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Book Review: Pride Of India – A Glimpse Into India’s Scientific Heritage

R.S.Ayyar
08/23/2006

Pride of India – A Glimpse into India’s Scientific Heritage
Compiled by Bhartiya Bouddhik Sampada and Published by Sanskrita Bharati

The book is a veritable treasure house containing the findings of a large team of dedicated scholars in various fields of language, literature, history, science and technology. All of them have worked with single minded devotion to unearth and bring forth, for the benefit of the modern generation, the astounding Vedic knowledge in all their fields that lay dormant, long forgotten and unknown today even about their existence. The book is actually a compendium of their research studies. A comprehensive review of the same highlighting their findings and relating them to the western knowledge in those fields will itself be a treatise if it has to do proper justice.

The book begins with a lucid explanation of its objectives. While applauding the benefits that have accrued to mankind through the current explosion of knowledge in the fields of science and technology, it hastens to point out the resultant maladies that have also cropped up alongside. Thus, today agricultural specialists are fighting hard to restore the fertility of soil lost through extensive use of chemical manures and pesticides. Medicines have led to several side effects and the growth of many new viruses which are resistant to modern antibiotics. One of the reasons for this undesirable state of affairs, particularly in India, is the influence of foreign domination over the Indian subcontinent for a long time. The pristine glory of traditional knowledge was berated and could become valued knowledge only through western acceptance. The spiritual and cultural heritage preserved in Vedas written in Sanskrit soon vanished due to the imposition of English as an official language of the nation. Today the west is looking to the East for solution to many of their problems which have eluded them so far. This book is a timely eye opener.

The deplorable situation today has evolved over a period due to the misconception that Indians are great in philosophy but not in materials science and the Vedas written in Sanskrit are spiritual and are for religious rituals. This book clearly shows that behind the superficial meanings, there lie latent scientific postulates based on systematic observations and correlation of countless sages and scholars.

The book is systematically and logically serialized into chapters dealing with distinct disciplines of pure sciences like mathematics, physics and astronomy and applied sciences like civil and mechanical engineering, metallurgy, chemistry, medicine and life sciences.

The format of the presentation of the postulates in each chapter dealing with that discipline deserves special mention. After giving gleaming from the Vedic verses pertaining to a given topic in Sanskrit, the corresponding transliteration is given followed by the meaning of the same in the form of an explanatory note. Elaboration of the same follows and the source for the same is also appended. The corresponding western reference in terms of innovations and discoveries follows highlighting the parallelism between the two.

Some of the Vedic postulates are really outstanding and unbelievable to the modern man. To cite one example, the number of Vedic verses in praise of each of the 5 planets corresponds exactly to the number of days the planet takes to orbit once around the sun in an elliptical path, for example, Mercury (87), Venus (225), Mars (687), Jupiter (4350) and Saturn (10816).

Coming now to the chapters dealing with disciplines, the chapter on Mathematics is fairly exhaustive dealing with many rules of algebra like solution of indeterminate equations of second degree, treatment of surds, permutations and combinations, Pascal’s triangle etc. Each of these topics is highlighted from the Vedic angle and profusely explained through several numerical examples. Under trigonometry Bhaskaracharya’s contributions and Madhava’s sine, cosine and tangent series are elegantly explained. The reason for these ideas having been forgotten seems to be that most of them are empirical and not proof tested as insisted by the western world.

The chapter on Physics deals with the properties of matter, elasticity, magnetism, optics (including lenses and rainbow) while the chapter on Astronomy deals with rotation of earth, earth’s gravity, Helicentonic theory, speed of light, lunar eclipse, moon as a satellite of earth and planets in motion. Enroute, the contributions of Aryabhatta (5th Century AD), Brahmagupta (7th Century AD) and Bhaskaracharya (12th Century AD) are underscored.

Among applied sciences, the chapter on civil engineering deals with rules for building construction, materials, soil testing etc. Architecture brings out the guidelines for temple architecture, choice of stones for sculptures, etc. while town planning gives specifications for road construction including royal paths, national, state and local highways, tank bunds etc. The chapter on mechanical engineering deals with qualities and attributes of machines, physical balances, earth model and carts. Metallurgy describes crucible, furnaces, air blowers, metals for aircraft etc. Chemistry explains distillation, caustic alkali, generation of electricity in a cell and explosive. Medicine is an important chapter dealing with anatomy, embryology and obstetrics, surgery (including plastic surgery), elimination therapy and pharmacology. Life sciences deal with plants while sciences in traditions have identified major diseases like cancer, leprosy etc.

The book also describes in detail the highlights of the Indus Valley civilization, eternal values of Sanskrit, the dating of the Vedas (6000 BC) creation etc. through logical extrapolation through the ages.

The book is definitely a sort of encyclopedia on Vedic sciences. It is a ready reference for scholars and researchers doing in depth study of the relevance of Vedic knowledge to modern science and technology. The work of the team which has produced this monumental compendium is really commendable. This book should find its rightful place in the libraries of all educational and research institutions all over the world.

To order a copy, visit http://samskrita-bharati.org.



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