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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 – 3/72 – Vanvasies Gifted Civilization

Life is also one of the many systems of the Universe. Life is perceived by unification of soul with body and ends whenever soul is separated from body, irrespective of body remaining intact. Thereafter soul and elements of body merge with their superior elements. Soul merges with the Superior Being, and the corpse formed out of Earth, Water, Fire, Wind and Ethereal dissolve to merge with basic elements through cremation, burial or decay by passage of time.

Survival Instinct

The moment body and soul are united a desire TO LIVE emerges automatically. No living being including the plants wants to die. Every living thing can take the life of another living being either to satisfy its own food requirement or when there is threat to its own life. Everyone wants to avoid death. This is called survival instinct programmed in every living being as a fundamental duty.

Most living beings can change themselves to certain extent. This is called adaptability. This is more in humans than others. In addition, humans can change other livings as well as non living beings also. This is called effectiveness. Our happiness and sufferings are due to the match or mismatch between our adaptability and effectiveness. We are happy when circumstances are of our liking, and we become unhappy when things are not to our liking. Our adaptability and effectiveness is the result of our Actions.

Formation of Relationships

Food, shelter, and security are also necessary TO LIVE. Plants need manure and protection from Sun or extreme cold. Birds and other animals also need resting place and food. So do humans. No one can live and flourish in isolation. All kinds of plants, animals and humans are in pairs of males and females. No gender is in position to generate life individually. There is need for companionship. Except ‘natural blood relationships’ such as parents and siblings that last for ever, ‘needs’ generate relationships for all living beings and motivate them to work toward satisfaction of their personal ‘needs’. Need theory is always at work for formation of relationships, and mutual obligations for all living beings. All living beings are primed since their birth to satisfy their basic physical needs at their own or with least effort or assistance from others. Physical needs are sleep, hunger, security, sex, body waste expulsions, communication and so on.

For instance, a cat, dog, or any other animal, after feeling hungry leaves his resting place and gets motivated to search food. This action is prompted to satisfy a body need. Having found food, the animal continues to visit the same place daily to maintain continuity of his food supply and secures the source. Often the animal would locate itself near the site, become friendly with the food supplier if there be any, and would not let another animal disrupt the food supply chain. This way animal start belonging to someone and this action leads to forming of a group. Once an animal, has secured source to satisfy basic need for food and rest, it concentrates on psychological needs also to do better things in life. Animals want to be loved also. Pet animals refuse to eat their food on being separated from, or rejected by, their owners. Their need for esteem demands satisfaction by patting and cajoling by the master. Then they want to improve further and develop also. Animals learn to perform several tricks and other functions to fully realize their potential.

This aspect has been explained in Manusamriti:

यं तु कर्मणि यस्मिन्स न्ययुड्क्त प्रथमं प्रभुः।

स तदेव स्वयं भेजे सृज्यमानः पुनः पुनः ।। ( 1- 28)

(For whatever charter of duties a living being was created by the Creator, they started performing the same function at their own repeatedly.)

Same sequence worked for humans also. A new born needs food, care, resting place, and love from parents and relatives. When these are given the child wants to know the surrounding and responds to accept knowledge from parents, teachers and finally resorts to individual efforts for improvement. Basically everyone wants to learn techniques to improve individual effectiveness and adaptability to gain happiness and satisfaction. Needs motivated everyone towards formation of social groups, relationships and subsequently evolving codes of conduct.

Societies and Responsibilities

Early men lived in caves and moved about in groups to search food by hunting. The animal skin provided them means of protection against weather. They lived nomadic life in search of hunting places. Later they adapted to agriculture as an alternate source of food. This way they started settlements near water sources and homes and habitat came into being.

Based on the biological differences, instincts and traits, division of duties was also made. All over the world, by and large, females continued to look after indoor responsibilities, while males managed the external environment. Females and offspring were to be protected from rivals, animals and climatic disasters. Because males were sturdier than females and more apt to undertake hard work and risks, they took upon themselves the responsibility of providing food through hunting and agriculture. Females were assigned the role to manage households.. With division of responsibilities, over a period, traditions got established concerning their rights and duties on the basis of sex, and effectiveness in the group. All over the world civilization was gifted by vanvasies.

