Hall of Shame: On a Hindutva Apologist’s Recent Lectures at IIT Madras

Written by September 5, 2012 9:58 pm 237 comments

What  are the least things one should expect from a scientist who has worked in a CSIR lab for 25 years? Among all attributes one need to have, we could safely say that integrity and commitment to truth and scientific method are bare minimum moral requirements. It turns out that these are the very same qualities the ‘celebrity’ Hindu evangelist Dr. N. Gopalakrishnan lacks although the endless bragging about his career, D. Lit awarded in Sanskrit and “Americans who were dumbstruck by his revelations”, continued unabated in the 56 minute long verbal diarrhea that flooded the central lecture theatre at IIT Madras on the 16th August 2012. If one wasn’t enough, this charade was repeated in a supposedly interactive session held in the media resource centre, library building on 17th August 2012. The event was the inauguration of the yearly activities of Vivekananda Study Circle, an institute sponsored club whose mundane activities are intimated by none other than Dean of Students in his official capacity. If one wonders why Indian science and technology did not progress the way it should have, one need not look far. A nation whose premier institutes themselves succumb to such narrow nationalistic pride, bigotry and the endemic disease of lack of integrity, shouldn’t dare to aspire a higher stature.

Dr. N. Gopalakrishnan’s inaugural address at the Vivekananda Study Circle meeting, Central Lecture Theatre, IIT Madras:YouTube Preview Image

Dr. N. Gopalakrishnan’s second lecture at Media Resource Centre, IIT Madras:
YouTube Preview Image

The mistake of inviting a man, whose main hobby is bad mouthing other religions (while never applying the same arguments to Hindu religion), who unabashedly shouts inaccurate facts to blatant lies, is not just a matter of bad selection but also a breach of the constitutional ideal of government (and its institutions) being secular. As rationalists committed to secularism (one of the authors being a member of the IITM community too), we find it both shocking and ridiculous, and are of the opinion that public interest is being served by writing this critique. Majority of his claims were hugely distorted or wrong. His arguments were basically clichéd right-wing ideals that give instant orgasm to the proponents of cultural nationalism and his conclusions were not only preposterous but also dangerous.

Let us glance through some of the remarkable opinions that were expressed in those two lectures. We have categorized them under three headings.

  • The supremacy of Indian civilization: India is the only civilization that has withstood the test of time and absolutely nothing of any value remains in other classical civilizations; just the “pyramids and pygmies” (sic) remain in Egypt and only a mausoleum of Mao remains in China. Indian civilization was alive in B.C. 8275 and thus it has 10,000 years of continuity and great knowledge. Western paradigm of development is destructive and only India can combine the knowledge of East and the knowledge of West. Unlike Semitic religions, Indians wrote many books because they realized that ideas need amendments and people are diverse. Vedas have been recognized by UNESCO as world heritage and Bhagavat Gita is taught in 186 American universities despite the fact that the US is not ruled by BJP.  There is a western conspiracy which is supported by JNU (Marxists) in purporting the Aryan Invasion Theory. India is the only country which has not invaded other countries ever in history. In short India was the most scientifically advanced and morally upright civilization.
  • Inferiority of ‘non-Indian’ traditions and religions: Non-vegetarians, people who follow western traditions, values and life styles are somehow culturally inferior. “God send his prophet to Saudi Arabia and God sent his son to Israel. God came here 10 times”. Entire Africa was converted to Christianity in 62 years while British and others could only convert 2 percentage of Indians. There is a European (Christian) conspiracy behind not recognizing Indian history beyond 1500 B.C. Adam and Eve was born only a while before that according to the Semitic myths, and that is the reason why they refuse to recognize Indian civilization (Vedic) before 1500 B.C.
  • Justification for Indian traditions: All Indian traditions have a rational and scientific basis. The anaachaaras (anachronistic traditions) or duraachaaras (wrong traditions) like caste and untouchability were the result of the fall of civilization after the Gupta period due to the raids by Timur. None of the 210 maharshis who composed Vedas were Brahmins. Caste discrimination was non-existent in the early India. Punarjanma or rebirth, which is a part of Indian philosophy, has been scientifically proved.

Apart from these broad ideas and opinions, Gopalakrishnan made some specific claims about ancient Indian scientific heritage:

  • Gravity was not discovered (sic) by “Newton or Oldton”, but by Bhaskara II and is described in his work Siddhānta Siromani.
  • The spherical shape of earth was not discovered by “Copernicus or Silvernicus” but Indians knew it well in advance and is mentioned in Bhagavata.
  • The 15th century Mathematician from Kerala Puthumana Neelakanttha Somayaji had already found the angular velocity of earth to the precision of microseconds and had written this in his work Karana padhhathi using the katapayadi system.
  • Human evolution and even aerodynamics had already been discovered by early Indians.
  • Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle is given in Patanjali’s Yoga sutras.
  • Zero was not discovered by Aryabhatta but by Pingala and is mentioned in his work Chandahśāstra.
  • Before A.D. 1820 Kaliyuga (K.E.) was used world over.
Copernicus' vision of the universe, showing the sun at the centre. From his major work "De revolutionibus orbium coelestium".

Copernicus’ vision of the universe in “De revolutionibus orbium coelestium”. (Image in public domain; links to source.)

While debunking these claims is essential, given that many people might fall for his gimmicks with Sanskrit verses and magnanimous dosages of self-praise, it should be noted that almost all of these claims are merely repetitions from his early speeches. It seems, for all his presumptions of grandeur and wit, originality has never been a strong point of this researcher who celebrated a silver jubilee in his career. His series on “Indian astrology” (13 lectures) was stripped bare by the three bloggers, Umesh, Suraj Rajan and Calvin (Sreehari), and a 62 page long collection of articles on ‘Astrology and science’ was published as an e-book in Malayalam. By some astrological accident, some of the YouTube videos of his ‘fabulous’ lecture series were soon withdrawn or edited. Interestingly some of the very same claims made in that lecture series (and in his many other lectures) are repeated here.

The task of re-inventing the wheel, i.e. repeating the same exercise of debunking these idiotic claims that others did quite successfully before, is unfortunate.  Still, let us analyze a some of his prominent opinions and claims, which by no means are exhaustive, as his entire war with words is ridden with such incredible ‘pearls of wisdom’.

It is well known to anyone who has bothered to look beyond his/her own nose that superiority claim by any civilization doesn’t hold much water. The modern human knowledge is a sum of all the knowledge that various civilizations have gathered and/or generated over many millennia. It seems, for Dr. Gopalakrishnan even monumental discoveries like the fundamental ideas of counting, arithmetic, geometry, divisions of time, position of stars, axioms of Euclid, writing paper, printing, rockets, democracy, glimpses of analytical philosophy etc. -  the huge list of worthy things developed by other civilizations independent of India – are irrelevant. If continuity is a measure, Chinese civilization surpasses Indian by any yardstick. But one wonders how, when and where did pygmies feature in ancient Egypt. Perhaps, he found out through transcendental meditation.

Indian civilization being as old as 8275 B.C. would imply that people had an Iron age/Bronze age civilization before the Mehrgarh civilization, a precursor of the Indus Valley civilization and the oldest urban civilization that’s been discovered yet in the Indian subcontinent. This would be a revolutionary discovery about the history of the human race. This would push time of Neolithic age back by several thousands of years and therefore it would require a massive European conspiracy to cover it up. Still, there is no doubt in Dr. Gopalakrishnan’s mind that it happens to be the case.

It is not hard to identify the embedded racism in his rants against non-vegetarians, ‘western culture’ and the Semitic religions. But much worse is the ‘nationalistic pride’ he attempts to inculcate among the audience for its aggression and emptiness. The mention of European conspiracy behind “not allowing Indian civilization to date before 1500 B.C.” and deviously presenting “Aryan Invasion Theory” as the modern consensus version of ancient Indian history in the academic circle (as against the Aryan Migration Theory) should not miss one’s attention. Further he has deliberately ignored the actual academic debate about ancient Indian history- i.e. whether the Aryans (which is a linguistic term and does not denote race) who wrote Vedas were indigenous (i.e. whose ancestors migrated from Africa before 60,000 years and settled in India) or pastoral groups who migrated from Central Asia or elsewhere and settled in Indian peninsula in gradual waves in and around the B.C.  Second millennium, the evidence of the later being more overwhelming than the former. With such abysmal standards of presentation and propaganda, one would wonder whether the event was the inauguration of a club in IIT Madras or a conference organized by the Rashtriya Swayam Sevaks. And our honourable speaker affirms his affiliation with such fantastic statements like Vedas being declared as world heritage by UNESCO and 186 universities in USA, which is not ruled by BJP, teaching Bhagavat Gita! We do not know from where he came up with the figure, but except for a course in comparative religion or theology (in which Bible, Quran etc are also taught), a university worth its salt would hardly find it persuasive to teach Gita unless it is of the ilk of ‘Hindu University of America‘. The fact twister in our revered guru is again trying to mislead audience by confusing ‘vedic chanting’, which was declared as world heritage by UNESCO, with ‘vedas’ (the scriptures).

