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Splashes – 56/72 – Plagiarism of Intellectual Property

Political stability is key factor for development and in its absence, all systems go out-of-order. When political conditions in India became unstable, everything was dislocated and Hinduism lost the patronage of the ruling class. As a consequence social, economic, and religious infrastructures crumbled down.

Prior to the rise of Islam Indian ideas and texts had already reached Baghdad. During eighth century the Arabs gained political power and ruled from Indus to Spain. Arabic schools were established all over the Abbasid Empire of Arabs.

Translation Centers

Indian texts that were picked for translation had been taken out of India even before the spread of Islam. Since pre-Islamic intellectuals were not biased against Hindu scriptures, many of the texts were read, understood and translated to Arabic, Persian and other languages as an academic activity. Translation Centers existed at the following places:-

  • Spain – Caliph Abdur-Rahman III (891–961) built a massive new library at Cordoba in Spain and filled it with manuscripts in Sanskrit and other languages brought from Baghdad. The library contained 400,000 volumes.
  • Sicily – Arabs governing Sicily also imported texts from Baghdad and had a rich library there. The translation of Hindu-Arabic literature continued till the end of sixteenth century.
  • Syria – Translation Centers were at work in Syria, Damascus, and Palermo where translations of Aryabhatta also found their way.
  • Europe – In 1120 an Englishman Robert of Chester living in Spain translated Al-Khwarismi’s Algoritmi De Numero Indorum into Latin.This work was in fact based on Aryabhatta. The translation  carried Indian numbers, arithmetic, Algebra and Astronomy to the Latin world along with Aryabhatta’s works in the field of fractions, quadratic equations, sums of power series, concept of version 1- cos, equations of imaginary numbers and square root of One.
  • Palestine Frederick founded the University of Naples in 1224 endowing it with a large collection of Arabic manuscripts. From Spain he brought a translator who created a Latin summary of Aristotle’s biological and zoological works. The library was endowed with a large collection of Arabic manuscripts of ancient Greek and Indian texts; as well as commentaries of the Arab scholars on them. Copies of Latin translation were sent to universities in Paris and Bologna. Frederick also led the Fifth Crusade to Palestine in 1228-1229, and recaptured Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Nazareth. These efforts brought back to Europe the works of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. It also brought to Europe the works of Indians in the field of Mathematics, Astronomy, Medicine, Physics, Chemistry, Philosophy and Music.

Indian identity got camouflaged

Europe was still passing through ‘Dark Age’ and ‘Renaissance’ was far off. Even about more than thousand years after Christ, Europeans were ignorant of India and her progress. Their knowledge extended up to the Arab world due to which they attributed the inflow of knowledge only to Arabs.

  • By 976, Hindu numerals started appearing in plagiarized form as ‘Arabic numerals’, even though the Arabs had been referring the same numerals as  “Hind-se”, implying ‘from India ’.
  • It was only in 1202 that Leonardo Pisano introduced Arabic numerals to Europe and the original Hindu numerals Hind-se were adopted as modern International form of numerals under the brand of Arabic numerals.
  • Many of the Arabic manuscripts had been translated to Latin at the monastery of Santa Maria de Ripon in Spain. However the people of Spain had no inkling that the text material was originated from India.
  • In the tenth century, Gerbert of Aurillac (946–1003), became the Pope. He learnt the Indian counting system from the Moors of Spain, and in 990 he taught the Hindu numerals to his students and monks. He trekked to Northern Spain to carry home Latin translations of Arab treatise on Abacus and Astrolabe. He encouraged adoption of those systems especially by merchants. The new numbers revolutionized accounting and made Europeans a successful mercantile community.

Effect of Sanskrit on English

Relative Pronouns – Sanskrit word Pitra had been transformed into Pidar in Arabic and Persian. It travelled further and got converted to Father in English. Similarly Matra underwent changes in the order of Mather and Mother, Bhratra changed to Biradar and then to Brother. Many Sanskrit words as well as their connotations found their way to Europe. It is obvious that there was outflow from Sanskrit but no words found their way to Sanskrit.

