Tamils and science... a query
  • Dear All,

    I was watching the "Dharmi" episode of "Thiruvilayadal" the other day and
    something struck me.. Here was this supposedly great king
    and his whole council of intelligent men and the most serious question he
    could come up with was "Do women's hair smell good due to natural
    causes or due to the application of perfumes etc". Fine.. even assuming this
    was a scientific query, where the devil was any sort of
    scientific enquiry/experimentation in there? All the scholars did was write
    poems about it? Where was the scientific temper?

    Let's assume that "this was just a movie". I have been looking at finding
    instances of scientific thought and temper in tamil
    is about love, or bhakti or spirituality or war. Are there any
    scientific treatises written in tamizh? If not why? Can we have a discussion
    about ancient tamizh science and technology?
    Why aren't there any tomes and books on it?

    If there were and I am mistaken, it would be great if someone could kindly
    enlighten us on this topic
  • Dear all,

    Here Im telling my opinion about Mr.Arun Krishnan
    Our ancient tamil people didnt see science as a
    separate one. Science is a part of their day to day
    life. So they didnt have separate division for science
    in poetries as love and someother. They combined
    science with all. When you see a set of poems, some
    lines tell about some science factors.

    Ok. come to the point about Tharumi. The king didnt
    give that question only to poets. He gave that to
    everyone. The person conveyed the message as a poem.
    As the answer was wrong, the other person opposed
    that. Here they needed solied reason to prove that.
    That is the one what we are calling as science now..

    So, they were also speaking about science with out
    knowing that.

    Im writing this with my limited knowledge. Im sorry,
    If i made any mistake.
  • Hi all,

    This is a an interesting topic. As u guys said, I strongly agree that our ancestors did everything for a particular reason, all verified and proved. If they tell it as science then our people will not follow.. they combined everything with sprituality to make us get binded to nature...

    For example, Vinayagar loves arugampull so nowadays we can see Kattu Kattu of it sold and being wasted in the temple. But it was told for a good cause that.. if we have arugampull in any form it will act as a coolant to our body and reduces the heat.. hence our ancestors symbolised that by wearing arugampull over the big belly of vinayagar. But we leave the reason and cause but get hold of the action alone and get dragged into superstitious beliefs.

    Same goes well with Thulasi also. It has medicinal values and that is Science.
    One citation with poem. Everybody would have heard about avvai's "aathisoodi". in that "sani neeraadu" comes. That again doesn't mean Saturday but in cold water we should take bath. Its good for health. so science has been injected thru peoms and poets.

    With my little knowledge I have contibuted to the topic. Correct me If wrong.
  • Ni

    I guess science in india was on par with the world at every point of
    time.especially in architecture and astronomy.
    it was only with the industrial revolution that they forged ahead
    of us.
    also individual achievements were well recorded in the west whereas
    they were not here.
    for example da vinci ( 1500 ad ???) invented the tank, the submarine,
    and the helicopter and a variety of machines even before some one
    invented the prime mover( the motor}. so they were of no use
    davinci invented the parachute before some one invented the plane.
    but the important thing was he recorded it .

  • Dear All,

    Ok so the main points in the argument for a tamil scientific temper seems to
    be that a number of things which are nowadays being carried out in terms of
    blind faith have some scientific basis behind it. I would rather suggest
    that they have a logical basis behind it, not necessarily scientific.

    Perhaps I wasn't very clear in my original email. If you look at some of the
    great civilizations, you see existence of the scientific temper. The greeks,
    during the 6th -3rd century BC had great mathematicians and scientists,
    culminating possibly in Archimedes and Aristotle. We Indians had our own
    Susruta and Charaka and Aryabhatta and BHaskaracharya. However, in the
    Indian context, any scientific treatise that I have heard of is in Sanskrit.
    I know we all love our Tamizh heritage and want to wallow in its glory, but
    we ought to take note of this complete absence of any documents in Tamizh
    dealing with science or mathematics etc. Obviously we had the knowhow, else
    something like the Thanjai PEriya kOvil wouldn't have been built. However,
    why this lack of literature in Tamizh? Or was the lingua franca of science
    in India, Sanskrit? Like Latin was the de facto language for science in