Dr. Gopalakrishnan speaking at IIT Madras

Dr. Gopalakrishnan speaking at IIT Madras

In his second talk, a rational person cannot help but laugh to see Dr. Gopalakrishnan stretching his imagination and (il)logic to justify every tradition and superstition. But the most prominent one was his denial of caste discrimination.  He even goes to the extent of passing the blame of ‘caste discrimination’ to the ‘Timur’s invasion’. The nonsensical claims like all 210 rishis who composed Vedas being non-Brahmins, are subpar jokes at the best. Let us trust that he is either unaware of the Smritis, the story of Sambooka in Ramayana, Ekalavya in Mahabharata and countless other instances of casteist apartheid promulgated by Hindu scriptures or has an impeccable proof that they were added by Muslim kings or the British.

Claims of primacy with regard to “gravitational physics”, “spherical shape of the earth” and “aircraft technology” are only a few of the blatant falsehoods Gopalakrishnan dumps on the audience. Isn’t it odd that someone who claims to have a doctoral degree in science and brags about spending many years in a premier science institute in India believes that Newton did not “discover gravity”? Not only does he revel in his complete ignorance of the history of science, but also makes spurious claims firmly based on that ignorance. He amuses the audience by quoting the verse from Siddhānta Siromani (Bhuvanakosa, v 6) and to the people who have no clue as to the history of the concept of gravity, it would sound awesome, for sure. However, Bhaskaracharya’s Siddhānta Siromani dates back to 11th century AD; the idea of a force attracting things towards the earth had already been well established by then. Aristotle, c. 300 BC had mentioned about the inherent attractive force possessed by the earth. Many thinkers have stumbled upon variants of the same idea since then. Vituvius of Ist century BC in Rome, John Philoponus of 5th century AD in Alexandria, Brahmagupta of 7th century AD in India have all suggested their own ideas on the theme. By 11th century AD, Ibn Sina, the famous Persian polymath had already proposed the idea of inertia, momentum and motion in the absence of resistance. Even the inverse square law had been around for quite some time before Newton’s Principia (1680s).

One only needs to refer the original sources he mentions to get shocked at the level of his ignorance and propaganda. Let’s consider the claim that Bhagavata treats earth as a sphere. Historians agree that although the oral tradition of Vaishnavism makes it difficult to date Bhagavata purana, interpolations and redactions to the text could have continued way into the 10th and 11th century A.D. Canto 5, Chapter 16 of Bhagavata contains Bhuvanakosa varnanam (‘description of the cosmos’). Although there is a single reference to earth as “Bhoogola”, i.e., the “sphere that is earth”, nowhere in the said chapter does Bhagavata describe earth as a sphere. In fact the earth is described as a circular and flat! Not surprising; pretty much every religious text depicts the earth as flat. The Bhagavata goes on to liken the flat earth to a fully bloomed Lotus. At the center of the lotus flower, or what we call the receptacle, is located the Meru mountain, which the ancient Hindus believed to be the abode of the gods — something akin to mount Olympus of the Greeks. The bizarre geographical descriptions do not end there. The Jambu land mass, on which mount Meru firmly rests, is surrounded by concentric circles of 7 water-bodies, each separated by 7 circular land masses. These water-bodies, or “oceans” as it is stated in Bhagavata, are further described as made of brine, nectar, milk, butter, yoghurt and so on. There are also elaborate descriptions of netherworlds beneath the earth where huge serpents, demons, divine beings and gods live (Bhagavata Purana: Canto 5, Ch 16: 5-30; Ch 20, 24, 25). Apologists like Gopalakrishnan would not be happy talking about all this. He likes to cherry-pick from Sanskrit scriptures; often without even understanding the context of the actual verse or hymn. The claim that Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle and Darwinian laws of evolution are mentioned in Patanjali’s Yoga sutras is one such instance. Gopalakrishnan, presumably for lack of time, has not ventured into his claims from Yoga sutras, but the videos of his past talks on this were removed from YouTube by his organization (IISH) after this was pointed out to be a blatant act of cherry-picking and misquoting.

According to our venerable evangelist, Aryabhata’s mention of “spherical earth” (Aryabhatiya, Golapada: 6) predates Copernicus and hence the primacy goes to the former. Once again, he hardly has a clue about history. The idea of spherical earth has been around at least since 5th century BC. Pythagoras and Parmenides hint at early Greek concepts of a round earth.  Plato (4th century BC) unambiguously called earth “round as a ball”. His student Aristotle later suggested reasons for why the earth must be spherical. Eratosthenes measured the circumference of the earth in BC 240 — nearly 700 years before Aryabhata. In short, the idea of spherical earth had already been around for centuries when Aryabhata’s treatise on astronomy was compiled (499 AD). The concept of rotation of earth also features very early in ancient Greek cosmology. The Pythagorean school of ancient Greece held such a belief and Heraclides of Pontus (c. 390 BC) is probably the foremost among the Pythagoreans who suggested that the earth rotates once every 24 hours.

It is noteworthy that in a fit of nationalistic pride, Gopalakrishnan conflates many concepts such as spherical shape of the earth, rotation of the earth and revolution of earth around the sun and attribute them to Indian astronomers and mathematicians. In fact all of these concepts developed often separately and gradually over time. For example, even Aryabhata regarded the earth to be the center of the universe (a belief prevalent during his time). Brahmagupta (7th century AD), who critiqued many of Aryabhata’s ideas, followed the concept of geocentrism as well. Other eminent Indian astronomers such as Varahamihira (6th century AD), and Bhaskaracharya (12th century AD) also believed the same. This was the case with Greek astronomers as well. Though the Pythagoreans believed in a central fire (akin to the sun) around which all celestial bodies revolved, this wasn’t shared by their contemporaries.

The book Vaimanika Sastra of Bharadwaja, supposedly authored by one Subbaraya Sastry in 1923 has been a source of great pride for Hindu revivalists and nationalists as it seemingly suggests methods of designing and manufacturing aircrafts (vimanas). Gopalakrishnan passingly mentions this book along with his usual claims of antiquity of Indian knowledge. However should be noted that this book was the subject of a detailed rebuttal published in 1974 by the departments of Aeronautical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore (Mukunda HS et al., 1974). These IISc authors have concluded that the work “cannot be dated earlier than 1904” and that “the planes described [in Vaimanika Sastra] are at best, poor concoctions, rather than expressions of something real. None of the planes has properties or capabilities of being flown; the geometries are unimaginably horrendous from the point of view of flying…”

Nailing his other claims about ‘Kali era’, discovery of Zero by Pingala and micro second precision of Somayaji’s calculation etc. are left to the readers (interested readers may also refer ‘Astrology and Science‘ ).  However, let it be underlined that the purpose of this article is not to question the proven mathematical, astronomical, medicinal, metallurgical achievements from ancient India. Far from it, the intended purpose is to bring attention towards the need to keep vigil on such hollow propagandists who taint every bit of achievement through a combination of huge exaggerations and outright falsehoods. The larger question of allowing space for such hate-mongering, cultural supremacists whose only credit is a good memory of Sanskrit verses, in secular national institutes remains. If this trend continues, we should better change the name of IIT to Indian Ignoramus Technocrats.

(This article is authored by Javali and Suraj Rajan. Javali is a member of the IIT Madras community and Dr. Suraj Rajan is a neuroscience student at UCL, London.)


  1. Astrology and Science Umesh P. N., Dr. Suraj Rajan, Calvin http://www.usvishakh.net/documents/astrology_and_science.pdf [pdf, Malayalam]
  2. The Pseudoscience of Gopalakrishnan Dr. Suraj Rajan. http://surajcomments.blogspot.in/2010/02/pseudosciencegopalakrishnanindian.html [Malayalam]
  3. Gopalakrishnan’s Astrology, Dr. Suraj Rajan. http://surajcomments.blogspot.in/2010/04/jyotish-gk-pseuodsci.html [Malayalam]
  4. The Yojana that changes with person Umesh P. N. http://malayalam.usvishakh.net/blog/archives/404 [Malayalam]
  5. Mathematics in India. Kim Plofker, 2009.  Princeton University Press
  6. A critical study of the work “Vyamanika Shastra” H. S. Mukunda, S. M. Deshpande, H. R. Nagendra, A. Prabhu, S. P. Govindaraju, 1974.  . Scientific Opinion, p.5, 1974 http://cgpl.iisc.ernet.in/site/Portals/0/Publications/ReferedJournal/ACriticalStudyOfTheWorkVaimanikaShastra.pdf
  7. Siddhānta Shiromani Bhaskara II (notes by Pandit Muralidhar Jha), 1917.   E. J. Lazurus & Co. Benares



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  • Sudheer,

    We should feel proud about Yoga and Ayurveda. These were excellent cultural accomplishments produced from several thousand years ago and compare very well with similar systems produced by other cultures, *at that time*.

    However, comparing these old systems to modern science is absurd. They don’t come even remotely close. The people, at the time, did not know about microbes, cellular structure, DNA, hormones etc. They neither understood how the human body worked nor how the disease process went about. They did not understand chemistry like we do today and were not able to understand drugs at a molecular level and how they interacted with receptors. It was all understandable of course, since the technology was not developed at the time. All they could do was make up some vague unscientific theories… basically guesses on how it all happened. This was true worldwide, back then.

    It saddens me when I see Indians place things like Ayurveda, Yoga and worse… western homeopathy on the same footing as modern medicine. Its like comparing traditional Deewali firework technology with modern rocket technology, and not even that with homeopathy, which is just a placebo. The academic research in modern medicine is pure and scientific. The drug companies and some doctors have admittedly been less pure (just like many alternative medicine practitioners – that’s just human nature). But the solution to that is better policy, not replacing them with bronze/iron age systems.

