a r t i c l e s    o n    h i n d u i s m
By P. Priyadarshi 

The story of origin of knowledge in India and its dispersal to the west leading to development of modern western civilization.

Although Modern Civilization took its shape in the West, its roots are in India and to some extent in China. Modern Civilization is definitely not a product of Judo-Christian tradition but rather it is an anti-thesis of that tradition. In fact, modern philosophy and science are a delayed fruition of the tree that was ancient India. On the other hand, Semitic religions were quite fixed in their ideas about God, heaven and divine will and freethinking against these concepts was not possible. Science had a very poor chance to grow in those societies. India, China and Egypt were the most developed civilizations in second millennium BC. Ancient Greek civilization developed from sixth century BC and was brought to an end, first by Roman invasions and later by Christianity. Ancient Egypt was brought to an end initially by Christian efforts and later by Muslim conquest. 

We will briefly review how knowledge grew and developed in the world.  

1. Dark Ages in Europe 

Up to the sixteenth century, Europe was in the Dark Age.  Historians call this period as the Dark Age because there was no knowledge like mathematics, science, medicine etc. in Europe. Long back, there was a brief period of enlightenment in a limited part of Europe, i.e. Greece from sixth century BC for a few centuries by import of knowledge from India. This period is called the first awakening of Europe and the reappearance of knowledge in the 16th century is called the Renaissance (meaning rebirth or re-awakening). We will briefly review how science came to Greece from the East for the first time, then how it was destroyed and scholars killed by the Romans, and then by the Christians and finally Muslim invaders. We will also see how knowledge survived outside Europe during the Dark Ages and finally reached the West to propel Europe into a renaissance.  

During the dark ages, people of Europe used the cumbersome Roman numerals, and even the so-called mathematicians would calculate sums by counting on the fingers! Decimals were not known and real calculation was not possible with that type of number system. Science was inevitably bound not to grow. Universities were basically centers of copying religious texts by hand in beautiful letters. Medicine meant blessings of priests. Value of hygiene was unknown and Europe was a permanent home of diseases.  

Even calculation of calendar was difficult for them and dates were not able to cope with the sun. Religion was the real ruler. Verdict of the priests would be the final words in any matter. The man was surrounded by ghosts, witches and bad spirits. Churches were permanently busy finding out the witches and sorcerers and killing them: the only way known to them for helping the ailing humanity. National tragedies and epidemics were caused by the non-believer, who was a representative of the devil, and an enemy of the society. Prayer remained the only medicine in most of the hospitals. The priests were the doctors and nuns were the nurses, without any education and training in health and medicine (modern doctors derive their designation of ‘doctor’ from the priests, doctor being the highest degree of Christian theology). They would go to the beds everyday, in the hospitals, and pray for each of the admitted patients. Hosp itals were essentially an attachment to the churches. And in fact, during the Dark Ages, it was the responsibility of the theologians to treat the patients. But it was not so, long long back, before the advent of Christianity, when the southeastern corner of Europe was vibrating with knowledge, when Greece was a centre of learning. Turkey was not inhabited by the Turks then and it was called Asia Minor. Its coastal parts were inhabited by the Greeks and the central parts were inhabited by various tribes of Indo-Iranian origin.               

 2. Indian influence on the West in the early BC period 

India has been the birthplace of science over ages. Takshashila University (in Pakistan now) was a great centre of learning where students from Iran and further west came to study.  In the first millennium BC, Iran was highly Indianized and could be considered an expansion of Indian culture and civilization. At the western fringe of it was Asia Minor, modern Turkey, which was a place of interaction between Greeks and Iranians. In the 6th century BC, Iran expanded its boarders to include Assyria, Babylon, whole of Asia Minor and major parts of Greece. Egypt also fell to Iran soon after. Thus while Iran was engaged in expansion at its western boarders, its eastern part was in peace, continuously receiving Indian knowledge and religion. Zoroaster, fifth century BC, lived in the eastern reaches of Persia, not far from India, and his belief to wage war on evil, and the idea of con stant struggle between good and bad, light and darkness, is believed by the scholars of history of theology, to be Indian (Upanishadic) in origin. Monotheism had reached a full development in the Upanishad literature much earlier in India, from which Zoroastrianism, Judaism, and also Akhenaton of Egypt (1350 BC) had borrowed it. Upanishadic knowledge did not stay long in Egypt and faded away soon after the death of its only patron Akhenatan.   Mithraism was another branch of Vedic religion, which spread widely over Iran, Europe and Egypt. Mithra is a Vedic God (the Sun-God). Mithras celebrated the birthday of God (Sun) on the 25th December, which became adapted by the Christians as the date of birth of God (Jesus). These religions of Indian origin in Middle East, introduced the principle of righteousness and monotheism to Judaism and Christianity and thereby to Islam later. Hence ethical monotheism, the backbone of Judaism, Christianit y and Islam found its origin in Hinduism. 

Apart from these, Indian wandering monks traveled the breadth and length of this whole area. From Western sources we know that in the third century BC, a big Indian community lived at Alexandria in Egypt with their Vedic sannyasins as well as Buddhist bhikshukas. Indian sea- traders also dominated the sea -trade up to the period of rise of Islam. It was under this background that the Indian religions, philosophies and science travelled to the West to enlighten it in the ancient times. Indians developed mathematical formulae called ‘Sulvasutra’ in 1500 BC. Geometry developed because of its need in constructing specially designed Yajna Kundas, and also because accurate measurement of agricultural land was needed to fix the farm boundaries. Trigonometry was invented to study the locations and the movements of the stars, which was vital for navigation in sea, during sea trade. Hypothesis of atom was made in the field of physics, which we find mentioned in the Upanishad literature. Bacteria were conceived (which have been discussed in the Jain literature in detail) as early as the 6th century BC. Physicians and surgeons like Jivaka were experimenting even craniotomy (operation on the brain) in the 6th century BC.

Human psychology was studied in detail and considered an essential part of academic curriculum (q.v. ‘Eastern Psychology’ in ‘The Theories of Personality’ by Hall and Lindsey). There was an all round development in all spheres of learning.   

3. Why Indian religions were pro-science - On the other hand, Jewish religion was based on the faith that only their God is real and all others false. Hence it was not only belief in one God but it was also a belief in correctness of only one religion. It was a belief in correctness of only one view of reality. Christians also adopted the same attitude and Islam also asserted the same. The words of the God as revealed to the Prophet are final and anything contradicting them is wrong and has to be destroyed. This gave the concept of heresy. Fighting the followers of other religions/nonbelievers (jihad/crusade) was considered the sacred duty of every truly religious person in these traditions.

4. Dawn of knowledge in the west with Pythagorus turning Hindu 

History of knowledge in Europe starts with Pythagoras. Pythagoras, in the 6th century BC was the first European (Greek) who brought Indian knowledge and mathematics to Greece in an organized way. He was the first European to convert completely to Hinduism also. Pythagoras was born around 560 BC; on Samos an island not far from the coast of the Asia Minor. His mother was probably a native of Samos but his father was probably a Phoenician.   His life history was recorded from oral traditions a couple of centuries after his death, and even that information has survived only in fragments.  (In fact, the Ancient Greek civilization was not really European. The first Greek city, Miletus was established around 1100 BC in Asia Minor. Samos, an island adjoining Asia Minor was inhabited in 1000 BC. From Milesia, Greeks spread to establish colonies round the Black Sea founding the cities of Sinope, Trapezus and Olbia etc. They also crossed the Aegean Sea to establish colonies in Macedonia and then south of that to the land what is called Greece today. Cyrenaica (Cyrene) and Carthage were other colonies of these people, which was at the coastal Libya in Africa. The famous Troy (of Helen fame) was in the Asia Minor. These colonies were not united into a nation state but were autonomous, and bound to the metropolis< metro, mother; polis, city; in Sanskrit matripuri>.  Hence, Greek culture, far from being European, was act ually Asian.). 

At that time, Greeks did not have mathematics or sciences. Education was limited to music and gymnastics. After studying the very best available in his country (music and gymnastics), Pythagoras set out for more. He went to Egypt, which had already received Indian Geometry through its contact with Indians as well as with Indo-Iranians and had at that time, scholars teaching geometry and a bit of astrology. During his stay in Egypt, Egypt was invaded by Iran and he was brought to Iran as a captive, where he stayed at Babylon and other cities. Babylon was no more a Semitic city by that time, and it had been thoroughly Indo-Iranized in language, religion and knowledge at least a century earlier, when the Medes and the Persians thoroughly overran the country of Babylon, and it was now a part of Persian Empire and culturally a part of Indo-Iran. It is probable that Pythagoras went to the Punjab and thence to the Himalayas a s well. It thoroughly changed his life style and thinking. He permanently rejected the long Greek robes, and adopted trousers, turning away from Ionian culture and identifying himself strongly with the East. Before Pythagoras, trousers were not known to Europe. Woolen trousers were worn by Indians living at high altitudes in the Himalayas, like people of Nepal, Laddakh, Tibet, and Kashmir etc.  (The statue of Indian king Kanishka, found in Afghanistan, is wearing a long double-breasted coat and trousers). Variants of trousers like pajamas and shalwar were worn in the northern plains of Indo-Iran. The costume, which Pythagoras introduced into the Europe, was going to become the ethnic costume of the West!! (Wertheim, Pythagoras’s Trousers) 