    Any ideas?
  • -Hi Arun

    any society at any point of time cannot survive without appropriate
    technology for those times.
    of course we had flashes in the pan in every society like da vinci
    who went much further.
    in other societies research was not organised perhaps and happened in
    small increments.
    i guess the fields where improvement took place on a continous basis
    were warfare, medicine, and architecture.
    but increments were also propably too small.
    and people did not record them. they experimented and put it into

    the latest issue of ARAMCO magazine devotes itself to arab science.
    in germany there is amuseum whichhouses models and original
    mauscripts of islamic science.
  • Hi,

    wisdom has been passed by word of mouth for C's even before writing
    systems evolved - the easiest way to remember these were through
    verses...the rhytymic chanting was a way to focus the mind and
    render them to memory..rendering findings in poems was the best way
    to capture it for posteriety. It wasnt akin to any da vinci code but
    just an easy way to codify it and commit to memory.

    please also bear in mind that tons of tamil literature is thought to
    have been lost .....wiki accounts...

    According to the Sangam legends first described in the Irayanaar
    Agapporul and a commentary to it by Nakkirar (c. seventh/eighth
    century CE).[2] there were three Sangams spanning thousands of
    years. The first Sangam, whose seat was southern Madurai, later
    submerged into the sea, lasted a total of 4440 years and 4449 poets,
    which included some gods of the Hindu pantheon, took part in it. The
    second Sangam was convened in Kapatapuram, which finds mention in
    Valmiki Ramayana (Kishkinda Kanda 42:13). This Sangam lasted for
    3700 years and had 3700 poets participating. This city also
    submerged in sea. The third Sangam is described as believed to be
    located in the current city of Madurai and lasted for 1850 years
    under 49 kings

    check out below links


    It is believed that Visapala, a woman related to Raja Chola,
    accompanied him into the battle field and lost a leg. The Vedic
    surgeons Aswinis fitted her with an artificial leg. Also described
    in Rig Veda asthe legend has it, that Raja Bhoja's (980 A.D.) skull
    was trephined to relieve him of his severe headache and to remove
    the malignant portion of the brain. After the surgical procedure,
    the Raja was cured of the pain.

    even today in places like thailand, the sanskrit is considered to be
    the language of the kings n scholarly - could do with the fact that
    sanskrit grammer is refined and itirated to such an extent ( refer
    various articles on sanskrit being ideals for computers etc) -
    sankrit grammer is so perfect that there are claims that its not of
    earthly origin!!! and i guess in those days the barriers was more a
    problem with kings and not defined by languages.


    Literary activity in S abounded even in the South. Rigarthadipika by
    V Madhava, in the reign of the Chola King Paarantaka I, is one of
    the earliest of its kind in S literature. Literature was also
    cultivated in Prakrit, Haribhadra being the greatest master of this
  • Dear Venketesh,

    I don't agree with your hypothesis. People have a tendency to write about
    those things that are of importance... My whole point is this.. Why, in ALL
    the tamil literature that we know, is there no single text (again as far as
    my knowledge goes.. If I am mistaken, please correct me) which has a
    mathematical or scientific basis. Why the overemphasis on
  • Hi VJ,

    Again, I never said that there were no scientific texts written in the
    southern part of India. My main query was to the utter lack of any
    scientific text in tamizh. Why? Again, if your contention is that it was the
    kings who decided, then sure, I can go with that...so Sanskrit was then
    language of science in India. Or was it? Does anyone know for certain? Just
    curious about it that's all...

    Also, sure the works from Sangams have been lost.. but I can't believe that
    of all the works that have come down to us, ONLY the scientific works have
    been lost in totality.. if there had been enough scientific treatises and
    volumes, we would have had some idea or inclination about it... somewhere,
    in some text..
  • dear arun

    will def dig out literary evidence for your querry over the week but

    before that a few posers:

    did you learn to walk, run and talk the day you were born...can a
    novice sculpture come up with a magnificiant yakshi just by hemself -
    obviously there is a long learning process before you master
    anything. Tamils masterpieces are proof of the existence of a highly
    evolved culture - can you come up with something as comprehensive a
    tirukural over night.

    some questions to you - am picking related strings to this sites
    overall content to keep the interests of all viewers -

    Have you been to mamallapuram - if you look around you will see
    wierd rows of small holes in the granite blocks around..every
    realised why they are there ...

    talking of stone - look at the architecture in the big temple - how
    the load is distributed over the walls and then on to the base
    platform - else inorder to go high ( big) they would have had to go
    down similar to lay the foundations...see how the blocks fit to the
    next blocks - like a grid/puzzle.