Proper Names – The names of towns and places also have been affected.

  • Tashkent is derived from Takshak Khand. India was called Bharat Khand when King Bharata ruled over it.  The area inhabited by Bundela and Ruhela clans came to be known as Bundel Khand and Ruhail Khand
  • Fortified towns used to be named after their owners by adding a suffix Garh, such as Lakshman Garh, Pithora Garh and so on. The suffix Garh could be spelt in English as Gard also; like Lenin-grad and Stalin-Grad.
  • British often spelt Kanpur as Cownpore and Lukhnow as Lucknow. Likewise they mis-spelt Sinhpur as Singapore, Maley as Malaya, Kamboj as Cambodia, and Astralya as Australia. In India and Gandhara (Afghanistan).
  • Towns with watch towers were suffixed with word Names of cities in Europe have similar suffixes like Pitts burg and so on.
  • Hari-kul Ish (Balrama, the elder Brother of Krishna) got converted to Hercules, and Alkhshendra to Alexander.
  • River Ganga is known as Ganges.

That trend is reversed now. Many Indians shorten their names to mingle with Europeans and Americans. Otherwise if one made a list of proper nouns in English, the list will be a repetition or modification after about hundred original names have been noted.

Customs and Traditions – It has been customary for the new brides to kick a pot filled with rice at the main entrance of her husband’s house to denote that their new abode be blessed with plenty of food and comforts. Since Europeans preferred drinks, the young brides there kick a Champaign bottle on the occasion of her first entrance in husband’s house.

The English word husband too is linked to Hindu marriage rites. The word referred to the person whose hand had been tied to the specific female for the purpose of marriage. The ritual is still performed during Hindu marriages when the groom ties a wrist band to the right hand of the bride.

Calendar – The word Calendar is written and pronounced as Kalander in Portuguese. It is derived from Sanskrit word Kal-antra (Time interval). The English months September, October, November, and December also had their roots in Sanskrit such as Sapta-ambar.  Seventh Ambar meaning 7 th mark in Sky, Ashta- ambar – 8th, Nav – ambar – 9 th and Dasha- ambar 10 th mark in the sky.

The word ‘Ambar‘is a synonym for sky in Sanskrit. The yearly sky-route of Earth’s revolution around the Sun was marked by Zodiac signs. When Sun entered new Zodiac, which signaled the beginning of new month in Hindu calendar. Prior to 1752 March used to be the first month of the year in England also. Accordingly September happened to be the seventh month and so on.

Theological Opposition to Knowledge

It was Galileo in the late sixteenth century who for the first time tried to understand what was contained in the Latin translation of the Sindhind (Siddhanta Shiromani) of Brahmagupta. When he propounded the theory of rotation of earth he had to suffer the persecution of the Church, as it did not match the Gospel. Considered by many to be the founder of modern science, Galileo not only built the first telescope but also discovered the laws of bodies in motion.

But instead of rewarding his discoveries, Galileo was put under house arrest in Sienna. Theological rejection of Truth continued in other fields also in contrast to Hinduism.

Europeans took years in understanding science complied by Hindus and presented to them by the Arabs, because of Church’s domination in everyday life.  The decline of Christian faith coupled with rise of knowledge ushered Europe into all round development and they came in a position to dominate world.

Patenting of Knowledge

The sages and intellectuals in India had been in the pursuit of Knowledge and had devoted themselves for self-actualization.  There were no patent laws to protect intellectual property rights as there are today. The Sages never indulged in commercialization of Knowledge.  It is only in the Western world where they are trying to patent Basmati Rice, Neem tree and Yoga to make business out of knowledge. The plagiarism and conversion of Hindu knowledge continues unabated though India is projected as land of savages and primitives.

The positive View

The positive aspect of export of Hindu knowledge was that their compilations were put to use for inventions, otherwise the knowledge in unused state would have been perished. Unless one made use of knowledge, power, and wealth, he is sure to lose the same. Un-used assets always reach usurpers.