 Having lived twenty years in the east, he returned to Greece, and settled in Croton, a Greek-speaking town of South Italy. He formed an order of ascetics devoted to develop a sense of community with the help of religious injunctions and instructions. This was aimed to give the members a real insight into the concordant nature of universe. He preached that the world, like human society, was held together by the orderly arrangement of its parts, and it then became their clear duty to cultivate order in their own lives. It is the order in any system, which sustains it. He was describing the concept of Dharma, which means the order, which sustains the system. He was now acting as an ambassador of Hinduism to the West. Pythagoreans believed in transmigration of life through different life forms. His contemporary poet Xenophanes writes: Pythagoras was once passing by when a man was beating a dog .He took pity on the animal and said, Stop it; Indeed it is the soul of a friend of mine; I recognized it when I heard its voice. Pythagoras was even able to recall the details of his own previous incarnations. Pythagoras preached the essential unity and kinship of all forms of life, which is the fundamental principle of Hinduism (and also of other later Indian religions). He preached non-violence and banned killing and eating animals in his order of ascetics. He was a firm believer in Karmic law and preached immortality of existence. The human body is temporary; therefore one must purify the soul by abstaining from bodily pleasure. By these means soul would ultimately win release from the wheel of becoming and realize its true divine status. In other words, he was preaching karma, samsara and moksha. Pythagoreans believed that anyone who downgraded his life by immoral and impure acts would be born as animal in his next life. A particular type of sayings, he named akousmata (things heard) which were probably Greek translation of the shruti (Sanskrit, Things heard). In his brotherhood, members were of two kinds. Acousmatics would visit him and seek guidance on how to lead a simple, non-violent and virtuous way of life. Others called Mathematikoi lived inside the math (monastery, mutt) and studied the nature of reality more deeply. From mathematik is derived the word mathematics. Pythagoreans studied and further developed the science of mathematics and philosophy, which was brought to them from Indo-Iran by their great Guru. The chain reaction started by Pythagoras resulted in a boom of scholarship in Greece and finally we find authorities like Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, etc. The background provided by the Pythagoreans provided sound basis of logic to enable these thinkers to arrive at sound conclusions. During this whole period transfer of knowledge from India to Greece was never interrupted. This may be assumed from the fact that whatever theory was given in India e.g. atomic theory, theory of micro-organism, theory of non-dualism, Brahman, atman, the five elements (the Greeks accepted only four, and did not include space), it appears in Greek literature as well soon after. The three doshas of Indian medicine are present in exactly the same way. It was a good thing. A living and growing civilization is always ready to find out and assimilate whatever valuable it notices in other civilizations.  

5. Alexandria university: a center for Indo-Greek learning - After Alexander established the Hellenistic Empire comprising Greece, Egypt, Asia Minor, Iran, Bactria and North -West India (including Punjab and modern Afghanistan), the transfer of learning from India to Greece was very much facilitated. Alexander himself got thoroughly Indo-Iranized. He started shaving beard (fashionable in the East, but considered uncivilized in the Greek world at that time), and started leading life like an Indian monarch. Alexander himself rounded up hundreds of Brahmin scholars and took them with him to increase the wealth of knowledge of his country. He also married several Indo-Iranian women. Tens of thousands of Greek soldiers married Indo-Iranian women and took them to Greece. Many of the children of such mothers would be speaking Sanskrit or Prakrit dialects and Indo-centric in attitude, further influencing flow of literature from India to Greece in successive generations.  Trade routs and diplomatic channels were also established which would facilitate flow of knowledge from India to Greece.  

The Greeks, who came to India, were highly impressed by the Takshashila University in Punjab. Probably being inspired by that, Ptolemy –the Greek Governor for Egypt, who later became independent ruler of Egypt-- also established a great university at Alexandria in Egypt. This was the first university ever built outside India. In Alexandria, scholars from Greece, Asia Minor (modern Turkey), Iran, India and Egypt would come to study and to teach. Being very near to the centre of Hellenistic world, Greek remained the main language of book writing at Alexandria. A large number of Indian texts were translated into Greek and kept in the library at Alexandria.

 ALEXANDRIAN  SCOLARS AND  SCIENTISTS Some of the most famous scholars of the Alexandrian University are as follows:  

Aristarchus of Samos (Asia Minor; 310-230 BC) : Archimedes and Plutarch quoted his book “On the size and distance of Sun and Moon”. The values he gave were inaccurate but he wrote that earth rotates at its axis and revolves round the sun.

Heracledes (390-310 BC), only his name is quoted by others, nothing more is known. 

Euclid (? 325-265 BC): Nothing is known of Euclid’s life except that he taught at Alexandria and that he wrote the Elements.  

Conon (280-220 BC): Born in Samos, contemporary of Archimedes, lived at Alexandria. Wrote De Astrologia.  

Hipparchus (born in Nicacaea, Asia Minor; 190-120 BC): Wrote commentaries on Aratus and Exodus.

Claudius Ptolemy (not the Egyptian ruler called Ptolemy; born in Egypt; 85 AD-165AD). He compiled an encyclopedia of astronomy from available Indo-Greek literature and also discussed trigonometry in this book. This book was translated into Arabic in 827, and from Arabic into Latin in the later part of the 12th century. This book is called Almagest, and served the basic astronomical book for the Arabs and the Europeans till the 17th century. (The original title of the book is not known and Almagest is just a corrupted form of what could have been the title in Arabic, and that again in turn was a corrupted form of whatever was the original name in Sanskrit or Greek. Given the nature of the contents of the book, which was a monopoly of Indian astronomers, it could have well been a Sanskrit book originally, translated into Greek at Alexandria by Ptolemy. In that case the Sanskrit origina l title of the book might have been ‘Mahishtha’ meaning ‘around the earth’, and by several changes it became Al magest, which has no meaning in Arabic language. Actually only one dot is needed in Arabic script to change ‘mahishtha’ into ‘magest’ because only one dot is needed to transform the letter ‘hey’ i.e. H into ‘jeem’ i.e. J.)  

Diophantus (200-284 AD): Essentially nothing is known of his life. Called father of Algebra, wrote Arithmetica. (See Appendix)  

Plotinus (born in Upper Egypt at Lycopolis; 204-270 AD): Received education at Alexandria University. When the Roman Emperor Gordian took a campaign against the Persians, Plotinus accompanied him in order to learn more of the Indo-Iranian cosmological knowledge (The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, www.britannica.com). Again indicating that India was far ahead of Alexandria in the third century AD. These scholars usually called Greek scholars should not be called so because of various reasons. They can at best be called Alexandrian scholars. Firstly Alexandria was in Egypt, and therefore calling them Greek and not Egyptian is not realistic and has a pro-Euro racial bias. Secondly, if we consider the place of birth of these people, most of them barring a few exceptions were born on Asian land like Samos, Nicacaea, or in Africa like Egypt and Libya. Thirdly, nothing is known about majority of the Alexandrian scholars except their names and their work. But even that has survived from Arabic sources and then translated into Latin and thence to English, French etc. In this process the names were changed from Arabic forms to a new Greek sounding form. In fact many of the Greek sounding names were inventions of the Latin translators of the Arabic texts. But actually, at the time of translation of the manuscripts into Ar abic from Sanskrit and Greek, Arabs also had manipulated with the names. Hence we cannot know what were the real names of many of these scholars like Euclid, Diophantus etc. The work of Euclid, Diophantus etc are more similar to Indian tradition of mathematical work. Given the absence of any good number system, non-Indians could not be expected to produce any mathematical work of any good value. Therefore it is more than likely that Euclid, Diophantus etc were Indian scholars working at Alexandria whose actual names were different in the same way as the real name of Sandrocottus was Chandragupta. 

It was Thomas Heath (1861-1940), a great believer of White superiority and an Oxford mathematician, who worked on the Alexandrian scholars like Euclid etc. and finally labeled them all to be Greeks, even though nothing was known about the lives of most of these scholars. After him nobody examined this subject. Much of the manuscripts at Alexandria must have been translations of Indian works. We need to study any surviving Arabic scientific texts carefully with a view to deciphering correct possible Sanskrit names of the Indian-Alexandrian scholars, rather than accepting blindly what Latin translators have done with their limited knowledge of Sanskrit and their ethnocentric attitude.   When Judaism and Christianity threatened the scientific community living at Alexandria, a fresh surge in Pythagoreanism was generated, which was called Neo-Pythagoreanism. Hypatia was one of the neo-Pythagoreans.  


Jesus Christ started his religion when Alexandria was blooming. Jesus was very much like an Indian ascetic. Like Hindu saints, he followed renunciation and practiced celibacy, and preached non-violence and love. It is claimed that he had been to India and had received spiritual training in Indian tradition. Whatever be the fact, we find that many of the preaching and parables of Jesus, Pythagoras and the Upanishads are common. When Christianity was taking shape, Hindus inhabited that part of the world as well. When they converted to Christianity, they introduced many things to this new religion e.g. folding hands in Indian style when praying to God; ringing typical Indian styled bells in the churches; introduction of a circular solar halo round the picture of Jesus, burning incense and lamps (or candles) in the church etc. Practice of celibacy, monastic life, renunciation of material life by the monks and asceticism ad opted by Christian saints were Hindu influences on Christianity, because they are not found in other Semitic religions.  But the vast majority of people who initially accepted Christianity were Jews. Therefore, they brought in with them the Old Testament (the Jewish scripture) and most of the beliefs and practices of the Jews.  Therefore, after the death of Jesus, Christians now believed, as the Jews did, that only theirs’ is the right religion and only theirs’ is the true God. Sorcery, miracle, witchcraft, mysticism, idol-worship, etc. are satanic acts and people accused to be involved in them would be killed. (Little remembering that the Jews had accused Jesus himself of being a sorcerer, before killing him). Raising any doubt or suggesting modification in religion was termed heresy, punishable with death. Fighting the non-Christians to convert or eliminate them was considered religious duty. This new religion was very anti-science, because science did not support what this religion preached. It was no more pacifist or liberal than the Jews. It hated paganism. It hated heresy.  This religion considered the Alexandrian scholarship to be pagan. The applic ation of logic and free discussion of theological questions was considered blasphemous. Man cannot investigate the divine acts, they held. Once Christianity became the state religion of the Roman Empire in the fourth century, the pagan monuments were destroyed and pagan worshippers killed and force-converted in wholesale numbers. Therefore destruction of this Indo-Greek university was the most sincere duty of the Christians of the period.      


