The Wonder that is Bharat

Bharat has maintained the longest, unbroken continuity of civilisation in the whole world. This is because the Hindu Dharma which is the basic culture of the country is based on Truth. “Satyameva Jayate” is our motto – “Truth alone shall prevail”! However much one tries to stamp out Truth, it shall not be overcome. Hence, Hindu Dharma which is based on Truth can never be stamped out and has existed from the dawn of time.

The universe exists on Truth and anything that is not founded on Truth will be automatically deleted by Time. Many cultures and cults have come and gone. One by one they have been mown down by the relentless scythe of Time. Only Hindu Dharma has remained. That is because it is based on the eternal verities – satyam, ahimsa and dharma – truth, non-violence and righteousness. This is the cosmic dharma, the law of eternal justice by which this cosmos has been created and sustained.

This is why Hindu Dharma is known as the “Sanatana Dharma” the ancient law of righteousness. It is a living relic of the primeval past of the whole of humanity. The ancient world never died in Bharat. It still remains and can be contacted in many places if one looks for it.

Many civilizations have come into existence in many regions of the world and perished in the course of time. The Hindu culture has kept flowing like the Ganga from the Indus Valley civilization right down to the modern times. It has retained its inherent value through the ages. This is because spirituality is the very basis of the culture and great care was taken by the rishis and saints of Bharat to ensure that spirituality was injected into every type of human endeavour – eating, sleeping, bathing, playing, singing, dancing etc.

No difference was made between material and spiritual activities. Everything in the world is imbued with the divine spirit.  Human excellence depends on the development of true cultural values that are spiritual. Therefore our religion was our way of life. It was part and parcel of our daily life and not something kept aside to be used on Sundays or Fridays!

The great colonial powers that came to Bharat in the early part of the last century were totally incapable of appreciating the wonders of this ancient knowledge. This is because Hindu Dharma like a chaste woman does not expose herself to the public eye. Her treasures are veiled and one has to woo her to understand her! People are always frightened of something they cannot understand so the British tried their best to destroy this culture.

One would think that after we got independence we would try to uplift this ancient ethos and bring it back into the daily life of all Bharatiyas but unfortunately our own government tried to suppress it even more, under the cloak of secularism and from then on there has been a slow and gradual fall of this unique way of life. The western values have slowly taken over and Hindus have been taught to despise themselves, their religion and their way of life. However the time has come for all Hindus to awaken and appreciate the wonders of their own ideology.

Ancient Bharat’s Science

Bharat was not only known for its great spiritual culture but also for its great scientific discoveries. Spirituality and science have gone hand in hand in this country. There was no dichotomy between the two as there was in the west. Our scientists were also saints and spiritualists hence whatever they discovered has remained un-refuted to this very day and have been corroborated by modern scientists. All the great scientific discoveries of the west in recent years had already been discovered by our great scientists centuries ago but unfortunately no credit has ever been given to them.

Before the Muslim invasion, Bharat had excelled in every field of science –mathematics, medicine, astronomy, astrology, psychiatry, metallurgy, weaponry etc. as well as in the fine arts – music, dance, poetry, architecture, painting, sculpture, cooking, occultism, agriculture, weaving of cottons and silks. The list is endless. In fact Bharat was the undisputed leader of the world for decades before the Muslim invaders started to come from Asia Minor.

It would be impossible to describe all her credits in one short article. It would need a full book to be able to do that. The seeds for all this enormous knowledge actually came from the Vedas themselves which are the oldest living record of the infinite depths of knowledge and spirituality that the human being is capable of. The Vedic mantras were recited with arithmetic and geometric precision long before the west knew about metres and mathematics.

Western scholars claim that the Babylonians invented the zodiac of 360 degrees! However the Rig Veda makes clear references to a chakra or wheel of 360 spokes placed in the sky.

“With four times ninety names (caturbhih sakam navatim ca namabhih), he (Vishnu) sets in motion moving forces like a turning wheel (chakra).” — Dirghatamas Rig Veda I.155.6,

The Surya Siddhanta is the oldest astronomical text known to man. It says clearly that world is shaped like a ball and on the opposite side from Bharat is a great city where the sun is rising at the same time as it sets in Bharat. In this city they claim there is a race of spiritual adepts. If you look at a globe, you will find that the reference is to Mexico where the Mayans and Incas were well ahead of their times in astronomy. Varahamihir, born in 499 CE was the one who first declared the shape of the earth to be spherical. But of course the west has given credit for the shape of the earth to Copernicus.

It might seem incredible that the speed of light could have been determined by the Hindus without the advanced astronomical instruments that are being used now but the great 14th century scholar Sayana, in his commentary on one passage of the Rig Veda says, “I bow to the sun which travels 2,202 yojanas in half a nimisha!” A yojana is about 9 miles and a nimisha is 16/75 of a second. If you multiply this you will get 185,794 miles per second.

