30-Sep-2011, 04:31 PM
Obviously free thought in this forum is not that free.
The 'Science' of Hindu Cosmology
30-Sep-2011, 07:43 PM
The numbers exist just to make our mouths drop at the sheer enormity of the values. 155 trillion? Wow that is a huge number. Even if that number or any another number matches something established by scientists today, so what? It is just coincidence. The scientists of today have verified methodologies to verify the veracity of their statements. And as always science is willing to admit errors and go back to the chalkboard if they get something wrong.
But on the other hand, religion always asserts its knowledge and its revelations and never gives us a scientific explanation.
Lastly if large numbers are the key to capturing the imagination, please cast aside Brahma's daily timetable and take a look at this.
"It's alright, I rarely meet anyone who's able to read it properly. Although personally, I never thought that it to be an odd of a name. Once I give people the pronunciation, they tend to remember my name by easily associating me with it. A unique face, a unique moniker."
30-Sep-2011, 09:08 PM
(30-Sep-2011, 04:22 PM)rtved Wrote:(30-Sep-2011, 03:45 PM)Ajita Kamal Wrote: There is nothing scientific or factually accurate about the majority of BS in the scriptures. If someone living in the stone age tells a lengthy tale filled with fantasy and exaggeration, there's bound to be one or two things that are right just by coincidnce. Even the Quran and the Bible get a thing or two right. Doesn't mean those primitive people knew astrophysics, just means that statistically even an ignoramus will be occasionally correct just by sheer luck.
Au contraire, its totally relevant to this forum.
Quote:Quote:Quote:"That is right. 155 trillion years has to pass before everything gets annihilated.Nothing remains for any bang(Or whatever) to happen.The cycle of creation , destruction and rest ,with time periods of 4.32 billion years each,comes to an end after 155 trillion years."
The "jerk" is the one who cannot see the difference between attacking ideas and attacking people. All I asked for was evidence for your ridiculous claims. its not like I was expecting any, but boy don't you apologists love flipping others off when called out on your BS! Its childish, actually.
Quote:If you think this is Religious Nonsense why you contribute?
Huh? Apparently you simply don't get why someone would want to criticize bad ideas.
Anyway, good riddance. Now let's have some mature discussions.
(30-Sep-2011, 05:15 PM)Kanad Kanhere Wrote:
Great idea. Continued here: http://nirmukta.net/Thread-What-is-Freet...37#pid5637
"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
24-Nov-2011, 12:24 AM
A general quirk of ancient and medieval Indian intellectual history is their obsession with large numbers. The fact that they defined yugas and manvantaras to be millions/billions/trillions of years is hardly surprising. As Roddam Narasimha, the famous scientist says ,
Quote:Why, for example, was there no dread of large numbers in Indian culture? Did familiarity with 10-km-high mountains and kilometres-wide rivers flowing thousands of kilometres across vast plains to huge oceans have something to do with it? And why was there, at the same time, the passion to create the shortest phrases for those huge but friendly numbers? It was said of Indian grammarians that if they could save even half a syllable from one of their rules, they celebrated it like the birth of a son. Sound was holy, and a syllable could hold the infinite: verbal minimalism appears to have gone with numerical opulence.
While we should strongly criticize these 'ancient Indians knew modern physics' types, it would be disingenuous to deny that we don't fully know how much science and mathematics was known in historical India. Some historical intellectual achievements, in mathematics, linguistics, architecture, etc. of the Indian civilization were remarkable for their era. A crucial problem with our civilization is that none of these things endured, for reasons such as casteism and Brahmin exclusivity.. The contiguity and preservation of knowledge post 1600s Europe which led to western preeminence in science and mathematics just didn't exist in India.
Note that some astronomical observations in the vedas and elsewhere are not as remarkable as they are made out to be by apologists. Anyone with an eye on the sky can make reasonably accurate predictions of positions of stars, planets, the moon, the earth relative to the sun, etc. It wouldn't be right to say that Indians haven't historically done this. Such astronomical observations have been common across the world for at least the last one or two thousand years. I am not even sure if dating based on astronomical references in Mahabharata/Ramayana is even permissible in academia, given the immense ambiguities.
It is obvious bullcrap to say that Indians knew the age of the universe and other things. Quite simply, it is impossible to know the life/extent of the universe without the developments in physics between 1600s - 1900s. There is only one way to get from the astronomical and mathematical knowhow of ancient Indians (which by the 1500s, thanks to significant information transfer, was known to most societies in the old world) to modern physics, and that is via all the scientific developments since Newton and Galileo.
