Information about science and technology in ancient India are given. The internet links for additional information are also provided.
Men of older generation used to say that all knowledge is there in the Vedas. Anyone who hears such words will have the first reaction that it is an over confident statement. We should remember here that any sloka in the ancient Hindu manuscripts has more than one meaning.
A Sloka in the 10th book of Rig Veda appears to be written for praising Lord Indra. The technical translation of that Sloka gives the value of pi up to 28 digits accurately. It is not until the invention of the computers that the western mathematicians could get this value up to 16 digits accurately. Here is a test for those who think that a computer can do any calculation. Use the fastest computer available to you and write a program to calculate the value of pi up to 28 digits accurately. You will know how difficult it is.
There were many inventions in the field of science and technology in ancient India. Since many persons of the present generation does not know them, they will be described briefly to enable the readers to have the basic understanding about them.
2. THE INVENTIONS OF ANCIENT INDIA
Who invented Calculus? The western books say that Newton invented Calculus. You can see the Sanskrit mathematics texts by Arya Bhatta and Bhaskaracharya which were written many centuries before Newton that they contain Calculus. For that matter, who invented numbers? The Indians. The ancient Romans did not know the number zero. Ancient Indians knew very large numbers like Mahogham (1 followed by 62 zeros) and the corresponding smaller decimal fractions. Paavuloori Mallana of 12th century wrote Ganitha Sastram in Telugu. One poem in the book starts like this:
“Sara sasi shatka chandra sara saayaka ….”
The meaning appears to be a poetic description of nature. Each word used in the poem has a methematical terminology meaning. It deals with a methematical problem. One grain is placed in the first square of the chess board. Double of that number, are placed in the second square, and so on. How many grains have to be placed in the last square? The poem gives the answer as 18446744073709551614 which is equal to 2 to the power 63.
Who invented Nuclear Physics?
Buddhist teacher Pakudha Katyayana taught atomic theory. Maharshi Kanaada of 3rd century, B.C. wrote atomic theory in Vaiseshika Sutras. Agni Purana gives smaller magnitudes. The smallest of them is called Paramaanu which nearly equals one billionth part of a meter. This value tallies with the size of an organic
molecule calculated by the western scientists. According to the Upanishads, the five elements of the nature are Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Akasa. (The ancient Greek or Roman philosophers did not know Akasa). One can easily guess that the Earth represents the solid state, the Water the liquid state and the Air
the gaseous state. The Fire is the plasma, the fourth state of matter. Western science has not recognized nuclear state as a state of matter, even though some nuclear particles are stable; Akasa means nuclear state. In the ancient Sanskrit text named Anu Sidhdhantam, Maharshi Goutama described three models of
micro-scopes through which atoms and electrons can be seen.
Who were the first to calculate the velocity of light?
The Rig Veda Bhashyam by Sayana Madhava gives the following Sloka praising the Sun:
Yojanam sahasre dve, satadve, dvecha yojane Ekena nimeshardhena kramamaana namosthuthe One Yojana equals 15788.8 meters, and half of Nimesha equals 8/75 fraction of a second. This gives the velocity of light as 325940 km/s. We have to remember here that the above value is an approximate one intended for easy
remembrance, like remembering the value of pi as 22/7. It is better than the value 215000 km/s given by Danish astronomer Ole Roemer in 1676. Having discovered so many things, it is only logical to expect that our ancestors must have used light as the standard for length measurements; after all, modern science considers velocity of light to be a Universal Constant! The word “kramamaana” of the above Sloka has the hidden meaning of gradual minute change. This will be dealt a little later.
Who invented weaving? Many experts agree that primitive gins and spinning wheels originated in India. The earliest samples of cotton fabric were found in the excavations of the Indus Valley. Samples of the most ancient mordant dyeing technique for cotton fabrics, Kalamkari, were also found there. The Kalamkari technique was perfected in South India and the traditional method continues till date. The Puranas describe spinning and weaving that match the modern concept of an industry. The weaving industry involved specialized factories working in association with domestic industries and paid at piece rates. The fibers used for spinning and the fabrics produced were of the most varied types, unparalleled in any other country during that period. Indians were exceptional for their skills in spinning and weaving which have not been surpassed by peoples of other lands even in historic past. Pliny’s Natural History informs that India exported to Rome large quantities of sheep wool, woolen fabrics, colored carpets, silks, cotton clothes, and fabrics ranging from coarse canvas to textiles of the finest texture. Ancient Indians had the reputation of making the thinnest saree that could pass through a finger ring. During the reign of Julius Caesar, the Roman Emperor, the British did not know weaving and lived naked.
