Hinduism is the culmination of the cultural evolution of mankind. As a universal movement, it has always tried to unite the people of the world into one international family, believing as it does in the dictum, ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ – ‘The whole world is one family’ propounded in Vedas and Upanishads.
Hinduism stands for unity in diversity. It also stands for the co-existence and peaceful evolution of all religious, political, social and economic systems of the world, because it is the mother of all religions and cultures. Hinduism never tried to spread hatred towards any religion. Its philosophy of ‘Sarva dharma samabhava’ (Equal respect for all religions) alone can hold together a great country like India as well as the world with its diverse faiths and customs. It should be noted that unlike Europe, India remained one nation in spite of different languages, way of life and faiths. Hinduism teaches that all Gods are one; they differ only in name. Hence Hindus have never insulted other religions in any manner whatsoever. The search of those who really want to believe in any almighty, all-pervading and universal religion ends when they discover Hinduism.
One of the guiding principles of Hinduism is improving the lot of the human society. The Sanskrit word ‘Dharma’ means that which sustains human society. Hence Hindu Dharma embraces all the factors responsible for human welfare and growth.
HINDUISM : SYNONYMOUS WITH HUMANISM
If Hinduism has a defining message, it is humanism. There is space in its philosophy for every one, which is one reason why India is a home to every single religion in the world. Anyone who has been persecuted anywhere else, whether Parsee in Muslim Iran or Jew in Christian Europe, has found an undisturbed haven in India. The attitude of Hinduism to other faiths continued to be liberal. Hinduism is synonymous with humanism. That is its essence and its great liberating quality.
ESSENCE OF HINDUISM
The core of Hindu thoughts and practices has an underlying message for all – unity in diversity of man, nature and his beliefs. Besides Hinduism itself recognises that change and dynamism are parts of life and of cosmic reality. Hindu thought recognises the universe as continuously changing. One dynamic equilibrium is continuously giving way to another dynamic equilibrium. It has been rightly observed by Sir Monier Williams : “Hindus were Spinozates 2000 years before the existence of Spinoza, Darwinians many centuries before Darwin and Evolutionists before the doctrine of Evolution had been accepted by the scientists of our times”.
It is time we restored the long lost dynamic equilibrium of Hinduism, reform it in the light of new insights, perceptions, knowledge, a new sharpening of the mind’s eye and use it to carve out a new way of life, and a new design of politics and economics. One of the strongest thrusts of a reformed Hinduism would be to arouse awareness about the need for a reasoned faith. Most Hindu myths and rituals, parables and legends have deep meaning. Their inner rationality must be explored and laid bare. A reasoned faith takes man to higher stages of spirituality.
In its highest and purest form Hinduism means belief in the cosmic spirit that pervades every part of life. As the Atharve Veda says: “He is Aryama; He is Varuna; He is Rudra; He is Great God; He is Agni; He is Surya; He is great Yama”. The cognition here is of divine existence and not of a particular divine individual. This “He”, this spirit, this divinity, is within every man. He has only to awaken his mind and search for it within. The more his mind is awakened, the greater is the realisation of divinity and the nearer he is to the Ultimate Reality. It is only through continuous awakening of the mind, that a true vision of reality can be attained. And one can do this without following any rigid creed or fixed path.
A reformed Hinduism could provide spiritual underpinning to our national objectives and bridge the gap between what is said and what is done in public life. It could become a silent but potent force for the successful implementation of many of our important schemes and programmes. Take, for instance, the goal of preservation of our environment. No single factor can arouse as much public awareness in this regard as the Hindu value of living in harmony with nature. “The earth is our Mother, we are its children”, – say the scriptures. If the sacred values of treating the earth as Mother are fully imbibed by the nation, a strong national commitment would emerge, which would be the best guarantee for our material and spiritual success.
The concept of patriotism – the grand vision of motherland and the glorious ideal of spiritual nationalism of the Vedic Aryans is elaborately expounded in 63 shlokas of Bhoomisukta of Atharva Veda. The Rishi says, “Mata Bhoomih Putro Aham Prithviyaah” (this land is my mother and I am her child). According to the Rishis, India is not merely the land of birth. She is the Punya Bhoomi, Karma Bhoomi, Dharma Bhoomi, Moksha Bhoomi and Pitru Bhoomi.
The concept of one nation called Bharatvarsha is very old.
“Uttaram yat samudrasya himatres chiva dakshinamvarsham tat bhartam nama bharati yatra santati” (Vishnu Purana)(The country north of samudra and south of Himalayas is called Bharatam her people are called Bharateeya)
The Mahabharat also contains very patriotic reference to the country, “Bharat is the greatest land on the earth and it alone is the land of noble actions while the rest are lands of pleasure”.
THE HINDU WAY OF LIFE
The three fundamental principles that govern the behaviour of a Hindu are: –
Fearlessness (Abhay) – This is derived from the concept of Oneness of the Reality. Fear is of another; but when there is no other, fear cannot exist. Therefore all activity should follow the Truth without any distraction caused either by persons or circumstances.
