India is the earth’s most advanced, biggest and oldest civilisation and if we do not consider the 19th and 20th centuries, the wealthiest civilisation too. The influence of ancient Indian history on the modern world is due to the many manifestations of Indian genius and the fact that the language people used was so logical that it nourished critical thinking on the fundamental unity underlying mankind’s diversity.
Up to the 17th century, the wealth in India was more than twice that of the rest of the world combined. So many of the foundations of modern society be it science, medicine, mathematics, metaphysics, religion and astronomy — originated in India. We can call India the cradle of human civilization, the birthplace of speech, the mother of history and numerous languages, the grandmother of legends and traditions.
The Harappa Civilizations
One of the most fascinating yet mysterious cultures of the ancient world is the Harappan civilization. This culture existed along the Indus River in present day Pakistan. It was named after the city of Harappa which it was centred around. Harappa and the city of Mohenjo-Daro were the greatest achievements of the Indus valley civilization. These cities are well known for their impressive, organized and regular layout. They have well laid our plumbing and drainage system, including indoor toilets. Over one hundred other towns and villages also existed in this region. The Harappan people were literate and used the Dravidian language. Only part of this language has been deciphered today, leaving numerous questions about this civilization unanswered.
Artefacts and clues discovered at Mohenjo-Daro have allowed archaeologists to reconstruct this civilization. The similarities in plan and construction between Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa indicate that they were part of a unified government with extreme organization. Both cities were constructed of the same type and shape of bricks. The two cities may have existed simultaneously and their sizes suggest that they served as capitals of their provinces. In contrast to other civilizations, burials found from these cities are not magnificent; they are more simplistic and contain few material goods. This evidence suggests that this civilization did not have social classes. Remains of palaces or temples in the cities have not been found. No hard evidence exists indicating military activity; it is likely that the Harappans were a peaceful civilization. The cities did contain fortifications and the people used copper and bronze knives, spears, and arrowheads.
The Harappan civilization was mainly urban and mercantile. Inhabitants of the Indus valley traded with Mesopotamia, southern India, Afghanistan, and Persia for gold, silver, copper, and turquoise. The Mesopotamian model of irrigated agriculture was used to take advantage of the fertile grounds along the Indus River. EarthLink’s were built to control the river’s annual flooding. Crops that were grown included wheat, barley, peas, melons, and sesame. This civilization was the first to cultivate cotton for the production of cloth. Several animals were domesticated including the elephant which was used for its ivory.
Indians invented zero and the number system, one of the greatest innovations in history. The decimal system, the value of pi, algebra, trigonometry, calculus and many mathematical concepts were all born in India. The largest number Greeks and Romans used was 10 to the power of 6; well before 5000 B.C., Indians used numbers as big as 10 to the power of 53.
Albert Einstein was once quoted: “We owe a lot to the Indians, who taught us how to count, without which no worthwhile scientific discoveries could have been made.”
Sushruta was the father of medicine — the first to invent the art of performing surgery with anaesthesia. The first school of medicine, Ayurveda, was based on a systematic knowledge of plant-derived medicines and is practiced effectively even today. Detailed knowledge of anatomy, embryology, digestion, metabolism, physiology, genetics, immunity, psychology and ethology can be found in many ancient Indian texts.
Some of Europe’s greatest discoveries were first made in India thousands of years earlier, before Europe even existed. Gravity for example, It was not Isaac Newton, but an Indian named Brahmagupta, who explained gravity, 1,000 years before the British Empire emerged. Ancient Indians had a profound knowledge of the origin and age of the universe and Earth, the circumference of the Earth and other planets. Mathematician Bhaskaracharya accurately calculated the time it takes our planet to orbit the sun to be 365.258756484 days, well before Western astronomers.
The Indian system of astronomy is by far the oldest. It was the source from which the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans and Jews derived their knowledge. The motion of the stars on the tables of Giovanni Cassini and Tobias Mayer, used in the 19th century, do not vary by even a minute from Indian calculations made 4,500 years before. Indian tables give the same annual variation of the moon as discovered by Tyco Brahe — a variation unknown to the schools of Alexandria and the Arabs.
Four of the world’s major religions — Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism and Jainism — originated in India. India’s literary, artistic and philosophical contributions to the world are far greater than those of any other civilization in history.
Almost all religious, philosophical and mathematical theories taught by the Pythagoreans were known in India in the sixth century B.C. Indian sages of philosophy were the prototypes of Greece — to whose works Plato, Thales and Pythagoras were disciples. The priests of Egypt and the sages of Greece drew directly from India. Nearly 2,500 years ago, Pythagoras went from Samos to the Indian Ganges to learn geometry.
Indians also invented yoga, the art of unifying the mind and body. Today, it is practiced for its health benefits all over the world. The Chinese learned yoga, martial arts and Buddhism from India. Chess, snakes and ladders, buttons, high-grade steel manufacturing, the art of navigation, playing cards, the gymnasium, the university, rocket artillery, almost every geometrical instrument, the cultivation of cotton and jute, mining, the concept of gross domestic product — all have roots in India.
If there is one place where all of humanity’s dreams have found a home from the very earliest days of existence, it is India. Modern Indians should understand the original scientific culture their ancestors developed, make use of modern technology to demonstrate their in-born abilities, and strive for breakthroughs that will help all of society. And modern writers may need to rewrite the scientific history books after consulting Indian experts.