    Before we used modern medicines, the mortality rates were terrible… neonatal and pregnancy related death rates were very high. Infectious diseases wiped out people by the villages. No amount of Yoga and Ayurveda could stop this. Vaccines and antibiotics saved billions of lives, worldwide. In 1919 India, the measured average life span of a person at birth was 19 years… Yes, 19. Today, it is in high sixties and improving (and why we had a population explosion despite having fewer kids). Those stories you hear of how healthy people then were, are made up. Many Indians only remembered the odd individuals who lived long and ignored the rest of his/her family/village did not make it, and in many cases just made up long life times because they did not keep proper records of birth themselves (just made up age numbers).

    Please learn about the history of science and medicine, especially in the last 100 years when much of modern medicine took shape. Don’t be part of that ignorant group that tells people not to get vaccinated, not use medicines until it is too late etc. because you think it is an evil conspiracy or that traditional systems like Yoga are adequate. That will cost many lives and is no service to the country.

    No one is against Yoga. Yoga… and just any regular exercise really, not just Yoga, is useful for people to keep healthy. But it should never be seen as replacement for actual scientific (not western) medical interventions.

    • Bravo!

    • Pritesh Pathak

      Very articulate.

    • I literally stood up from my seat and applauded.

      So proud of the fact that such articulate critical thinkers as yourself actively voice opinions and post critiques & rebuttals on public forums instead laughing off the general ignorance of the Hindu apologists and the religiously inclined and classifying them as “beyond salvage” in a generic sweep.

      This has inspired me to post responses more frequently instead of giving in to my languid urges. However, I am going to bookmark this response for posterity sake – to use it as a standard response for blind proponents of Yoga / Ayurveda / alternative quackery over modern medicine in particular, and desi supremacists at large.
      (For homeopathy, I would still rely on the ever-so-effective James Randi)

      Will make sure to give you source credits though :)

      Thanks a bunch Ravi.

    • >> “…homeopathy, which is just a placebo”

      If that is true, then homeopathy is indeed an extremely powerful and effective ‘placebo’!

      Dear Ravi, do you know how many people have cured their illnesses through the use of this ‘placebo’? FYKI, and these illnesses include those which cannot be cured by Allopathy.

      Do you know anything about all these, Mr. Ravi?
      In fact, do you first of all know the difference between how Homeopathy and Allopathy works.

      >> “In 1919 India, the measured average life span of a person at birth was 19 years”

      If that is true, then what was the life expectancy 1000 years back?

      • Captain Mandrake


        **If that is true, then homeopathy is indeed an extremely powerful and effective ‘placebo’!**

        If you can show that homeopathy is better than a placebo you have million dollor prize waiting for you from James Randi (http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/jref-news/1208-feb5video.html).

        **If that is true, then what was the life expectancy 1000 years back?**

        Must be even lower. But why does it matter. It is a simple fact that modern medicine has significantly increased life expectancy at birth.

        • Captain Mandrake, your comments are too loose and casual!

          It is pretty obvious u have little or no experience of Homeopathy treatment. I have! And I’ve been treated!

          And do you know anything about the “million dollor prize waiting for you from James Randi”? FYKI, the prize is only for Psychics and Paranormal practitioners.

          Regarding the link on “lecture by James Randi in which he downed an entire bottle of homeopathic sleeping pills to show they had no effect.”, I find this absolutely HILARIOUS!

          I mean this just proves that you, Ravi and your guru James Randi are totally ignorant about the homeopathy medicines. FYKI, these medicines do not react the way that you people naively think it should. LOL!

          You will not get any instant effect at all by downing any kind of homeopathy medicine. It takes its own time to show its effects which can vary from person to person and disease to disease.

          It is pretty obvious you are ignorant of this basic fact.

          James Randi has made a fool of himself by swallowing those homeopathic pills in order to prove that the medicine the will not make him doze off within one hour!

          • Captain Mandrake


            **And do you know anything about the “million dollor prize waiting for you from James Randi”? FYKI, the prize is only for Psychics and Paranormal practitioners.**

            Please stop parading your ignorance and stupidity.

            Here is something from the link (http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/jref-news/1208-feb5video.html ) I provided you.

            **In his message, Randi issued a one-million-dollar challenge to the manufacturers of homeopathic products to prove their claims, and challenged major drug retailers like CVS, Rite-Aid, and Walgreens to stop tricking consumers into paying real money for fake medicine.
            The challenge applies to quacks of all kind (psychics, homeopaths, etc).

            Based on your posts it is clear that you have not read/understood the link on placebo effect that Ravi provided you. So it is difficult to reason with you. But let me try. If I give you a vial of water and a vial of 30c (1 part active ingredient in 100^30 part water) homeopathic medicine can you tell the difference between the two vials? If so how will you do that?


            Please check the video link above. Dawkins does a good job of explaining the absurdity of 30c homeopathic medicine.

          • > Dawkins does a good job of explaining the absurdity of 30c homeopathic medicine.

            This one does it even better.


          • Captain Mandrake

            **This one does it even better.**

            Lol! Awesome video!

      • > If that is true, then homeopathy is indeed an extremely powerful and effective ‘placebo’!

        That’s not how placebo effect works. At the very least, read the Wikipedia page on it.

        > In fact, do you first of all know the difference between how Homeopathy and Allopathy works.

        Yes. Quite well, in fact. But it is quite clear you don’t.

        At least read the Wikipedia page on Homeopathy (top to bottom, no skipping) and get back here. Oh, and don’t return with conspiracy theories that the world is against you.

        I started explaining how Homeopathy is absurd, but concluded that this has been discussed to death (Randi was mentioned recently. He is a fine source). Here is a short note though: If Homeopathy works, we can throw away all our Chemistry books… that would be a pity… since we are pretty good at Chemistry at this point.

        I don’t blame Hahnemann. He made a heroic attempt in early 1800s when Chemistry (and Pathology) was in its infancy. He even tried to be as scientific as he could. Over time, all his ideas have been disproven after technology gave us a clear view of how stuff worked at microscopic and molecular level. But if anyone who clings to those theories today clearly slept through his/her science classes.

        I know this is below the belt, but I don’t know if you noticed. All Homeopathic quacks are medical school (and Dental School, Pharmacy school and others) rejects. I sure don’t know any one who declined a medical school admission and took up Homeopathy. Do you (there must at least be a handful who are taking up family business)? We are not talking of the brightest bulbs here.

        There is no such thing as Allopathy
        It is a derogatory term used by Homeopathic quacks. There is only Scientific Medicine or Modern Medicine. The rule behind modern medicine is simple. If you can empirically show that it works (Hahnemann himself was an early proponent of empiricism. Later, homeopaths decided to criticize it when the studies did not come out in their favor), it is Scientific/Modern/Evidence-based Medicine. No dogma.

        When someone today says that Homeopathy works, that means they do not understand how Chemistry, Physiology, Pathology, Statistics and the Scientific Method work. Modern Pharmacology does not even need to factor into this.

        > Dear Ravi, do you know how many people have cured their illnesses through the use of this ‘placebo’?

        None. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

        But you will meet plenty of patients (and unfortunately, even a few physicians – since many physicians in India have adequate clinical training but inadequate scientific training) who will tell you that they have been cured by homeopathy. This is the same vein that plenty of people will tell you that a pilgrimage or a pooja or an amulet has cured their incurable disease or solved their problems. If you are confusing those claims with scientific data, then you don’t understand how basic scientific process works, let alone how and whether a particular medical system works. Understand the difference between beliefs and data.
        “Knowing” something well is very tricky business.

        Especially in the last 300 years or so, scientific revolution has entirely changed the knowledge base of humanity. This revolution is grounded in the realization that what people think they saw is often wrong (Fancis Bacon’s Idols, Novum Organum, 1620). The way we extract real data is by a.) addressing for cognitive biases (double blinded clinical trials in case of medicine) b.) using a sound statistical method. This basic scientific kernel however seems to have escaped you.

        I have met Homeopaths in India who have told me without shame that they mix modern medicines in their proprietary remedies. Over the last year, speaking to physicians and patients in India, I am beginning to share suspicion, that at the very least, Homeopaths (and other traditional medicine practitioners) in my town, are mixing corticosteroids in their formulations (you should be fine if you get a sealed standard formulation from an independent store, rather than directly from the quack). The patients are showing signs of steroid insufficiency on withdrawl. I am not sure if this is an isolated phenomenon or if it is more widespread. Steroids produce an immediate sense of well being (and the patient thinks he is cured in case of minor ailments, especially allergies), but have a host of problems, such that those who don’t understand them, should not prescribe them. Under such circumstances, it is possible for instance that a patient who might not have responded to anti-histamines seemingly responds to steroid laced alternative medicines.

        > FYKI, and these illnesses include those which cannot be cured by Allopathy.

        Oh, please do tell. Provide us with links to reputed journals with sound impact factors that verify these claims. I don’t care about “in my experience” or “he said, she said” claims though. Those are dime a dozen.

        > If that is true, then what was the life expectancy 1000 years back?