Detachment (Asanga) – This implies continuous analysis of that which is transitory in the world and to keep oneself detached from it. This does not mean running away from life. One should live in the world but let one do so as a lotus flower, which is born in water, subsists in water, but lives above it.
Non-injury (Ahimsa) – This is not to be taken in the physical sense. It means that one’s actions should not cause emotional distress to another.
The three directions in which a Hindu should canalise his work: –
Sacrifice (Yagna) – This is continuous effort in life to sacrifice the negativity of the mind and substitute it with positive values.
Charity (Dana) – This is not giving of alms. It is the act of creating the plenty from which others can partake.
Austerity (Tapas) – This is persistent effort to sublimate the physical senses in order to eliminate the animal in man.
While acting in this manner, it must be remembered that the approach to life should be intelligent. It is because of the intellect that man is a rational being, and this faculty must be continuously exercised in our worldly activity as well as for subjective advancement. Intellect should be trained to respond promptly to the impulses received by it from outside. It should develop the faculty of “decision-taking” and to that extent accept responsibility for its judgement and consequent direction to the physical body to act in a particular manner. This is what “Karma-Yoga” is. It is a dynamic approach to life, where man is producing his own destiny for “as he sows, so shall he reap.”
In order to get the maximum efficiency, intellect should be maintained in a state of equanimity. Nothing could disturb this condition more than the incidence of the individual ego. Therefore the advice is to surrender the ego at the feet of the Lord. Refrain from association with the reaction of any action, and consider every act as an act of prayer. Keep tuned to the “Source of Energy”.
So as to be able to live in the aforesaid manner, the physical form also needs appropriate care. “A sound mind in a healthy body” and therefore it is necessary to regulate the food, exercise, work and leisure habits of each person, by himself, to suit the needs of his body. This is the way to eliminate misery and lead a full and happy life.
The first verse of Isavasya Upanishad embodies the essence of Hinduism. It says:
“All this, whatsoever moves in this universe including the universe, itself moving, is indwelt or pervaded or enveloped or globed by the Lord. That (the multiplicity of names, forms, composition and activity) renounced, thou shouldest enjoy. Covet not anybody’s wealth (worldly possessions).”
It is the achievement of this stage of worldly existence that leads to Collective Consciousness, wherein you are one with the entire cosmic energy that is manifesting itself in different worldly forms – in their totality named Creation. This is Hinduism – not only a view but a positive way of life that experiences the entire creation as the projection of the same and the one Unmanifest Creator.
In this context, Hinduism views all religions to be uniform in their approach to the Unmanifest. The differences in ritualism are inconsequential. All methods of prayer are good and lead to the same junction from where the common path of identification with the Creative Energy begins.
HINDUISM: WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO PERCEPTIVE SCHOLARS?
Hinduism is the oldest religion in the world and although many western thinkers have defined and interpreted it in a narrow way for decades, it is rather the religion of the people of India. ‘Hindu’word might have meant at one time as people belonging to the Indus but in effect covered all those who were born in India and shared its values. Not long ago in the last century even Karl Marx and other scholars were also fond of referring to Indian population in general as ‘Hindoos of India’.
Hinduism has always been regarded in the western eyes as comprehensive and enormously complex. It emphasises ‘the right way to live’ and it certainly emphasised a life style and not merely a faith meant for after-life. It never had any rigid commandments on its adherents and that was its beauty. That is why it could spread over half of the globe thousands of years back. Largely embracing vegetarianism but still there has not been any stigma to non-vegetarianism. It believes as much in asceticism as in the finer aspects of enjoyment expressed in various forms of art. Its cults express themselves in all the richness of external observance and the devotion of internal meditation, in the simplest beliefs and at the same time obtuse reasoning of philosophers. The greatness of Hinduism has been in the fact that it is not in any real sense a missionary religion, yet it could spread far and wide. Even today other semitic religions perceive it as a threat as in its wider spectrum of beliefs it could be world religion in the future decades again.
Gunther Dietz Sontheimer, an Indologist and scholar of Hindu jurisprudence has identified and interpreted Hindu civilisation focusing on living folk cultures and traditions. His views are relevant for academic import.
The Five Components and their Interaction, Sontheimer’s approach to Hinduism is not to work out another monolithic conceptualisation, like many scholars, but to first distinguish the different layers, forms, strands, currents or ‘components’ and treat them each in their own right and then to view them not as watertight compartments but rather as interacting with each other in a fluctuating process over thousands of years. Sontheimer’s five elements are : the work and teachings of the Brahmans; asceticism and renunciation; tribal religion; folk religion and bhakti. In Sontheimer’s view, the history of Hinduism is the history of a dynamic interaction among the five components identified by him and “the work and teaching of the Brahmans” is just one of them.
Hinduism is a human phenomenon of immense magnitude and is overpowering not only by reason of that, but also owing to its bewildering variety. Despite its all-too-obvious inconsistencies particularly for a lay westerner, Hinduism is one whole. A summary presentation of all its characteristic features is bound to throw the apparent inconsistencies of Hinduism into higher relief. This is, therefore, a religion which has to be met on its own terms.