Who invented the guns?
Some people in medieval Europe heard of powerful fire
weapons of the India. Marco Polo (in 13th century) was
financed by the king of his country with the specific
purpose of finding the secret of the Indian fire
weapons. Marco Polo was given gold coins and precious
stones. He also brought some prostitutes to woo people,
if necessary. He first tried to find the secret in the
Punjab region. They pointed a gun at him saying ” Get
out of our country. Else, we will shoot you with this
very gun”. He then came to south India and tried for
the secret. The south Indians were more tolerant. They
told him that the secret is not known to the public.
The engineers who made the guns reside in the king’s
fort generations. The guns were kept in the armory and
the public might not have even seen a gun. The guns
were brought out only at the time of emergency like a
war. A few persons gave hint to Marco Polo that the
knowledge of making gun powder was given to the Chinese
when some Indians visited them in ancient times. Then
Marco Polo went to China, but he could not find any
guns there. The gun powder was used there for making
some festival fire crackers and rockets. He took
samples of the gun powder and returned to Europe. We
know that the gun powder consists of niter, sulphur and
charcoal powder. Natural niter was scarce in Europe,
and what they could get from other lands was not that
pure. The world’s purest niter in its natural state is
available in the mines of India. The other problems
faced by the Europeans in making the guns are lack of
good metallic alloys to make the bodies of the guns and
the non-availability of good machine tools for making
them. Manufacture of the guns fell into temporary
oblivion because most of them back-fired or exploded.
How did the British conquer India? Not with their guns.
The first war between the Indians and the British took
place at Mysore during reign of Hyder Ali. The
casualties on the British side was 90 percent and those
on the Indian side was 10 percent. The British realized
that their weapons were inferior to those used by the
Indians. The Indians had rockets and missiles besides
guns and cannons. What is a Sathagni? Most of us think
that it is cannon. Satha means 100 and Agni means fire;
it is a missile containing 100 bullets. It is launched
from a cannon. It explodes after reaching its
destination. Sanskrit manuscripts like Sukra Neethi
Sastra contain many formulas for making gun powder. The
first item exported by the then British East India
company was Indian niter.
According to Sir A. M. Eliot and Heinrich Brunnhofer (a
German Indologist) and Gustav Oppert, all of whom have
stated that ancient Hindus knew the use of gunpowder.
Eliot tells us that the Arabs learnt the manufacture of
gunpowder from India, and that before their Indian
connection they had used arrows of naptha. It is also
argued that though Persia possessed saltpetre in
abundance, the original home of gunpowder was India. In
the light of the above remarks we can trace the
evolution of fire-arms in the ancient India.
Who invented the ships?
Some persons may argue what is a ship. Read the
definition of a ship:
Europe has only soft wood trees. The ships made of
those woods are good for sailing the Mediterranean or a
smaller sea. They are no good for sailing on the
oceans. The ship of Vasco de Gama was about to collapse
when it reached India. It is the Indian marine
engineers who repaired that ship and made it worthy
again for sea travel. Which country has the trees that
provide the hardest wood? India. The Sanskrit name for
deodar tree was Deva Tharu, the tree that gives the
best wood; it is native to India. Other hard woods like
teak and mahogany are also native to India.
J. Ovington, Chaplain to the British King, the
seventeenth-century English traveler, who visited
Surat, wrote a book “A Voyage to Surat in the Year
1689”. He was impressed by the skill of the Indians in
ship-building and found that they even outshone
Europeans. The timber used by the Indians was so strong
that it would not ‘crack’ even by the force of a bullet
so he urged the English to use that timber ‘to help
them in war’. Indian Teak stood firmer than the English
Oak, remarked Ovington.
Rig Veda mentions ships with 100 oars. Such ships
sailed over seven oceans and returned to India.
