Author: changabula

Indian Inventions, Discoveries and Other Contributions   [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2007-6-20 08:11:14 |Display all floors
Beginning of Indian Scientific Thought

The beginning of Indian scientific thought are traced to the same source as those of Indian metaphysics and religion, the Rig Veda. The Vedas, being essentially works of poetic imagination, cannot be expected to contain much spirit of scientific inquiry, yet there are remarkable flashes of intuitive conjecture and reason.
They explain the nature of the universe, of life, while admitting that Creation itself is the one unknowable mystery.
To the Vedic sages, creation indicated that point before which there was no Creator, the line between indefinable nothingness and something delineated by attributes and function, at least. Like the moment before the Big Bang Theory. These concepts preoccupy high wisdom, the Truth far removed from mere religion.  

Indeed, in one of the most remarkable of the Vedic hymns - In the Hymn of Creation (Rig Veda 10.129.3)   a searching inquiry as to the origin of the world is made; it is certainly the earliest known record of philosophic doubt.

" There was not non-existent nor existent;
There was no realm of air, no sky beyond it.
What covered it, and where? and what gave shelter?
Was water there, unfathomed depth
of water?

Yet the Vedas go further, being philosophy, or really spiritual sciences, rather than myth.  The hymn goes to say that in the beginning there was neither death nor immortality, nor day nor night. All that existed was void and formless. Then arose, desire, the primal seed and germ of spirit. But,

Who verily knows and
who can declare it,
Whence it was born and
Whence comes this creation?

The gods are later than this
world's production
Who knows, then, whence it
first came into being?

Vedas are the most sophisticated, most profoundly beautiful, and most complete presentations of what Aldous Huxley termed the “perennial philosophy” that is at the core of all religions. In modern academia, of course, there is not supposed to be any “ancient wisdom”.  In this hymn, which contains the essence of monism, can be seen a representation of the most advanced theory of creation. The germ of free speculation and skepticism were already present in the Rig Veda.

(source: The Empire of the Soul: Some Journeys into India - By Paul William Roberts  published by Riverhead Books ASIN: 1573226351 p 300-301).

The statue of Nataraja (dance pose of Lord Shiva) is a well known example for the artistic, scientific and philosophical significance of Hinduism.

Freedom was born in India. Doubt, the mother of freedom, was born with the Rig Veda, the most sacred scripture of the Hindus which has the following:

What are words, and what are mortal thoughts!
Who is there who truly knows and who can say,|
Whence this unfathomed world
And from what cause!

Freedom of the mind created the wondrous world of the intellect — the world of Hindu rishis, philosophers, poets and dramatists. It was the freedom of the mind and freedom of the senses which led to India’s diversity and contributed to the richness of its civilization. No other civilization, not even that of the Greeks, could have enjoyed the freedom that we had. We have to remember, Socrates was forced to drink hemlock! The Inquisition burnt the Christian apostates at the stake and Islam beheaded dissenters.

[ Last edited by changabula at 2007-6-20 08:13 AM ]
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Post time 2007-6-20 08:15:10 |Display all floors
Concept of Time

"After a cycle of universal dissolution, the Supreme Being decides to recreate the cosmos so that we souls can experience worlds of shape and solidity. Very subtle atoms begin to combine, eventually generating a cosmic wind that blows heavier and heavier atoms together. Souls depending on their karma earned in previous world systems, spontaneously draw to themselves atoms that coalesce into an appropriate body." - The Prashasta Pada.


Grandiose time scales

Hinduism’s understanding of time is as grandiose as time itself. While most cultures base their cosmologies on familiar units such as few hundreds or thousands of years, the Hindu concept of time embraces billions and trillions of years. The Puranas describe time units from the infinitesimal truti, lasting 1/1,000,0000 of a second to a mahamantavara of 311 trillion years. Hindu sages describe time as cyclic, an endless procession of creation, preservation and dissolution. Scientists such as Carl Sagan have expressed amazement at the accuracy of space and time descriptions given by the ancient rishis and saints, who fathomed the secrets of the universe through their mystically awakened senses.

(source: Hinduism Today April/May/June 2007 p. 14).
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Post time 2007-6-20 08:16:07 |Display all floors
As in modern physics, Hindu cosmology envisaged the universe as having a cyclical nature. The end of each kalpa brought about by Shiva's dance is also the beginning of the next. Rebirth follows destruction.

wpe32.jpg (3455 bytes)The transcendence of time is the aim of every Indian spiritual tradition. Time is often presented as an eternal wheel that binds the soul to a mortal existence of ignorance and suffering. "Release" from time's fateful wheel is termed moksha, and an advanced ascetic may be called kala-attita (' he who has transcended time').

Hindus believe that the universe is without a beginning (anadi= beginning-less) or an end (ananta = end-less).  Rather the universe is projected in cycles.

Time immemorial is measured in cycles called Kalpas. A Kalpa is a day and night for Brahma, the Lord of Creation. After each Kalpa, there is another Kalpa. Each Kalpa is composed of 1,000 Maha Yugas.

A Kalpa is thus equal to 4.32 billion human years. Kirtha Yuga or Satya yuga (golden or truth age) is 1,728,000 years; Treta yuga is 1,296,000 years; Dvapara yuga is 864,000 years; and Kali Yuga is 432,000 years. Total duration of the four yugas is called a kalpa.  At the end of kalyuga the universe is dissolved by pralaya (cosmic deluge ) and another cycle begins. Each cycle of creation lasts one kalpa, that is 12,000,000 human years ( or 12,000 Brahma years).