In the third and second centuries BC, Rome rose up as a big power. Having no respect for knowledge, they destroyed much of Greek civilization. They expanded their empire to include North Africa, Asia Minor and South Europe. Greek tradition of learning was disrupted in Europe, scholars killed, cities destroyed, although it continued in Alexandria in Egypt. A few Greek scholars escaped being killed in Europe as well, who continued their pursuit of knowledge although in a low profile up till the Byzantine period. It was Justinian, the Byzantine Emperor who in 529, closed the nine-hundred-year- old Academy of Plato in Athens and completely destroyed the last remains of Greek knowledge in Europe, claiming it was a hotbed of paganism and heresy and therefore it was against Christianity. The scholars were killed or converted into Christianity. Many of these Greek scholars, fearing for their lives and intellectual freedom, fle d to Persia, where they established a kind of Academy in exile.   

In 48 BC, Julius Caesar set fire to ships in the harbor at Alexandria and according to Plutarch, burned 40,000 scrolls at Alexandria. Queen Zenobia of Palmyra captured Alexandria in 270 AD. Much of the city was destroyed during a counter attack by the Roman Emperor Aurelian.    

In early fourth century Constantine who had already become Christian, acceded to Roman power. Christianity now became the state religion. Nonbelievers (non-Christians) were persecuted, burned and murdered by animated Christian mobs called zealots. Mathematicians, scientists and philosophers were particularly targeted. Europe was entering into an era called Dark Age with complete elimination of all the works of science, mathematics and philosophy. But University of Alexandria was still surviving in Egypt. In AD 389 Christian Emperor Theodosius ordered Theophilus, Bishop of Alexandria to destroy all pagan monuments. Hindus were also called pagan by them. The Christian mobs burned the pagan scholars and the library. This rampage was most fierce in AD 391. Even after this, many scholars survived and continued their work. 


 One of the mathematicians who survived the holocaust and continued her work was Hypatia, a great scholar of mathematics, and one of the few female mathematicians in history. She was wise, learned, virtuous and beautiful. There was much mistrust among Christians, Jews and Pagans, but Hypatia taught everyone. She wrote commentaries on Euclid, Apollonius and on Arithmetica. She wrote books discussing new mathematical problems and solving old ones. She also wrote books on astronomy, compiled tables of positions of celestial bodies and designed several scientific instruments. It was a time of revival of Pythagoreanism, the Greek form of Hinduism, as a Hellenistic (Greek) alternative of the rising tide of Christianity.  

In AD 412 Cyril, a fanatic Christian became the patriarch of Alexandria and began the campaign to rid the city of both Jews and the Pythagorean scholars. Hypatia was asked to accept Christianity several times. But she always refused. That commitment cost her life. “In AD 415, she was set upon a mob of Christian zealots, dragged from her carriage and beaten to death. In the account of a fifth century author: they stripped her stark naked: they raze the skin and rend the flesh of her body with sharp shells, until the death departed from her body: they quarter her body: they bring her quarters unto a place called Cinaron and burn them to ashes...” This is only one out of thousands of such atrocities, which was going to finish scientific knowledge, as well Indian influence, from the West for a thousand years. (Pythagoras’s Trousers)   

Even after such attacks, Alexandrian school was surviving for further two hundred years.  


 In AD 642 Caliph Omar overran Egypt. Victorious Caliph ordered, those books that were contrary to Koran should be destroyed and furthermore those books that confirmed the Koran were superfluous and they too must be destroyed. Manuscripts were used to stove the public baths. The University library was torched to ashes. The volume of manuscripts was so large that it kept on burning for six months. Needless to add that all the scholars were slaughtered except those who embraced Islam. All over Egypt and Libya, books were searched out and burned. As a result of this, the history and literature of Egypt was lost forever, only a fraction of it to be rediscovered later by the Europeans out of the Pyramids. Greek literature in Egypt was also lost and the same happened to Babylonian history. 

Some of the Greek scholars of Alexandria, who embraced Islam and survived, were able to smuggle some of the manuscripts to their homes. Later they translated these into Arabic language. These translations included Greek medicine (now called Unani after Ionia, a Greek city), much of Greek philosophy e.g. Plato (Aflatoon), Aristotle (Arastu), Socrates (Sukrat) etc. It contained Alexandrian sciences as well as six of the original thirteen volumes of the mathematical text called Arithmetica, seven volumes of it being lost forever. The Arithmetica was translated many centuries later into Latin. (Arithmetica, Elements, Surya Siddhanta and the Indian books on algebra, trigonometry, and arithmetic contained the basic knowledge, which would later propel Europe into modern age.)           

 It is to be remembered here that all of Greek medicine, all of Greek books of philosophy and science were already burned to ashes in Greece and Europe by Christian zealots. End of knowledge in the West was complete now. When the falsehood fears that it is likely to be exposed, it attacks knowledge, because knowledge is the worst poison for ignorance.

6. Grwoth of Knowledge in India during this period - In India, scenario was different. Science, mathematics, logic, philosophy, art, everything was growing at an unlimited pace. In India, religion’s central dogma was knowledge, and experience, experiment and reasoning were accepted as very important means of obtaining knowledge. Arguments were encouraged in religious matters and religious philosophy and metaphysics had to be based on scientific knowledge. This scientific bias of Hinduism had led to the growth of science earlier as well, from which Pythagoras and many other people of the West had been benefited over ages. Hence by the time of Caliph Omar, India was the only place in the world where knowledge was progressing unhindered. It is also worth mentioning that when Islam came to Iran, Zoroastrianism was followed only by a minority (15%) of the Iranian people. Others followed Buddhism, Shaivism, Mithraism, Judaism, Nestorian Christianity, and other religions.   

Earth is round was never disputed in India. So much so that you will find Varahavatar lifting the rounded earth on His tusks in many sculpture. You will find a lion (Buddha) fighting with a dragon (ignorance), which is holding a round earth by its tail, in many northeastern Indian Buddhist icons. Every Hindu is aware of the metaphoric story of the demon king Hiranyaksha, who finding the earth as a round ball, seized it to play with it; then Lord Vishnu had to kill him to save the earth. The law of conservation of matter and energy and the law of cause and effect were the two fundamental laws of Hinduism. Anybody not accepting these two laws would be considered a nastic or non-believer. The agnostics and people who refuted the existence of God were considered equally respected as others. The religion or belief was a matter of personal choice and could not be enforced on to anybody by either the State or the family or th e society. Clergy and priests in Western sense did not exist. Priest would come to perform a rite only if an individual requested him. Needless to add that fatwa or religious decree kind of things were beyond imagination in India. There was no place for ‘theocracy’ in Hinduism. Religion and politics are two different things for the Hindus, and state was never under the control of the priests/clergy in the Hindu/Buddhist period. This institutional difference from the West made India a fertile ground for growth and development of knowledge of all shorts including even sex education (Kama sutra).  It is not possible to discuss the achievements of Indian Scholars here. But I will briefly discuss Aryabhata and name a few others.  


Aryabhata occupies a central position in the evolution of knowledge. His works were translated into Arabic and then into Latin. These texts were taught in the European universities at the time of Keplar, Copernicus and Isaac Newton. Had it not been, these scientists would not have been able to discover what they did. The Latin version of Aryabhata’s work was absolutely needed, which provided a knowledge base for arrival of modern concepts in science.   

Most of Aryabhata’s work is no more available. What we know about his work is from what has been quoted by later Indian and Arabic scholars.  

In ‘The Calendar’ Duncan writes on Aryabhata, “In 476, far away in the time and place from Charlemagne’s dark, imposing castle at Aachen, beyond the Eastern boarder of Frankland… a Hindu genius was born ... A blend of Ptolemy the astronomer, Pythagoras the mathematician and Bacon the rebel, Aryabhata was one of a remarkable group of Indian scholars, and a pivotal figure on one of the stranger journeys ever taken by an assemblage of ideas across time and geography. …..(the ideas) turn to the west, centuries later, landing the great centers of Islamic learning after the Arab conquest of Persia and India. The Arabs in turn carried the knowledge to portals in Spain, Syria and Sicily, where it made its way to Europe (pp150-1)…

…Aryabhata grew up during the final years of Gupta golden age, when India was a world centre of art, science, literature and architecture. Learning was considered a sacred duty, and educated Hindus were expected to know not only the basics of reading, writing and numbers but also to be adept at poetry, painting and music. This was the age of Kama Sutra, the text that treats love as a fine art…  .. Excavations attest (presence of).. a large middle class, which enjoyed prosperity on a par with the golden age of Rome (pp 151-2)”. Duncan further writes, Aryabhata thought of the heliocentric solar system a thousand years ahead of Copernicus (pp155). 

Some of the interesting work of Aryabhata is worth notice here. 

1)     Value of pi: Aryabhata calculated its value to be 3.1416.

2)     Length of Tropical Year: Aryabhata gave a value of 365.3586805 days.

3)     Heliocentric solar system: Aryabhata said that earth is a sphere and it rotates on its axis causing day and night. He also suggested that earth revolves round the sun once in a year and it is the sun, which is at the centre of the khagola, not the earth.

4)     Incredibly, he believed that the orbits of revolutions of moon and the planets are elliptical and not spherical or circular.

5)     He gave the radii of planetary orbits as ratio of earth/sun orbit, which are quite correct.

6)     Diameter of earth as 8316 miles (almost accurate to modern measurements).

7)     Moon and the planets are not luminous and they shine by reflection of sunlight.

8)     Lunar eclipse is caused by earth’s shadow falling on the moon. Solar eclipse is caused by moon coming in between sun and the earth.

9)     Table of sines: He listed the values of sines of angles up to 90 degrees at intervals of 3.75 degrees for a radius of 3438 measures. The value 3438 is one radian expressed in minutes!

10) He gave calculations of equations based on Fractions, Quadric Equations, Sums of Power Series, Imaginary Numbers (square root of   –1), Concept of Version (1 - cos). 

