ANCIENT INDIAN TECHNOLOGY

“THE ONLY THING CONSTANT IS CHANGE”

In accordance with this basic rule that the nature works on, it can be stated that all the things then-now and after are bound to undergo a process of continuous change. What is born must die, what is created must perish and all that appears must fade! But there are some gifts bestowed upon us by the past that we need to carry all way along. This will refine the present and enhance the future. What is it that makes it so worthwhile to take the pain to solicit to reach the roots? The Indian Civilization is one of the oldest in the world and has been known to be the abode of many sages and seers; scholars and scientists. Many techniques and theories given by the ancient Indians have strengthened the building blocks of science and technology. Some of these trail-blazing contributions have been acknowledged but a major part of it has simply evanesced.

Ancient India’s contribution to science and technology includes:

  • Mathematics: Ancient literature is replete with concepts of zero, techniques of algebra and algorithm, square root and cube root, decimal system, Fibonacci numbers and the list seems to go on and on. Arguably the origins of calculus lie in India 500 years before Newton and Leibnitz. Not to forget the Shulba-Sutras and Pingala’s Chandra Sutra which throw a light on various interesting facets of the subject.

“We owe a lot to the Indians, who taught us how to count, without which no worthwhile scientific discovery could have been made.”

-Albert Einstein

  • Mechanics: Force imparts motion as per sutras of Vaisheshik (500 BCE). It describes the action of forces called as ‘Veg Sanskar’. Change in motion occurs due to change in force. Change in motion is directly proportional to applied force and exists in the direction of the applied force. Action and reaction are equal and opposite in direction. There can be no effect without cause.
  • Elasticity: Elasticity is the property of body. It can be sheared by deforming processes and get back to its original shape. It has been stated in Nayakandali by Shridaracharya long back in 991 CE.
  • Magnetism: There are 5 types of magnets Bhramakam(single faced), Chumbakam(double faced), Karshakam(triple faced), Dravakam(four faced),Romokantam(five faced) Each is again 3 colors: yellow, black and red. References found in: Rasarnavam Patalah 6(12th century AD)
  • Optics: That which cannot be perceived by naked eye can be perceived with glass/mica/crystal. The multi-colored rays of the sun being dispersed by wind in a cloudy sky are seen in the form of rainbow. References found in: Nayadarsham Adhyayah 3(800 BCE) and Brihat Samhita( 6th Century CE)
  • Earth’s Rotation and Gravity: Aryabhatta 1 believed that the Earth rotates about its axis and that the stars are fixed in place. In Aryabhatiya, it has been written that the period of 1 sidereal rotation of earth is 23 hours, 56 minutes and 4.1 seconds which quite closer to the modern values of 23 hours, 56 minutes and 4.091 seconds. Ever wondered what means where used to estimate the duration upto such perfection?

Earth was regarded as a diety who was capable of attracting, controlling and pulling down objects. The work done by ancient Indians in the field of astronomy has attained worldwide recognition.

  • Chemistry: Principles of chemistry did not remain abstract but found an early expression in distillation of perfumes, aromatic liquids, manufacturing of dyes and pigments, extraction of sugar and a lot more.
  • Ayurveda: Ayur stands for life and Veda stands for knowledge. It is regarded the oldest known medical system in the world and goes back to 5000 B.C. The most revered source of knowledge then was Sushruta Samhita where-in ideas about the diseases and ailments alongwith symptoms and methods to cure them are given. India was the first country to have hospitals for both men and animals. The record of conducting the first surgery in the history of time rests with India.
  • Civil engineering and architecture: Discoveries of urban settlements of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa indicate the existence of techniques which blossomed to a highly precise science of civil engineering and architecture. This has found expression in innumerable monuments of India.
  • Fine arts: Vedas were recited and stress was given on the right pronunciation which gave rise to a finer study of sound and phonetics. The natural corollary was emergence of music and other forms of performing arts.
  • Mechanical and production applications: Greek historians have testified smelting of certain metals like zinc in India in the 4th century B.C. Zawar in the Tiri valley of Rajasthan is the world’s first known ancient zinc smelting site.

The dwindled scientific attributes may be restored if we set out to rediscover the treasure. Once found there are numerous ways of utilising its gems in order to restore the glorious past. The deeper one dives into the depths of ancient knowledge caressed by the Indians scholars the more we become enlightened about the rich culture and heritage. It aspires to provide an insight to battle the problems that we are facing right now. Be it issues related to environment, energy crisis or degradation in value system.

“LOOK AT THE PAST WITH A NEW OUTLOOK”

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