        The life expectancy at birth throughout history, across the world, before the scientific revolution (before asepsis measures, vaccines and antibiotics) was around 30… sometimes a bit more, sometimes a bit less. India was not any different. 19 was a little low for India when that measure was taken, probably due to the destruction of governance and society during the colonial rule. The crown already began reversing some of the destruction that had taken place during the corporate rule by East India Company, but changes would have taken some time to take hold.

        • Captain Mandrake

          **I know this is below the belt, but I don’t know if you noticed. All Homeopathic quacks are medical school (and Dental School, Pharmacy school and others) rejects. I sure don’t know any one who declined a medical school admission and took up Homeopathy. **

          Good one. Their mediocrity should be publicized and made fun off.

          • Please, sir, NO!

            Some of my friends are homeopaths, but they fully realise that this is BS. They’re only in it because of the extraordinarily tough and luck-based “competitive” PMT exams we have. I would much rather:

            1) the Govt NOT run any more such “medical” colleges. Quackery must be left to total quacks.

            2) provide lateral entry stream in mainstream medical science to those practitioners who want to pursue MBBS after BAMS/BUMS/BHMS (considering the first year course is substantially similar).

            3) INCREASE MBBS Seats! These people doing BHMS/BAMS etc are a LOT smarter than the average Indian! If you think cracking PMT at even BHMS level is easy, think again!

            In my opinion, all this mess has been created by the Govt by meddling in medical education and licencing, thus placing quackery on the same footing as Modern Medicine. It is not right to blame those practitioners who are now trapped in their stream, but can’t get out.

          • Captain Mandrake


            Ok I take what I said in the earlier post. I agree that must be more sane way of bringing these people back into the medical profession. But when debating people like Raz few punches below the belt are warranted.

            **In my opinion, all this mess has been created by the Govt by meddling in medical education and licencing**

            Not sure what you mean. Are you saying the Govt should not be in the business of regulating medical profession?

          • Captain Mandrake

            **Ok I take what I said in the earlier post.**

            Ok I take back what I said in the earlier post.

          • Alex,
            Your thoughts are certainly more compassionate than my harsh remarks, which were in the context of the annoying tone of Raz’s remarks. Additionally, my experience (which I cannot claim is representative) with Homeopaths was different from yours. None of them were my friends (hence, less empathy from me). None of those I know seemed to want to admit that what they practice was quackery, even to their friends. And I was annoyed at the occasional defense by mainstream Indian physicians, of this “system”, demonstrating their own lack of scientific temper, in the process.

            > They’re only in it because of the extraordinarily tough and luck-based “competitive” PMT exams we have

            I agree that medical entrance tests in India are much harder than they need to be (to the point of being unfair) and that we are not meeting demand.

            > 1) the Govt NOT run any more such “medical” colleges. Quackery must be left to total quacks.

            I agree.

            But then again, even Britain is not able to shake quackery off NHS. Homeopaths lobby over there and have the support of royals. Not sure how that works over here.

            I see a role for a combative stance more than an empathic stance though. After all, medical policy should be about the welfare of patients, more than the welfare of practitioners.

            However, I also see our government’s pragmatic point of view. Bringing traditional mid-wives into the system was a major success in the interim. Asepsis training helped reduce neonatal mortality, until PHCs caught on. Homeopaths and Ayurvedics are much less dangerous, with some standard certification, than without. The really dangerous ones I know are the self-styled ones.

            > provide lateral entry stream

            Indian educational system as a whole is indeed very rigid and it is very hard to change tracks or receive some credit for prior training. In contrast, the US educational system is much more modular and hence flexible, such that one is not bound for life, based upon the circumstances of youth. We can learn from at least some of its aspects.

          • Captain Mandrake,

            I feel that hitting below the belt weakens one’s own argument. Anyway, it is my debating technique. I always give my fellow debater an ‘out,’ in order to reach an amicable conclusion. As opposed to school “debates,” these conversations are about life and livelihood, so pragmatism and compassion are necessary.

            As for Govt—Yes. I do feel that Govt should NOT be in the business of regulating medical profession (or any other business, in fact). The Medical profession and education should be self-regulated by a professional body. MCI was intended to be such a body, but political control has reduced it to vassalage of the Union Health Ministry. The cases where medical practice leads to civil/criminal liabilities are well covered in the various Civil and Criminal codes, and should be left to the judiciary.

            I feel that Govt “regulation” (aka money-skimming) of medical colleges leads to artificial shortage of doctors, on the one hand, while Govt “regulation” of quackery like Homeopathy and others only serves as an *endorsement* of these schemes in the public mind, on the other.

          • Ravi,

            Raz clearly deserves harsh words. I only request to avoid painting all homeopaths with the same brush. Many of them are not in this profession by choice, and are some of the smartest people this country has to offer. I attack only quackery, while hoping to bring the practitioner around to do what is right. Of course there are many belligerent, irredeemable frauds, but I hope to reach those who might want to get out, not debate fruitlessly with the confirmed frauds.

            The non-preference of medical aspirants for these quackery streams is easily seen in PMT coachings—not a single student wants to do anything but MBBS. Only those that don’t get the coveted stream go into BHMS/BAMS etc., but they are also very smart—smart enough to have cracked PMT at all! If there’s any chance of their taking MBBS, they’ll jump at it. I only aim to raise awareness about this.

            I don’t have first-hand knowledge about Britain, and the second-hand stuff I know about NHS paints it in a very poor light indeed. More about those socialists some other time!

            I blame our Govt’s “pragmatism” (alias for realpolitik and corruption) for most of the country’s ills today, this being one of them. The fact is that the Medical Education system run by Govt has failed the country miserably. Aseptic training for midwives does not obviate the need for obstetricians and nurses. It is a short-term Band-Aid® that has been kept on and on and on, and as a result now we have a whole army of ANMs that could easily have been an army of nurses. The only reason certified Homeo/Ayur- paths are less dangerous is because they are *really* *smart* people! They can easily tell which patient is serious enough to warrant *real* medical treatment, and they treat common ailments with modern drugs too! I cannot emphasise this enough. These people are basically general practitioners with high intelligence and good clinical skills. I have no doubt they can pass MBBS education and licensure if only given a chance! Then we’ll only be left with the thoroughly illegitimate quacks, and it will be relatively easier to deal with them when we have lots of modern GPs for immediate healthcare needs of the population.

            As for medical policy being for whose welfare, I challenge the concept of Govt-mandated Medical “Policy” at all. No science should be held hostage to Govt. The various cases where medical *practice* leads to actual, quantifiable *harm* (civil or criminal) are governed by various laws and enforced by the judiciary.

            The rigidity in the Indian education system is probably due to a nugget of caste-doctrine. The Indian educationist feels that one *ought* to be bound for life in a single profession. Only now, due to various reform movements and pressure, one is bound based upon the circumstances of youth, rather than circumstances of birth! This is highly speculative, of course, but I feel I have a good point here. The Indian mind is *horrified* of a society where one can change education and occupation at will!

        • Correction:

          The link should be

          The later points to a Twilight Zone episode.

          • Recently the Chiropractic Association in UK had sued Mr. Simon Singh (A brilliant essayist and author) for libel on account of some critical articles he had written about Homoeopathy and Chiropractic. He won the case and forced a change in the libel laws of UK. For those who are interested in details can check the following link.

        • Dear Ravi, I want to divide your comments into two parts: one on Homeopathy and the rest.

          ‘The rest’ is perfectly Factual and Sound and Logical. No doubt about that!
          Now let me dwell on Homeopathy.

          It is pretty obvious your views on homeopathy are merely influenced by quack doctors. And I can’t believe that a so-called Rationalist is making fun of homeopathy by using the example of wrong kind of people. You are “barking the wrong tree”, by dear Ravi!

          And, shockingly, you also think no one has yet been cured by Homeopathy!

          Where are you living right now? Inside a cave!
          I do not know whether to laugh, cry or shout at you!
          This is just a horrible combo of Ignorance and Arrogance!

          It is very obvious you’ve never visited a qualified and good homeopathy doctor ever in your life?

          Dear Ravi, “the taste of the pudding lies in its eating”!
          I have tasted the ‘pudding’ – not you!
          I have come in contact with “qualified and good homeopathy doctor” – and I’ve seen the good results as well.

          And I will not be surprised if you question me even on those “good results”!

          If no one has yet been cured by Homeopathy then what about all those well-established doctors in cities? They should have been out of business by now! There should have been 1000s of cases pending against them in HCs & SCs.

          Have you heard of any case against Dr. Batra of Mumbai, for example?

          Just a second…do you know him, btw? Here’s a link to help you out –


          I am waiting for you to get back to me before I say anything more.

          • Raz,

            Looks like you don’t know about the existence of internet or Google.

            Below are links though a few in number have looked at the bonafides of Batra and are not very flattering to him. There are also probably complaints against him in Consumer courts




            The success of Dr. Batra lies in the type of homeopathic treatment that he is providing. He is really into the business of what looks more like cosmetology than really medicine.

            Even in his community, his brethren say that the treatment his clinics provide are more ‘cosmetic’ in nature than ‘curative.’ Dr Batra’s concentrates basically in segments like trichology, obesity, diabetes etc.

            So it is not surprising that he has managed to avoid controversy and lawsuits to a great extent.

            The sorry state of science and scientific temper among people in India, also accounts for this situation where the quackery of homeopathy and ayurveda not only thrives but receives formal recognition and respectability

            I believe Dr. Narendra Nayak has also investigated the credentials and methods of Positive Health clinic and has provided some insights into the modus operandi of Dr. Batra’s quackery.

