To think 💭 and act like a philosopher

Philosophers starting from Socrates, who lived in the 5th century B.C., to Bertrand Russell of “Why I am not a Christian” fame, have fascinated me for a long time. The only reason for my fascination is that all of them used to think differently, mostly on abstract subjects such as “What is the purpose of life?” or “What is justice?” or “Why are we here?” Not only do they think differently, but also expose sophisms, spot fallacies and guide our reasoning.

Philosophers spend many years, nay decades, honing their skills on thinking vertically or laterally. They use their own tools to regiment their thinking. Their main tools are inductive and deductive logic. Students who study logic as a subject know the intricacies of learning it.

Although not all those who study logic or philosophy may become philosophers, they become better thinkers and leaders. We encounter many difficult problems in our daily lives. We use our life experiences to find answers to such questions or to improve our performance. In philosophy this is known as “heuristics”.

Other applications

Heuristics is not confined to philosophy. It is useful in other subjects such as photography, calligraphy and psychology. What is more, we use common heuristics in mathematics and even in creative writing. Applying heuristics is not a complicated process. When you have a problem, try to modify it before solving. William S. Burroughs and David Bowie say heuristics can be successfully applied to creative writing. For instance, when you write a short story or poem it can be rearranged, rewritten and edited until you are satisfied with the final version.

Philosophers are known to be wise men. This is mainly because they are lovers of wisdom. We have wisdom in varying degrees.

We may not all be as wise as Albert Einstein, but we can enrich our wisdom by studying various subjects and reading books that challenge our intellect.

Analytic philosophy teaches us how to argue and arrive at a valid conclusion. For instance, we can have a number of premises to arrive at a conclusion. If your main premise is true, your conclusion will be valid.

The herd at work

One major human frailty is that most people do not want to think and act. They want to follow somebody’s instructions and act accordingly. This is why India has not developed as a nation. We believe what politicians say and elect them as our representatives. When they become rogues, we are unable to remove them from their positions. There should be a legal provision that empowers voters to remove self-serving politicians from Parliament.

We should not leave thinking to philosophers. We also can think like philosophers if we try.

A portrait of Rene Descartes, the Father of Modern Philosophy and France’s greatest philosopher, hangs in the Louvre Museum in Paris. He looks out at you from heavy-lidded eyes, aloof and somewhat arrogant. After building a whole philosophical system while sitting by the fireplace, Descartes boldly said, “What is taught in schools in the name of Logic is nothing but holding forth without judgment about things one does not know.” In other words, he believed that scholastic logic is not really the logic of discovery.

A difference

According to some philosophers, thinking philosophically is not the same as thinking logically. Philosophers have a passionate curiosity for analytical thinking. On the other hand, most ordinary people do not have a passionate curiosity when it comes to thinking. What they want is to think logically and arrive at a solution.

In this sense, you do not have to be a philosopher to think philosophically. However, if you are grappling with a problem of great magnitude, you have to think philosophically.

Karma and Reincarnation

Some are born happy, enjoy perfect health, with beautiful body, mental vigor and all wants supplied. Others are born miserable, some are without hands or feet, others again are idiots and only drag on a wretched existence. If they are all created, why does a just and merciful God create one happy and another unhappy, why is He so partial? Nor would it mend matters in the least to hold that those who are miserable in this life will be happy in a future one. Why should a person be miserable even here in the reign of a just and merciful God?
In the second place, the idea of a creator God does not explain the anomaly, but simply expresses the cruel fiat of an all-powerful being. There must have been causes, then, before our birth, to make us miserable or happy and those were our past actions.
Are not all the tendencies of the mind and the body accounted for by inherited aptitude? Here are two parallel lines of existence–one of the mind the other of matter. If matter and its transformations answer for all that we have, there is no necessity for supposing the existence of a [mind and a] soul. But it cannot be proved that thought has evolved out of matter, and if a philosophical monism is inevitable, spiritual monism is certainly logical and no less desirable than a materialistic monism; but neither of these is necessary here.
We cannot deny that bodies acquire certain tendencies from heredity, but those tendencies only mean the physical configuration through which a peculiar mind alone can act in a peculiar way. There are other tendencies peculiar to a mind caused by the person’s past actions. And a soul with a certain mental tendency would by the laws of affinity take birth in a body which is the fittest instrument for the display of that tendency. This is in accord with science, for science wants to explain everything by habit, and habit is got through repetitions. So repetitions are necessary to explain the natural habits of a new-born soul. And since they were not obtained in this present life, they must have come down from past lives.
There is another suggestion. Taking all these for granted, how is it that I do not remember anything of my past life? This can be easily explained. I am now speaking English. It is not my mother tongue, in fact no words of my mother tongue are now present in my consciousness; but let me try to bring them up, and they rush in. That shows that consciousness is only the surface of the mental ocean, and within its depths are stored up all our experiences. Try and struggle, they would come up and you would be conscious even of your past life.
This is direct and demonstrative evidence. Verification is the perfect proof of a theory, and here is the challenge thrown to the world by the Rishis. We have discovered the secret by which the very depths of the ocean of memory can be stirred up–try it and you would get a complete reminiscence of your past life.

