[INDOLOGY] Controversy over Indian Science Congress to include panel On Pushpaka Vimanas
dermot at grevatt.force9.co.uk
dermot at grevatt.force9.co.uk
Tue Dec 30 19:09:41 UTC 2014
I've read these posts, and the websites they refer to, with some wry amusement, and much
It distresses me not only that such hermeneutically crude interpretations of ancient Indian
texts abound, from Dayananda Sarasvati to the present, but that the genuine scientific
achievements of ancient India, in phonetics and grammar for instance, are ignored. They are
insufficiently spectacular, and take too much explanation, to appeal to Modi and his admirers.
There seems to be a lack of understanding that science is not a set of techniques for making
things work, nor a set of doctrines, but a set of methods -- including the replication of
experiments. Part of the blame for this must be taken by the colonial education system, from
Macaulay onwards, which promoted literary and historical study at the expense of science,
which would have cost more if it had been pursued as it was in Europe. If only Rammohun
Roy's demand for "a more liberal and enlightened system of instruction, embracing
mathematics, natural philosophy [i.e. science], chemistry, anatomy, with other useful
sciences" (letter to Lord Amherst, 1823) had prevailed, the number of internationally reputed
Indian scientists would be far greater, and the relation between textual accounts and the
phenomenal world would be better understood.
On 29 Dec 2014 at 7:33, Michael Witzel wrote:
> I would like to draw your attention to V. Raghavan's (separately
> published) paper (33 pp.)
> Yantras or Mechanical Contrivances in Ancient India.
> Transaction no. 10 (2nd edition)
> The Indian Institute of Culture
> (6, North Public Square Road, Bangalore 4)
> He also deals with "aerial vehicles" extensively, with text passages
> taken from Epic and Classical literature but also (importantly) from:
> * Mane´svara's Manasollasa (c. 1131 CE) and * Bhoja's
> ´Srgaramañjari and his Samaragaasutradhara.
> Extensive description of a light wood bird, with several fires heating
> mercury inside...
> Amusingly, the texts often refer to the technical knowledge of ... the
> On Dec 28, 2014, at 12:07 PM, Dominik Wujastyk wrote:
> Here's a refutation of the Vaimanika arguments, by a group of
> Indian scholars at the Indian Institute of Technology at
> Bangalore, from 1974. PDF attached to this email.
> H. S. Mukunda, S. M. Deshpande, H. R. Nagendra, A. Prabhu, S. P.
> Govindaraju, "A Critical Sudy of the Work Vymanika Shastra" in
> Scientific Opinion, 1974:5-12.
> Dominik Wujastyk
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> Michael Witzel
> witzel at fas.harvard.edu
> Wales Prof. of Sanskrit,
> Dept. of South Asian Studies, Harvard University
> 1 Bow Street,
> Cambridge MA 02138, USA
> phone: 1- 617 - 495 3295, fax 617 - 496 8571;
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