Horse & BMAC & much more

Claude Setzer cssetzer at MUM.EDU
Thu Mar 23 19:49:33 UTC 2000

From: Dominik Wujastyk <ucgadkw at UCL.AC.UK>
.  I have
> been trying to say that people who express serious sweeping opinions on
> humanistic topics should be trained in that subject; the same exactly goes
> for people who want to make claims about this or that aspect of science.

> ...a sort of glamour about
> science and scientists in some circles today that makes it appear that a
> Nuclear Physicist (say) must be worth listening to on the subject of the
> date of the vedas (say), just by virtue of his scientific standing

Dear Dominik,

I am delighted that my comment evoked this clarification from you. I was
hoping this was what you really felt. I think if you had said it more like
this before, many people would not have been bothered by your statements.
Unfortunately I think you got a little over excited and thus over expressed
your self so it sounded different than what you intended.

My background is somewhat varied, with graduate degrees in both Sanskrit and
Electrical Engineering and, if I had written a second dissertation, could
have gotten a Ph. D. in Physics, too.

Like you, I often get quite frustrated with some "scientists" who think they
know Electrical Engineering and really don't have the slightest idea what
they are talking about. But I think it is more the specific person with a
problem rather than the field of "scientists."

The point of my post is that "scientists" have  no monopoly on making
incorrect or incomplete statements about matters of Indology. We should ALL
be much more careful to be accurate in our statements. One of the most
unfortunate and disappointing things that I have observed is that very very
famous and highly respected Sanskritists publish book after book of
translations that are filled with errors. Errors so obvious that first year
Sanskrit students immediately notice them. Others that are major
philosophical mistranslations because they do not understand the context of
the book they are translating. What is even worse is that those "scholars"
are on this very list and other "scholars" praise the greatness of their
books. There seems to be no effort at all to correct the errors or to
publish a list of corrections. This type of careless ( even
"unprofessional") attitude would never be tolerated in engineering text

With all this stated, I wish to respectfully disagree with a subtle sub-part
of your statement about "scientists." I think there are many cases where a
"GOOD Scientist" or an engineer could make very valuable contributions to
things that interest Indologists. Even things that they have absolutely no
Indological training about. I think some of this knowledge could be
dramatically more useful to this list than some of the publications filled
with errors that so- called "experts" and "scholars" on Indology have
contributed. There are many parables in Sanskrit literature, as well as
western literature, about the dangers of arrogance, and all should note

I wish you all the best, Dominik and hope that you can appreciate these


PS. I will risk violating my own complaint by giving a quick example of an
engineering solution that would quickly disprove the "expert opinion of
scholars." I remember sometime back that someone said that a chariot could
not have been made at a given time because iron had not yet been invented.
This was complete nonsense. I personally could make a chariot in a matter of
a week or two without using any iron at all. I could also quite easily make
a supply of wheels for this chariot, so that, in time of need, they could be
replaced often and keep the chariot working well without iron rims. Have
people never seen a modern race of the most technologically advanced
"chariots" on earth?? Even with steel and rubber, the tires can be replaced
several times during a race. If an ancient chariot were used in battle there
is no reason why the wheel would need to last more than an hour or two, even
less. Iron is not necessary for this. Iron is also not necessary for making
the wheels or other things. Sand is extremely plentiful all over the earth
and is made of silicon dioxide (glass) which can very easily cut wood to any
shape desired.

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list