Swami Vivekananda
Parliament of religion
Chicago 1993

A geopolitics game 

In early 1987, U.S. President Ronald Reagan had difficult choices to make on the future of Afghanistan. As the Soviet Union planned its pull-out, the U.S. government, more notably the Central Investigation Agency, had been arming mujahideen fighters trained by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence to hasten the process by pushing out the Soviet army. Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was, given his close ties with the Soviet leadership and a growing friendship with Reagan, trying to advocate a path of conciliation that clashed with Pakistan’s plans to control Kabul: a government of national unity supporting the newly appointed President Najibullah. After months of considering the Indian case for a “non-aligned” Afghanistan, however, Reagan and the U.S. Congress chose the other course, transferring funds, arms and responsibility for the outcome to Pakistan. The rest is history.In 2001, after the 9/11 attacks, U.S. President George W. Bush had a similarly complex decision to make on the future of Afghanistan. The attacks had brought a rare moment of global unity, one which saw Russia, India, China, Pakistan and Iran pledge support to the U.S.’s plan to defeat the Taliban and its al-Qaeda guests. Within months, however, the bonhomie was banished with three words, as Mr. Bush pronounced Iran, along with Iraq and North Korea, as the “Axis of Evil”, choosing Pakistan as its ally to continue its war in Afghanistan.
In 2017, President Donald Trump is in the same place as his administration finalises its Af-Pak policy review to be announced in July, and New Delhi once again has its hopes up that the U.S. will take a stern view of Pakistan’s support to the Taliban and its use of terror groups that target both Afghan and Indian interests. But while the Trump administration has openly called for a cut in military aid to Islamabad, New Delhi would be missing the wood for the trees if it doesn’t see how the U.S.’s actions in other theatres besides Afghanistan — West Asia, South China Sea and multilateral organisations — is equally important to India’s future.
Mr. Trump’s first foreign visit was to Saudi Arabia, where he presided over a grand show of Arab-Islamic unity. His wholehearted support to Saudi Arabia, his call for a unity of the Abrahamic faiths (Christianity, Islam and Judaism) and his open call to isolate Iran, however, came unstuck within days. Saudi Arabia and several other nations decided to blockade Qatar, calling for it to cut ties with Iran, ban the Muslim Brotherhood and shut down the Al Jazeera media network which they said targets the rest of the Gulf’s leadership. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj dismissed fears of any impact on India from the move. But the government must go beyond the obvious to assess its impact.
To begin with, the move to squeeze Qatar’s ties with Iran will only serve to isolate Tehran further, a mere two years after it been brought out of sanctions, and will force New Delhi to curtail its links as well. In April this year, state-owned refiners including the Indian Oil Corporation said they would cut imports from Iran by 20% in a bid to pressure Tehran to award the Farzad-B gas field to a consortium led by ONGC Videsh. Iran reacted angrily, slashing the credit period given to Indian refiners from 90 days to 60 days. In the weeks that followed, it announced an agreement with Russia’s Gazprom for Farzad-B, and reports indicate Iran may also diversify Chabahar port’s dealings beyond India, by inviting China to help with managing its ports. It would follow naturally that as Mr. Trump, who has already convinced Prime Minister Narendra Modi to make India’s first order for crude oil from the U.S. this month, pushes for New Delhi to deal less with Tehran, Iran will look away from its cooperation with India on Afghanistan and more towards the growing alliance between Russia, China and Pakistan instead.
For Afghanistan’s government too, the move to cut Qatar out effectively constricts its cooperation on promoting talks with the Taliban based in Doha, though India has always disapproved of the reconciliation process. Finally, Mr. Trump’s plans for troop levels in Afghanistan seem modest at best, and according to a leaked memo the White House, he would like the numbers of American troops to add to the current 8,400 capped at 3,900. Given that President Barack Obama’s 2009 surge of troops to 100,000 had little impact on the war in Afghanistan, this implies that the U.S. will simply cede more space to Russian-led efforts. India thus risks becoming partner to a player whose military role in Afghanistan is in decline over a more nascent alliance.
A similar relinquishing of space can be gleaned from Mr. Trump’s moves with China. While New Delhi felt justifiably happy with theIndia-U.S. joint statement’s mention of China’s Belt and Road initiative in line with its concerns on sovereignty issues, the fact is that the Trump administration has baulked at much of the strong language the Obama administration preferred on the South China Sea. Instead of saying the two countries would “ensure” freedom of navigation, overflight and commerce through the Indo-Pacific region, the Trump-Modi statement only “reiterates the importance of respecting freedom of navigation, overflight, and commerce throughout the region”. No mention is made of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea — under which a tribunal ruled against China’s claims in the South China Sea — which was referred to the previous year. The impact of this will only serve to embolden China’s moves on its other frontiers, most notably in South Asia, with the ongoing Doklam stand-off as one indicator. In the bigger picture, Mr. Trump’s geopolitical moves thus far can be seen as empowering regional bullies in their spheres of influence: Russia, China, Saudi Arabia and so on.
Ceding space globally
Meanwhile, Mr. Trump is rapidly vacating the U.S.’s space in multilateral spheres. The U.S. has reneged on the Paris accord, something that was in sharp focus at the recently held G20 in Hamburg, and India faces a slashing of the climate change fund that was meant to help keep its commitments on renewable energy as a result. On free trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the U.S. has already voted with its feet. And at the UN, Mr. Trump’s obvious lack of interest in funding the world body will drastically cut resources for peacekeeping and other projects that India has an interest in.
As a result, Mr. Trump’s decision on Afghanistan must be closely watched, but without unrealistic expectations. For India, the impact of Mr. Trump’s world view and international policies are better judged not by the closeness of his embraces with Mr. Modi, but the spaces that he is ceding across the globe.