The worldly orientation of entire religious life of Hindus can be seen in its manifold expressions. Hindu gods could give to their worshippers what the world contained. Help from religion was sought for all purposes, moral and what appears often as questionable. Religion and morality ran along parallel courses.
The worldly character of Hinduism, its liberated spirit in earlier times is often not stressed. Hinduism differs fundamentally from Christianity in this, that for its followers it is not an alternative to the world, but primarily the means of supporting and improving their existence in it.
Apart from being a matter of detached intellectual interest, it remains a great issue for mankind. Though many other faiths are in shambles in the contemporary world, Hinduism, with all its craggy outward manifestations, leads to better understanding of religious urge in the man, which is innate.
As in all other religions, in Hinduism also there is belief in another world and in all the supra-mundane things which form the staple of every religious system. Moksha is a mere talking point verbiage. Salvation is never the object of the religious observances and worship of the Hindus. The main object is worldly prosperity and this absorption in the world has made the doctrine of rebirth in it the most appealing and strongly held belief among all the notions put forward by them about existence after death. They so loved the world that they made the possibility of leaving it for good even after many cycles of birth as remote and difficult as possible.
Albert Schweitzer had the insight to perceive this and said that Hinduism was not a religion of world negation. Actually the religion is for the world and there is no unworldliness in it. At the same time, the world is also for religion and the two cannot be separated. Therefore, in Hindu society every worldly activity is under the control of religion and everything religious is involved in the world.
The inseparability of the secular from the religious is clear in Hinduism. To the Hindu, his whole life is religion. To other peoples, their relations to God and to the spiritual world are things sharply distinguished from their relations to man and to the corporal world. For a Hindu the religion, not confined to commandments, becomes a way of life. To him, his spiritual and temporal life form are compact and harmonious whole and religion never received a name from Him because it never had for him an existence apart from all that had received a name. Nirad Chaudhary, in his inimitable style once commented that a new Hindu intellectual could hoist European rationalism with its own petard. Hindu worldliness is also really religious.
Nirad Chaudhary always maintained that Hinduism has been a victim of both moral and intellectual dishonesty. On the one hand, there have been people who have gone to Hinduism for certain motives, but have never had the courage to avow them. They have camouflaged their motives in rigmarole. This is specially true of the present age. On the other hand, there have been others who have suppressed these very aspects, always refusing to take them for what they are. Both groups have offered explanations for them which, if they are not due to ignorance, can only be set down to hypocrisy.
Ascetics with contempt for worldliness created an impression of greatness by behaviour which was abnormal. The fact is that the more rational a set of men are, the more ready are they to succumb to an assertive irrationality.
The profoundest part of Hinduism is an esoteric religious experience. Hinduism is as peculiar in the emotions it evokes or satisfies as it is in its beliefs and rites.
Some Hindu writers have almost catered to western expectations and demands while writing about Hinduism. Thus one ladles out Vedanta to the intellectually debilitated, another Yoga to the physically degenerate and a third Tantra to the erotic maniac who has not the courage of his lechery. So there is a good deal of deliberate misrepresentation of Hinduism.
The contemporary sensuality in the whole of the west is seeking vicarious satisfaction in the erotic aspect of Hinduism. This is the reason why this aspect is greatly distorted.
Believe it or not !
WATER STORED IN BRASS VESSEL GOOD FOR HEALTH
Ancient Indian wisdom that drinking water should be stored in brass vessels for good health has now been proved scientifically by researchers.
Microbiologists say that water stored in brass containers can help combat many water-borne diseases and should be used in developing countries rather than their cheaper alternatives, plastic containers.
Rob Reed, a microbiologist at Northumbria University in Newcastle, who led the brass study had on a visit to India witnessed villagers storing water in brass vessels. He also heard an interesting piece of local wisdom: people believe that traditional brass water containers offer protection against sickness. The idea intrigued Reed, who was in Asia investigating the anti-bacterial effects of sunlight on water.
Reed has now found that bacteria are indeed less likely to thrive in brass water pots than in earthenware or plastic ones. “It’s one of the traditional ideas of water treatment and we were able to find a microbiological basis for it,” he was quoted by Nature as saying.
Reed, with his colleagues Puja Tnadon and Sanjay Chhibber, carried out two series of experiments. In Britain, the researchers filled brass and earthenware vessels with a diluted culture of escherichia coli bacteria, which can cause illnesses such as dysentry. They then counted the surviving bacteria after 6, 24 and 48 hours. A similar test was carried out in India using naturally contaminated water.
“The amount of live e-coli in the brass vessels dropped dramatically over time, and after 48 hours they fell to undetectable levels,” Reed told the Society for General Microbiology’s meeting. Reed said pots made of brass shed copper particles into the water they contained. The amounts that circulated in the brass water vessels could not harm humans, he explained.