Need for Political Patronage

Lack of political patronage has resulted in massive loot and destruction of our intellectual wealth. We have not even estimated and identified the losses. Since our government is “secular” – there is none to stake claim. Unless Indian youths are acquainted with their past heritage and are motivated, these treasures left by our ancestors will fade into history.

There is need for Indian scholars to undertake research to trace out and reclaim our intellectual heritage. Many of our artifacts and ancient manuscripts are still lying un-ciphered in museums of the world. Only patriotic Indian scholars with deep knowledge of Sanskrit can undertake this work with financial backing from government or some patriotic foundations. For this mammoth task we have to pick leads from Sanskrit language.

Chand K Sharma

(Next: Splashes – 57/72 – Sun set in East – Sun rise from West)


Splashes – 55/72 –Indian Illumination in Renaissance

European countries were already in contact with West Asia through Turkey. In the first instance they were influenced by Latin and Greek classics since many of the Greek fugitives intellectuals had taken shelter in Turkey and other nearby countries. That event is referred as the ‘first awakening in Europe’. They translated Arabic and Persian literature to English, which had already been influenced by Ancient Sanskrit texts.

The efforts of Europeans were initially limited to carrying out translations only. Subsequently, the Europeans discovered that most of the Arabic and Persian texts had their source from Sanskrit. It was only thereafter that Europeans turned to the original source in Sanskrit literature. That was the beginning of ‘Renaissance’ in Europe.

Spread of Indian Knowledge

Arithmetic – In 1100 AD, Robert of Chester, an Englishman, visited Spain and translated al-Khwarizmi’s little book into Latin. Thereafter other translations of al-Khwarizmi inspired Latin texts. Book on the ‘new arithmetic’ included description of the decimal system and positional notation system. Initially the Europeans were slow to absorb new type of numbers. Thus most of the work was limited to copying the manuscripts and translating them. They were not able to use decimals until a Dutch mathematician Simon Steven (1548-1620) explained the system in his book La Thiende (The Tenth). After him, Marini and Christopher Claudius used decimals in their works. In 1621, Bache published the Latin version of Arithmetica from Arabic.

Algebra – Al-Mammon had summoned Abu Jafar Mohammed Musa al-Khwarizmi, (780-850) to Baghdad during 820 AD. He led two scientific missions to India to meet Indian scholars and had collected manuscripts. Based on them he wrote ‘Kitab Al-Jabr Wa al-Muqabalah’ meaning calculation by addition and subtraction. Algebra is a short Latinate form of the word. Later its Latin translation became a standard text-book of Mathematics in European universities.

Logarithms and Positional Notation System – In 825, al-Khwarizmi wrote on the concept of logarithm zero and positional notation system again based on texts of Brahmagupta.  The Latin translation of the book was titled ‘algorithmic de numero Indorum’. This book in its Arabic form, reached Spain, that was then under Arab control.

Indian Astronomy – During 850-929 AD Al-Battani had studied Indian astronomy and carried out critical analysis of Hindu Mathematics and Siddhantas, as well as philosophy, religion, Patanjali’s Yogasutra, Bhagavad Gita and Sankhyakarika. He discussed in detail the Hindu cycle of evolution, dissolution, and re-evolution of the Universe. He expounded trigonometric methods and endorsed Indian finding that the distance from the earth to the sun varied during the year. However being afraid of fanatics, he qualified his comments by saying that to be the belief of Hindus. For instance, he wrote that ‘Indians believe that the earth is five billion years old, which is wrong, since Islam said it was created only four thousand and five years ago’. He also described the Hindu concept of Geography and observed that Hindus believed the existence of an island located diametrically opposite to the city of Rome on the globe. Those ideas were later translated into Latin and people like Columbus were inspired to reach India by going westward. The error thus led to the discovery of Americas. Al-Battani is known in Europe as Albategnius.