The monster in our drawing rooms

Ten million famine deaths are expected to take place in parts of Africa over the next few years. Around 300,000 indebted farmers have committed suicide in the hinterlands of India since 1995. At least 150,000 people have been killed by war in Afghanistan and Pakistan since 2001, and about half a million in Syria since 2011.
Do you want to be quoted the figures from Iraq, Libya, Sudan? The Christians killed in Egypt; the Muslims killed in Burma; the innocents mowed down by gun-rights fanatics in the U.S.; the refugees allowed to drown off the coasts of European nations?
 There is a monster sitting in our drawing rooms, and it has been swelling like a bedbug on all this bloodshed.
Was it always there, a homunculus hidden in the folds of our sofa, sucking tiny drops of blood every time we refused to protest the brutalisation of some person or group different from us in terms of caste, colour, religion, region, gender or sexuality?
How did it enter?

करवट लेते मौसम क़े फुहार का असर 

“अरे….. चार ही दिन के लिए तो आई हूँ.. हुआ क्या है तुम्हें ?”
“थोड़े ज्यादा रोमांटिक हो गए जुदाई में सरकार बस… और तस्वीरें ही तो मांगी है ?”
“मगर कल शाम ही तो भेजी थी ना तुम्हे सेल्फी.. आज नयी चाहिए ?”
“उल्टा ही असर होता है… हम फोटो मांग मांग के परेशान कर रहे कि इसी बहाने ये डांटे

क्या फोटो फोटो ? सारा दिन खाली तस्वीरें लेती रहूँ तुम्हारे लिए…

करोगे क्या इतनी तस्वीरों का ? जमा तो कर रखी हैं हज़ार अपने फ़ोन में ! उनसे मन नहीं भरा ?

फिर तुम्हें फील गुड होगा… किसी को हक़ से डांटा भी जा सकता है… WOW

लेकिन तुम हो की उल्टा ही असर होता है तुमपर…”
“मैं सोच ही रही थी की पूछूं, करते क्या हो इतनी तस्वीरों का ?”
“तस्वीरों का अपना फायदा है ! कितनी भी देर घूरो वो शिकायत नहीं करती ना | ऐसे गौर से क्या देख रहे टाइप के कोई सवाल नहीं आते |”
“तो यूँ कहों ना, कोई गूंगी ढूंढनी चाहिए थी तुम्हें | फिर कोई शिकायत नहीं करती, अपनी मन मर्ज़ी चलाया करते | वैसे सोच रही थी जो नयी तस्वीरें ना भेजूं तो ?”
“फिर क्या ? जरा सा सर तो झुकाना है | नजर आ ही जाओगी…

शीशा-ए-दिल में छिपा है, ऐ सितमगर तेरा प्यार 

जब ज़रा गर्दन झुकाई, देख ली तस्वीर-ए-यार”
“उफ़ मियां मजनूं… बातें बनाने में तुमसे कौन जीते… रखो फ़ोन भेजती हूँ..”

एक दिन ऑफिस धोती पहन कर चला गया, उसके बाद जो हुआ वो आप खुद ही देखिये

हर वर्ष समूचे विश्व में 19 जून को विश्व प्रजातीय दिवस [वर्ल्ड एथनिक डे] ज़ोर शोर से मनाया जाता है। हर वैश्विक संस्था का अनुकरण करने के उद्देश्य से भारतीय संस्थाएं भी इस दिन में छोटा ही सही, पर अपना योगदान भी देती है। एक संस्था, जिसके लिए मैं काम करता हूँ, ने भी इसका अनुसरण किया और इस अवसर के हिसाब से सभी को पहनने को कहा। ईमेल में दिये गए निर्देशानुसार मैंने एक सफ़ेद धोती पहनी, और साथ में एक सादा लाल कुर्ता पहना। पहनावे को पूरा करने के लिए मैंने कोल्हापुरी चप्पलें भी पहन ली।
अपने पहनावे पर मुझे गर्व था, और उसी में मैंने सुबह सुबह अपने कार्यालय के लिए लोकल ट्रेन पकड़ी। पर आज सब कुछ अलग लग रहा था, और मुझे ज़्यादा समय नहीं लगा यह पता करने में की क्यूँ?

पूरा कंपार्ट्मेंट ऑफिस या कॉलेज जाने वाले युवा पीढ़ी से भरा हुआ था, जिनके लिए ये दृश्य कुछ हद तक अकल्पनीय था। वैसे भी ऐसे बड़े शहरों में कॉलेज या ऑफिस कोई पारंपरिक परिधान में क्यों आएगा? पर जिस चीज़ ने मुझे अचंभित किया, वो था मेरे परिधान के प्रति पूरे दिन मिलने वाले तीव्र प्रतिक्रियाओं पर।
ऑफिस पहुँचने पर एक अलग ही दृश्य देखने को मिला। जहां महिलाओं ने गर्व से अपनी साड़ियाँ दिखाई, वहीं वहाँ पर ऐसे ज़्यादा पुरुष नहीं दिखे, जिनहोने सच में सम्पूर्ण भारतीय परिधान पहना हो। ऐसा नहीं था की किसी ने न पहना हो, पर अधिकांश लोगों ने बड़े चाव से जीन्स और टी शर्ट पहनी थी। भारतीय परिधान जो भी था, वो खिचड़ी की तरह मिश्रित था, जैसे इंडोवेस्टेर्न्स, पोलो पेंट के साथ छोटे कुर्ते, चूड़ीदार पाजामों के साथ जोधपुरी बंधगला, या फिर शेरवानी। पर सम्पूर्ण भारतीय परिवेश में होते हुये भी मैं वहाँ अजनबी लग रहा था, ऐसे दिन पर, जब अपने परिधान को वहाँ गर्व से पहनना चाहिए था।
और इसपे प्रतिक्रिया? बाप रे बाप, खुद ही देखिये इनकी समझ……….