Visitors to India from Greece and Rome during the
pre-Christian times wrote that the Brahmins of India
knew that the earth is in the form of a globe and one
can reach the same place after sailing through the
seven oceans. The Buddhist Jataka stories wrote about
large Indian ships carrying seven hundred people. In
the Artha Sastra, Koutilya wrote about the Board of
Shipping and the Commissioner of Port who supervised
sea traffic. The Harivamsa informs that the first
geographical survey of the world was performed during
the period of Vaivasvata. The towns, villages and
demarcation of agricultural land of that period were
depicted on maps. Brahmanda Purana provides the best
and the most detailed description of world map drawn on
a flat surface using an accurate scale. Padma Purana
says that world maps were prepared and maintained in
book form and kept with care and safety in chests.
Surya Siddhantha speaks about construction of wooden
globe representing earth and marking of horizontal
circles, equatorial circles and further divisions. The
second item exported by the erst while British East
India Company was Indian ship. A few of these ships are
still in service, and are used for training cadets of
the British Navy. During World War II, Maharajas of
India have lent some hundreds of their ships to the
British for use as hospital ships.
Who invented steel?
The Rig Veda mentions “wootz” steel. Evidence for the
manufacture of steel in ancient times is available in
South India. The Arabians used to make a lot of money
by selling Indian steel ingots to Europe. In 1746, the
queen of Britain had sent a scientist named Benjamin
Hauntsman to India to obtain the secret of making
steel. Hauntsman stayed in India for some years, went
back to Britain and submitted a report to the queen.
Some historic records say that he did not write the
main secret and he started his foundry in his native
town. How the secret reached Henry Bessemer is
unnecessary for us because his process was essentially
the Indian crucible method of making steel. Another
Indian contribution to industries in Europe was the
process of casting. The frames of machine tools of that
time were made of wood. Good mechanical devices like
clocks did exist in Britain as early as 1300s. They
were works of skilled crafts persons and were not
products of precision machine tools. It was not until
the structures of the machine tools were cast using
Indian casting method and their other components were
made of hard metals using Indian steel making method,
the high precision machine tools could be made. The so
called Industrial Revolution of Europe in the 1800s
heavily depended on this.
Who invented the aircraft?
India had many ancient Sanskrit texts on aeronautics.
The Yantra Sarvaswa of Maharshi Bharadwaja, Vimaana
Chandrika of Maharshi Narayan, Vyoma Yaana Tantra of
Sounaka, and Vyoma Yaanarka of Dandi Natha are some of
them. They contained topics like Maargadhi Karana
(Navigation and control of speed during flight),
Lohaadhi Karana (alloys used for various components of
the aircraft) and Saktyaadhi Karana (production and
usage of various fuels used in aircrafts). Para Sabda
Grahakata is a subject of monitoring the flight tracks
of aircrafts, navigatory communication system, and
monitoring the conversation of the pilots in the
aircrafts. Maharshi Gouthama mentioned 32 models of
aircrafts used in Treta Yuga; only one model among
them, called Pushpaka Vimaanam, became popular in the
Ramayana. The Vaimaanika Sastra describes Tripura
Vimaanam that uses solar powered engine to travel at
three levels – on the land, under the surface of water,
and in the air. Sakuna Vimaanam is a cross between an
aircraft and a rocket – a space shuttle. The British
have robbed most of our Sanskrit manuscripts during
their rule in India. In 1895, Sivasankar Thalpad of
Bombay had constructed an aircraft with an engine which
flew to an altitude of 1500 feet. He was a Vedic
scholar and used to teach at the J.J. School of Arts.
He obtained the technology from some rare Sanskrit
manuscripts. He also wrote a book in Marathi named
Praacheena Vimaana Vidye Chaasodha. Lalaji Rayanji,
Maharaja of Baroda, was one of the many witnesses who
had seen the flying of that aircraft. After the
untimely death of Prof.Thalpad, his legal heirs sold
all his scripts and materials to the British. (You can
check the year of flying of Wright Brothers).
Who invented powder metallurgy?
