A few days back, there was a very good news item in The Times Of India titled ‘Dictionary traces maths concepts to the Vedas’. It brought out how, for eight long years, a few mathematicians and Sanskrit scholars of the Calcutta and Jadavpur universities had been working on a project to establish the veracity of the claim that at least 5000 basic and advanced modern mathematical concepts have their roots in Sanskrit and most have Vedic antecedents.
Some of the fascinating findings of this study or research are:
◾India discovered not just zero but it wasn’t discovered as late as in 5th century AD by Aryabhatta but in the period of Rig Vedas. Even the number Eka or one has its roots in Rig Veda.
◾Most solutions that can be found through algebra, geometry, and trigonometry have Sanskrit roots.
◾A large number of formulae developed thousands of years ago in India are valid even today.
I have a close friend Krishna Varanasi who too does original research in Vedas and Sanskrit etymology. Over a period of last about two years, since the time I know him, he has been able to establish to me that the roots of many modern concepts, science including nuclear, astronomy, aeronautics, and weaponology etc are in our Vedas. A few days before the findings of the research at Calcutta and Jadavpur universities, he wrote on our Facebook group called ‘Jai Hind’ about the Vedic concept of Infinity. This is what he wrote:
Concept of Infinity in Vedas: The concept of infinity was also known during Vedic times. They were aware of the basic mathematical properties of infinity and had several words for the concept-chief being ananta, purnam, aditi, and asamkhyata. Asamkhyata is mentioned in the Yajur Veda, and the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad as describing the number of mysteries of Indra as ananta. These two statements are elaborated in the opening lines of the Isha Upanishad (Shukla Yajur Veda). This shloka is as much metaphysical as it is mathematical:
(From infinity is born infinity. When infinity is taken out of infinity, only infinity is left over.)
Krishna has established, for example, that the modern world owes a lot to Vedas for physics and quantum physics. None of these things are in the nature of speculation. Here is a video to support that claim put up by Krishna:
Here is the one about atomic weapons of the ancient Indian era, much before the world became aware of these:
Read Histoire de l’océan Indien by the historian Auguste Toussaint or its English translation ‘History of the Indian Ocean’ and you would be made aware of the fact that India didn’t just have fertile lands but fertile minds who discovered many a nautical concept, instruments and means to traverse the oceans.
The fact of the world’s oldest civilisations of Mohan Jo Daro and Harrappa is known to most people in India and abroad. However, how many people do know about the ancient city of Dwarka, a little distance away from the present city of Dwarka? The city was built by Lord Krishna and I mentioned about it in an article: Lord Krishna Beckoned – We Visited Dwarka. Here is a mention of it in Wikipedia:
“After Krishna left the earth for Vaikuntha, about 36 years after the Mahabharat War (3138 BC), and the major Yadava leaders were killed in disputes among themselves, Arjuna went to Dwarka to bring Krishna’s grandsons and the Yadava wives to Hastinapur, to safety. After Arjuna left Dwarka, it was submerged into the sea. Following is the account given by Arjuna, found in the Mahabharata:
…imposed on it by nature. The sea rushed into the city. It coursed through the streets of the beautiful city. The sea covered up everything in the city. I saw the beautiful buildings becoming submerged one by one. In a matter of a few moments it was all over. The sea had now become as placid as a lake. There was no trace of the city. Dwaraka was just a name; just a memory.
On May 19, 2001, India’s science and technology minister Murli Manohar Joshi announced the finding of ruins in the Gulf of Khambhat. The ruins, known as the Gulf of Khambhat Cultural Complex (GKCC), are located on the seabed of a nine-kilometre stretch off the coast of Gujarat province at a depth of about 40 m. The site was discovered by a team from the National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) in December 2000 and investigated for six months with acoustic techniques.
Krishna Varanasi put up this video to support the claim:
Why is all this and more considered mythology by our countrymen? Westerns have had vested interests in dishing out theories about Indian mythology and we believe in these since we don’t have original research in these except for isolated incidents like the ones I have mentioned. Indeed, it is now rumoured that if you want to do original research or soak in fruits of original research in Sanskrit and greatness of ancient Indian heritage, you will have to go abroad.
