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Science & Saints

India´s Contributions Acknowledged

“We owe a lot to the Indians, who taught us how to count, without which no worthwhile scientific discovery could have been made.” – Albert Einstein.

Surgery

“The surgery of the ancient Indian physicians was bold and skilful. A special branch of surgery was devoted to rhinoplasty or operations for improving deformed ears, noses and forming new ones, which European surgeons have now borrowed”.-Sir W.Hunter (British Surgeon, 1718-1783)

Cosmology & psychology

According to India’s ancient texts, around 3000 BCE sage Kapil founded both cosmology and psychology. He shed light on the Soul, the subtle elements of matter and creation. His main idea was that essential nature (prakrti) comes from the eternal (purusha) to develop all of creation. No deeper a view of the cosmos has ever been developed. Further, his philosophy of Sankhya philosophy also covered the secret levels of the psyche, including mind, intellect and ego, and how they relate to the Soul or Atma.

The Law of Gravity – 1200 Years Before Newton

The Law of Gravity was known to the ancient Indian astronomer Bhaskaracharya. In his Surya Siddhanta, he notes:

“Objects fall on earth due to a force of attraction by the earth. therefore, the earth, the planets, constellations, the moon and the sun are held in orbit due to this attraction”.

It was not until the late 17th century in 1687, 1200 years later, that Sir Isaac Newton rediscovered the Law of Gravity.

Medicine (Ayurveda), Aviation

Around 800 BCE Sage Bharadwaj, was both the father of modern medicine, teaching Ayurveda, and also the developer of aviation technology. He wrote the Yantra Sarvasva, which covers astonishing discoveries in aviation and space sciences, and flying machines – well before Leonardo DaVinchi’s time. Some of his flying machines were reported to fly around the earth, from the earth to other planets, and between universes. His designs and descriptions have left a huge impression on modern-day aviation engineers. He also discussed how to make these flying machines invisible by using sun and wind force. There are much more fascinating insights discovered by sage Bharadwaj.

Medicine, Surgery, paediatrics, gynaecology. anatomy,
physiology, pharmacology, embryology, blood circulation

Around this era and through 400 BCE many great developments occurred. In the field of medicine (Ayurveda), sage Divodasa Dhanwantari developed the school of surgery; Rishi Kashyap developed the specialized fields of paediatrics and gynaecology. Lord Atreya, author of the one of the main Ayurvedic texts, the Charak Samhita, classified the principles of anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, embryology, blood circulation and more. He discussed how to heal thousands of diseases, many of which modern science still has no answer. Along with herbs, diet and lifestyle, Atreya showed a correlation between mind, body, spirit and ethics. He outlined a charter of ethics centuries before the Hippocratic oath.

Rhinoplasty, amputation, caesarean and
cranial surgeries, anesthesia, antibiotic herbs

While Lord Atreya is recognized for his contribution to medicine, sage Sushrut is known as the “Father of surgery”. Even modern science recognizes India as the first country to develop and use rhinoplasty (developed by Sushrut). He also practiced amputation, caesarean and cranial surgeries, and developed 125 surgical instruments including scalpels, lancets, and needles.

Lord Atreya – author of Charak Samhita. Circa 8th – 6th century BCE. Perhaps the most referred to Rishi/physician today The Charak Samhita was the first compilation of all aspects of ayurvedic medicine including diagnoses, cures, anatomy, embryology, pharmacology, and blood circulation (excluding surgery).

He wrote about causes and cures for diabetes, TB, and heart diseases. At that time, European medicine had no idea of these ideas. In fact, even today many of these disease causes and cures are still unknown to modern allopathic medicine.

Other unique quality of Ayurveda is that it uncovers and cures the root cause of illness, it is safe, gentle and inexpensive, it sees 6 stages of disease development (where modern medicine only sees the last two stages), it treats people in a personalized manner according to their dosha or constitution and not in any generic manner.

Further, Ayurveda being the science of ‘life’, Atrea was quick to
emphasize, proper nutrition according to dosha, and perhaps above all else, that there was a mind/body/soul relationship and that the root cause of all diseases and the best medicine for all conditions is spiritual and ethical life.

Rishi Sushrut is known as the father of surgery & author of Sushrut Samhita. Circa 5 – 4th century BCE. He is credited with performing the world’s first rhinoplasty, using anesthesia and plastic surgery. He used surgical instruments – many of them look similar to instruments used today; and discussed more than 300 types of surgical operations. One of the Ayurvedic surgical practices being used today in India involves dipping sutures into antibiotic herbs so when sewed into the person, the scar heals quicker and prevent infection. The modern surgical world owes a great debt to this great surgical sage.

Plastic Surgery In India 2600 Years Old

Shushruta, known as the father of surgery, practised his skill as early as 600 BCE. He used cheek skin to perform plastic surgery to restore or reshape the nose, ears and lips with incredible results. Modern plastic surgery acknowledges his contributions by calling this method of rhinoplasty as the Indian method.