    Sidha medicine
    The Siddha system of medicine owes its origin to the Dravidian
    culture which is of the Pre-vedic period. An examination of the
    ancient literature would reveal that the vedic Aryans owed
    allegiance to the cult of Shiva and the worship of the phallus
    (linga) which was later on absorbed by, and incorporated into the
    Vedic culture. The Shiv Cult is associated with its medical
    counterpart, the Siddha system of medicine, which is mainly
    therapeutic. Mercury, sulphur, iron, copper, gold, bituman, white,
    yellow and red arsenic and other materials as well as vegatable
    poisons are extensively used in the pharmacopocia of the Siddha
    tradition. The Siddha system of medicine is prevalent in the
    Sourthen States of India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and Singapore, where
    the Dravidian civilization was document.

    The Tamils who are inhabiting the Southern peninsula of the sub-
    continent of India have an impressive and venerable past, as ancient
    as that of perhaps the Egyptians. They undertook a systematic study
    of nature and its elements and from what they were able to grasp,
    they had developed a highly systematised medicine which is now known
    as Siddha system. It is well founded on the basic principles of
    nature and its elements offer a careful and thorough study of the
    human system.

    The Siddhars :The ancient Tamils in their quest for knowledge for
    longevity developed two ways by which man can achieve mastery over
    nature. One is the Yogic way and the other is through medicines. The
    people who dedicated themselves to this task were themselves great
    yogis known as Siddhars. Hence the system of medicine propounded by
    them came ot be known as Siddhars system of Medicine. This system
    can be traced to the prevedic period.

    Siddhar, a Tamil word that is derived from its root ?chit? means
    perfection in life or heavenly bliss. It generally refers to eight
    kinds of supernatural powers attainable to man. The persons who had
    attained such miraculous powers attainable to man. The persons who
    had attained such miraculous powers in life are known as Siddhars.
    They are men born with great talents who lived thousands of years
    ago in Tamil country, who by their devotion and search for truth,
    avhieved perfection in their life time.

    Ancient Siddha Medical Works: The earliest mention the use of
    medicinal plants is to be found in Thirumular Thirumantiram-
    Ennayiram, Tholkappiam and the ancient Tamil works of Sangarm
    Literature which are believed to have been written thousands of
    years before the Christian era. There are now more than 500 works in
    Tamil dealing with various subjects such as science of life, nature
    of universe, astronomical data, cosmic dance, atomic theory, space
    travel, alchemy, ?Kaya Kalpa? medicine, etc.

    The Neem Tree : The Neem tree was regarded as sacred in Mohenjo-daro
    Civilization. In the annals of the ancient Siddha System of
    Medicine, the first medicinal plant mentioned as well as found a
    place, in ancient Tamil literature is Margosa or Neem. This has been
    used by Tamils from time immemorial as a deterrent for smallpox and
    other infectious diseases and also considered to possess powers to
    ward off evil spirits. Perhaps they were aware of the germicidal
    action and the medicinal properties of the Margosa, Tirumular, the
    great siddha is said to have been in deep penance for several
    thousands of years before the Christian Era in eternal bliss under a
    sacred pipal tree.

  • Hi, anyone on the group can assist with verifying below -

    Indian alchemists specially of Tamil Nadu, knew the distinction
    between the transmuted ?gold? and the real one. A Tamil text
    (Amudakalaijnanam by Agastya) states clearly that if the artificial ?
    gold? and the natural gold are separately subjected to prolonged
    heating or calcination, the former gives out ashes and the real face
    of the metal appears, while the natural gold remains uneffected by
    this method.

