Were our Ancestors Dumb?
One of the biggest assumptions of modern society is that, anything that is being discovered or invented today is being done so for the first time in Human history. In other words, in spite of having the same brain for over two million years, and known history of ancient civilizations for over past 10000 years or so, we assume that only in the last 4-5 centuries did the human beings started thinking scientifically and are doing technological inventions and scientific discoveries. We assume that all our ancient ancestors were dumbs who spent time in blind faiths, unscientific practices, uncivilized activities and so on.
Now this myth is nothing different from the medieval belief that earth was the center of the universe, that our place in the universe was something special. Where as the truth is that in the vastness of this universe we are much smaller than a quark inside a proton within an atom inside a grain of sand as compared to the size of the planet earth. The universe is so large that we are nowhere to be seen on its scale.
We tend to ignore the fact that long before the Greek were thinking that the Earth was flat and was the center of the universe, the ancient Indians had declared that Earth was round and revolving around the Sun.
Learn from the Great Scientists, Historians and Writers
When we believe that modern technology is really modern, this prejudice makes us question great physicists like Oppenheimer, the father of modern atomic bomb who on seeing the first nuclear explosion in the last century said that he had read the description of a nuclear weapon in Bhagavadgita – the ancient Sanskrit text which says,
“If the radiance of a thousand suns
Were to burst at once into the sky
That would be like the splendor of the Mighty one…
I am become Death,
The shatterer of Worlds.”
When asked about how he felt on exploding the first atomic bomb on earth, Oppenheimer replied that the explosion was “First in modern times“.
It is not that we cannot believe such things, it is simply that we DO NOT want to believe this. How can my great grand father be more intelligent than me? is our attitude. We forget that it is our great ancestors who taught us how to count.
We seldom realize the importance of what Einstein said
– We should be thankful to Indians who taught us how to count without which no worthwhile scientific discovery would have been possible.
We fail to recognize the magnitude of the famous British Historian Grant Duff’s words
– Many of the advances in the sciences that we consider today to have been made in Europe were in fact made in India centuries ago.
We ignore what the American Historian Will Durant said
– India was the motherland of our race and Sanskrit the mother of Europe’s languages. India was the mother of our philosophy, of much of our mathematics, of the ideals embodied in Christianity… of self-government and democracy. In many ways, Mother India is the mother of us all.
Most of us are not even aware of the historical facts which the famous French philosopher and writer Voltaire knew when he wrote
– It is very important to note that some 2,500 years ago at the least Pythagoras went from Samos to the Ganges to learn geometry…But he would certainly not have undertaken such a strange journey had the reputation of the Brahmins’ science not been long established in Europe
What made the famous American Writer Mark Twain say
– India is the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legend and the great grand mother of tradition
What was Carl Sagan, the famous physicist trying to imply when he said
– The Hindu religion is the only one of the world’s great faiths dedicated to the idea that the Cosmos itself undergoes an immense, indeed an infinite, number of deaths and rebirths. It is the only religion in which the time scales correspond, no doubt by accident, to those of modern scientific cosmology. Its cycles run from our ordinary day and night to a day and night of Brahma, 8.64 billion years long. Longer than the age of the Earth or the Sun and about half the time since the Big Bang. And there are much longer time scales still.
What did he mean when he further said
– A millennium before Europeans were wiling to divest themselves of the Biblical idea that the world was a few thousand years old, the Mayans were thinking of millions and the Hindus billions!
Vedas – Ancient Knowledge Treasures
The ancient Indian vedic texts are the oldest texts in the world and contain treasures of knowledge in them.
It is a common allegation that – The moment a new discovery is made in modern science, vedic scholars line up claiming that “vedic texts already said this” and refer to some random quote or hymn from the vedic texts.
Now let us start with the above famous quote from Einstein when he said “We should be thankful to Indians who taught us how to count, without which no worthwhile scientific discovery would have been possible“.
Einstein was referring to the invention of modern mathematics by ancient Indians. The entire science and technology today is based on the mathematics invented by ancient vedic scholars. Just have a look at the mathematics followed by ancient Greeks where each number was represented by a unique symbol, so if we had 100 numbers then there were 100 symbols, and as they ran out of new symbols, they invented more and more new symbols. 100 was represented by C, 50 by L, thousand by M and so on. Now with this kind of mathematics one could hardly do anything other than simple addition. Have you ever tried doing a simple multiplication using Roman Numbers? These numbers were fit for nothing else other than decorating the digits on a clock.
