This op-ed is interesting and amusing. To join the “Society for Scientific Temper”, one had to sign a statement containing this philosophically naive clause: I believe that knowledge can be acquired only through human endeavour and not through revelation...

I guess Sir Isaac Newton, and a good number of modern Nobel laureates in science, would not have qualified for the SfST.

We should certainly keep physics and metaphysics (to use Aristotle’s terms) within their respective boundaries. But to say that knowledge can only be acquired through human endeavor is an excellent example of going from one irrational extreme to the other, i.e. from religious dogmatism to dogmatic (and self-contradictory) positivism.

Epistemological imperialism, like political or economic imperialism, tends to make a mess. 


On Jan 19, 2015, at 8:35 AM, Sudalaimuthu Palaniappan via INDOLOGY <> wrote:

Date: January 19, 2015 at 8:35:40 AM EST
Subject: Re: [INDOLOGY] Controversy over Indian Science Congress to include panel On Pushpaka Vimanas

This op-ed may be of interest to some.


-----Original Message-----
From: dermot <>
To: indology <>
Sent: Tue, Dec 30, 2014 1:09 pm
Subject: Re: [INDOLOGY] Controversy over Indian Science Congress to include panel On Pushpaka Vimanas

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. 

Dermot Killingley

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)
> 1956
> 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
> Yavana.
> Cheers!
> Michael
> 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.
>     Best,
>     Dominik Wujastyk
>     <ACriticalStudyOfTheWorkVaimanikaShastra.pdf>_____________________
>     ____________ ______________ INDOLOGY mailing list
> ============
>     Michael Witzel
>     <>
>     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;
>     direct line: 617- 496 2990

Dermot Killingley
9, Rectory Drive,
Newcastle upon Tyne NE3 1XT
Phone (0191) 285 8053

INDOLOGY mailing list

INDOLOGY mailing list