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Lecture Series in Ancient Indian Sciences
Lecture 63
Ancient India's Contributions to Mathematics and Astronomy
Vedveer Arya
India is the birthplace of mathematics, a basic science and astronomy. India's greatest ever contribution to the world is the introduction of basic techniques and principles of mathematics which are instrumental in evolution of all modern sciences and technologies. Ancient Indians not only developed techniques to solve the mysteries of mathematics but also applied these techniques in various fields like astronomy, trade & commerce, music, grammar, navigation, construction of towns, fire altars (Yagna Vedis), temples etc. due to which India dominated as most prosperous country till 17th century AD.

Indians developed mathematics, astronomy and other applied sciences through continuous tradition of teacher-pupil and father-son lineage since pre-Rigvedic period. More than 1100 (1131 or 1137) branches of Vedic tradition, various siddhantas & schools of mathematical astronomy and gurukula system of education including universities like Takshashila, Valabhi, Vikramshila, Nalanda etc. have not only preserved the knowledge of ancestors but also promoted the innovations and improvements in all fields of knowledge resulting in complete and perfect evolution of various sciences in India. It is amazing to study the fascinating history of Indian tradition of evolution of mathematics & astronomy since Dirgatamas Mamateya (4500 BC), an astronomer-rajapurohit of King Bharata and the author of various hymns (suktas) of Rigveda upto Srinivasa Ramanujan (1887-1920), the greatest Indian mathematician of his time.

According to some historians, the so-called Aryans (Indo-European tribes) from Central Asia invaded India around 1500 BC and introduced Vedic culture in India. This theory of Aryan invasion is just a myth and probably a deliberate attempt by some historians having racist and Eurocentric mindset to discredit the glorious indigenous Indian scientific heritage. It was necessary for them to propagate this myth to prove the supremacy of non-Indian origins of scientific knowledge. The recent genome studies of Indians have also proved that the theory of Aryan invasion is just a myth. Moreover, the astronomical facts referred in Vedas must have been observed only in India and during the period of 8000 BC to 2500 BC. Hence, the date of Rigvedic period must be much beyond 1500 BC and not later than 4500 BC when vernal equinox was in Mrigashira Nakshatra.

Ancient Indians were the pioneers of decimal place value system with zero, eight operations of arithmetic (addition to cube root), fractions, negative numbers, rule of three, permutation & combinations, concept of infinity, geometry, algebra (linear, quadratic, biquadratic, cubic and indeterminate equations etc.), plane and spherical trigonometry, magic squares, power series, calculus and mathematical analysis. The mathematical astronomy was also born in India which is based on multi-generational record keeping of astronomical observations.

Truly speaking, India taught the basics of mathematics and astronomy to the world. Entire Arabic mathematics and astronomy evolved based on the translations of Indian treatises. The transmission of Indian mathematics and astronomy to Europe through Arabs during the period of crusades was one of the main factors for renaissance of Europe during 13th century to 17th century. The introduction of Indian mathematics to Europe by Florentine merchants of Italy may be the starting point of renaissance of Europe