Astrolabe – Aryabhatta lived during 475 AD – 550 AD and he had already discovered that planets and moon reflected the light of the sun. Rotation of Earth caused day and night. The orbiting of Earth around the Sun caused year. He had also brought out causes of eclipse and that the orbits of planets were elliptical and not circular. His calculation of Earth’s diameter at 8316 miles was very accurate and inspired the astronomers of the West.

Thereafter further progress continued as under: –

  • In 1050 AD astrolabe were introduced into Europe from Asia. The tables were used to measures longitude, latitude, and the time of the day at sea.
  • Abelard of Bath (1075–1160) journeyed by ship along the new eastern trade routes to the crusader held coast of Syria, where he translated Euclid into Latin using Arabic translation of the original.
  • In 1175 Italian Gerard of Cremona translated Ptolemy’s astronomical text ‘The Almagest’ into Latin, disseminating the erroneous information. He was fluent in Greek and Arabic.  He translated into Latin the Arabic texts of Galen, Aristotle, Euclid, al-Khwarizmi and Ptolemy.
  • Inspired by Aristotle, In 1190 Jewish philosopher Moses Maimonides wrote his text, ‘The guide for the perplexed.’

Planetary Charts and Astronomical Tables

The oldest astronomical tables based on Indian charts were brought to Baghdad by Kanaka. Those later traveled to the rest of Europe through Spain where a Latin translation was made in 1126. It came to be regarded as one of the most influential works on astronomy in medieval Europe. Due to that:

  • In 1272 Alphonse tables (Planetary charts) were completed in Toledo, Spain. The work tabulated the position and movement of planets.
  • It took another 200 years when the tables were printed in 1483, and the information more widely disseminated. The work was compiled by the finest astronomers gathered by Alfonso X of Castile.

Motion of Earth – Many reconciled to Aryabhatta’s revelations that Earth rotated on its axis and its diameter was 8316 miles. During 1224 AD Abdullah-Ur-Rumi prepared ‘Mujam-ul- Buldan’ a geographical encyclopedia, in Arabic. In 1440 Cusanus theorized that the Earth is in constant motion and the space as infinite. Edwin Hubble reinforced his ideas in the early 1900 when Hubble observed the planets rushing away from Earth, thereby expanding the universe.

Fore-runners of Newton – Movement had already been analyzed in Visheshika Darshan Shstra. During sixth century Prasthapada carried out a review on the basis of planetary movement, polarization and gravitational force, and further added that the speed and elasticity also affected movement from the opposite. That theory was a fore-runner to Newton’s law of Motion.

Medical Science – Since the days of Sushruta and Charka, great advances had been made by India in the field of Medicine and Surgery. As far back as the sixth century BC, Indian physicians had described ligaments, sutures, lymphatic, nerve plexus, fascia, adipose, vascular tissues, mucous, and many more muscles than any cadaver are able to show. They understood remarkably well the process of digestion, different functions of gastric juices, and conversion of food in to blood. The European discoveries were yet to surface. They found their way much later as below:-

  • Medicine – During 1200-1300, Pietro D’ Abano, an Italian physician, wrote ‘Conciliator Differentia rum’, which integrated Greek and Arabic medical thought. He noted brain as the source of nerves, and the heart as the source of blood vessels. He was suspected of being a magician and died under trial by the Spanish Inquisition.
  • Human Anatomy – In 1543 Andreas Visalia published a treatise on Human Anatomy -‘On the Structure of Human Body’. His research was conducted through dissection of human bodies, a practice that was strictly forbidden. The work corrected many prevalent historic misconceptions about the subject in Europe.
  • Circulation of Blood – In 1628, William Harvey described the circulation of blood in the body, paving the way for modern physiology. Before Harvey, the circulatory system was misunderstood. For example, Aristotle believed that blood originated in the liver. Others thought blood moved in spurts. Harvey accurately described the function of the heart. He also theorized that mammals are produced from eggs. It took about 150 years to prove him right.

Performing Arts – Frederick II encouraged translation of Indo-Arabic texts. Frederick was elected the Holy Roman Emperor in 1220. He surrounded himself from philosophers and sages from Baghdad and Syria, dancing-girls from India and Iran.

