Culture & Life · History India South Asia · Religion

The British colonial origins of gravity-defying ancient Indian science

This was published in on 13 January 2019. Here is the link, and below is an excerpt.

All such developments from the 1800s gave rise to a trend that we sadly never fully abandoned. Faced with constant assaults on their traditions, the then-elite Hindus found solace and self-respect in ancient texts, and maybe didn’t find anything much ‘scientific’ in contemporary Hindu societies and ways of life. The irony is that some of us are resorting to those makeshift reformulations, or what Ramkrishna Bhandarkar termed an “extravagant admiration for ancient Hindus,” 70 years after independence, after countless genuine scientific achievements, and despite a widespread awareness about genuine ancient achievements (non-mythological, non-Vedic) like the work of Aryabhata and Sushruta.

In these times, Bhandarkar’s 1918 prescription holds truer than ever:

“We must not cease to read our Sanskrit and vernacular works for the pleasure and instruction they afford to us. But we must take care that our partiality for them in this respect does not obscure our judgment when we have to examine them critically.”


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