एक बंदा चौंकते हुये पूछा – तुम इसमें चल कैसे लेते हो?
दूसरा बंदा – ये गिरता नहीं है क्या?

चूड़ीदार में घुटता आदमी पूछता है – डूड , सेफ़्टी पिंस लगाई है न?
एक और भाई बोला:- भाई कुछ ज़्यादा हो गया?
इससे मेरे दिमाग में कई खयाल उभर आए:-
मालगुडी डेज़ को ही ले लीजिये, जब एक युवा स्वामी धोती में भागता था, या अपने सुपरस्टार रजनीकान्त को ही देख लीजिये, जो बड़े गर्व से अपने लुंगी बांधने की कला दुनिया को दिखाते हैं। अपने देश के इतिहास में ये सर्वविदित है की कैसे कुर्ता धोती या लुंगी प्राचीन हिन्दू सभ्यता का एक अभिन्न हिस्सा बन गया, अब छलांग मारिए 2017 पे, और देखिये की कैसे धोती कुर्ते को ही बड़े शहरों से निष्कासित कर दिया, और कैसे ये विडम्बना अब भारत के ग्रामीण इलाकों में सेंध डाल रही है।
आजकल के मेट्रो शहर में लोग धोती कुर्ते को अनपढ़ गंवार का पहनावा समझते हैं, जिसे पश्चिमी सभ्यता और विचारधारा की रत्ती भर भी समझ नहीं है। अरे इन मंदबुद्धियों को कौन समझाये की रमन इफैक्ट का आविष्कार करने वाले सीवी रमन, हमारे अमर क्रांतिकारी और बहुरूपिया श्री चन्द्र शेखर आज़ाद, या फिर खुद हमारे देश के महान बापू, महात्मा गांधी, सब कुर्ता धोती में आते जाते थे। ऐसा नहीं है की पाश्चात्य सोच हानिकारक है, पर उस सोच का क्या औचित्य, जो हमें हमारी ही सभ्यता को भूलने में शाबाशी समझे? भारतीय युवा पिछले 3 दशकों में अपने आप को आधुनिकता के नाम पर ऐसी अंधाधुंध दौड़ में लगा दिया है, और अपने जड़ों से ऐसा विमुख ये हुये हैं, की इन्हे 2017 में धोती पहनना हास्यास्पद प्रतीत होता है।

और इस अलगाव की भावना को और तूल दिया कथित मिशनरी संस्थाओं ने अपने मीडिया के दलालों के जरिये हमारे दिमागों में ये डाला की भारत और उसकी सभ्यता असभ्य लोगों की सभ्यता है, और हमारे परिधान गँवार बंजारों वाले। स्कूल की किताबें हो या टीवी सिरियल/ मूवी, हर जगह भोले भारतियों को उनकी सभ्यता के विरुद्ध बरगलाने की कोशिश की गयी है, मानो भारतीय सभ्यता नकारा है, और पश्चिमी सभ्यता खुशहाल और अलौकिक। हिन्दी अनपढ़ गँवारों की भाषा है और अंग्रेजी सभ्य लोगों की भाषा। धोती कुर्ता लाचारों और बेरोजगारों के लिए है और जीन्स टी शर्ट सभ्य, वैश्विक नागरिकों के लिए।
हैरानी की बात है की 21वीं सदी के उदारवादियों को प्रसन्न करने के लिए लोग अपने ही सभ्यता से मुंह मोड रहे हैं, और कुछ भी जो भारतीय सभ्यता के नजदीक है, उसका बुरी तरह मज़ाक उड़ाते हैं। जो सोच अंग्रेजों ने प्रसारित की है, और बाद में एवंजेलिस्ट मिशनरियों ने, वो इतनी अंदर तक समा गयी है, की लोगों को पता ही नहीं चलता, की कैसे और क्यों, हर रोज़ उन्हे बरगलाया और बहकाया जाता है।
भारत जैसे गरम और उमस से परिपूर्ण देश में धोती या लुंगी से बेहतर क्या परिधान हो सकता है भाई? चाहे दक्षिण में लुंगी या मुंडु हो, यहाँ अरुणाचल प्रदेश में पहनी जाने वाली चदोर या रिगू हो, मणिपुर का फनेक/ सरोंग हो या फिर मेघालय में पहनी जाने वाली जैनसेन हो, ऐसे परिधान हमारे पूर्वजों की धरोहरें है। पहले के परिधान हमारे सुविधा अनुसार बनाए जाते थे, जबकि आज के परिधान, चाहे औपचारिक हों, या अनौपचारिक, सिर्फ शोशेबाजी के लिए बनाए जाते हैं।
निष्कर्ष:-

ये सच है की किसी को भी क्या पहनना चाहिए और क्या खाना चाहिए, इस पर उपदेश देने का अधिकार नहीं है, पर इसका अर्थ यह नहीं की 21वीं सदी में आगे बढ्ने के नाम पर हम अपने ही जड़ों से विमुख हो जाएँ, अपनी ही संस्कृति को ठेंगा दिखाएँ। सोश्ल मीडिया के प्रभाव और लोगों में बढ़ती जागरूकता के कारण, एक सभ्यता वापसी का अभियान चलाया जा सकता है। पूर्वोत्तर और मेट्रो शहरों के वासी दक्षिण भारत से थोड़ी प्रेरणा ले सकते हैं, जहां आज भी लुंगी और मुंडु को बड़े सम्मान से देखा और पहना जाता ह!

