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Posts tagged ‘Upanishads’

Splashes – 54/72 – Spread of Knowledge Abroad

The destruction of Indian literature was so extensive that no record of pre-Islamic history remained in India. In fact, whatever history of ancient India exists now, was re-constructed by the Europeans with the help of writings that survived mainly, in Sri Lanka, China, Myanmar, Nepal and Tibet.  Another source of information was the biographies and official records of Islamic rulers. Hindus sources like Puranas and Vedas were dubbed as mythology by British historians and their clones like Nehru, in India. The gaps in history were therefore filled up by interpretation of British historians to suit their political and colonial aims.

Islamic Contributions

It cannot be categorically stated, that all Muslims were barbarians, while most of them were. Some refined Muslim intellectuals, particularly from Sufi cult in Islam, not only studied Hindu scripture,s but had them translated to Arabic and Persian language. Some Muslims poets and philosophers also enriched our intellectual heritage by their individual contributions. Prominent among them were Amir Khusro, Malik Muhammad Jayasi, Rahim, Raskhan, Maseet Khan, Raza Khan and Dara Shikoh. They contributed mainly towards literature, music, and other arts.

Although Islamic invaders had indulged in reckless destruction of educational institutions and massacre of intellectuals, but many texts in the field of mathematics, astrology, medicine and philosophy had already been translated into Arabic, before Indian universities were burned down and inmates killed. Some manuscripts that were scattered over the country, escaped destruction as they remained in safer hands.

Prominent Translations within India

Some notable translations into Arabic and Persian are:-

  • Al-Bairuni – He was a Muslim Saint and contemporary of notorious Muslim invader Mahmud of Ghazni. It is said that many often he preceded the campaigns and acted as Mahmud’s mentor. He translated Brihatsamhita to Arabic.
  • Aziz Shams Baha-i Nuri – Subsequent to Al-Bairuni’s translation, Aziz Shams Baha-i Nuri translated Brihatsamhita to Persian.
  • Nakhshabi– During his conquest of Nogarkot in 1362, Sultan Firuz Shah Tughlaq acquired 1300 books from Jwalamukhi temple. He commissioned Sanskrit scholars to translate some of them to Persian. On the basis of the translation of texts on Physics and Astronomy, ‘Izzu’d-Din Khalid Khani compiled the Dala ‘il-Firuz Shahi’ and ‘Abdu’l.
  • Sultan Sikandar Lodhi – Sikandar Lodi also ordered the translation of many Sanskrit works to Persian with a view to enrich the language.
  • Sultan Zaynu’l-‘Abidin – Sultan Zaynu’l-‘Abidin of Kashmir had some Sanskrit Texts translated to Persian in Kashmir.
  • Mughal Period – Mughal Emperor Akbar had established a translation bureau Maktab Khana for translation of Sanskrit texts to Persian and Arabic. Sanskrit books were translated during Jehangir’s period also. Prince Dara Shikoh translated Upanishads to Persian.
  • Retranslation of Translated Sanskrit Texts – Anquetil Duper Ron re-translated the Persian version of some Sanskrit texts to French and Latin, which influenced many intellectuals in Europe including German scholar Schopenhauer.

Slow absorption of Knowledge

Initially the Europeans were slow to absorb knowledge, such as new type of numbers. Much of the work in universities and monasteries 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 a book called La Thiende (The Tenth). After him, Magini and Christopher Claudius used them in their works. In 1621, Bachet published the Latin version of Arithmetica from Arabic.

Accounts of Foreign Travelers 

Since the period of Mauryan Dynasty foreign travelers and diplomats had been visiting India. They carried scriptures as well as accounts of India’s progress in various fields.  Some of their accounts influenced the spirit of Renaissance in Europe and explorers from those countries embarked upon reaching Indian shores. Kamasutra of Vatsayana had been one such text that interested most of the Europeans during the age of Renaissance and afterwards. Navigators from England, France, Portugal, Spain, and Holland competed against each to reach India during fifteenth century. Some of the foreign travelers are mentioned below:-

  • Megasthenes – Megasthenes (350 – 290 BC) was a Greek ambassador in the court of Chandragupta Maurya. He has given accounts of older Indians who knew about the pre-historic arrival of Dionysus and Hercules in India. He mentioned about devotees of Hercules (Shiva) and Dionysus (Krishna or Indra). His classic Indicaserved as an important source to many later writers
  • Buddhist Monks – Emperor Ashoka had sent many Buddhist monks to Tibet, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, China, Japan, Cambodia and several South East Asian countries to propagate the message of Buddhism. They carried with them several texts and art forms. Qandahar (then Gandhara) in Afghanistan, being located along the silk route was an important center for transfer of scriptures and practical interaction between countries in Central Asia and the Middle East. Tibetan alphabet bears influence of Gupta period.
  • Fa-Hien – A Chinese Buddhist monk traveled extensively in India, and Tibet through Kashmir, Kabul, Qandahar, and through Punjab to Central India. He remained in India for about 10 years, seeking complete copies of the Vinaya-pitaka and compiling information regarding Buddhism and the life of its founder. Thereafter he went to Ceylon where he copied many sacred texts. After his return he wrote an account of his travels. His narrative was translated to French by Rémusat (Paris, 1836) and to English by Beal. His accounts inspired Chinese historical novelist to write ‘Journey to the West’ in English.
  • Hiuen-Tsang– Hiuen-Tsang was a seventh century Chinese Buddhist pilgrim. He knew about Fa-Hien’s visit to India and like him was concerned about the incomplete and misinterpreted nature of the Buddhist scriptures that had reached China. Starting from China in AD 629, Hiuen-Tsang passed through Central Asia by the northern trade route via Kucha and reached Northern India, where, at the city of Kannauj, he was the guest of Emperor Harsha-vardhana. He visited the sacred Buddhist sites in Magadha and spent much time studying at the great Nalanda monastery, then an important center of Buddhist scholarship. The Pilgrim next travelled to parts of Bengal and then to South and West India. He studied Sanskrit and translated several scriptures to Chinese. He returned to China, again by way of Central Asia, and recorded the details of all the countries he visited. Hiuen-Tsang’s purpose was to obtain Buddhist books and to receive instruction on Buddhism while in India, but he ended up doing much more. He has preserved the records of political and social aspects of the lands he visited.
  • Ibn Battuta – He made many trips and travelled to several countries during the period 1304 – 1368 AD covering almost 75000 miles, including a voyage from Central Asia, to china and South East Asia. During the period of Muhammad Shah Tughlaq he entered India via Afghanistan. He stayed for some time at his court and then visited Khammbhat and Calicut. He described the city of Hansi under the Rajput and carried his accounts for subsequent European navigators.
  • Sir Thomas Roe – Sir Thomas Roe was an English diplomat and an accomplished scholar and a patron of learning. His reputation resulted mainly from the success of his embassy in 1615-18 to the court of Mughal Emperor Jahangir. He became a favorite of Jahangir. His journal was a valuable source of information for the reign of Jahangir. Roe himself collected several valuable manuscripts which he subsequently presented to the Bodleian Library. As a result of his contacts fame of Indian muslin spread in Europe and fabrics were exported to European Countries from India.
  • Marco Polo – Marco Polo wrote of his extensive travels throughout Asia. He wrote about customs, traditions, philosophy, astronomy, astrology, geometry and dresses of the countries he visited. His pioneering journey inspired Christopher Columbus to undertake an exploration mission in search of India, but eventually he landed on the Continent of America.

