This is fourth article on “SCIENCE IN ANCIENT INDIA Reality versus Myth” series. We think history of science should be analyzed unbiasedly 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.
In recent times it is being claimed that the reason behind the decline
and fall of Indian science were the Muslim invasions. It is said that the
Muslim rulers destroyed the scientific books and institutions, resulting
in the decline of science. We have seen that the great scientist Acharya
Prafulla Chandra Ray attributed entirely different reasons to the decline
of science in India. But is it factually true that the Muslim rule had a
negative influence on the cultivation of science?
To seek the answer, let us first look at the relationship between the two
cultures. It was the Muslim scholar Al-Khwarizmi who took zero and the
place value system to the Islamic world, and Europe got to know about it
in the 12th century through Arab texts! In the 9th century, translations
of Sushrutha and Charaka Samhita appeared in Arabic. Ayurveda was
partly absorbed into Arabic medicine. The great scholar Al Biruni learned
Sanskrit in exile and translated Brahmagupta’s book (Sindh-Hind) in the
year 1035. The book is an encyclopedic treatise on Indian sciences,
philosophy and astronomy. The efforts of Al-Khwarizmi and Al-Biruni
resulted in an exchange of ideas between the two cultures and the Arab
world looked at Indian science with respect and drew inspiration from
its developments. In this background, is it believable that, when Muslim
Statue of Al Khwarizmi in Uzbekistan
rulers came to India, they would destroy the things that their own scholars
revered so deeply?
The second issue concerns timing. We have seen that the decline
of Indian science started in the 9th-10th centuries and was practically
dead after the 12th century. Yet, at that time the Muslim rulers were
only making inroads through the Western fringes and had not yet established
themselves in a major part of the subcontinent. The first
conquest happened in the early 11th century, whenMahmud of Ghazni
defeated Raja Jayapala of the Hindu Shahi Dynasty of Gandhara (in
modern Afghanistan), and advanced as far as Peshawar (now in Pakistan).
In 1173,Muhammad Ghori launched an offensive from the Ghor region of
Afghanistan and by 1187 defeated the Ghazni rulers. In 1192 he defeated
Prithviraj of Ajmer and expanded his empire to a part of western India.
Delhi Sultanate was founded by his successors around 1206. QutbUd
Din Aibak, a slave of Ghori, became the first Sultan of Delhi. Timurlane
invaded Delhi in 1398. He looted, plundered, but did not establish a
rule there. Babur Shah entered India in 1526 and established the Mughal
dynasty. The Mughal Empire succeeded in conquering much of India.
Thus we see that the Muslim rulers were not ruling much of India
during the onset of the decline of science. It was only in the 13th century
that the Delhi Sultanate was first established, and the Mughals set foot
only in the 16th century.
Thus, there is every reason to believe that the reason behind the
decline and fall of Indian science was internal. There is no point in
blaming an imaginary culprit.
*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.