The 102nd Indian Science Congress grabbed the attention of everyone not because of some unique discovery but because of a series of controversies triggered by a few ‘bright minds’ who were probably just out of time travel. The problem is that we do not have a time machine, yet. So, the arguments they forwarded about ancient Indian scientific achievements were purely based on the Vedic texts they read. That’s not to say our ancestors did not know anything. But one should know that science, like history, believes in evidences. Ravana had a flying chariot, says the mythology. “Where is it? How did it fly? And, where did it land?” ask the scientists.
1. Vyamanika Shastra says that Indians had built flying machines several millennia before Wright Brothers.
“The basic structure was of 60 by 60 feet, and in some cases, over 200 feet. They were jumbo planes,” said Captain Anand Bodas, a retired flying instructor. “The ancient planes had 40 small engines; could not only move in any direction, but travel between planets,” Bodas said.
Travel between planets? Okay, I don’t have a problem with that except the fact that this shastra itself was debunked by eminent Indian scientists in 1974.
2. Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan said that algebra (beej ganit) and Pythagoras theorem both originated in India but Indians “selflessly allowed” Greeks and Arabs to take credit.
Renowned mathematician Dr. Manjul Bhargava confirms that the Pythagoras theorem was first “recorded” in India (800 BCE in the Shuba Sutra of Baudhayan), but the idea of it originated in ancient Egypt and developed as a system in Mesopotamia in 1800 BCE. Further, the theorem was propounded as a complete, rigorous proof in China sometime between 1046 BCE and 256 BCE.
Technically, therefore, Indians did not “selflessly allowed” Greeks to take credit.
3. Ancient knives so sharp they could slit a hair in two.
A kind of alloy that would make Robin Hood proud, no doubt. It is possible that such a blade existed at some point in time, but we have only come across their references in mythological books and fantasy stories. Unless we actually dig up an Elven blade, would we believe in the powers of it?
4. A cow bacteria that turns anything eaten by an animal into pure gold, technically 24-carat gold extracted from cow dung.
5. Curious procedure of an autopsy, conducted by leaving a dead body floating in water for three days.
“The reason behind this was to allow the body to swell so that all muscles and nerves could then be seen transparently,” said Ayurvedic physician Ashwin Sawant, on advanced surgeries in 6,000 BCE as talked about in the Rig Veda – a text professional historians place around 1,500 BCE.
Sushruta is believed to be an ancient master of surgery. His texts do contain some revealing information, but they are information at best. There is no historical evidence of surgeries performed by Sushruta.
6. Scientific demerits of non-veg food.
Now that’s someone’s personal choice! Why discuss a lifestyle matter in a science convention? If there are demerits of non-veg food, there are also obvious merits of the same.
7. Dung was mixed with herbs and egg white to make natural plastics.
There is no hard scientific evidence or historical data in support of this assertion. Even if we consider this as a possibility, wouldn’t we have something left to make a stunning archaeological discovery?
After all, we discovered the entire Indus Valley Civilization by digging into grounds!
8. Herbal pastes were applied on the feet to find underground water.
What kind of herbal pastes? What herbs to use? Don’t we have a reference to the Sanjivani herb in the Ramayana, but has anyone ever seen it?