Equally notable were the achievements in medicine. Sushruta has described the procedure for many surgical operations including prostate (trans-rectal route), cataract. Charaka, Dhanvantari and Jivaka were other famous physicians. Plastic surgery was invented and developed in India (ref. Noted in Sabiston’s Text book of Surgery, under the History of transplant surgery). Madhavacharya, a 12th century physician, writes in his book ‘Madhavanidanam’, that vishama jvara (Typhoid fever) is caused by invisibly small organisms, which live in dirty water and infect the body when that water is drunk. It is impossible even to make a brief mention the works of these intellectual wizards and I leave it here.

The last in the glorious tradition of scholars was Bhaskaracharya, who invented the gravitational force also. David E. Duncan writes in his book The Calendar,   “After Brahmagupta, India continued to produce noted mathematicians, including Bhaskara (1114--1185), considered by mathematicians to be the most brilliant in his field anywhere during the twelfth century.” At this period North India fell to Muslim invaders and Mohammed Ghouri established the Delhi Sultanate. All the great Indian Universities viz. Taxilla, Nalanda, Odantapuri and Vikramashila were burnt down to ashes and all inmates killed by the invading commanders propelling India into darkness. Scholars were hunted down and Indian system of education was abolished being replaced by Islamic Muderssas. All education needs state funding. Once state came under Muslim Rule, all indigenous knowledge vanished except Sanskrit Grammar, a bit of mathematics, logic, medicine and philosophy, which were preserved by individual efforts of practitioners and scholars. To sustain their lives these people had to serve as priests or cooks in the households or face starvation. Hard pressed under excessive land revenue and communal taxes (like jezia, birth tax, cremation tax) common people did not have enough money to donate to maintain the lives of scholars. This led to further demoralization of the scholars. Once the light of knowledge was gone, ignorance and social evils embraced India from all sides. Even the books of History had been burnt down by the invaders and the India of 18th Century had no information about her pre-Muslim history. 

But many of the books dealing with religion, philosophy and history had been taken away to Sri Lanka, Burma, Tibet and China before Islamic invasion. From these much of Indian History has been reconstructed by now. It is remarkable to note that soon after the Mughal Empire was gone from India in 1858, a great mathematician was born again (in 1887). David Duncan writes “ In 1887 another mathematics genius was borne in India, Srinivasa Ramanujan, who tragically died at the age of 33.” Ramanujan solved many disturbing mathematical problems although he never had any Western education.

 7. Transfer of knowledge from India to Arabic language - Duncan writes in The Calendar “In 773, some 250 years after Aryabhata’s death, a delegation of diplomats from lower Indus River Valley arrived in the new Arab capital of Baghdad. Dressed in bright coloured silks, turbans and glittering gems, ... Arriving at last outside the gates of al-Mansur’s (the founder of the Abbasid dynasty) magnificent city.....

..........This particular delegation also brought with them an astronomer, ..Kanaka. An expert on eclipse, he carried with him a small library of Indian astronomical texts to give to the Caliph, including the Surya Siddhanta and the works of Brahmagupta (containing material on Aryabhata). Nothing more is known about this Kanaka. An Arab historian named al-Qifti wrote the first known reference to him some five hundred years later. According to al-Qifti, the caliph was amazed by the knowledge in the Indian texts. He immediately ordered them to be translated into Arabic and their essence compiled into a textbook that became known as the Great Sindhind  (Sindhind is the Arabic form of the Sanskrit word Siddhanta).”

Incidents like this were necessary “in order to bring the works of India into the sphere of the early Islamic scholars, whence they would travel to Christian Europe through Syria, Sicily and Arab controlled Spain. A version of the Great Sindhind would be translated into Latin in 1126. This was one of the dozens of critical documents that would contribute to the knowledge base needed to propel Europe into the modern age” Duncan adds.  The pre-Islamic Iran had Zoroastrian, Mithraic, Shaivite and Buddhist followers. These religions can be called Hindu or Hindu-like and were not against investigation of truth. Iran also had the privilege of being just adjacent to India. Therefore the knowledge was quite developed in Iran at the time of Islamic invasion. When Iran fell to Islam, people accepted Islam but the undercurrent of Hinduism remained flowing here and there in the form of Sufism and Yoga-Mysticism. Early Sufis were quite vocal of their philosophy. They were persecuted and many killed by the orthodox Muslims. Most famous of them was Mansur -bin-Hallaz who was killed because of his fancy for Upanishadic statement ‘an- al- Haq’ (Aham Brahmasmi; I am the reality/God). Many of the later Sufis adopted all the external features of Islam, but maintained Hindu ideas and attitude of tolerance in philosophy and teachings.  

 The pre-Islamic Iran had a rich intellectual interaction with India, Greece and Alexandria. It had acted as a transmitter of Indian knowledge to Egypt for two millennia and to Greece for one millennium. When Justinian persecuted the Nestorian people, they had fled to Baghdad with sacs of Greek scientific texts in the sixth century AD. Nestorian (or Assyrian or Eastern) Christians were the people who believed that Jesus was human as well as divine. Nestorius was a Bishop at Byzantium, contemporary of Cyril whose fanaticism was responsible for killing of pagan scholars at Alexandria including Hypatia. Nestorius was declared a heretic by Cyril and others, because he pleaded that Mary was not a God-bearer, as Christ was born human but only later he attained divinity. Nestorius must have had some background of Indian philosophy, because he was born in Iran of Persia n parents. Nestorians founded the Eastern Church and considered Greek literature as important reservoir of knowledge. Much later after the death of Nestorius, the Nestorians faced a severe persecution and genocide at the hands of Justinian. After persecution, they fled away to Iran, (pre-Islamic) Arabia and south India. In this process they carried the Greek books with them. Indian Nestorians became re-affiliated to the Roman Catholic Church in the 16th century.

 Although majority of pre-Islamic literature had been destroyed in Iran by Muslim crusaders, some Pahlawi and Greek literature could survive and got translated into Arabic later. It was at the time of the third Caliph that the capital of Islamic Empire was shifted to the Iranian city of Baghdad (in modern Iraq). After the initial phase of victories and overrunning other nations, which lasted about a century after the death of the Prophet, the Caliphs from al-Mansur onwards started showing interest in science and philosophy. These people had come out of the deserts of Arabia where few were literate; they brought little material culture to the ancient civilizations now under their sway. The initial reaction of the Muslims overrunning these civilizations was that of hatred for the infidel, causing large-scale destruction of lives and knowledge wherever they went. But credit should be given to the early Abbasid Caliphs, who transformed his people into a knowledge-loving nation, although only for a few centuries.   

The period of the reign of al-Mansur and his successors, Caliph Haroun ar-Rashid (786-809) and his son al-Mamun (809-833) was the time when Indian texts were brought to Baghdad in large scale and were translated into Arabic. They were studied along with the Arabic translation of the manuscripts of the Greek Alexandrines and Nestorians, which had escaped destruction, by the army of Caliph Omar as well as surviving bits of Iranian scholarship. Eventually they were synthesized into the forms, which would later reach Europe. Scholars, engineers, scientists and artists flocked to Baghdad and were honoured and well paid. Many came bearing manuscripts. This was a great era of translation. The project was made infinitely simpler when the first paper factory opened in Baghdad in 794, using a process the Arabs learned from a Chinese prisoner captured during the AD 712 conquest of Samarkand, in modern Uzbekistan. This art would be passed on to Europe centuries later in the 12th century (Duncan, The Calendar).   

As the translations of Indian manuscripts began to stack up, al-Mamun ordered a museum and library complex to be built which was completed by 833 and became known as the House of Wisdom (Bait al-hikma). It was now only third in size in the world after the libraries of Taxila and Nalanda Universities. The Zero, decimal system, Indian numerals, astronomy, astrology, trigonometry, ayurveda, chemistry, everything even up to the Hindu dream-analysis, had now reached Baghdad, and the local Irani scholars were now in a position to formulate further theorems. Fascinated by Indian astronomy, Caliph al-Mamun ordered an observatory built in Baghdad in 829 and one soon after outside of Damascus.  Another less well known fact is that almost all of the scholars known as Arabic to the posterity were actually Iranian or Iranianized Turks e.g. al-Khwarizmi, al-Biruni etc and some were Spanish but they wrote in Arabic, Arabic being the language of the Emperor. On the other hand not much intellectual activity was going on in Arabian Peninsula, which was still the centre of Islamic religious activities.     

The Indian ideas reaching Baghdad sparked off an intellectual revolution. When the Baghdadis came to know from the translations of the works of Aryabhata that the earth is a sphere of a diameter of 8316 miles, rotating on its axis, many of them believed it and wanted to measure it themselves too. Similar inspirations led to development of experimentation in the Abbasid people and observatories etc were constructed in the Abbasid world as well.                                                                    

The word for mathematics in Arabic is ‘Hindi sat’ meaning the ‘Indian Art’. One of the greatest mathematicians in the Arabic empire was al-Khwarizmi (full name, Abu Jafar Mohammed ibn Musa al-Khwarismi, 780-850) who was summoned to Baghdad in 820 by al-Mamun and appointed the ‘first astronomer’ and later the head of library. He led three scientific missions to India to meet scholars and collect manuscripts. Based on them, he wrote a book ‘Kitab al-jabr wa al-muqabalah’ (Calculation by addition and subtraction, ‘jabr’ here is an Arabi-ised form of Apabhramsha Indian language word ‘jor’ meaning addition, and not the Arabic word meaning ‘difficult’; algebra is a short Latinised form of the word). Later, its Latin translation became a standard textbook of mathematics in European universities. He wrote out the oldest surviving ziz--set of astronomical tables-- surviving from the Indian charts bro ught to Baghdad by Kanaka. This ziz later made the journey to Spanish Cordoba and onwards to the rest of Europe where a Latin translation made in 1126 became one of the most influential works on astronomy in medieval Europe. These are to count just a few of the books al-Khwarismi wrote on mathematics, the Indian art. In 825, al-Khwarizmi wrote on the concept of logarithm (this is a Latinised form of his name itself), zero and positional notation system after learning them from the Indian texts especially Brahmagupta, in his book ‘Algoritmi de numero Indorum’ (this is the title of the Latin translation).  This book (in its Arabic form, which unfortunately is not available any more) reached Spain (which was under Arab control at that time) where, in the 990’s, Gerbert of Aurillac taught the Hindu numbers to his students, but it could not be very popular in Europe. In c.1100, an Englishman Robert of Chester visited Spain and translated al-Khwarizmi’s little book into Latin in 1120. This and other translations of al-Khwarizmi, inspired writing of several Latin textbooks on the ‘new arithmetic’ including description of the decimal system and positional notation. Sti ll it took several more centuries before Europeans entirely abandoned Roman numerals despite their clumsiness and inferiority to Hindu numerals (Duncan, The Calendar).  