Translation of Rig Veda

The knowledge contained in Upanishads had already been put to use in Europe. In 1845 Max Muller from Germany translated Hitopdesha. Max Muller was wary of Darwin’s work on human evolution, and attacked his view of the development of human faculties. Muller shared many of the ideas and associated communion with natural forces. Muller’s Sanskrit studies came at a time when scholars had started to see language development in relation to cultural development. Muller therefore devoted himself to the study of this language, becoming one of the major Sanskrit scholars of his day. Muller believed that the earliest documents of Vedic culture should be studied in order to provide the key to the development. At that time the Vedic scriptures were little-known in the West, though there was increasing interest in the philosophy of Upanishads.  He saw the gods of the Rig-Veda as active forces of nature, only partly personified as imagined persons.

Providential Escape

Perhaps it was also a blessing in disguise that some of the documents and manuscript had escaped destruction that was to follow in India and reached Europe to be used for the benefit of mankind. The worst of blood-bath and destruction were yet to take place in India because Hindus had over indulged in spiritualism and idealism.

It is ironical that to some of our present generation, India is a nation without nationalism, pride, or history. Cultural self-hatred abounds in secular minded academicians who are Indian only in blood and color, but English in taste, opinion, and intellect. Unfortunately still those lots continue to dominate our educational institutions.

Chand K Sharma

(Next: Splashes – 55/72 –Indian Illumination in Renaissance)

Splashes – 52/72 – Indian Achievements Under-rated

Till middle of first millennium India had made trail blazing discoveries in every field of knowledge. Indians had pioneered comprehensive texts on all the branches of Science and Arts. Hindus were the most developed, prosperous, civilized and powerful Nation on globe, while other countries and faiths had yet to make some start.

Due to vested interests India’s contribution to the world of science are under-rated, negated, distorted and twisted to such an extent that many are used to believe that Indians did not contribute to the field of original sciences. The chronology of Indian history has also been demoted by 1200 years in a planned way by vested interests.

So called intellectuals think that modern civilization is a product of Judo-Christian tradition. As a benefit of that, imperialist countries of West are having a monopolist hold over the world knowledge. Anything that contradicts their thought is branded blind faith, orthodoxy and fantasy.

The facts are contrary to that. Modern philosophy and science are the contribution of Hinduism whereas Christianity did everything to suppress and destroy the achievements of ancient who did not echo their theological thought. Our ‘modern Hindus’ are fooled to believe with their mouth wide opened in appreciation of Europeans’.

India Shined when Europe Slept

While India was known all over the world for its wealth and knowledge, historical facts confirm that up to fifteenth century, Europe was in the ‘Dark Age.’ This fact is now openly agreed by European historians. There was no knowledge like mathematics, science, and medicine in Europe.

There was some enlightenment in Greece. Turks invaded Greece and their intellectuals fled to Italy and later reached England along with few books on ‘knowledge. This event is called the ‘first awakening of Europe’. Even that much was also through import of knowledge from India during sixth century BC.

The re-appearance of this knowledge in the 16th century is called ‘the age of Renaissance’. It was only thereafter that European explorers desperately raced to locate and reach India.

Co-relating History

We need to co-relate certain historical facts relevant to the loot and destruction of Hindu knowledge bank.  The period under reference extending fourteen hundred years onward were called ‘dark ages’ by the Europeans in their own history. In India Hinduism had lived to flourish as a system to promote ‘Live and let live’ part of Dharma, within their peaceful environment. The ‘environment’ was the outcome of economic progress, social practices, acquisition of knowledge, and political stability. Developments in one field affected the other fields also.

During that period, apart from India, only Greece, Rome, Egypt, Mesopotamia and China were counted as developed countries.  In rest of the world people still lived in primitive kind of settlements.

The First Awakening

India had been the birthplace of science over ages. Takshashila University was a great center of learning where students from Iran and further west came to study. In the first millennium BC, Iran could be considered an expansion of Indian culture and civilization. Turkey was known as Asia Minor and was a meeting ground between Greeks and Iranians.  Islam had not been founded then, thus people who lived in Turkey were not Muslims.

Effect of Upanishads

Iran was located on the crossroads of Europe and Asia. Being located on the route of migration, Iran was a mixture of many ethnic groups. Over the centuries its borders have changed frequently. Sometimes Iran was a mighty empire and ruled over lands as far apart as Egypt and India. At other times, foreign invaders ruled over Iran. Around 1500 BC groups of people began migrating into Iran from North. They were sometimes called Indo-Europeans and sometimes called Aryans.

Those days Mecca was a center of International trade and also a religious center.  Arabs gathered there once a year to worship at a black stone (Shiva Linga) which they believed had fallen from paradise.

Monotheism of Upanishads literature had reached a full development in India. It had influenced Zoroastrianism, Judaism, and also Akhenaton of Egypt (1350 BC). Zoroaster lived in eastern Persia during fifth century BC, close to India. His belief to wage war on evil and struggle between good and bad, light and darkness is Indian in origin and influenced by Upanishads.  The religions in Middle East based on the principle of monotheism had their ethical origins from Hinduism.

Mithraism was Vedic Concept

Mithraism was another branch of Vedic religion, which spread widely over Iran, South Europe and Egypt. The birthday of Mithra, a Vedic Sun God, used to be celebrated on 25th December since after this Sun entered Northern Hemisphere. This day was later adapted by the Christians as the date of birth of Christ.

Influence of Hindus concepts

During third century BC, a sizable community of Indian traders lived at Alexandria in Egypt. Besides traders, Vedic and Buddhist monks also traveled the area that is now known as ‘Middle East’. Thus Indian beliefs, philosophy, science, and customs had already traveled beyond ‘Middle East’ before the rise of Christianity and Islam. Many of the modern scientific, philosophical and political theories inspired by Hindu concepts had also found their way to Europe through Middle East. Some of the Hindu concepts that influenced the world are mentioned as under:-

  • Earth is round – The concept of a round earth had never been disputed in India. Hindu mythology depicted Varah Avatar lifting the rounded earth on His tusks in many sculptures, and Buddhist icons depicted Lord Buddha as a lion fighting a dragon representing Ignorance, holding a round earth by its tai.
  • Theory of Relativity – Hinduism encouraged its followers to seek truth as a goal of life. It also recognized that different individuals under different circumstances may conceive truth differently. Thus Hinduism preached tolerance in difference of opinion as the first requirement for the growth of knowledge. The sages said that knowledge was relative.
  • Religious Freedom – Those who refuted the existence of God were also accepted within Hindu religion. The religion and belief were a matter of personal choice and could not be enforced by the family, society or the state. Clergy and priests did not exist in Hinduism in Western sense. Priests were to perform the rites only, when requested. Every individual visualized the Creator according to his choice and method.
  • Unified Field Theory- The theory of Brahman not only inspired the Theory of Relativity but also the unified field theory in Physics.
  • Law of cause and effect – Hinduism always considered Truth to be a subject of investigation, and not a matter of belief. It encouraged people to know and experience God, rather than to believe someone else having seen Him. The Universe has been regarded a complex system of causes and effects flowing in time.
  • Karma Theory –The doctrine of ‘Karma’ making people responsible for their acts and denial of the doctrine of divine will and fate was the first seeds of modern attitude and scientific temper. Because of this investigative temper, India was ahead of all other nations in modern thought, science and mathematics. In contrast, Jewish, Christianity and Islam were based on the faith that God identified by the founder of their faith alone was real and all others were false. The words of the God as revealed to their respective Prophets were final. Anything contradicting them had to be destroyed. That bred heresy hatred and intolerance.

