Articles

Pride and Hypocrisy

pArukkulle nalla nAdu, engal bhArata nAdu
Our country Bharata is the best in the world
Subramanya Bharati

Forward

We seem to be very pleased by past pride. There are a few people on the net who distribute goody-goody things without knowing whats true and whats not. If we Indians are unaware of our History, why blame the foreigners that they know less about India, Hinduism or the culture? Yes, when our overall literacy rate is just 40%, we cannot expect the "literate" beings to be "really" literate. The difference is as much as between "knowing the existence of a word" and "knowing what the word means". But we can start somewhere to correct ourselves. Here is my reply (in normal color) to some of such exaggerated and sometimes even incorrect claims (in green) made about the greatness of India.Emailme if you have any an objective criticism or point out if im wrong about facts.

Subject

India invented the number system. Zero was invented by aryabhatta. The world's first university was established in takshila in 700 bc. More than 10,500 students from all over the world studied more than 60 subjects. The university of nalanda built in the 4th century ce Was one of the greatest achievements of ancient India in the field of education.

Aryabhatta didnot invent zero. He lived only in 5th century a.d. (according to his own text, he was born around 476 ad). Zero should have been in use well before that. Who invented zero is not really known. The problem is that zero is represented by more than one word like shunya and purna. One means nothing and other is everything. Purna also sometimes means infinity. (Ref to sloka from Isopanishad)

purnam adah purnam idah purnaat purnamuduchyate  |
purnasya purnam aadaya purnam eva avashishyate  ||

In the above verse, substitute "purna" with either zero or infinity, it would mathematically be a correct statement.

Such things complicate the exact nature of when it was used. Also the number pi was in use much before Aryabhatta.

Sanskrit is the mother of all the european languages. Sanskrit is the most suitable language for the computer software - a report in forbes magazine, july 1987.

I dont think sanskrit is the mother of all european languages (though it is nice to hear that say). The word sanskrit itself is not in the language (like english in english). It means "well done" or "corrected". Logically it implies that something else was before that. Pali was one of the languages that existed before that. Prakriti (meaning nature) was the first language acc. To many scripts. Most of the buddhist scripts are in pali, which prove its popularity. Devanagari script was developed much later than Brahmi. And for some of you this may be shocking, the vedas are not in sanskrit. Many "sounds" in vedas cannot be represented in sanskrit syllables (i dont have evidence of this, but my sanskrit prof has said this to me).

I have heard that sanskrit is the best language for using in computers for more than 12 years. But nobody really knows how it is so or what is being implied. We feign a surprise "oh is it ?" And then follow it by a nod "yeah of course it should be".

Ayurveda is the earliest school of medicine known to humans. Charaka, the father of medicine consolidated ayurveda 2500 years ago. Today ayurveda is fast regaining its rightful place in our civilization.

Yes, i do agree that ayurveda is a better form of treatment. But is there any proof for such statements that say charaka is the father of surgery, susruta has performed eye-surgery and so on? Why arent in they text books, if it is the truth?

Although modern images of India often show poverty and lack of development, India was the richest country on earth until the time of british in the early 17th century. Cristopher columbus was attracted by her wealth.

I completely agree that India was the wealthiest nation once, no doubt. And she was not alone: throughout the recorded history of human civilization, one part of the world has always been flourishing: (dates are approximate)

Egyptians 4000-3000 B.C.E
Chinese 2000 B.C.E ( and many times later)
Inca mayans 2000 B.C.E ?
Indus 2500-1000 B.C.E
Polynesians Around 1000 B.C.E ?
Greeks 600-250 ( from pythogoras to alexander) B.C.E
Romans 200 B.C.E - 500 C.E (ceasars, nero, caligula etc)
Aryans 500 B.C.E - 1000 C.E (mahavira, buddha, maurya, harsha etc)
South Indian Empire 700 C.E - 1400 C.E (Though not much are aware of it, it was a magnificient empire comprising RajaRaja, Rajendra Cholas, Vijanagara Empire and Jayavarma 7 of Cambodia)
Arabs, mughals of India 1200 C.E - 1600 C.E (This is the India that most Indians know now)
British 1200 C.E - 1900 C.E
Europe as a whole 1400 C.E - until, may I say, World War I? (Renaissance period, period of intrepid travellers, period of great inventions & discoveries)
USA - For the past 150 years and now.