          • > It is very obvious you’ve never visited a qualified and good homeopathy doctor ever in your life?

            Why on earth would I do that? I have also never visited witch doctors for my ailments. Yet, somehow I know, without subjecting myself to them, about their efficacy.

            Homeopathy has been around for more than 200 years. There is plenty of scientific data studying it. Why do I need to ignore it? Because you don’t like the conclusions?

            > Dear Ravi, “the taste of the pudding lies in its eating”! I have tasted the ‘pudding’ – not you!

            “The proof of the pudding” is in scientific proof (or rather in disproof). It is in clinical trials; not in whatever happens to be Raz’s personal “experience” and proclamation.

            What you are offering is a testimonial, nothing more. Testimonials don’t mean anything in the world of science. We care about independent observations.

            > And I will not be surprised if you question me even on those “good results”!

            Like I said, personal experiences do not mean anything in the world of science.

            You do not understand how the scientific method works. You don’t establish medical facts by personal experience. That is a big part of the scientific revolution. I covered this in the last post. You seem to have glossed over it while you were busy going bombastic.

            Let me try again: If I visited a homeopath or a witch doctor, and if I got “cured” the next day or the next month (since Homeopaths like to say that their treatments take time, while really waiting for natural remissions), I cannot scientifically say that I have been cured by the homeopath or the witch doctor. The same is true for modern medicine. That is why we do all those expensive trials.

            Making causal claims is very tricky business. The only right language to deal with the frail causal propositions is the language of statistics. If you are not talking about p-values, confidence intervals, odds ratios etc, you don’t have anything to say, really. If you don’t understand them, you are not even qualified for this debate.

            “Why don’t you try for yourself?” “Why don’t you see it with your own eyes?” – I understood the fallacy of these common claims by the time I was 8 (reading Dr. Pattabhiram’s magic books – the art of misleading logic and perception) – the beginning of my scientific awakening. You can too.

            > If no one has yet been cured by Homeopathy then what about all those well-established doctors in cities? They should have been out of business by now! There should have been 1000s of cases pending against them in HCs & SCs.

            Witch doctors have been in business for thousands of years. By your logic, black magic must work. Or else, they would be having lots of suits against them by now. No?

            Lots of otherwise smart people in India follow Vastu. Are you suggesting that this is a validation of its effectiveness?

            > Just a second…do you know him, btw?

            No, I do not know of him. Nor am I impressed by his wiki entry.

            I don’t do personality worship. I just care about data. What data did he produce?

            I don’t worship commercially successful doctors, including those in modern medicine (let alone quacks). Unless he has invented or discovered something significant, or famed in peer-reviewed research, I do not care about him.

          • As a followup to the thread… the Australian Research Council (NHMRC) just completed a comprehensive systematic review of the literature on Homeopathy and released a draft report yesterday.

            Results are of course unsurprising (bunk, as The Guardian puts it… or more politely/technically – not more effective than placebo for the 68 clinical conditions considered from 334 studies), but necessary to make a formal recommendation for policy.



            Of course, this is unlikely to have any impact on the popularity of homeopathy in India.

  • I came across this video claiming science in religious stuffs of hinduism on youtube.It claims that Shiva pooja is a science.The person here gives weird justifications to convince others about his stand.He also does the same claims about other stuffs.Here is the link to the video:
    I have made three comments denouncing this video by the name superbbcfan.I am highly suspicious of his claims but still I want to know whether any of his claims does holds truth.I want you to debunk his claims please.I would to ask you how can we articulate the vital points while debunking these claims.Do you suggest any science websites/blogs that really helps in debunking these deceivers.In recent days I also came across hillarious claims about the pragmatic significance of shiva linga and it being a blueprint for various energy reactors on the following website:
    Please guide me whether I should take these claims seriously.Is there any plausibility in those claims?please do respond.

  • Dr. Subramanyam Nambaru

    Hello Flocks,

    I felt that you are debating and targeting subject author – isn’t against to your own commenting guidelines..

    Any how regarding the way you have gathered the information about the foreign people and their religions are well appreciable but i couldn’t understand why you are so apologist for foreigners and their religions..

    why are not willing to agree that all the new inventions which you have credit to foreigners where already discovered by our ancestors

    What you know about Pushpak viman in Ramayan and missiles/rockets used by Ashvathdhama in Mahabharat

    Do you people know still German scientists are researching Bhagavath geetha to understand what kind of sophisticated plains were used by Krishna
    to travel

    Do you know what ever the religion in this world have translated Bhagavath Geetha slokas in to their respective religious books..

    We have very rich tradition but we have very high intolerance in least accepting this…

    It’s appreciable that you people are asking for reference but how far you searched/researched for truth in our vedas and puranas..

    Like ravi said not only yoga or Ayurveda but kamasutra and much more sciences were gifts to the whole human kind by our rushies

    I do agree that most of the modern science came from west but must not forget that most of our evidences to prove our ancestor’s legacy was destroyed by those foreigners….

    First try to learn and understand what your ancestors gave to the world rather what other people said..

  • Subramanyam,
    I am not sure you understood the points I was making. I want to be proud of our culture for the right reasons, not for easily disproved imaginary reasons that you are proposing.

    I support comparing Hindu cultural accomplishments with ancient Greek and other *contemporary* cultural accomplishments. Promoting historical world views from ages of ignorance, over modern scientific world views is absurd and dangerous and is holding back India from its true potential and its rightful place in the modern world.

    I consider it just as absurd to promote ancient Greek, Egyptian or Chinese medicine today over modern medicine, as it is to promote Ayurveda over it. Nationalistic eagerness costs Indian lives.

    > why you are so apologist for foreigners and their religions

    Note that no one here is promoting Greek and Abrahamic religions. I can talk as fluently of western hypocrisy of values as I can talk about Hindu hypocrisy of values. We are all human, after all.

    I am not a western apologist. The dissenting people on this board are NOT western apologists. For instance, Homeopathy is a western system. You won’t find a single rationalist here to support it, just because it is western. We only point to its absurdity and laugh. We support modern science, not because it originated in the west, but because we understand the dangers of cognitive biases, epistemology and probability theory – universal concepts.

    What we are, are humanists. We believe that a cultivated mind is a cultivated mind, regardless of the culture from which it emerges. We are progressives who believe that India’s (or for that matter, the world’s) better days are ahead of us, not just behind us. We believe that we can make a healthy modern transition while proudly retaining our cultural identity, rather than be stymied by it. Japan has done it. In contrast, South American cultures unfortunately failed. We want to be like Japan – a blend of modernity and tradition – taking only those traits that make objective, rather than emotional sense. The goal is not to simply be proud of our fore fathers and live in their shadows (like modern Greeks). It is to become a people that our fore fathers would be proud of.

    > why are not willing to agree that all the new inventions which you have credit to foreigners where already discovered by our ancestors

    Because that is an absurd claim that won’t stand to an iota of critical examination?

    > What you know about Pushpak viman in Ramayan and missiles/rockets used by Ashvathdhama in Mahabharat

    Please don’t confuse mythical technology with actual technology. Other (Greek, Egyptian, Mayan etc) cultures also have magic stories that can be interpreted as SciFi. Myths are not history; they are fictional works; they may be culturally critical fictional works, but fictional works nonetheless.

    > Do you people know still German scientists are researching Bhagavath geetha to understand what kind of sophisticated plains were used by Krishna to travel

    Germans do have some fascination with Indian culture. Two points here…

    1.) you seem to strangely suggest that foreigners both destroyed our culture and simultaneously use the fact that there is some foreign interest in our culture as proof that validates our myths. Do you not see the contradiction?

    The Europeans did not understand the depth of Indian culture when they first conquered India, and the domination did accelerate the decline than began much earlier. But once they understood, they appreciated its richness, and did not deliberately destroy it, even if they continued the economic exploitation. I found that western academia is/was quite respectful of Indian culture.

    2.) Just because some foreigner studied something of ours does not make it true. There are plenty of non-rational people in the West (quite less than Indians, since literacy is better, but still enough) who still don’t get science, despite excellent educational opportunities.

    Have you actually read Bhagavad Gita? It is a moral and spiritual poem. You can “research” it all you want, but trying to find any technology secrets in it is as absurd as studying Bible codes or Torah codes… and there will always be some people willing to try anyway. If someone funds me, I could probably find some meaningless, but amusing lexical patterns in them, by running some legitimate statistical learning algorithms on them, and call it “research” :-).

    > Do you know what ever the religion in this world have translated Bhagavath Geetha slokas in to their respective religious books..

    Its called a study of Comparative Religion. Great stuff. We should do it too, not just pat ourselves on our backs that we made it into their curriculum.

    > how far you searched/researched for truth in our vedas and puranas..

    I have. Have you? What is your definition of this “truth”? Philosophers and theologians have variously and often flimsily defined it over the course of history. I have some clear definitions of it and expect to find no instance of it in any religious book – Indian or foreign.

    > must not forget that most of our evidences to prove our ancestor’s legacy was destroyed by those foreigners….

    Just as many Greek texts were lost. Just as much of the legacy of all ancient cultures, including western ones were lost. Welcome to the world.