Alexander the Great

This was approximately the period when Alexander the great invaded Afro Asian Countries. Alexander was a real military leader who was not greedy after gold alone. Wherever he conquered he did not destroy the local civilization.  If he saw some exotic bird, animal or book, he used to send the same to his teacher Aristotle in Athens.

Alexander met several learned persons and collected pieces of wisdom from them for his country. From his time the process of knowledge from East to West started. His campaign established links between Eastern and Western parts of the world. That is how flow of knowledge moved westward from India to Greece.

Chand K Sharma

(Next: Splashes – 53/72 – Shine of Indian Wisdom)

Splashes – 40/72 Literary Contributions by India

India is the home of literary fiction. Stories of Indian origin have long been told in distant lands of Asia and Europe in a variety of forms often without awareness of their source. Although Europeans had no knowledge of Sanskrit till seventeenth century, folk-lore of India had already inspired people over there. Many of the popular stories had been converted to the local mold and that could be a subject for research in the age of copy right.

The Art of Story Telling

Indians had perfected several styles of story-telling. Some of the most popular formats and folk tales in Sanskrit are mentioned here.

  • Ballad Singing – Ballad singing has been very popular in India. Singers would narrate stories through songs at community gatherings. Their themes were chosen from Ramayana, Mahabharata, Puranas, and also the heroic deeds of Alha-Udal, love stories of Nala-Damyanti and sufferings of Raja Bhartahari.Ballad singing later inspired Europeans also as Ballads have been very popular in English literature.
  • Panchatantra – No other book, except the Bible, has played so important part in the field of World literature as story-collection ofPanchatantra. The name of its author Vishnu Sharma had travelled to Europe and other countries of the world centuries before Kalidasa captured the fascination of Western intellectuals at the end of the eighteenth century.
  • Jataka TalesJataka Tales are another collection of tales intended to illustrate the precepts of righteous living. Hindus believed in rebirth. Jataka Tales narrate various rebirths of Buddha in the form of Bodhisatva. In Jataka tales Lord Buddha is incarnated in human as well as in animal forms like deer, elephant, or monkey to spread the message of justice and wisdom. Many of the tales of Panchtatra and Jatka Tales are identical. Whereas in Panchtantra lord Rama is the narrator, this role is assigned to Bodhisatva in Jatka Tales. It is significant that Rishabhdeva and Rama both are the incarnations of Vishnu. Jatka Tales were written in Pali script.
  • Hitopdesha – Hitopdesha contained interesting incidents from prevailing social life and bring out some moral lessons on varied subjects to stress some ethical aspect of Buddhism, such as choice of friends. The subject matter of stories concerned day-to-day events in the life of common folks. They generate some moral values in life reflecting the spirit of Yama and Niyama.
  • Betal Pachissi – Another collection of stories is Betal Pachchisi that contain twenty-five stories narrated by Betal to virtuous King Vikramadittyawith every tale revealing some subtle truth.
  • Singhasan Battisi – Similarly, another collection from the same period is Singhasan Batteesi. These stories are narrated one by one by thirty-two puppet supporting the throne of King The tales revolve around several facets of Vikramadittyaglorifying him as a just, benevolent, and chivalrous King.
  • Shuka Rambha – In this collection a parrot happens to witness love affairs, debauchery, infidelity, and jealousy between human relations concerning couples, friends and other persons, and exposes the same through narratives.
  • Katha Sarit Sagara – It is another compendium of assorted tales.

Conversion of Folk Literature

Through Arabs and Persian travelers, Indian folk tales were carried to Turkey, Rome, Greece, Spain and other European countries. From Constantinople, Indian stories were transmitted to Venice and Naples through trade contacts and they found their way into the works of Boccaccio, Chaucer, Cervantes, Shakespeare, Le Sage, La Fontaine, Voltaire, and other famous writers.

With each story-teller, the story assumed new looks, eventually reaching a stage that bore only a feeble resemblance with the original. It was much later when Western scholars discovered Sanskrit literature and the Indian contribution to the world’s fiction came to be appreciated. Those folk tales were translated in many languages. Shuka-Rambha is known as Tota-Maina in countries of Middle East.

Many of the immensely popular tales such as the ‘Magic Mirror’ ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ and the ‘Purse of Fortunate’ have been traced to Indian sources. So are the Arabian Nights, which have also been traced to Indian sources. The world-famous story of ‘Sindbad’ is a tale of Indian origin as the Arab historian Al Masudi expressly said that the Kitab el Sindbad was derived from India. Most of travels and voyages of Sindbad are narrated on the backdrop of Indian shores. Some of the tales were given local face lifts that it was impossible to trace their origin. Following is an example:-

Peter of Holland

In Holland, the sea presses in on the land so much that the people built big walls of earth and stone to hold back waters. These were to be watched at all times for breach, as even a small hole was considered to be dangerous. Many years ago, there lived a seven years old boy named Peter. One day his mother sent him to go across dikes to deliver some cakes to a blind man. She warned him to return before dark. On way back home, Peter noticed the sea water beat against the dike. Soon the water started trickling and there was a leak in the dike. He tried all possible means to block the leak but could not. It grew darker and colder at night. No one came to help. With bare hands he tried to stop water for whole night and in the morning countrymen found him exhausted. They plugged the breech and carried the hero Peter home. Since then whenever sea roars like a flood, the children are taught what a child could do. Parents take their children by the hand, and tell them of brave little Peter whose courage had saved the land.

This story is similar to that of child Upmannyu in Hindu scriptures who was the disciple of Rishi Apadyomya. Upmannyu looked after the cows at Gurukul. One day he was sent to collect firewood from forest late in the evening. He noticed a breach in field and when all   attempts made by him to plug the breech single-handedly failed, he lied himself down on the ground to keep that plugged with his bare body for whole night till the Guru and other disciples discovered him on next morning.

In both cases the story motivated sense of commitment to duty.  Events are similar but the background and locations have been changed. That was just one example. Even Shakespeare was inspired by a Mahabharata episode to depict death of Macduff in his play Macbeth.

Indian influence on Global Literature

  • Story Telling Technique – The format of telling one story every day has inspired several ancient writers directly or indirectly.  In 1350 Chaucer used the same technique for his classic Canterbury Tales, where every pilgrim narrated a story every night to fellow pilgrims to cover the journey. Arabian Nights have also followed the same style.
  • Concept of Sutra-dhar –In most of the ancient Indian plays, A Sutra-dhar would link the scene by narration to the viewers that were practically not possible for stage action. In Elizabethan plays including Shakespeare’s, similar technique has been used in the form of Prologue and Epilogue. Christopher Marlowe, a contemporary of Shakespeare, also modeled the Prologue of Dr Faustus inspired by Kalidasa.
  • Comic Character – Another concept from Kalidasa’s period to influence English drama was to add a comic Vidushaks in the play, such as a Fool to accompany the central character. His main role was to provide some comic relief to counter-balance tragedy and also to be a mouth piece of the play writer. Such Vidushaks appeared on the Elizabethan stage in the role of Falstaff in Shakespeare’s historical plays.
  • Opera Performance – Presenting a story through song and dance is old Indian art. Bharat Muni’s Natya Shastra is the oldest and comprehensive treatise on the art of dance and drama written in third century AD. It covered all aspects of stage craft, acting, make-up, stage management, dance and music. Opera presentation was fully mature in seventh century AD, while in Europe people were still living in forest dwellings. Kalidasa, Bhava Bhuti and Banabhatta were renowned names in play writing. Emperors Vikramadittya, Harash Vardhna and others personally patronized the art of dance drama. They wrote and acted in plays. With Kalidasa the foundation of Opera (musical Dance Drama) was laid in Gupta period that later flourished in Europe in sixteenth century.

