Vedas and other sacred texts from India are well known amongst the brightest minds on Earth as one of the best cauldrons of knowledge in our known existence. You may think that the concept of gravity or the speed of light as a recent discovery. Well, it seems the ancient Indians knew about it eons ago. Here are some of the most fascinating scientific truths discovered by the ancient Indians well before the modern world came to understand them.
1Did You Know That Cloning and Test Tube Babies Were Discussed by the Ancient Indians?
One of the prime examples of the concept of cloning being mentioned in ancient India is in the Mahabharata, an epic poem. In the Mahabharata, a woman named Gandhari gave birth to 100 sons. According to the story, a single embryo was split into 100 different parts to create her sons. The split parts were then grown in individual containers.
The Rig Veda, one of the sacred texts of ancient India, tells us about the tale of three brothers named Rubhu, Vajra and Vibhu. These three brothers cloned their cow to get a better yield of milk. According to the story, the skin from the cow’s back was taken and cells taken from it were multiplied to create a new identical cow. The English translation of the ancient verses goes, “Out of a skin, o Rubhus, once ye formed a cow, and brought the mother close unto her calf again.”
What is more fascinating is that this concept is mentioned in seven different verses by authors (sages). This points to the fact that the concept of cloning was well known for a long period of time as all these sages in their lifetimes knew and wrote about it.
You do have to wonder what else they knew about!
2What Goes Up Must Come Down!
When you hear “gravity”, the first thing to come to your mind might either be Sir Issac Newton or John Mayer. While both have made tremendous contribution in bringing gravity into the spotlight, the ancient Indian texts discuss about this concept in detail. Nearly a thousand years before Newton, there was a Hindu astronomer and mathematician named Varahamihira (505-587 CE). He felt that there must be a force existing on Earth that allowed everything to stick to the ground and not float up. However, he was not able to name this force and he moved on to make other discoveries.
A few years later, Brahmagupta (598-670 CE), who was not only an astronomer but a mathematician as well, believed that the Earth was a sphere and that it has the ability to attract objects. In one of his many statements he wrote, “Bodies fall towards the Earth as it is in the nature of the Earth to attract bodies, just as it is in the nature of water to flow.”
Many other ancient scholars, astronomers and mathematicians have spoken in length about gravity.
3Fancy Taking A Trip to the Sun? The Ancient Indians Would Have Told You How Far it Was
Ah! The dream of traveling through space and going where no man has ever gone before is surely a powerful one. Here is an interesting fact about space travel. The ancient Indians were able to measure the distance between the Earth and the Sun and their approximation is frighteningly close to what we know today. The Ramayana, another epic Indian poem, mentions the tale of Hanuman who swallowed the Sun thinking it was a fruit. A verse in the ancient text says,
“The Sun which sits yugashasrayojan away,
You swallowed it, thinking it is a sweet fruit.”
One Yuga is defined as 12000 years and one Sahasra Yuga is 12,000,000 years. 1 yojan on the other hand is measured to be around 8 miles. According to the above verse, the “yugasahsrayojan” would mean 12000 x 12,000,000 x 8 which would be 96,000,000 miles. 1 mile is 1.6 kms so this distance would be 153,600,000 in kilometers.
According to what we know now, the distance from the Sun to Earth is 149,600,000 kms(approx).
Time to play the “Mind Blown Meme”!!!
4Plastic Surgery in the Ancient Age
In ancient India, there was a medical text that covered details about the medicine and surgery techniques used in that era. It is considered to be one of the most important medical guides to survive from those times. What makes this text unique from other ancient ones is the amount of detail that goes into the concept of surgery, its procedures and its tools. It even says that a student who wishes to learn about the human body must dissect a dead body. A thousand years later, you had Da Vinci learning the human anatomy by performing surgical procedures on dead bodies.
The text even discusses the concept of plastic surgery and says that the reconstruction of a nose can be done by using skin from the cheek. There have also been findings of drilled molar crowns dated nearly 7000 years ago.
Cue the “Mind Blown Meme” again please!!
5The Invention of Nothing
Zero as a value was first used by ancient Indians in their decimal system. Most civilizations around the world never had the notion of such a value. In AD 458, a cosmological text had one of the very first appearances of zero. However, its modern origin can be traced back to Aryabhatiya. The concept then spread to various parts of the world through foreign traders.
What is scary is the fact that after the use of such a value was spreading all over the world, many European nations resisted it completely. Florence and Italy even banned the use of numerals. However, soon after, the world started to accept it and we now know what we know.
Could you imagine a world without Zero? Is “nothing” coming to your mind?
6The Pattern That Exists Everywhere
If you have read the book or seen the movie “The Da Vinci Code”, you must have surely heard about the Fibonacci sequence. It is essentially a series of numbers where each number is the result of adding up two other numbers before it. It is represented as 0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34,..... What is amazing and quite shocking about this sequence is that it can be found all over our universe. From the shapes of entire galaxies like Messier 74 to hurricanes, they all exhibit what is called the Fibonacci spiral. You can even see them being used in some of the most famous paintings in the world.
While the world knows this concept to be discovered by Leonardo Pisano, they have been described at length in ancient Indian texts. The earliest known discovery of this series have been attributed to Pingala who lived around 200 BC but a more clearer version can be seen in the work of Virhanka. Leonardo Pisano, after all, had been known to study ancient mathematics during his time in North Africa shortly before he realized and refined what is known today as the Fibonacci Sequence.
7The World of Atoms
The discovery of Atoms is known as a recent event in modern history. Or is it? Centuries before John Dalton, who is credited with the discovery was born, a man named Kanada in Ancient India was busy devising theories about infinitely small invisible particles that are present everywhere. He referred to these particles as “Anu” and proposed that they cannot be destroyed.
He also developed a theory that they have two dual states of motion; one is the state of rest and the other is the state of constant motion. Further down the line, he even came to the conclusion that it must be these particles that combine together in a specific formation to create what he called, “dvyanuka”(what we know now as diatomic molecules) and “tryanuka” ( triatomic molecules).
He observed objects falling to the ground, the tendency of fire and heat to move upwards and other phenomenon such as the way liquid flows, to integrate them with his theories on atoms and molecules. The story behind how the concept of atoms and molecules came to him is indeed an interesting one. He was walking with food in his hand one day and noticed that while he was nibbling at the food, there was no way that he could divide it into further parts. That thought provoked him to think about matter that couldn’t be divided. He believed that atoms were invisible to the naked eye but surrounded us everywhere.
Our ancient world was definitely full of surprises, weren’t they?
8Our Place in the Universe
History tells us that Copernicus is the first man to propose the heliocentric model of our solar system where the sun is in the middle with the other planets surrounding it. However, the Rig Veda has been regarded as the first to note such a concept way before the modern age discovery.
According to a verse in the Rig Veda, “The sun moves in its orbit which itself is moving. Earth and other bodies move around sun due to force of attraction, because sun is heavier than them.”
Another verse says, “The sun moves in in its own orbit but holding Earth and other heavenly bodies in a manner that they do not collide with each other through the force of attraction”.