    I’d say Hinduism fared quite well compared to many others and proved to be quite resilient compared to most, to foreign influences. For example, Mayan culture was wiped out in little time. Hinduism, on the other hand, withered 15 centuries of foreign domination. That is a testament to its intrinsic cultural strength and is something real to be proud of, rather than a position of victim-hood, from which to be ashamed of, or grumble from.

    > First try to learn and understand what your ancestors gave to the world rather what other people said..

    You first need to learn a little about world history, anthropology, theology, philosophy, both classical and enlightenment, scientific method etc before you can even begin to understand our own culture, in global context. Otherwise, your understanding of it will be quite sterile and bombastic, rather than being grounded in reality.

    • Ravi,

      It is an excellent and detailed yet patient rebuttal of the kind of delusions of grandeur of Indian antiquity that many Indians with conservative religious leanings and nationalism have and keep voicing from time to time.

      The sober and concise points of refutation that you have made, but at the same time balancing it with pride and wonder that is legitimately aroused by many aspects of ancient Indian culture, its accomplishments and its resilience is something many skeptics and India critics need to take note of.

      As a blogger and an essay hobbyist on Indian scriptures and antiquity, it has been a pleasure and an eye opener for me to read this comment-response and note its paraphrasing the creed of rationalism and method of critique.

      There is much that I can learn from this approach to criticism.


    • Ravi you’ve given a fitting reply to a blind follower of Indian Culture who is suffering from a false sense of superiority.

      >> “we understand the dangers of cognitive biases, epistemology and probability theory”

      Can you please explain in what way “epistemology and probability theory” is dangerous?

      • Hi Raj,
        It was a bad sentence. I realized after I posted it. Perhaps, I should have posted a correction soon after.

        > “we understand the dangers of cognitive biases, epistemology and probability theory”

        A semicolon might have been more proper, but perhaps still not clear enough: we understand the dangers of cognitive biases; epistemology and probability theory.

        A proper framing would be: we understand the dangers of cognitive biases, -the importance of- epistemology and probability theory.

        So yes, as you would agree, (I am simply elaborating, I know you understand all this) the lack of a sense of epistemology is often what drives people to believe wild claims. It makes people place some really old text that does not give any idea of how it acquired the said knowledge (the bits that make some sense, after culling the mystical rituals), on the same footing as that of say, a rigorous randomized controlled trial.

        Without understanding epistemology, people instinctively assign reverence, especially in oriental cultures, which have a higher tendency to worship anything with a label – ancient on it.

        Probability theory frames our current understanding of a proper epistemology and teaches us to appreciate how fickle the enterprise of attributing causality is from correlation – that simply because a cure followed the administration of a drug does not automatically imply that it was the drug that did the curing or whether if it was a cure at all, rather than simply a condition that ran its course. How can one know without understanding variance of multiple factors involved – in quantitative terms?

        Unfortunately, I meet trained physicians in India who don’t have a sense of how science is done and why we needed to do it that way. In a way, I blame the educational system rather than the products of it. We simply don’t adequately teach the human intellectual history about how we got here. Without it, people regress as soon as they are out of school.


        • Ravi, thanks for your erudite response!

          Btw, it’s “Raz” and not “Raj”. Not that I feel offended…but just wanted to remind you of a small typo.

          Coming back to the main issue…the typical Indian mind is hopelessly illogical and is far removed from understanding the importance of Epistemology. It does not know how to think logically, esp. when it comes to matters of God, Religion, and Culture.

          Another thing Ravi…the rantings of Dr. N. Gopalakrishnan can also be interpreted as arising from a deep sense of Inferiority Complex – which causes some die-hard Indians to falsely glorify the Indian past based on flimsy reasons.

          • Raz (error noted),

            > the typical Indian mind is hopelessly illogical

            I have been coming to terms with some of this lately, although I am certain that it is not a uniquely depressing condition. I would wager that the general public of all cultures were just as illogical at this stage of socio-economic development.

            While the current generation is indeed reticent, I am hopeful for the next generations, whom I believe can ultimately be second to none, standing on at least equal intellectual footing, once again, with the rest of the world.

            Some of this will simply happen automatically alongside steadily rising prosperity, while the rest of the enlightenment must be guided to the extent feasible, by the intellectual vanguard.

            > arising from a deep sense of Inferiority Complex

            I think so too. I was asked to write an article and I will be covering this among other things, including how I had to deal with this myself while growing up and why I feel that the use of fluffy claims is unnecessary and more dangerous for the health of the nation now than ever before.

    • Ravi have you read my post right at the bottom of this forum? Love to read your comments!

      • Raz,
        I did see it. My response then was just rolling my eyes. Given the sheer number of the claims, and because demonstrating the sillyness will involve much more than short casual statements of grand conclusions, it could end up in several pages. I will be travelling from tomorrow (and mostly offline). So I will address just a few now.

        > 10)Email: invented by an Indian

        The whole fiasco behind this claim, resulting from sloppy journalism on part of Time, is summarized here.


        Or at least, I think the author is referring to the above, instead of Sabeer Bhatia, who did the first wildly successful *web* mail – Juno was the first web mail; Hotmail followed right after).

        > 16) sanskrit is the fasted language can be used to communicate super computers

        Sigh. This again originated from another piece of sloppy journalism from Forbes, a non-scholarly financial publication, rather than an academic Computer Science journal, from several decades ago when journalists did not understand computers very much, and silly people latched on to the claim ever since.

        I understand many programming languages and have some familiarity with Natural Language Processing (NLP)… enough to understand that such a claim is nonsensical. I recall trying to trace the original article. It reasoned something to the effect that because Sanskrit is a well structured language, it would be sensible for computers.

        It is true that Sanskrit would be much easier to parse than English, which is arguably the most mutated language ever (sense disambiguation in English is hard), since English draws from everywhere and is changing all the time (all languages in popular use do – well understood phenomenon for students of Linguistics). If we all spoke in dead languages like Sanskrit, or Latin for that matter, computers would have a much easier time to parse the intent of our sentences. But we don’t pick our human languages based on whats easy for computers (and it is absurd to even try to use *any* human language to efficiently program them now). And if we all for some reason widely used Sanskrit or Latin, they would end up exactly like English.

        > 14) Nuclear bomb: American scientist invented from the knowledge of Bramha asthra as explained in puranas, he even chanted bhagavatgita verses. There were records of nuclear warfare happened 5000BC in India.

        History channel, which is no longer about history, made some idiotic documentaries that promulgated ancient astronaut theories from crack pots, which is where I believe this author got this drivel from. Oppenheimer did have a copy of Bhagavad Gita and did quote from it though.

        The philosophical complexity of Indian culture was suddenly recognized in the 1800s, by the West, and everyone from Shopenhauer to Einstein, greatly cherished its texts, for the right reasons, and one can argue, seem to have understood the Indian texts for what they were, much better than nearly all Indians at that time (who largely chanted them as mere words and seemed mostly oblivious to the bold, open-minded, philosophical spirit behind them).

        In all these, we see the same phenomenon of naive nationalism I noted earlier – mock West’s interpretations of India, until someone says something nice… then treat it as the gospel truth, often just because the source is Western (Time, Forbes, History Channel).

        Charaka compares fine with Galen. I am frankly more impressed with Chanakya than Machiavelli. I did feel that these Indian historical figures were not given as much credit as they are due, in standard lectures on history (specialized Asian studies did seem to do better). I of course, did not see any conspiracy for that… just an understandable cultural blind spot. We can help fixing this as we get a better economy, and with it… better funded academia to bring these contributions forward, through further scholarly expeditions… comparing and contrasting contemporary cross-cultural intellectual developments, in much better detail, objectively, rather than this bombast.

        There is no us vs. them here. We cannot afford to not understand the West, at this point in history… and the West cannot afford to not understand us, at this point in history. We now live in a smaller world, increasingly on equal footing. So let’s explore each other, together.

        • Captain Mandrake

          Good post. Particularly the part about Sanskrit

        • In defence of Sanskrit linguists (esp. Pāṇini):

          When John Backus (of IBM) designed a formal structure for
          specifying grammar of computer languages (a landmark in computer
          science), call it «metalinguistics», he developed a framework and
          notation to go with it, that was later called «Backus Normal Form»,
          then renamed (at Donald Knuth’s insistence) «Backus-Naur Form».
          This was another step in the development of formal language
          systems, but it was very important as a rigidly specified language
          can be machine-interpreted and translated. Such languages use
          context-sensitive grammar (where the meaning of each word is
          shaped by its context), thus when the context rules can be formally
          specified, a rule-follower (commonly a computer, but also a human
          translator, for example) can exactly understand the meaning of the
          sentence. This is an application of Emil Post’s and others’ work on
          formal systems. Most modern computer languages are specified in
          this way (ALGOL68, FORTRAN, C, C++, Ada, you name it).

          Only it turned out that most of this work was replicating Pāṇini’s
          work from 400 BC! This man was a genius beyond belief—extremely far
          ahead of his time. In his frustration over the ambiguities inherent
          in the Vedic Sanskrit language of the day and the inaccurate
          chanting by young incompetent priests, he developed the entire
          theory of formal systems of language from scratch, even developing
          a formal notation that parallels Backus’ work (almost two millennia
          later). This was so surprising to European and American computer
          scientists that the «Backus-Naur Form» was proposed to be renamed
          «Pāṇini-Backus Form» in the sixties itself! Using this system, Shri
          Backus designed the first modern computer programming languages.
          Guess what language Pāṇini designed using *his* (substantially
          similar) system? Yup. Sanskrit! Pāṇini changed linguistics from
          Vedic Sanskrit to the Classical Sanskrit Era. Too bad he didn’t
          have any computers for which to design languages.