Thus Sayana, the Vedic scholar who lived in the 14th century was able to make this calculation from a hymn in the Rig Veda that was written at a time before the beginning of time as we know it! This corresponds exactly to the speed of light that western scientists discovered in the last century with the use of modern technology!

Surya Devta- The Sun God

The fact that sunlight has seven colours was told to us by Visvamitra Rishi who also gave us the Gayatri Mantra. The pictorial representation of this was given in the vision of the sun god, Surya driving his chariot hitched to seven horses. Why seven? Why not five or ten or some easier number? We also knew that the diameter of the sun is 108 times the earth’s diameter and the distance between the earth and sun is 108 times the sun’s diameter. The distance between the earth and moon is 108 times the moon’s diameter.

The rishis were well aware of these facts and hence we find that they declared the number 108 to be very auspicious and the mala or rosary on which we do japa has 108  beads instead of 100  as one might imagine. There is another reason why the number of beads is 108. The path of the earth and moon across the sky is ecliptic and Hindu astronomy divides this path into four equal sections called paadas or steps. These paadas contain twenty-seven stars called nakshatras. When you multiply twenty-seven by four you get 108 which mark the steps taken by the earth and moon through the heavens.

Each of these steps is associated with a particular planet and deity with which you align yourself as you turn the beads! The 109th bead is known as the meru or guru bead and comes in the very middle of the mala. When we roll the beads on our fingers and come to the middle bead we are asked to rotate the mala between our fingers and start again in the opposite direction. We never cross the middle bead. This is because the meru bead represents the summer and winter solstices when the sun appears to stop in its course and reverse its direction in a dramatic fashion. By using the mala in this way we are actually connecting ourselves to the cosmic cycles governing our universe.

They also said that every time we chant a mantra on the bead we are actually taking another step towards our own inner sun since there are 108 steps between our human consciousness and the divine consciousness at the centre of our being! The rishis were well aware of the fact that the microcosm is a reflection of the macrocosm.

Aryabhatta was the greatest astronomer and mathematician of Bharat.  He was born in 476 CE in Pataliputra or Patna in Bihar which had the most famous university in the world called Nalanda. His findings were discovered many centuries later by western scientists. He was the first to gift the knowledge of Algebra and Trigonometry to the world. The word comes from the Sanskrit word, “Trikonamiti” which means “measuring triangular forms”.

He gave the value of “pi” as 3.1416 and this is the same that we use today. He knew that the earth was spherical and that it rotated on its own axis as well as round the sun. His theory came a 1000 years before Copernicus. He also said that the period of one sidereal rotation of the earth is 23 hours 56 minutes and 45.1 seconds. Modern calculation is 23 hours, 56 minutes and 45.091 seconds!! He calculated the solar year as 365 days, 6 hours, 11 minutes and 29.64 seconds.

This value is much closer to the modern calculation than that of Ptolemy to whom the credit has been given! He had perfect knowledge of zero and the place value system to calculate square root and cube root. He declared that the moon got its light from the sun and he also gave the causes for the eclipses.

Aryabhatta

The discovery of “0” is the greatest gift of Bharat to the world. The great calculations made by Bharatiya astronomers would never been possible without the use of “0”. This is an abstract concept and the Hindus were experts in abstractions! The idea of the Brahman is purely abstract. Therefore, the Hindu scientists were quick to realise that if the whole edifice of the universe rested on an abstraction like the Brahman it was absolutely necessary for Mathematics to have such an abstraction which looked like nothing but on which everything else could be built!

Bharat was the first to use the digits from 1 to 9. From Bharat, the digits travelled to Arabia and then went to Europe where they were called Arabic numerals and eventually replaced their own clumsy Roman numerals. However, the Arabs did give credit to Bharat for this even though the Europeans did not.

Bhaskaracharya, born in 1114 CE was the first to discover gravity, 500 years before Newton. He was the last of our great astronomer/ mathematicians. After his time wave after wave of foreign hoards started invading and desecrating our holy land and all creativity seems to have wilted since we were desperately trying to defend ourselves.

Bhaskaracharya

Vedic astronomy and astrology were highly sophisticated and could prophecy many things that would happen in a person’s life by recording the exact time the person was born and observing the position of the planets at the time of birth. However, they understood that the astrologer could only predict what was going to happen but could not control or change anything. This is because the life of the person is determined by his or her past karmas. However, if we have a good knowledge of the movement of the planets many things that seem inexplicable in life will be seen to make sense.

