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Re: ARTICLE : Modern Discoveries in Ancient Works

Posted By Mike Wolverton (a0183201@dsbmail.itg.ti.com)
Wed, 08 Jan 1997 09:29:48 -0800

Rajan P. Parrikar wrote:
>
> In article <ghenE3EvA4.6u1@netcom.com>, <Madhava.Kumar@lana.zippo.com> wrote:
> > Modern Discoveries in Ancient Works
> > ===================================
> >
> > By : Pujyasri Chandrasekharendra Sarasvati
> >
> >There are a few scientific discoveries that are not found
> >mentioned in Varahamihira's "BRUhat-Samhita".
> >
> >How do heavenly bodies remain in the skies? How is it that
> >they do not fall? Everybody thinks that it was Newton who
> >found the answer to such questions. They very first stanza
> >in the "Suryasiddhanta", which is a very ancient treatise,
> >states that it is the force of attraction that keeps the
> >earth from falling.
> >
> >In Sankara's commentary on the Upanishads there is a
> >reference to the earth's force of attraction. If we throw up
> >an object it falls to the ground. This is not due to the
> >nature of the object but due to the earth's force of
> >attraction. "Akrasana-sakti" is force of attraction, the
> >power of drawing or pulling something. The breath is called
> >"prana" goes up, "apana" pulls it down. So the force that
> >pulls something downward is apana.
> >
> >The Acharya says that the earth has "apana-sakti". The
> >Prasopanishad (3.8) states: "The deity of the earth inspires
> >the human body with apana." In his commentary on this
> >Sankara observes that, just as an object thrown up is
> >attracted by the earth, so prana that goes up is pulled down
> >by apana. This means that our Upanishads have a reference
> >to the law of gravitation.
>
> It is true that Hindu mathematical and scientific thought has not
> gotten the recognition that it merits. For instance, it is common in
> certain western circles to dismiss Hindu contributions to mathematics
> by saying that it didn't have the symbolic form or the rigour that the
> Greeks exhibited and hence doesn't amount to very much in today's
> scientific practice. Even when a seminal idea points to an Indian origin
> there is a strong a priori tendency to show that it must have travelled
> from Greece to India - in short, everything good in Indian heritage MUST
> have had a western origin. Today, this attitude is partly born out of
> superficial knowledge of Hindu contributions and partly out of a supercilious
> Eurocentrism that generally pervades intellectual discourse and writing in
> the west. In this particular instance the positive fallout was that it
> motivated V. George to write his wonderful book "Crest of the Peacock:
> Non-European Roots of Mathematics" (sadly out of print today) and also
> Prof. T. Bhanu Murthy to write his monograph "Ancient Indian Mathematics."
> Be that as it may, there is dire need of modern Indian intellectuals
> competent in the sciences to undertake extensive study of the no-doubt
> impressive contributions of their own civilization. The aim of this effort
> should be to document, highlight and put on a firm footing (in modern
> scientific terms) the indigenous contributions and NOT to repudiate or
> diminish the worth of the impressive feats of modern western scientific
> thought (universal in character today).
>
> Which brings me to the main purpose of this rejoinder. Such silly, sloppy
> and slippery writing as witnessed in the quoted article does more harm
> than good to the cause I just described. Every nugget of this flapdoodle
> makes the task of the genuine conscientious student of ancient Indian
> scientific/mathematical thought that much harder. For besides discrediting
> legitimate Hindu achievements it also provides muscle to the perception that
> the only thing we were good at was handwaving and mouthing recondite
> philosophical jargon.
>
> See for instance how the great intellectual accomplishment that Newton's
> generalization, the law of gravitation, represents is here dismissed and
> substituted with a facile one or two-liner purporting to convince us
> of an Indian precursor to the idea. And following that the entry of the
> Upanishads as fonts and repositories of scientific knowledge. What is
> conclusive from all this is the author's tenuous grasp of science and the
> scientific method. Also suggestive is the author's innocence of the nature of
> Upanishads themselves. The track eventually winds up trivializing the
> profoundity of Upanishadic thought while simultaneously contributing zilch
> to the advancement of any scientific material of historical value.
>
> Before I quit here's another piece of nonsense:
>
> >"BhoogOLa SAStra", not just "bhoo-SAStra". We have known
> >from early times that the earth is a "gola", a sphere.
> >we call the universe, with all its galaxies, "Brahmanda".
> >It means the egg created by Brahma (the cosmig egg). An egg
> >is not exactly spherical in shape, but oval. According to
> >modren science the universe too is oval in shape.
>
> <rest deleted>
>
> Let us for the moment assume that you've gotten the last sentence
> right. Then, quackass, modern science may tomorrow, due to newer
> theoretical imperatives or fresher rounds of observation, alter its
> hypothesis and propose a different shape for the universe. If it turns
> out to be, say, cuboid, I can tell that Brahma ain't going to have
> a very pleasant time laying those eggs.
>
> Regards,
>
> r
>
> --
> -------------------------------------------------------------------
> Mail posts to: ghen@netcom.com : http://www.hindunet.org/srh_home/
I understand the scientist, for I am one myself. Also, inner perceptions
are possible, but only if one tries this approach too. Finally please
consider, namecalling is disrespectful, and inappropriate in this news
group.

In divine friendship,
Mike

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