Published on January 5th, 2015 | by Sandeep Patil6
India never had ancient “Science”
A war fought on enemy’s terrain … a game played on opponent’s turf … and a debate done on opponent’s conditions… they will in all likelihood render you defeat!!! Those who claim that India developed numerous sciences in the ancient times fall prey to the same trap! Calling the treasure of our ancient knowledge as mere “science” fundamentally weakens your position in the debate. For those who are interested in demeaning or maligning Hinduism, it is an easy job thereafter. They simply exploit the word “science” to prove Hinduism was non-scientific since it’s inception. Then they would further mock and ridicule those who believed in the ancient knowledge and wisdom of India … starting from PM Modi himself
The confusion (…and liberals love confusion) about whether Hinduism was originally scientific or non-scientific, comes from the meaning of word science itself. For the english word “science” there isn’t any perfect synonym in Indian languages! The sanskrit word “vidnyan/विज्ञान” would make a fair approximation. (Similarly the sanskrit word “shastra/शास्त्र” do not have exact equivalents in the occidental languages and again the closest approximation would be “science” or “-logy” ).
These differences exist, because the two words represent two different thought processes, different paradigms. The words like Vidnyan/विज्ञान and Shastra/शास्त्र are positive and affirmative, while the word “science” is inherently negative and skeptical. Science always demands proof. When we peek into the history, we know why.
In west, science came into existence in the form of defiance to the authority and supremacy of the Church. Thus if you want to opine different from what is given in the Bible, you need to substantiate your claim with logic and reasons, theorems and equations, observations and conclusions. That is why science is inherently skeptical. It follows “guilty until proven innocent” approach.
The case with Hinduism is quite the contrary. It was a far more innocent era when Hinduism flourished; in today’s crooked-cunning times, it will be hard to believe or even to imagine such a time. When a seer like Krishna or Kapila or Patanjali said something, people never felt any reason to doubt or assess him. There were no proofs needed.
सर्वधर्मान्परीत्यज्य मामेकं शरणं व्रज
अहं त्वा सर्वपापेभ्यो मोक्षयिष्यामि मा शुच:
– श्रीमद्भगवद्गीता – अध्याय १८
Krishna can simply say to Arjuna “…give up everything and surrender yourself to me…” without giving any rationalizations or analysis (incidentally this is the simplest way of putting the things). Or Patanjali can describe about the last three stages of Yoga (Dhyan/ध्यान, Dharana/धारणा and Samadhi/समाधी), although they are highly subjective stages for an individual (Sadhaka/साधक) and there is no chance in eternity to bring them in public domain. The general approach of those times was “…this is the way, walk on if you like” (hence the word marg-darshan/मार्गदर्शन – showing the way). Remember, Krishna never ‘appeals’ Arjuna to fight; he simply describes the scenario as is – it is up to Arjuna to get up and fight.
All our ancient knowledge – be it Yoga/योग, Tantra/तंत्र, Karma/कर्म, Sankhya/सांख्य, Jyotish/ज्योतिष or Vastu-shastra/वास्तुशास्त्र – follow the same style of narrative, “…walk if you like”. Challenging these doctrines through the skeptical prism of science will yield nothing, because they were never written to be justified at first place. It is very true that such way of narration is very vulnerable to exploitation, misinterpretation and abuse. But it is also equally true, that just sitting beside the walk-path discussing about the prospectus of the path is of no use if you are not intending to walk on it. As far as our ancient knowledge is concerned, it is not matter of reasoning and discussion, it is rather matter of practicing and experimentation!
Finally, for those who love the idea of condemning the religion to ascertain their scientificness – being scientific doesn’t mean simply questioning the existing belief system (like saying “how the stars in sky can decide your fate” or “there is no evidence that Mahabharata existed”). That would be very easy and tempting job to do. If you want to challenge an existing belief system, you have to first come with your own one. That’s what Galileo did – he simply did not sit questioning the credentials of Church – he made his counter theory. So if you wanna be scientific, first do your own experiments, make your own theory and then we will talk.
Cover Photo – Galileo Galilei