India is a great country with a magnificent past. True, but cliched. Just what is so great, you may ask, if I have not lost you to boredom already.
This book is about five girls who want to know just the same thing. Find out what they discover about Indian thought and philosophy and how they are enriched by encounters with ancient thinkers. Find out about their trials and tribulations as they tread the arduous path to knowledge. There is a mystery too, thrown in for fun. Jump in, this book is raring to take you places. And I'm hoping that by the end of the ride, you will be able to answer your question. Aren't you?
The author Ritu Kamal, is sixteen years old. She enjoys writing and this is her first book. She reads passionately and likes listening to music and watching movies. She is also interested in the new frontiers of science. She enjoys meeting people with new and original ideas in any interesting field of thought She aims to be an engineer. She enjoys surfing the net. She has finished school and is planing to join college in Mumbai, where she lives
"Nothing in this world is so purifying and elevating as knowledge," says the Bhagavad Gita. Shankaracharya found in the Gita the highest message of Spiritual culture to create
Brahmins or Knowledge-Philosophers who can elevate the culture of our nation. A year ago during my interview with the eminent Physicist John A. Wheeler at Princeton, Prof. Wheeler told me that philosophy is too precious a thing to be left to philosophers only. It must come for common man also, because after the birth of a holistic philosophy born out of modern physics, the scientific community is increasingly realizing the importance of philosophy as the culmination of Science. The outstanding grasp of philosophy by child prodigy - philosopher Ritu Kamal into many branches philosophy, seems to be justifying the futuristic vision of Prof. Wheeler.
As the chapters of this 500 page book with a very scholarly prologue and a glossary unfold we watch almost with a suspension of disbelief, how a child-philosopher walks through the maze of philosophical labyrinths with the ease and clarity of a master. Abstruse philosophical concepts like Time, Shunya, Sankhya, Satkaryavada, Nyaya - Vaisheshika. Mimansa, are dealt with incredible simplicity as if a child is explaining the ideas to another child. Difficult phenomenon of creation (from Rigvedic Nasadiya Sukta), and various Upanishadic episodes like those of Yagyavalka. Gargi, Maitreyi. Aruni-Uddalaka, are told in story form and conversational style, sometimes in the epistolatory form of a friend or a father - figure writing to a younger soul seeking knowledge. History is dealt as a gradual revealer of philoso~hical truths. Kamal's acquaintance with the charm of modem Science and society makes the difficult subjects more readable and interesting. It seems we are witnessing the Promise of another version of Will Durant's Story of Philosophy this time by a child prodigy deeply steeped in Indian philosophical tradition,
Swami Vivekananda prophesied in 19th century end, that in future women would combine Greek love for beauty and knowledge without frivolity, Roman perfection of law and administration minus brutality and Hindu perfection of Spiritual Culture devoid of its impracticality. Little Kamal’s Writings Bring a reconfirmations of Swamiji’s prophesies. May the birth of a philosopher- prodigy that we see in the early writings of this child-Philospher Kamal, see its culmination and fulfillment in the emergence of a full-fledged Gargi and Maitreyi enriched with all modern knowledge of Science and technology.
I started writing this book three years ago. Now I am sixteen years of age. In these years, my writing skills and style have changed considerably. Hence the book has many discrepancies between in various parts. I have consciously chosen not to change or improve upon my earlier writings because writing Panch Kanya was a process of growth for me.
Indian philosophy is a tradition of thought spanning centuries and millennia. What fascinates me most about it is the fact. that it is a continuous tradition and is interwoven with the life of the people of those times.
I have always wanted to find out, in concrete terms, what made India so great. This book is a result of that search. I couldn't possibly write a technical book on Indian philosophy so the writings got transformed into a novel. Also, when I began reading about Indian philosophers, it irked me that people did not know them as well as they know, say, Socrates or Plato. The book has come into being because of such and various other reasons. I hope you will enjoy reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it.
This book, being the ambitious undertaking that it is, would not have been possible without many people's help. Mr. Gopal Kamal, myfather, introduced me to the subject and to the idea of writing. Mr. R.K.Marwah helped to bring this book in its present form. Their creational and ideational effort an suggestions and comments throughout the book's writing span molded the book into what it has become. My mother, Mrs. Kumkum Kamal was supportive from the very conception of the book to the time it went for printing as was my elder sister, Richa Kamal. My brother, Rishi Kamal was instrumental in forming the glossary and helpful even otherwise. Mr. M.P.Baranwal helped me with invaluable comments. Ishita Marwah did most of the drawings in the book and helped me improve the story. Mrs. Sujata Pant designed the cover and also helped me get the illustration in tune with the rest of the book. Mrs. Gunjan Mishra and Mrs. Meera Srivastva read the book in its various stages and gave suggestions. I have also used material from www.philo.demon.co.uk. Various authors were very prompt and helpful in providing copyrights, at times free of cost as were some publishers. Each one of these people have my heartfelt gratitude.
