INTERNATIONAL ECONOMICS OF SPACE EXPLORATION, written by Sir BERNARD LOWELL, in which he says that William Congrave had says that WILLIAM Congrave had studied the rockets used by TIPU’s army, made some improvements and in 1805 presented them before the THEN BRITISH PRIME MINISTER, WILLIAM PITT and Secretary of LAW Kraiser Leed. They were impressed and consented to include them in the army and used them in 1806 in the BATTLE with NAPOLEON near the BOULOGNE HARBOUR and in 1807 in the attack on COPENHAGEN. After reading the underlined portion in the book with great concentration, this prominent personality said that it was interesting. He found it interesting, but there said that it was interesting. He found it interesting, but there was no feeling of pride towards this great Indian discovery.

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Owing to the above mentioned defeatist psyche, we are not able to inculcate the belief that we have our own tradition of SCIENTIFIC and TECHNOLOGICAL developments. With our brilliance, we can make new inventions and make a place for ourselves amongst the developed countries. In fact, not just this, we can make our own contributions too. As a result, the picture that we have drawn of our country is one of the believes that we shall develop only with the help of western technology and wealth. Hence, we are neck deep in debt and look up to the foreign countries for their technology. If we want to change this picture, we shall have to rid ourselves of this INFERIORITY COMPLEX. No one can become great by depending on others. I n his convocational address at the Science College of PRAYAG in 1949 Sir C. V. RAMAN told the students, ” Boys, when we import, we not only pay for our ignorance, but we also pay for our incompetence.” Every single person in the country needs to consider what he had said.

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Along with this, the speech of the famous scientist, ACHARYA P.C. Roy on HINDU Chemistry in MADRAS in 1918, is worthy of consideration in order to arouse self-respect. In the speech he had called for pride about the country’s contributions to the science of chemistry. I am equally proud of and not ashamed of all the branches of science that grew in ancient India. ”

In order to change our present psyche, about ourselves, our traditions and our capabilities, we shall have to contemplate on some fundamental aspects.

To begin with, we have a notion that a person  from the west is intellectual, logical and a believer in experiments, whereas as Indian considers only books to be the proof, is with blind faith and tends to run away from experiments. But, what is the reality? Let us glance at western and Indian history.

map of india ancient

 

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