Influence on Literary Style

All the formats and styles of literature had already been tried in India before the same were adopted abroad.

  • Question-Answers Format: For explaining serious subject matter the format of question-answers has been widely used in Upanishads, Puranas and Gita.
  • Epic Writing: The grand style of embellishments, figures of speech had been used by the epic writers of Ramayana and Mahabharata that contain vivid use of simile, comparison, contrast, metaphor, alliteration and onomatopoeia. Since then no new format or new figure of speech has been added to literature of any language. By no stretch of imagination it can be concluded that Valmiki, Veda Vyas or Tulsidas had been inspired by Homer, Dante or Milton.
  • Heavenly Invoking: Invoking the blessings from Sarsawati, Ganeshaor from some other gods has been an Indian tradition. In Paradise Lost Milton is also seen invoking heavenly Muse to inspire him to write his epic.
  • Ode Format: In all the Vedas, the Rishies first address the subject and seek blessings, be it a god, goddess or an herbal plants before the attributes of the subject are narrated in the form of an address. This format is called ‘ode format’ that Keats and Shelley used later in English literature.

The above fact pertain to the period before which Sanskrit had already completed her golden period. Hindi had also come off her epic period with several epics like Prithvi Raj Raso, Veesal De Raso, Hameer Dev Raso, and Padmavat on book shelf. Hindi was being enriched by host of metaphysical and mystic poets like Khusro and Kabir when English Literature was just born in 1350 AD. It is a pity that we Indians realized the greatness of Kalidasa only after the British honored him with the title of Indian Shakespeare.

Chand K Sharma

(Next: Splashes – 41/72 –Prosperous Social Living)

Splashes – 39/72 – Sanskrit- the Perfect Language

Sanskrit is the oldest language in the world, and mother of all Indo-European languages. Impressed with Sanskrit grammar and scientific structure, the linguists consider it the most suitable language for computers. It is link between present generation of population divided into Nationalities all over the world, and past of entire mankind on this planet.

Richness of Original Texts

The Sanskrit is written in Devanagari script. Rishis discovered Sanskrit and used it to create the mantras that were made up of a combination of sound vibrations to create specific effect on the mind and the psyche, when recited. It is the language of the Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, Mahabharata, Ramayana and the Puranas. Sanskrit literature is the richest literature in the history of mankind.

The popularity and richness of Sanskrit is indicated by the wealth of literature composed in the language covering every subject under the Sun. On every subject a masterpiece treatise can be found in the Sanskrit literature. The range expands from Philosophy, Religion, Science, Fine Arts, Sex, Music, Astrology, Palmistry, Astronomy, Chemistry, Mathematics, Martial Arts, and Diplomacy, just to list the few.

Panini’s Grammar Ashtadhyayi

Panini’s Sanskrit grammar, produced in about 300 BC is the shortest but complete grammar in the world for its precision of statement, for its thorough analysis of the roots of the language and of the formative principles of words. By employing an Algebraic terminology it attains a sharp succinct-ness unrivalled in brevity. It arranges, in logical harmony, the whole phenomena, which the Sanskrit language presents. It is one of the most splendid achievements of human invention in the science of Linguistics.

Panini’s masterpiece Ashtadhyayi (Eight Chapters) stands out as the first scientific analysis of any alphabet. The work is the more remarkable since the author did not write it down. He worked it all out of his head. Panini’s disciples committed the work to memory and in turn passed it on to their disciples. Though the Astadhayayi has long since been committed to writing, rote memorization of the work, with several of the more important commentaries, is still the approved method of studying grammar in India today.

Ashtadhyayi comprises of four thousand sutras or aphoristic rules. Prior grammatical analysis is clearly evidenced by the fact that Panini himself mentioned over sixty predecessors in the field. Subsequent grammarians, especially Katyayana and Patanjali, carried the work much further, and by the middle of the second century BC Sanskrit had attained a stereotyped form, which has remained unaltered for centuries.

Scientific Structure of Sanskrit

The Indian grammar set the pace for Europeans to analyze speech forms. Ancient Indian work on grammar was objective, systematic, and brilliant than that done in Greece and Rome. This refers to the period centuries before that of Geoffrey Chaucer; the Father of English poetry who came on the literary scene in 1350 AD. In most of the European countries people resorted to yodeling to draw attention of their neighbors working nearby.

Since English has been enjoying the status of global language, it will be appropriate to compare and contrast Sanskrit with international language in simple laymen style, to avoid complexity of jargon.

  • Alphabets – In every language, sounds are represented by signs. One distinct sign is allotted for identifying every smallest audible sound. Total number of signs when arranged in any uniform order worked out by users is called alphabet of language. Thus every developed language has its own alphabet, otherwise it has to borrow the same from some other language. English borrowed Roman script. English language has only 26 alphabets; implying only 26 basic natural sounds can be recorded in her script for use. Even out of that ‘Q’ ‘W’ ‘X’ are not natural sounds. Thus the efficacy of scripting natural sounds is only 23. Compared to this, Sanskrit has 46 Alphabets in her own Devanagri Obviously for this reason, her capability to record natural sounds is twice more than English.
  • Vowels and Consonants – Alphabets are subdivided into Vowels and Consonants. Consonants are natural sounds expressed in shortest durations. Vowels are added to consonants to prolong, mold and twist the natural sound towards desired expression. English has only five vowels in her kitty. Those are often used as consonants also. Thus most of the time every vowel has to perform double or even triple role by producing different sounds. In comparison, Sanskrit has thirteen vowels distinct from consonants. Therefore on this count also capability of Sanskrit to articulate natural sounds is much higher than English. In Sanskrit, no vowel is assigned dual role.
  • Simplicity There are several sounds which cannot be properly written or spoken in English, such as ‘Kha’, ‘Tha’ ‘Khsa’ to express proper nouns imported from other languages. The vowels in use are not sound specific so are the consonants too. For instance, the sound of alphabet ‘c’ is not uniform in the word ‘ceased’ and ‘cat’.  The alphabet ‘w’ and ‘v’ are used for similar expression on the basis of convention. West begins with ‘W’, while vest is to be worn with ‘v’. In contrast, whatever is scripted in Sanskrit, the same is spoken also. Every sound can be scripted the way it should be spoken. Nothing is left to guess-work or convention. Therefore Sanskrit is easier to learn and use.
  • Pronunciation – The Sanskrit alphabets have been arranged according to their body source, such as sounds made from throat, nasal and tongue or through the combination of body parts. The sounds represented by the letters of the alphabet have been scientifically arranged. Vowels and diphthongs are separated from mutes, semivowels, and sibilants. The sounds have been grouped into guttural, palatal, cerebral, dental and labial. This purely corresponds with human anatomy in practice.

The above is a brief but obvious comparison between ancient languages with the current International language, on few counts only. Sanskrit is no doubt a scientific and systematic language with perfect grammar. It has rightly attracted scholars worldwide.

But there is no justification for present generation of Indians to feel proud about it unless Sanskrit is respected by Indians at home also. Until 1100 AD Sanskrit was without interruption the official language of the whole of India, but now it is losing home turf to regional languages, English and Urdu. Younger generations are not being attracted towards it due to neglect of India’s selfishly secular politicians.