In the volume 75:152–154-1984 of The Journal of Heredity published by American Genetic Association, Alain F. Corcos of the Michigan State University has written an essay titled “Reproduction and heredity beliefs of the Hindus based on their sacred books”.
In his essay Corcos has dealt with excerpts from Manusmriti, Varahmihir’s Brihatsamhita and specially chapter from Brihadaranyak Upanishad related to reproduction. In this different diets have been prescribed for couples budding parenthood to get a son or daughter with specific qualities. For example, Brihadaranyak Upanishad says that to get a fair son with long life and knowledge of one Ved, a man and his wife should eat milk, rice with ghee. A man who desires to have a knowledgeable daughter with long life should make khichadi of til and rice and give it to his wife.
After describing the more details from other Hindu scriptures, the author questions as to whether there is any truth in these. And to this question he himself answers in the affirmative stating that the studies of physicians in France and Canada prove these to be correct. Magnesium, potassium, calcium and sodium play an important role in determining the sex of the child. More of potassium and sodium and less of calcium and magnesium results in a boy child and vice versa results in a girl child. Stalwoski experimented this on 36 couples out of which 31, that is 86%, were successful. Lorrain experimented on 224 couples out of which 181, that is 81%, were successful.
LEGEND OF MAHAKAL
Ujjain is a city in the state of Madhya Pradhesh. City of Ujjain (one who conquers with pride) was once ruled by the legendary king Vikramaditya. King Vikramaditya was known for his valor and impeccable justice. His court was adorned by nine famous courtiers called Navaratna (nine gems), who were great scholars in different fields of knowledge. ( Kalidasa became the most brilliant of the `nine gems’ at the court of Vikramaditya of Ujjain.) Despite extensive effort, Vikramaditya can not be identified with any known historical king. Ujjain is famous for the temple of Mahakala. There is no temple in India, where Mahakala is worshipped.
Is there a meaning behind the legend of Vikramaditya and the worship of Mahakala? The real meaning is revealed by considering the meaning of these words. Vikramaditya is made by joining prefix “Vi” to words “Krama” and “Aditya”. “Krama” means order, “Aditya” means sun and prefix “Vi” means deviation. Therefore, etymologically Vikramaditya means the change in the course of the sun. What is significant is Ujjain is located on the tropic of cancer. Thus, sun comes to Ujjain during its northward journey, changes its course, and starts its southward journey. Vikramaditya is sun itself changing its journey at Ujjain. Nine gems in the court of Vikramaditya are nine planets of Solar system.
Mahakala is made by joining words, Maha, great, and Kala, time. Thus, Mahakala means Time the great. Ujjain was known as Ujjayini in ancient times and was the capital of ancient empire Avanti. Ujjayini was the center of Indian civilization for several centuries and famous for its astronomical observatory. Ujjayini was equivalent of Greenwich, from where time was synchronized all over India and even abroad. New day commenced when it was six a.m. in Ujjayini. When it is six in the morning in Ujjain, it is midnight in Britain. It is from this ancient system of changing date in the morning in Ujjain that changing date at midnight has been arrived at.
As time was synchronized in a large part of the world according to Ujjayini standard time, it was only natural to designate the god of Ujjain as god time himself, and therefore the name Mahakala, Time the great.
INVENTION OF FARMING IN INDIA
India is the country where the invention of agriculture with all its means and methods was made first in the world. Prithu, the son of Vena, after whose name the earth is known as Prithivi, was the first king in the world who took the initiative to enter into agricultural economy by allowing the invention of farming. He also prepared the earth for Farming. The earth was made cultivable by way of cleaning and leveling, etc. This process was known as Gomedha Yajna. Go in physical sense, means planet earth and medha means purification or preparedness for farming. The first word appeared in the Veda for the tilted land is ëajraي which later corrupted into European languages as agro. The term ëKrishiي was first used in the Veda in the sense of Agriculture. The system of ancient Indian Farming consists in :
The selection of Farming Land
Fertility test of Farming land
Fertility treatment of Farming land
Treatment of seeds before growing in the farm
Use of herbal fertilizers to enhance the growth of crops
Proper use of herbal insecticides and pesticides to treat the crops of their pests and other diseases
Lastly the invention of Farming Astronomy to predict the prospects of summer and autumnal crops on the basis of Sunيs entry into Scorpio and Taurus respectively.
The Ashtadhyayi is a grammar of the Sanskrit language by Dakshiputra Panini (450 BC) that describes the entire language in 4,000 algebraic rules. The structure of this grammar contains a meta-language, meta-rules, and other technical devices that make this system effectively equivalent to the most powerful computing machine. No grammar of similar power has yet been constructed for any other language since. The famous American scholar Leonard Bloomfield called Panini’s achievement as “one of the greatest monuments of human intelligence.”