A simple FAQ for all the proponents of what I call the Vedic-precocity-in-physics theory:
Is there an equivalent of Newtonian mechanics in classical Indian literature? No.
Is there the electromagnetic theory of radiation (Maxwell, Planck, etc.) anywhere? No.
That means they did not have antennas, nor were they aware of the wave properties of light (Young, etc. 1800s).
Is there any evidence that ancient Indians knew basic optics? No.
They certainly didn't know how to precisely process glass (no archeological evidence). So they couldn't have had telescopes.
Did they know about Cepheid variables? Obviously not, they didn't have telescopes, duh.
So they couldn't have measured distances beyond a few light years. Hell, without basic optical instruments, they wouldn't have even been able to measure distances to any objects in the sky.
The fact that there are some vague references to large numbers, and some abstract musings in classical Indian literature doesn't imply that they knew modern physics.
Another major #facepalm comes from the confusion that 'navagraha' means the nine planets. I've heard many people say, 'Hah! Indians knew nine planets way before William Herschel discovered Uranus." Unfortunately, the nine planets in Indian mythology/theology are the 5 planets that can be seen with the naked eye (and were known to most societies), along with mythical 'Rahu/Kethu' (7), 8- sun, 9- moon (ref. ...suryaya chandraya mangalaya budhaya cha, guru shukra shanibhyascha raahave ketave...).
I've found that vedic-physicists proponents are capable of making all sorts of stories up to explain how ancient Indians knew modern physics. A common argument (Chopra is the only one of several the such apologists, going back to Ramakrishna/Vivekananda) goes thus, 'Science is just one way of acquiring knowledge. Telescope you say? Yogis can travel using yogic power to even the farthest stars and measure the time it takes to travel there. If you meditate and achieve siddhi/blahblah you too will realize that.' These apologists then sit down, use their rudimentary knowledge of physics to try this experiment themselves, imagining that they are flying from an image of the earth to the image of a famous astronomical object such as the Orion nebula. Apparently, if you are a yogi, you are not only capable of flying, but also of measuring the distance. Seriously. I just don't know what to say when I encounter such people! They are absolutely immune to reason.
 R. Narasimha, Nature 414 (851) (20 December 2001) , doi:10.1038/414851a http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v41...4851a.html
"Science is interesting. If you don't agree, f off."
(30-Sep-2011, 02:11 PM)rtved Wrote: This scientific estimated age is FROM the last BIGBANG.Obviously there is something before the Bigbang.
Isaac Asimov makes an even more awesome and exciting 'claim' about what will happen in several trillion years. A great scientist with knowledge of c. 10000 CE physics, huh? Oh, and have you heard what scientology says?
I've recently been reading a secular, objectively researched book on Indian mathematics, 'Mathematics in India,' by Kim Plofker. Compared to some of the other texts on Indian mathematics, this book is less of an academic corpus, and thus more accessible. The book is organized chronologically. I am done reading Chapter 2, which deals with mathematics of the Vedic period. The author first addresses the common argument that Indian texts cannot be dated,
Quote:...historiography of science in India has long been co-opted for political purposes. Most notoriously, some nineteenth-century colonial officials disparaged local intellectual traditions, which they termed "native learning," in order to justify Westernized education for future colonial servants. Many nationalists responded in kind by promoting various separatist or Hindu nationalist historiographies, often including extravagant claims for autonomy or antiquity of their scientific traditions. The influence of all these attitudes persists today in politicized debates about history, religion, and culture in Indian society.[Ch. 1, pp. 2, emphasis mine]
Quote:Traditional Indian culture and literature are frequently said to have an ahistorical perspective, supposedly preoccupied with timeless spiritual knowledge rather than the recording of mundane events. This is a rather misleading oversimplification. It is true that chronicles of purely historical events...are rare in Sanskrit literature. The historian of India, particularly early India, can follow no chronological trail blazed by an early predecessor like Thucydides or Sima Qian. Studies of artifacts- archeology, epigraphy, numistmatics- and some literary references provide most of the known data about what happened and when in premodern South Asia. The current big picture of Indian history has been built up only slowly from these data, and has changed (and continues to change) significantly in the process.[Ch. 1, pp. 4]
What conclusions can we draw from this assertion? If we seek to understand the real history of mathematics and science in India, we need to identify and set aside the colonialists and Hindu-apologist points of view, as they are tainted by political ideology. This cannot be achieved by branding historians; neither by calling respected historians such as Romila Thapar, Michael Witzel, Wendy Doniger, Kim Plofker, as Marxist/colonialist supermacists; nor by calling Bibhutibhushan Dutta, RPN Rao, Arko Porpola, or Iravatham Mahadevan as nationalist nutters. Any discussion on Indian premodern history in general, and mathematics and science in particular, must avoid any references to 'colonialist', 'Marxist', 'Hindutva', etc. The arguments, even if they are from crazies on the fringe, like PN Oak or Koenraad Elst, must necessarily be judged based on academic merit.