Leaders and Followers

There were Needy at the receiving end and givers or satisfiers at the other end. This existence of receiver and the giver formed the basis of further relationships. The intimacy and duration of relationship has always been proportionate to the intensity of need and the capability of the giver to satisfy the same. All relationships are formed out of some need and last till the need is there. A child, who cried bitterly due to momentary separation from mother, would forget the same mother once need for her affection is over and would go in search of friends for satisfying some other need. As the needs changes, relationships also keep changing. A needy person is more dependent on others. His happiness and sadness is at the command of others thus lesser the need the greater are opportunities available to enjoy happiness. This dictum is an eternal truth. The givers emerged as group leaders while the receivers turned followers. Group leaders were more effective, while followers were adoptive. The group leaders were not only to lead hunting expeditions, but also had to arrange for the protection of all group members, their families, tools and crops. They devised customs and traditions regarding birth, marriage, and burial of dead according to availability of resources and environment. Later those customs got formalized in rituals to be followed by all group members in a specified manner to bring uniformity. The group leaders were required to settle internal disputes and administer justice. Therefore scope of group leadership was enlarged and strengthened. The added responsibilities lead to the evolution of kingship, followers, domains, and administrative systems. As the groups enlarged they extended their control over larger areas and later started formation of countries and nationalities. The earlier groupings came to be formed according to races, religions and settlements. Later those developed into nationalities in nineteenth century.

Religion is Natural Identity

A nation is defined today as a population having: a common language and literature, common customs, common consciousness of right and wrong, and inhabiting a territory of geographical unity. This concept of Nationality is more recent one. Nationality merely denotes the formal legal rights and obligations of a person living in a specified geographical area. The limits of the geographical area may expand or shrink to include or exclude persons, but the religious affinities manifested in the form of ‘beliefs and ethical codes’ always overflow the national frontiers. A person inherits his natural identity at birth with his parents, relations, place of living and the customs and belief that are shared by his fellow beings. All these elements are condensed in the concept of Religion. Religion therefore establishes and regulates all mutual obligations. Be it a small group, society or a nation, when everyone wanted to live with others with happiness. Therefore some rules were needed to regulate relationships. This need necessitated emergence of certain codes of behavior in religions all over the world. Obviously the beginning was made by the first human civilization in India. The codes of Mutual behavior formed by Hindus have remained universal even today. These have been accepted by all civilized societies with certain local modifications. Hinduism has universal appeal for all mankind cutting across the international barriers.

Chand K Sharma
(To follow: Splashes – 4/72 Environment based Religious Codes)

Splashes – 2/72 -Vanvasies Founded Sanatan Dharma

The first truth that all living things are the creations of one Creator it came to be discovered that animals and birds perform their body functions through instinct and reflex action. They have limited memory component designed for their body type. When they feel hungry they search for food, when threatened, they protect themselves, and communicate within their own species. The environment induces them to sleep, reproduce, and rear their off springs. They also have passions like hunger, greed, jealousy, sex, anger, fear and affection. They are driven into action by instincts to satisfy their passions and have no control over them. So much so that environment controls their reproduction, as they cannot be bred off-season. They are selective for themselves to a limited extent but cannot distinguish between good and bad for others.

Ecological Balance

Both Jada and Chaitanya are parts of ecology. Someone seems to have created them with pre-assigned roles to maintain the ecological balance. Their activities are regulated by someone through their Prakriti – instinct or nature, as we may express now. This instinct works like a software chip to motivate living things perform their assigned roles. Lion keeps check on the population in forest and big fish control smaller fish in oceans. Snakes limit rodents and in turn are food for eagles. Earthworms soften surrounding soil to let plants take nourishment and grow.

Some species perform their assigned duty by day, while others by night for which they are equipped since birth by Nature. They are self-regulated and no one calls them to duty. A scorpion, snake or lion is bound to kill the prey even if the prey had saved their life. If species did not perform their assigned roles they would become useless, although they are not aware of the value of their roles. They do not have any choice either. Their Prakirti is their inbuilt charter of duty.

