In a recent address at the Maharshi Panini Sanskrit and Vedic University, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman, S. Somanath, made statements regarding the achievements of ancient Indian science, which have sparked controversy and debate among the scientific community. The Breakthrough Science Society (BSS), a collective of scientists and researchers, has criticized these claims as unrealistic and called for public figures, particularly administrators of scientific organizations, to uphold the ethos of science in their discourse.
Somanath’s speech highlighted the advancements made in various scientific disciplines such as metallurgy, astrology, astronomy, aeronautical sciences, and physics in ancient India. He further suggested that this knowledge was later taken to Europe by the Arabs and returned centuries later as discoveries of modern science. The BSS, in response, expressed concern that such exaggerated and eulogized statements create confusion and hinder the development of a scientific mindset among the public.
“While it is true that significant scientific developments occurred in ancient India, it is essential to acknowledge that similar advancements were made in other parts of the world during the same period,” the BSS stated. “The exchange of knowledge and ideas across civilizations has been a cumulative process, leading to the progression of science. Modern science, based on observation, hypothesis formation, and experimental verification, emerged during the Renaissance and has since made tremendous strides.”
The BSS emphasized that today’s scientific knowledge is the culmination of humanity’s accumulated wisdom, spanning civilizations such as the Greeks, Egyptians, Indians, Chinese, and Arabs. The society questioned why, if the ancient Sanskrit texts contain superior knowledge in areas such as astronomy and aeronautical engineering, ISRO has not utilized this knowledge to develop rockets or satellites. They challenged Somanath to provide evidence of any technology or theory derived from the Vedas that has been applied by ISRO.
The society urged public figures and scientific administrators to adopt a scientific approach in their public discourse, as they are viewed as representatives of the scientific community. The BSS emphasized that science thrives through questioning old ideas and discouraged unrealistic claims about the superiority of ancient knowledge. They argued that such claims could confuse students and impede the development of a scientific mindset, ultimately hindering the progress of science in India.
As the debate continues, it is crucial for public figures and scientific institutions to strike a balance between acknowledging historical scientific achievements and fostering a progressive scientific culture. By embracing critical thinking and evidence-based research, the scientific community can contribute to the advancement of knowledge and innovation in the modern world.
The ISRO chief’s statements have sparked an important conversation regarding the interpretation of ancient knowledge and its relevance in the present scientific era. This dialogue presents an opportunity for researchers, scholars, and public figures to collaborate and promote a scientifically literate society that embraces both the past and the future.