125 Types Of Surgical Instruments

“The Hindus (Indians) were so advanced in surgery that their instruments could cut a hair longitudinally”.

MRS Plunket

Shushruta worked with 125 kinds of surgical instruments, which included scalpels, lancets, needles, catheters, rectal speculums, mostly conceived from jaws of animals and birds to obtain the necessary grips. He also defined various methods of stitching: the use of horse´s hair, fine thread, fibres of bark, goat´s guts and ant´s heads.

300 Different Operations

Shushruta describes the details of more than 300 operations and 42 surgical processes. In his compendium Shushruta Samhita he minutely classifies surgery into 8 types:

Aharyam = extracting solid bodies
Bhedyam = excision
Chhedyam = incision
Aeshyam = probing
Lekhyam = scarification
Vedhyam = puncturing
Visraavyam = evacuating fluids
Sivyam = suturing

The ancient Indians were also the first to perform amputation, caesarean surgery and cranial surgery. For rhinoplasty, Shushruta first measured the damaged nose, skilfully sliced off skin from the cheek and sutured the nose. He then placed medicated cotton pads to heal the operation.

Atomic theory

Sage Kanad (circa 600 BCE) is recognized as the founder of atomic theory, and classified all the objects of creation into nine elements (earth, water, light or fire, wind, ether, time, space, mind and soul). He stated that every object in creation is made of atoms that in turn connect with each other to form molecules nearly 2,500 years before John Dalton. Further, Kanad described the dimension and motion of atoms, and the chemical reaction with one another. The eminent historian, T.N. Colebrook said, “Compared to scientists of Europe, Kanad and other Indian scientists were the global masters in this field.”

Chemistry alchemical metals

In the field of chemistry alchemical metals were developed for medicinal uses by sage Nagarjuna. He wrote many famous books including Ras Ratnakar, which is still used in India’s Ayurvedic colleges today. By carefully burning metals like iron, tin, copper, etc. into ash, removing the toxic elements, these metals produce quick and profound healing in the most difficult diseases.

Metallurgy

India was the world-leader in Metallurgy for more than 5,000 years. Gold jewellery is available from 3,000 BCE. Brass and bronze pieces are dated back to 1,300 BCE. Extraction of zinc from ore by distillation was used in India as early as 400 BCE while European William Campion patented the process some 2,000 years later. Copper statues can be dated back to 500 CE. There is an iron pillar in Delhi dating back to 400 CE that shows no sign of rust or decay.

Bacteria- Viruses

This mobile and immobile universe is food for living creatures.
This has been ordained by the gods. The very ascetics cannot support their lives without killing creatures. In water, on earth, and fruits, there are innumerable creatures. It is not true that one does not slaughter them. What higher duty is there than supporting one’s life? There are many creatures that are so minute that their existence can only be inferred. With the falling of the the eyelids alone, they are destroyed.

Physiology

From The Mahabharata, Santi Parva, Section CCCXXI

The constituent elements of the body, which serve diverse functions in the general economy, undergo change every moment in every creature. Those changes, however, are so minute that they cannot be noticed. The birth of particles, and their death, in each successive condition, cannot be marked, O king, even as one cannot mark the changes in the flame of a burning lamp. When such is the state of the bodies of all creatures, – that is when that which is called the body is changing incessantly even like the rapid locomotion of a steed of good mettle- who then has come whence or not whence, or whose is it or whose is it not, or whence does it not arise? What connection does there exist between creatures and their own bodies?

[Note: The fact of continual change of particles in the body was well known to the Hindu sages. This discovery is not new of modern physiology. Elsewhere it has been shown that Harvey´s great discovery about the circulation of the blood was not unknown to the Rishis.

The instance mentioned for illustrating the change of corporal particles is certainly a very apt and happy one. The flame of a burning lamp, though perfectly steady (as in a breezeless spot), is really the result of the successive combustion of particles of oil and the successive extinguishments of such combustion.]

University (The world´s first university)
Takshashila (Taxila)

Around 2700 years ago, as early as 700 BCE there existed a giant University at Takshashila, located in the northwest region of India. Not only Indians but also students from as far as Babylonia, Greece, Syria, Arabia and China came to study. 68 different streams of knowledge were on the syllabus. Experienced masters taught a wide range of subjects. Vedas, Language, Grammar, Philosophy, Medicine, Surgery, Archery, Politics, Warfare, Astronomy, Accounts, commerce, Futurology, Documentation, Occult, Music, Dance, The art of discovering hidden treasures, etc.The minimum entrance age was 16 and there were 10,500 students.The panel of Masters included renowned names like Kautilya, Panini, Jivak and Vishnu Sharma.