Vedic Contributions to Science

By Editors

What is India’s contribution to Science and Technology?   This is the subject of our Next theme.

Questions are often asked: What has India boasting itself as a unique civilization, contributed to the world of science?   This question is asked with an implied derision that science and technology is almost entirely creation of western civilization; and the east is simply as Matthew Arnold put it, “plunged in thought again!”  Contrary to this prevailing notion, Ancient Indian Civilization contributed profusely to the early development of science in many fields such as mathematics, astronomy, chemistry, geometry and trigonometry, medical sciences etc;.  It is pertinent to note here that due to the vicissitudes of history – invasions, conquests, colonization, internal wars and admittedly proclivity on the spiritual rather than the physical emphasis , the industrial revolution of 17th -19th century eluded India largely because it was under colonial rule. This section is contributed by Professor Alok Kumar, a noted Scientist in Physics, from NY State University at Oswego.  His article is a summary, specially written by the author based on his recently published, widely acclaimed work:  “Sciences of the Ancient Hindus”.

Another attractive graphic presentation on the subject authored by Michael Danino complements this article.

These articles together both in text and visual formats portray adequately the ancient genius of philosophers who were also scientists in the best sense of the word, who dealt with both Jnana (Metaphysical investigation) and Vijnana (Scientific inquiry in to Nature).

An important reflection on this subject is the high interest on this subject in India, in various platforms and deliberations.  Many scientists in India are critical of political leaders and others writings and speeches which are condemning ‘historical distortions’ promoted by the ruling party at the center or its associates, where by exaggerated claims care voiced about the attainments of ancient Indians in the field of science such as Knowledge of Quantum theory, Heliocentric systems, nuclear weapons, Genomics, Theory of relativity and the like. While some of the criticism may be worth paying heed to, the attitude of mind behind it misses an important point, which recently has been emphatically articulated by one of our leading writers in India, Michael Danino. We have reproduced in this section his short article highlighting the valid point that the kind of historiography that such critics make is as much responsible for the situation of the debate on Science in Ancient India, as much as some of the lay leaders make “inaccurate statements in the public”. We urge the readers to peruse Michael Danino’s valuable contributions to this debate.

The following articles bring out the valuable vedic contributions to science.

  1. The contributions to Science from ancient India by Prof. Alok Kumar
  2. Landmarks of Science in Ancient India – Michael Danino
  3. Ancient India’s Maritime Developments by Stephan Knapp
  4. Developments in Mathematics by Stephan Knapp
  5. Developments in Textiles in Ancient India by Stephan Knapp
  6. India’s Developments in Metallurgy by Stephan Knapp –
  7. High technology in ancient Sanskritmanuscripts by CSR Prabhu

“The East bowed low before the blast, In patient, deep disdain.

She let the legions thunder past,And plunged in thought again.”

―Matthew Arnold   (1822-1888)