This is third article on “SCIENCE IN ANCIENT INDIA Reality versus Myth” series. We think history of science should be analyzed without any biasness and should not be used in a propagandist way. Collective effort is required to stop spreading of lies and to protect the history from manipulation. These articles are being published keeping that goal in front.
Stem cells, organ transplantation, genetic
Claims have been made in different quarters. It has been claimed
that the birth of one hundred Kauravas by Mother Gandhari was possible
with the help of ‘stem cell’ technology. It has been claimed that Karna’s
birth was possible due to development in genetic engineering. It has been
claimed that the ancients knew the technology of organ transplantation—
how else could an elephant’s head be planted on a human torso to give
shape to Lord Ganesha?
The claim of organ transplantation in ancient India is baseless, because
placing of elephant’s head on human body is quite impossible. In
spite of the huge development of human knowledge, one cannot defy
natural laws. We can only know the natural laws and can use them for
the benefit of humankind. The nervous system and the blood circulation
system of an elephant and of a man are entirely different. The nerves,
veins and arteries are positioned differently. That is why, if one places
the head of an elephant on the neck of aman, the nervous pathways and
the blood circulation channels cannot be connected, and so this organic
transplantation is impossible. Moreover, the ability of an elephant’s brain
is far inferior to that of the human brain. Even if such a transplant were
possible, the resulting being would not be capable of thinking. Even
placing a severed human head to a human torso is still not achievable.
Similar are the tales of Kunti’s hundred sons and the birth of Karna.
These are just mythological stories, and any attempt to find scientific
meaning to these leads to many inconsistencies. In Mahabharata, the
story of Karna’s birth goes as follows. As a young woman Kunti had been
granted a boon by sage Durvasa to be able to invoke any deity to give her
a child. Eager to test the power, while still unmarried, she called upon the
solar deity Surya and was handed a son Karna wearing armour (Kavacha)
and a pair of earrings (Kundala). Afraid of being an unwed mother and
having a bastard, Kunti placed the baby in a basket and set him afloat on
a river. Does it sound like she went to a biotechnology laboratory to have
And quantum mechanics, particle physics,
It is also being opined in various quarters that most of the ideas of
modern science—particularly quantum mechanics, particle physics, electromagnetic
theory, and the theory of relativity—were discovered by the
Vedic sages many millennia before these were “rediscovered” by modern
science. The proponents cite a few Sanskrit shlokas which contain words
like kana (particle), taranga (wave), shakti (energy), etc.
Prof. S. Balachandra Rao calls these “squeezing science out of the
Vedas” . The actual meaning of the Sanskrit texts have no relation with
what they are claimed to be in an overzealous spirit of religious revivalism.
For example, there is a Rigveda mantra:
Yuvam padave puruvaaramashvinaa spridham shwetam
(Rig VedaMandala 1, Shukta 119,Man. 10)
From this shloka Dayananda Saraswati extracts the meaning “Learn
the secret of telegraphy the benefits of which are manifold. It helps to
produce quick locomotion to achieve best results. The wire must be made
of pure metal charged with electricity. It can be used again and again
after charging with electricity.” But the actualmeaning of the shloka is:
“O Ashwi, you give the king Padu the white horse, which was desired by
all and which was capable of defeating the enemies. The unconquerable,
brilliant and multi-purpose horse was like Indra who triumphed over
Most of the references to ancient texts are of similar nature. Mostly
the Sanskrit texts are misrepresented or wrongly translated to fit certain
whimsical ideas. In many cases the text only contain words that have
commonplace meanings (like “wave”—which could simply mean the
waves seen on the surface of a pond, but are lifted out of context to mean
There are two theoretical reasons why these knowledge could not
have been obtained in antiquity. Firstly, all developments in science occur
on the basis of some earlier knowledge. In order to have an understanding
of electromagnetic waves, one has to know the character of electricity as
well as of magnetism and the laws governing their mutual interaction.
Einstein could formulate the arguments that led to the theory of relativity
based on the knowledge of the Newtonian mechanics and Maxwell’s
theory of electromagnetism. Quantum mechanics could be developed
only after we learned about radioactivity, photo electricity, and the character
of radiation emerging out of heated substances. None of these
developments happened in knowledge isolation. In fact, no development
in science can happen without the benefit of earlier knowledge. And
when the fringe groups make claim of some discovery in the antiquity,
they never make any claim on the antecedent discoveries.
Secondly, all these claims come only after a particular discovery has
been made by modern science. The fringe groups talk about the discovery
of atom bombs, aircraft, or theory of fundamental particles only after
these discoveries have been made by modern science. If these were really
discovered in the antiquity and are available in the Vedic literature, why
cannot someone make the discoveries using the Vedic texts? Why has
that never happened? That is because this knowledge was not there in the
antiquity. It cannot be there because knowledge advances progressively,
each generation making new advances on the basis of the knowledge
gained by the previous generation.
*This article was published in the book “Science in Ancient India—Reality versus Myth” published by Breakthrough Science Society.
**Articles will be published one by one in the course of time.