On This Day 20 Years Ago, I Met A Kid Called Harry Potter & It Was The Start Of A Life-Long Friendship

On this day, 20 years ago, I came across a green eyed-English boy, who lived in the Cupboard Under The Stairs, at Number 4 Privet Drive in Little Whinging Surrey. He wasn’t much different from other kids of his age, well except his cousin, Dudley. Dressed oddly in old overgrown clothes, the boy was good and kind; you could tell it from his eyes. Specs, and a lightning bolt scar on his forehead, was how J.K Rowling introduced Harry Potter to us. I saw him being dropped at a doorstep, with a letter addressed to his only living family. I saw him being bullied by his cousin, mistreated by his family, and when I could not possibly imagine why….

I saw him talking to a snake at a zoo.

And I knew, this boy was different. Nevertheless, I saw him bearing the consequences of this little magical adventure, till one day, we saw a letter addressed to him. I saw him struggle to grasp even one of hundreds of such mails when they burst through bolted doors and out of the fireplace and windows and chimneys.
I was there when the poor kid drew a cake on sand to celebrate his 11th birthday and a big bearded man broke through the door with a tiny pink umbrella saying the only words of wisdom
And things were never the same again. The boy ventured into the heart of the wizarding world with a giant, and everybody seemed to know who he was. And as the mystery unfolded, we saw Potter choose his weapon of choice. 
Hogwarts And boy, was it magical!
And his first ride on the broomstick.
I saw him meet Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger, the trio that beat odds to defeat the Dark Lord, several times in the course of the 7 books and 8 movies

And what would have Mr Potter done without them
I was there when Harry Potter competed in the Triwizard Tournament. And won. And mind you, even while he faced the worst fears a 14-year-old could ever think of, he thought of saving his friends first.
I saw him rise to the occasion when Albus Dumbledore put all his faith and his life, along with the task of defeating Lord Voldemort on his shoulders
We were both angered by the betrayal, that caused the murder of Albus Dumbledore
I was also present, well not technically, (that would have been creepy), when Harry had his first kiss.
Raise your wands, if you stuck with Harry till the end.

Thank you Harry Potter for coming into my life, for casting a magical spell and changing my life forever. 

In a religion versus science situation, Turkish schools will no longer teach Darwin’s theory of evolution

Turkey’s National Education Ministry announced a new secondary school curriculum this year, in which the chapter “Beginning of Life and Evolution”, based on iconic English biologist Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution will be deleted from the standard Biology textbooks used in high schools. In other words, from now a Turkish student finishing high school would not have learnt about one of the most important scientific theories – a building block towards a scientific mindset – which explains the diversity of life on earth to have emerged via a common descent through natural selection and gradual adaptation.The move has been criticised by Turkey’s main opposition party, who has referred to it as an attempt to “condemn the Turkish public to darkness”. However, as per the educational authorities, the “controversial” material (theory of evolution) was “difficult” for an average student to understand, therefore it will only be made available to college or university bound students, aged 18 or 19. The new curriculum goes into effect starting academic year 2017-18, which has been formulated in accordance with “Turkish values”, said Alparslan Durmus, head of the Turkey’s National Education Board, as per the Deutsche Welle report. The deputy Prime Minister of Turkey, Numan Kurtulmus, said earlier this year that Darwin’s theory, first published in the 19th century, was ‘old and rotten’ and did not necessarily have to be taught.
The issue of teaching evolution has been a long standing one. In 2009, the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK) had suspended the editor of its monthly magazine over a cover featuring Darwin. In 2013, TUBITAK had stopped publishing books on evolution. Even 6-7 years ago, Turkish science textbooks seated creationism at par with theory of evolution. Creationism is the Biblical and Qur’anic belief that the universe and living organisms originate from specific acts of divine creation (God), as opposed of scientific processes like evolution. Thus Charles Darwin’s theory has been rejected by both Christian and Muslim creationists all over the world.

For over a decade now, a culture war has been underway between religiously conservative and secular Turks and the conservatives have been dominating. Many Muslim conservatives in Turkey, who have been in power under the rule of the Islamic Justice and Development Party (AKP), find the Theory of Evolution to be inimical to Islam and feel that they need to protect young students from such ‘harmful’, ‘corrosive’, ‘anti-Islamic’ ideas. 

In actuality, faith and science are separate, and have different domains. The former need not supplant the latter, as it’s better to be pious and informed, as opposed to pious and uninformed. But placement of faith on the same plane as scientific facts and theories, allowing it to mix with the latter and be discussed in the same vein, is hardly limited to Turkey.

In the United States, thousands of public and private schools in Christian conservative states and pockets were revealed in 2014 to be casting doubt on basic science by prioritising teaching Creationism over evolution. Another example is the conservative Republican Party’s attempts to curtail the abortion rights of all women, irrespective of socio-economic or medical reasons and even in cases of rape and incest, such that the Church’s emphasis on sanctity of human life (aka unborn embryos) is treated at par with, and indeed allowed to override, valid circumstances and considerations of the real, physical world.

The mixing of faith and science in modern world is also not limited to the religions of the book. In India, this has been amply conspicuous lately when the rhetoric of science gets employed to explain the head of Ganesh or Puskpak Vimana in Ramayana or when Yoga and Ayurveda — with a part of their origin and claim in the spiritual domain — are touted as cure-all, complete systems.