I enjoy listening to lectures or lecture series on any interest topic not necessarily connected to Indology.
The Year 1900. It was the Royal Sabha of the Maharaja of Darbhanga. A priest stepped out and the Maharaja presented to him the most prestigious award of the land - two pink "dhotis" as the announcement of his achievements was made. He had proved himself to be the most learned pundit in the land Mithila used to honour all India Scholars.
With this background, it is not very incredible 1;() see history repeating itself. We have a sense of deja vu as NASA (National Aeronautics & Space Agency of America) picks up five young girls from India to be sent on a space odyssey. These five girls have been selected on the basis of their capabilities and qualities with regard to all the aspects of their personalities, which have been found to be on a higher plane in comparison to their peers. Women astronauts are not uncommon in the majestic year food AD. But the mission itself is not a common one. NASA, with the help of other space programs agencies, had thought of a novel idea to commemorate the arrival of the new millennium. It wanted to take mankind (it would perhaps be more appropriate to say 'earth-kind'), to another suitable heavenly body. There another 'earth' would evolve at its own pace. The five girls were needed to overlook this mammoth undertaking and to take care that the blunders man has committed here on earth are not repeated. The girls needed to be well versed with all the knowledge accumulated by man during his existence. The many problems in world today - global warming, overpopulation, endangered species, to name a few - had led the thinkers of the whole world to decide upon this plan. Since the technological and scientific prowess of the Indian civilization had proved itself and earned a lot of respect in important circles, it had been decided that India would figure prominently in this endeavor.
NASA was going to organize a 'dhoti-stiri parikshii' in the year 2000 in the same way as in the land of Navya Nyaya (the logic of Abhiiva and negation), the Maharaja of Darbhanga used to conduct oral written tests for the pundits of various lands in Magadha.
There were a number of preliminary or elimination rounds in which lesser capable girls and boys from different lands were eliminated. Ultimately, in the final round, there was a 'shiistriirtha' with a cluster of super computers capable of speech, thought and analysis in human language. The selected lady astronauts were to get space suits of pinkish colour. The astronauts chosen were the "Panch Kanyas", who had not been told that they had been chosen as the most recipient and reluctant minds.
The questions of evil and devil were many. The answers had to come from a civilization that could understand the moral fabric. Not only eco-logical but also eco-moral and eco-centric questions. Y2K was a real horrifying genre for the next generation. The five girls were chosen as that they could vote for real principles.
This was the period when the real exploration of the outer space had just begun. The systematics of the expeditions had to be worked out. The Civil Services of the Commonwealth and Communist cadre countries were screened for the prospective astronauts. Koreans, Japanese, and Chinese, the yellow race were suggested to be very ambitious. Only in the land of the Buddha - the elder Buddha was found to be smiling.
The technological prowess of the Indian civilization had earned a lot of respect in philosophical circles like the five makarst. The internal report of intelligence (artificial and real) in the deepest crevices of Pentagon suggested that Oriental Studies have been taken up in a big way. Harvard Oriental Studies series had completed cataloging 5 million CDs of Sanskrit manuscripts distributed in obscure libraries of the world. The secret trimetric societies contributed their volumes and the Tibetan scholars did transcribe all- the Buddhist texts in their possession in Sanskrit and an English translation was available. For the last thirty years, in the Oriental Departments of leading US Universities, a secret program was being conducted. Machine translation had made it possible. The contribution of Intel chip makers was that they had given a non-business wing for translational facilities. The scripts were not known to the commercial world. But the machine translational programmers from Mithila and Karnataka were recruited with a vengeance to secure dedicated progress in those programs. The companies entrusted with these programs had a direct funding from the President.
Every time Indian subcontinent progressed technologically, the funds had been increased in the past and the recruitment too was increased rapidly. The Gulf countries had contributed to this endeavour in a big way. In many of the evacuations in US dominated operations, the workers of the Gulf were taken in secret ships and an eugenics program was on without any visible discussions in the Congress or Senate; it was in laboratories. It was usually workers from Kerala who were chosen for these experiments. The mathematical gene of the Human Genome Project was discovered and it was realised that the complexes were predominantly available in groups of manual migrant labourers in a dormant condition. Experiments were going on as to how should the recessive genes be made to work. The Indus coast Pakistanis were the lot chosen for the experiment. Sharjah was the chosen spot to locate the most complex genes.