Unfortunately, we have not done much to promote a general awareness about the greatness of our scientific heritage. Ancient Indian scholars like Baudhayana, Aryabhata, Brahmagupta, Bhaskara and Madhava etc. were the pioneers of scientific thinking and contributed a lot for the evolution of modern mathematics, astronomy and other sciences. It is our fundamental duty to claim the Indian achievements shown in the table below, which are being propagated as European achievements. For more details you may contact the author at:
Evidence of Greater Antiquity of Indian Mathematical Discoveries
S.No European Claims Indian Claims
1 Pythagorean Triples
Pythagoras(540 BC)
Taittiriya Triples
Taittiriya Samhita (3500 BC)
2 Pythagoras Theorem
Pythagoras(540 BC)
Baudhayana Theorem
Baudhayana (2000 BC)
3 Heron’s Formula
Heron(10-70 AD)
Shulbasutra Formula
Shulbasutras (2000 -1700 BC)
4 Backus-Naur Form Notation
Backus-Naur (1963)
Panini-Backus-Naur Form Notation
Panini (700 BC)
5 Pascal’s Triangle
Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)
Pingala-Varahamihira Triangle
Pingala(700 BC), Varahamihira (488 AD or 150 BC)
6 Fibonacci Sequence of Numbers
Leonardo(Fibonacci) of Pisa (1202 AD)
Pingala-Virahanka Sequence of Numbers
Pingala(700 BC), Virahanka(6th century)
7 George Cantor theory
(The concept of infinity and the theory of infinite cardinal numbers) George Cantor (1845-1918)
Jain-Cantor theory
Jain canonical works (500-200 BC)
8 Joan Napier Logarithms
Joan Napier (1550-1617)
Virasena Logarithms
Virasena (760-830 AD)
9 Extended Euclidean Algorithm
Euclid (300 BC)
Aryabhata Algorithm
Aryabhata (476 AD or 2742 BC)
10 Wilson’s Theorem
John Wilson (1741-1793)
Bhaskara’s Theorem
Bhaskara I (570-650 AD)
11 Pell’s Equation
John Pell (1610-1685 AD)
Brahmagupta Equation
Brahmagupta (598-668AD)
12 George Cantor’s Theory of Sets
George Cantor (1845-1918)
Virasena-Cantor’s Theory of Sets.
Virasena (760-830 AD)
13 Newton-Gauss Interpolation Formula
Newton (1643-1727) Gauss (1777-1855)
Govinda Swami Interpolation Formula
Govinda Swami (800-860 AD)
14 Herigone’s Formula
Herigone (1580-1643 AD)
Mahavira’s Formula
Mahavira (814-880 AD)
15 Newton-Stirling Interpolation Formula
Newton (1643-1727)
Brahmagupta Interpolation Formula
Brahmagupta (598-668AD)
16 Modern Formula for solving Quadratic Equations. Sridhara’s Formula.
Sridhara (750 AD)
17 Newton-Gauss Backward Interpolation Formula. Newton (1643-1727) Gauss (1777-1855) Vateshwara Backward Interpolation Formula
Vateshwara (880 AD)
18 Rolle’s Theorem
Michel Rolle (1691)
Bhaskaracharya Theorem
Bhaskara II (1114-1185 AD)
19 Fermat’s Factorization Method
Pierre de Fermat (1601-1665)
Narayana Pandit’s Factorization Method
Narayana Pandit (1325-1400 AD)
20 Newton’s Power Series
Newton (1643-1727)
Madhava Series
Madhava (1340-1425 AD)
21 Taylor Series
Brook Taylor (1685-1731)
Madhava Series
Madhava (1340-1425 AD)
22 Gregory Series Madhava Series
Madhava (1340-1425 AD)
23 Leibnitz Series
Madhava Series
Madhava (1340-1425 AD)
24 Euler Series
Euler (177-1783)
Madhava Series
Madhava (1340-1425 AD)
25 Lhuilier Formula
Parameshvara’s Formula
Parameshvara (1360-1445 AD)
26 Tychonic Planetary model
Tycho Brahe (1546-1601)
Nilakantha’s Planetary Model
Nilakantha (1444-1543 AD)
27 Tycho Brahe : Inventor of the technique of “Reduction to ecliptic”
Tycho Brahe (1546-1601)
Achyuta Pisārati :  Inventor of the technique of “Reduction to ecliptic”
Achyuta Pisārati (1540-1621 AD)
28 Hipparchus:  Father of Trigonometry.
Hipparchus(190-120 BC)
The author of Surya Siddhanta:  “Father of Modern Trigonometry”.
Surya Siddhanta(800 BC or 3000 BC?)
29 Diophantine Equations
Diophantus(3rd century)
Aryabhata Equations
Aryabhata(476 AD or 2742 BC)
30 Kepler(1571-1630):
Formulae for finding the volume of a frustum of cone and the volume of a pyramid.
Brahmagupta (598-668 AD) :
Lecture 62
Padma Shri Dr.B. P. Radhakrishna - The Native Genius in Earth Sciences
Dr.B.P.Radhakrishna's very name spells a magical respect and reverence on every earth scientist. His thoughts and editorials are simple but greatly inspiring, highly scientific yet native in their appeal, progressive yet patriotic. To understand BPR, his thoughts and his editorials in the correct perspective it is essential to know the back ground of the ancient Indian sciences, philosophy and culture. With a fairly good insight into the amazing wealth of ancient Indian sciences, he always tried to combine - without prejudice - the wisdom of both modern and ancient sciences in offering solutions to the problems of the land and the people, which is overwhelming

