Engineering students of Atal Bihari Vajpayee Hindi University in Bhopal will soon trace the roots of modern science in Indian ancient texts — the Vedas, and writings of bygone-era mathematician Bhaskaracharya and sagescientist Acharya Kanad.
The university, in a first, is preparing a curriculum in Hindi, which will allow students to gain knowledge of engineering that prevailed in the sub-continent in ancient times, and chronicled by seers and sages who doubled up as men of science.
“Whenever we talk about our rich legacy of Hindu rishis and munis, people oppose it. But it is a fact that Indian seers came out with many inventions in engineering, medical science and astronomy thousands of years ago,” vice-chancellor Mohan Lal Chhipa said.
“We will teach about Indian scientists before any western scientist.”
University sources said the sole purpose of the programme is to promote Indian science and culture, which has been overshadowed by western science.
Students will be taught how Indian sage-scientists were in no way inferior to, if not greater than, western greats such as JJ Thomson, John Dalton, Gerhard Bernsee, George Stibiz, and Lord Kelvin.
The neo-nationalistic approach stems from the lack of knowledge of modern students about the scientific shlokas or couplets in Sanskrit mentioned in the Vedas.
Hence, the Hindi curriculum. “In India, students are aware of John Dalton, but not Acharya Kanad (considered the father of atomic theory in Sanskrit),” a university official said.
The programme will be an additional subject, titled Bharatiya Gyan aur Parampara (Indian knowledge and tradition), to be introduced this academic session. But the students will not have to take any examination on the new subject.
Besides the Vedas, the earliest scriptures of Hinduism, works of sage Bhrigu’s Shilp Samhita on engineering science and metallurgy, the Narad Shilp Shastra on arts and crafts, and Charaka Samhita that deals with Ayurvedic healing, will be part of the reading material.
Experts called the programme an attempt to promote Hinduism, not engineering.
“This additional subject will create confusion among students and is also going to distort their view on the subject,” a professor with a national institute said. This could trigger debates because international-level examinations demand a student to write what has been scientifically proven and established, not untested theories that spring from mythology, he added.