The Story of Calculus: How Europeans Claimed Credit for this Branch of Mathematics that India invented

(Refrence of facts is also given below)

The story of Calculus is intriguing and reveals that our Indian mathematical system was not only far advanced and ahead by centuries, in concepts, calculations and precisions, from the rest of the world, but was also subjected to unlimited appropriations by westerners to claim it as their own. When in fact, all they did is mostly application and compilation of the existing Indian results. The fact of the research and matter is that Calculus was neither a European invention nor anything close was the subject of their thoughts until the dire needs of the Church to travel abroad and spread Christianity had them stumbled upon the vast Indian mathematical knowledge-body.
But sadly, the history of (mathematical and other) science as commonly taught to us in India is mostly and ‘falsely’ Eurocentric. Not only this, nearly all the fundamental knowledge in Astronomy[1], navigation, agriculture and mathematics that European countries claim to have mastered was either taken as it is from India to Europe or was translated and secretly transported to Europe in a ‘mission’ mode. This all started in 16th[2] century from Greece and with the help of Arabs who retransmitted almost everything what they had learnt from India to Europe[3].This happened via either trade, missions of Jesuit priests, in the name of European scholarly pursuits and scholarly translations of existing Indian mathematical and astronomical systems.  

What is known in the world today as modern calculus of the 17th century due to Newton and Leibniz was the direct result of the use of all the fundamentals (infinitesimals, infinite series[4], since cosine series etc.) that were developed independently in India.
To substantiate our claims, we first need to look at the major developments in two other parts of the world at that time, besides Europe and India: Greece (or ancient Greek) and Arabs – the two main countries where the Scientific literature from India was consumed and used for transportation to Europe.
Mathematical Story of Greece
Mathematics in Greece predates that of Europe by several centuries but Greek language and culture spread across these areas to a great extent and hence mathematics published in England, America, German (even Moritz Cantor) thus have only dealt with Greek mathematics largely in their works. (But Literature of Greece itself was all Indian underneath with Greece polishing).
To know the chronology of all the inventions and discoveries that happened in Greek, the ages can be laid down as follows:
From Greek Dark Ages (c. 1100 – c. 800 BC) to classical antiquity (8th –7th century BC – times of Homer), no evidence of development related to calculus or geometry can be found. Then followed the ages of classical Greece, Hellenistic period (323-146 BC), end of “Ancient Greece” (30 BC), emergence of Christianity and the decline of the Roman Empire (5th century AD), end of Antiquity culminating in the Early Middle Ages (600–1000 AD).