We were a land of people who were absorbed in scholarly pursuits and hence the name Bharat (a combination of bha: knowledge and rat: absorbed). Kashi (the city of Varanasi or Benares) before it became a kingdom, was the centre of scholastic excellence, rubbing shoulders with such centres in Greek and Roman civilisations. During the Golden Period of Indian civilisation, we were the pioneers in the world in mathematics, astronomy, literature, medicine, and political philosophy. Even until as late as in 1962, we chose a great scholar as Servapalli Radhakrishnan as the second President of independent India. But, many decades later, in 2007, we chose a politician Pratibha Patil as the 12th President.
Lately, our people are as far from the concept of a great India as they could get. There hasn’t been an innovation by an Indian in India that has changed the world in any significant manner. Our people have no idea of our heritage but, consider that a highly parochial and at times Hindu revanchist movement is probably the answer to fill this gap and salvage lost ground from other civilisations and religions. In movies, literature, music etc we simply either plagiarise or come up with something that is touted as ‘fusion’ in the mistaken belief that if we piggy-ride on the more popular western idea, we would be able to sell our own (bastardised) culture.
What went wrong? I have pinpointed five main reasons for the decline of India’s greatness. I am sure historians and researchers would have enumerated many more; but, I shall stick to these five. I shall be grateful if you can cover, in the comments below, what you feel are the reasons for our having fallen from the pinnacle of excellence in various fields to the present nadir. Curiously, our current state of affairs has come about when we take pride in having made great strides in GDP growth.
1. Population. The average age of Indians is now 29 and we are proud of being a very ‘young nation’ with considerable potential to become a world-power. The 2011 census showed our population being 1.21 people, the second largest in the world. In 2025, it is slated to become the largest population in the world overtaking that of China. Thus, we are not only having fertile lands but fertile people too. India had abundant natural resources but with the population explosion, the resources were not adequate for everyone. This, together with Indian caste system (jati and varna) and subsequent neglect by the rulers divided the Indian society into haves and have-nots. As per the 2010 UNDP report, 37,2 per cent of Indian population lives below poverty line while 68.7 per cent of our population lives on less than $ 2 a day. This has forced a large percentage of our population to take shortcuts to seek “necessities of life”. Thus, a large percentage of our population lives on greed and corruption. Our media fuels it further by reporting how such and such IIM graduate gets salary in crores rather than portraying what he has to change the lot of the countrymen. A few months back, I wrote a humorous article titled ‘India – Too Many People’, wherein I tried to bring out the several ‘advantages’ of having a large population. However, humour aside, if in the next few decades we are not able to provide employment to crores of people, our young population, instead of being an asset to the nation, will turn hostile and violent. Already, one-third of India’s 630 districts are under the Maoist rule/influence. The population explosion and greed have overwhelmed our rulers. We wake up to a threat only when the water goes over the head in the form of large-scale killing of people due to plague and accidents both natural and man-made. For example, with traffic, noise, filth and chaos, most of our cities are now unliveable. However, we are unlikely to discipline people to bring some order and safety and security in our lives until a disaster takes place. It is waiting just around the corner.
2. Lack of Strategic Culture. I don’t want to go into the details of this; but, the fact is that fertile land, prosperity, scriptures, Hindu way of life, and lack of – what our ancestors felt as – any perceptible threat to our country (Auguste Toussaint, for example, brought out that with the abundance of resources in India, the rest of the world brought gold and silver to our country; whereas we had no real need to venture out anywhere. Even when we did, eg, in the period of Ashoka, it was only to spread religion and culture. After the foreign invasions took place with the Moghuls and British, and French, Dutch and Portuguese; we were kind of surprised that someone could usurp our land and territory. This belief that people would see the essential morality and goodness of things and treaties made us too passive and complacent. In a certain way, our culture of being reactive to situations after these would take place continued with the debacle of 1962 War with the Chinese, Kargil War and finally 26/11 and series of terrorist attacks anywhere, anytime. The country’s greatest strategist K Subrahmanyam essayed to bring about this strategic culture and IDSA (Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses) recently brought out a book called ‘Grand Strategy for India 2020 and Beyond’. However, the Indian culture of immediacy and expediency still overpowers any genuine desire to think of a viable grand strategy for India.
