Myths made reality, bizarre claims made for ancient India's achievements
India conducted a nuclear test centuries ago; cow urine can cure diabetes and ancient India was adept at genetics and plastic surgery. These and more such incredible achievements datelined ancient India have come from votaries of Hindu culture.
If people with scientific temper are reaching boiling point, in the absence of technology to go back in time to ancient India for verification trips, little noise is being heard from their quarters.
Here is a sample of what is being claimed as 'Indian science'.
File photo of Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank. (AFP Photo)
The world acknowledges India has conducted two sets nuclear tests: in 1974 and 1998. Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, BJP MP from Haridwar and former Uttarakhand chief minister, disagrees. "Today we are talking about nuclear tests. Lakhs of years ago, Sage Kanad had conducted a nuclear test. Our knowledge and science do not lack anything," Nishank told Parliament. Nishank also batted for astrology, saying it is the topmost science in the world. He said our ancient astrologers dwarfed all other sciences.
Cow urine therapy
Promoting cow urine is a priority for the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), seen as the BJP's spiritual and ideological guide. It was reported in May that Madhya Pradesh-based promoters of medicines produced using cow urine or 'gau-mutra' hope that a BJP government at the Centre will help their business.
The RSS is keen on promoting a soft drink made from cow's urine, mixed with products such as aloe vera and gooseberry to fight diseases. "Cow urine offers a cure for around 70 to 80 incurable diseases like diabetes. All are curable by cow urine," said Om Prakash, head of the RSS's cow protection department, in 2009.
Faith in astrology
File photo of Smriti Irani. (Raj K Raj/HT Photo)
Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani will one day be the country's president: that prediction came from the BJP politician's astrologer in Bhilwara, Rajasthan. "She will become president... in five years," the astrologer told reporters last month after Irani's visit. Irani was asked about her faith in astrology when she is in charge of education. "What I am doing in my personal life is not the responsibility of media to report until and unless it affects my duties," she replied.
Karna a product of genetic engineering
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, speaking at the inauguration of a hospital in Mumbai in October, equated birth of Mahabharata's Karna to genetic engineering. He said, "We can feel proud of what our country achieved in medical science at one point of time. We all read about Karna in Mahabharata. If we think a little more, we realise that Mahabharata says Karna was not born from his mother's womb. This means that genetic science was present at that time. That is why Karna could be born outside his mother's womb."
Ganesha plastic surgery
At the same event, Modi also said, "We worship Lord Ganesha. There must have been some plastic surgeon at that time who got an elephant's head on the body of a human being and began the practice of plastic surgery."
Dinanath Batra claims stem cell research invented by an Indian
In his book Tejomay Bharat, Dinanath Batra, convenor of Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti, claimed stem cell research was invented by an Indian, Dr Ganpat Matapurkar, who was inspired by the Mahabharata.
Sanal Edamaruku, president of Indian Rationalist Association, said people need to differentiate between "myth and reality. "Myths are there in all parts of the world and in all cultures; if we can't differentiate myth and reality, something is seriously wrong," said Edamaruku in an e-mail from Helsinki.
Article 51A of the Constitution says Indian citizens have the duty to 'develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform'. It's an article that our elected representatives must remember--they are sworn to uphold the Constitution.
File photo of Dinanath Batra. (LiveMint Photo)