Linguistic Imperialism

Language is the identity of Individuals and nationalities. England though a tiny country in size to India, is regarded as a super power in the world. This equation of strength is mainly due to the English language that the British introduced throughout in their colonies. They initiated the most primitive and illiterate locals of their colonies to English and raised the strength of working classes to accept as their language. Today economy and technology of the developed countries is being commanded by the English-speaking people only. Libraries all over the world have been stocked with volumes of English literature and Technology scripted in English.

In contrast, India and China despite being world’s most populated countries, have no say in their own language. They are compelled to interact only through English. Unless they learn to converse in English they are regarded deaf and dumb on the global stage. Is it not a shameful situation for the youth of any self-respecting country?

Cultural Identity of India

For lack of determination, Indians have failed to establish their linguist identity anywhere in the world as well as at home. They prefer to continue being yoked under English for earning bread. Our ancestors had left most valuable legacies for the world to admire and educate us in return, but we have proved worthless to deserve and uphold their glory.

No doubt, India has an edge over China, because Chinese script is difficult and complicated. Our Devanagri script is more scientific, simple and natural. This script is used for Sanskrit and Hindi that happens to be the National Language of India. Still there are no takers for both the languages even in India, and the class rooms in Universities of India have been facing shortage of students. Those who do not get admission anywhere finally take up these languages to obtain a degree to be called qualified and learned.

The word Sanskrit literally means Perfected Language. This is quite an appropriate name to describe Sanskrit, but unfortunately our convent educated secularists did not reconcile to it. We run after certificates from others. Till NASA declared Sanskrit to be the only unambiguous language on the planet we did not care about her well-being. Little do we realize that Sanskrit is the only language that can function as an effective tool to link with the past history of India, and to enable us understand literature of Ancient time.

If we want to stand at our own in the world, we shall have to build indigenous technology; for which the road passes through the domain of Sanskrit.  If we continue to overlook the importance of Sanskrit in India, we shall be obliterating this last link also that has provided continuity with since the creation of Universe. If India wants to regain her past, they shall have to revert to Sanskrit, otherwise they would be drowned in English Channel

Chand K Sharma

(Next: Splashes – 40/72 – Literary Contributions by India)

Splashes – 35/72 – India’s Technological Contributions

Vishwakarma is the celestial engineer in Hindu Mythology, to whom all the knowledge of Technology is attributed. He is worshiped by devote engineers and crafts men in India. Vishwakarma is worshiped by devote engineers and crafts men in India before starting new projects.

He is believed to have designed the weapon systems of gods like Sudarshan Chakra, Shiva Dhanush, Indra’s Vajra, and Arjuna’s Gandiv, just to mention the few. He designed Ravana’s Pushpak Vimana and also the wonderful palaces of Indraprastha. Pushpak Vimana was seven storied aircraft, with five-star luxuries that could fly according to the wishes of its master.

It appeared fantasy some time ago but, we have touch screen technology, invisible fences like Lakshman Rekhas to restrict the pets. Chinese Researchers have created a ‘quad copter’ similar to Pushpak Vimana that can be controlled by thought alone and has the potential to give people with impaired motor abilities a new avenue for interaction. Now we can be assertive in explaining that our so-called “blind faiths” are taking concrete shape as well.

Invention of Wheel

Technological development started after the discovery of wheel. Westerners credit Mesopotamians for this discovery in 500 BC. This is due to simple reason that prior to Fourteenth century, Westerners had no knowledge about India and whatever they had learnt was sourced from Greeks. Even today, Americans and many other countries of the West have been holding concocted knowledge about Indian culture, beliefs and voluminous literature. This can be easily ascertained by opening literature available in their libraries today. Facts are either missing or have been misrepresented as for as India and Hinduism are concerned.

For the sake of argument only, without inventing the wheel Indians could not have had Sudarshan Chakra added to the icon of Vishnu and Durga. Without wheels Mahabharata war could not have been fought with Arjuna on a chariot driven by Krishna. Arjuna was definitely not on sledge, the kind of which is normally associated with Santa Claus. Bhishma Pitama had provoked Krishna to attack him with a chariot wheel during the battle!  Thus certainly the initial step towards technological development was taken only in India.

The Indian invention of wheel accelerated the pace of technological development in other countries also. Conclusive evidence has also been provided by the wheeled cart toy excavated from the site of Indus Valley civilization and at display in National Museum at New Delhi.

The Spinning Wheel

The discovery of wheel was made use for spinning through Charkha. This was as important discovery as its predecessor wheel. Today’s mechanical development owes a lot to invention of Charkha by Indians. With this technique motion could be continuously transferred to another wheel with the help of belt. Bhaskracharya had invented this technique and that reached Europe via Arabs.

Many other inventions have been mentioned in Samrangna Sutradhara a treatise dating 1100 AD, during the reign of Raja Bhoja of Central India. The descriptions include pullies, levers, cantilevers, and bridges.  Arabs acquired this technology from India and later passed the same to Europeans in Arabic and Persian language. Mechanical writings of D Vince were instrumental in its further spread.

Mineralogy and Metallurgy

Great progress was made by India in mineralogy and metallurgy also. The mining and extensive use of gold, silver and copper was undertaken in the Indus Valley in the third century BC. In the Vedic period extensive use was made of copper, bronze, and brass for household utensils, weapons, and images for worship. It is noteworthy that whereas gods and goddesses in other mythologies are depicted in head dresses made of animal skins and horns, Hindu gods are always dressed up in gold crowns.

Patanjali, authored Lohasastra in the second century BC. He has given elaborate directions for many metallurgic and chemical processes, especially the preparation of metallic salts, alloys, and amalgams, and the extraction, purification, and assaying of metals. The discovery of Aqua Regina, a mixture of nitric and hydrochloric acid to dissolve gold and platinum is also ascribed to him. Manusumriti also contains several passages on purification of various metals, such as:-

अपामग्नेश्च संयोगाद्धेमं रौप्यं च निर्वभो। तत्मात्तयोः स्वयोन्यैव निर्णेको गुणवत्तरः ।।

ताम्रायः कांस्यरैत्यानां त्रपुणः सीसकस्य च। शौचं यथार्हं कर्तव्यं क्षारोम्लोदकवारिभिः ।।

(Manusumriti 5- 113-114)

(The formation of Gold and silver is attributed to water and Fire, thus both the metals can be effectively refined through water and Fire. Copper, Iron, Bronze, Brass, Raga and mirror should be refined with using acids, detergents and water.)

Chemistry and Metallurgy

Chemistry developed in India from two sources – medicine and industry. There is mention about the construction of dams, bridges and even suspension bridge in Kautillya’s Arthashastra. Agriculture had its beginning in Indus valley during 4500 BC. Water storage system has been excavated from Girnar (3000 BC). There is bath connected with under-ground outlets lined with baked tiles. Similarly excavations at Harappa revealed use of utensils and swords made of copper, brass, and bronze.

India was looked as industrially developed and militarily strong country by Roman Empire since Gupta period. They regarded it as most skilled nation possessing chemical industries such as dyeing, tanning, soap-making, glass and cement.

In second century BC Nagarjuna devoted an entire volume to Mercury. By the sixth century Indians were far ahead of Europe in industrial chemistry; they were masters of calcification, distillation, sublimation, steaming, fixation, the production of light without heat, the mixing of anesthetic and soporific powders, and also the preparation of metallic salts, compounds and alloy. Ancient Indians were highly skilled in manufacturing and working with iron and tempering steel. The analysis of zinc alloys like brass, from archaeological excavations, testify that the zinc distillation process was known in India as early as 150 BC.