3. Lack of Quality Educational Institutions and Think Tanks. Somewhere along the line we lost stress on quality education and shifted to vocational institutions only. The stress on legitimate and illegitimate means of livelihood took the focus away from innovative ideas that could be truly called an Indian innovation rather than such things as IT revolution that were really re-engineering of western ideas. On the strategic side, not a single Indian institute figures in the top ten Asian think-tanks, let alone Global think-tanks. We are now a nation of copy-cats; eg, BPOs, English literature, songs, music, engineering and technological duplications. There are isolated examples of brilliance but the entire culture has been that of quickly assimilating what the westerns have invented or discovered. We lay no stress on education of our society but have adequate stress on academic brilliance that can be translated into a high-earning job; often this brilliance is as a result of learning by rote. Hence, when it comes to producing clones, rather than innovators, we are miles ahead of the rest of the world. Many Indians now head multi-national companies thanks to their excellence at being clones. There is no incentive in India for academic innovation and education that results in problem-solving. As an example, you will find Indian students doing very well in spellathons or mathematics Olympics where they can demonstrate their excellence at learning by rote; however, in tests like PISA (Programme for International Students Assessment), where the stress is on problem solving in everyday scenarios, our students do poorly.
4. Caste System, Religious and Spiritual Corruption. No one has any clear idea of when did we become slaves to thousands of endogamous clans and groups called jatis. To start with we had a system of varnas (categories). It kept a sense of order, and peace among the people. There were five different levels of the system: Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaishya, Shudra, and Harijans. Within each of these categories are the actual “castes” or jatis within which people are born, marry, and die. They all have their own place among each other and accept that it is the way to keep society from disintegrating into chaos. This system worked well for Indian people in olden days. However, our over focus on caste and religion made us so parochial that we fought against each other rather than showing such resolve against foreign aggressors. The British, were very quick to exploit this and they came up with a brilliant policy of ‘Divide and Rule’. Mahatma Gandhi and several nationalist leaders won us independence by uniting us into a cohesive movement. But, no sooner that the British left that we resumed our fights. This time through, our own politicians realised the advantage to themselves if they divided people. We see signs of these tendencies everywhere; the latest being a certain Raj Thackeray who is convinced that Maratha pride and sons-of-the-soil policy gets him more votes in Maharashtra and power than a strong India. A RAND study has shown that by 2030 India would comprise as many as 50 states. We really have no time and propensity for national integration; it doesn’t earn votes. A weak centre and strong regional parties has been the result of fanning of such divisive forces.
5. More Focus on Material Things than Societal Values. This took some time in finding its roots in India but now is firmly in place, Such rampant consumerism at one plane suddenly increased our desire for luxuries of life such as cars, refrigerators, televisions, aircraft, electronic items, cell phones and beauty products. On the other plane, by making these things available, the multi-national companies laughed all the way to the bank and are still laughing. Somewhere along the line, the victims were familial and societal values. At the present juncture, for example, collectively as a nation, we are the farthest away from values. Many people, for example, opined that the reasons for Anna Hazare movement to have failed was because of the skulduggery of the wily politicians. The real reason is that we are all corrupt one way or the other. A rich person, irrespective of how he made money, is respected and emulated. Many of the Indians, if they haven’t become outright corrupt, is not because of any strong values; but, simply, because of lack of opportunity.
I don’t know how long this cycle would last. The solutions are obvious and inherent in the five reasons I have given above. We can either regain our ancient greatness or slip more hopelessly into the morass that we are in.
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