- "If there is a country on earth which can justly claim the honor of having been the cradle of the human race….that country assuredly is India”, so wrote the German Philologist and archaeologist Friedrich Creuzer (1771-1858)
- The World's Oldest Civilization: Off the Coast of North Western India - Ancient City Called Dwarka - 9,500 Years Ago Video Series
Our motivations in constructing this website were two-fold: First, our perception that both non-Indians and a large number of Indians lack adequate understanding about India and the enormous contributions ancient Indians had made to world culture. We believe the failure of the Indians stems from the carefully crafted curricula that the British imposed on the Indian educational system. They carefully erased the contributions ancient India and Indians made to all branches of science, to literature and to theology and philosophy. Thus, generations of Indians grew up not even knowing the names of the geniuses who made India from antiquity a magnet for scholars from around the world. Second was the miserable failure of the Indian Government and its Tourism Board in projecting an appropriate image of India, in its advertising series, “Incredible India”. We will elaborate on the latter theme below, at the appropriate section in this “Introduction”.
Our research into the contributions made by ancient Indians in many diverse fields of human endeavor made deep impression on us. We were particularly impressed by their dominance in the fields of theology and philosophy, in mathematics and astronomy, in classical music and dance, their pioneering work in the fields of surgery and medicine and even in fields we had never suspected, such as the martial arts (“Kalarippayatt”). Equally compelling was the fact that India had not been accorded proper acknowledgement by the world community for all these enormous contributions, which is, in the breadth and depth truly unmatched by any other culture. Adding to our distress was the recognition that most of these accomplishments of ancient Indians have been given to other cultures, notably the Arabs (mathematics), Greeks (democracy, philosophy, astronomy) and the other Europeans (mathematics and especially astronomy). Some examples of such intellectual credit transfers are as follows:
- The Arabs who learned from the Indians the notations for the numeral system (numbers from 1-9) and then, with the transmission of these to the Europeans, they (the Arabs) were given credit for them. Thus the notion of “Arab Numerals” appeared. With the recognition of the truth, the scientific community changed that name to “Indo-Arab Numerals” (rather than, simply “Indian Numerals”).
The above figure shows the evolution of the Indian Numeral System
- While the Indians invented the notation for zero (0) and the “Decimal Place value system”, without both of which, useful mathematics could not be done, there are lecture series offered by Professors in American Universities, that do not even mention these two seminal inventions, thus depriving India and Indians the proper credit.
Aryabhata (476 CE), who invented the decimal place value system.
- The Greek mathematician Pythagoras was a student of the Indian mathematician Baudhayana and learned the so-called “Pythagorean Theorem” while there. When he returned home and transmitted that to the locals, no mention of the great Indian Mathematician was made. This still remains unchanged.
Baudhayana, (800 BCE) an Indian Mathematician, who originally
described the so-called “Pythagorean Theorem”
- There are numerous infinite series that bear the names of Europeans (such as Leibnitz series, Gregory series, Fibonacci series etc.) but all of which were described by Indian mathematicians many centuries earlier. Now, with this recognition by the scientific community, a partial redemption has been made by adding the original Indians’ names to the existing name. Again, it would have been more appropriate to remove the Europeans’ names and simply put those in parenthesis as “the earlier or old” name.
Madhava of Sangamagrama (1340 to 1425 CE), who described many of the infinite series,
which were originally credited to European mathematicians.
- The so-called “Caesarean section” was invented by the great Indian surgeon, Sushruta, hundreds of years before the birth of Caesar. This procedure should rightly be called “Sushruta’s section”.
SUSHRUTA (900 BCE), OPERATING ON A PATIENT’S FACE
Another Indian contribution to world civilization was democracy and self-government. At least two centuries before Greece and Rome experimented with this system of government, a small town called Vaishali in Bihar state in present day North India invented this system. This followed the abdication of their king and, his subjects elected officials from among themselves to rule themselves. Of course, the Greeks were given credit for this as well, adding to the contributions this ‘crucible of human civilization had made.
- In astronomy, the Indian notions of gravitation, the elliptical orbits of the planets in the solar system and the axial rotation of the earth giving rise to the illusion of the “heavens” rotating around the earth were all ideas that, a Millennia later, credits for which were given to Europeans (the details of these are in the appropriate section in this series).
Varahmihira (475 CE), who recognized the existence
of gravity, a Millennium before Newton.
- Then there are popular misconceptions about the origin of certain items that began in India and spread to the rest of Asia and elsewhere. Prominent among these are Buddhism (most Westerners believe the Buddha was a Chinese) and the martial arts (“Kalarippayatt”, the ancient martial arts form from South India), that were transmitted to the Chinese by a Buddhist monk called “Bodhidharma”. The Chinese, Japanese and Koreans became associated with developing the systems but few consider India as the source of the system.