When we look at the history of the world and the stories in our epics, we will see that the aggressive forms of life seem to exceed in number. This shows even in our lives. The reason for this is to be found in the planets that rule in our solar system. There are nine planets in the zodiac – the Sun (Surya), Moon (Chandra), Mars (Mangal), Mercury (Buddha), Jupiter (Guru), Venus (Shukra), Saturn (Shani), Uranus (Rahu) and Neptune (Ketu). Of these only three of them – Mercury, Jupiter and Venus discharge positive energies.

The Moon can be positive or negative depending on its position in the zodiac. The Sun and Saturn dispel negative tendencies and Mars, Rahu and Ketu generate both negative and repelling vibrations. However, much modern science may deny or disregard the effect of the planets on our lives, these facts cannot be denied.

Hindu Dharma points out that the only way we can overcome these evil forces is to increase the positivity in our own lives and show more compassion for every creature. This is the way given in the Vedas. The Upanishads take us one step further. They point out that these planets exist on the level of space and time and the Supreme Brahman is beyond space and time. So, the one who has aligned himself with that cannot be affected by the planets. Hence the goal of Hindu Dharma is “Moksha” or union with the Supreme.

Metallurgy

Ancient Bharat was far advanced in metallurgy. We knew about the great metals like, silver, gold, iron, copper, and tin many centuries before they were discovered by the west. The esoteric knowledge of how to stop iron from rusting is something modern science is still to discover. The huge iron pillars in Delhi and Bengaluru are still shining as if they were made the previous day. For many thousands of years, Bharatiyas were the only ones to know how to extract zinc out of ore.

Iron Pillar in New Delhi showing inscriptions from the Mauryan Empire

Despite the attempt of the colonials to put us down, the Bharatiya genius still struggled and came to the fore and we have many scientists who made headlines in the International scientific world in the 19th and 20th centuries. A few of them were C.V.Raman,  Srinivasa Ramanujam and Homi Bhaba.

Recently the name of Acharya Prafulla Chandra Ray has come into prominence. He was a Bengali chemist, educationist and philanthropist. He is regarded as the father of chemical science in Bharat. He is the one who discovered Hydroxychlolrioquine or HCQ which was a famous for its anti-malarial properties but has now been discovered to be the greatest weapon against Covid 19. Since Bharat is the sole producer of this drug, his name is on everyone’s lips.

Ancient Bharat’s Architecture

Ancient Bharat was famous for its temple architecture. All buildings were made according to Vaastu which is a science in which the construction takes into consideration the cosmogony of the universe. Hence people who live in such buildings have the benefit of the positive vibrations of the planets.

In the 18th century, Bharat was the world leader in making cotton cloth. The silks made in Varanasi and Kanchipuram are still world famous even though China is now flooding our markets with cheap imitations.

The art of navigation was started in the River Sindhu long before the Portuguese. In fact the English word “navy” comes from the Sanskrit word “nava” or boat. But of course the west still gives all credit to the Portuguese for being the greatest navigators and ship builders!

The game of chess was invented in Bharat and was known as Shatranj or Ashta Pada. Snakes and ladders were also common.

Ancient Bharat led the world in education. The world’s first university was in Takshashila which is now in modern Afghanistan which was a part of Bharat before. Over ten thousand students from all parts of S. East Asia used to come to study and more than sixty subjects were offered. The University of Nalanda in Pataliputra, modern Patna was constructed in the 4th century. These two universities can easily be compared to the modern universities like Yale and Oxford. Both were brutally destroyed by invading hordes and the huge libraries were set on fire! What a loss that was to humanity!

Our rishis were experts in Phonetics, the science of sounds. The mantras are sound capsules that have inherent power. Each deity has his or her own mantra by using which it is possible to invoke the power of the deity. The rishis also captured the divine in the form of geometrical figures called yantras. Due to its mathematical precision the yantra is a powerhouse of cosmic energy. It limits the limitless into a figure of lines and triangles. It creates a field of power that lives, breathes and moves with life, in which the power of the divine has been invoked. Modern mathematicians are astounded by the beauty and symmetry of the incredible figure known as the Sri Chakra or Sri Yantra, the secret of which they still have not been able to fathom.

It is only recently that modern science discovered that they can transform letters, words and pictures into sounds which can later be changed into words. The “SD card” is an example of this. It is only a flat piece of very thin copper. By the application of electrical charges to this card we can store millions of data in the form of sounds and visuals. This is exactly what the yantras do – sound is potential form and form is manifest sound!

Hindu priests used to make talismans by this method.  Mantras were inscribed on very thin, flat pieces of copper which were rolled and put into small containers and worn round the neck or waist or wrist of people for protection.

Ancient Bharat’s Medical Science

Naturopathy is the method that has been used in ancient Bharat for keeping healthy by using natural substances. It makes use of nature and natural substances to upkeep our health. Sun, air, water and earth are all used for curing the body. Dietetics is a very modern science in the west but it was well known in Bharat for thousands of years. “Let food be your medicine and medicine your food” was an axiom coined by our rishis.

