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|| आ नो भद्राः क्रतवो यन्तु विश्वतः || Let nobel thoughts come to us from everywhere, from all the world || 1.89.1 Rigveda ||
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Christianity’s Science Envy – A response to Meera Nanda’s article “Hindutva’s science envy”-2
 
Nicolai Tesla, the most prominent pioneer of western science was influenced by Vedic knowledge. He is reported to have remarked: “All perceptible matter comes from a primary substance, or tenuity beyond conception, filling all space, the akasha or luminiferous ether, which is acted upon by the life giving Prana or creative force, calling into existence, in never-ending cycles all things and phenomena.” (Nikola Tesla, Man’s Greatest Achievement, 1907).

By Hindu Post




Tesla, Oppenheimer, Huxley acknowledged influence of Vedic Science

Nanda’s suggestion that somehow modern science born in the West is divorced from Vedic influences is pure fiction. To deny the influence of Vedic science on western science is an attempt to erase historical facts. Over the past 100’s of years, there are significant records by Chinese, Japanese, Greek, Arab and German scholars about Vedic science. Numerous Western scientists such as Tesla, Oppenheimer, Einstein and Huxley were influenced by Vedic science. For example, Nicolai Tesla, the most prominent pioneer of western science was influenced by Vedic knowledge. He is reported to have remarked: “All perceptible matter comes from a primary substance, or tenuity beyond conception, filling all space, the akasha or luminiferous ether, which is acted upon by the life giving Prana or creative force, calling into existence, in never-ending cycles all things and phenomena.” (Nikola Tesla, Man’s Greatest Achievement, 1907)Given Nanda’s academic credentials, I propose that her attempt at denigrating Vedic knowledge is crafty at best and science fiction at worst.

Bharat’s scientific past

It is well documented that Europe was in dark ages and stone age a thousand years ago at a time that Bharat and China were centers of industry, based on science of metallurgy, textiles, farming, animal husbandry and so on. A study by the Organization for Economic-Cooperation and Development (OECD) on the History of Economic Development from CE 0-2000 indicates that Bharat had 33% of the world GDP share, the highest in the world, in 0 CE (Common Era). Bharat’s GDP share remained high over the next 1700 years: 28% in 1000 CE, 24.5% in 1500 CE and 24% in 1700 CE. However, further to Bharat’s colonization, its GDP had plummeted to 7% in 1913 and 4% in 1950, after it gained independence in 1947 (Madison, 2007).  During the initial contact period “a number of Europeans praised the sophistication of the indigenous medical systems, especially in the areas of herbology, caesarean sections, inoculations, and plastic surgery (Shroff, 2000). Bharatiya historians have documented the immense extent to which England, Portugal and France (Goel, 1992) violated the political, cultural, social, economic and religious rights and freedoms of the people of Bharat during the 200 years of colonization.

Western appropriation of Vedic Science

To deny the contribution of Vedic knowledges as building blocks for western science is disingenuous and even an attempted cultural genocide. This is especially true because many modern scientific research innovations are appropriations of these ancient indigenous knowledges. Since 1995, the Government of Bharat has attempted to protect Yoga from further appropriation and exploitation by the west. The Ministry of AYUSH, acronym for what Bharat’s Government refers to as Bharat’s “traditional knowledges of Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani and Siddha and Homeopathy” was established in 2014 to accelerate Bharat’s effort to protect and promote this knowledge. Since 2008, the Bharatiya Government began its intervention to protect its knowledge. The first few successes came when it fought and won cases against two US patents given for common Ayurveda items: turmeric, a spice with health and medical benefits and neem, an indigenous tree in Bharat that has medicinal properties used in agriculture and human health.

The Government of Bharat website includes a Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) that is available for international patent offices to consult.  For example, there are photos and instructions for over 900 Hatha Yoga postures.  The TKDL website reports an enormous level of appropriation of Bharat’s traditional knowledge in the west. For example, it reports in the US alone there are 2315 yoga trademarks, 150 yoga-related copyrights and 134 patents for yoga accessories had been registered by 2005. The digital library represents a significant cost, both in time and money, to the Government of Bharat to fight these numerous patent requests.

Another important area of appropriation of Vedic science has been in the area of Ayurveda. For example, Bharat’s case against a US corporation’s attempt to copyright neem, a tree indigenous to Bharat, took ten years to win. Neem is valued as a medical herb and in agriculture as an herbicide. A similar fight was won against the patent awarded for turmeric, a powerful medicinal herb.