The Indians. The iron pillar in Delhi which does not
get rust even today is the proof for it. It is not the
only one of its kind; there are many more scattered
through out in India. The Russians who took scrapings
from the pillar confirmed that it is made using powder
metallurgy technology. The so called space-age
technology of today can make only small pieces using
powder metallurgy; they are generally used as tips in
cutting tools. How could our ancients make such a big
pillar using powder metallurgy? The pillar is like a
time capsule – it is challenging the world. Can we rise
to the pinnacles of achievement to which our ancients
Who invented nuclear weapons? You may have heard about
the great Astras mentioned in our Puranas. But you may
not have read about them in detail:
“The Mahabharata – an ancient Indian epic compiled
3000 years ago – contains a reference to a
terrible weapon. Regrettably, in our age of the
atomic bomb, the description of this weapon
exploding will not appear to be an exaggeration:
‘…. a blazing shaft possessed of the effulgence
of a smokeless fire (was) let off…’. That was
how this weapon was perceived. The consequences of
its use also evoke involuntary associations. ‘…
This makes the bodies of the dead unidentifiable.
… The survivors lose their nails and hair, and
their food becomes unfit for eating. For several
subsequent years the Sun, the stars and the sky
remain shrouded with clouds and bad weather’. This
weapon was known as the Weapon of Brahma or the
Flame of Indra……”.
Who invented plastic surgery? The Indians. It is fully
described by Maharshi Susruta, the ancient Ayurvedic
surgeon, in his Samhita. Who invented acupuncture? The
Indians. Who invented the martial arts? The Indians.
Who invented the remote sensing and imaging techniques?
The Indians. Who discovered Advanced Astrology? The
Indians. Who discovered Advanced Astronomy? The
Indians. Who discovered Groundwater Hydrology? The
Indians. We can read Brihat Samhita of Varaha Mihira;
the Indian method is better than the modern techniques
of using space satellites. Who were the first to
construct planned cities with high technology
infrastructures for water supply and sewerage? The
Indians. Who invented the hanging bridges? The Indians.
Chinese who visited India a few thousands of years ago
wrote about our hanging bridges which used steel beams
and steel ropes. Who discovered higher philosophy? The
Indians. Were there Doora Sravana and Doora Darsana
machines in ancient India? Yes. Did our ancients knew
radars and laser weapons? Yes, the techology was given
in the Sanskrit manuscript Samarangana Sutra Dhara.
Who discovered Irrigation Engineering? Another name for
India was Yilaa Varta. The hidden meaning of this name
is Jala Maaruta, the country of water laden winds. No
other country in the world has monsoons. The rainfall
in India is more than the total rainfall in the rest of
the world. India is the land of mighty rivers – and
that in a very large number that outnumber all other
countrie. In the olden days, the water flow rate in the
Ganga exceeded that of any other river in the world.
The people of South India built and maintained an
extensive system of irrigation tanks and associated
canals with extraordinary managerial and social skills.
They shared the waters following the ways of nature
from time immemorial. Construction of small dams at
every possible location was carried out with such
completeness that a British engineer of the 19th
century thought that it would be impossible to add
another tank to that irrigation system. It was a marvel
of Indian engineering and human cooperation. Nothing
like it existed else where in the world at any time in
the past. While peasants of other countries broke their
backs to reap one harvest, the Indians produced two or
three bumper crops a year. The harvest in the Krishna
and Kauvery river basins was large enough to meet the
needs of rest of our country during periods of crisis.
Visitors from Europe and China in pre-Christian times
wrote that India was a land of plenty. Our Buddhist and
Jain religious records also say the same thing. Who
were the first to postulate the infinity of the
universe and the plurality of inhabited worlds like the
earth? The Indians. The Vishnu Purana says that the
earth is merely one of thousands of millions of
inhabited worlds like itself to be found in the
3. HOW THE COUNTRY WAS NAMED
Why India was called Bhaarata Desam? Most of the people
of the present generation think that India was named
after emperor Bharata. This interpretation is probably
not very old, may be some hundreds of years. Is there
any other land in the world which is named after a
male? Religions of all lands treat the earth as a
female, the mother goddess. Before the spread of
Christianity, all countries in Europe were named after
the local mother goddesses. The same is true for all
other lands in the world. Among all countries in the
world, India has inherited the largest number of
ancient manuscripts from time immemorial. They were
written on the widest range of subjects known to
humans. Indians were the originators of all higher
knowledge in the ancient times. What is impossible for
our Maharshis of yore? A Telugu poet wrote the
following line: “Pogadaraa nee thalli bhoomi
Bhaarathini” – praise your mother land Bhaarati! India
was named after Bhaarati (Saraswati), the goddess of
knowledge. No other ancient civilization of the world
could claim this coveted title. The world’s oldest
educational institutions were located in India, and
scholars from China and Europe used to come here for
learning. Another hidden meaning of the name Yilaa
Varta is Bhaarati Aalaya, the temple of goddess
So much for the psyche of the Indians, but we are
psychosomatic beings. The mind is in-separable from the
body. Hence, is there anything in the bodies of Indians
which shows the blessings of goddess Bhaarati? Yes.