Country and People
In the preface to Memoir 51 called Random Harvest, which is the first volume of his editorials, BPR writes: "I am proud of the Indian way of life- a life of contentment, compassion for all living beings, respect for elders, tolerance, humility, service to others, belief in after life and rebirth, which has sustained Indian civilization for the last 3000 years and should not therefore be given up. These sentiments find a place in the editorials reflecting my preference for the traditional Indian way of life."

He laments:
"That with dawn of freedom and lifting of the colonial yoke it was thought a day would come when India would discover itself again and occupy a higher place in the comity of nations but this has not happened and we have become blind imitators of the west."

"One of the worst consequences of the British rule in India was the systematic attempt at inculcating especially in the minds of the young, contempt for their own culture and developing an inferiority complex."

"The worst consequences of the colonial rule was the glorification of the western way of life, killing in the minds of Indians all vestiges of original thinking"

In another editorial BPR writes:
"The birth of India is undated, indeed un datable. We were a civilization with the sense of Nation long before other nations were conceived. We have been a living witness to the birth and obituaries of mighty civilizations and empires. But we live and they don't. There is spiritual durability in this civilization which seems to be denied to others"

"People poorly educated and still illiterate have a profound common sense which is truly astonishing. A moral value in our people has been inculcated through familiarity with great epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata".

BPR feels we should establish a few centers where the essence of ancient Indian culture and science, as practiced and taught in the traditional way, and their reaction to the problems of the day sought with out viewing them through western glasses. He says:

Let there be a new thinking, essentially Indian in outlook, absorbing only that from the western culture that is consistent with our needs and aspirations.

By imagining that we 'conquer' the nature we continue to live on our planet like a swarm of destructive parasites- we condemn ourselves and our children to misery and deepening squalor and the despair that finds expression in the frenzies of collective violence.

BPR thinks that
"Everything on earth is connected with every thing else. This is the basic philosophy embodied in the sacred books of the East. There is a central truth, which at present we dimly perceive, connecting both animate and inanimate existence. There is a thread which runs through all things and holds them together. Our endeavour therefore should be to view the earth as a whole."

Agriculture, Water and Sanitation
BPR was very unhappy with the lack of priority for agriculture and water resources in the country and undue importance given to Defence, Space and Atomic Energy. He says "Traditional agricultural practices had the aim of living harmoniously with Nature. These practices should not be rejected outright and alien methods too much dependent on fossil fuels be blindly copied. If making more and more money is the only aim, even murder and mayhem can be justified. The way we are treating our soil resources is nothing short of murder".

The greatest problem which India will be facing in the near future is the shortage of water through reckless use, while disposal of highly polluted used water poses a bigger problem than that of assuring an adequate supply of fresh water. BPR's concern for water, its conservation and supply and rain water harvesting is well known. Talking about water harvesting in Bangalore he suggests sinking of 10m diameter shafts to a depth of 50m, which can store as much as 4 billion liters of water. Such shafts could be planned in every square kilometer of urban area.

According to BPR, the interlinking of rivers is another dangerous proposition. Government always looks for big money spinners- all in the name of development. But exorbitant cost, complex engineering, poor maintenance and indifferent official and public are bound to convert these water lines into sewer lines.