Another standout at Baghdad was al-Battani (c. 850-929), known in Europe as Albategneus who studied Indian astronomy and expounded Indian trigonometric methods to show that the distance from the earth to the sun varies during the year (Ibid.). Half a century later another Iranized Turk (but known as Arab) astronomer, Abu ar-Rayhan Mohammed ibn Ahmed al-Biruni (call him al-Biruni; 973-1048) was born in central Asia. He extensively studied the Arabic translation of the Indian mathematics and astronomy and by the age of thirty, had written at least eight works. Most important of them was one in which he discussed arguments for and against the earth’s rotating on its axis, taking up the debate of Aryabhata versus other Indian astronomers. He went to India with an invading Muslim army of Mehmood Ghaznawi. There he learned Sanskrit and studied  every ancient text he could find. He compiled his findings into a book called Kitab-ul-Hind (Kitab fi tahqiq ma li ‘l-Hind). This offers a remarkably candid and critical analysis of Hindu mathematics and siddhantas as well as philosophy and religion (Ibid.). 

Al-Biruni wrote a note on Patanjali’s Yoga sutra, Bhagavad-Gita and Sankhyakarika. But he also seems to be under fear of fanatics and always writes in reference to what Indians believed. Like, the Indians believe that the earth is five billion years old, which is wrong because the Islam says it was created only four thousand and five hundred years back. But overall, he greatly admires Hindu genius and metempsychosis.   He discusses in detail the Hindu concept of cycle of evolution and dissolution and re-evolution of universe. He also describes the Hindu concept of geography. He mentions, the Hindus describe an island, which is diametrically opposite Rome on the globe. These ideas would be later translated into Latin from which people like Columbus would gain inspiration to try reach India by going westward and that would lead to the discovery of Americas.

8. Translation of Hindu literature in India - Before Taxila, Nalanda, Odantpuri, Vikramshila and other Indian universities were burned down and their inmates killed by the Muslim invaders, much of Indian science (especially mathematics, astrology, medicine and philosophy) had already reached Baghdad and been translated into Arabic.


The destruction of Indian literature was so extensive that no record of pre-Islamic history remained in India. In fact whatever systemic history of ancient India we know now was reconstructed by the Europeans with the help of the Indian historical books which survived mainly in Sri Lanka and to a lesser extent in China, Myanmar, Tibet etc. plus non-historical religious oriented Puranas, then archaeological remains and the Vedas; and most extensively by   imagination.  But still there were too many manuscripts scattered over the vast country, which escaped destruction. These related mainly to philosophy and religion. Amir Khusraw was impressed by the depth of learning among Indians and their ability to speak any language. He greatly admired the Brahmanas for their ability to teach all subjects, who had devised the numerical system, written Kalila wa Dimma on the art of government and invented chess. Although a Muslim chauvinist, he admitted that the Hindus believe in the unity and eternity of God. Nakhshabi translated two Sanskrit texts. Following his conquest of Nogarkot in 1362 Firuz Shah Tughlaq acquired 1300 books from Jwalamukhi temple. He commissioned Sanskrit scholars to translate some of them into Persian. On the basis of the translation of works on physics and astronomy, ’Izzu ‘d-Din Khalid Khani compiled the Dala ‘il-Firuz Shahi. ’Abdu‘l  ’Aziz Shams Baha-i Nuri translated Brihatsamhita into Persian (it was earlier translated by al-Biruni into Arabic). Sultan Zaynu’l-’Abidin of Kashmir, Sultan Sikandar Lodi and several other Muslim rulers ordered the translation of various Sanskrit works into Persian with a view to enriching their language. Akbar established a translation bureau (the Maktab Khana) for translation of Sanskrit texts into Persian and Arabic. Yet more Sanskrit books were translated during Jehangir’s period. Dara Shukoh translated Upanishads into Persian. Later Anquetil Duperron translated the Persian version into French and Latin. This Latin version influenced many intellectuals in Europe including German scholar Schopenhauer who found its study ‘the solace to my life’ and ‘the solace to my death’ (Rizwi, The Wonder that was India, vol 2; Basham, The Wonder that was India, vol 1)           

 Knowledge moves west  

The Arabs ruled over a vast area from Indus to Spain in the eighth century when they started getting knowledge from India. As the Arabic schools were established all over the Abbasid empire to produce a regular supply of clergy and teachers, the Arabic version of Indian knowledge spread all over the empire. Caliph Abd ar-Rahman III (891--961), a patron of art and learning built a massive new library at Cordoba in Spain and filled it with a vast treasure trove of manuscripts brought from Baghdad. The library contained 400,000 volumes. By 976, Hindu numbers started appearing in modified form, which were going to be the forerunners of modern International form of Indian numerals (Duncan, The Calendar).     &nbs p;           

Some of the earliest translations of Arabic manuscripts into Latin were penned in northern Spain beginning in the mid-tenth century at the monastery of Santa Maria de Ripoll. In the tenth century, Gerbert of Aurillac (c. 946--1003) learned the Indian counting system from the Moors of Spain who in 999 became the Pope Sylvester II. In 990s he taught the Hindu numerals to his students and monks. H e trekked to northern Spain to carry home Latin translations of Arab treatise on abacus and astrolabe. He encouraged adoption of these systems especially by merchants. Needless to say that the new numbers were going to revolutionize accounting which was essential for leading Europe into a successful mercantile community (Ibid.)

 Another was Adelard of Bath(c. 1075--1160). He journeyed by ship along the new eastern trade routes to the Crusader held coast of Syria, where he translated Euclid into Latin using Arabic translation of the original. Most prolific of all these early translators was the Italian Gerard of Cremona ( c. 1114--1187). Fluent in Greek and Arabic, he was leading figure in the new ‘College of Translators’ set up by Spanish archbishop Raymond after the capture of Toledo (and its library). He rendered into Latin the Arabic texts by Galen, Aristotle, Euclid, al-Khwarismi and Ptolemy, among many others. Some of the works of the ancient Greeks were translated back to Greek from Arabic at this time (Ibid.).    

.  We have already seen how al-Khwarismi’s Algoritmi de numero Indorum was translated into Latin by an Englishman Robert of Chester living in Spain in 1120. The Indian astronomical works as translated by al-Khwarismi was translated into Latin in Cordoba in1126. This brought Indian numbers, arithmetic, algebra and Astronomy to the Latin world. This contained the works of Aryabhata. Aryabhata’s work contained enough mathematical knowledge that was needed for further work in physics. The work on astrology was the stuff which was needed for creating a base for more advanced calculations. This knowledge was now in the hands of Europeans who had been counting with their fingers till that time. This was going to provide the knowledge base required for further scientific discoveries to Kepler, Copernicus and Newton.

The translation of Hindu-Arabic literature continued till the end of sixteenth century. Apart from Spain, and Italy, other centres of translation were Syria, Damascus, Palermo and Sicily. The Arab emirs governing Sicily imported texts from Baghdad and had a rich library there. A Christian, Roger Guiscard (1031--1101), son of a baron of Normandy, conquered Sicily in 1072 when he renamed himself Roger I, Count of Sicily. His son Roger II ruled over Sicily and southern Italy. These two Rogers and their successor, Frederick II encouraged translation of Arabic texts. Frederick was elected the Holy Roman Emperor in 1220. He surrounded himself from philosophers and sages from Baghdad and Syria, dancing girls from India and Iran (Ibid.).

It may be added here that Hindu girls were forcefully taken away from their families by the Muslim rulers. They were trained into expert dancers for prostitution and luxury of the Muslim aristocracy in India and the surplus was sold to the sex-traders in the Middle East. These girls were again sold to the European customers. This brought to the Eastern Europe, Indian costumes and the classical dance dramas of Indian style. This in turn influenced the Western European dances. Such efforts introduced many Indian elements into the classical dances of the West.

Frederick founded the University of Naples in 1224 endowing it with a large collection of Arabic manuscripts. From Spain he brought a translator who created a Latin summary of Aristotle’s biological and zoological works. The library was endowed with a large collection of Arabic manuscripts of ancient Greek and Indian scholars as well as commentaries of the Arab scholars on them. Copies of Latin translation were sent to universities in Paris and         Bologna. . Frederick also led the Fifth Crusade to Palestine in 1228--1229, successfully and recaptured Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Nazareth. All these efforts brought to Europe the works of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and the Greek Medicine, which were earlier, destroyed from Europe by over zealous Christian zealots. It also brought to Europe the works of Indian genius in the fields of mathematics, astronomy, medicine, physics, chemistry, philosophy and music. Europeans learned the art of papermaking from the Arabs and printing press from the Chinese. In 1450s Gutenberg operated the first European printing press in Germany. 

The Europeans were very slow to absorb this much of knowledge and new type of numbers. Much of the work in universities and monasteries was limited to copying the manuscripts or to translating them. They were not able to use decimals until a Dutch mathematician Simon Stevin (1548--1620) explained the system in a book called La Thiende (The Tenth). After him, Magini and Christopher Clauvius used them in their works. It was Galileo in the late sixteenth century who for the first time tried to understand what was containd in the Latin translation of the Sindhind of Brahmagupta. Once he understood the theory of rotation of earth he had to suffer the persecution of the Church. In 1621, Bachet published the Latin version of Arithmetica from Arabic (Ibid.).  By this time, the era of Europe’s Dark Age was over. Understanding of science led to removal of Church’s domination in everyday life. People were now able to work further on the subjects of science beyond the works of the Hindus, which was presented, to them after being translated twice-- first in Arabic and then in Latin.  The decline of Christian faith coupled with rise of knowledge ushered Europe into all round development and they came in a position to dominate the world. The power associated with knowledge converted the Europeans into Economic and Military powers. Now supremacy of knowledge is quite established all over the world, except in a few pockets of fundamentalist ideologies. But the contributions that India made to the growth and dissemination of knowledge over several thousands of years will remain the everlasting success of India. 