Kalarippayatt practitioners in sword fight
It will be interesting to speculate if the spread of Yoga and Meditation will be the next idea of Indian origin that credit could easily be transferred to (perhaps) Americans, centuries from now. That is, if such things as TV programs, DVDs and other recording means had not been available to us. We feel confident that these two will remain known as “Indian” contributions to humanity! Already the condiments and spices that enriched the Indian cuisine, such as coriander, turmeric, cumin, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and many less used items are commonplace in cuisines all over the world. The recognition of the Indian origin of the culinary techniques incorporating such ingredients is already fading; such are the cuisines of the Caribbean and African cultures, and Southeast Asia and the Middle East. Such use is now rampant in Western cuisines as well; how the Indian condiments enriched the world culinary culture will be easily forgotten. Lest, series such as ours remind the visitors of them.
Even more interesting are actual food items of Indian origin that were co-opted by other cultures and given new names. Some examples of these are, Samoosa (an Indian spicy “appetizer”) became “Sambusa” in Ethiopian cuisine; the Indian Protta became “Roti Chanai in Malaysia and Singapore; the South Indian Masala Vada (a snack) transformed into the Middle Eastern “falafel“; the Indian classic Biriyani turned into “Yellow rice” in Malaysia and their favorite item for wedding receptions. There are numerous such examples; in fact, wherever Indians had traveled, their cuisine influenced the local palate, sometimes to such a degree, it is now impossible to even recognize the origin of the dishes. There are many examples of these in the Caribbean and Malaysian cuisines. There are also whole regional cuisines that are based on the Indian system. For example the various “curries” that the Thai cuisine is famous for. The latest innovation in the Western (especially the American) cuisine is the addition of curry powder or Garam masala , both of which are mixtures of Indian spices. When cardamom or cinnamon is added to the western style desserts, the credit should also go to India.
Our second motivation stemmed from the fact that the Indian government had done such a dismal job of popularizing India’s natural gifts and achievements. When one sees the (usually) silly advertisements Indian government’s tourism board puts out in the West, one could easily cringe. These advertisements are, presumably, made with the purpose of informing the would-be traveler to India and make them really want to undertake the journey.
The Buddha Mahatma Gandhi
The exquisite temple carvings of Khajuraho
TAJ MAHAL, AGRA
It is difficult to see how a Westerner would want to travel to India, just because the advertisements show a middle-aged man with a prominent moustache or aboriginal women trekking the land. It is incomprehensible that such advertisements have never focused on topics such as the Buddha, Gandhi, the Indian geniuses who gave us mathematics, the variety of architectural gems peppered all over India (not just the Taj Mahal), the exquisite temple carvings of Khajuraho, the rich variety of fauna and flora that are indigenous to India, the major Indian cities, the vast coastal areas and the beaches, all of which are just the tip of the iceberg. Pilgrims from East and Southeast Asian countries would flock to the sacred sites of Buddhism. Pilgrims of another sort, from perhaps the colder countries of Europe could easily be drawn to the lush landscape of Kerala and Goa and, especially in the former, the air-conditioned “House boats”. Some segments in this series provide even more pictures of such locations.
SHOWN ABOVE ARE TWO SCENES FROM HIMACHAL PRADESH
AN UTTARAKHAND MOUNTAIN SCENERY
We hope this website will help dispel the ignorance of many of the viewers about the wide variety of landscape India has. For example, India has, on its northern border temperate places with scenery that can match anywhere in Switzerland. India also has mangroves in its Northeastern state of Bengal and dry, desert-like places on its Northwestern parts such as Rajasthan. By the way this parched-land scenery is what comes to most people’s minds when they think about India. Once again, this is a failure of the government of India.
ACCOLADES FROM WORLD SCHOLARS
India’s contributions to world culture were colorfully described by Mark Twain as follows:
“This is India; Cradle of human race, birthplace of human speech, mother of history, grandmother of legend, great grandmother of tradition, whose yesterdays bear date with the smoldering antiquities of the rest of the nations…India had the start of the whole world in the beginning of things. She had the first civilization, she had the first accumulation of material wealth, she has the populous with deep thinkers and the subtle intellects; she had mines and woods and fruitful soil”.
Indeed, Mark Twain was right on target. In every field of human endeavor, Indians had made their mark. In its long and illustrious existence as a civilization, which, probably extends at least as far as 7 to 9 thousand BCE (the now-submerged city of Dwarka, which is located near the coast of Gujarat in North West India bears witness to this), it even made the first city-dwelling civilization, about 3 Millennia before the Sumerians. The video segments posted below explain further the archeological findings in Dwarka. Please visit:
Below, we will post quotations from some other eminent scholars about the significance of the Indian civilization:
Will Durant, the Pulitzer Prize winning American author wrote in The Case for India: "India was the mother of our race and Sanskrit the mother of Europe's languages. She was the mother of our philosophy, mother through the Arabs, of much of our mathematics, mother through the Buddha, of the ideals embodied in Christianity, mother through village communities of self-government and democracy. Mother India is in many ways the mother of us all"
“ India is the primal source, the mother country”: Sir. Yehudi Menuhin (1915-1999).