And we dont know much about the Red Indian americans or the Australian aboriginals except their usage of boomerangs. Some American loyalists say that zero was in use by the Red Indians too. I am even skeptic about the connection between indus aryans and our notion of gods. Remember: all these were handed over to us by British excavators of Harappa and Mohenjadaro. (though i should admit they did a fantastic job)

There is also a theory that Jesus came to Kashmir and studied Hinduism/Buddhism. Is it true or nonsense ? There was one article saying it was upanishads that made a socrates what he was. Some accounts of Plato say that he himself spent some of his years in India and learnt a lot about her. (ref. The Story of Philosophy by Will Durant). In one of the web sites, i read that it was Porus (Purushottama) who defeted Alexander and not otherwise. How true is it? Or who can say that this theory is wrong ? I for one support this view not because i am an Indian or i love to hear that Alex was defeated, but because of the fact that all the history we read is passed on to us by the Western civilization and add to it that we have preserved our history so poorly. It would be a shattering news to the western world to prove that the Great Alex was defeated (mentally he was no different from Hitler or Napolean - after they all were obsessed with the idea of conquering the world) by a poor Indus king. My point is: Indian history especially can never be proven this way or other. After all it is based on an individual reviews. We study our history according to Western interpretations. A good example is "Kalidasa is called the Shakespeare of India" though Kalidasa lived literally 1000 years before bill. In the future if mr. Smith or somebody becomes the "apostle of peace", will you call Mahatma the "Smith of India" (?!). Some Western indologist suddenly says "nuclear missiles were actually used by Arjuna" and hearing that we are proud of it. Some of us rediscover that and join him saying "Yeah of course it is called Brahmasthra" and laud him to skies. The West has indeed accepted us ! What a hypocrisy !

I would definitely say that we have preserved our history poorly. And so we havent understood our history properly. If any one mentions the name Kama Sutra we immediately get a picture of all those sensational erotic poses, but as i read it, i found that erotics covered only about 30% of the whole book. The rest actually dealt with the history of India at that time.

We just heard all good things about India. Here is what John Stuart Mill (a famous British someone): (not exact words, but as i read it in a preface to some book on history of world) "India has been buried in ignorance for 5000 years talking about spirituality and religion when Greeks and Romans were conquering the world". Well what does it say to you? Lets not forget that the "great" SirWinston Churchill called Mahatma a "half-naked fakir". What sort of blasphemic notions these people have had and we read and call them "great" throughout the history.

India never invaded any country in her last 10000 years of history.

It is completely wrong and extremely stupid to say India did not invade any country in the last 10000 years. The Chola dynasty conquered Java (no not the virtual machine), Cambodia, Sumatra, Malaysia, Andamans (mullai theevu ?) During 1100 AD. Angkor Wat temples are proof of this. Singapore is a sanskrit word meaning "city of lions". Srilanka was a frequent target of southern dynasties throught the history of India (right from ramayana !). Conversely, since Indian kings did not invade any country can we call them cowards ? Werent they afraid to go different places ? If some king is afraid of war, will you call him the "carrier of peace" ? Fear of war is not the message of peace. This was clearly demonstrated by Asoka. Even the Bhagavad Gita says this in unequivocal terms. In reality, there was nobody called "Indians" until East India company was established. It was always Asoka, Maurya, Chola, Babar, Akbar, Aladdin Khilji's dynasty etc. And moreover all the Indian kings were busy conquering each other generation after generation and had no time to "invade" other countries. So it is stupid to say "India didnot invade anyone for 10000 yrs" and all the more stupid to be proud of such a nonsense.

There is another theory I read long ago which says that Shiva, Subrahmanya etc were kings from North India. Whenever Dravidians were in trouble they came down to help them. And eventually became "gods". Once again, u cannot say that this theory is impossible. Just to quote Sherlock Holmes (Bruce Parrington Plans): It is a capital mistake when people try to mix facts and theories. It is insensible to twist facts according to theories instead of finding theories to suit the facts. The problem here is: how do we really know what is the fact ?

