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Durable Link to this BlogSunday, December 14, 2008

The way Ancient Indians lived; Science in Everyday

II Construction of tanks, buildings etc.

It is universally acknowledged that Zero is invention or discovery of Indians. So is Algebra. So is astronomy. The latter was a pure science, studied in detail, to determine rainfall, climate, crops and navigation. Position of stars and their study was important in sea-faring. Ancient Indians had close trade, commerce and religious links with far-east, middle-east, and European countries, since hoary past. Cultural empire of India had spread to Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand and Malaysia, which area still boasts of several Hindu and Buddhist traditions. All trans-oceanic contacts were achieved without even a mariner's campass, a comparatively modern discovery! It was through deep and correct study of astronomy only, that such cultural contacts were accomplished through navigation. [(Alberuni)], the Arab scholar of 10th century came to India with the sole purpose of studing astronomy. Since all literature was in Sanskrit, he was compelled to study it in depth. He has left invaluable information about India. He stayed in India for more the six years and translated several Sanskrit treatises into Arabic and Persian. How this great science came to be restricted to mere astrology and distorted to meet the selfish-gains of the few, and led to several superstiotions makes a sad story. So also is the fate of Vastu or science of architecture. First book in Arabic on gynecology and pediatrics, was a translation work from Sanskrit. Now the original work is lost. Acupuncture treatment has its root in Suchi-chikitsa or needle treatment-dealt with in ancient medical texts. If we have a look at huge temples statues, dams, bridges and tanks, some of which are in ruins, due to vandalism, one would be wonderstruck at the mastery arrived in constructions and carving. Only those in solid rock have survived. Some lakes and tanks as old as 1500 years to 1,000 years old have survived like the Gudnapur tank of early Kadamba or Shantisagar of Rashtrakuta times. They still help irrigation, and with water for millions of cattle and humans. The iron pillar of Gupta age at Mehrouli near Delhi (4th century CE) exposed to harsh climate in the open, remains without rust till date.

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Jyotsna Kamat

Jyotsna Kamat Ph.D. lives in Bangalore.


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