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.”