Recently there was an event on the Ancient Indian Knowledge Systems at IIT Mumbai. Many newspapers carried this news without thorough research on the content of this event. None of the journalist that covered this event bothered to attend the session for at least one day let alone for full 7 days.
Many of the participants who attended full 7 day sessions were quite amazed to see a distorted narrative of the academic program that they were attending and it was a first-hand experience for them to witness the intolerance of “liberal” sections and main stream media.
What was not true of the event?
In the event:
- There was no representative of BJP of any level.
- There was no discussion on political scenario, right wing politics or even current demonetization.
- No student leader / district leader or senior representatives of ABVP or RSS attended the event.
- No religious man from Gujarat led the discussion.
- Focus of the event was not on cow urine or Pushpaka Vimana or atom bombs.
What was the event about?
One of the sessions was on Vaisheshika Darshan (One of the major schools of Philosophy). This session focussed on ideas of पदार्थ (entities). Entities are: द्रव्य (substance), गुण (quality), कर्म (activity), सामान्य (generality), विशेष (Particularity), समवाय (inference). अभाव (absence). Drvayam (substance) are further divided into 9 types.
Another session on the Nyaya Darshan highlighted an important point: What are the criteria to be satisfied for a statement to become a definition. In other words, what possible flaws can arise when we seek to define something. Nyaya philosophy identifies that there can be three kinds of flaws.
In a session on Ashtadhyayai, involved concepts of Sanskrit Grammar (व्याकरण) were explained. In a related session on Nirukta – development of etymology (how different words are formed, what is the history of words and how various meanings have evolved over the ages) – was explained.
The session on Jyotisha was not on astrology but on astronomy and explained the idea of काल गणना (time calculation)
The modal group comprised of persons who were educated in western convent system but now wanted to know more about their own heritage. They were mostly intrigued because for reasons unknown to them, this facet of Ancient Indian Knowledge was never covered by conventional education. Many of the participants were trainers, coaches, knowledge entrepreneurs, who wanted to learn about a different paradigm.
Many of the participants were youngsters who had an initial exposure and wanted to seek clarifications on ancient Indian concepts.
Discussion on some of the topics that were covered
Bharat was a knowledge producing society and its centres of learning Gurukula attracted students from all over the world. The Gurukulas of Taxila, Nalanda, Ujjain, Mysuru etc. were few of them.
The subject event was planned to acquaint a modern Indian about the span of the areas covered as well as the detailed depths of explanation of ideas ranging from music to philosophy, from politics to astronomy, from dramatics to architecture.
Many journalists who had come to these sessions were quite disappointed at the scholarly discussions as they had anticipated some hyperbolic sessions without any basis.
Few important concepts that were discussed were:
- Shiksha Shastra – This is one of the six Vedangas and contains specific Rules of pronunciation. 63 unique sounds have been identified, and detailed description of how those sounds are produced is explained. The place of generation of that sound, the sense organ involved, the effort involved, each have been specified. Due to these specific instructions, the way Sanskrit is pronounced all over the world has not changed since the ages.
- The lecture on Shilpa Veda covered 64 different arts.
The lecture highlighted that we have to coexist with our surrounding and create minimum disturbance. This idea is linked with our traditional approach of seeing Nature as an extension of God. For our ancestors, the nature was not to be conquered or exploited but to be cohabited. Unlike the western idea of exploitation, the Indian idea is:
तेन त्यक्तेन भुन्जीथा (त्यागपूर्ण उपयोग).
Natural resources have to be kept for our next generations and so they have to be used in the following order:
- Plants – maximum use
- Animals – lesser use than plants
- Water – judicious use – lesser than animals’ use
- Minerals – very judicious use required
There should be minimum use or very judicious use of minerals because these take a very long time to be created. Most of the audience could relate to this idea as we can see that fossil fuel stock is depleting by the day.
The lecture highlighted that there are three ways to handle resources: Management of existing resources (प्रबंधन), Purification or conversion (संस्करण), Production (उत्पादन)
- The lecture on Jal Shastra (water resources) highlighted that our ancestors understood the importance of water conservation. The Jal Shastra covers three broad areas:
- Supply of water (संचेतन)
- Drainage of water (संहरण)
- Storage of water (स्तम्भन)
Rain water harvesting activity was a regular feature and the kunda (artificial ponds) system used to save rain water. Given the importance of fresh water in India, the technology to manage water resources have been highly advanced from Harappan times onwards.
- Another lecture discussed the advanced stage of Indian Metallurgy and the progress made in bronze metallurgy, zinc mining and distillation, and Iron metallurgy.
- There was a separate session on Gandharva Veda, wherein aspects of Music (Both Vocal and Instrumental), Dance and dramatics were explained.
- Finally a session was on Artha Shastra where duties, expectations and guidelines of various officials from King to ministers were defined.
The art of negotiation and various stages were also explained. For example, when trust is high, verbal agreement is acceptable. When trust levels are low, concerned parties should take an oath witnessed by a revered entity. In case mistrust is there, a written agreement was done. When there was high mistrust, custody of a kin was demanded.
There were detailed discussions on the Indus-Saraswati civilization, its splendour, its extent and the possible reasons of its demise.
It is indeed surprising that various workshops on Post-Colonial studies, Subaltern studies, Post Modernism, Neo-colonialism have been regularly organized in various academic institutions including IITs on regular basis. Not a single newspaper ever reports on these events. Not one of these theories is indigenous and all are western imports eagerly lapped up by our colonized individuals. However a programme that was a 101 level introduction course rattled these “liberals”. Unlike the repeated idea of breaking India that comes out of Post Modernism, unlike the idea of exposing Dalit faultlines and tribal faultlines, coupled with Aryan-Dravidian theory that is highlighted by subaltern studies, there was almost no political content in this course on Ancient Indian Knowledge System.
Picture Credit: Snopes
As shared on E Mail by the Author.