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Brahmagupta II gave law of gravitation 1,000 years before Newton, claims Rajasthan education minister

Vasudev Devnani had last year claimed that cow is the only animal that inhales and exhales oxygen.

jaipur Updated: Jan 08, 2018 21:17 IST
Salik Ahmad
Salik Ahmad
Hindustan Times, Jaipur
Brahmagupta II,law of gravitation,gravity
Rajasthan education minister Vasudev Devnani had last year claimed that cow is the only animal that inhales and exhales oxygen.

Seventh century Indian astronomer Brahmagupta II gave the law of gravitation 1,000 years before Isaac Newton, claimed Rajasthan education minister Vasudev Devnani in Jaipur on Monday.

Devnani, who had last year claimed that cow is the only animal that inhales and exhales oxygen, was speaking as chief guest at the foundation day function of University of Rajasthan.

“We studied that Newton gave the law of gravitation. But if we go deeper, we’ll find that it was Brahmagupta II who gave the law of gravitation 1000 years before that,” said the minister, a BJP MLA from Ajmer.

“Why don’t we include it in our curriculum? The mechanism was of course developed later by modern scientists. We’ll teach that too,” he said.

Physicists, however, find Devnani’s assertion ‘sheer fantasy’.

“The person who gave the law of gravitation was Isaac Newton, full stop. Anything else is sheer fantasy,” said professor G Srinivasan, who has taught physics at Raman Research Institute and universities of Cambridge and Chicago.

The professor, however, said that before Newton, people did wonder why things fell to the ground, “but the law that every object in this universe attracts every other object was postulated by Newton”.

“There were great things done in India such as the algebra, the decimal system, the concept of zero, but these untrue and unnecessary claims will only lead to mockery,” Srinivasan said.

Devnani, a professor of Sanskrit who has had a long association with BJP’s ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, throughout his speech made a case for incorporating the contributions of Indians in the curricula and inculcating Indian values in the education system.

The Rajasthan minister is not the first person to dispute that Newton gave the law of gravitation. Former Indian Space Research Organisation chairman Madhavan Nair said in a conference in Delhi in February 2015 that 5th century mathematician-astronomer Aryabhata knew about gravitational force, much before Newton discovered it in 17th century.

The education department of Rajasthan under Devnani has made a string of changes in the curriculum which critics have termed as attempts to saffronise education. The revised textbooks give prominence to the Hindutva ideologues while relegating Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi to the sidelines in Indian history.

“In our Rajasthan, the lesson on Akbar the Great was being taught for several years. Today, we have removed the lesson on Akbar and included one on Maharana Pratap,” said the minister to a round of applause from the audience.

First Published: Jan 08, 2018 19:44 IST