RSS SAVED INDIA FROM MUSLIM LEAGUE’S INTENDED COUP
After partition, Delhi was in the throes of violence and intrigues by the Muslim Leaguers. When later on Dr. Bhagwan Das, the great savant and a recipient of the Bharat Ratna award, came to know the details of the role of RSS in those crucial days, he wrote on 16th October 1948:
“I have been reliably informed that a number of youths of RSS were able to inform Sardar Patel and Nehruji in the very nick of time of the Leaguer’s intended coup on September 10, 1947, whereby they had planned to assassinate all members of Government and all Hindu officials and thousands of Hindu citizens on that day and plant the flag of Pakistan on the Red Fort and then seize all Hindusthan.”
“Why have I said all this? Because if those high-spirited and self-sacrificing boys had not given the very timely information to Nehruji and Patelji, there would have been no Government of India today, the whole country would have changed its name into ‘Pakistan’, tens of millions of Hindus would have been slaughtered and all the rest converted to Islam or reduced to stark slavery. Well, what is the net result of all this long story? Simply this – that our Government should utilise, and not sterlise, the patriotic energies of the lakhs of RSS youths.”
DRAINAGE SYSTEM IN MOHENJODARO
The city of Mohenjo-Daro in the Indus Valley was serviced with sewers made of brick with a bitumen finish, and these drained not only the main streets but the side streets as well. They were big enough for a man to walk through them standing upright.
From each house, ceramic drains ran to the sewers. The city had large public baths, with changing rooms, fountains and steam baths. A huge swimming pool was served with pipes and drains for changing the water. The swimming pool is still watertight, after 4,500 years!
THE SUN IS A STAR
There is an old Sanskrit Sloka (couplet) which is as follows:
“Sarva Dishanaam, Suryaha, Suryaha, Suryaha.”
This couplet means that there are suns in all directions. This couplet which describes the night sky as full of suns, indicates that in ancient times Indian astronomers had arrived at the important discovery that the stars visible at night are similar to the Sun visible during day time. In other words, it was recognised that the sun is also a star, though the nearest one. This understanding is demonstrated in another sloka which says that when one sun sinks below the horizon, a thousand suns take its place.
RAMAYAN IN SOUTH-EAST ASIA
The universal themes and ideals in the Ramayana, have long appealed not only to the Hindus of India, but also to the diverse cultures of Southeast Asia. The story of Lord Ram as an individual who established human values in society can be seen and heard in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, and Indonesia. All these countries have a majority non-Hindu population, yet the non-Hindu people of these countries have made the Ramayana a part of their culture.
In Thailand, the Ramayana is called Ramakien. In the past 200 years nine kings of Thailand have been named Rama, and for 400 years the capital of Thailand was Ayutthaya, named after “Ayodhya”, the birthplace of Lord Ram`s birthplace and his kingdom. Later, the capital was moved to Bangkok which is 45 miles south of Ayutthaya. The highly theatrical “Khon” mask play depicting the Ramayana in a dance-drama fashion has become the national dance of Thailand.
In Laos and northeastern Thailand there is a version of the Ramayana entitled Phra Lak Phra Lam. The people of these regions speak the same language, have similar customs, and enjoy the same literature. To the people of this region Lord Ram represents the ideals of righteousness and his life is depicted in dance, music, art, narrative, oral, and folkloric tradition. Another version of the Ramayana in this region is Gvay Dvorahbi and is used for instructional and entertainment purposes.
There are literary and folktale versions of Ramayana in Malaysia. The Hikayat Seri Rama exists in both written and oral form, and the Wayang Kulit Siam is a shadow play from Kelantan on the border of Malaysia and Thailand. The main purpose of the Hikayat Seri Rama is to show the ideals of righteousness, love, loyalty, and selfless devotion. This Malaysian version has combined elements of the Indian Sanskrit Ramayana with local traditions and beliefs to create a highly developed story which is enjoyed by many. In 1989 the largest Rama temple in Malaysia was built in the northern state of Perak on the Thai border which is about 150 miles from Kuala Lumpur. The temple has 1001 sculptures and pictures relating the Ramayana story.
In Indonesia, the Ramayana is titled Ramayana Kakawin. Puppet shadow plays Wayang Kulit and the Wayang Purwa depicting Ramayana are held in Sumatra, West and Central Java, and in Bali. They are a great source of entertainment as they are performed during family celebrations, festivals, and cultural events. There are also masked dance dramas, wooden doll puppet plays, and ballets depicting the Ramayana. The Indonesians have launched an annual opera based on Ramayana that includes a cast of hundreds of players. It is performed for tourists as a way to introduce them to an Indonesian cultural performance. The Ramayana story and its characters provide a store of names and images for modern use. There are streets, banks, and travel agencies, and other places of business which carry the names of characters from the Ramayana.
In Cambodia during the medieval centuries, several versions of literary texts entitled Ramaker were written based on the Ramayana. Today the Ramaker manifests itself in oral tales, visual, and performing arts, especially classical dance of the Cambodian court. Besides Ramaker`s instructional and religious importance, episodes from the Ramaker are often performed within villages for magical purposes. When there is a drought the people hope that the performance will produce rain. There is a monastery in Phnom Penh with approximately 193 paintings of the Ramayana.