It is not permissible to make historical claims when one does not have sources that are literal, decipherably cryptic, or metaphoric in an easily interpretable manner. The age of the universe being of the order of billions is a mere coincidence. I will describe in the following paragraphs about the state of mathematical and astronomical knowledge in Vedic India.
Mathematics and Astronomy in the Vedas:
This section is a concise summary of Vedic knowledge in mathematics and astronomy based on Plofker's study of original sources and history literature.
The mathematics found in the Vedas is pretty fundamental by today's standards. Stating this is hardly a presentist fallacy, considering that one of the main arguments of Vedic supremacy is that the Vedas are omniscient and correctly anticipate modern science and mathematics. Based on the applications, mathematics in the Vedas can be classified as,
1. Number systems to aid abstract religious thinking:
(a) usage of the decimal system, [Ch 2, pp. 14, sourced from Rig Veda]
(b) description of numbers far larger than needed for mundane uses, (10^12, etc.) [Ch. 2, pp. 14, sourced from Yajur Veda]
© an understanding of divisibility and fractions. [Ch. 2, pp. 15, sourced from Shata-patha-Brahmanas]
(d) sexagesimal system (similar to contemporary Mesopotamia) [Ch. 2, pp. 15, sourced from Shata-patha-Brahmanas]
(e) zero and infinity [Ch. 2, pp. 17, sourced from Upanishads]
2. Mathematics for aiding rituals:
The main source of this is the Sulba Sutra (lit. cord-rules) vedanga, which is further divided into 4 sections, presumably after the authors, Baudhaayana, Maanava, Aapastamba, and Kaatyayana. The Sulba-sutras contain rules regarding geometry, written in prose form, in a form different from the deduction-induction-proof format of the Greeks, that we are all familiar with. Sulba Sutras include,
(a) basic metrology,
(b) area preserving transformations between simple geometrical figures for altar construction,
© geometrical theorems, including Pythogorean theorem (predating Pythagoras) with the goal of measuring and building altars from square bricks,
(d) approximations of sqrt(2) up to 1.4142, and pi up to 3.088 and 3.125 [Ch. 2, pp. 27, Table 2.1]
(e) squaring the circle (13/15 the diameter of circle is side of square approximately pi/4) [Ch. 2, pp. 27, Table 2.1] and the fact that this is a 'challenging' task.
Vedic texts probably understood the relation between mathematics and astronomy. Mathematical astronomy was pretty well known in the post-Vedic period. In the medieval period, you had astronomers using mathematics to calculate accurately the positions of celestial objects in the night sky, and to predict cycles, eclipses, etc. However, this advanced application of mathematics to astronomy occurs only in a very rudimentary form in the Vedas. There are instances where celestial bodies, the directions, seasons, time, etc. are spoken of in the same verse [Ch. 2, pp. 14, sourced from Yajur Veda]. Rig and Yajur Vedas contain instructions to keep track of the seasons and the motion of celestial bodies. Several stars are identified and an early form of the modern 'Hindu' calendar is described and used in the Rig and Yajur Vedas. The goal of this celestial-time-keeping is to ensure that rituals are conducted on a periodic basis. The standard year is divided into twelve months of thirty days (two lunar cycles) each, and based on where in the night sky the full moon occurred, each month is associated with a star. Some years have a thirteenth 'leap' month, to correct for the error of about four days in the estimation of the sidereal year.
Astrochronology refers to the modern procedure of using astronomical information from ancient texts to date them. With accurate information about the described positions of stars and the chronology of astronomical events, it is theoretically possible to accurately date historical artifacts or events. My interpretation from Plofker's book is that we are quite certain that the Vedic people did not use instruments such as sextants or astrolabes. If they did, the Vedas would have contained more exact descriptions of the location of celestial bodies. Further inaccuracies creep in because of the lack of synchrony in time-keeping. There is no certainty that a particular year is synchronized with the sidereal year. Thus, if a star is described as 'being near' another star or the moon, the information is unreialbie from an astrochronological perspective since even a difference of 10-15 degrees can mean an error of 700-1100 years in dating [Ch. 2, pp. 34]. While one cannot accurately derive the date of the Rig or Yajur Vedas using astrochronology, we can reasonably argue for an approximate date between 3000-1500 BCE. These uncertainties can be reasonable bases for fantastic assertions about the Vedas [Plofker refers to the work of Subhash Kak: [Kak2000a] and [Kak2005]].]