One Maha Yuga is 4,32 million years.  

Krita or Satya (golden age)  1,728,000 years
Treta (silver age)                 1,296,000 years
Dvapara (copper age)           864,000 years
Kali (iron age)                     432,000 years

A Brahma, or Lord of Creation, lives for one hundred Brahma years (each of made up of 360 Brahma days). After that he dies. So a Brahma lives for 36,000 Kalpas, or 36,000 x 2,000 x 4,30,000 human years – i.e., a Brahma lives for 311.4 trillion human years. After the death of each Brahma, there is a Mahapralaya or Cosmic deluge, when all the universe is destroyed. Then a new Brahma appears and creation starts all over again.

(source: Am I a Hindu - by Ed Viswanathan  p. 292 - 293).

[ Last edited by changabula at 2007-6-20 08:21 AM ]
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Post time 2007-6-20 08:22:00 |Display all floors
Time in Hindu mythology is conceived as a wheel turning through vast cycles of creation and destruction (pralaya), known as kalpa.  In the words of famous writer,    Joseph Campbell:

"The Hindus with their grandiose Kalpas and their ideas of the divine power which is beyond all human category (male or female). Not so alien to the imagery of modern science that it could not have been put to acceptable use."

According to Guy Sorman, visiting scholar at Hoover Institution at Stanford and the leader of new liberalism in France:

"Temporal notions in Europe were overturned by an India rooted in eternity. The Bible had been the yardstick for measuring time, but the infinitely vast time cycles of India suggested that the world was much older than anything the Bible spoke of. It seem as if the Indian mind was better prepared for the chronological mutations of Darwinian evolution and astrophysics."

(source: The Genius of India - By Guy Sorman  ('Le Genie de l'Inde') Macmillan India Ltd. 2001. ISBN 0333 93600 0 p. 195).
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Post time 2007-6-20 08:22:50 |Display all floors
Huston Smith a philosopher, most eloquent writer, world-famous religion scholar who practices Hatha Yoga.  Has taught at  MIT and is currently visiting professor at Univ. of California at Berkley. Smith has also produced PBS series. He has written various books,  The World's Religions,  "Science and Human Responsibility", and "The Religions of Man" says:

“Philosophers tell us that the Indians were the first ones to conceive of a true infinite from which nothing is excluded. The West shied away from this notion. The West likes form, boundaries that distinguish and demarcate. The trouble is that boundaries also imprison – they restrict and confine.”  

“India saw this clearly and turned her face to that which has no boundary or whatever.” “India anchored her soul in the infinite seeing the things of the world as masks of the infinite assumes – there can be no end to these masks, of course. If they express a true infinity.” And It is here that India’s mind boggling variety links up to her infinite soul.”

“India includes so much because her soul being infinite excludes nothing.” It goes without saying that the universe that India saw emerging from the infinite was stupendous.”

While the West was still thinking, perhaps, of 6,000 years old universe – India was already envisioning ages and eons and galaxies as numerous as the sands of the Ganges. The Universe so vast that modern astronomy slips into its folds without a ripple.”   

(source: The Mystic's Journey - India and the Infinite: The Soul of a People – By Huston Smith).
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Post time 2007-6-20 08:24:41 |Display all floors
Dr. Carl Sagan in his book Broca's Brain: Reflections on the Romance of Science, remarks:

"Immanuel Velikovsky (the author of Earth in Upheaval) in his book Worlds in Collision, notes that the idea of four ancient ages terminated by catastrophe is common to Indian as well as to Western sacred writing.

However, in the Bhagavad Gita and in the Vedas, widely divergent numbers of such ages, including an infinity of them, are given; but, more interesting, the duration of the ages between major catastrophes is specified as billions of years. .. "

"The idea that scientists or theologians, with our present still puny understanding of this vast and awesome cosmos, can comprehend the origins of the universe is only a little less silly than the idea that Mesopotamian astronomers of 3,000 years ago – from whom the ancient Hebrews borrowed, during the Babylonian captivity, the cosmological accounts in the first chapter of Genesis – could have understood the origins of the universe. We simply do not know.

The Hindu holy book, the Rig Veda (X:129), has a much more realistic view of the matter:

“Who knows for certain? Who shall here declare it?
Whence was it born, whence came creation?
The gods are later than this world’s formation;
Who then can know the origins of the world?
None knows whence creation arose;
And whether he has or has not made it;
He who surveys it from the lofty skies,
Only he knows- or perhaps he knows not."

(source: Broca's Brain: Reflections on the Romance of Science - By Carl Sagan   p. 106 - 137).
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Post time 2007-6-20 08:26:12 |Display all floors
The theory of animal life and particularly of man was correctly understood by the ancient thinkers. The Brihat Vishnu Purana states that "the aquatic life precedes the monkey life" and that "the monkey life is the precursor of the human life." The same theory was explained in an interesting way by the dashavatara (ten incarnations). But evolution, as everything else, was the manifestation of the supreme spirit (Atman) as is testified by Chandogya Upanishad.

(source: Ancient Indian History and Culture - By Chidambara Kulkarni Orient Longman Ltd. 1974. p.268).
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