Southern India was a region that was renowned for metallurgy and metal work in the olden days. The Muslims carried Indian chemical science and industry to Europe.

  • Karnataka – fine steel wires were being produced for use as strings in musical instruments, at a time when the western world was using animal gut for stringed musical instruments.
  • Kerala – besides its large iron smelting furnaces, Kerala possessed skill of special processes such as the metal mirror of Aranmula.
  • Tamil Nadu – High quality steel from Tamil Nadu was exported all over the world since Roman times.
  • Andhra Pradesh –Kona Samudram region in Andhra Pradesh was famous for producing the world-renowned Woozy steel – the raw material for King Salahuddin’s fabled Damascus Sword. The tempering of steel had been brought in ancient India to perfection.
  • Rajasthan – Zink mining was carried out at Jhavar during 400 BC.

King Porus is said to have made a special gift to Alexander in the form of thirty pounds of steel. The Muslims carried Indian chemical science and industry to Europe. The image of Nataraja was made of five metals (Pancha-Dhatu).  This technology of mixing two or more metals and deriving superior alloys had been observed and noted by the Greek Historian Peisistratus. The Spire (Makara) over Hindu temples were always adorned with brass or gold toppings (Kamandals). 

Units of Measurement

  • Yativrasabha prepared tables for distance measuring and time calculations in his treatise Tiloyyapannati way back in 6 century.
  • Yakaspati Mishra has explained in Niyaya-suchini-bandha (840 AD) that location of any point in space could be fixed by the intersection of three imaginary lines drawn and distance accurately measured. This principle was a forecast of Solid Quadrant Geometry later propounded by Descartes in 1644 AD.
  • Niyaya Visheshika mentioned 1,944,000 Kshana as the duration of Sun Day. One Kshana equals to .044 of our today’s second. Truti was the smallest unit of time.
  • Para-manu has also been mentioned in Niyaya Visheshika It was the smallest unit of measure for measuring length. It equals to 1/349525 th part of modern inch. This measure can be imagined to equal the smallest particle of dust visible in sun light entering a dark room.

Iron pillar at Delhi 

Traditional Indian iron and steel are known to have some very special properties such as resistance to corrosion. This is substantiated by the 1600-year-old, twenty-five feet high iron pillar next to the Qutub Minar in New Delhi, installed during the period of Chandragupta Maurya. The famous iron pillar in Delhi is a metallurgical wonder. This huge wrought iron pillar, 24 feet in height 16.4 inches in diameter at the bottom, and 6 1/2 tons in weight has stood exposed to tropical sun and rain for fifteen hundred years, but does not show the least sign of rusting or corrosion.

Evidence shows that the pillar was once a Garuda Stambha from a Vishnu temple and added as a trophy in the Quwwat al-Islam mosque in Delhi. Experts at the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur have now found that a thin layer of ‘miswrite’ – a compound of iron, oxygen and hydrogen – protected the cast iron pillar near the historic Qutub Minar from rust for centuries. The metallurgy could be used to develop a model for containers used to store nuclear materials. The protective film had formed due to the presence of high amounts of phosphorous in the iron – as much as one percent, against less than 0.05 percent in today’s iron. The high phosphorous content was a result of the unique iron-making process practiced by ancient Indians.

Galvanizing Feat

Zinc metallurgy traveled from India to China and then to Europe. As late as 1735, professional chemists in Europe believed that zinc could not be reduced to metal except in the presence of copper.

Chand K Sharma

(Next: Splashes – 36/72 – Astrology Palmistry and Gemology)

Splashes – 34/72 – Indian Contributions towards Physics

Philosophy and Science are deeply related. Ideas precede inventions. Philosophers generate ideas and scientists shape them. The two functions might be combined in one person or more. The founders of Western scientific thought were also philosophers. So were the Indians. Indian scientists were called Ashvins.

The Beginning of Physics

Today the text books on Physics tell that matter lays in three states, that are solid, liquid and gas. This statement tells the condition of matter at some particular time only. The forms and shapes can change. The properties of different kinds of matter are the subjects covered under the Science of Physics.

Vedas were the first text books on Physics. The compiled knowledge about matter and its properties came to humans originally through the text of Vedas that provided the first, foremost and subtle knowledge about basic elements (Panch Bhuta) of Nature – Earth, Water, Fire, Wind and Ether; out which rest of the things have come in to existence. The process of acquiring knowledge about the composition of different things, properties, and establishing cause to the effects has been a continuously ongoing process.

Vedanga and Vedanta carried forward the studies in Physics. Upanishdas, Darshana Shastras and Puranas are the sources that contain mantras explaining properties of various natural phenomena and link causes to the effects. All Mantras are not meant for spiritual development. Most of them contain vast knowledge in compressed form, like zipped files, and need further expansion.

Format of Texts

Those days even the scientific writing was also done in poetic Chhandas, economized within the given structure of the metric measure. That served as an aid for memorizing. Mostly the style of writings was either in ‘Ode’ format. The author ‘addressed’ the ‘Subject’ and narrated the properties and utilities before seeking the effect. Another style used in ancient texts was a dialogue between the Rishi and disciples. This style offered explanation with examples also. 

Example of the knowledge content

Atharva Veda is mostly devoted to Physics.  It stated that there are seven fundamental elements of matter. Those are (1) Dhara (Earth), (2) Jala (Water), (3) Teja (Fire), (4) Vayu (Wind), (5) Khitija (Horizon), (6) Tanmatra (Quantity) and (7) Ghamanda (Ego).

Further, every kind of matter is possessed by three Gunas (qualities) of (1) Satvik, (2) Rajasik and (3) Tamsik. That implied that all matters can cause beneficial, dormant and harmful effects.

By different permutations and combinations of seven fundamental matter and three Gunas, 21 more products could be formed.

Likewise, another Treatise Vaisheshika Darshana Shastra lists out Prithavi (Earth), Jala (Water), Agni  (Fire), Vayu (Wind), Akasha (Horizon), and adds Kala (Time), Disha (Direction), Atma (Soul) and Mana (mind).

The properties of those are briefly  explained below:-

Prithavi- Earth element has qualities of smell, shape, taste and touch, out of which smell is most significant.

Jala – Water qualities are Taste, Touch and shape. Taste is most significant. Presence of Water is identified through coolness in matter. The warmth in Water denotes the presence of Fire element.

Agni – Fire element has qualities of shape and touch, out of which shape is most significant. 

Vayu – Wind element has distinct quality of touch. 

Akasha – Ether element has qualities of sound. It is formless, but where ever sound can be heard, presence of this element is confirmed. Ear drums are the recipients of this property.

Kala – Time causes origin, state and destruction of everything. For practical interpretation, it has been conceptualized into hours, days, months, age, present, past and future.

Disha For practical application there are ten directions that have been conceptualized for the origin, existence and expiration of matter.

  • These are four cardinal points East, West, North and South.
  • Four corners North East, South East, South West, and North West.
  • Two sides, Surface and Bottom

Atma – Awareness is the sign of Atma. Awareness is not the identity or qualification of senses, because previous knowledge continues to stay even after destruction or mal- functioning of the sense that had acquired knowledge in the past. It implies that Atma experienced knowledge and is separate from senses. Desire, feelings, efforts, comfort and discomfort are separate from body and are the identity of Atma.