  • Dear Arun
    looking at your querry in a different light...
    Science may have been a heriditary profession...vaithiyarin magan vaithiyan....kuyavanin magan kuyavan so the tricks of the trade might have been best kept family secrets
  • Hi
    as sri says science could be the basis for livelehood and why should
    a practioner make it open for the world to see.

    even european scientists were secretive for various reasons.
    why should davincini write in code.?
    and even newton acknowledged by many as the man who gave a scientific
    basis for our lives has a trunk box full of papers on alchemy, and
    what could be considered black magic that were discovered only
    other than that newton had written a million words before he
    published his first paper/book.

  • Dear Sri,

    Assuming that is true and that in a more caste-based society, learning was
    in the hands of only a certain caste, that could be an indicator of
    why there are no tamil texts on science. However, we are always given to
    understand that during the sangam era etc, society was more egalitarian. Why
    haven't we found any evidence for this in our texts?
  • Venketesh,

    I think we are talking about a complete lack of ANY scientific/mathematical
    texts written in Tamizh. Not to specific examples of scientists hoarding
    materials without publishing them.
  • Dear VK,

    Please see my replies below:

    You said:

    did you learn to walk, run and talk the day you were born...can a
    novice sculpture come up with a magnificiant yakshi just by hemself -
    obviously there is a long learning process before you master
    anything. Tamils masterpieces are proof of the existence of a highly
    evolved culture - can you come up with something as comprehensive a
    tirukural over night.

    I never said that Tamizh culture was not well developed... The fact that
    tamizh literary masterpieces were written
    is all the more reason for this HUGE void in terms of the nonexistence of
    scientific works in our language.
    Again, for all the examples you have provided, I don't doubt that there
    might be a scientific basis to it. However, my
    original question dealt with the lack of any texts in our language. Why was
    it? Lack of patronage for men of science unlike
    for the "pulavars"? Obviously, if it is not a paying job, people might not
    gravitate towards it. I have no idea.. I don't know the answers. Just that
    this is something that needs to be acknowledged and discussed.
  • hi,

    isn't "josiyam" a form science, infact it is astronamy. i guess there are
    old writings available
    for josiyam and astronamy which is pure mathematics.
  • dude, now you are talking in the right tone - what do you mean by
    scientific work - half of europe went mad with alchemists claiming
    to convert junk to gold and then an other half went burning these.
    is this science. journals and thesises do not make up science. you
    are talking of a culture who were dwelling into the depths of the
    atom ( anu) when half of europe were shitting in the open and
    wiping these asses with grass - a culture that could think of the
    universe as cyclical ( nadi josiyam stems from this belief - but
    again these works were in sanskrit and thanks to chola kings they
    were translated to tamil) and are alive to this day.

    My grandfather knew the mankanakku tables ( fraction tables - kal,
    arikal) thought by word of mouth in form of jingles - and b've me he
    could beat you hands down on any calcuation with the latest of

    Selflessness comes after selfishness. self realisation and godliness
    follow. Inorder to dwell into something as magnificient as love and
    bakti you need to have transcended the material world. if you look
    deeply in buddhism you will see more on this.

    anyway sometimes its good to rake up a controversial topic to wake
    up a group but ....masuru, mayiru, mudi,koondal, kesam...etc all
    may mean the same, but need to be used appropriately...

  • Dear VK,

    Am a little confused by this particular post of yours. How does the fact
    that we (as in Indian science)
    was more advanced than Europe have anything to do with my original query. I
    point to a lack of texts in tamizh on
    the physical sciences. I am trying to figure out the reason for this. The
    reason could be that since the Brahmins were
    jealous and zealous guardians of organized knowledge at that point in time,
    they used Sanskrit for it. Or there could be
    other cultural reasons.

    You write,

    Selflessness comes after selfishness. self realisation and godliness
    follow. Inorder to dwell into something as magnificient as love and
    bakti you need to have transcended the material world. if you look
    deeply in buddhism you will see more on this.

    I don't see how this is relevant to the point under discussion.

    You further say
    anyway sometimes its good to rake up a controversial topic to wake
    up a group but ....masuru, mayiru, mudi,koondal, kesam...etc all
    may mean the same, but need to be used appropriately...