Nanda’s flimsy arguments on Shunya and Pythagoras

Megh Kalyansundaram has already written a robust rebuttal on Nanda’s flimsy argument that Vedic scholars cannot claim to have invented the shunya (zero) and geometryhttp://internethindu.org/2016/09/02/a-limited-response-to-meera-nandas-essay-hindutvas-science-envy-in-frontline/. I would like to point out another serious flaw of logic in Nanda’s position. In arguing about who can claim ownership of a knowledge, Nanda proposes that those who ‘prove’ the knowledge should own it. She asks “So where does the first proof of Pythagoras’ Theorem come from?” This rationale and claim sets up a clever sleight of hand for the west to claim authorship of Bharat’s indigenous knowledge. Under this system, any existing knowledge in the Vedic system preserved in the oral tradition can be claimed by the west by virtue of their writing it down in text.  Such claims to knowledge are clearly cultural appropriations or theft of another culture’s wealth.

In fact, this is exactly what has happened over the past 100 years and more. Much of the indigenous knowledge of medicine, plants, environment, math, science, metallurgy and so on has been stolen via appropriation by westerners who have claimed it as their own. For example, much of the great Ramanujan’s work in mathematics was credited to his westerner ‘handlers’ who helped him present his work to the academe. Similarly, some westerners are claiming to have invented ‘Modern Hatha Yoga’ which is essentially classical Yoga postures repackage with western translations and interpretations.

Hindus are unaware of the extent of appropriation of Vedic mind sciences, as propounded in the Patanjali Yoga Sutras for example, into western psychology. The appropriation has been made possible using the same wrong logic of assigning ownership over knowledge based on who gets the stamp of approval or “proof” in a western journal. In this scheme, the Vedic science of breath, yoga and Ayurveda are only counted as science once they have been ‘discovered’ by the west and published in a western journal! In this way, much of the Vedic science has been appropriated into western modern science. Swadeshi scholars are needed to further investigate and expose these appropriations.

Nanda’s attempt to hoodwink the reader

I conclude by pointing out another important trick that western scholars such as Nanda use to trick unsuspecting readers into buying into their false claims against Vedic knowledge. They find quotes written by scholars in which they have critiqued the significant inherent contradictions between science and Islam or Christianity and then (mis)apply them to critique Vedic scienceIn Nanda’s article, she provides the following quote from the “great Syrian philosopher, Sadiq al-Azm, to provide a severe critique of Vedic science: “The attempt to efface the features of the struggle between religion and science is nothing but a hopeless effort to defend religion. It is resorted to every time religion is forced to concede a traditional position and every time it is forced to withdraw from a center that it formerly held”.  What Nanda had failed to inform the reader is that Sadiq al-Azam’s criticism of religion and science was directed towards the Abrahimic religions and not Vedic religion. I consider such deceptions a form of academic dishonesty that warrants public exposure.

Does Hindutva suffer from science envy? It clearly does not. Does Christianity suffer from science envy? Definitely yes. But for the eyewash of Western propaganda, these facts would be more widely understood.

By – Ragini Sharma, PhD 

References

Courtright, P. (1985). Ganesh, Lord of Obstacles, Lord of Beginnings, New York: Oxford University Press.

Haig-Brown, C. (2012). Decolonizing Diaspora: Whose traditional land are we on? In A.A. Abdi (ed.). Decolonizing Philosophies of Education, pp. 73-90.

Madison, A. (2007). Contours of the World Economy 1-2030 AD, Oxford University Press. Retreived at http://www.theworldeconomy.org/MaddisonTables/MaddisontableB-18.pdf

Malhotra, R. (2011). Being Different: An Indian Challenge to Western Universalism. Noida, India: Harper Collins.

Pollock, S. (2006). The Language of the Gods in the World of Men. Berkerly: University of California Press

al-Azm, Sadiq Jalal (2008), “Science and Religion, an Uneasy Relationship in the History of Judeo-Christian-Muslim Heritage”, Islam & Europe, Leuven University Press, p. 129

Shroff, F. (2000). Ayurveda: Mother of Indigenous health knowledge. In G. Dei, B. L. Hall & D. Goldin Rosenberg (Eds.), Indigenous knowledges in global contexts: Multiple readings of our world, Toronto, ON: OISE/UT, University of Toronto Press. 215-233.

TKDL, Traditional Knowledge Digital Library, Govt. of India website. Retrieved fromhttp://indianmedicine.nic.in/showfile.asp?lid=316

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