Modern science unrecognisable without contribution of Indians
Asserting that modern science would be unrecognisable without the contributions of ancient Indian scientists like Aryabhata and Sushruta, a noted Indian- American scientist has rued that there is a concerted effort to ignore these figures, whose contributions to science is at par, if not more than those of Pythagoras and Aristotle.
Washington: Asserting that modern science would be unrecognisable without the contributions of ancient Indian scientists like Aryabhata and Sushruta, a noted Indian- American scientist has rued that there is a concerted effort to ignore these figures, whose contributions to science is at par, if not more than those of Pythagoras and Aristotle.
"Just imagine erasing the name of Pythagoras, Aristotle, and Plato from the current philosophy texts because it is an old past. Will it be just and fair? The answer is no.?However, this is exactly the case when we ignore our own heroes, Aryabhata, Kanada, Varahmihir, Brahmgupta, Charaka, and Sushruta, in India unjustly," Alok Kumar told PTI.
A professor of physics at the State University of New York at Oswego, Kumar, who was born and educated in India, is author of two books that documents the contribution of ancient Hindu scientist to the modern day science including 'Sciences of the Ancient Hindus' which was released last year.
His third book 'A History of Science in World Cultures: Voices of Knowledge' is due this year.
"Modern science and medicine would be unrecognisable, and far more primitive, without the immense contribution of the ancient Hindus. They invented everyday essentials such as our base-ten number system and zero as a numeral," he said.
"The ancient Hindus also developed a sophisticated system of medicine with its mind-body approach known as Ayurveda; detailed anatomical and surgical knowledge of the human body, including cataract surgery and the so-called plastic surgery; metallurgical methods of extraction and purification of metals, knowledge of various constellations and planetary motions that was good enough to assign motion to the Earth; and the science yoga," Kumar said.
In his book, 'Sciences of the Ancient Hindus: Unlocking Nature in the Pursuit of Salvation', Kumar said he has provided a powerful and comprehensive insight into the extraordinary intellectual contributions of the ancient Indians, the full story of which had hitherto remained largely unknown and unappreciated throughout millennia of neglect.
Kumar said when he compiled scientific achievements from the accounts of Aristotle, Arrian, Megasthenes, Clement of Alexandria, and Apollonius of Tyana among the Greeks; Al-Biruni, Al-Khwarizmi, Ibn Labban, al-Fazari, al-Masudi, and Al-Uqlidisi among the Islamic scholars; Fa-Hien, Hiuen Tsang, and I-tsing among the Chinese; Leonardo Fibbonacci, Pope Sylvester II, Roger Bacon, Voltaire and Copernicus from Europe, a much different picture emerged as against the general impression about India.
"With further research, I found that, in the modern era,
thinkers and scientists as diverse as Goethe, Emerson, Jung, Thoreau, Oppenheimer, Herder and Schrodinger, to name a few, have acknowledged their debt to ancient Hindu achievements in science, technology and philosophy," Kumar said.
"The first nation (to have cultivated science) is India. This is a powerful nation having a large population, and a rich kingdom (possessions).?India is known for the wisdom of its people. Over many centuries, all the kings of the past have recognised the ability of the Indians in all branches of knowledge," he said, citing a book written by Said al-Andalusi (1029-1070 A.D.), a natural philosopher from Muslim Spain.
Responding to questions about the recent controversy surrounding Pythagoras theorem, Kumar said in the absence of existing documents, it is difficult to conclude that the theorem was discovered in one culture and passed on to others or independently discovered in different cultures.
"Such are the challenges in the history of science where evidence based on a document is crucial in making such assertions. Nonetheless, the connection of Pythagoras to India is an intriguing corollary to this theorem," he said.
"We do not have even a single manuscript that was written by Pythagoras. All we know about Pythagoras is based on the following writers who wrote about him.?This is where the story becomes interesting.?For two millennia, scholars have connected Pythagoras and his teachings to India, including the Pythagorean Theorem.?This was ignored by experts," he said.
"Clement of Alexandria (c.150-215 CE), Eusebius (263-339 CE) and Lucius Apuleius (125-180 CE), all noted scholars of the West, have shared that the teachings of Pythagoras were derived from his interactions with the scholars of India," Kumar asserted.
Listing out some of the achievements of ancient Indian science and mathematics, Kumar said this includes base - ten number system with place - value notations (example, writing eleven as one and one, rather than ten and one) and zero as a numeral, the Pythagorean Theorem, binary number system, Fibbonacci sequence, value of pi and much in trigonometry.
"Knowledge of various constellations and planetary motions that was good enough to assign motion to the Earth, luni-solar calendar where months were governed by the Moon and the year by the Sun ? a complex but very effective calendar, superior to other existing calendars," he said.
Kumar said progress in science has never been a hindrance to spiritual growth in the history of Hinduism.