One of his most responsible and moving editorials is on human waste management. According to this essay the repulsive solid and liquid wastes of human being are so valuable as nutrients to the soil that today this useful material is flushed out, wasting enormous quantities of water, which is so valuable and so much in short supply. He suggests the conversion of flush toilets to composting toilets, which not only saves large quantities of water but also enormous funds.

Science and scientists
BPR feels:
"There is no denying that the bulk of Indian research is fashioned after the Western model and with the aid of the most sophisticated and expensive instruments. The problems selected for research too are those currently in fashion in Western laboratories and very rarely has scientific enquiry been directed towards solving problems affecting India and its people."

He is also unhappy that " Coveted prizes like Bhatnagar awards and other National awards in recent years have gone to people who have specialized in quantitative aspects of study and rarely go to geologists who have merely 'mapped' and performed a basic and essential function."

Commenting on the vision document for research in the field of earth sciences he asks "Are these priority areas of research? What are we really going to achieve? Do these in any way contribute to the welfare of our people? If such questions are asked it will be seen that a good part of our research effort is aimless and that we are trying to answer questions which no body is asking".

Geology and Minerals
As a professional geologist of highest caliber and standard BPR always emphasized on field work and direct observation, which are greatly neglected to day.

Talking about the changes in the geological sciences, BPR feels: "Maps have become irrelevant, the location of sample, its mineralogy and petrologic characters are unnecessary details and not to be bothered about. Any sample can be fed to machine, which churns out endless figures. These are further manipulated to yield yet more numbers which are received with greatest respect and adorn the pages of prestigious journals. Most instruments, on which crores have been spent, go out of order within a year or two of installation. Meanwhile the manufacturers put out newer versions and the ones bought at great cost are discarded and put in wraps."

As a professional geologist of highest caliber and standard BPR always emphasized on field work and direct observation, which are greatly neglected today. He was always hoping and pressing for a revolution in mineral exploration - say Yellow Revolution - which if it had come, BPR would have been considered along with those who brought green revolution and white revolution in the country.

The End
Finally, BPR has strong reservations on the extremely interventionist modern allopathic medicine devoid of 'bed side manners' "That if ever he fell ill , he should not be subjected to the tortures of a modern ICU, but life allowed to ebb away peacefully and naturally at his home amidst familiar surroundings."

Luckily and as per his desire, BPR departed peacefully at his home at 1.30pm on 26-1-2012. Such time of death, presided by Fire God, bright fortnight of the Moon and northward course of the Sun occurs only to saintly people who are not reborn with their soul merging with the Supreme Soul.
Lecture 61
Combining Tradition and Modernity to Preserve The Earth and Its Resources
We are all aware that the fast changing world driven primarily by science and technology and ably supported economic considerations is racing towards disaster. Privatization and globalization have let loose unbounded greed leading to a free fall of human values and concern for the Nature on which the very life on the planet is riveted.

By blindly following the Western concept of development India has drifted from pro-Nature to anti-Nature lifestyle and harmony to disharmony. GLOBALIZATION is turning out to be the great smoke screen for ruthless exploitation of Nature and also self destruction of the individual. India, with a per capita emission of mere 1.16 tons produces a total of nearly 1300m.tons emission, while China with a per capita emission of 4.58 tons produces over 6000m.tons of emission. If these two countries produce a per capita emission of 20tons, the same as USA, the total emission of these two countries alone would exceed a mind boggling 50,000m.tons, which will be far in excess of world emission of about 32,000m.tons (2010).

While ancient Indians attributed divinity to water, modern civilization has made water a mere commodity or a resource and as such exploitable and marketable! While millions in the world use an average of 10-15 lts of water/day Americans whose life style is very different, on the average use about 500 lts/day. We need to use technology to reduce wastage and excessive use of water for agriculture. China uses much less water and produces much more grain per hectare.

