India - From Past Dawns to Future Noons

‘The Scientific Heritage of India and role of Sanskrit in the future realizations

Event: One Day Workshop 
Venue: Kalakendra, Bharat Nivas, Auroville
Date: 14th March, 2020

As a part of the ongoing Exhibition on Scientific Heritage of India at Kalakendra, Bharat Nivas, Auroville, organized by Auroville Sanskrit Team in collaboration with SAFIC, a full day workshop was conducted on 14 March. The topic of the workshop was ‘The Scientific Heritage of India and role of Sanskrit in the future realizations’.

The program started with invocation by Andrean Laframboise accompanied by Deepayan (Shree Dee) on Tabla. Before the invocation she spoke about her experience and experiment with Sanskrit sounds and chanted OM followed by a Kirtan – he he govinda he he gopala. The post lunch session also started with her invocation again with the kirtan – hare Krishna hare Rama.

The first session of the workshop was facilitated by Dr. Sampadananda Mishra, Director, SAFIC, who explained about the contributions of the seers and sages of India in the fields of science and technology. Dr. Mishra overall introduction included the contributions in the filed of shipbuilding, water science, architecture, music, art and language. He also briefly mentioned about the contributions of Kanada, Nagarjuna, Bhaskaracharya, Bharadvaja and Panini. He emphasized that the scientific knowledge of ancient India never deviated from its central concern with ‘the unity of consciousness’ or ‘atmavidya’ – jnaanaM vijnaanasahitam and the paravidya.

The second session was facilitated by Dr. Sharanya Reddy, a volunteering resource person at SAFIC who dealt with the topic Sciences and Traditional Knowledge of Ancient India. Her focus was on three most important field of traditional knowledge: Metallurgy, Mathematics and Medical Science. She explained about the advanced iron technology in ancient India and the history of materials from stone age to the present carbon age. She mentioned that best quality steel was invented in India and was being produced since 300 BCE; there are many evidences of steel being exported either directly or through Arabia to Europe; it is well known that the Damascus steel swords were made using Indian steel; Wootz steel from India was experimented on in 18th century and carbon at ~1- 2% was identified as being responsible for imparting toughness to the steel; and Zinc manufacturing in 18th century England was identical to the Zn manufacturing in India from the BCE era. Similarly while dealing with the contributions of India to Mathematics she mentioned about Pingala, Bodhayana, Brahmagupta, Aryabhata, Varahamihira, Hemachandra and Madhvacharya. The advancement in medical science in India of the past was discussed by Dr. Sharanya by dealing with the contributions of Charaka and Sushruta.

The third session was  facilitated by Yogarishi Srinivas who is a technology entrepreneur and yoga teacher, based out of Silicon Valley & now settled in Pondicehrry. He specializes in the intersection of Artificial Intelligence with the Mind science of Yoga. The title of his talk was ‘Rishi Sapiens: a Coevolution with Artificial Intelligence’. In his presentation he emphasized that humans as the ultimate tool-makers are creating the father-of-all-tools in AI. He mentioned that to ensure a harmonious co-existence with this most powerful technology there is a need for the coevolution of human mind as the mother-of-all-tools, or else there is a risk of becoming enslaved to the Asura God-in-the-Machine. He stated that our Rishis have long crafted with the Deva-Bhasha of Sanskrit psycholinguistics, a neurobiological wonder called the Avatār effect, which can become our Guru-in-the-Cloud to guide us in our journey through an AI-powered Cosmos.

The fourth session was a Q & A session in which Dr. Sampadananda Mishra and Yogarishi Srinivas responded to the many questions raised by the participants.

The workshop ended with chanting of Mantras by Sangeeta & Rajeev who are part of Yogavahini and Ritambhara sanghas and have been learning Vedic chants from teachers of Krishnamacharya tradition. They chanted Ganapathi Prarthana, Gayatri Mantra, Shraddha Suktam, Durga Suktam. Laghunyasa or Arogya / Viraja Mantra and Mantrapushpam. Some of the chants were in Samhita, Krama, Jata and Ghana patterns. Each chant started with a brief introduction by Sangeeta.

The various initiatives by the members of Auroville Sanskrit Team in furthering Sanskrit education in Auroville are much appreciated.

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