Thursday, August 20, 2020

Vedic Science

 

The Vedic system comprised of the four Vedas (Rig Veda, Sama Veda, Yajur Veda and Atharva Veda), six Vedangas (ritualistic knowledge, metrics, exegetics, grammar, phonetics and astronomy), the Upanishads, Tarka Shastra (logic and reasoning), Puranas (history), and more.

 In the Vedic system, a child started his education at the age of five. To mark this commencement, the Vidyarambha ceremony, which included worshiping Goddess Saraswati and learning alphabets for the first time, was conducted. Leaving home and starting to live with a teacher required the child to conduct another ceremony called Upanayana. Boys practiced this ceremony at different ages according to their castes (only children of the Brahmin, Kshatriya and Vaishya did so).

 

Education for women was also quite important in ancient India. They were trained in housekeeping, as well as in dancing and music. Girls also had to conduct the Upanayana ceremony. Educated women were divided into two classes – Sadyodwahas, those who pursued their education just until they got married, and Brahmavadinis, those who never married and continued studying throughout their lives. Vedas and Vedangas were taught to women, too, but were limited to religious songs and poems necessary for rituals. Some notable Vedic and Upanishad women scholars were Apala, Indrani, Ghosha, Lopamudra, Gargi and Maitreyi.

Education in ancient India was quite different from the rest of the world back then. The society and state couldn’t interfere with the curriculum or the administration. To get an education, a child had to leave home and live with a teacher in a gurukul for the entire duration of his studies. No fee was charged for education; in fact, the teacher took care of everything, including food, clothing and housing. According to this system, physical labor was of utmost importance. So, even if a child was interested in acquiring philosophical knowledge, he would still have to do some manual work every day. Debates and discussions were a part of education, even in ancient days.

 

Early Indian scriptures like the Vedas, attempted to systematize ancient sciences, which are known as Vedic Sciences. The Vedic civilization is even believed to have been at a much higher level of development as compared to our current modern society. Vedic studies in many educational institutions in India aim to popularize Vedic knowledge by infusing this knowledge into modern methods of teaching, such as through seminars, lectures and projects.

 Studying from an institute that offers Vedic education allows a lot of scope for interdisciplinary learning. Students can choose from subjects that offer to learn from Vedic texts related to history, philosophy, religious studies, theology, anthropology, psychology, ethics, design, ecosystem, dance, film and yoga. Such programs enable their students to succeed in their area of work as they have an advantage of the knowledge imbibed from studying Vedic Sciences integrated with modern education and technology. Students, who have been a part of a Vedic education system, are more likely to experience a holistic development that takes them far in whatever career path they choose to embark on.

The place of Science and Technology in ancient India was at lower level before the spiritual knowledge involving miraculous powers exhibited by the sages. If a sage could create a building just by the power of his will, what will be the value of civil engineering before that? Today, we have lost that technology of spiritual powers and hence, the science and technology appear very big. The science and technology were like a small line drawn before the spiritual power standing as a big line. Today, the big line disappeared and the relatively smaller line becomes absolutely big.

Science and technology existed in ancient India to very high level in advanced state. Mathematics of Bhaskara, Astronomy of Arya Bhatta and Brahma Gupta, Geometry of Apasthamba, Bodhayana and Kaatyayana, Physics of Kanaada and Gowtama, chemistry of Rasaarnava, Aeronautics of Maya, Ayurveda of Charaka, Surgery of Sushruta, Economics of Chanakya, etc., were several advanced branches of science and technology. Brahmagupta establishes the theory that the earth is moving around its own axis and also around the Sun.

The usage of Brahmaastram in the Kurukshethra war was nothing but explosion of nuclear weapon as per the full details in the Mahabharatam and the studies of the soil of Kurukshethra war. The history of the science says that Zinc metal was first extracted in China since the metal sublimed and escaped the furnace during the earlier metallurgical operations in other countries and hence, could not be extracted from its ore. But, Rasaarnava says that the Zinc metal was extracted in ancient India by using a lid that covers the crucible so that the lower part of the lid collects the Zinc metal due to the condensation of the sublimed vapours on the lower part of the lid (Mukamushaagatam Dhmaatam – Rasaarnava). Hence, the Zinc metal was first extracted in ancient India and not in ancient China. The alloy of Zinc metal after mixing with Copper (Riti) was mentioned in the Valmiki Ramayanam (Ritih kanchanarajatih).

The theorems of geometry of Aapastamba etc., were of great surprise, which were followed in the construction of the Vedic altars to perform sacrifice using bricks (Shulba Sutraas). The altar of a square to be converted into a rectangle of the same area so that the diagonal of the square becomes the side of the rectangle is in one Sutra “Samachaturasram deergachaturasram Chikeershuh tadakshnyaa samparichchidya yathaa yogena yojeyet”. This means that you should cut the square via the diagonal and one half is made into two and these three pieces to be added. Sushruta describes several intricate eye operations. Rasaarnava describes thousands of chemical reactions.

We are benefitted by the applications of Science and Technology irrespective of its place of origin in the present time and to do research on the history of Science may not be of great importance. The argument that our ancient Indian scriptures were carried away to the foreign countries may help to restore the pride of our ancient India. This is purely from the point of history and not from the point of advancement in Science. But, a thorough study of these ancient scriptures may open the doors in some areas at least even for the advanced techniques, which may not be known even today. The metallurgy of Ashoka pillar in Delhi, which is made of cast iron, not corroding till today in spite of the extreme climate gives a practical hope for such research.


 

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