    Have no idea what you meant by that and how it is germane to the issue.
  • Dear Siva,

    Personally, I wouldn't consider jOsiyam a form of science. It could possibly
    be some sort of a statistical field but I
    am very skeptical about that field anyway.:) I am sure others might feel
  • dear arun

    What i meant was - just because you dont see it doesnt mean its not
    there. Your initial posts sounded as though there was no scientific
    know how for tamils - probably i could have got it wrong. After your
    clarifications, your post is indeed food for thought and research -
    but I would like this forum to be a cross cultural one without any
    caste/religious overbearings. However see from yours that the path
    is different form mine and hence please excuse me from further
    discussions on this post
  • Dear Vijay,

    hmm am sorry you got the impression that I meant there was no scientific
    knowhow for tamils.
    Obviously with the scale of temples built and the large navies maintained,
    there had to be
    significant technological innovations. However, to reiterate, my query was
    about the lack of
    texts in "THAMIZH".

    Also, I don't see where in my posts I had raised an "caste/religious"
    overbearings. One big
    problem I have while discussing things with fellow tamilians is that any
    reference to a caste, even in a
    spirit of scientific enquiry suddenly makes everyone tiptoe around things. (
    I grew up in the east of India
    and my first exposure to casteism was when I came to TN .. incredible. The
    first question I was asked ni
    my new school was "which caste are you?").

    I consider myself to be a rationalist without caste or religious
    underpinnings.. hence I can, will and do tend
    to ask uncomfortable questions. If you refer to my speculation about the
    possible answer to this
    conundrum being that in the past Brahmins might have exclusively used
    Sanskrit for all transfer
    of knowledge, I am asking this in an entirely scientific manner... not to
    malign Brahmins in any way.
    (for the record, I am a Brahmin.. let's get it out there so people don't
    start imputing motives to
    every statement of mine).

    topics and hence it
    would be a shame if you were to stop posting on this topic merely because I
    raise uncomfortable questions :)
  • Hi

    I still feel tamils had an access to appropriate technologies suited
    to that time for the bulk of the population. nothing flaboyant or
    earth shattering.
    there seems to have been no organised research and the conveyance of
    information from one generation to another was severely disrupted in
    early 14th century muslim invasion.
    but the ability of tamils to pick up and assimilate any form of
    science ( right upto software writing ) is well known
  • dear arun

    it isnt a question of comfort for you n me, we are what we are and
    carry it with pride... but i would rather continue the disc in
    private with you as we might accidently hurt someone in the group.

    something to douse the heat n ...

    There is a saying in Sanskrit


    The Devatha Vishnu needs to be richly decorated, while abhisheka is
    very important to Lord Shiva. Numerous namaskaras are to be offered
    to Soorya bhagawan, while Mahaa Devi has to be circambulated. The
    Brahmins must......

    The first and foremost is the degree coffee - freshly ground coffee -
    brewed in traditional brass decotion - filter. In davara tumbler -
    mix with freshly milked full cream cows milk and atleast two spoons
    of sugar - served piping hot... What a way to get up - reading the
    headlines in the hindu paper and listening to MS suprabatham.

    Lets start with breakfast or should we call it brunch . Before
    breakfast we need to clear the bowels- best way is to have a gulp of
    inge sorasom - ginger ale - grate the ginger and boil in water till
    all the essence is extracted. Let is coola bit - add lemon juice and
    jaggery or sugar. Gulp when still hot ( don’t sip) - it should scald
    the throat as it goes down....

    My all time favorite would be pongal with either thakali gotsu or
    thenga chutney ( white chutney). Pongal should be of the consistency
    of glue - not too stiff, nor too watery. The rice should have lost
    its individual shape, should be slightly sticky. Lots of molten ghee
    on top and the garnishing should be the choiceist cashewnuts, black
    pepper and curry leaves ( karu veppilai) - all crisply roasted in
    ghee..a medu vadai ( yeah the one with the hole in the centre
    resembling a doghnut) goes well with this combination. Pongal should
    always be served on a banana leaf ( saves the trouble of having to
    get the ghee of the plate while washing) eaten with the hand - The
    test for a good pongal is that ghee and the aroma must linger even
    after a through wash for atleast 2 hours. The thakali gotsu - the
    tomatoes should have lost their individuality but the onions should
    still retain theirs, the gravy should be hot and spicy ( lot of
    green chillies) and the whole dish should be watery. The chutney
    should be of watery consistency ( not getti chutney for pongal) with
    lot of kadugu and karuveppilai ( thalichathu)

    The rest in that the order of merit are

    Poori keyangu - poori must be hot hot and puffy ( smoke comes out
    when u break the puff) and the keyangu much have just potato, onions
    ( big) and green chilli with turmeric. Saravana bhavan seems to have
    perfected this one. Min qty in multiples of 5.