Our food contains anti-oxidants like turmeric, asafoetida, ginger and black pepper which are known for their medicinal value and protect the body from all types of viruses and germs. The value of a purely vegetarian diet was well known in Bharat. Killing of animals to foster your own body was considered a sin.

Bharatiya medical science is known as Ayurveda and it is the science of health and long life and not of disease and death. It comes from the Atharva Veda. It tells us how to make use of the large amount of herbs that nature has provided us with. We knew that “prana” or the vital breath of the universe was what kept the body in health and not the use of externally injected medicines.  Prana can be vitalised only by eating life-giving foods. Ayurveda’s unique emphasis was on prevention rather than cure.

Maharishi Charak

Charak has been cited as Bharat’s most outstanding medical practitioner. He was the author of the Charak Samhita which became renowned all over the then known world. It was translated into Persian and Arabic. Two thousand years before Harvey, the concept of blood circulation was known by him. Charak declared that the heart was the controlling organ of blood circulation. He is the one who gave the pancha karma treatment which is so popular in the world today. Inoculation against small pox which was practiced only in the 19th century by the West was done during Charak’s time. Due to his sadhana and great tapas it is said that he was able to converse with plants as he walked through the forests.

Dhanvantari, King of Kashi, is hailed as the father of surgery in Ayurveda.  His teachings were compiled by his foremost disciple Shushrut. He invented twenty sharp and one hundred and one blunt instruments for his surgical operations, which included removal of stones, skin grafting and rhinoplasty which is the repair of a mutilated nose. The idea of plastic surgery came to the west only after the First World War. Shushrut also used to perform cataract operations. These great souls practiced an astonishingly scientific and sophisticated form of medicine as early as the 3rd and 2nd millennium BCE.

Of course psychology which is a baby science in the west was first taught by the great master Patanjali who dissected the mind and found out all the methods of controlling it and thus curing it if necessary.

Patanjali

Thus, we see that there was no aspect of life that was not investigated and spiritualised by our rishis. At this time of unrest when one microscopic, invisible life form is holding the whole world at ransom, the only hope for humanity is to follow the way of life as given in our culture. The whole world is bound to support this ancient religion and to see that its scriptures are kept intact for future generations. Many of the noble souls of other countries have extolled Hindu Dharma and predicted that it is the only religion for the future.

“In religion all other countries are paupers; India is the only millionaire.” — Mark Twain

“In the Upanishads I have found eternal compensation, unfathomable power, unbroken peace.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“One day, India’s wisdom will flow again on Europe and will totally transform our knowledge and thought.” — Arthur Schopenhauer

Now is the time for every Hindu all over the world, regardless of the fact whether they were born Hindus or have accepted the faith as their own, to see that this ancient way of life is kept alive. For this, they have to become practicing and not just preaching Hindus.

Unfortunately, all original thought perished with the advent of the British along with the use of so many scientific techniques that were practised in Bharat at that time. Just as the Bharatiyas of those times were enticed to view their own culture as out-dated and started to ape Western culture, so now we have to produce a new generation who will be proud of their culture and who will set examples to a world which seems to have forgotten its relationship with nature.

“If the Hindus don’t maintain Hinduism, who shall save it? If India’s own children do not cling to their faith, who shall guard it? India alone can save India and India and Hinduism are one!”

These are the most poignant words of Annie Besant.

Hari Aum Tat Sat

(This article was first published on the author’s blog and is being reproduced after minor edits to conform to HinduPost style-guide. The blog itself is an excerpt from Vanamali Mataji’s latest book: “The Hindu Way of Life – Vol. 2.”)


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About the Author

Vanmali Mataji
Vanamali Mata ji is an exemplary yogini and sadhvi who resides in Vanamali Ashram, Rishikesh. Vanamali is one of the names of Bhagwan Krishna and she is an ardent Krishna bhakta. Mataji always dresses in lavender as that is the colour of Krishna in transcendence. She has published many books on the Hindu pantheon of gods: The Complete Life of Krishna, The Complete Life of Rama, Shiva -- Stories and teachings from the Shiva Mahapurana; The Science of the Rishis; In the lost city of Krishna: Nitya Yoga -- Essays on the Bhagavad Gita. Mata ji regularly conducts classes on the Vedic Way of Life and the Sreemad Bhagavad Gita both in the Ashram and abroad. The Ashram does a lot of charitable work in both Rishikesh and in a small Himalyan village called Gaja. About a hundred widows are being given rations and many have also been adopted by various philanthropists the world over. They also help in running a small village school in Gaja, and a tribal school in Kerala.