Yesterday, 28th February, was celebrated in India as National Science Day.
Every year a National Science Congress is held in India. Science and scientific thinking must of course must be promoted if India is to progress, but in these Science Congresses often pseudo-science and nonsense is presented masquerading as true science.
Thus, in one such Science Congress held in 2019 the Vice Chancellor of Andhra University, Prof Nageshwar Rao, professor of inorganic chemistry, claimed that the Kauravas were born out of knowledge of stem cell and test tube fertilisation process known by our ancestors thousands of years ago, and that Ravana, king of Srilanka, had airports.
Our Prime Minister claimed that our ancestors knew head transplant surgery by which Ganesha’s head was replaced with that of an elephant, and that genetic engineering was known in ancient India.
Many people claim that we had atom bombs, guided missiles and aeroplanes in ancient India.
By making such false and preposterous claims we make a laughing stock of ourselves before the whole world.
It is said that in the Ramayana there is mention of a ‘Pushpak Vimaan‘ on which Lord Rama brought Sitaji from Lanka to Ayodhya, and this proves that there were aeroplanes in ancient India.
But what is the Ramayana ? It is a mahakavya or epic poem, and poets have what is called poetic licence, i.e. they can exaggerate. So the Ramayana and Mahabharata are not to be read literally. For instance, the ‘brahmaastra‘, ‘agniyaastra‘ or ‘narayanaastra‘ must not be read literally to mean that these weapons had the qualities attributed to them.
Even a child knows that the first aeroplane was invented by the Wright brothers in 1903 in America, and it is foolish to say that they were known and used in ancient India.
It is true that at one time we were leading the whole world in science
We had made outstanding scientific discoveries in the past in mathematics e.g. the decimal system ( Aryabhatta, Brahmagupta, Bhaskar etc ), in medicine ( Charak and Sushrut who invented plastic surgery ) , in astronomy ( Aryabhatta, Varahamihira, etc )
But when we mix up the truth with falsehood we dilute the former.
Moreover, there is no doubt that today we are far behind the Western countries in science, and we have to learn from them, instead of boasting of our past achievements.