    Idly with mulaga podi or murungakkai sambar. The podi must be coarse
    and not finely ground. If mixed with a little paruppu podi and
    molten ghee is heavenly. The mini idly in a bath of murungakkai
    sambar with molten ghee topping ( again).....

    Paper roast and getti chutney - the dosa has to be piping hot (
    thalaiya pathu kalla podanum - in my grand fathers words - see the
    person and then heat the tava ). The thinner the dosa crispier the
    crust, should not to be too crispy / brunt to break into pieces -
    they have to be in the right consistency to allow you to manouver
    the thumb, index and middle finger to break a piece of the dosa and
    dip it into the chutney ( or pick up a whole chunk inside the dosa)
    and dunk it into your mouth.

    Rava Dosai and kothamalli chutney - The rava dosai is slightly
    different in consistency - since the rava need to gel - so it’s a
    little more stickey, and is garnished with a few cashewnuts and ghee
    roasted pepper. It goes well with kothamalli chutney.

    Mor Kali with elumichangai urgai - this is very simple dish - all u
    need is rice flour and pulicha thai( sour curd). This with lemon
    pickle is just divine.

    Arisi Upma with Vellam (Jaggery) - lot of kandal ( the slightly
    burnt upma which sticks to the bottom of the vengala panai)

    Sevai ( elumichai evai and getti chutney)

    Rava Idly with thakali chutney

    Rava Kithcadi with kothamalli chutney

    Idiyappam and paya ( stew)

    After such a light breakfast, the best way to relax is on either a
    kayatu kattil under the veppa maram or on the easy chair on the
    mittam swaying to the gentle breeze.

    The main course - lunch......

    Carrot goss malli - must be juicy with lot of lime juice. Maanga
    ingi / kuru milagu / magali
    Dangar pachidi
    Beans Paruppu usili - more beans less paruppu
    Urulai roast- should not be oily but crispy fried
    Vazaipoo vadai
    Vazakkai podi mass - again with just a hint of lime
    Thair pachidi - cocunut and a bit of spice
    Arisi Appalam ( for vatha kozambu), appalam, vadam, mor molagai,
    kothavarangai, sundakkai.... Posanikkai/vendakkai/murugakkai vatha
    kuzambu with karu vadam Vella Posanikkai/venkallai mor kuzambu
    Thakali / vepambu/mulaga/pineapple rasam - let to soak in a
    eyachombu Paruppu / milkmaid arisi /semiya payasam - just thick
    enough to be able to swoosh of the leaf but watery enough to wade
    into Maa vadu/lime pickle Neer moor ( nei urruki mor perukki) - sour
    buttermilk, with a hint of lime, garnished with kothamalli and karu

    eaten on a large thalai vazha elai - where you build partitions in
    the mound of rice and swril the pazasam around till you can scoop it
    up with a swift stroke of the hand and suuuurpppppp it down with an
    audible suuuuuurpppp. chew on the drumstick till the pulp resembles
    an idinja ambasador....

    And tiffin...

    Adai avial
    - onion or murungali ( murunga leaf) adai - thick but crispy with
    avial or jaggery. Is also good with lemon rasam...