A theory was proposed that the manual workers who were forward in the sea trade in the third fourth millennium and who continued to play part in the marine adventures in the later centuries, were very eager for space exploration. And suitable too. But in the US the public opinion was so hostile against these experiments that utmost secrecy had to be maintained. The projects had one neo-negation philosopher from Orissa in its panel and he had guided all the projects on a very big scale. His letters to the President of USA from Harvard are not yet in public domain. But his letters were very influential in getting financial funds for all those projects. The M's'" have contributed significantly - for good or bad for the world, it cannot be said. One of the 5 'modern M'sr" ideas - not found in any of his publications - were seminal in getting the Machine Translation Projects completed in a record time.
At Harvard, there were many "Upadhyayas" working on various translation projects. Students, Brahmins randomly chosen from various universities in other programs of MBA etc. were chosen and kept in captivity for two years. Don't ask me how do I know. I had a personal friend, Neelkantha Upadhyaya, who was given extra grades, and out of turn promotion in his cadre. He was directly involved in the secretariat of the President of India who was himself a scholar of Sanskrit. He went to US for an MBA course. He was not sure about getting a scholarship but nevertheless he got a good grant in the USA. He remained away from his family for full one year. His e-mail was also blocked, He was a tennis player from Jarnalpur and his grandfather's Vedic Concordance was the cause of his being retained in the US for a year in the Machine Translation Program of Sanskrit texts. He was from a physics faculty but his metaphysical capabilities were also utilized.
In the "dhoti/sari pariksha", the prize was a silk suit prepared by Mix and Match of Indiana University. In the Buddhist monasteries, Egyptian Caliphates' catalogues and Christian churches a huge amount of silk clothes was discovered on the expeditions on the silk route.
So all the five girls who had participated in the complex manoeuvre were to receive the prized silk from a brand symbolic of the Buddhist presence and of international, inter-cultural trade. Trade is preserver of cultural exchanges. And so are conquests, We have many such colourful examples in history. Shulva Sutras had given way to Jaina mathematical texts. Bakhsali had the tradition of commercial problems being solved by students. The masons, the carpenters, the bricklayers, the yajna-chiti-vedi makers, were the persons to whom Buddha gave impetus. He recognised the promise of trade. He ordered debts to be respected. He would not admit to his Sangha, a person who has not repaid his debts. Mercantile considerations were highest in his Shakyan mind. The negatives of merchants had captivated his imaginations. The Nihilism, the extinction and the nirvana had all come from zero - a sum which is got only when you liquidate a negative number with a positive number. The sinners would come to him. He will make a blessing of positives. The negatives annihilated and the person would be free from sins. He was at level zero to attain greater heights, greater positives.
The negatives, the zeros, the measurements, the algebraic traditions, the concept of infinity, the hells, the classification, the cardinality of different types of infinities, ananta and asankhyiit all could be imagined by people who could interact with the world. Only they could propagate peace. Trade only can bring peace ultimately. Interdependence, if only known properly and delved deeper, can generate peace and grant freedom from worldly pain and pleasure.
Buddha is the call of the millennium, hence let silk be the robe of interplanetary travel. The ecological, economic and eco- metaphysical aspect could be learnt from Buddhist texts. The fights and manipulations of logic of Dignaga and DharmakIrti, Udayan and Vachaspati Mishra - the response to Buddhist logic; was stupendous. Let the world learn from it. From fifth, sixth century B.C. to tenth century A.D., the Indian mind was continuously fertile. The Siitras and texts compiled and preserved are only indicators of the vastness of the debates and vitanda, tarka [logic] and fallacies could light the path of the coming centuries. But why Buddhist logic only? The texts of Grammar, the logic of Nyeya and Mimiinsa are all very impressive. These texts are full of moves and countermoves. One needs connoisseurs to understand the games played over and over again throughout the centuries. So who gets the millennium prize? One, who has done the philosophy course, the one who fantasies that she could be the figments of author's imagination or one who has turned to be incorrigible atheist out of this discourse! Read the story of the five disciples and their teachers, and you shall appreciate the outcome of the journeys on the paths so less travelled. But how true is the saying: mahiijano yena gatah sa panthiin [Let us traverse the path well-trodden by the mighties].
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