Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A friendly critique of “ancient Hindu science”

No I am not one of those commies who think that the Hinduism are nothing but a bunch of primitive beliefs. If you have observed my posts, you will realize that I am a great lobbyist of the great Hindu Heritage.

But I sometime see some posts by my co-religiousts claiming that air planes, nuclear weapons….. etc etc are mentioned in the Hindu scriptures and that to safe guard them they knowledge was later destroyed etc etc. This following post of mine was written in that context:

I follow the premise of “not accepting something true until proved to be true”. Thus though I am open to the possibility of technologically advanced civilization in India (more so after reading the “Foundation Trilogy” of Isaac Asimov) I do not still accept this due to lack of sufficient proof in this regard.

True, Ramayana talks about Pushpaka vimana and Mahabharata talks about time travel. But we should also differentiate between a concept and an actual existence.

For example, the Einstein’s relativity theory talks about the possibility of a person traveling at half the speed of light and his mass increasing in that plane. What we have to note here is that it is just a theoretical concept. We still do not have rockets which can fly at the speed even comparable to light speed.

In the same way, when Ramayana or Mahabharata talks about air travel or time travel, they need not mean the actual presence of these things, but rather the concept of these things, which were put in the form of myths.

Of course to even have these concepts is really a great thing and we have every reason to be proud of the ancient concepts. But lets not over do it.

I was observing the same in the “Meaning of Gayatri Mantra”. I did not want to spoil their party hence remained silent. But these things like om refers to the sound of galaxies moving at a speed of… blah blah. From what I know, om refers to nirguna Brahman and the funda of chanting is that each word is linked with an idea and by repeating these bijas, we are invoking that particular idea.

Actually I feel this over doing of stuff is but a different kind of slavish mentality. “we have knowledge of planes, we had knowledge of nuclear bombs, we had knowledge of the galaxies rotation around earth” etc etc. On the surface they sound like they are having great pride in the achievements of Hinduism.

But if we scratch deeper we will observe that they have already accepted the western achievements in science as higher in status and are thus bent upon the same things in the Hindu scriptures as well.

Why should one think that we are great coz we did what the westerners are doing today ages ago. They may be good in material science and we are great in spiritual sciences. Why should we evaluate ourselves with the parameters of west? Is it not a indirect slave mentality?

Swami Vivekananda at a place warns us against two kinds of extremes. “In our sight, here in India, there are several dangers. Of these, the two, Scylla and Charybdis, rank materialism and its opposite arrant superstition, must be avoided.

There is the man today who after drinking the cup of Western wisdom, thinks that he knows everything. He laughs at the ancient sages. All Hindu thought to him is arrant trash — philosophy mere child's prattle, and religion the superstition of fools.

On the other hand, there is the man educated, but a sort of monomaniac, who runs to the other extreme and wants to explain the omen of this and that. He has philosophical and metaphysical, and Lord knows what other puerile explanations for every superstition that belongs to his peculiar race, or his peculiar gods, or his peculiar village. Every little village superstition is to him a mandate of the Vedas, and upon the carrying out of it, according to him, depends the national life.

You must beware of this… Avoid these two... Avoid all mystery. There is no mystery in religion. Is there any mystery in the Vedanta, or in the Vedas, or in the Samhitâs, or in the Puranas? What secret societies did the sages of yore establish to preach their religion? What sleight-of-hand tricks are there recorded as used by them to bring their grand truths to humanity?

Mystery mongering and superstition are always signs of weakness. These are always signs of degradation and of death. Therefore beware of them; be strong, and stand on your own feet. Great things are there, most marvellous things. We may call them supernatural things so far as our ideas of nature go, but not one of these things is a mystery. It was never preached on this soil that the truths of religion were mysteries or that they were the property of secret societies sitting on the snow-caps of the Himalayas. I have been in the Himalayas… These mysterious societies do not exist anywhere. Do not run after these superstitions. Better for you and for the race that you become rank atheists, because you would have strength, but these are degradation and death. Shame on humanity that strong men should spend their time on these superstitions, spend all their time in inventing allegories to explain the most rotten superstitions of the world. Be bold; do not try to explain everything that way. The fact is that we have many superstitions, many bad spots and sores on our body — these have to be excised, cut off, and destroyed — but these do not destroy our religion, our national life, our spirituality. Every principle of religion is safe, and the sooner these black spots are purged away, the better the principles will shine, the more gloriously.

Another post elsewhere on the same subject:

One has to understand the difference between a concept and reality.

Today, from the standpoint of relativity we can say that if one travels at half the light of speed, his weight is going to fall this much. But this does not in any way mean that there exists today planes which can travel at half the speed of light.

In the same way, the references to vimanas only prove the concept was there. Was there actual implementation of these? We don’t know- and we have no proof yet.

I don’t understand why people have to take only extreme standpoints- either blindly reject everything in the Hindu books or on the other extreme, try to find some logic in every village superstition.

Actually, I feel this too is a slavish mentality in a different form- trying to finding in our texts what the west has found; if west has found this great thing, then, see we too have found it before- is the attitude.

Why should we even bother what west has found- does it make Hinduism any less special if we do not find everything the west found in our books. We had much bigger issue to dwell upon.

It is said that Yogis can know everything. Now does that mean the rishis thousands of years earlier know railway stations and computers? They might have, had they focused their mind on that subject. But they had much bigger issues to ponder about- the nature of human soul. If the west tried to control the created, we tried to control the creator.


Blogger sandeep singh said...

I will advice you to start reading , u r not yet qualified to write on Hinduism. To begin with start reading from

11:11 PM  

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