Now compare this to the mathematics invented by the ancient vedic scholars. Here we use only a limited set of symbols, say 9 symbols from 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 and use a combination of these to represent ANY numeric value no matter how huge be it 25 or 872134870235. Yes, the place value system using bases was invented by the ancient Indians, and as a by-product of this invention they also invented zero (the word zero itself is derived from Sanskrit word Shunya which means Nothing) to represent empty places without any value, because without zero you cannot use place value system to differentiate between 11 and 101. And as Einstein rightly said, the entire modern science and mathematics is based on these Hindu numerals (also called Hindu-Arabic Numerals because it was the Arab merchants who came from India who had introduced this system to Europe). No software could be written and so no computers would have been possible without the invention of zero, isn’t it? All software after all run on binary or the base 2 system – zero and one.
Now, would it look odd if I said that the modern arithmetic is already described in the vedas or other ancient Sanskrit texts? I don’t think so, because that is where it came from. Pythagoras after whom the famous theorem is named, never gave a proof of his theorem and is said to have learnt the statement of the theorem which relates the hypotenuse of a right angled triangle to the other two sides of that triangle – on a visit to India! Voltaire, a great french philosopher and writer said that, Pythagoras went from Samos to the shores of Ganga in India to learn Geometry.
Ancient vedic texts speak about telepathy and conversations between people who were geographically located far away from each other, and were ridiculed as being unscientific in nature by modern scientific public. Many even today believe that this kind of distant communication is unscientific. But not those who know quantum mechanics and who have studied that non-locality or instantaneous communication between two particles located light years apart from each other is a fundamental aspect of nature. This Instantaneous Communication in quantum mechanics and has been proved again and again, and physicists are still trying to understand how it works. And when I say that ancient vedic seers had mastered the technique of instantaneous communications (probably by mastering this aspect of quantum mechanics), would it be fair to say that I said it only after quantum mechanical nature of particles was discovered? Wasn’t this being told from the very day these texts were written?
Vedic Chants and Positive Influence on Human Minds
Ancient vedic chants are said to bring positive influence on human minds and actions. It is said that they were designed (or written) to be so – pools of positive energy stimulating and encouraging our minds to be good, to do good and to feel good. But till yesterday modern science was rejecting this claim. But a recent Russian discovery has proved that human DNA is like a biological internet which listens to external sound vibrations and behaves accordingly, as if it is being directed and told to perform so.
Now if I say that vedic texts had already told this, that vedic chants can influence human actions and bring in positive mood, will it be fair to accuse me of making use of a modern discovery to prove an ancient point. Weren’t the ancient texts already saying this? While modern science till yesterday was saying that 90% of human DNA was junk, the above said and other recent discoveries have only proved that Modern science till now actually did not understand 90% of the DNA. Even today Modern science is unable to explain how did the human brain suddenly evolve so large and so organized to make us an intelligent species!
Please note that Modern Science is still evolving and not perfect. It has not answered ALL the questions. There is a difference between the science we know and the actual science according to which nature functions. What we called as science during the days of Ptolemy is not science today. Einstein proved Newton wrong, and quantum mechanics may prove Einstein wrong. What we know as science today may not remain so tomorrow. Humanity is still on the path of understanding nature. We have hundreds of unanswered questions in all fields of science. So in the name of science (like how fanatics do in the name of God) let us not outrightly reject all the ancient knowledge as nonsense, we need to remember that while our modern science has evolved only in the past 500 years or so, there are ancient civilizations which have lived for thousands of years continuously, and so there are greater possibilities that they knew much better than us.
Evolution of Human Species
Long before modern science up with the theory of evolution, vedic texts had said that human species had to cross 8.4 million other species before coming into existence, which means that before humans came into existence 8.4 million other species had already evolved. Now if I say that theory of evolution was mentioned in the ancient sanskrit texts, will it be right to ridicule it saying I am just making use of some number in an ancient hymn to make the texts look scientific?