          Pāṇini’s Sanskrit may well be the world’s first formally-specified,
          unambiguous language that was designed to be so, based on an
          earlier Vedic language, also called Sanskrit. Consider Pāṇini’s
          version as Sanskrit version 2.0. It remained the only
          formally-specified language in the world for two millennia! To be
          honest, this was really a solution looking for a problem until
          computers came along with a need for unambiguous languages. So
          Sanskrit2.0 is definitely superior in design and unambiguity to
          *any* human language till date (including Latin). IF people
          commonly used Sanskrit, NLP wouldn’t be a hard problem. The
          difficulty is that humans have great difficulty learning and using
          language, so the more rigid a language, the less attractive it is.
          That’s the real reason for Sanskrit’s failure to achieve a mass
          market. The jealous Brahminical guardians may also have had a role
          to play.

          I’m hopeful for Esperanto though! Maybe I’ll get to learn it

          • My turn to say… Bravo :-). This is the stuff chain mails ought to be made of.

          • What’s more amazing is, that Pingala might have been Pāṇini’s brother!

            Pingala was the one who developed the world’s second Binary Numeral System
            (the first probably being the legendary Chinese work I Ching). The two
            brothers anticipated almost the entire foundation of computational
            linguistics, from high level language specification (Pāṇini) to machine
            language (Pingala). Unlike I-Ching, Pingala developed a notation for
            representing binary numbers and developed basic operations on them.

            What galls me is the *generations* of fools that followed these men and
            smothered their legacy in religious mumbo-jumbo. Just look how far their
            Pashtun descendents have fallen (yes they were Afghan/Pakistani according to
            modern national borders). And modern successors of those fools continue to
            hold all Indian (geographically) achievements to ransom.

            It’s not wrong to be proud of Indian achievements, but at least be proud of
            the *right* things!

          • Shekhar Sathe

            Where can I get to see the stuff (indicating their prescience)you attribute to Pingala and Panini with specifics? I will be obliged if you can provide some references and peer reviews. Thanks in advance.

          • Shekhar,

            Sure! Pāṇini’s name is quite well known in computer-language circles,
            thanks to a Letter to the Editor (CACM, March 1967) by P. Z. Ingerman,
            suggesting the Pāṇini-Backus Form moniker. This started it. You can find it


            Although, as I said, Pāṇini’s work deals with a context-sensitive language
            (CSL) (Sanskrit), while computer languages approximate context-free languages
            (CFL), the general theory of CSLs also applies to CFLs with exceptions, which
            is most computer programming languages in practice. The Gold Standard for
            interpretation of Pāṇini’s grammar in modern terminology (showing a
            system possibly of greater power than a finite state control system) is «From
            Pāṇinian SAndhi to Finite State Calculus» by M. D. Hyman, linked here:


            Unfortunately that paper is not free. Here is a more in-depth (and very
            recent) work presented at Coling 2012—«On Pāṇini and the Generative Capacity
            of Contextualized Replacement Systems» by G. Penn and P. Kiparsky. This paper
            goes into depth demonstrating the similarity and, more, importantly, the
            limitations of Pāṇinian analysis as compared to Backus-Naur, but also shows
            that this is necessary because he needed to define an existing human language
            with a large body of work. This paper is available at:


            It is important to note that grammar is actually what transforms a
            collection of words into a meaningful sentence. In most (all?) human
            languages, the order and positioning of words in a sentence are the most
            important criteria for grammar, but in Sanskrit, this is greatly minimised
            (though not eliminated) by extensive rules for suffixes and combination
            (sandhi). It is from sandhi that most of the power of the system derives. It
            is very difficult (or impossible) to construct a grammatically correct
            sentence which can have more than one derivation. One correct sentence has an
            unambiguous meaning. This unambiguity at once removes the need for fuzzy logic
            and statistical analysis from NLP, if conducted in Sanskrit. Of course,
            computer languages are even more simplified (at a grammar level), but that is
            because they do not have to adhere to any existing language standards; but
            Pāṇini was constrained to support an existing, *human* language.

            An interesting paper that shows how semantic analysis of a Sankrit
            sentence (using modern Sanskrit grammar) is relatively straightforward:
            «Knowledge Representation in Sanskrit and Artificial Intelligence» by R.
            Briggs (AI Magazine Volume 6, Number 1, 1985) The gist of the paper will be
            immediately apparent to anyone with a knowledge of the prototypical Sanskrit
            sentence—«Karta ne Karma ko Sampradaan ke liye Aapaadaan se le kar Sambandh ka
            Kiya» (rendered in Roman letters in Hindi), link here:


            A paper describing which aspects of Pāṇini’s (linguistic) work are
            relevant to modern computer programming languages is «Computer Simulation of
            Aṣṭādhyāyī: Some Insights» by Goyal et al, (Lecture Notes in Computer Science
            Volume 5402, 2009, pp 139-161), linked here:


            Fortunately, the full text of the article is freely available:


          • Shekhar,

            Regarding Pingala, his invention of a Binary numeral system (although
            useless in his own day, as he was applying it to describing poetic metre) is
            found in many computer science text books. However, the definitive reference
            is «Contributions to the History of Indian Mathematics» by Emch,
            Srisharan, and Srinivas, linked here:


            A simple and concise explanation is given by Dr Sridharan here:


            Pingala was also the discoverer of Mount Meru (Pasacal’s Triangle) and thence
            the Fibonacci series of numbers.

            Thanks for your interest,


          • Oops! Pasacal=>Pascal.

          • shekhar sathe

            Thanks Alex C. That was quite a handful. It is good to have specifics without which one tends to be apologetic like the Hindutva Apologist to whom we owe this thread!

          • Alex,

            If I am a billionaire, I will surely promote my chennai tamil as the world best computer language, which is a grammar free, phrase free etc… There are plenty of scholars and writers running for phd and topics with paid work and seeks attention from publics-promotion is easy? It matters with nothing when we see the important you plead at for sansksrit, since there is no basis in practical application or reach of its usage-A dead language?

          • pannaichan,

            I’m not sure I understand you completely, but I’ll try to clarify
            my position.

            > If I am a billionaire, I will surely promote my chennai tamil as
            > the world best computer language, which is a grammar free, phrase
            > free etc…

            Why? A living, thriving language with millions of speakers, a
            vibrant culture (though surrounded by the same obnoxious religions
            as the rest of India), a *huge* film industry, and a continuous
            stream of literary work from the legendary Thiruvalluvar to modern
            times, does not need *you* as a billionaire to promote it as a
            computer language(!), of all things. Do you think Tirukkural is
            somehow inferior or in need of any promotion? It is a LANDMARK work
            in any language, and it is Tamil pride and honour. It is not just
            *your* Tamil. I’m an Indian—it is *my* Tamil too. Do you think that
            just because I think highly of certain ancient Indian philosopher
            sages, that I somehow think that the *language* they worked in adds
            to or detracts from their greatness?

            > There are plenty of scholars and writers running for phd and
            > topics with paid work and seeks attention from publics-promotion
            > is easy? It matters with nothing when we see the important you
            > plead at for sansksrit, since there is no basis in practical
            > application or reach of its usage-A dead language?

            I’m not sure I get your point here. I did not talk about Sanskrit
            as a useful or vital language in itself (or, at least, as useful as
            other Classical languages like Ancient Greek or Latin), least of all
            for computer programming. It was, first and foremost, a *human*
            language, and has several limitations when directly applied to
            computer programming, as some of the papers I mention correctly
            pointed out, which you should know if you read them before
            slandering their authors. The main thrust of my argument was
            recognition of Pāṇini’s contribution to linguistics in general.
            That he applied his linguistic theory and methods to rationalising
            a pre-existing language—Sanskrit—was purely a happenstance. Things
            could have been different had he been born in Tamil Nadu.
            Similarly, Thiruvalluvar could very well have been a great Sanskrit
            poet and lawgiver had he been born in Varanasi. You would not think
            highly of Tirukkural in that case, if they were written in Sanskrit
            and called Sripadam? Put another way, would you not recognise Sir
            Issac Newton’s seminal contributions to Physics because they were
            written in Latin (the language of science in the day)? Would you
            not recognise Noam Chomsky’s linguistic work because it is in English?

            I’m very sorry to say this, but you came across as a language and
            regional chauvinist—while simultaneously mis-attributing your own
            bigotry to me.

            I’ll conclude with a couplet from Tirukkural, which is a very
            important thought against fatalism (and very rare for an ancient
            Indian Hindu to express so clearly):

            Even if Fate (or God) wills failure,
            Hard work brings reward. — Tirukkural 619

          • @Alex C.

            Yes, its my mistake that I have used chennai tamil in my post-because only tamilian knows the specialty of chennai tamil, others probably not. There are colloquial spoken styles followed different region of tamilnadu, among which chennai tamil is something crude and enjoyable to hear, that is what I said, it is grammar free and phrase free etc… And Tamil unique heritage is proven one, there are very old carbon dated leaflets are available to tamil, even older then the sanskrit.

