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The 21st century takes pride in innovations and technology. Our tech-talks have reached newer heights so much as to preserve traditions through technology. Be it retrieving the old scriptures, safe guarding the ancient treasures or taking tradition to places through the internet. But this sounds a bit too ironic because religion and traditions have been the birth place of science. And the same have passed down to us as what we know now as technology, while a few got lost in the sands of time. Don’t believe me? You shall see.
Richard W. Hamming a distinguished computing scientist expresses,
“I have long had a hobby of looking at old engineering feats, like old tunnels and speculating on what the builders probably knew and had technical control over. My conclusions are often at great variance from what I read in history books. When you further consider the social and economical climate that could produce the works you find that it could further difference between what common sense suggests and books report. To repeat my point, the historians refuse to believe that the past knew more than the documents that have come down to us. They national to apply informed common sense plus a feeling for practical engineering and try to guess at probable states of information, technology, economics and social organization.”
So much would a historian be tempted to gather a few clues scattered over time and create a story. Yet, the scientific method requires that no history be accepted unless verified evidence exist which rule out any reconstruction.
This is the reason why for example, views regarding the Greek origins of early geometry, popular for several years, are now being dismissed. Maybe we should see the transmission of technology as patterns that the mind can relate to. Human consciousness has the potential to understand any existing phenomena. These ideas and patterns arise independently, so it is evident that they must have existed in the past too.
The apple should have fallen off sometime even before Newton. While he was contemplating the theory of gravity, ancient scholars have already gathered the puzzle crumbs of solstices.
Let us try to resolve and understand the lost knowledge of the past.
The earliest era of Hinduism or the Vedic period suggests the importance of knowledge and science. For quite some time scholars believed that this knowledge was limited to speculations regarding the self. But newer insights in archeology, astronomy, history of science and Vedic expertise have come up, proving Vedic science is the earliest science that has come down to us. The six Vedangas deal with kalpa, performance of ritual with its basis of geometry, mathematics and calendars, shiksha or phonetics; chhandas meaning metrical structures, nirukta or the etymology; vyakarana that we call grammar and jyotisha as astronomy and other cyclical phenomena.
All our present courses on engineering, medicine and economy have not just had a place, but have been broadly elaborated in the scriptures
Our bachelor degree of medicine and surgery was their annamaya kosha in the Taittiriya Upanishad.
The idea of breath as prana and the association between the three elements wind, gall and phlegm have appeared in tridosha as the theory of vata, pitta, and kapha of Ayurveda. Any disease is considered a disturbance of this harmony and can be cured by reestablishing the right proportion. Good health was not only considered generally desirable, but also priced as a precondition to reach spiritual fulfillment.
Two Indian medical handbooks, the Carakasaṃhita and the Susrutasaṃhita dealt with general medicine, identifying hundreds of medical conditions and the practice of surgery, which by that time was highly developed, with an array of specific surgical instruments.
Our geometry and physical sciences were evident in their Shatapatha Brahmana. The earth was represented by a circular altar, heaven by a square altar and the ritual consisted of converting the circle into a square of an identical area. Seidenberg’s conclusion that India is the source of the geometric and mathematical knowledge of the ancient world goes in hand with the new chronology of texts.
Their second millennium text, Vedanga Jyotisha goes beyond our calendars and astronomy to develop a theory for the movement of the sun and the moon. This marked the beginning of the application of mathematics to the motions of the celestial bodies. Vedic mythology highlights the struggle between the demons and the gods which is a metaphorical reflection of the motions of Venus and Mars.
The famous tale of Vishnu’s three strides measuring the universe becomes so much more appreciable when we note that the early scriptures compare Vishnu to Mercury and the three periods equal the number assigned in altar ritual to the heaven or the position of earth in the solar system.
Crypto logical analysis has revealed that the third millennium Saraswati script had surpassed even the Mauryan Brahmi script. The Saraswati script was the first true alphabetic script.
Panini’s grammar scripted during the early 6th century sates over 4000 rules that describe the Sanskrit of his day completely. This grammar is acknowledged to be one of the greatest intellectual achievements of all time. Panini described the entire grammar in finite number of rules. Fritz Staal in 1998 has shown that the grammar of Panini represents a universal grammatical and computing system.
From this perspective it anticipates the logical framework of modern computers. The Binary representation of numbers which requires the use of only two symbols to represent the ten digits of the decimal form is the basis of information storage in terms of sequences of 0s and 1s in modern day computers was, according to Barend van Nooten, in 1993 already known at the time of Pingala’s Chandahshastra. Pingala, who lived around the early first century BC, used binary numbers to classify Vedic meters.
Our studies of architecture and graphical engineering are all but descendants of the Vastusastra and Shilpasastra.
The ancient Indus civilization exhibits a high degree of architectural achievement. The well laid out cities, the carefully built brick houses, the systems of drainage and the large water tanks reveal the work of professional town planners and builders, our present day architects and civil engineers. Careful selection and preparation of the ground preceded the building activity. The edifice had to be constructed according to an elaborate set of rules that took into account not only structural engineering and quality of materials, but also circumstances of caste and religious affiliation.
Our theoretical sciences physics, biology and psychology were all raised as brethren under one roof called the Samkhya. Samkhya stands out as the oldest and the most interesting philosophy in the context of religion and science. It presents a theory of evolution based on the interactive polarity of nature and matter or prakrti, the spirit and the soul called puruṣa. Samkhya shows the interconnection between the various components of our world in order to unravel the evolutionary process which is seen as the cause of all misery and to return to the bliss of spiritual existence.
It was not just the knowledge of books that defined the ancient India; actually we read the books from libraries while they have written huge encyclopedias themselves, even the socioeconomic status of India then was on the higher side of the stocks. A trip to the US then would have been practical cheaper than a buffet.
Glazed pottery appeared in Mohenjo-Daro fifteen hundred years earlier than in Greece. Indian steel was so famous three thousand years ago that the Persians were eager to get swords from India. Indian silk and cotton were among the most prized imports of ancient Rome. The Iron Pillar in Delhi which is eight meters high and weighs more than six tons has withstood more than fifteen hundred monsoons without showing a trace of a chemical reaction. Amazing engineering was exhibited in the construction of numerous temples of huge dimensions. The capstone of the Bṛihadesawara temple of Tanjavur, weighing eighty tons, was moved up to a height of sixty-five meters in the eleventh century. We never got to peek into their design of pulleys.The skills of ancient Indian craftsmen, who created innumerable tools and works of art from ivory, wood, metal, and stone, show a broad based technical culture that had few equals in its time.
Now, do you agree?
There are many other theories which have not been fully comprehended yet, such as cosmology, Maya or logic, connection between music and the spirit, between the external world and the internal world, concept of time travel, the theory of Aryabhatism, no he did not just discover zero. He discovered scientific creativity and we are still on our way to reach these benchmarks that have been set a hundreds of centuries ago.
Hopefully, we will reach there one day to pass on to our future generations this sea of knowledge through the wireless data transmission systems, whose credit we have borrowed from our ancestors.