Om – the Universal Vibration and String Theory
The critics say that vedic scholars only talk about already done inventions or discoveries to prove the texts as being scientific, and not predict some yet to be discovered fact. Well, the fact is, vedic texts have been saying what they have to for thousands of years, only those who listen to it do so after a corresponding scientific discovery is made.
Take the case of string theory. You can take any vedic text thousands of years old, or commentaries on vedic texts by scholars centuries old, or even those works at the beginning of the last century, and they all say that the entire universe is made up of vibrations, and the vedic hymn Om (0r aum) symbolizes this universal vibration. But all these days this vedic statement was said to be unscientific – claiming that there are no such vibrations in the universe, its only quantum particles everywhere, so on and so forth.
Very recently, in the past few decades, String theory was put forward by eminent scientists, and the very basis of this string theory which is trying to unify gravity and quantum mechanics is that, the entire universe finally is made up of vibrating entities titled strings – every single particle in this universe, even space, gravity, matter, light all are made up of vibrations of different frequencies – is what the String theory says.
Now isn’t this what the ancient vedic texts said, what the vedic scholars had been saying – which was called unscientific till a century back, and today if somebody says that “vedic texts spoke about universal vibrations just like how modern string theory does“, would it be fair to accuse saying that, “only after the discovery of string theory are the vedic scholars saying this“, while the matter of fact is that you can pick up any older book or work and read about it.
What is interesting to note here is that this kind of allegation is done NOT by the scientists who worked on these actual discoveries, but only by the so called prejudiced readers of these scientific discoveries who do not want to believe that some new discovery or invention had already been described in some ancient text. While the father of Modern atomic bomb had no hesitation saying that Bhagavadgita contained the description of a nuclear explosion, our modern popular-science book readers without having ever read Bhagavadgita nor having solved a relativistic equation – reject this statement outrightly.
Consider the simple fact. Almost all of the modern science and technology was discovered and invented in just the past 500 years or so. The ancient Indian vedic civilization spanned at least 5000 years. Now if in just 500 years so much of science and technology could be achieved, one can only imagine how much would have been achieved in 5000 years.
Layers of Skin
Now take this fact. Modern science says that skin has 4-5 layers, where as Ayurveda says that skin has 7 layers! Now tomorrow when Modern Science discovers the other two layers in the skin, would it be wrong for vedic scholars or ayurvedic doctors to claim that the ayurvedic texts already spoke about this?
Types of Sleep
While modern science talks about three states of mind – awakening, dreaming and deep sleep – which is described by vedic texts as Jagruti, Swapna and Sushupti respectively, the vedic texts also describe a fourth state of mind called Turiya which is said to be beyond these three states and is not described by modern science. Now tomorrow when modern science discovers this fourth state of mind, wouldn’t it be fair for vedic scholars to claim that the vedic seers knew about this fourth state of mind too?
And I can go on and on like this citing examples. But that does not mean to claim that whatever is discovered or will be discovered is already mentioned in the ancient texts. All it means is that when a vedic scholar makes such claim, it needs to be investigated by studying those texts and the claim needs to be verified, not rejected over right.
After all, the great scientists and scholars mentioned at the beginning of this article cannot be all wrong, there must be some substance to their statements. Scientists like Subhash Kak who has written about the Astronomical code in the Rigveda, Rick Briggs of NASA who is doing research on Sanskrit and Artificial Intelligence, or S S De and P V Vartak who discovered the Speed of Light mentioned in the commentaries on Rig Veda all should have based their studies on some solid foundation. Isn’t it?
While modern science is still struggling to understand how on earth were the pyramids of Egypt built, will it be an exaggeration to say that the first private aircraft in History was owned by Ravana, the king of Lanka in the Tretayuga during the period of Ramayana and the aircraft was called Pushpaka Vimana – and note that this was at least 7000 years back as per the Astronomical dating of Ramayana
And finally, for those who can understand it, here is a quote by the English Philosopher Alan Watts
To the philosophers of India, however, Relativity is no new discovery, just as the concept of light years is no matter for astonishment to people used to thinking of time in millions of kalpas, (A kalpa is about 4,320,000 years). The fact that the wise men of India have not been concerned with technological applications of this knowledge arises from the circumstance that technology is but one of innumerable ways of applying it.