Beginning of elementary geometry is credited to Thales (ca. 624–548 BC) who gave Thales theorem and Intercept theorem using deductive proofs. Contributions of Pythagoras (c. 570 – c. 495 BC) are still debatable – so as of Aristotle (384–322 BC) for his influential and aesthetic philosophy over his mathematical abilities. Nevertheless, geometry was founding its roots with his theorems. Now, the only precursor to calculus was the method of exhaustion used by Antiphon (5th century BC) – and later by Archimedes (c. 287 – c. 212 BC) and Exodus (c. 390– c. 337 BC), student of Plato, who proved areas of circles and squares. Archimedes was able to use some infinitesimals in a way that is similar to modern integral calculus of today. However, he had no contribution to Calculus. Some of his best inventions included screw pump, pulleys, and defensive war machines to protect his native Syracuse from invasion. Later on, drawing on these concepts, Euclid (300 BCE) published ‘Elements’ in 13 books with several results (including above) and came to be known as the ‘father of geometry’. Largely, Greece had not yet developed any concepts of calculus on their own.
The story of Original Calculus by India
Calculus begins with two simple questions that cannot be solved using only algebra and geometry.
Question 1: How to calculate an instantaneous speed (or rate of change) of something rather than just an average speed (integral calculus).
Now this problem was not new to Hindu astronomers Aryabhata (476–550 CE) and Brahmagupta. They called this instantaneous motion as tat-kalika (Sanskrit for instantaneous velocity) and gave the formula for it long back[5][6].
And question 2: How to calculate the area under a curve rather than just the area of “regular” objects like squares, triangles, circles.
All these details were known to the scholars and mathematicians of what was known as Kerala School (1300-1600 CE), a well-known center of mathematics and astronomy in the 15th and 16th centuries long before Europeans were familiar with these concepts. As such, for many concepts such as development of Infinitesimal series and its applications which were central to calculus and transcend many other branches of Modern mathematics today, the origin was neither Greece nor Europe (definitely not China). Mathematicians who belonged to this school developed comprehensive theories and codified the science in palm leaf bundles (granthas) equivalent to (but far superior yet) modern day books[7].Those included Bhaskaracharya, Brahmagupta, Varahamihira, and so on.
A look at some of the notable achievements of this school and what they are known by in the world today gives a fair idea of how much successful Europeans are today in their attempt to claim Indian Math as their own.
a] The concept such as ‘Limit’, infinite series was developed in this School in around 1350 (300 hundred years before Newton and Leibniz)[8],
b] The text Yukti Bhasha, written by the Indian astronomer Jyesthadeva of this school was a veritable text book of original calculus, and offers detailed explanations of most of the results used today. All of them are now being named after European mathematicians. It contained extensive trigonometric tables developed by Madhava (c. 1340 – c. 1425)[9] along with his seminal contributions to the study of Infinitesimal series expansions for sine, cosines, arctangents, asymptotic expansions, value of Pi (earlier cited in the Mahajyānayana prakāra), that were never introduced anywhere else in the world, with an astounding accuracy. All of these tables was published by Clavius, in 1607, under his name[10] without any proof of any calculations leaving no doubts as from where he took them. In Europe, the first such series were developed by James Gregory in 1667 three centuries after Madhava. (Today, it is referred to as the Madhava-Gregory-Leibniz series).
While the use of arithmetic and geometric series appeared in Vedic literature in 2000 B.C, but Madhava laid the foundations for the development of modern calculus[11].
c] Series expansion for trigonometric functions were described by Neelakanta in Sanskrit verses in an astronomical treatise called Tantrasangraha. The same expansions of sine, cosine and arctan functions became Taylor series of today [12][13][14]), and the series expansions of pi became Gregory series (developed by him 300 years before Gregory discovered them),
The Kerala mathematicians had “laid the foundation for a complete system of fluxions” and these works abounded “with fluxional forms and series to be found in no work of foreign countries” – C. M. Whis, noted Western Englishman who first wrote up the works of Kerala School in 1835
d] Neelakanta in the same book proposed models that became ‘Tychonic model’ of planetary motion (published by Tycho Brahe in 1583), centuries later.
e] Jyeshthadeva’s Yuktibhasha formula involving a passage to infinity to calculate the area under a parabola was used by Fermat, Pascal, and Wallis[15]
f] Bhaskaracharya’s (1114-1185 CE) monumental works such as Karaṇakutūhala
(“Calculation of Astronomical Wonders”) and Siddhāntaśiromaṇi (“Head Jewel of Accuracy”) that later became Rolle’s theorem[16] continued to challenge French mathematicians for centuries[17]
g] In Jyeṣṭhadeva we find the notion of integration, termed sankalitam, (lit. collection), as in the statement:
ekadyekothara pada sankalitam samam padavargathinte pakuti,
And even after all of this, the above account is only an ‘infinitesimal’ attempt to put light on the origin of these great mathematical discoveries. But an important question to be asked here is why this ‘intellectual loot’ was so easy for Europeans. Did we know it was happening back then, did we not care enough or were we weak to defend?
Several reasons exist to explain this. Notably, the First of it lies in the way Hindu Philosophy works. We believe in doing things not for the sake of prestige or award, but for the sake of exploration and knowledge and ultimate realization. For a Hindu, search for truth has always been an end in itself and not an end to achieve anything more. Be it Math or science, literature or philosophy. Ramanujan once said “an equation has no meaning for me, unless it expresses a thought of God”. No other philosophy in the world, let alone Europeans believes in this.
The other reason was Jesuits.
The Society of Jesus of the Catholic Church had its members called by the name Jesuits. The Church in its prejudiced colonialism mind believed that discoveries and inventions should be at the disposal of only and only Europeans and anything that bear any other name should be suppressed. (Jesuits mission was as given in the reference point [2]).
Kerala at that time was in continuous contact with China, Arabia, and Europe. The port of Muziris, near Sangamagrama, was a major center for maritime trade[18], and a number of Jesuit missionaries and traders were active in this region. While in Kerala, use of Astronomy, mathematics, calendar etc. aided many socio cultural practices of that time such as weather forecasts, determining positions and movements of celestial bodies, in Europe that was needed to make explorations to meet the objective of the Church.
Enamored by the vastness of the Indian literature-body, Europeans took the task of translating the Indian work (due to little knowledge of the medieval form of the local language of Kerala, Malayalam and Sanskrit) and transmitting them to Europe by Jesuits missionaries and traders whose Presence in Kerala from the middle of the 16th century was well documented in many historical records belonging to that period[19][20].
There existed a third reason too. The intellectual careers of both Newton and Leibniz are well-documented and there is no indication of their work not being their own. But unfortunately this is not the case with Indian Literature (as we have followed the oral traditions mainly – which although is far more authentic). The Earliest known/recovered Indian work is a mutilated copy of Bhakshali Manuscript (containing work as old as of 300 AD). Other such works are Aryabhatiya (499 AD), Trisatika (750 AD)[21][22].

 