His pursuits introduced many Indian elements into the classical dance of the West. Opera had already originated in India.

It will be relevant to compare the above fact on a time line in history. When our sages had already risen to the crest of scientific knowledge in the first millennium, it was in 19 th century that Abraham Lincoln (later American President) used an old bear skin to cover himself at night. His relatives were using deer skins as their daily wear. The Europeans were busy in establishing their colonies and exploitation of locals. That was the time when India was under the rule of East India Company as a spent force.

 Chand K Sharma

(Next: Splashes– 56/72 – Plagiarism of Intellectual Property)

Splashes– 53/72 – Shine of Indian Wisdom

History text books are blank about Indian History prior to the invasion of Alexander the Great. Although it is mentioned that fear of military might of Nanda Dynasty at Patliputra (Patna), forced mighty Alexander to retreat, but nothing much is known about powerful Nanda dynasty, and the dynasties prior to that. As escape route, everything prior to that period has been classified as Hindu mythology.

This black out could be the result of motivated destruction. Until the Indians themselves trace out the truth of their past, we have to confine only to the known facts.  One of the stark fact accepted by Western historians is that students from other countries did come for studies to India’s world renowned universities at Nalanda, and Takshashila. Certainly they would not have come to Indian universities to learn ‘snake-charming’ and orthodoxy!

Indo – Greek Center of Learning

When Alexander came to India he was highly impressed by the Takshashila University. Leaving aside what lay ahead, Alexander was inspired by Takshashila at the out skirts of India that he established a great university at Alexandria in Egypt as a center of Indo Greek learning. Thereafter Alexander established the Hellenistic Empire comprising of Egypt, Asia Minor, Iran, Bactria and North-West India, through which the transfer of learning from India to Greece increased.

A large number of Indian texts were translated into Greek and kept in the library at Alexandria. Alexander himself took hundreds of Brahmin scholars to Greece. Many soldiers married Indo-Iranian women and took them to Greece. Trade routes and diplomatic channels were also established.

In 323-30 BC Alexandria emerged as the greatest city in the Mediterranean region. Amongst its most notable institutions were the library and the museum, being Europe’s first organized research institution. Alexander’s successor attacked India but was defeated by newly emerged Emperor Chandragupta Maurya to whom defeated Seleucus had to marry his daughter for bargaining peace. Greek ambassador Megasthanes has left ample accounts of Indian glory for the consumption of subsequent historians of western countries.

Pythagoras – Father of European Knowledge

Modern Knowledge started in Europe with Pythagoras, who carried Indian Mathematics. His life history was recorded centuries after his death, and even that information has come to us in fragments. He was born around 560 BC, on Samos, an island near the coast of Asia Minor. After studying music and gymnastics, he went to Egypt. He stayed at Babylon and other places where Indian philosophy of Upanishads, Mathematics and Geometry were well known.

While he was there, Iran invaded Egypt, and Pythagoras was also brought to Iran as a captive. From Iran, he went to India and stayed in Punjab and Himalayas.  Pythagoras discarded Greek robes and donned local trousers. Before Pythagoras, trousers were not known to Europe. Thus not only he introduced Indian Geometry to Europe, but Indian costumes also.

Indians living at high altitudes in the Himalayas wore woolen trousers, which is evident from the statue of Indian King Kanishka, discovered in Afghanistan. The Emperor is shown wearing a long double-breasted coat and trousers. Variants of trousers like pajamas and salwar were worn in the northern plains of Indo-Iran.

Spread of Indian Philosophy 

Turning away from Ionian culture Pythagoras identified himself with the East. After living twenty years in the East, Pythagoras returned to Europe and settled in Croton, a Greek-speaking town of South Italy. He formed an order of ascetics and preached that world was held together like human society. Also he preached that all needed to cultivate order in personal life.

Pythagoreans believed in transmigration of life through different life forms. He claimed to recall the details of his own previous incarnations. He preached the kinship of all forms of life, which is the fundamental principle of Hinduism. He also preached non-violence and prohibited killing of animals for food. Pythagorean propagated that who indulged in immoral acts, would be reborn as animal in next life.