The most important thing that man needs for survival, after air and water is food. By 2030, India will be home to 1.6 billion people, which means overall demand for food will be much higher. India's paradox in the case of food is while grain is rotting in the government godowns (warehouses), India has the largest population of hungry in the world. Food Corporation of India, which reportedly holding 62.8 million tonnes of grains already is waiting to procure another 44 million tonnes (as of March 2014) leading to an all time high of over 100 million tones of stock. The most difficult task is to storing safely and distributing timely. More than 45 years after the Green Revolution; India provides a unique specter of overflowing godowns and rotting grains on the one hand and millions going hungry to bed on the other. Because there is food in the country but these poor people cannot buy. The saddest part is the statistic that an estimated 17,500 farmers across India commit suicide every year.

Health Care
Regarding personal health, given the time and control of diet, many diseases are automatically cured by the body system. But in the modern times people have neither patience nor time to give a chance to the body to set itself right. There are numerous therapeutic and prophylactic health systems like allopathy, Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha, homoeopathy, naturopathy and Yoga. Each has certain advantages and disadvantages. The advantage of modern medicine is its fast action, which is very attractive. But it comes with a price - a price we have to pay in the form of side effects and long term damages to the body. Aldous Huxley the British humanist, pacifist and satirist said "Medical Science is making such remarkable progress that soon none of us will be well". In addition, the fast curing modern medicine creates such toxic waste and garbage that a lot of money and high technology are required to make the toxins harmless.

Ancient India always relied on simple cures and preventive techniques like Yoga and Nature Cure. According to the science of Yoga our body has several sheaths or kosas - Annamaya kosa, Pranamaya kosa, Manomaya kosa, vijnanamaya kosa and Anandamay kosa being the innermost. If the disease lies in the inner kosas, it is more difficult to be cured, whatever is the sophistication. That is why after subjecting us to numerous and expensive tests the allopathic doctor may say all tests are negative (NAD) - and the patient continue to suffer.

All religions are pro- Nature by nature. Get exposed to your religion and find out the greatness in your religion - whatever be your religion. Pope Benedict VI once said "Worship God not Technology". Today we have reached a stage when our elders say something we don't believe; if our scriptures are quoted we don't believe. But if some news appears in a second rate newspaper or TV channel we are easily influenced - and that is the power of the media.

Mind pollution is the root cause of all pollutions. So in a country where there are crores of people, if one person thinks what if I only waste resources or pollute the air, land and water, then the result is disaster. Let us not forget when we live a simple and eco friendly life; we are the first beneficiaries because we are part of nature. We cannot live forever but we try to live as long as possible. Similarly the earth is bound to deteriorate. But we can slow down the deterioration.

In spite of all the talk of global warming, we can still maintain better regional and local climates up to an extent, just as our residential locality is more comfortable than the nearby market place and a nearby hill station is more comfortable than our city.

The future of the Earth depends on the wisdom or foolishness of only one of the 84,00,000 species - the man.
Lecture 60
The History of Science in India
Science is knowledge of Nature and scientific phenomena are as old as Nature itself. Even recorded science in India is several millennia old. Both the mysterious universe around us as well as the inside of the human body were thoroughly studied by the sage-scientists of India thousands of years ago as reflected in Vedas and other scriptures of India. Several scientific phenomena unknown to the modern man could be found mentioned or discussed in the ancient texts. It is amazing that the now well established scientific fact that plants respond to stimuli, was described in Shanti Parva of Mahabharata while Bhagavad Gita tells us how lunar radiation helps nourishing life on earth. Science seems to have flourished in India even 8000 to 10000 years ago in the Sarasawati valley civilization, which is supposed to precede the Indus Valley civilization.