“ India early created the beginning of nearly all of the sciences, some of which she carried forward to remarkable degrees of development, thus leading the world”. So wrote Rev. Jabez T. Sunderland (1842-1936). He continued: “India was a far greater industrial and manufacturing nation than any in Europe or than any other in Asia….She had great engineering works. She had great merchants, great businessmen, great bankers and financiers.”
H.M. Hyndman (1842-1921) an eminent British publicist wrote: “ Many hundreds of years before the coming of the English, the nations of India had been a collection of wealthy and highly civilized people, possessed of great language with an elaborate code of laws and social regulations, with exquisite artistic taste in architecture and decoration, producing conceptions which have greatly influenced the development of the most progressive races of the West.”
Beatrice Pitney Lamb, former editor of he United Nations News wrote in her book: India: A world in transition: “ In addition to the still visible past glories of art and architecture, the wonderful ancient literature…. For well over a millennium and a half, the Indian subcontinent may have been the richest area in the world.”
General Joseph Davey, (1812-1851), the author of “A History of the Sikhs” wrote: “ Mathematical science was so perfect and astronomical observations so complete that the paths of the sun and the moon were accurately measured.”
William Cooke Taylor (1800- 1849), the author of “A Popular History of British India” Wrote: “ It was an astounding discovery that Hindustan possessed, in spite of the changes of the realms and changes of time, a language of unrivalled richness and variety; a language, the parent of all those dialects that Europe has fondly called classical- the source alike of Greek flexibility and Roman strength.”
Count Louis Hamon Cheiro (1866-1936) wrote: “ Long before Rome or Greece or Israel was even heard of, the mountains of India point back to an age, of learning, beyond, and still beyond. From the astronomical calculations that the figures in their temples represent, it has been estimated that the Hindu understood the precession of the equinoxes centuries before the Christian era.”
Lord Curzon (1859-1925) viceroy of India from 1899-1905 and Chancellor of Oxford University wrote: “ Powerful empires existed and flourished here (in India) while Englishmen were still wandering, painted in the woods and while the English colonies were a wilderness and a jungle.”
The German philologist and archaeologist, Friedrich Creuzer (1771-1858) wrote in “The Mother of Us All”: “If there is country on earth which can justly claim the honor of having been the cradle of the human race or at least the scene of primitive civilization, the successive developments of which carried into all parts of the ancient world….that country assuredly is India.”
Ali bin Abi Talib, the Fourth Caliph (656-661) wrote in Hindu Muslim Cultural Accord, “The land where books were first written and from where wisdom and knowledge sprang is India.”
Freidrich von Schlegel (1772-1829), the German writer, critic, philosopher, philologist and author wrote: “ Great India is not only at the origin of everything, she is superior in everything, intellectually, religiously or politically and even the Greek heritage seems pale in comparison. Here is the actual source of all languages, all the thoughts and poems of the human spirit; everything, everything without exception comes from India.”
So, how did India end up as a symbol of poverty and backwardness in the world? This had taunted me for a long time. What happened to Bihar, which was from time immemorial the seat of culture and government in India (Magadha in Hindu mythology) is illustrative of what happens to a nation that has material wealth and goods coveted by foreigners. Bihar state in modern India is poor and near the bottom of the pile among the Indian states, in both literacy rate and Human Development Index (HDI). This transformation was the direct result of centuries of invasions of India by, especially the Muslims and destruction of the monuments, temples and other structures of value, until Magadha’s soul was destroyed.
Even before the time of Alexander the Great, India was a magnet to foreign invaders as well as traders and scholars. Even Christopher Columbus who set sail and charted a course to the West, and had no knowledge of a landmass in his way, was going in pursuit of the “Indies”. Wave after wave of Islamic and Central Asian invasions had already begun to suck the lifeblood of India in the latter part of the first Millennium CE. by these Muslim invaders. But the process was completed by the European colonizers, who unlike the Muslims, did not make India their home but looted the wealth of India and gave precious little in return. While Europe reaped the benefits of this transfer of wealth, which fueled the Industrial revolution and scientific developments, the Indians were not given the benefit of such improvements in industries, improvement in education or proper control of population growth. Is there any wonder then, by the time the British finally left India, the country was one of the poorest in the world, and having almost insurmountable problems in every aspect of life? It should be remembered that India under the Mughal rule (right before the European colonization) was the richest country in the world, having 20% of the world GDP! The newly free India had to literally build industrial, educational, healthcare, family planning and all other aspects of the society, literally from scratch. After seventy years of independence, India is now poised to regain its prior eminence and its rightful place in the world.