AEROPLANES IN ANCIENT INDIA
The Rig Veda, the oldest document of the human race includes references to the following modes of transportation: Jalayan – a vehicle designed to operate in air and water (Rig Veda 6.58.3); Kaara- Kaara- Kaara- a vehicle that operates on ground and in water. (Rig Veda 9.14.1); Tritala- Tritala- Tritala- a vehicle consisting of three stories. (Rig Veda 3.14.1); Trichakra Ratha – Trichakra Ratha – Trichakra Ratha – a three-wheeled vehicle designed to operate in the air. (Rig Veda 4.36.1); Vaayu Ratha- Vaayu Ratha- Vaayu Ratha- a gas or wind-powered chariot. (Rig Veda 5.41.6); Vidyut Ratha- Vidyut Ratha- Vidyut Ratha- a vehicle that operates on power. (Rig Veda 3.14.1).
Ancient Sanskrit literature is full of descriptions of flying machines – Vimanas. From the many documents found it is evident that the scientist-sages Agastya and Bharadwaja had developed the lore of aircraft construction.
The “Agastya Samhita” gives us Agastya’s descriptions of two types of aeroplanes. The first is a “chchatra” (umbrella or balloon) to be filled with hydrogen. The process of extracting hydrogen from water is described in elaborate detail and the use of electricity in achieving this is clearly stated. This was stated to be a primitive type of plane, useful only for escaping from a fort when the enemy had set fire to the jungle all around. Hence the name “Agniyana”. The second type of aircraft mentioned is somewhat on the lines of the parachute. It could be opened and shut by operating chords. This aircraft has been described as “vimanadvigunam” i.e. of a lower order than the regular aeroplane.
Bhardwaja’s “Vaimanika Shastra” not only gives information on his methods of aeroplane construction but also provides a bibliography. He had consulted six treatises by six different authors previous to him. After him too there have been four commentaries on his work. Planes which will not break (abhedya), or catch fire (adaahya) and which cannot be cut (achchedya) have also been described. Along with the treatise there are diagrams of three types of aeroplanes – “Sundara”, “Shukana” and “Rukma”.
It appears that aerial warfare was also not unknown, for the treatise gives the technique of “shatru vimana kampana kriya” and “shatru vimana nashana kriya” i.e. shaking and destroying enemy aircraft, as well as photographing enemy planes, rendering their occupants unconscious and making one’s own plane invisible.
The Arthasastra of Kautilya (c. 3rd century B.C.) mentions amongst various tradesmen and technocrats the Saubhikas as ‘pilots conducting vehicles in the sky’. Saubha was the name of the aerial flying city of King Harishchandra and the form ‘Saubika’ means ‘one who flies or knows the art of flying an aerial city’. Kautilya uses another significant word ‘Akasa Yodhinah’, which has been translated as ‘persons who are trained to fight from the sky.’ The existence of aerial chariots, in whatever form it might be, was so well-known that it found a place among the royal edicts of the Emperor Asoka which were executed during his reign from 256 B.C. – 237 B. C.
THE SPEED OF LIGHT
A vast body of scientific information is hidden in ancient Hindu scriptures and Sanskrit texts. One such book is the celebrated commentary on the Rigveda by Sayana (c. 1315-1387), a minister in the court of King Bukka I of the Vijayanagar Empire in South India.
Sayana comments on a verse in Rigveda that Sun traverses 2,202 yojanas in half a nimesha. Yojana is an ancient Indian unit of length and nimesa is the unit of time. Upon conversion in modern units, this yields the value of 186,000 miles per second. Now it is well known that this is the velocity of light. Why would Sayana call this the velocity of Sun? It turns out that Sayana was following the ancient Indian tradition of codifying the knowledge. In this code Sun represents light.
In the modern times the speed of light was first determined in 1675 by Roemer. Until then light was taken to travel with infinite velocity. Even Newton assumed so.
THE MYSTERY OF 108
The number 108 is very auspicious for Hindus. It is the number of beads of a rosary and of many other things in Indian cosmology. But why is this number considered to be holy?
The answer to this mystery may lie in the fact that the ancient Indians took this to be the distance between the earth and the sun in sun-diameter units and the distance between the earth and the moon in moon-diameter units.
Two facts that any book on astronomy will verify :
Distance between earth and sun = 108 times sun-diameter
Distance between earth and moon = 108 times moon-diameter
Indian thought takes the outer cosmology to be mirrored in the inner cosmology of the human. Therefore, the number 108 is also taken to represent the ‘distance’ from the body of the devotee to the God within. The chain of 108 ‘links’ is held together by 107 joints, which is the number of marmas, or weak spots, of the body in Ayurveda.
We can understand that the 108 beads of the rosary must map the steps between the body and the inner sun. The devotee, while saying beads, is making a symbolic journey from the physical body to the heavens.
