Tuesday, May 10, 2005

How Advanced was our Hindu mythology?!

I always used to wonder how scientifically advanced are the concepts explained in Vedas and stories of Hindu mythology, until I read this story of a Hindu King who went to heaven for one day to see Menaka's dance as a guest of Indira and next morning when he arrives back home, he realizes some eight generations have passed on earth. This story remained a myth until new concepts of relativity emerged in early 19th century and today we can explain the story by space-time extension/contraction concepts.

This makes me extrapolate my sense of excitement to even believe that the various weaponry like the brahmastras and the ones, which destroy each other in mid air before they reach the targets, may be comparable to present day ballistic missiles and NMD shields!! Though its exciting to think about such advanced concepts existed 3000yrs ago, there must be some viable argument to support these notions. So I generated a discussion in Orkut Iyers community, from which certain important points and counter points emerged.

Firstly, while many agreed that such mentions in our mythological stories could have existed in reality, it could have also been just imaginations of a fertile mind. So much so, that many contemporary examples were quoted like Jules Verne who wrote about a submarine in "Twenty thousand leagues under the sea" in 1870 and H.G Wells who went even beyond and wrote about a functioning TIME MACHINE in 1895 even before Einstein came up with the notion of possible time travel according to his theory of relativity. Also Leonardo Da Vinci had blueprints of a helicopter and a glider in his works during the renaissance period in the 1450s to 1520s.Both well before Sikorski built a working helicopter in the 50s. (Contributed by Karthik ,the devil)

And the main argument put forward were that these mythological stories were mere ideas and they were not translated into a fuctional design! If those gadgets and missiles did exist, then where are the blue prints and techinal explanations? Where and why did we lose them?

Now I placed my arguments and explanations as to why and where could it have been gone?

1. Firstly, certain technologies which were invented latter on, but found mentions in fictions before, paintings etc are no good defence that even the mentions of hindu mythological stories are mere imaginations yet to be invented! If it has taken only 300yrs to turn western fictions into reality, then I feel 3000yrs is infact a long time.

2. Secondly, such advanced concepts have always been kept away from the common man (unless YOU know how to make a nuclear bomb!). For a matter of interest let me also tell you that if you open an user manual of any army equipment, the first page is always “Instructions and method of destruction, Should there be a danger of this Equipment falling in enemy hands”.

3. Thirdly, if you look at Hinduism, It has been under constant rule of foreigners over a 1000yrs and have suffered years and years of untold plundering and destruction. History is as what is scripted by the victors and unfortunately we have never been the victors for times immemorial. Moreover, I can quote a very simple example I read in Kalam’s Wings of Fire. He has mentioned how NASA has recognised Tipu Sultan as the father of rocketry. Where did Tipu get this knowledge from? May be, some old documents captured by his fore fathers or something buried somewhere. Recorded History says Babur was first to get gun powder in India. But we have Valmiki talking of pyrotechniques 3000yrs ago.

4. Now coming to the real issue. Where could have they gone? If you look at it deeply, we have most of these mythological knowledge from the books of history depicting war epics. Even today a history book on World War or Indo pak war doesn’t say anything about the mechanics, design or functions of a particular weapon/equipment.
5. Also, histories are always constructed by tales and folk lores passed on over generations, narrated by common man who has been consciously kept away from knowledge of such advanced nature, more so in our hindu religion. Today we have advanced systems to proliferate and store knowledge! Even 20yrs before when electronic media was a dream then how many of us were privy to advanced concepts which existed those days!

6. Say today there is large scale destruction due to natural calamity and only a handful of us survives, and later the future generations reconstruct histories, which obviously will be from what is narrated by those few survivors, how many of us will be able to give the angle of aviation or techinal details of say an agni missile? All one will be able to say would be that India used to have a missile, which could kill targets 2000kms!!! The know how of how a missile was constructed would obviously be not there to be narrated,because its known only to a very select few....and 2000yrs later after a great destruction, today’s Agni missile becomes a mere fiction in front of a 45th century man!!!
7. Does that invalidate a concept which existing today in functional design? In this case there is a thin line dividing fiction and reality and that is even more blurred by the lack of imagination of the interpreters and not our forefathers who may have actually used such a system.

8. For all those who argue that without an empirical proof they cannot accept that infact such concepts did existed as functional design, I put forward two arguments:-

(a) Since Newton found out gravity only 400yrs ago, does that mean gravity never exist before that? ( as agreed by Jaisri)

(b) Even today there is no concrete medical explanation for how a just born baby takes its very first breath or even how does a human brain functions!!! Does that invalidate your existence?

9. Finally, as told by koushik, why will someone waste hell of a lot of time in writing something like a Samaranganasutradhara, a 200-odd stanza scripture that is devoted to the description of building of Vimanas. And the book mentioned by Shankar Anand, 'Vaayumaanikashastram' which gives amazing insights about aeroplanes and how they work. And the mention of various architectural marvels by jaisri.

I feel that these concepts in functional designs could have existed then also, but over the period of time somewhere down the line they have either been lost or secretly guarded (something like the Da Vinci Code). Or it is highly possible that they have been lost due to unimaginative and prejudiced reconstruction of history, and that could have been done deliberately also, because most of our recorded history has been written by either the britishers or the moghuls.

11. Also in hindu mythology, they say that one person cannot know all the three Moolams (Origins) - Rishi moolam, Nadi Moolam and Aadhi Moolam. And the day someone comes to know then that will be the end of this world. And the cycle starts all over again. Just heard this from somewhere. I cannot comment on the veracity of this notion.
12. To conclude, only to continue later, I still argue that, the fact that we are ignorant of how a concept functions or lack of evidence whether somebody crystallized those concepts into a working module at all doesn’t invalidate the concept itself. After years and years of research and DNA reconstructions scientists have concluded that the origin of Humans was a black women. Our Hindus said 4000yrs ago that Kali is the mother of all creation! And she is black. So the scope is wide open for further arguments and counter arguments?!! Isnt it?.


Muthukumar Puranam said...

1) Even if someone says the stories are imaginary, ones imagination can run only from the platform of his reality. The very advanced systems described in stories, itself stands as proof for advanced society.
2) I know for sure the traditional knowledge are made sure not to fall in wrong hands. One of my friend's grandfather who was an expert in herbal medicine, did not teach the science to anyone as he said his sons and gradsons are after money and will use this skill for earning money. Shasthras prohibit such transfer of knowledge. Dhronacharya did not teach as much weaponary to his own son aswathama as he did to Arjuna. (Vellathanaiya malar neetam -kural).
3) The discussions will not solve any purpose as we cannot convert skeptics to beleivers and vice versa.
4) Where the knowledge gone? It did not go anywhere. For a honest seeker it is still available. But seeking has to be most sincere.
5) I have lots of points for and against. However, in matters like this one has to search on his own for answers and one's arguments will not help others.

Lakshminarasimhan said...

Very well written SK! As I read the initial part of this essay, I was formulating answers to the questions you presented. As I read further I find you have put forth more emphatic answers!

Vis a vis the first breath of a just born, here is a theory I came across few years ago. When the baby is cut off from maternal connection for gas exchange, the carbondioxide level in the blood increases. This causes unease, and as a reflex action the child cries. Crying initiates the first breath... and it continues!
anbudan Lakshminarasimhan.

prash said...

If history is right Babur introduced canons in India and Tipu Sultan was the first to use rockets in warfare