Mathematical Astronomy and Vedanga Jyotisha:
As we saw above, the Vedas do not explicitly use mathematical astronomy. The Vedanga Jyotisha is the earliest work to expound upon the use of mathematics in astronomy. As I interpreted Plofker's work, in relevance to some other dicussions on Nirmukta, it appears that a rudimentary form of scientific method was used to arrive at the astronomy of Vedanga Jyotisha. There are empirical data and hypothesis about celestial events, which were surely confirmed by observations, given that the primary purpose is observation of religion. The text describes details such as, differences in day-length across seasons, the synchrony between the ritual year and the sidereal year, etc. The date of composition of the Vedanga Jyotisha, again based on astrochronology, is anywhere between 1300-400 BCE. Unfortunately for historians, the text,
(a) is too brief,
(b) being a guide for rituals, omits the technical details and methodology that is valuable for arriving at an exact estimate how much ancient Indians knew about astronomy.
While there are gaps in the historiography, historians have established with certainty enough facts to debunk the highly speculative theories about how ancient Indians knew modern mathematics and astronomy.
Vedic India vs. Mesopotamia, and the winner is...
...no one. It is actually pointless to argue whether any particular society was more advanced than others. The only purpose of those seeking to learn about Indian history should be to infer about Indian history, in a scientific manner, as much information as possible, from available archeology, epigraphy, etc. This should be the opening line of any argument about Indian history.
There exists an enormous corpus of cuneiform tablets with systematically recorded details about Mesopotamian mathematics and astronomy. They knew a lot too. Like the Indians, they were obsessed with celestial omens, and gradually over time, their estimates of celestial events and positions improved in accuracy. By the end of the BCE era, the Mesopotamians had a pretty sophisticated system of predictive astronomy [Ch. 2, pp. 41]. There is no archeological or linguistic evidence to suggest that there was transmission of this type of information between Mesopotamia and India. While we must be proud of our history, I think it is a bit of a stretch to fantasize and allege that ideological conspiracies are hindering the study of the history of Indian science and mathematics.
04-Aug-2013, 01:06 AM
(30-Sep-2011, 02:47 AM)rtved Wrote:(29-Sep-2011, 08:56 PM)Lije Wrote:(29-Sep-2011, 04:40 PM)rtved Wrote: Lije, your wikipedia link says:
Brilliant analysis !
14-Jun-2014, 05:07 PM
(30-Sep-2011, 04:22 PM)rtved Wrote:(30-Sep-2011, 03:45 PM)Ajita Kamal Wrote: Even if the Hindu scripture gets the age of the universe wrong only by a few billion years, so what?
This discussion reminds me of the debate about Chinese medicine. When two systems of medicine define disease so differently how is it possible to measure the success of a drug? There is no agreement about what one is trying to cure and therefore no means of gauging what improvement has been achieved. I am not sure whether we are right to equate the Hindu concept of the Universe with the modern scientific one. It seems likely to me that the ancient Hindus arrived at their ideas of cosmology by means unfamiliar to modern science but quite valid in their own right. We have only limited understanding of how cosmic patterrns are expressed in the rhythms of the human body. Menstruation is the example we are familiar with, but far more complex instances certainly exist and it may in part have been from the attentive study of them in meditation that the ancient Hindus derived their conception of the Universe. If so, that conception would be very different from ours but it would not be supersititious nonsense. It would provide a sense of the Universe from a participative position within it rather than a theoretical point of observation outside. The difference is so great that it might produce variations in meaning between concepts as basic as number and duration and it may be some confusion was introduced by primitive cosmologies of a more conventional kind but we are surely looking at a situation where respectful study is more appropriate that instant and thoughtless dismissal.
(14-Jun-2014, 05:07 PM)Huolalupin Wrote: This discussion reminds me of the debate about Chinese medicine. When two systems of medicine define disease so differently how is it possible to measure the success of a drug? There is no agreement about what one is trying to cure and therefore no means of gauging what improvement has been achieved. I am not sure whether we are right to equate the Hindu concept of the Universe with the modern scientific one. It seems likely to me that the ancient Hindus arrived at their ideas of cosmology by means unfamiliar to modern science but quite valid in their own right. We have only limited understanding of how cosmic patterrns are expressed in the rhythms of the human body. Menstruation is the example we are familiar with, but far more complex instances certainly exist and it may in part have been from the attentive study of them in meditation that the ancient Hindus derived their conception of the Universe. If so, that conception would be very different from ours but it would not be supersititious nonsense. It would provide a sense of the Universe from a participative position within it rather than a theoretical point of observation outside. The difference is so great that it might produce variations in meaning between concepts as basic as number and duration and it may be some confusion was introduced by primitive cosmologies of a more conventional kind but we are surely looking at a situation where respectful study is more appropriate that instant and thoughtless dismissal.