THE BRITISH CONSPIRACY
It was February 1835, a time when the British were striving to take control of the whole of India. Lord Macaulay, a historian and a politician, made a historical speech in the British Parliament, commonly referred to as The Minutes, which struck a blow at the centuries old system of Indian education. His words were to this effect:
“I have traveled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such calibre, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and, therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native self-culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation.”
To achieve their aim, the British rulers followed two lines : on the one hand, they encouraged an English and Christianized education in accordance with the well-known Macaulay doctrine, which projected Europe as an enlightened, democratic, progressive heaven, and on the other hand, they pursued a systematic denigration of Indian culture, scriptures, customs, traditions, crafts, cottage industries, social institutions, educational system, taking full advantage of the stagnant and often degenerate character of the Hindu society of the time. It had been Macaulay’s aim to train a large class of men who would be: “Indian in blood and color, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals and in intellect,” who would stand between the British and the illiterate masses..”
The term Vedic mathematics refers to the ancient system of mathematics which was rediscovered from the Vedas between 1911 and 1918 by Sri Bharati Krsna Tirthaji (1884-1960).
Vedic mathematics is based on sixteen sutras or word-formulae which are applied to solve problems in different branches of mathematics like arithmetic, algebra, etc. The sutras give a set of natural principles that help to quickly solve all sorts of mathematical problems in pure and applied mathematics.
The Vedic methods are direct, beautifully interrelated, flexible, much more unified and flowing than traditional mathematics. They are truly extraordinary in efficiency and simplicity. Complexly arranged modern mathematical problems can easily be done by simple mental mathematics through these methods. The solution can be obtained much faster than any other method.
SYSTEM OF INOCULATION
Before the arrival of the British, Indians had a system of inoculation against smallpox; year-old live smallpox matter was used and it was very effective. Tikadars would fan out into the country before the smallpox season in the winter. The British doctor J.Z.Holwell wrote a book in 1767 describing the system and how it was safe. European medicine did not have any treatment against this disease at that time.
Inoculation against small-pox using cow-pox was demonstrated by Edward Jenner in1798 and it became a part of western medicine by 1840. No sooner did that happen that the British banned the older method of vaccination, without making certain that sufficient number of inoculators in the new technique existed. Smallpox became a greater scourge in India than before.
LENGTH OF THE YEAR
Aryabhata was the most scientific astronomer in the ancient world who tackled the fundamental problems of astronomy as far back as in A.D.499.
To the surprise of even the contemporary scientists, he calculated ¶ to 3.1416 and the length of the solar year to 365.3586805 days. He was remarkably close to the recent estimates.
He believed that the earth was a sphere and rotated on its axis and that shadow of the earth falling on the moon caused eclipses.
The discovery of zero and use of numerals has been the gift of India to the modern world. Even Bertrand Russell commented that we should stop the practice of calling them ‘Arabic Numerals’ as they are truly Hindu numerals. They were no doubt introduced to the European world as Arabic numerals, the Arabs having borrowed them from India.
The decimal system was in regular use among Indian astronomers in ancient India.
IRON & STEEL MAKING PROCESS
Experts at the Indian Institute of Technology have resolved the mystery behind the 1600-year-old iron pillar in Delhi which has not corroded despite the capital’s harsh weather. Metallurgists at Kanpur IIT have discovered that a thin layer of ‘misawite’, a compound of iron, oxygen and hydrogen, has protected the cast-iron pillar from rust. The protective film took form within three years of the erection of the pillar and has been growing ever so slowly since then. After 1600 years, the film has grown just one-twentieth of a millimetre thick. The protective film is formed catalytically by the presence of high amounts of phosphorous in the iron – as much as one percent against less than 0.05 per cent in today’s iron.
The high phosphorous content is a result of the unique iron-making process practised by ancient Indians who reduced iron ore into steel in one step by mixing it with charcoal. Modern blast furnaces, on the other hand, use limestone in place of charcoal, yielding molten slag and pig iron that is later converted into steel.
In the ancient times Indian iron enjoyed good reputation internationally. Arabs and Persians yearned for swords made of Indian iron. The renowned metallurgist Prof. Anantraman has explained the iron-making process. Iron ore, wood and carbon powder were mixed and heated in earthen barrels up to a temperature of 1535 degrees centigrade and then gradually cooled for 24 hours to achieve iron with high carbon content. The British called it Butz. In the 18th century European metallurgists tried to manufacture iron like the Indians but they failed.
In his book “Indian science and technology in the eighteenth century” Shri Dharmpalji has mentioned the evidence given by the Europeans of the advanced method of manufacturing iron in India. In a report sent to East India Company in 1795 Dr. Benjamin Hayan describes that Ramnath Peth is a beautiful village around which there are mines and 40 iron making furnaces. The cost of iron manufactured in these furnaces is only Rs. 2 per mann, hence the company should think in this direction.
In another report James Franklin writes about steel manufacturing in Central India. He mentions iron mines in Jabalpur, Panna, Sagar, etc. and that charcoal was used in making iron all over India. A report by Captain J. Campbell in 1842 describes iron manufacturing in South India.