            > It was, first and foremost, a *human*
            language, and has several limitations when directly applied to
            computer programming, as some of the papers I mention correctly
            pointed out, which you should know if you read them before
            slandering their authors.>

            There is no basis for this claim, since sumerian stone script cult is the only oldest known first and foremost language of human usage, is recorded so far. You have rightly said , I have not read your link, but yourself or your sankrit supporters must find another persons like panini or Pingala writings to equal the DNA computer developments, since it is fully based not on binary but 4 base (AGTC).

          • Dear pannaichan,

            >> It was, first and foremost, a *human* language, and has several
            >> limitations when directly applied to computer programming, as
            >> some of the papers I mention correctly pointed out, which you
            >> should know if you read them before slandering their authors.>

            > There is no basis for this claim, since sumerian stone script
            > cult is the only oldest known first and foremost language of
            > human usage, is recorded so far…

            Do you even know what «first and foremost» means? It is synonymous
            with «primarily». It does not mean «first» or «foremost». I know
            English is a strange, illogical language, but at least please use
            Wiktionary to your advantage before giving hilarious responses.
            Here, let me help you:


            In light of that, let’s see what claims there may not be any basis
            for (according to you):

            1. Sanskrit was primarily («first and foremost») a human language
            (as opposed to a computer language)
            2. It has several limitations when applied to computers
            3. Ergo, it cannot be used for computer programming.

            Yup, no basis for these claims at all.

            > You have rightly said , I have not read your link…

            I would ask you to read them, but I’ve a feeling you’d still not do
            it. They clearly explain how Sanskrit is *not* a computer language,
            only a (very meticulously defined) human language.

            > …but yourself or your sankrit supporters…

            There you go again with your bigotry. Do NOT attribute your
            language chauvinism to me, sir/ma’am. «Sanskrit supporters» indeed!
            *Your* being a Tamil zealot does not make *me* a Sanskrit booster.

            > must find another persons like panini or Pingala writings to
            > equal the DNA computer developments, since it is fully based not
            > on binary but 4 base (AGTC).

            This is irrelevant tripe, not worthy of a proper response.
            Linguistics doesn’t have anything to do with the numeric base of a

          • Appreciate your study. At least few people are still there who understand importance of our heritage.

      • Given Hindutvadi cultural chauvinism, I wouldn’t be surprised if some tried to do this in the near future:


  • Oh.. no.

    India’s culture is such a waste. I studied sanskrit for 6 exams in school. I now understand why Indian govt does not value it. All at a sudden, the viral Yoga caught the attention of Indian.

    .Now, I understand the rational_humanity eye is offering an compassionate mix angry look to the natioanlism biased entity. :)

    . But, the rationality this side too says if eating non-veg is too human, not being human to the neighbourhood is also equally humane.

    In any case, let not the post get moderated. Free thought is the foundation of rationality, and offering that freedom to express one’s thought should not be subjugated to moderation.

    I will revist the page soon..

    • Wow. 6 exams on Sanskrit! You must be an expert on Indian culture. You defintely have a license now to freely trash talk about it. I read Amar Chitra Katha. I am an expert too.

      If only you took 6 exams on English, you would have been an expert on Western culture and civilization too.

      … or at least be able to write sentences that the rest of us can decipher.

      > . But, the rationality this side too says if eating non-veg is too human, not being human to the neighbourhood is also equally humane.

      Whatever that means.

  • Dr. Gopalakrishnan may be an intellect or scientist, but he lacks some basic qualities of a civilised person not to harm your neighbour. He is creating a devided and violent community. He must stop.

  • The rantings and ravings of Dr. N. Gopalakrishnan again proves that those who make bombastic revelations or talk in a boastful way about their culture or religions are propagandists to the core.

    Only gullible fools would believe things that they say!

    In fact, such false and dubious parading of supposed Indian “achievements” of the past is nothing new. The Net is full of them. If you were to believe them, then our forefathers have discovered or invented everything that the current scientists are discovering or inventing!

    Therefore, I want to show you all another incredible example of such propaganda (pasted ‘as is’):

    1) Micro waves and radio waves: discovered JC BOSE but didnot want to take patent since it is universal, and didnot want to sell the patent aswell irrespective of pressure of the western people, later a western scientist after 2 years of the JC BOSE claimed he discovered it. All satelights, aeroplanes, mobiles phones, telivisions, radios are working from this. be proud of Indian

    (My comment: Although JC BOSE successfully conducted wireless experiments in 1894, it was David Edward Hughes (in 1879) who had first successfully done that.)

    2)Aeroplane: From vaimanika sashtra by saint bharadwaj, germans have translated to their language and discovered 26 important vital parts of the aeroplane, In briths raj days a marathi made a flight by following this shastra and successfully flew before wright brothers, since we were slaves those days we were opressed. Be proud of Actual India and be part of it, don’t be motivated by foreign forces.

    3)Water on the moon: ISRO during chandrayaan proved

    4)Geography: Our purans, aryabhatta and many more great saints have discovered way before 2500BC. Again due to our education system was controlled by the westerners those who graduate from those schools will ignore Indians effort like you. Be proud of India and be part of building the Bharath.

    5) Economics: Brother you don’t know about kautilya who has written Artha sashtra 2500BC, Entire world is following his findings and incorporated into economics. 50% of economics was given by kautilya. Be proud of India and be part of its glory.

    6) Mathematics: Brother we are the supreme in the field of mathematics, almost all matematical concepts has been developed by our ancestors. Eienstien said with out Indians and their mathematics science cannot prevail upwards even an inch. Be proud of India and be part of its glory.

    7)Surgery: Sushrutha –> father of surgery 3500BC, entire world is following his techiques and instruments almost all the hospitals, he is the inventor of plastic surgery. Be proud of Indian and contribute to its glory.

    8)Medicines: Charaka 2500BC, father of medicine, his techniques are following by the entire world. Be produ of INdia and be part of its glory.

    9) Astrology: Once again we are the pioneers in this field, successfully calculated velocites of planets, distances of planets, light velocity, number of planets, and its movement, existences of eclipses with accurate dating, calendar e.t..c,

    10)Email: invented by an Indian

    11)mail box: invented by an indian.

    12)pentium chip: invented by an Indian

    13)sixth sence technology: Invented by an Indian

    14) Nuclear bomb: American scientist invented from the knowledge of Bramha asthra as explained in puranas, he even chanted bhagavatgita verses. There were records of nuclear warfare happened 5000BC in India.

    15)Life of plants: JC BOSe

    16) sanskrit is the fasted language can be used to communicate super computers, NASA has its own sankrit university to explore more about puranas.shastras. Now 28% of americans voluntarily accepted sanata dharma which they were actually belogsto

    17) Boats: Indians are the first inventors of the boats 35000 BC, and they sailed , entire world has learned from India.

    18)Languages: Sanskrit is the mother of all languages in the world.

    19)Spiritually: India is the supreme when it comes to the subject of GOD, somany saints from all over the planet came to India for this subject, there were records of Jesus who stayed in India kashmir for 25 years and got his learnings and became vegetarian and went back to their land to teach his learnings from here. and again came back to India for enlightenment. see BBC Documentaries.

    20)Education: We were used to be the pioneers of the education system until the foreign invaders cruel invasions, Nalanda, takshashila universites are used to be the number one and first university all over the world, entire scholars from the world came to these institutions to study in the filed of all subjects, muslim rulers destroyed these universities.

    21)Art: Ajantha, ellora, and many more are wonders of the humanity, no one even to dare to recreate it.

    22)Monumnets: Even today entire world to come to india to see our archtectural glory like knark temple, mahabalipuram, ellora e.t.c,

    23)Mettalurgy: We are the pioneers, see the historical records.

    24) Wheel was invented in India. entire world runs on it.

    25) Marriage process started in India, entire world is following now.

    26)Law: Manu smrithi text as the root by entire world. Man english word came from him.
    Like this countless Boss.

    Don’t be pessimistic and don’t listen to the traitors or foreign forces who failed miserably during invasions are now trying to weed false knowledge to our fellow indians by the support of political parties in the form of conversions, bombings, rapes, abductions,riots e.t.c,, to destroy India.

    Now due to our political impotence we are behind in development. so elect a leader who really loves our mother land and want to make her proud. When Britishers came to India, they saw no unemlployment, no beggar, higly educated people, they quickly realized that the only way to destroy these people is by destroying their education system, they have looted all the money and assets and made us beggars. Now again they are making movies on Indians in the name of slumdog millionaire to defame again. Its our duty to protect our country and contribute to its glory. Dharmo rakshathi rakshitaha

  • Unknown achievements from yonder years …
    Don’t wipe away millions of tears

    How sad and tragic is the story of my country…..
    That we look for not true but fake glory

  • Good discussion going on here. One thing.Vivekananda says that, you go beyond scriptures and rituals. You search it. In this world, we all are one in some aspect. So take out the good things of the past, go on flowing with life. No reason to worry.
    I’m not sure if the first person who did get life in this world, ever realized the self. There is nothing out of the world. We have brains to think. Think and you will get it.

  • Awesome article. Simply loved it. I have personally taken part in undergraduate research in one of a similar hindutva brandishing “research” organizations. Relying on mythological pride and indulging in mindless mystical bullshit was high time rather than relying on actual research. Its high time students take action on their own to come out of this superstitious banner.

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