By Ezra Rynjah:
At a time when we are worried about the future, and all the uncertainties of our climatically altered planet, and are looking towards science to solve our problems, we’re given answers by the most unlikely source: Sanskrit scholars (amongst others) at the prestigious 102nd Indian Science Congress conducted by Mumbai University on the 4th of January, 2015. These answers came from the symposium titled “Ancient Science through Sanskrit”. Here, was revealed to us, the marvellous achievements of the Indians of yore whose milestones are almost lost to the cruel march of time (and reason).
They were presented in many forms to suit different needs – there was a presentation on ancient flying machines that could traverse not only trans-continental boundaries but inter-planetary ones as well! I’m delighted that you ask for evidence! There’s a helmet to be found on Mars, said one presenter, Kiran Naik. Oh ye of little faith! Do you need any more proof!?
There were other claims being made at the Congress, such as the invention of radar, the derivation of the Pythagorean Theorem by a Sanskrit scholar centuries before Pythagoras himself, the neuroscience of yoga, the method of performing post-mortems after floating a body in water, different methods in veterinary science, and the possibility of plastic surgery through the use of heated sugar as an adhesive (so as to attach an elephant head to a human torso).
It is difficult for a layman like me to separate these claims from being fact or fiction. Some may have enough empirical evidence to back them up such as medical practices or mathematical derivations, but for the rest, I remain firmly sceptical. I have to question how these qualify as being scientific in the first place. Do they not require any verification before they’re presented at such a premier platform? In fact, the claims made here seem so outrageous that it has taken away from any genuine advances present day scientists may have made. The public doesn’t care about that. It is only attracted to the spectacle, which is exactly what this is.
Let us trace this to a hypothetical point of origin. First, there was the incredulous claim made by our esteemed Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, in his teachers’ day speech about how the earth’s climate has not changed but rather, we have. And that we have become less able to deal with extremes in climate. (Personally, I’d like him to tell that to the iconic polar bear floating on a shrinking piece of ice).
Then we were flabbergasted as the rational public when he again made a statement, towards the end of October last year, about how genetic science existed in the Mahabharat and that plastic surgery was used to transplant an elephant’s head onto a human’s body to explain the existence of Ganesh. Now in January, we have a symposium that is entirely dedicated to the exploration of ancient science. Surely there is a method in this madness? I’m sure someone from the Science Congress would tell me that the stars are too well aligned for it to be a coincidence!
But honestly, all it seems to be is a scheme to confuse the rationality out of all of us and to cripple our ability to act. It could also be a lie being repeated so often that we don’t know what the truth is anymore. [Where have we seen this before? (Hint: Goebbels)]
We can see each of the three cases of alluding to India’s glorious past as instances of diversions and distractions. What tends to happen is that, as in this article, we become focused on the outrageous that has been stated or presented. We miss out on that which is not being said. As in the speech about climate change, why do we not question what India is doing with respect to its policy on wildlife and forest conservation and emission caps? In terms of the PM’s claim on health care, why don’t we ask how the government intends to provide affordable healthcare for everyone? At our Science Congress, why do we not ask where our present day, cutting-edge inventions and innovations are? These are questions that our leaders would not like to answer. These are questions that will never be asked because we are too busy getting tangled up in the repertoire of ridiculous claims that can and will be made to keep us occupied and effectively ineffectual in our criticism of the government. Sure we can laugh, giggle and guffaw at the sheer ridiculousness of it all, but all the entertainment shouldn’t distract us either.