Mana – It is a tool to experience various sensory feelings.

The above illustrations depict that spirituality has been neatly blended with the subject of pure science Physics. It is not necessary to use only European terminology to look authentic. Explaining subtle scientific facts through artistically woven mythological stories has been the hall mark of Hindu religion.

Scope of Hindu Scriptures

Scientific gems are lying scattered throughout in Hindu Scriptures like Vedas, Vedangas, Vedants Purans and Epics. Modern physics confirmed that the Sun’s rays travel in a curved way, but not in a straight line. The same fact our ancestors had artistically explained through mythology that seven horses tied by snakes drew Sun’s chariot. As the movements of the snakes are crooked and curved, so also are the sun’s rays. This phenomenon has been poetically described in scriptures:

भुजंगनः मितः सप्तः तुर्गः

Similarly the Atharva Veda explained another scientific truth about Sunlight that there are seven colors in the white ray of the Sun. Sun rays contain blend of seven colors:

सप्तः सूर्य्स रसम्यः। 

Contribution of Indian Scientists

In the realm of physics, Indian scientists have made remarkable contributions.

  • Rishi Kanada, the founder of the Vaisesika system of philosophy, expounded that the entire matter in this world consisted of atoms, as many in kind as there were various elements. About light he explained that light and heat are variations of the same reality. He is the fore-father of Atomic Science. Jain thinkers went a step further. They thought that all atoms are the same kind and variety emerged because they entered into different combinations.
  • Sushrut explained that we are able to see the objects around us due to the light falling on them. Aryabatta also supported his views later. In contrast, Greek scientists held the view that objects are seen because of light in the eyes.
  • Varahmihir in sixth century explained how shadows were cast.
  • Chakrapani was the first to explain that light and sound traveled through waves, but the speed of light was many times faster than the sound waves.
  • Pratispda further elaborated that sound waves travelled in the shape of concentric circles and every sound wave has a corresponding echo.
  • Vachaspati interpreted light as composed of minute particles emitted by substances striking the eyes. This is a clear anticipation of the corpuscular theory of light, which was proposed by Newton, but was rejected till the discovery of the proton.

Gravitation and Astro-Physics

The theory of gravity found its existence in Yajur Veda that explains that the Earth is kept in space owing to the superior attraction of the Sun. Scholars of the Gupta period were already acquainted with the movement of the heavenly bodies, the reasons for eclipses of the Sun and the Moon.

  • Aryabhatta put forward a brilliant thesis regarding the Earth’s rotation on its axis. As regards the stars being stationary, Aryabhatta stated that starry vault was fixed, but the earth moving round its axis, again and again caused the rising and setting of planets and stars. He also described the Polar days and nights of six months duration. Aryabhatta affirmed the diurnal revolutions of the earth on its axis. He wrote that when the sun rose in Sri Lanka, it was midday in Yavakoti (Java) and midnight in the Roman land. Yavadvipa, a Sanskrit name mentioned in the Ramayana, to which Sugriva sent search parties looking for Sita, was the ancient name of Java. As regards to the size of the earth, he calculated the circumference of the earth as 4,967 Yojanas and its diameter as 1,581 1/24 Yojanas.  A Yojana is equal to five English miles, and the calculation tallies with modern calculations. The circumference of the Earth works out to be 24, 835 miles, with its diameter as 7, 905 5/24 miles. He also wrote a textbook Aryabhatta Siddhantafor working out astronomical calculations.  Even today, this data is used in preparing Hindu calendars (Panchangs) giving most accurate results.
  • Brahmagupta, (598 AD – 665 AD) is known for introduction of negative numbers and operations on Zero in Arithmetic. His main work was Brahmasphuta Siddhanta, which was a corrected version of an old astronomical treatise Brahma Siddhanta. From his time the Hindus were aware of the length of diameter and circumference of the earth.
  • Varahamihira in 6th century produced valuable material relating to Astronomy, Geography and Mineralogy in his work Brihat-Samhita. It is stated that one half of the moon, whose orbit lies between the sun and the earth, is always bright by the Sun’s rays;  while the other half is always dark by its own shadows, like the two sides of a pot standing in the sunshine. Explaining eclipse of the Moon and Sun, he wrote that Moon enters into the Earth’s shadow; and in Solar eclipse the same thing happens to the Sun. He further explained the commencement of a lunar eclipse does not take place from the Western side. The solar eclipse does not take place from the Eastern side. He gave the calculation of eclipses; independent of any reference to the mythological ‘Rahu Ketu’ episode.
  • Bhaskaracharya knew the law of gravitation. In a verse in Sidhanta Shiromani, he held that the Earth is endowed with the power of attraction. It drags with own power heavy objects on the sky.  It appears that objects are falling but actually they are not, they are only being dragged by the power of attraction of the Earth. When everything on the sky drags each other equally there is no question of objects on Earth to fall. It is explained that Earth, planets, stars, Moon, and Sun – each of them is being dragged by the other with its respective power of attraction and as a result of this attraction none of them is removed from their axis. This theory was deliberated in the Siddhanta Shiromani centuries before Newton was born. According to Brahmagupta and Bhaskaracharya the diameter was calculated to be 7182 miles, some calculated that to be 7905 miles, while modern scientists take it to be 7918 miles. Bhaskara is renowned for his concept of Tatkalik-agati (instantaneous motion).

Last but not the least, none of the Hindu scientists suffered the fate of poor Galileo for making new discoveries. 

Chand K Sharma

Next: Splashes – 35/72 -India’s Technological Contributions

 

Splashes – 32/72 – Cosmic Time in Hindu Scriptures

Hindu scriptures tell us that Universe is without a beginning (Anadi) or an end (Ananta). Cosmos undergoes infinite number of deaths and rebirths. Every moment old stars are dying and new being formed. This truth stands ratified by the modern scientists also. Santana Dharma and modern science are not in conflict. Search for truth was the pursuit of Hindu Sages, and modern scientists have also kept up the same tradition.

Calculation of Time

The time scales worked out by Hindu sages also correspond to those of modern scientific cosmology. One cosmic day and night of Brahma equals 8.64 billion years on our planet Earth. It is therefore longer than the age of Earth as well as the Sun at the center of our solar system.

The Rig Veda lists a number of stars and mentions twelve divisions of the sun’s yearly path (rashis) and 360 divisions of the circle. Thus, the year of 360 days is divided into twelve months. Using mythology as a training aid, the Sun’s annual course was artistically explained as a wheel with twelve spokes that correspond to the twelve signs of the zodiac. Time taken in twinkling of eye is called Nimish. This unit of measure is more or less like a micro second.

The time calculation table for day and night on Earth in Manusamruti is given as under:-

  • 18 Nimish = 1 Kastha
  • 30 Kastha = 1 Kala
  • 30 Kala = 1 Mahurata
  • 30 Mahurata = 1 Ahoratra
  • 30 Ahoratras = 1 Masa (Month)

Due to rotation of Earth one Ahoratra is divided in two parts called day and night (Divas and Ratri). Day is meant for work and night is for rest.

Every month has two fortnights (Paksha) of fifteen days each. Moonlit nights are called Shukal Paksha, while dark nights are called Krishna Paksha.

The above division is perfectly natural, tangible, and scientific. The day starts with Sun rise. At the day break all living beings wake up. There is freshness in breeze and streams. Flowers bloom. Nature signals every living being to start activity.

Similarly at Sun set, all living beings start returning to their resting place, flowers close, streams also indicate feeling of slowing down, and Nature ushers everyone to sleep and rest except those species that are assigned and designed by the Creator to work at night.

