Editorial Vol 9, Issue 3

PDF version

The question, 'Why was modern science not born in Patna or Peking but in Pisa?', was posed by British historian of science Joseph Needham (1900-1995), who highlighted the achievements of science and technology in Ancient and Medieval China in his magnum opus "Science and Civilisation in China" that extended over 27 volumes. That is a question that has bothered several Indians too who are familiar with the brilliant achievements of ancient Indian science but see that India fell behind in the last few centuries. However, on the question of an objective assessment of achievements of Indian science too there are three approaches. One which dismisses it and looks up to Europe as source of reason, rationality and science, and believes in the Eurocentric history of science; the other which believes that most modern achievements in science were known to ancient Indians and bases itself largely on mythology; the third school is the one that rejects both and makes an objective assessment of the subject.

We carry an illuminating interview on Indic science with renowned scientist Roddam Narasimha as our lead story in this issue. He looks at the epistemological foundation of Indic science and compares it with that of the Greek's geometers. He makes a thought provoking conjecture that the algebra that originated in India and was transmitted to Europe through Arab mathematicians was absorbed in Europe and led

ultimately to the Newtonian revolution in Physics. It is an accepted view that Isaac Newton's work on mechanics greatly accelerated the development of machines and the Industrial Revolution in Britain and Europe.

We reproduce an article on what we can learn from the traditional wisdom in Indian agriculture by Claude Alvares from a lecture he delivered to Indian agricultural scientists in a conference organised in Goa by Indian Council of Agricultural Research.

In Jewels of India we reproduce an article by Sadia Dehlvi on "Women Sufis of Delhi", a subject not much written about. Sadia Dehlvi a journalist and documentary film maker from Delhi has authoured the book, "Sufism the Heart of Islam"(2010).

We also carry a fascinating travelogue on the current state of Udayagiri and Khandagiri caves near Bhubaneshwar, Odisha.

We carry a poem in our last page by one of the earliest women Sufis, Rabia al Basri (717-801 CE, from Basra, Iraq).

The usual feature, Resonances, reports on some events and news related to the Ghadar of 1857.