1. Margaret Wertheim, Pythagoras’ Trousers, Fourth Estate Ltd, London, 1997, pp.17-24, 33-37.  2. David E. Duncan, The Calendar, Fourth Estate, London, 1999, pp.150-2103. S.A.A. Rizvi, The Wonder That Was India, Part II, Rupa & Co, Bombay, 1999, pp.251-257.4. A L. Basham, The Wonder That Was India, Part I, Rupa & Co, Bombay, 1999, pp.486-487.5. Simon Singh, The Fermat’s Last Theorem, Fourth Estate, London,  (destruction of Alexandria, and Arithmetica) 6. Encyclopedia Britannica on website www.britannica.com; Majority of the topics and names discussed in this article occur in it. 7.Mary Macgregor, The Story of Greece, Thomas Nelson and sons, Edinburgh. 1960 pp.3-4.8. G. L. Dickinson, The Greek View of Life, Methuen & Co. LTD, London. 1938 pp.1-25.


It was the story of knowledge. Now are the few appendices discussing isolated topics.

Appendix I - Influence on Western philosophy: The knowledge has survived in spite of all odds against it. Not only in Science, but also in the field of Modern philosophy, West has borrowed heavily from India. Europe got all of Indian logic and philosophy through the channel of the Arabs, and earlier through the Neo-Plutonian channel. Later when the British came to India they had first hand knowledge of Indian philosophy. Goethe, Schopenhauer and most of the German philosophers had studied Indian philosophy and most of them got influenced by it. They in turn influenced the other students of philosophy by their writings. ”The monism of Fichte and Hegel might never have taken forms they did if it had not been for Anquetil-Duperron’s translation of the Upanishads and the works of pioneer Indologists. In English-sp eaking world the strongest Indian influence was felt in America where Emerson, Thoreau and other New England writers avidly studied much Indian religious literature in translation, and exerted immense influence on their contemporaries and successors, notably Walt Whitman” writes A. L. Basham. The list of authors who admitted Indian influence on them is very big and includes such authors as Carlyle, Richard Jeffries, Edward Carpenter, Stephen Zwig, Romya Rolland, Jung, etc. Indian influence is visible on all the major authors of Existential school as well as the Humanistic school of philosophers. The New Age Dharma is a new surge of Western interest in Indian way of life and thinking.  At the moment the West is trying to understand the yoga, meditation and transcendental states. The concepts of kindness to the animals, animal rights, vegetarianism, universal brotherhood, tolerance for differing faiths, etc. are gradually becoming more and more popular. Paganism is another movement to understand reality in a post-modern context. The birth and death of star, the concept of life as a unity etc are recognized more and more by Western people. Indeed, Ancient Indian thoughts preserve enormous potentialities for the future of humanity.  

Appendix II Decline of Knowledge in the Arab World  

Baghdad was destroyed first by a civil war among the later Abbasids. Then in 1258 the invading Mongol army of Changhiz Khan destroyed it to the last brick. Although the Islamic Empire was reconstructed, the scientific temper of the Abbasids could never be restored to the Arabs. Later when Abdul Wahab started his movement, Muslims would look more and more into religious books rather than investigate the material world.  

Appendix III

Why Indians did not pursue their quest of knowledge after 12th century?                                                         

India had a several thousand years old tradition of education, research and training. After Delhi fell to the Turko-Afghan rulers, the great Indian universities were demolished. Libraries were burnt down. The village schools spread all over the country got starved of funds. The Govt funds would now go to muderssas, which would teach Koran and Arabic and Persian languages. Even the Indian texts on science and philosophy were translated into Arabic and Persian and were made available to only the Arabic and Persian knowing people, the Muslims who attended the mudrssas. Persian was maintained as the medium of instruction till the British took over the governance of India, so that Hindus could not take benefit of education. A false allegation has been leveled against the Brahmanas that they were not imparting education to the masses. But the fact is that the Brahmanas themselves quickly got deprived of education and became ignorant within a few generation time after establishment of Turkish rule and muderssa system of education. Now Brahmana became a caste and lost the Varna character. Unless they were employed in any educational institution (i.e. muderssas in that period), how can we expect them to teach the public? People were not ready to pay privately for learning Sanskrit, which would not get them any jobs in a Muslim establishment.  As it became a non-sustainable vocation, teaching disappeared from the Hindu people. The few Brahmanas, who had knowledge, freely imparted it to whoever came, even to the Muslims. Al-Biruni and Amir Khusaraw etc were taught Sanskrit language and literature without any consideration of caste or religion by Brahmin scholars.

The Muslim rule converted Brahmanas into priest. This fact can be verified by carefully reading history. In pre-Muslim period we never find mention of a Brahmana who lived in a village doing puja-work (priest craft). They lived as scholars or teachers. They could attend a yajna done by a king as a respected guest. But such occasions were very infrequent. Abolition of education profession compelled the Brahmanas to adopt new professions. Some become village priests. Others became doctors (vaidya), astrologer, farmer or even cooks. But the majority of Brahmanas never adopted the degrading job of priests. Many Brahmanas who hated priest-craft became farmers like the Chitpawan, Anavil, Mohiyal, Nagar and Tyagi Brahmanas etc and survived on agriculture.  

Appendix IV      A note on Arithmetica:                                                           

Six volumes of Arithmetica that could survive were translated into Arabic. Many centuries later this Arabic text was translated into Latin. Nothing is known about its author except that he worked at Alexandria University and that the Latin version of his name is Diophantus. In Arabic it was something like Dwbnt. What was the actual name or country of birth of the author of Arithmetica, nobody knows. Arithmetica itself is a meaningless word in Latin or Greek languages. But in Sanskrit, Arthamitica is a meaningful word meaning calculation (miti) of money matters (artha). It can be inferred that the author of the Arithmetica was an Indian mathematician teaching at Alexandria and this book was a Greek version of a compilation of Indian mathematics .His name was probably something like Devabhuti. This raises a grave question. Almost all of Greek literature was lost. The overwhelming majority of the literature known today to be of Ancient Greece is actually translation from Arabic. In a large number of them, only information available about the author is his name. And these books describe the Indian philosophy in entirely unmodified form. Is it not possible that the Europeans who translated these Arabic texts did not discriminate between what had come into Arabic from India and what had come from Alexandria. Their motive was definitely mala fide is clear from many other facts. They very well knew by very name of the text itself (Algoritmi de numero Indorum) that the decimal system and the new numbers were Indian. But they kept it secret from the masses that started calling them Arabic numbers. It was only after ancient Indian stone inscriptions containing those numerals predating Islam were found, that the Europeans openly accepted the reality. Similarly, the Europeans including the Greek themselves are kept into darkness about the fact the Greek philosophy they are reading was actually translated from Arabic, the original having been lost centuries before. These attempts are done in a very organized way to keep up the morale of their masses but not to let the morale of anyone else go up. Duncan sites one example of mischief by the Euro-centric historians (The Calendar, pp166): “The Greeks of the classic age had no symbol for zero, because their numeral system did not require a zero place…Nevertheless, Euro-centric scholars long assumed that the symbol for zero was invented by the Greeks, with no proof at all, speculating that it came from the Greek letter omicron-O-the first letter in the word ouden, meaning ‘empty’. But this unwarranted belief that Indians could not have come up with such a basic concept has given way to recognition that ancient Greeks did not really use such a symbols for zero, and that Indian mathematicians seem independently to have invented the dot and then the round goose-egg symbol.”  

 Appendix V Plotinus: A Greek Vedantin Plotinus (born at Lycopolis, in Upper Egypt in 204 BC).

Plotinus studied the very best of philosophy available at the Alexandria University. He was not satisfied with that and even went to Iran with an Invading Army of the Roman Emperor Gordian. Finally he wrote his books on the subject of Atman and Brahman. His pupil Porphyry edited them in fifty-four treatises. After the destruction of Alexandria University, the books survived as Arabic translation and later translated into Latin by Marsilio Ficino in 1492. It was later translated into Greek by Basel in 1580.  

Plotinus writes “Many are the ways by which to reach the goal of spiritual attainment: that love of Beauty which inebriates the poet; that devotion to the one and that cognitive ascent which represent the aspiration of the philosopher; that love and those prayers by means of which spirits full of devotion and ardour, in all their moral purity, aspire to perfection. There are the Great main ways which lead to the peak, beyond the earthly, the actual and the particular, where we can raise ourselves up into the immediate presence of the infinite which bursts forth in all its radiance from the depths of the soul.” (Quoted as the opening page in, Essence & Purpose of Yoga, by Raphael, Element Books Ltd, Dorset, UK, 1996)  

This paragraph summarizes what we understand today by Advaita Vedanta. It is clear that Plotinus’s understanding of Advaitic philosophy was more profound than that of Plato. He admits the insolubility of human reason of the basic metaphysical problem i.e. how becoming arose out of immutable being (Brahman) and plurality out of Unity. He also asserts that ‘the highest principle has neither thought nor consciousness, so the nous, which is purely contemplative, has no reflective logical thought. This is the work of the world soul (Paramatma), which is the link between the intelligible and the phenomenal world. Matter is conceived by Plotinus not exactly as an emanation from the world-soul, but rather in the guise of a receptive or passive principle (Prakriti) in contrast to the formative or active (Prusha).”     