Scientific developments in India during the last five thousand years are startling. Achrya Kapila (3000 BC) is supposed to be Father of Cosmology. Acharya Boudhayana (850 BC) seems to have authored a number of mathematical Sulabha Suras among which the relation between the three sides of a right angle triangle were given, which much later came to be known as Pythagoras theorem. Acharya Bhardwaja (800 BC) was known to be a pioneer of aviation technology. He has described flying machines of terrestrial, inter planetary and inter universe types! During 7th Century BC Acharya Panini, the ancient grammarian of Sanskrit language produced a system of generative grammar known as Astadhyayi, which is now being praised by IT professionals. Acharya Charaka (600 BC) considered the father of medicine has written a book called Charaka Samhita which is considered an encyclopedia of Ayurveda. In it he has described the medicinal qualities and functions of 100,000 herbal plants. Acharya Sushruta (600 BC) who wrote a book Sushruta Samhita is considered the Father of surgery, including plastic surgery. He described about 300 types of operations including amputation, caesarian etc. Around the same time (600 BC) Acharya Kanad who authored the Vaiseshika Darsana is considered to have propounded the atomic theory. He has classified all the objects of creation into nine elements, namely: earth, water, light, wind, ether, time, space, mind and soul. Acharya Patanjali was the founder world famous Yoga shastra, the science of self discipline. His 84 yoga asanas and 196 yoga sutras even today benefit millions of people all over the world.

Acharya Nagarjuna (100 CE) was an authority on chemistry and metallurgy. Nagarjuna had discovered the alchemy of transmuting base metals into gold. Acharya Aryabhatta (476 CE) was a master astronomer and mathematician and author of Aryabhatteeyam. He proclaimed the heliocentric theory a thousand years before Copernicus, calculated the value of p and introduced the concept of zero. Acharya Varahamihira (499-587 CE) was an eminent astronomer and astrologer and also author of Bruhat Samhita among other books. Bhaskaracharya I (7th Century CE) was considered the most important product of Aryabhatta's astronomical school while Brhamagupta was another great mathematician of that period. Bhaskaracharya II (1114-1183 CE) who wrote Leelavati Ganitam, Bija Ganitam and Siddhanta Siromani is considered a mathematician of profound intelligence. The credit of discovering gravity - 500 years before Issac Newton actually goes to him.

The ancient Indian sciences started declining with numerous foreign invasions capped by the East India Company and the British crown. The impact of the first and second industrial revolutions in 18th and 19th centuries coupled with Macaulay's strategy of annihilating the Indian culture have almost completely wiped out Indian science by the beginning of the 20th century. Thus the Indians dropped all their ancient sciences and wisdom and started studying and practicing only modern science that originated very lately in Europe and West. If we are happy ever after there would not have been any problems. But the attractive and fast track solutions modern sciences and technology provided for the numerous problems of the mankind have turned out to be dangerous both for the man as well as the Nature around him. While the future of modern science and technology are going to be terrific, the consequences are going to be terrible because the maxim 'science is for service' has changed into 'science and technology for business' - thanks to globalization and multi national corporations, who have very little concern for the land and people. Thus the present day science and technology are now on the verge of destroying the planet earth by creating more problems than they claim to be solving.

Incidentally this has answered a frequently asked question why, with amazing wealth of ancient sciences, India did not become a developed country so far. If less than 300 years of industrial revolution has destroyed the earth so much, what would have happened if millennia old Indian civilization had opted for present kind of development? It is under this context people in India are looking back to their ancient sciences and wisdom to extricate themselves from this quagmire they got in to by blindly following the west. If India can successfully come out of this by developing its own brand of development, science and technology then it will be a world leader.
Lecture 59
Education, Enrichment and Enlightenment
Education goes on from birth to death, the first teachers for us being our mothers and fathers. Education is considered so important in our society that parents take all the trouble to educate their children to the highest levels possible. While present day education is definitely fulfilling the crucial need of getting a job and livelihood and providing critical manpower for the country, the basic purpose of education seems to be missing in the cacophony of all round commercialization of life and its goals. Instead of providing happiness, peace and prosperity education is making the life of youth complex, cumbersome, competitive and conflicting in a predominantly corporate culture that is all pervading.