Life- Supporting systems

The working of entire Universe is system based. The systems are reciprocal and work in cyclic order with auto regulation. Their timings are synchronized to minutest perfection. Sun has been rising every day from East and has never set in other direction than in the West. All planets have confined their movements within their allotted orbit and speed. Oceans stock reserve supply of water on Earth. To keep the water fresh, it is regularly being percolated twice a day by tides caused by the gravitational pull of the moon. Every year earth travels nearer to Sun to get more heat to cause water to turn into vapor shedding its salty substance. Millions of tons of water are transported in the form of clouds, thousands of miles away from the sea, re-converted into water in the form of rain, to provide fresh drinking water for all species. The surplus water is channeled back to the sea for storage through rivers. One would be left to wonder how efficiently such tasks could be performed if contracted out to most efficient establishments of today!

The Sun lights up the entire globe for all of us to perform our functions, provides necessary heat for lives to sustain, crops to ripe, and causes snow to melt to replenish daily supply of drinking water. At night there is moon to cause tides, and to provide softer light for those on duty to work, while others sleep undisturbed. Wind cools temperature when it gets hot due to the activity of Sun. Wind also helps plants to exercise their body and shed leaves to make room for new ones to grow. There are many other systems that have been working at their optimum level for millions of years. Whenever a system goes out of tune disturbances are caused. The systems do get overhauled to resume work automatically.

The Creator of Systems

We know there were no houses and villages. Early men lived in forests, and there were no schools and hospitals but the Early Men were always inquisitive about the working of systems around them. Surely there had to be one at central source of authority to have created such well-coordinated systems, they thought! With passage of time arbitrarily the Early Men or Aadi Manav alias Vanvasies named this mysterious central source of power in abstract form to be called ‘God’. Earth, Water, Fire, Wind, Sun and certain other elements closely associated to these systems were also thought to be helping the ‘God’ in running the Universe. Today this knowledge is called Physics.

As this Central power creating and regulating the systems is present everywhere, at every time the Vanvasies characterized this power to be omnipresent, omniscience and omnipotent. No one has seen ‘Him’, but everyone has realized ‘His’ existence. Overwhelmed by His benevolent magnanimity, gift of life and life sustaining systems humans feel humble and grateful to Him and have been trying to locate His whereabouts from times immemorial.

Origin of Universal Religion

Of all living beings the Adi Manav, the early men known as VANVASI living in forests were the first to think about ‘God’ and started searching Him. Their collective efforts came to be known as Adi Dharma or more popularly called Sanatan Dharma.

While living in forests, early men saw the rising of the Sun, Moon, stars, thunder, lightening, large and small animals, rivers, oceans, mountains, disease, and death. They wondered. Some of them thought of solving those mysteries around their environment, by their individual perceptions, thinking, knowledge and discussions with other fellow beings and most often using their imagination they created mythical stories.

Thus starting from India, in every part of the world, mythology came into existence. Subsequently artists made beautiful pictures to translate myths into visuals. The scientific properties of natural phenomena observed came to be bodily represented. Scientific knowledge was humanized in form for easy understanding. Thus supernatural persons came to possess more hands than ordinary persons, as they were believed to possess more knowledge and power and formed part of mythology. Various elements of Nature got personified as deities.

This way the Religion that emerged through the search of Adi Manav is known today as Adi Dharma or Sanatan Dharma or Hindu Dharma. Other religions of the world originated later and had many similarities with Sanatan Dharma. Europeans called them Paganism; Islamists branded those Kufar, but neither of them could offer better explanation than Sanatan Dharma had already given. In nut-shell Sanatan Dharma evolved around the concept of living in harmony with elements of Nature, Animals, and Birds.

It is ironical that today Christians, Muslims, and some self styled Dalit Hindu politicians mislead Vanvasies to declare them-selves non-Hindus and convert to their faith simply to damage Hindu unity!

Only Sanatan Dharma propounded the idea of Vasudeva Kutumabkum implying whole world to be one family while others advocated destruction of faiths not coinciding with theirs. Adi Dharma, Sanatan Dharma or Hinduism emerged as the religion of mankind with its universal application to live in harmony with Nature and see one-ness with every thing.

Chand K Sharma
(To follow: Splashes – 3/72-Relationships, Societies and Obligations)

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