Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Does no one remember the Hindu contribution to Mathematics?

Does no one remember the Hindu contribution to Mathematics?

A well written article on things that should be obvious - but what can you do when a thousand idiots shout in your face that Hindus contributed nothing to science and technology?

To the question in the article, which is also its title, I say I remember and that too with not too much pride. Not too much pride because I know (as a Hindu) that Hindus were and are capable of this and much more. But only pride in things that happened thousands of years ago is not sufficient. Any group of people should have roots and wings (as a kindergarten school I saw recently aptly named) - roots to understand where they have come from and to establish their identity and wings to fly into the sky of unlimited opportunity that the future provides.

Or, as DVG so wonderfully says -
hosa chiguru haLe bEru kUDiralu mara sobagu |
hosayukti haLetattvadoDagUDe dharma ||
RushivAkyadoDane vijnAna mELavise |
jasavu janajIvanake - mankutimma ||

Just as a tree appears beautiful with new foliage and old roots, dharma (it is not possible to translate this word properly) too shines when it is endowed with eternal principles and new applications. Mankind benefits immensely when the wisdom of the sages combines with the innovations of science and technology.

The above is my pathetic attempt to convey the gist of the poem - but it is a quartet full of meaning and very relevant to the present for any group of people - be it Hindu, Muslim or Christian. This is what I want to see in any group, especially the Hindus, being one myself.

Articles such as the one linked are important as they serve to remind often that there were contributions from Hindus to mathematics. But just reminding ourselves of the things that were done by people in the past leads to a short-lived warm and fuzzy romantic feeling and not much else. We have to live in the present. The past is meant to assure us and to caution us - but that should be the only use of the past, though this is easier said than done.

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