Plotinus is considered founder of what is called Neo-Platonism. He even conceived of founding an ideal city to be named Plutonia, but it could not materialize. Later his work would be translated into Arabic after the fall of Alexandria. His works along with similar other philosophical works, after translation into Arabic, helped in the growth of Sufi mysticism, which was also inspired directly by Sanskrit texts from India. (www.britannica.com).

Appendix VI Plutarch on re-birth  

In the Moralia, Plutarch, the famous Alexandrian scholar, expresses a belief in reincarnation. This indicates the influence of prevailing Hindu ideas on him. His letter of consolation to his wife, after the death of their two-year-old daughter, gives us a glimpse of his philosophy:


          "The soul, being eternal, after death is like a caged bird that has been released.  If it has been a long time in the body, and has become tame by many affairs and long habit, the soul will immediately take another body and once again become involved in the troubles of the world. The worst thing about old age is that the soul's memory of the other world grows dim, while at the same time its attachment to things of this world becomes so strong that the soul tends to retain the form that it had in the body.  But that soul which remains only a short time within a body, until liberated by the higher powers, quickly recovers its fire and goes on to higher things." (www.britannica.com)  

Appendix VII  Indian Influences on Greece before Pythagoras 

Cremation of the dead is one of the most characteristic features of Indian or Hindu civilization. Hindu (Sanatana), Buddhist, Jain and Sikhs cremate their dead. Passages from Homer indicate that Greeks also cremated their dead for some period before 6th century BC. Cremation is more advanced form of disposal of the dead; as the West is advancing, more and more people are now cremating their dead in the West. Therefore it is interesting to note that Greeks did adopt cremation even if for a short period. The following passage has been quoted from ‘The Greek View of Life’ by G. L. Dickinson; Methuen & Co., London, 18th Ed, 1938.  

“Let us take another passage from Homer to illustrate the same point. It is a place where Achilles is endeavouring to light the funeral pyre of Patroclus, but because there is no wind the fire will not catch….’standing aside from the pyre he prayed to the two winds of North and West, and promised them fair offerings, and pouring large libations from a golden cup besought them to come, that the corpse might blaze up speedily in the fire, and the wood make haste to be enkindled.’ …’So all night drave they the flame of the pyre together blowing shrill; and all night fleet Achilles, holding a two handled cup, drew wine (madhu) from a golden bowl, and poured it forth and drenched the earth, calling upon the spirit of hapless Patroclus.’ …’But at the hour when the morning star goeth forth to herald light upon the earth, the star that saffron-mantled Dawn cometh after, and spreadeth over the sea salt, then grew the burning faint and the flame died down.’  (Iliad, xxiii, 193. Translated by Lang, Leaf and Myers.)”   

Also interesting to note here is the mention of ‘saffron’ colour, which has a special importance in Indian culture and is symbolic of Indian culture whether (Hinduism, Buddhism or Sikhism). In fact saffron and red were considered the colour of spirituality in ancient Greek civilization as well (pp. 12, Dickinson, ibid.)  The ritual of pitri-tarpan was prevalent in the Homeric Greece as well. “ The family centered in the hearth, where the father, in his capacity of priest, offered sacrifice and prayer to the ancestors of the house,” (p.11, Ibid.). It is a common practice that the head of the family is the karta (priest) of major yajnas and rituals along with his wife. The Brahmin who comes to help is actually not the real priest but he comes to help the house-holder in performance of the rites by narrating the steps, e.g. now do this, now do that etc. It is more than likely that the Christian tradition of calling the priest as father came from the Hindu tradition of the father of the family presiding at the religious rites. Hinduism was definitely the principal religion in Europe at the time when Christianity was absorbing the masses. Christian theology strongly asserts that the word father always means biological father and not the spi ritual guide. It is because of this reason that Jesus is considered the biological Son of God, as Jesus calls God his father. But in the case of priests this question of biological father-hood is not raised, and it is a contradiction in Christianity. In fact, Pope also literally means father (papa). 

Hindu influences on Greek Gods  - Greeks held the same view of nature as the earliest Vedic hymns do. “Every power of nature he presumes to be a spiritual being, impersonating the sky as Zeus, the earth as Demeter, the sea as Poseidon.” See this description of Vedic Rudra in Odyssey (v, 282), “ With that he gathered the clouds and troubled the waters of the deep, grasping his trident in his hands; and he roused all storms of all manners of winds.” (Ibid, p.5).


The ancient Greeks called themselves the Hellenes. This could have been a modification of Sanskrit word ‘hiranya’ as we see that the Vedic people were highly influenced by the concept of Hiranya-garbha. Zeus was the sky-god (dyuh in Sanskrit). Athene was the goddess of war and wisdom, while by her table sat her favourite bird, an owl (The Story of Greece, by Mary Macgregor; Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd, Edinburgh, 1960). It seems that the Greeks fused the Durga, Sarasvati and Lakshmi into one as Athena. Poseidon was the sea-god (Varuna in Vedic literature) who lived in a palace beneath the waves of the ocean. Pluto (? Sanskrit preta) was the guardian of Hades, the dark and gloomy kingdom of the dead, beneath the earth (Ibid. p.3). This Pluto could have been none other than the Yama of Vedic literature. Another Greek god Pan was a protector of animals and shepherds and was half man, half goat. Protector of folks means Prajapati, and we know from Indian mythology that Daksha was a Prajapati with half man, half goat features after he was punished by Shiva. The god Helios was Vedic Hari. And in the same way we find lots of similarities between Vedic religion and the religion of the Homeric Greeks.  

Appendix VIII Status of Sufism in contemporary Islam    

Sufism contains a lot of spiritual, occultist and cosmological beliefs and practices, which had over flown from India and survived in Egyptian (Alexandrian as well as others), Greek, Persian, Buddhist and Sanskrit (Indian) texts. Orthodox Muslims did not accept these ideas initially and in fact a large number of Sufis were killed for their faith. Most famous of all is Mansur bin Hallaz. He claimed ‘an al Haq’ (I am the Reality/God), and his claim cost his life. Mainstream contemporary Muslims do not accept Sufism as an Islamic thought and its interpretation of Koran is not considered acceptable by the orthodox Muslims.    

 Appendix IX  A Note on Calendar:  

Western scholars have a tendency to ascribe any discovery by the ancients to Greece, and if that is not possible then to ascribe it to Mesopotamia. In that attempt, Western historians have always said that Indians got their calendar from the Babylonians. Important to consider here is that ‘A’ can borrow something from ‘B’ only if ‘B’ had it. We will briefly review the calendars of various civilizations to refute this false claim of the Western historians.

Points to note regarding Indian calendar: 1) Hindus runs two types of calendars simultaneously. The solar calendar is exactly of the same length as the modern International Calendar and the New Years day falls exactly on the 13th or 14th of April (Vaishakhi) depending on the leap year of the International era. Lunar calendar follows the lunar months, but after about two and a half years an extra month is inserted to restore the synchronicity of the lunar and solar calendars.  

There is no drift of solar Vaishakha and lunar vaishakh, and vishakha nakshatra over a long period.  2)     One can easily convert any Indian year into Georgian year, i.e. no drift between Georgian and Indian calendars occur over years, going back up to the 6th century BC. Hence the length of year is quite equal to the International year. It also proves that the same length of year was used even in the 6th century BC. Hence any Babylonian influence has got to have come before that. But before that period the Babylonians had a very primitive calendar, which was not accurate in length. We have accurate Indian chronologies only through the Sri Lankan sources, which have preserved Indian history only in reference to Buddha. Indian history in India was thoroughly destroyed by Turko-Afghan invaders. Hence we cannot know any accurate Indian chronology before the time of Buddha. 3)     The Indian calendars are widely followed in the South-East Asia and must be quite old. One cannot claim that the SE Asia also had links with Greeks or Babylonians. 4)     The claims that the Babylonians invented the modern calendar is false because the Babylonians could not have calculated the exact lengths of time in the absence of any efficient mathematics and number system. India had both and therefore, she is the most likely candidate to have accurately calculated the length of year. 5)     We know from the inscriptions that the Pre-Iranian (pre-Medes) Babylonia, i.e. in the 7th century BC, had a very primitive calendar. Hence question of them having invented the modern calendar is imaginary and biased. Therefore, India could not have got it from them. 6)     Mesha, vrisha, crocodile, scorpion etc fit well into Indian fauna and naming of zodiacal signs after them is more probably Indian than European. Indian solar calendar is based on the signs of zodiac. When sun enters any new sign of zodiac a new month starts. 7)     The word Kalend or calendar itself is of Indian origin. Kala means time in Sanskrit and Tamil. Otherwise, calendar is meaningless etymologically in any European language. (Kala has no cognate word in any of the European languages and Western linguists consider it a Dravidian word.)  

Babylonian Calendar Ancient Babylonians followed a lunar calendar of 354 days. Around 432 BC, after they were made a part of the Persian Empire, they developed a calendar, which involved 19 yearly cycles. First 7 years of 13 lunar months was followed by 12 years comprising 12 lunar months. This later became known as Metonic cycle after the Greek astronomer Meton (5th century BC), but had originated in China.  

Sumerian Calendar In 21st century BC, Sumerians developed a calendar consisting of a year of 360 days, with 12 months of 30 days each. It drifted against solar cycle by more than 5 days every year.  

Jewish Calendar The Jewish year is a lunar year of 354 days. An extra month is intercalated every three years, just before the month of Nisan. But the year still drifts and needs addition of an extra month every now and then by the Jewish elders. (Although this is what Duncan says about the Jewish calendar, I had a word about the Jewish calendar with a Rabbi at Luton, who informed me that the Jewish calendar follows a cycle of twelve years with 12 lunar months followed by seven years with 13 lunar months. It is possible that different Jewish communities may be following different systems.)  

Chinese Calendar   In c. 2357 BC Emperor Yao began a calendar which was essentially lunar but Seven months were added to the year every 19 years. With further experiments, it eventually became Metonic (vide supra).  

Greek Calendar Greeks had a standard lunar calendar of 354 days. To it they added 90 days every eight years as haphazardly inserted months.  

