Research and Science in India: The urgent need for Study of Vedic Texts
There is a dire need for scientific study, research, analysis, application and then assessment impact of our Vedas and olden texts; to provide a way for the future while relying on the experience that we have as a society. At a time when we are going to Mars and might have the first babies born outside of Earth in probably the next 40 years. When we debate AI and are in a time when CRISPR might help create the world’s first genetically modified babies with superpowers in the coming century; India needs to go back and revisit the basics of life and understand the wisdom that our ancestors knew of, which we have never bothered studying.
West researches; East follows; East finds out we’ve already been there.
- Dhyana is to some extent what we now call Meditation. While many across Indian, China, Japan and various eastern regions already practised the same, the benefits to the west were realised after undergoing an entire Analysis Paralysis on this subject. Even after proven studies to have positive effects on the body and mind from Harvard, Cambridge, Cornell and US Department of Health and Human Studies amongst many others, Yoga and Meditation is still debated. In India.
- The interchange of Prana is what the west might sooner or later see as Trees talking to each other in this talk.
- Sonic Healing which the west is coming to terms with is so closely related Naad Bindu Upanishad. Infact, here is an IIT Kharagpur Study on Ragas and it’s effects on emotions.
These are just three which I have researched on, a bit. I’m sure as you get deeper there are countless more subjects and studies. No, I’m not counting the ‘0's made in India or pushing a Flying-machines-existed-in-Ramayana theories. I’m not even pushing a West vs East argument here. But showing a pattern again which we need to understand and break out of; with an open mind. Unless we break this, we are headless chickens who end up with lots and lots of rework.
On the Complexities of the Vedic Texts and Jyotish Vidya
In a book on Ganit, Hora and Samhita, Col. A K Gaur and Dr. Uday Misra mention how one of the classifications of our Vedic texts is carried out (based on how the Puranas evaluate mankind):
- Panchatantra, Hitopadesha and Jataka Tales — The easiest to understand, these stories are what many of us would have read and heard when we were kids. These stories in the earlier days were mostly circulated amongst the outermost section of the learned society — the children, village folk, the working class as well as the housewives.
- Mahabharata, Raamayana and Puranas — Slightly more elaborate, evolved and complex stories and longer tales, each of these had a moral and an uplifting and humanising angle.
- Upanishads (Vedanta) and Bhashya — Making the less dense portions of Vedas available to a larger group of people having a minimum mental development level, Vedanta (the end of Veda) and Bhashya were written.
- Vedas — In this scheme, knowledge is stored in the form of Richa and Sookta. The language and the selection of words is such that each Richa and Sookta can be interpreted in a number of ways. This had to be done as some portions of this knowledge were meant for people who had reached an appropriate level of maturity, understanding and development; and in immature hands could prove dangerous to the society. Vedas were therefore known only to the realised Gurus.
Say I pick up Jyotish, which is a Vedanga (to put it simply — connected with the Vedas), the level of complexity one undergoes to understand a meaning of just one book requires years of practice and research and understanding. I am not debating the veracity of Jyotish as a science or as an art form or as a lengthy limerick from an old guru, here. But to actually say that you’ve found an absolute truth here in its existence / non-existence is just a sham without understanding the basic principles of these texts. Because, understanding that won’t just include complex physics and maths, but also music, life and poetry given in those texts. 3 simple examples of the current state of Jyotish.
- Carl Sagan, Bill Nye and Neil DeGrass Tyson in these videos debunk Western Astrology. They are absolutely correct in that perspective. Dividing the world in 12 groups is just Pop Culture Astrology. But then all three of them have absolutely no clue about Jyotish. This is OUR current opinion on the subject based on the limited knowledge.
- Here is a Michael Shermer Video from one of his programs in which the Jyotish Jeffrey Armstrong gives a more than 70% correct result of future prediction. 70% — yes.
- And here are pictures from Shri K N Rao’s book Planets and Children, giving a 100 examples to prove a certain combination of Dasha and Transits which exists during any childbirth.
A simplistic approach, never proved is the Moon + tides and moon + human blood theory. One can even go to the lengths of explaining Jyotish with the help of Endocrinology, Ecology and Astrophysics, sounding slightly more sophisticated and ‘sciency’ but still with lots of loopholes. But the fact that Jyotish works without us having a clear knowledge of the reasoning behind it, not only shames us, but questions the scientific credentials of the entire country.
In any of the academies on Jyotish in India you’ll find countless such examples as the one given above from KN Rao’s book. Researches exist on 100–500 people’s data sets in journals and magazines published quarterly. 60-70% results maybe do not prove the authenticity and veracity scientifically, but certainly do not even deny it. Unless we research on whats relevant from today’s perspective in those texts, the accuracy level will remain as it is. And few years from now the ‘Western Astrology’ would have included all the disciplines which we have had in Jyotish, but by the time it reaches us in a new form it will clearly look like a combination of Western Predictive Algorithms worked out by Artificial Intelligence.
Point here is, that as India progresses, we need a clearer analysis of these texts and of what we ‘believed’, should be scrutinised in a manner which separates the Poem from the Formulae. It is easy to criticise IIT Kanpur’s translation on Gita and some of the Upanishads as being a saffronisation of the country, but unless you’ve understood what the texts are actually trying to teach, as an authority you’re no better than that Haryana minister who blamed the increase in rapes to consumption of Chowmein or that idiot who says AI was prevalent in the Mahabharata.
While IIT Kharagpur recently announced a course to study Ancient Science and DST has funds as well as Research Programmes allocated to Meditation and Yoga, much more needs to be done in this field if India is to become a Research Hub.
- Standardised Implementation and Publication of Researches and their Methodologies across Universities which offer courses, diplomas and degrees in All Vedic Sciences.
- Formation of a Committee under the DST to propose a detailed plan on structure of study of Vedas, Vedangas and all subsidiary as well as inclusive research areas, which could be carried out at different Universities, to be sent as a recommendation to them.
- The Study of Vedas, Vedangas and all others to NOT happen under HRD. Either the Ministry of Ayush needs to expand it spectrum or the DST and the Ministry of Science and Technology needs to step in. Consideration under Ayush, DST shows the seriousness in approach towards these subjects.
- The IITs, though maybe planning for a course correction from being seen as Engineering Institutes to Research Institutes, IITs need larger collaborations and tie-ups with old Vedic Studies Institutes for these studies. We might have greatest of professors who are interested in Jyotish Vidya and other Vedic Subjects, but the real knowledge of these lies in the Old School systems which exist right from Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan to Bihar School Of Yoga.
- Collaborations amongst RAs in various Research Areas— The inclusion of Jyotish Acharyas who are also trained yoga practitioners as RAs in universities studying Endocrinology, Ecology and Astrophysics. Of Jyotish Acharyas studying Mundane Astrology to assist in researches at the India Meteorological Department. Of students of Naad Bindu Upanishad from these universities and campuses to study along with peers at programs such as Sandhi (given above) in IITs. Many more.
You see, people ARE jumping onto Alternative forms of medicine as they realise it IS an alternative, even if not the most definitive one. After years, Ayurveda works for us again, and now Meditation also does. They just require more research, more study, more debate, more interest and above all a way more open mind — on both ends of the spectrum — Religion as well as Science.
We need to push ourself beyond the Gita and it’s Western interpretations.
If we don’t, we end up with not only Beer Yoga but also Goat Yoga.