I do not think the disagreement in what (be it the Universe or a disease) is being studied is the issue here. The bigger issue is the differences in what constitutes studying.
In the case of real scientists studying constitutes the following. Making painstaking observations, building hypothesis, devising clever experiments, developing tools to conduct the experiments, and then based on the out come of the experiments advance the knowledge about the world tiny bit.
On the other hand for the Hindus studying follows a completely evidence-free framework. Forget about doing experiments these Hindus shut themselves off from the world around them and go into meditation and make ridiculous claims about the Universe. And when questioned about their claims they come up with excuses like they got confused about conception of number and duration.
15-Jun-2014, 06:14 AM
(14-Jun-2014, 10:05 PM)Captain Mandrake Wrote:(14-Jun-2014, 05:07 PM)Huolalupin Wrote: This discussion reminds me of the debate about Chinese medicine. When two systems of medicine define disease so differently how is it possible to measure the success of a drug? There is no agreement about what one is trying to cure and therefore no means of gauging what improvement has been achieved. I am not sure whether we are right to equate the Hindu concept of the Universe with the modern scientific one. It seems likely to me that the ancient Hindus arrived at their ideas of cosmology by means unfamiliar to modern science but quite valid in their own right. We have only limited understanding of how cosmic patterrns are expressed in the rhythms of the human body. Menstruation is the example we are familiar with, but far more complex instances certainly exist and it may in part have been from the attentive study of them in meditation that the ancient Hindus derived their conception of the Universe. If so, that conception would be very different from ours but it would not be supersititious nonsense. It would provide a sense of the Universe from a participative position within it rather than a theoretical point of observation outside. The difference is so great that it might produce variations in meaning between concepts as basic as number and duration and it may be some confusion was introduced by primitive cosmologies of a more conventional kind but we are surely looking at a situation where respectful study is more appropriate that instant and thoughtless dismissal.
The fact that what is being studied is consciousness does not mean that a scientific approach cannot be taken. It is possible to be extremely rigorous in the study of one's own awareness as the writing of Marcel Proust demonstrates. He managed, through the analysis of his own subjective experience, to arrive at propositions about time and consciousness that are fully rational and widely accepted as accurate though obviously not capable of being evidenced in the same way as statements about matter. His work and that of Freud, by their undeniable rigour of method and by the fact of their limited success suggest that it is possible to study consciousness in a spirit of scientific detachment but that the obstacles to doing so are so great that overcoming them requires a discipline unique to the field of study. It seems to me that such a discipline would closely resemble what we call yoga.
Obviously the methods of yoga (as of any system with similar aims) are highly unsatisfactory by the standards of empirical science but that is not because yogis are lazy or self-deluding (although some may be). It is because consciousness (unlike its possible causes in the brain) is the agent of observation and therefore not of the same order as other objects of inquiry. In all other cases the scientist can rely on the observations of his peers to weed out subjective distortion. Where consciousness is concerned he must do it on his own. Accordingly the question that needs to be asked is whether, in the face of this unique challenge, it is in the true spirit of science to abandon the enterprise or to devise other means of pursuing it.
(15-Jun-2014, 06:14 AM)Huolalupin Wrote: The fact that what is being studied is consciousness does not mean that a scientific approach cannot be taken.
First, who ever said that anything should not be studied with a scientific approach? You should show that the Hindus studied anything at all scientifically (I showed you how science works in my previous post) through meditation. You have not done that yet. Instead all you said in your original post went something like this. **The Hindus might have studied cosmic patterns expressed in the rhythms of the human body through meditation. But there might have been confusion about concepts such as numbers and duration. And so we can not say that their claims are superstitious non-sense.** That kind of argument from ignorance does not fly here.
And can you also please try to stick to the topic. Stop conflating the Universe/Cosmology with consciousness?
Let us go back to your first post. What cosmic patterns and rhythms of the human body are you talking about? Can you please list anything other than the 24 hr day-night cycles and the circadian rhythm? And explain how meditation (shutting your self off from the world) helps you identifying the link between those cosmic patterns and rhythms pf human body?
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