The back ground for this is that at the time of independence we were a total wreck, having been robbed for over two centuries by the British and the first and second industrial revolutions metamorphosing culture and the lifestyle of people drastically. Steeped in poverty, hunger and a terrible inferiority complex, we simply followed the dictates of the West who told us what to do, what not to do, what to think, even how to think and of course finally what is "development!" And we followed faithfully and blindly thereby making development synonymous with catching up with the West. We have thrown all the ancient wisdom of centuries - if not millennia - to the winds. But unfortunately by the time we proved that India is capable of doing every thing the West could do, the path of development the developed countries chose turned out to be not only unsustainable as vindicated by the uncontrollable environmental problems surfaced at the turn of the 21st Century but also by the economic melt of 2008.

Modern education system is essentially designed to provide skilled man power for the innumerable activities created in the society in the name of development and providing jobs rather than improving the student's capacity to understand life, its dependence on Nature around and his obligations to the society. It is not making him broader and more open minded in his outlook. Right from teen age students are taught about material sciences, technology, economics, markets, growth rate, GDP etc. Youngsters are burning out fast amidst a horrendous 24 x 7 culture of over work coupled with dangerous food and rest habits, and becoming a wreck by the time they are 30- 35 years of age. With money aplenty they don't know what to do and thus get into dangerous habits and life style, whose adverse effects unfortunately do not show up immediately. Having risen to higher positions at young age, there is no charm for youth in career also. The reason is the powerful imposition of the Western concept of materialism sans respect for the Nature, celebrity cult sans value system. This has resulted in a culture where only two things are made to look important - money making and merry making.

It will be interesting to note that concepts in modern education keep on changing endlessly with time in tune with the so called advances in science and technology. What is true or important to day does not appear to be so after a decade or two causing reversals in our thinking. Things like: organic farming to chemical farming and back, cotton to polyester and back, small dams to big dams and back, Nature cure to modern medicine and back, are some of the glaring examples. On the other hand, ancient Indian education based on understanding the self and the Nature around has not changed even after thousands of years. It is also based on superior knowledge and the science-based guidelines were transmitted from one generation to another through lifestyle, culture, festivals, rituals etc.

To meet the short term and short sighted objectives of the so called development we are depriving our youth a wholesome education that could make them enlightened. Today we have reached a stage when our elders say we don't believe; if our scriptures are quoted we don't believe. But if it appears even in a second rate newspaper or a TV channel we take it very seriously and start quoting everywhere and acting accordingly. Faith and Knowledge are complementary in Nature. The egocentric Man continuously and desperately tries to replace Faith with Knowledge but when he reaches the end of his Knowledge, he falls back on Faith only.

Unfortunately religion is a taboo in modern education. But all religions are value based and promote the concept of a supreme cosmic force (call him god or some thing else) that drives this world, brotherhood, compassion, charity, righteous simple and eco friendly living. The purpose of God is to instill courage to do good things and fear to stop doing bad things. Religion, whatever be the religion, always has a moderating effect on the conduct and character of man. It also clearly exposes man's frailty as well as critical dependence on Nature around him and the need to respect and preserve Nature.

Instead of correcting the aberrations and misunderstandings that crept into religion, we officially dispensed with religion and replaced it with money-centric modern economics, paving the way for a free fall of values. Thus there is hardly any scope for enlightenment through education. Einstein seems to have thought there existed a 'true' religion that couldn't conflict with science. Whether we believe in the invisible God or visible world, we need to obey the Laws of Nature and the cosmic force that drives the entire universe. That is enlightenment and the true purpose of education. You can down load data or information but not wisdom or enlightenment.

