Prof. A. R. Vasudeva Murthy (born 1925) a retired professor of Chemistry from Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, has been a scientist extra-ordinary. With more than 200 research papers in various fields such as Oxidising reagents, Electron transfer reactions, Fundamental Chemistry of Sulphor, Nitrogen Phosphorous, Fluorine and Silicon. He developed the technology for hydrothermal synthesis of Quartz and other oxide materials. Magnetic crystals to meet defence needs were developed by Prof. Murthy. He was also actively involved in the develoment of Single crystals of Silicon and Silicon wafers which are to be used in electronic gadgets as well as solar cells. He is also closely associated with extraction of Gallium (another industry)- a by product of aluminium Industry. He was worked as consultant to a large number of industries.
Prof. Vasudeva Murthy is a great scholar of Samskrit. He has researched on Scriptures, Epics & others Samskrit literature to unearth the Scientific content in them.
Hindus are a race who have dwelled on the most fundamental questions about life (& death), about nature and its origins. The bold questioning by Hindus gave birth to theories, axioms, principles and an unique approach to and a way of life. The approach to life and the way of life led to he evolution of one of the most ancient and grand culture on the face of the earth. The spiritual aspects of Hindu culture are more commonly know. The fact that science, technology and industry were a part o this culture is little known.
For historical reasons, the achievements of ancient Hindus in various fields of science and technology are not popularly known to Indians. The recent research by Sri Dharampal and others has shown that the colonial invaders and the rulers had a vested interest in distorting and destroying the information regarding all positive aspects of Hindu Culture. The conventional understanding today is that Hindus were more concerned about rituals, about spirituality, and the world above or the world after death. That Hindus were an equally materialistic people, that India was the industrial workshop of the world till the end of 18th century, that Hindus had taken up the basic questions of the principles of astronomy, fundamental particles, origins of universe applied psychiatry and so on are not well documented and not popularly known. That ancient Hindus had highly evolved technologies in textile engineering, ceramics printing, weaponry, climatology and meteorology, architecture, medicine and surgery, metallurgy, agriculture and agricultural engineering, civil engineering, town planning (and similar other fields) is know only to a few scholars even today. There are about 44 known ancient and medieval Samskrit texts on a technical subject such as chemistry alone, the list of which is given at the end of the book. The information about the science and technological heritage of India is embedded in the scriputers, the epics and in several of the technical texts. The information needs to be taken out of these and presented.
In a way, to compare the contemporary development in science and technology to the works of ancient Hindus is not a proper exercise. The purposes, (the stated or unstated objectives), the methodology, the frames of reference, the datum and the axis are all different for both. The contemporary science, generally perceived as a Western development, is seeking to understand the nature more with a sense of conquering nature for subsequent exploitation of the same. However, people today are more familiar with the methods, axioms and approach of modern/ contemporary science and hence there is a need to reach out to this group with contemporary science as the frame of reference. In spite of the difference in the frame of reference there are startling similarities between modern science and the Indian Science Heritage.
Conceptualistion, theorization, logical / mathematical proof, experiment validation/ verification are some of the processes of science known to and used by the modern scientific workers. A similar process had been adopted by ancient Hindus in their search for answers for their fundamental questions. In fact the method of science or the process of the science has its roots in and is as old as the Hindi culture. The phraseology the 'Scientific tradition of 'Hindus' is in itself a misnomer as it was the Hindu who first conceptualised the process of science, Pratyaksha-anumana-agama-pramana and the various methods of deriving knowledge and proof have been discussed extensively in various Darsanas. In the back drop of these issues, the science and technological heritage of India has to be redefined. In this context a mere enumeration or contributions of ancient Hindus from Vedic period till recent years is really a little significance.
However, for a community (both Indian and overseas, scholars as well as commoners) which is eclipsed by the hallow of the' demonstration effects' of modern/contemporary science and its concomitant technology, it will be necessary to show that the Hindus had a significant understanding of some of the commonly know aspects of science and technology as we know today. Hindus observed nature and discovered several fundamental principles and invented a great deal of technologies. Facts like-Hindus had the knowledge that the sun is the center of the solar system, about the geography of the earth, the way the plants produce food, the way blood circulates in the body, the science of abstract mathematics and numbers, the principles of health and medicine and so on at a time un history when the rest of the world did not know how to think, talk and write has to be exposed to people. This can draw the attention of these communities, especially the future generation towards 'ideas' that are essentially Indian.
A positive image of ones heritage (for history is a conscious process of what we want to remember) is essential for the communities to develop self-esteem, self confidence which are prerequisites for growth and resurgence of communities. The individuals and communities with such self-esteem can contribute to the progress of India and for the welfare of mankind. The documentation and dissemination of India's scientific heritage is documentation and dissemination of India's scientific heritage is essential from this point of view. The work however has another advantage for the present and the future society. The ancient Hindus have dealt with upon several areas which the modern scientists are pursuing rigorously even today. Such areas include the origin and genesis of the universe, the principles of subject-object interaction of the individual, society and environment, understanding of the linguists, phonetics, and logic, applied psychiatry and physiology, theories of space-time caution etc. The idea systems conceived by ancient Hindus appear to have some breakthrough concept in these areas, some researches in the West are how looking into such Hindu idea systems for applications in the areas of natural language processing, processing applied holistic health systems for treating psychosomatic diseases and quantum mechanics. We need to map our heritage for an appropriate projection of the future.
There are several published works on the history of Indian, Such works are written by Indian scholars as well as Western researchers in oriental and indological studies. Many of these works are highly scholastic and are not amenable to common man. There is a need to make the knowledge of science heritage of Indian known to one and all. Further, there is need for studying scriptures, epics, and other ancient literature (in Samskrit as well as other regional languages) to unearth the wealth of knowledge of our ancestors. Reports of such studies also need to be published continuously. A majority of manuscripts on various topics are missing or have been destroyed by the invaders. Many of the remnant and available manuscripts have to be unearthed for the benefit of the community. The monumental work on political philosophy, administration and economics-Artha Shastra of Kautilya-came to light by an accidental discovery followed by scholarly translation and interpretation by late Sri Shama Shastry of Oriental Research Institute, Mysore.
It is the endeavor of Samskrita Bharati to take up research, documentation and dissemination of the science and technological heritage of Indian, by means of a variety of activities. Publication of booklets and book for a general non-academic and non technical audience is one such actively.
This book on 'Indian tradition of Chemistry and Chemical Technology' by Prof. A. R. Vasudeva Murthy is a part of a series of publications that Samskrita Bharati is publishing on 'The Science and Technological Heritage of India'.
Prof A. R. Vasudeva Murthy, formerly a professor of Inorganic and Physical Chemistry at Indian Institute of Science, popularly known as the 'Father of Silicon Technology' is a distinguished scientist as well as great Samskrit scholar. He has extensively researched our scriptures and epics and other texts available in Samskrit literature for the scientific and technological content. Fruits of several years his research effort have been made available to experts as well as general audiences in his book.
Mr. Prasun Kumar Mishra has been taken pains to compile the vast information and coordination of publication.
Samskrita Bharati is grateful to authorities of Indian National Science and Technology heritage of India to get networked and work in a co-operative spirit.
Within a short time all the copies of the print were sold out. We thank all those who have contributed to bring out this second edition
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