A very good example of this fallacy arising out of incomplete documentation can also be found in the paper located here (http://users.uoa.gr/~apgiannop/Sources/Roy-pi.pdf) that states that ‘the details of the circumstances and ideas leading to the discovery of the series by Leibniz and Gregory are known but the Indian proof and contribution ascribed to Nilakantha is not.
It is evident and clear today that Calculus was indeed an Indian product.
And the same arguments and facts holds true for other discoveries such as the Laws of Motion, uncertainty principle, to modern day concepts of zero, the decimal number, microwave communication, genetics and the list is exhaustive.
So Europeans did nothing then?
Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz, supposedly independently (but not so surprisingly since they already had the foundation of infinitesimals), pioneered the infinitesimal methods and developed strong algorithmic-compendiums that came to be known as Calculus or ‘Infinitesimal Calculus’ or Modern Calculus[23]. Still, both never arrived to any genuineness and proof of their results and their only point of argument (and defense against Jesuits, Bishop George etc. [23]) was that since the results they were producing were correct, the methods have to be fundamentally correct too. Their arguments continued for two more centuries until a French mathematician Cauchy[24] proved theorems of calculus in his book of infinitesimal calculus titled ‘Cours d’Analyse’ published in 1821. Europeans just developed new methods of doing the same thing, albeit in a more articulated fashion.
But all these arguments need one more point to reason why it happened with India and not with any other country. A good point in fact from those who will still not believe what is being presented above with facts i.e. why present day India was so ahead millennia ago, that Europeans could only dream of even today?
One of the most important reasons why our science was so advanced was that the results were not based on inference and testimony alone using material objects of limited precision and human errors. That these are incomplete tools to explore any scientific discipline in question to its fullest realization, we knew well. Take a look at this verse from Aitareya Upanishad..
तत्प्रज्ञानेत्रम् प्रज्ञाने प्रतिष्ठितं प्रज्ञानेत्रो लोकः प्रज्ञानं ब्रह्म [25]
‘Prajna’ above, as also hinted in Vedas and elaborated in Upanishads, refers to the highest and purest form of wisdom, intelligence and understanding higher than any knowledge obtained by reasoning and inference[26]. Rational intellect, that Europeans today so boast of, is where logic concludes in shame without reaching even the periphery of such (cosmic) intelligence (‘aulokika pratakshya’) and deeper meaning. (In terms of an equation, think of it as – using a pre-developed equation or proving an equation in a different way which is already been proved is not same as actually devising a completely new equation. This was not possible for Newton). While with Prajna, the enlightenment and understanding that dawns is beyond what one has heard about, or deduced from external sources.
In a more profound level, anything which is outside of one’s own consciousness can never reveal the true nature of a thing – be it mathematical formulae – or a discovery. Nothing else can explain why even ordinary ‘Rsis’ (scientists seers) and ‘kavis’ of Bharath could easily know the advanced concepts of today like twin star Arundhati-Vashishtha, the atomic state of matter, concept of time, ‘shunya’ and ‘eternity’ etc. It was the direct result of harnessing that power which is the source of structures of all human experience itself [27].
To them, these were ordinary things, what Europe and the world at large are discovering and exploring even today after hundreds of years of research. Such a state of ‘Rtambhara Prajnya’ was also experienced nominally by Ramanujan.
What is sad today is not the fact that Bharatvarsha have been robbed of its uniqueness and identity but that no one in power, for whatsoever reason, cared to revolt and take it back. Many ancient techniques we lost to no one’s use and many concepts and scientific knowledge lost to the outside world like Calculus. Even hundreds of Indian medicinal herbs formulae have been lost to foreign US patentees who were too quick to know of their value and now we cannot manufacture them.
The truth is that all nations, from East to West, are nothing but schooled by ancient Bharat in some way or the other, in art, literature, philosophy, music, science, astronomy, economics and mathematics to an unprecedented accent. And it should be a matter of realization, as equally by them, as it is by us.
Additional Notes
[1] Remember that even the world’s largest stone sundial built in the first half of the 18th century using the advanced principles of astronomy and instrument design of ancient Hindu Sanskrit texts is in Rajasthan)
[2] This is the time when the Church along with European imperialist attitude [4] aggressively took the task of spreading Christianity across the world and destroy or convert all other sects and religions and beliefs existing. To travel abroad and spread their mission further, they needed certain navigational skills akin to mathematics/trigonometry which they had none. Even their Julian calendars were getting outdated.
References
[1] [2] Refer Notes
[3] Arabic and Latin translations of (Aryabhata’s) works and several Sanskrit texts
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aryabhata#Trigonometry
[4] http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/calculuscreated-in-india-250-years-before-newton-study-1.632433
[5] Toward a Global Science: Mining Civilizational Knowledge By Susantha Goonatilake, Page 134
[6] https://www.math10.com/en/maths-history/math-history-in-india/hindu-maths/hindumaths.html
[7] A Passage to Infinity: Medieval Indian Mathematics from Kerala and Its Impact, By George Gheverghese Joseph (Page 8)
[8] Paper available at – http://www.jstor.org/stable/25581775. ‘On the Hindu quadrature of the circle, and the infinite series of the proportion of the circumference to the diameter exhibited in the four Sastras, the Tantra Sangraham, Yucti Bhasha, Carana Padhati, and Sadratnamala’, by C. M. Whish, published in the Transactions of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, Vol. 3, No. 3, pp. 509–523.
[9] C.K. Raju (2007). Cultural foundations of mathematics: The nature of mathematical proof and the transmission of calculus from India to Europe in the 16 thc. CE. History of Philosophy, Science and Culture in Indian Civilization. X Part 4. Delhi: Centre for Studies in Civilizations. pp. 114–123.
[10] Christophori Clavii Bambergensis, Tabulae Sinuum, Tangentium et Secantium ad partes radij 10,000,000 (Ioannis Albini, 1607), as quoted in C. K. Raju, Teaching mathematics with a different philosophy, Part 2: Calculus without Limits, Science and Culture 77(7-8) (2011) pp. 280-285
[11] Refer Notes.
[12] Encyclopedia of the history of science, technology and medicine in non-western cultures (two volumes), ed. Helaine Selin, Springer.
[13] https://bharathgyanblog.wordpress.com/2016/12/28/how-calculuswas-appropriated-from-india-into-europe-dr-bhaskar-kamble/
[14] Bressoud, David. 2002. “Was Calculus Invented in India?” The College Mathematics Journal (Mathematical Association of America). 33(1):2-13.
[15] D. F. Almeida and G. G. Joseph, Eurocentrism in the history of mathematics: the case of the Kerala school, Race and Class, Vol. 45(4): 45-59 (2004).
Aryan race theory was created by the European imperialists when the antiquity and culture of the Hindu civilization was discovered
[16] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rolle%27s_theorem
[17] https://www.britannica.com/biography/Bhaskara-II#ref98080
[18] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madhava_of_Sangamagrama
[19] A. K. Bag (1979) Mathematics in ancient and medieval India. Varanasi/Delhi: Chaukhambha Orientalia. page 285
[20] C. T. Rajagopal, M. S. Rangachari, On an untapped source of medieval Keralese.
[21] http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/pdfplus/10.1086/368443
[22] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bakhshali_manuscript
mathematics (https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2FBF00348142)
[23]https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/a-brief-history-of-infinitesimals-the-idea-that-gave-birth-to-moderncalculus/
[24] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augustin-Louis_Cauchy
[25] Aitareya Upanishad (III.i.3). Also refer to verse no 49 (Chapter 1) from The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.
[26] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Praj%C3%B1%C4%81_(Hinduism)#cite_note-5

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