Indian Science is Even More Ancient
To “problematise” the history of Indian science, the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) organised a lecture on “Manuscript, Ayurveda and Problematising the history of indian Science” by Dr. Dominik Wujastyk, a scholar of Indian manuscripts on science and medicine. Dr. Wujastyk is the senior staff of the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, with responsibility for cataloging the Institute’s large Sanskrit manuscript collection.
The subject of the “orgin of Indian science” has become a matter of controversy in recent years. Till a few decades ago, it was believed that Indian science was “derived” from the relatively recent rise of science in Greece and Mesopotamia. And hence all Indian manuscripts had been dated on this premise.
However fresh researches have proved that Indian science is much more ancient than believed. New readings in the manuscripts have thrown light on the fact that Indian science and medicine are far backdated than originally thought. The gaps in our knowledge of the past poses a vertible problem as the wider history of Indian science remains a mystery.
“Things are not always what they seem in Indian scientific and literary history,” Dr. Wujastyk said. He also said,”we must now propose some difficult questions about gaps in our knowledge of the past.” He also dwelved at length on the important role of the Indian manuscript heritage. He stated that, “the ancient Indian manuscripts are primary sources for historical studies as well as to the early history of ayurveda and wider history of Indian science.”
Making an effort to track Indian medicine to its historic roots, Dr. Wujastyk explained that it was originally a city-based medicine. In fact, ayurveda was regarded as a “cosmopolitan” medicine as is evidenced from the fact that anthropological research seems to vindicate its holistic and well-integrated approach.
Dr. Wujastyk said it was unfortunate that reference to Indian medicine and science in the medieval period is ignored in the European studies and specially in studies made by the British. There is a wider compass which Indian science measured in the past and this has to be mapped again for the benefit and continuity of Indian scientific and literary tradition.