The reaction started by Pythagoras resulted in a boom of scholars in Greece like Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and many others. However, till then the Greeks accepted only four elements such as, Earth, water, Air, and Fire, out of the five basic elements suggested by Indians. They were unable to understand ‘space’ and therefore excluded that.

Ideas that Awakened Europe

Some of the notable scholarly works at Alexandria University that provided foundation to Western thought and brought ‘first awakening to Europe’ are as under:-

  • In 300 –250 Aristarchus, a Greek astronomer working at the museum in Alexandria, advanced a heliocentric theory of the solar system, anticipating Copernicus by many centuries.
  • 250-200 Eratosthenes, a Greek astronomer in Alexandria prepared a map of the heavens that included 675 stars, and calculated the circumference of the Earth, which was fairly accurate.
  • During first Century a Greek physician, Discordia, while serving with Roman armies, studied plants as a source of drugs and wrote De Matera Medica.  The five-volume work dealt with 600 plants and almost 1000 drugs, and is known to be the Europe’s first systematic pharmacopoeia. The Arabs preserved it.
  • In Egypt, Ptolemy published a book on astronomy in 127 AD, which came to be known as Ptolemaic system. He wrote that Earth was motionless and was placed at the center of the universe. All other planets and heavenly bodies revolved around Earth. Ptolemy’s perspective continued to dominate astronomy and religious belief until Nicholas Copernicus in 16 th century dared to suggest that instead of Earth, Sun was the center of the Solar system. Even Copernicus was far behind the Indian astronomers who had stated that there were millions of galaxies (Koti koti Brahmanda).
  • In 200 AD During this century, Plotinus wrote the Enneads. He saw the universe as a series of emanations from an absolute reality the ‘One’. He was closer to Hindu thought.

Destruction of Alexandria

In 47 AD the great library in Alexandria was partially destroyed in a fire during a war between Julius Caesar and the followers of Pompy, the Great. It caused a great loss to ancient treasures of knowledge as about 40,000 volumes were consumed by fire.

Rome rose as a big power in the second century BC.  Romans destroyed much of Greek civilization as well as their knowledge.  They expanded their empire to include North Africa, Asia Minor and South Europe. Greek cities were destroyed, learning was disrupted and scholars were killed.

A few Greek scholars escaped to other parts of Europe, and continued their pursuit of knowledge in a low profile till the Byzantine period. In 529, Justin Ian, the Byzantine Emperor closed the nine-hundred-year old Academy of Plato in Athens and completely destroyed the last remains of Greek knowledge in Europe, alleging that to be a hotbed of paganism and heresy. The scholars were killed or converted.

Many of these Greek scholars, fearing for their lives and intellectual freedom fled to Persia, where they established a kind of Academy in exile.

The Renaissance in Europe

This was the period, when Sun was setting in the East and rising from the West. By this time Islamic rulers had ushered an era of darkness in India. Volumes of intellectual Hindu-Heritage were burnt as ‘Kufar’ and Brahmins had faced the worst through annihilation. Fortunately some books had escaped destruction. Most of the knowledge that ushered Europe in the age of Renaissance had been compiled from ancient Hindu texts, and the same was patented to ‘credit’ new inventors, with European nations gaining political control over the globe.

Fortunately for the mankind, some texts had been hidden and preserved. Those were taken abroad in original or by translation through which the modern Science in Europe took its roots. This period is known as the age of Renaissance and the re-appearance of ancient text. However many of the original masterpieces were plagiarized and came to be identified with European authors. There were no protests from Hindus who had been living a darkened life under medieval Islamic rulers.

Modern science began during 1400-1500 with the Renaissance in Europe, sparked by ancient texts such as Euclid’s geometry, Ptolemy’s geography and Galen’s medicine. The Indian Knowledge thus lost its identity.

Chand K Sharma

(Next: Splashes – 54/72 – Spread of Knowledge Abroad)

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