If we compare Natural division of Day – Night with the division followed vide Roman calendar, the date is upgraded at midnight when everyone is sleeping in bed. There is no perceivable change around and everything is artificial, stale and unscientific!

Cosmic Time and Yugas

As per Hindu scriptures, process of creation and destruction of Universe continues in cyclic order. The creation goes on for 4.32 billion years (Srishti Kalpa – Brahma’s day) followed by an equal period of destruction (Praleya Kalpa – Brahma’s night). Srishti and Praleyas Kalpas follow each other like our day and night. Together they sum up to, 8.64 billion years to make one Brahma day – called a Brahma Ahoratra. Such 360 Braahma Ahoratras, or 3110.4 billion years make one year of Brahma.

Chaturyuga is the time taken by our solar system to circle bigger solar system in the Universe. It is also called Mahayuga or great year. The Indian concept of the great year (Mahayuga) was developed from the idea of a lunisolar period of five years, combined with four ages of the world (Yugas) which were thought to be of unequal perfection and duration, succeeding one another and lasting in the ratio of 4:3:2:1.

This figure was calculated not only from rough estimates of planetary and stellar cycles, but also from the 10,800 stanzas of the Rig Veda, consisting of 432,000 syllables. The enlightened Hindu Sages calculated the great period as one of 4,320,000 years, the basic element of which was a number of sidereal solar years, 1,080,000 a multiple of 10,800.

Hindu texts have further divided a Kalpa in to 14 Manvantaras. Every Manvantra has 308448000 years or 308.448 million years.

Manvantras are divided in to Chaturyugas.  One Chaturyuga consists of 43 lakhs & 20 thousand years.  Chaturyuga is further subdivided as under:-

  • Satyug = 17 lakhs 28 thousand years
  • Treta = 12 lakhs 96 thousand years
  • Dwapar = 8 lakhs 64 thousand years
  • Kaliyug = 4 lakhs 32 thousand years

71 Chaturyugi make for one Manvanter. (30 crore, 67 lakhs, & 20 thousand years). This is the time bigger solar system takes to circle around further solar system and there is no end to more solar systems.

According to the Hindu scriptures the present phase of creation began with the beginning of the current Shwetavaraha Kalpa about 1.972 billion years ago. Since then, 6 Manvanters have passed and the 7th Vaibasvat Manwantara is in currency. There names of previous six Manvanters are Swayambhar, Swarochish, Ottmi, Tamas, Ryivat and Chakshash.

Out of currently running seventh Manvantra 28 Chaturyugas have also passed. Of the running 29 th Chaturyuga, we are passing through present Kaliyuga. That has also passed its time of 5002 years. According to Bhagavat Purana, King Uttanapaada, the father of Dhruva, ruled during the period of first Swayambhuva Manu. That was nearly 1.97 billion years ago.

Slavery to Western mindset 

Western scientists as usual, continued to reject these mind-boggling calculations, till Michael A. Cremo, an American researcher, propounded that human beings existed 2 billion years ago on Earth. Mr Cremo’s findings substantiated the narration of the Bhagavat Purana. The neat question is that do we need to overlook own achievements till certified by others?

Indian Calendar

Unfortunately, our present generations are totally ignorant about the names of the months in Indian Calendar and its base. India’s Vikrami calendar is based on the movement of planets and is more scientific whereas Gregorian (Roman) calendar is conventional and unscientific.

Our ancestors had named the days of week after the planets of our solar system.  Starting the week with Sun (Ravivar) the following days have been named according to the proximity of planets in relation to Earth. They are moon (Somvar), Mars (Mangalvar), Mercury (Budhvar), Jupiter (Brahaspativar), Venus (Shukravar) and Saturn (Shanivar).

The word calendar is pronounced kalandar in Portuguese and resounds with Sanskrit word kal-antra meaning time differentials. Other time units in Sanskrit are Yug-antra, Manv-antra, and Kalp-antra. The months of September, October, November and December also have their source in Sanskrit words Sapt-ambar, Ashta-ambar, Nov-ambar, and Dash-ambar implying seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth in order.

Gregorian (Roman) Calendar

Gregorian calendar was introduced in Rome by Julius Caesar after his victory. Although Christians claim to believe in one God, but for no reason they named the days and months of their calendar after pagan gods, whom they denounce otherwise.

It will be interesting to trace the induction of Gregorian calendar in India through East India Company. The British did not have any of their own calendar, and like other European Countries they also had been using Julian calendar. Their year started with the month of March, and counting further September was seventh month followed by October, November and December as eighth, ninth and tenth months respectively. Months of July and August was added much later and like December and January both have 31 days one after another.

The Gregorian calendar was adopted in England as official calendar in 1750 and till 1772 England also begun her new year on 1st of March every year. Later by an act of British Parliament New Year was made to start on 1 st January, the month following Christmas.

Basis of Rashi Chakras

Our sages knew that Earth took 365-1/3 days to circle the Sun. Rig-Veda has described several constellations in the sky. Our sages identified the route of Earth around the Sun and prepared a chart. The spread of constellations in the sky were imagined to resemble out lines of animal figures and given names that came to be known as Zodiac signs (Rashi chitras). Those were used as reference points in the sky along the route of Earth while circling the Sun.

The sages arrived at the conclusion through repeated observations of the sky that Earth took 30 days’ time to pass through one constellation (Rashi). Thus they worked out 30 X 12 = 360 days of the year and twelve month. But little extra time was also to be adjusted.

For the sake of simple calculations, sages standardized every month to have thirty days each. The left-over period was allowed to accumulate for twelve years after which an extra month was added to the year. That year was supposed to have 13 months that was called ‘Malmas’. It is relevant that the rotational festival of Kumbha is held after 12 years at the same place.

The Sun entered new constellation on the first of every Indian month and made exit after thirty days accordingly. Indian system is not a matter of blind faith, but purely based on calculations that are perceivable. The same 12 zodiac signs have been adopted all over the world with slight local variations but each Zodiac sign begins somewhere on 20 th or 21 st of Calendar month for ‘unknown’ reasons and relevance.

Compared to that Roman calendar months had 30 or 31 days, but the last month of the year February held ‘left-over days’ in its kitty. Sometimes it contained 29 days and sometimes 28 days. Thus extra days are adjusted by having a leap year after every four years and varied numbers of days during months. It is all conventional and arbitrary.

Reminiscent of Slavery

East India Company officials had no clue to the scientific making of Indian calendar. Along with other British colonies, British calendar was heaped upon us in India, and we as slaves had no choice or resources to resist. Indian standard time is five and half hours ahead of British time. When there is Sunrise in India to start fresh date, there is mid night in England. But as they happened to be the masters, they ordered Indians and other colonial slaves to change date at midnight to suit British. Other colonies readily obliged as they did not have any calendars of their own.

We do appreciate that cosmic time schedule cannot be taken into use to establish our historic events. The weighing bridge used for heavy-duty trucks are not used for weighing ornaments. The age of a person can neither be expressed in Light years nor in micro seconds.

But why India has been still following Roman calendar for the sake of standardization? What is the necessity for us to match our dates with Roman calendar? Even today our Government and its functionaries have made no use of ‘Saka Calendar’ that was adopted in the Constitution as Official Calendar. If we want to trace our history we shall have to rely upon our own Calendar.

Chand K Sharma

Next: Splashes – 33/ 72 – Indian Contributions to Mathematics

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