Bhaskaracharya calculated the time taken by the earth to orbit the sun hundreds of years before the astronomer smart. Time taken by earth to orbit the sun: (5th century) 365.258756484 days. The value of pi was first calculated by budhayana, and he explained the concept of what is known as the pythagorean theorem. He discovered

This in the 6th century long before the european mathematicians. Algebra, trigonometry and calculus came from India. Quadratic equations were propounded by sridharacharya in the 11th century. The largest numbers the greeks and the romans used were 106 whereas Indians used numbers as big as 1053 with specific names as early as 5000 bce during the vedic period.even today, the largest used number is tera:1012.

It was not Bhaskaracharya who calculated revolution of earth. It was Aryabhatta. He also said that earth rotates around itself just less than 24 hours (23.56 minutes was his calculation) by this logic:

Just like when the shores of a river in a place below the Lanka country move opposite to you when you go front, the stars in the sky behave exactly the same way.

We see the concept of relativity of motion (what Galileo had discovered later to the european people and was imprisoned for that and more). Well at least the phrase "place below the Lanka country" is worth noting. Can anyone guess what he referes to ?

Also bhaskaracharya (1150 ad) was the first to use the concept of infinity. Trigonometry and calculus had been very well exploited by Indian math wizards long before Newton "invented" calculus and legally won the "patent" against Gottfreid Leibnitz accusations. Some time ago a book called "vedic mathematics" became very popular (even now it probably is). Well if it is so good, why dont we make it a practical book? We all are proud to "know" that Bhaskara discovered infinity or Sushruta did eye surgery or sage Kapila discovered origin of species and theory of evolution long before European scientists. We all are proud to know such "titles" rather than the substance itself and make ourselves happy by distributing it among ourselves on the net. Well, who else would care ?

Images of modern India often show poverty because thats what dominates India now. Unfortunately for us photography was not discovered during the golden period of India. Nor were those Indians keen on preserving such things for our generation. There is nothing great in living in the present carrying the banner of past pride. We all excel in that job without any invocation. We are all just making our minds happy by saying that "we are proud to be Indians" not realising what it means or not realising what that pride is supposed to mean. We actually hide our ignorance by acknowledging our pride in the knowledge we could have. Recently, in a web column i read these words. It is about Indian classical music: Whereas an average westerner knows some thing about Bach or Beethoven, many of us in India hardly appreciate our own music. The author had commented it is sad, but it is true. And he is right. Unfortunately I have met a good number of Indians from different states, who just get giddy & are horrified when they listen to Indian classical music, let alone appreciate it.

I know there is a lot of things about to India to learn, study, remember etc. Maybe not all of us can learn everything. Maybe not all of us are always right. Maybe all of us are not really interested in all the aspects of India. But all of us can do one thing: shed our hypocrisy.

Quotable quotes

Albert Einstein

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

Mark Twain

India is, the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legend, and the great grandmother of tradition. Our most valuable and most instructive materials in the History of man are treasured up in India only.

French scholar Romain Rolland:

If there is one place on the face of earth where all the dreams of living men have found a home from the very earliest days when man began the dream of existence, it is India.

Hu Shih, former ambassador of China to USA:

India conquered and dominated China culturally for 20 centuries without ever having to send a single soldier Across her border.

Lastly, for those who are still uninitiated and remain phlegmatic by above facts and arguments here are some more good things said on India by foreigners:

Albert Einstein

It will be hard to believe for the coming generation that a man of such flesh and blood ever walked on earth. (on Mahatma) (which is already becoming true)

Albert Einstein

There is no word equivalent to "ahimsa" in any language. "non violence" hardly comes close enough to convey complete meaning of ahimsa.

Robert Oppenheimer (co-designer of atom bomb, when it was first tested)

If there were thousand suns blazing together in the sky that would hardly equal the splendour of that great lord (Gita chapter 11) and his very famous quote "Shiva is dancing".

Arthur Schopenhauer

Hinduism and Buddhism are like gigantic cliffs. All our biblical arguements used to conquer them are like small bullets trying to hit it. Arthur had named his dog "atma".