During the second word war, the British military
doctors who conducted autopsy on the dead found that
the pineal gland of the Indians is much larger than
that in the British. The pineal gland is the third eye.
It is the seat of higher knowledge according to the
esoteric teachings in medieval Europe. Sanskrit texts
on Yoga and Tantra also say the same thing. The largest
group among foreign computer programmers in the U.S.A.
at present are the Indians, they account for more than
The Birla Science Center at Hyderabad has produced some
alloys after studying some Hindu manuscripts like
“Vimaana Sastra” and “Amsu Bodhini”. The alloys possess
some extra-ordinary properties which are unknown to the
How are the next generation computers are going to be
designed? We have a dual-core Pentium processor which
is replacing the old one. But, the development will not
be faster that way, because they still use electron
currents. We all know that light travels faster than
electron current. When they use laser flows instead of
electron flow using Raman Effect discovered by Sir
C.V.Raman, Nobel Laureate, the next big revolution in
making computers will take place. Some researchers in
U.S.A. are already working in this line. The next
drawback in a computer is that the Numeric Co-Processor
in the C.P.U. works according to arithmetic logic. We
know that the result of multiplying an eight digit
number with another eight digit number cannot be
obtained in one step. But ancient India knows a very
unique method which gives this answer in one step – the
Vedic mathematics. If the Numeric Co-Processor was to
be designed using Vedic mathematics, each personal
computer will work like a super computer even with the
present day computer hardware.
Our ancient seers did not use light as a standard for
length measurement. Albert Einstain found that light
bends if it passes by the side of a large mass. How can
that “which bends” be called unchangeable? Every
created thing is subject to change by time; there is
nothing like an universal constant. And the velocity of
light is no exception to this law. The velocity of
light of our Sun was greater in Krita Yuga than what it
is now, even if it is by a small fraction. The velocity
of light is proportional to the stored energy in the
Sun or any other star. Modern science also accepts that
the Sun has lost a lot of energy over billions of
years. Then, there must be some other stars in the
universe which have greater stored energies than the
Sun, and are emitting light which is faster than that
of the Sun? Yes. Modern science will confirm this after
it develops more sophisticated equipment than what they
have at present.
Why then are we not able to use our own ancient knowledge?
It is a law of nature that everything in creation must go
through cycles of time. The period of light must be
followed by a period of darkness, and the period of
wakefulness must be followed by a period of sleep. And the
period of happiness must by followed by a period of
sorrow; otherwise, the human mind will not give the due
value to happiness. After a period of sorrow, the
happiness that comes next will be much more heartening.
Hence, according to that law, the higher psyche of Indians
is at sleep now. Will it wake up in the near future? Can
we see it during our own life time? Yes. Some astrologers,
both Indian and Western, have predicted that India will
awaken to a part of its prestigious glory in about two
decades from now. One visioner wrote:
“(In India), good character and culture will be
inculcated in all spheres of life. …. Due to the
scientific progress achieved by India and her increased
amity with America, Indian society will shed its
degenerate culture and become progressive. By 2020,
Indian society would have significantly expanded its
thinking. …. Spiritual books, originating from India,
will become extremely popular and command a global
audience. From 2010, winds of spiritualism will blow
across the entire world, awakening more and more people
in its wake. Where limits of (modern) science end,
spiritualism begins. …. Along with scientific
progress, intellectuals will start recognizing the
importance of spiritualism. …. From 2050, a new era
I have also done some astrological calculations and
agree to the lines quoted above. This is further
backed-up by science and technology in our Hindu
scriptures. They are the invaluable assets given by our
ancestors. They will definitely help India to rise.
 Alexander Gorbovsky, Riddles of Ancient
History, The Sputnik Magazine, Moscow, Sept. 1986,
 Swami Dattavadhut, Prophecies 1998 to 2100,
Vanita Books, Mumbai, 1997, pp. 33-42.