    Thavala dosai / adai

    Onion/potato/capsicum bajji/ Masal vadai

    ......am hungry all over
  • Hi Vijay and Arun,
    Firstly, Nice to see people discussing about Science here. There are
    two questions that have to be looked.
    1. Was there any scientific analysis undertaken by Ancient Tamil people?
    2. If so, have they been recorded in Tamil?
    Arun's contention is why there are Scientific treatises in Sanskrit
    and not in Tamil?
    To answer this one has to go understand that the scientific
    environment of our ancient people is not the same as what we are
    seeing today. In other words, many of our beliefs are being considered
    as superstitions now. Like for example, avoiding food while there is
    an eclipse. etc etc. One also should understand that some of the
    fundamental reasoning behind those practices were known to everyone at
    that time and I truly believe that the reasoning has derailed on the
    way, where the current people dont want to get confronted with
    question of "Why?". It is my belief that every ritual and custom of
    ours have a meaning and that too a scientific one.
    Coming to the same example of Dharumi episode from Thiruvilayadal. If
    the king had the same scientific reasoning what we see today, then he
    would have done the following:
    1. Take two new born girl children. Say A and B
    2. for a certain period of time (again determining the exact period is
    another experiment!!!) do the following. For A (she is the control)
    dont apply any oil or perfumed stuff to her hair. For B, use all the
    available oils and perfumed stuff.
    3. After the period of time mentioned, remove the hair by shaving them
    off and allow new hair to grow.
    4. Check the results.
    I know it may sound a bit funny, but one will never expect a king who
    is supposed to protect his people will sacrifies two lives for the
    sake of such an experiment. Moreover, the dharumi episode was not
    about the question asked, but who answered it. In anycase, the reason
    I told this modified example is to make a point that such kind of
    reasoning is called scientific by us and only by us. This reasoning is
    what we accept now. But it is an open secret (or fact?) that Indian
    scientific approach and the european approach were altogether
    different. When the victorian era britishers saw our practises they
    deemed them as superstition, since their frequency of scientific
    temper did not match with our ancient people's scientific temper. They
    didnt find their kind of evidence to prove the same point.

    If you agree till here, then you would realize that language was never
    a barrier to such activities. It is kind of trivial to ask if anything
    was written down in Tamil. It would be nice to get hold of scientific
    inscriptions in Tamil. But I dont see anything more than that. For
    example one cannot prove if by having a scientific treatise in Tamil,
    the ancient tamils were more scientic than their counterpart kingdoms.
    Yes, it will surely prove the way they lived their lives. But that's
    not the point.
    The very fact that such practices are followed today, deemed as
    superstition, had originated by our ancestors, is itself a proof that
    they were scientific enough. In my opinion, writing down the proof was
    not considered a great act by itself by the Ancient scientists,
    stating the hypothesis and explaining it to people was, by itself a
    great and efficient medium of message transmission.

    Maybe I am wrong, but to my brain, this is what I understand is the
    reason. Also, Sanskrit is also one of our own languages. I equally
    feel proud of all Indian languages. The question of Brahmins or any
    other community taking a strong hold on languages is not a valid point
    at all. Why do you have to think like that? If Brahmins or other
    community were the only self made guardians of organized knowledge,
    then we wouldn't be talking about how scientific our ancestors were.
    Since, that would be the most protected entity and they would prevent
    it from dispersing to others.
  • append below are a few things which we already knew - some are
    credited to westerners **- trust there were not patent suits then??