All these reports show that there were small furnaces all over India. Each furnace used to provide employment to nine persons and generated iron which was high in quality but cheap in price. While obtaining bar iron for railways, Campbell has emphasized that the bar iron of India is high in quality but low in cost. The best quality iron from England could not cope with the worst quality Indian iron.
90000 people worked in small iron furnaces in those days. The British established Bengal Iron Company in 1874 and started iron manufacturing on a large scale. Also more expensive iron was imported from abroad. As a result, the sale of the small furnaces went down and by the end of the 19th century the swadeshi iron industry was almost dead. The knowledge of this ancient technique is still possessed in few vanvasi families in Jharkhand.
THE HELIOCENTRIC THEORY OF GRAVITATION
Bhaskaracharya, the ancient Hindu astronomer, in the Surya Siddhanta dated 400-500 A.D. states, “Objects fall on the earth due to a force of attraction by the earth. Therefore, the earth, planets, constellation, moon and sun are held in orbit due to this force.” Brahmagupta, in the 7th century had said about gravity that “Bodies fall towards the earth as it is in the nature of the earth to attract bodies, just as it is in the nature of water to flow”. About a hundred years before Brahmagupta, another astronomer, Varahamihira had claimed that there should be a force which might be keeping bodies stuck to the earth, and also keeping heavenly bodies in their determined places. Thus the concept of the existence of some force of attraction that governs the falling of objects to the earth and their remaining stationary after having once fallen; as also determining the positions which heavenly bodies occupy, was recognised. Even in Vedic literature the Sun is referred to as the “centre of spheres” alongwith the term “Gurutvaakarshan”.
Thus, we can see that the ancient Indian astronomers came close to the heliocentric theory of gravitation, which was, articulated by Copernicus and Galileo a thousand years later inviting severe reactions from the clergy in Rome. Isaac Newton only rediscovered this phenomenon approximately 1200 years later and called it the Law of Gravity.
INDIA’S MARITIME HISTORY
Ancient India was a prominent maritime power. History reveals that India was the foremost maritime nation 2,000 years ago. India’s maritime history predates the birth of western civilization. The world’s first tidal dock is believed to have been built at Lothal around 2300 BC during the Harappan civilization, near the present day Mangrol harbour on the Gujarat coast.
Traders took merchandise by overland caravans to the sea-ports of Broach or Surat in the west, Kaveripumpatnam (Pukar) in the South or Banga in the East. Indian-built ships, laden with Indian manufactures, sailed to Ceylon, Egypt, Greece, Babylon, China or the countries of South-East Asia or Far East. The Sanskrit text, Yukti Kalpa Taru, explains how to build ships. It gives minute details about ship types, sizes and materials, including suitability of different types of wood. The treatise also elaborately explains how to decorate and furnish ships so they’re comfortable for passengers.
In ancient times the Indians excelled in shipbuilding and even the English, who were attentive to everything which related to naval architecture, found early Indian models worth copying. The Indian vessels united elegance and utility, and were models of fine workmanship.
MACHHA- YANTRA : THE ANCIENT INDIAN MARINER’S COMPASS
A contrived mariner’s compass was used by Indian navigators nearly 1500 to 2000 years ago. This has in fact been the suggestion of a European expert, Mr. J. L. Reid, who was a member of the Institute of Naval Architects and Shipbuilders in England at around the beginning of the present century. This is what Mr. Reid has said in the Bombay Gazetteer, vol. xiii., Part ii., Appendix A.
“The early Hindu astrologers are said to have used the magnet, in fixing the North and East, in laying foundations, and other religious ceremonies. The Hindu compass was an iron fish that floated in a vessel of oil and pointed to the North. The fact of this older Hindu compass seems placed beyond doubt by the Sanskrit word Maccha Yantra, or fish machine, which Molesworth gives as a name for the mariner’s compass”.
It is significant to note that these are the words of a foreign Naval Architect and Shipbuilding Expert. It is quite possible that the Machha Yantra was transmitted to the west by the Arabs to give us the mariner’s compass of today.
MODERN MEDICINE IN ANCIENT INDIA
Much of modern medicine can be traced to the Hindu surgeon, Sushruta (600 B.C.).
Best known for plastic surgery, his other notable achievements include cosmetic surgery, treatises on medical ethics, definitions for 121 surgical implements, control of infection through antiseptics, use of drugs to control bleeding, toxicology, psychiatry, midwifery, cataract operations and classification of burns. He was also among the first to prescribe surgical anesthesia, which in his days, was a healthy dose of strong wine.
IDOL WORSHIP IS SCIENTIFIC
Modern science, besides throwing new light on the psychic power hidden in temples, has also proved conclusively that idol worship too is scientific. The ideal material for moulding of the idols, according to our rishis, is ‘Panchloha’, a combination of five metals. Robert Pavlita, a Czech metallurgist, has concluded from his experiments on ‘Panchloha’ that it is an ideal combination of metals for storing ‘psychotronic energy’, and that this energy can exert a strong influence on water, which is sprinkled on the devotees.