May we wake up and save the youth and the country from useless and dangerous imitations of the developed countries! In the absence of any responsibility shouldered by the governments which are remotely driven from behind by powerful lobbies with vested interests, it is the responsibility of intellectuals, parents and NGOs in the country to make sure that our youth are not merely enriched but also enlightened.
Lecture 58
Tourism Vs Pilgrimage: Concepts and
Consequences to the Environment
The concept of Tourism, which originated in the West, primarily refers to affluent people in developed countries making pleasure trips to places of natural scenic beauty, man made wonders etc. This pastime is now becoming popular in developing countries and also with middle class of the society. When we see the tourists we more often than not come across people who have an urge to enjoy at any cost, tendency to spend lavishly and wastefully, and are unaware of the value and importance of Nature on which their very life depends. In addition, tiresome fast track journeys, untimely and unhealthy food habits and lack of proper sleep invariably cause damage to the health of the individual also. Medical tourism is another serious dimension added to tourism. While the government gets money and the touring patient gets cured, the land of treatment suffers badly because modern medicine and surgery create huge quantities of toxic wastes that are hazardous to the environment, particularly when they are not properly treated and disposed.

Internationally Tourism industry is one of the biggest industries in the world that generates an income of as much as 1 trillion dollars (60, 00,000 crores). Tourism attracts lot of people due to attractive travel brochures, picture postcards, holiday packages and other commercial advertisements. Tourism being a huge money spinning activity, environment can not be stopper. Moreover the government is the main promoter of tourism because it earns a lot of money and also foreign exchange at national level.

In contrast, at least theoretically, pilgrimage is undertaken on a moral and spiritual ground. All religions, being value based, promote a simple and eco friendly living for the people. For example pilgrimage involves simple living, absolute cleanliness and holy thoughts. The mind and body are to be kept impeccably pure and absolute celibacy, austerity and sobriety are to be practiced. Total abstinence from all vices like alcohol, tobacco and non-vegetarian food is stipulated. Irrespective of the religion, it is a test of the patience, belief, spirit of sacrifice, humbleness, kindness, brotherly love, love towards God, readiness to give up all material comforts and conveniences for the will and plan of God. Thus a pilgrim is likely to cause much less damage than a tourist to the environment. This may be understood better from the table below, which lists the conceptual differences between tourism and pilgrimage.
Conceptual Differences
Tourism/tourist Pilgrimage/pilgrim
Sensory pleasure Pleasure of the soul
Ego boosting Ego busting
Temporary enjoyment Lasting Satisfaction
All age groups Generally old people
May be theist or atheist Necessarily theist
Fast track Slow and steady
No religious connection Religious in nature
Done with Surplus money Done through austerity
Done with selfish motive Done with a spirit of sacrifice
Creates turbulence Creates peace
Maximum comfort Minimum comfort
Maximum budget Minimum budget
Maximum Pollution Minimum pollution
Anti health Pro health
Inimical to Environment  Eco-friendly
With increasing population, increasing communications and availability of surplus money there is a mass movement of people whether it is tourism or pilgrimage. Increased travel means increased vehicle pollution, increased garbage containing plastics, other toxic waste etc leading to exponential increase in pollution levels of air, water, sound etc. The most unfortunate development now is that a pilgrim also is developing a tourist mentality with a demand for more comfort, wasting more money and causing greater damage to the environment. With the sharp distinction between a tourist and pilgrim vanishing, there is greater danger than before to the environment. But definitely we can and should try to preserve the earth and delay the inevitable, just as a human being, knowing fully well that one day he will die, makes all out effort to live longer and healthy.
First we need to remind ourselves that India’s density of population is 370/ as against 40/ of US and 140/ of even the highly populated China.
We need to change our concept of ‘development’ promoted by vested interests of both developed countries as well as our own country and invoke the best of our ancient sciences, culture and wisdom.
We need to give a pause to industrial development and clean up our cities, rivers, pilgrim centers and bathing ghats, with a fraction of cost spent being spent on for several wasteful expenditure.
We should ban all wasteful practices in health, education and entertainment followed by developed countries and reintroduce to the extent possible our own ancient practices of simple and eco friendly living.
We should ban the manufacture of dangerous and toxic materials produced wastefully by the industry and change to biodegradable alternatives.
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