Science

Gujarat University Diary Says Sages Developed Nuclear Technology, Rockets and Cosmetic Surgery

References for the Maharaja Sayajirao University diary came from the books of RSS ideologue Dinanath Batra, officials said.

Maharaja Sayajirao University. Credit: msubaroda.ac.in

Maharaja Sayajirao University. Credit: msubaroda.ac.in

The Maharaja Sayajirao University (MSU) in Vadodara, which recently made the news for postponing a workshop on the politics of caste, apparently fearing right-wing backlash, has now surprised some with the claims made in its official diary for 2017.

According to a report in the Indian Express, the MSU diary has celebrated several sages for their “contribution to science”. These contributions, according to the diary, range from “developing nuclear technology” (Acharya Kanad) and “discovering rockets and aeroplanes” (Maharshi Bhardwaj) to being the “father of cosmetic surgery” (Sushrut). Kapil Muni, according to the university’s diary, is the “father of cosmology”; Charak Rishi, the “father of medicine”; and Garga Muni, “scientist of stars”. Close to 2,000 of these diaries have been printed and distributed to donors and well-wishers of the university, the newspaper reported.

The diary also includes the names of certain well-known scientists and mathematicians such as Jagdish Chandra Bose, Vikram Sarabhai, C.V. Raman, Srinivas Ramanujan and Aryabhatt, Indian Express reported.

Where did these references come from? According to what university officials told the Indian Express, they were based on the books of RSS ideologue and founder of the Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti, Dinanath Batra. “Dinanath Batra’s books talk about Maharshi Bhardwaj being the author of Brihad-Vimana Shastra, Lohadikaram, which indicates metal and alloys used for flying objects mentioned in the Ramayana like the Pushpak Vimana. Similarly, Acharya Kanad is credited with developing the atomic theory, which he has elaborated in his book Vaisheshik Darshan. These are examples from India’s rich history recommended for the diary,” said an official.

Ajay Ashtaputre, head of the diary committee and professor at the faculty of performing arts, said the names and descriptions were based on recommendations from MSU syndicate member Jignesh Soni, son of Bapubhai Soni, who is one of the founding members of the Jan Sangh in Gujarat. Jignesh told Indian Express, “Sages mean scientists. Rishis are known for their researches, and are considered scientists in their own fields of knowledge. We have depicted the sages from different fields who are a part of our history and shastras. Many may disagree with the facts, but several people also believe it. Why are these names controversial? They are the forefathers of our nation who have achieved something. We should be proud of them. Their names should be included in mainstream education too.”

  • Rohini

    Indian texts on science are important sources of theories and information.
    what exactly are the objections to calling sushrutha the father of cosmetic surgery ? If he is one of the earliest modern humans to postulate methods and theories’ of medicine ( which he was), why not?
    i don’t see anyone objecting to hippocrates being labelled the father of medicine and doctors even taking the Hippocrates Oath..yes?
    similarly, unless the Wire can show for a fact the the other people quoted had nothing to do with the topics they have been associated with, there is no real reason to object. After all, we know that Sanskrit texts are scientific ..and we have many texts on myriad subjects.

  • Rohini

    Isn’t it odd that a person like you who supposedly understands science and facts is unable to distinguish between a colourful calendar with colourful ‘tag-lines’ to pictures and a scientific text or journal?
    btw – how do you reach to Hippocrates as the ‘Father of medicine’? would love to know your position on that.

  • Rohini

    Thank you for sharing the wealth from Wikipedia. I would look for more credible sources, as a serious researcher.

    From your copy-pasting of the article on Hippocrates, It sounds like you are willing to swallow hook line and sinker the stinker that he can be called the ‘father of medicine’ while at the same time, objecting to Sushrutha being called the ‘father of medicine’!
    Luckily for me, I do not need wikipedia to tell me about Hippocrates’ ‘humor’ driven style of medicine. Which apparently, you find modern! And hence are willing to accept his grandiose title!

    You’ve quite answered my question – you obviously are ok with the title for Hippocrates because someone who created the Wikipedia page has decided to tell you that he is the father of medicine- because in their side of the world, they know of no one else..although what he did was NOTHING at ALL scientific or anything like medicine as we know it today, or even for the last 300 years. And yet, you think its ok. hmm…

    I rest my case..if you are ok with Hippocrates, you ought to be ok with the Indian guys..because they all contributed to various fields of thought in science way way before any modern science started. Whether it is accpetable today is not the question – whether they staretd a field of enquiry given their limited resources and knowledge at the time and whether they contributed to some advance in thar field is the true question.
    The conclusion here is that you, my friend, are a victim of the Indian education system – which has taught you NOTHING about your own history or advances in science by ancient Indians. Of course, you will be able to spout the ‘Indians invented zero’ bit, but nothing beyond that. Know anything about the bhaskara sereies, brahmagupta and aryabhatta, or hey, that giant called Madhavacharya aand what he contributed?

    Let’s get back again when you have that knowledge – beyond wiki, if you don’t mind!

  • Rohini

    btw, is there a wikipedia page dedicated to any of the guys on the calendar – you know, those indian ancient scientists who worked in various fields like medicine, astronomy, mathematics etc?
    It’s not magically that we developed the zero as a decimal place holder, right? did it just hit someone on the head, like Newton’s apple, or is it possible that the reason it was invented HERE in India and not anywhere else in the world, is that India had a strong scientific culture?
    hmm….beyond wiki, again, my friend, to answer that question. needs data, facts and analysis, not received wisdom from some open source website

  • Rohini

    Well, then ,we agree on the principles of it all. How does it help that Hippocrates is called the father of medicine? It makes a big big difference to how children see their culture, their place in the world, their interest in science and what they believe as possible.

    If you can believe it, these insights have come from actual expeinces with Indian kids who have asked me some of the most saddening but interesting questions about our place as Indians in the world of science.
    WHY? because they see NO Indian names EVER as achievers in science.
    I am sure I am not alone in this experience – many parents etc may have seen similar things with children in the younger age group who begin to learn about the ‘greats’ who all happen to be European/American. They never even learn about the Hindu numerals (they are NOT called, Arabic, btw, but Hindu-Arabic) or about zero, let alone about Pi, and the madhava series. They learn nothing bout the two Boses or about Ramanujan, not even those who lived in the last century. It’s Europeans and Americans all the way, and the Greeks and Romans.
    Now, the natural question that a young child asks is – what about Indians? did they invent nothing, discover nothing? WHO is going to answer that, pray tell me? And if you believe this has no affect on the psyche of the child about what is ‘possible’ you may please think again.
    A culture that sees itself as innovators, inventors, artists, discoverers etc produces more such. One that sees itself as mere recipients of wisdom from elsewhere remains as a recipient culture. There are many complex reasons why India produces no innovation – one of it is also the fact that we have never been taught our rich history of what was made possible – no role models to learn from. That needs to be corrected. Learning about one’s scientific achievements and being proud of it is not a crime.

  • Rohini

    Wikipedia is NOT a credible research resource. I would be hounded out of my job if I were EVER to cite Wiki as a source. That’s my point on it.