    Zero (Sooniya) Pingalacharya-Chanda Sastra- 200 B.C.E 900 C.E

    ** Pythagorus Theorem. Boudhayana Sulbasutra 700 B.C.E 500 B.C.E.

    ** Taylor Series ofSine and cosine? Nilakanta-Tantra Sangraha 1444
    C.E 1685 C.E.

    ** InterpolationFormula Govindaswami- Mahabhaskareya 800 C.E Newton-
    Gauss-1670 C.E

    ** Power Series Somayaji-Karanapaddhati1450 C.E. Newton-1660 C.E.

    ** Lhuilers Formula Patameswara-commentary on Lilavathi-1360 C.E.
    Lhuiler- 1782 C.E.

    ** Gregorys Series for Inverse Tangents Madhava- Yukti Bhaha1350
    C.E. 1632 C.E.

    ** Lebnitz Power Series Somayaji- Karanapaddhati ?1450 C.E. 1673

    ** Earths Gravity Bhaskara-Siddhanta Siromany-1114 C.E Newton- 1666

    ** Heliocentric system Aryabhata- 520 C.E. Copernicus- 1520 C.E.

    ** Backward Interpolation Vateswara 904 C.E. Newton-Gauss-1670 C.E.
  • Arun

    Following are some of the things we know but never
    thought of it from the POV of a scientific temper.
    1. The environment that fostered a discussion on
    things like the smell of the queens hair should be
    tempered very much by the curiosity than the whims of
    the kings. The way the question was tackled shows a
    open challenge for anyone to solve, a peer review
    process, dissension and agreement. I am not being
    cheek-in-jowl here but the scientific enquiry of this
    process is mind-boggling.
    2. Maths. There were ancient tamil mathematical books
    like Kanakkatikaram, Encuvati, Ponnilakkam and
    Nellilakkam which are published by 'Ulaga tamilaraichi
    niruvanam'. These are published from manuscripts as
    much as 1000 years old.
    3. There is enough scientific information in the
    much-derided sangam literature, if only you care to
    look at it. In fact, 'Kaniyan Poongundranar' is an
    astronomer (may be an amateur) but the prefix Kaniyan
    is the ancient tamil term for those who watch the sky
    and do astronomical calculations. Thus there existed a
    class of astronomers (we dont know what they found but
    still it shows that the ancient Tamils were not as
    averse to science as we think)
    4. In fact, the most convincing of it is the
    references of the astronomical events. The reference
    to 'veLLi ezhundhu viyaazham uRangitru' in Thiruppavai
    betrays the fact that Tamils know their astronomy
    atleast 1200-1300 years back.
    5. But why no big treatises or books? Not like Pliny
    or Euclid but some manuscripts? If someone were to
    walk into the 17th-18th century London and may be ask
    for a copy of Newton's famous treatise in English, he
    would've been laughing stock. Because Newton wrote his
    'Principia Mathematica' in Latin and not in English.
    Reason, Latin was considered the language of choice
    for all scientific treatises. Whereas, Shakespeare and
    John donne were writing verses describing nature in
    English. 17th century England would've made you
    believe that the English were purely nature loving
    sentimental bogeys with no scientific temper. Same is
    true in the first 500-600 years of Rome (replace
    English with Latin and Latin with Greek). Greeks, of
    course, had their literature as well as scientific
    treatises in Greek since no 'superior' language was
    available and most importantly, Greek is a classical
    language which has written form from may be the 10th
    century BC. My theory is the same thing happened in
    the Tamil/Sanskrit relatioship as the scientific
    language of choice being Sanskrit and Tamil was the
    language for the bhakthi/nature (which seems to be
    agonizing Arun somehow!). This may be the reason why
    there is no big treatise available in Tamil. For that
    matter, how much of scientific research is done in
    Tamil now? English seems to be the language of choice
    now. Thus may be 200 years down the line, another Arun
    might pose a question on whether the Tamils in the
    20th century has seen computers as there seems to be
    no literature on computers but only agonizing poems on
    lost loves.


    "'I can't explain myself, I'm afraid, Sir,' said Alice, 'because I'm not myself you see.'"
    -Alice in Alice In Wonderland
  • After reading this mail, I get reminded of an event a scientist was
    recalling once in a conference in Delhi. When his group wanted to
    publish their work in one of the high impact journals, the reviewers
    told them to look up a paper published by a Japanese scholar. They did
    look it up after a long search. There were two problems that they
    faced now.
    1. The paper was published in a Japanese journal entirely in Japanese.
    2. The Japanese scholar had done the same work few years back.
    Although Japanese are very proud of their language, which they should
    be. But, one can see the difficulty the work was getting transmitted.
  • What a discussion? Didnt check the mail for few days and my god,
    what a flood of mails.

    Aruns basic question is, why dont we have scientific treaties in
    tamil and only in Sanskrit.

    Mr.Ramachandran, epigraphist from State Archeological survey, when
    we met during a PS meeting, put forth a point, which I feel is very
    logical. As we have English as the official langugae today, Sanskrit
    was the official language in olden days. It was not the language of
    only the affluent or rather the brahmins, but it was the court
    language of the kings.

    Thats why we find most of the pallava kalvettu's in Sanskrit, almost
    all the other kalvettus atleast start with a sanskrit phrase.

    So logically, this answers the question why there is no scientific
    treaties or books available in Tamil.

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