Roman Calendar The mythic Roman king Romulus founded the city of Rome and also began the Roman calendar in 753 BC—the first year of Roman calendar, called ab urbe condita (AUC). This year of 10 months totalled 304 days in a year. The names of the months were Martis, Aprilis, Maius, Junius (these four months were after the names of gods), Quintilis (fifth), Sextilis (sixth), September (seventh), October (eighth), November (ninth), December (tenth). The days of the month were all named and not numbered. This cumbersome Roman system of naming the dates (e.g. 11 March as Five Ides) lasted in Europe till as late as seventeenth century.  

King Numa in c. 700 BC added two more months, January and February (the eleventh and twelfth months), to this calendar making it a standard lunar year of 354 days. Then he added one more day to the last month to make the year of 355 days (as even numbers were considered ominous in Rome).  But this year was running too fast against the solar cycle. Later they started adding one extra month every two years. This made the calendar too slow. Then the Romans adapted the Greek calendar, adding three extra months every eight years, which gave an average of 365-day year.    When Julius Caesar concurred Egypt, he came to know the Egyptian calendar. He introduced this calendar of 365 days and six hours in his empire in 46 BC, although the names of the Roman months were kept intact.  

The Ancient Egypt and development of Modern Calendar  

In about 4000 BC Egyptians developed a calendar of 365 days. It was a calendar of 12 months of 30 days each and an additional 5 days at the end to commemorate the gods. (Maya of America also had a calendar of 18 months of 20 days, to which they added five days at the end). This year slowly drifted to complete a cycle over 1,460 years. The Egyptians knew that this year of 365 days was short by about one fourth of a day. But because of the resistance by the priests, no change was made. When Alexander concurred Egypt, the new rulers, the Ptolemies adopted the old Egyptian calendar, and did not impose the Greek calendar. In 238 BC, Ptolemy III, the king of Egypt, ordered for introduction of an extra day to be inserted every fourth year—the leap year.   

When the Roman emperor returned to Rome after concurring Egypt, he decided to introduce the Egyptian calendar to Rome. Caesar called the best of mathematicians and philosophers, including the Alexandrian astronomer Sosigenes to discuss the calendric reforms. The vernal equinox and the winter solstice, the two most important pagan-Mithraic festivals should fall on the 25th March and 25th December respectively, as per tradition of that time. But they had drifted far away. (Probably these festivals were imported from Indo-Iran, where solstices and equinoxes had fixed dates in the year; and when these festivals came to Rome, in the absence of an accurate calendar, they drifted in the year. By the time of Julius Caesar, they had drifted by about 80 days, indicating that more than 320 years had passed since the festivals were borrowed into Europe.)  

Julius Caesar decided to end the confusion. He added two extra intercalary months apart from the one regular intercalary month to the year 46 BC. That year ended up having 446 days and 15 months. This was officially called ‘the last year of confusion’, but public simply called it ’the year of confusion’. When he added two extra months to year 46 BC, Julius Caesar had to bring the beginning of year from March to January for 45 BC in order not to create havoc in the mercantile world and taxations. Thence, December became the twelfth month of the year instead of being the tenth month. Julius Caesar to make changes in the number of days. He organised the 12 months as alternating 31 and 30 days, with the exception of February, which had 29 days in a normal year and 30 days in a leap year. The senate changed the name of the month Quintalis to July in respect of Julius Caesar. After the death of Julius Caesar in 44 BC, people started making leap years in three years instead of four until 8 BC. It was the reign of Emperor Augustus that this fault was detected. He ordered for its correction. The senate changed the name the month Sextilis to August, to honour the emperor. But this month had only 30 days. It was considered disrespectful for the Emperor Augustus to have a month in his name with only 30 days. Therefore one day was snatched from February and added to the month of August. Now it resulted in July, August and September, three in a row having 31 days. Making September and November of 30 days and October and December of 31 days solved this problem.  

When the Roman Emperor Constantine accepted Christianity, this pagan Julian calendar was imposed to Christianity. Earlier Christians followed various types of calendars, all lunar. When this Julian calendar was imposed on to them, they did not know the date of birth of Christ in this system. And the Christian mathematics was not developed enough to back calculate the corresponding date from the Jewish calendar. The most popular festival of the pagan Romans, the birthday of sun god, the 25th December was accepted as the birthday of Christ by the Roman Emperor. Similarly Easter, the day of death of Jesus was decided to be celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox, completely ignoring the existing Judo-Christian tradition’s dates of their lunar calendar. This calendar was still wrong by a few minutes every year. It was in the thirteenth century that Indian number system and mathematics reached Europe. Only then it was appreciated that the calendar had drifted by many days over a thousand years. Then the mathematicians and astronomers had to struggle to have calendar reformed. But the Christian orthodoxy considered all such attempts blasphemous. It was as late as 16th century that the Pope Gregory VIII became convinced about the flaws of the calendar and appointed calendar commission in 1581. On the basis of the recommendations, 10 days were lost forever. After the night of 4th October 1582 came the morning of15th October 1582. The February month of the century years e.g. 1700, 1800, etc were to have only 28 days and not 29 days. But years 1600, 2000, e tc, multiple of 400 will be leap years having a February of 29 days. Not every body accepted it immediately. Last to accept the loss of 10 days were Russians, who accepted it after communist revolution and the Chinese Christians, who accepted it in 1949.  It is the biggest joke to say that the Indian luni-solar calendar is borrowed from the Babylonians who never had any scientific calendar. Equally laughable is the claim of the Western historians (including AL Basham) that the Indian solar calendar was imported into India during Gupta period from Western contact!! Which West? Which was in its darkest age and still confused about calendar and calculation of time? On the other hand the Indian festivals and months have not drifted against seasons at all over several millennia.    

Appendix X Other Indian Contributions to the World We have discussed about mathematics including algebra, trigonometry, geometry, numerals etc. We have also discussed astronomy and cosmology. Linguistics and phonetics is another scientific Indian contribution to the West (The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Language, David Crystal, Cambridge University Press, 1992, p 405) The studies in Samaveda prove that the seven notes of music is an Indian invention, which was not known to the West before Pythagoras.

We have also noted that trade in Hindu slave dancer girls contributed to development of western dances. A L Basham lists India’s contribution to World: rice, cotton, sugar cane, many spices, domestic fowl (chicken), game of chess etc. “The heterodox Jewish sect of the Essence, which influenced early Christianity followed monastic practices similar to Buddhism. Parallels may be traced between passages in New Testament and the Pali (and Upanishad) literature. Similarities between the teachings of western philosophers and mystics from Pythagoras to Plotinus and those of Upanishad have been noticed…We can say that there was always some contact between the Hellenistic world and India, mediated first by the Achaemenid empire, then by the Seleucids and finally under the Romans, by the traders of the Indian Ocean. Christianity began to spread when this contact was the closest. We know that the Indian ascetics occasionally visited the West, and that there was a colony of Indian merchants at Alexandria.” (The Wonder That was India, A L Basham, p 485-6)

It has been shown that much of Arabic and Persian fiction literature (like, Arabian Nights, Kissa Chahar Dervish, etc) are translations of Sanskrit and Pali story literature, e.g. Kathasaritsagar, Panchatantra and Hitopadesha etc. This literature was again translated from Arabic to Latin giving rise to Esop’s fables etc. In this way Indian literature contributed to the growth of world’s fiction literature.

Appendix XI A note on Theocracy (Theocracy has been the most successful enemy of freethinking. Freethinking is essential for exploring reality and thereby growth of knowledge. Hence theocracy usually is inimical to knowledge. It is therefore, appropriate to discuss a few words about theocracy here.) Theocratic state is a state, which is controlled by the priests and theologians.   The Egyptian pharaohs were considered the ‘god on earth’. The king was helped by a host of priests. Egyptian state was therefore theocratic theoretically, but still the king was more powerful than the priests and could take independent decisions and it was not a total theocracy. Pre-Christian Roman emperors held the title of head-priest (pontifex maximus) and performed religious functions as well. Priests had a good say in administrative matters. But the emperor could do many things independently and introduce new things, as Julius Caesar did. On analysis, this was also not a hundred percent theocracy. The Jewish holy-book Torah is translated into English as ‘the Laws’. A priest, Rabbi, is an expert on the ‘laws’ and only he can decide the legal matters. The training in theology or priest-hood involves training in the holy law and even when the Jews were not formed into a state, the verdict of Rabbi would be a binding to a Jew in most of the matters. This is an example of theocracy where priests administer Judiciary and law. When the Roman emperor adopted Christianity, a mixture of Jewish and earlier Roman system was introduced. The Pope was the emperor as well as the head-priest. But now, the Pope had to be trained in the theology and pass all the theological examination and cross the ladders of hierarchy of the Church before becoming the Pope. Law, justice, administration, taxation and education were all within absolute control of the Church. This system was a complete theocracy. It still exists in the Vatican.

Koran is the word of God and it deals with a lot of matters related to succession, law and criminal justice. The words of God cannot be changed. Therefore the Koranic laws are unchangeable. Hence an Islamic state requires scholars of Islam to administer justice. Wherever a confusion or controversy arises, a decree (fatwa) may be issued by the committee of the Ulema (scholars of Islam). In Islam, state and religion are inseparable. The state has got to be controlled by religion. Hinduism and Buddhism as religions do not control the state. Religion does not prescribe the punishments etc for crime. State and the religion are actually entirely independent. In fact, an organised Church with a hierarchical structure never existed among the Hindus. Priests are more like private practitioners who may be invited for performance of certain rituals by the client. The basic relation between a priest and a householder is that of a specialist or professional and a client. Hence the priest is not entitled to do anything more than what he has been asked to do. He will advise only on those matters for which an advice has been sought and he receives his fee. If the householder does not like his advice, he may consult another practitioner. In other instances, priests are employed in the temples to keep the deity clean and looked after. There is no way a priest can control the state. In this system th ere is no scope for growth of theocracy. This is one of the reasons for development of sciences in ancient India.  



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