In The Cultural Heritage of India first published in 1937 as Ramakrishna Centenary memorial, India's contributions to Science, both past and present, were confined to a small section- Section III of Volume III. Only nine articles were devoted to the subject covering the following areas: science and religion, Hindu astronomy, Vedic mathematics, mathematics in modern India, the spirit and culture of Ayurveda botany in India- past and present, India's contribution to Chemical knowledge, India's contribution to modern physics, and the scope and achievements of Hindu astrology. When the revised edition, of the Heritage was planned to comprise several volumes to take stock more fully of India's contributions in various fields of intellectual activity, science was planned initially to be disposed of by a few articles, as in the first edition, to form a small part of one of these volumes. As the search of scholars and the preparation of articles progressed, it became soon apparent that the original plan of a few articles stowed away in an inconspicuous part of a volume would hardly do justice to India's remarkable heritage in science and technology during the ancient, medieval, and modern periods. The result in the present volume in which an attempt has been made to present the growth of science and technology during these three historical periods.
The volumes has been divided into two part- I dealing with the ancient and medieval periods, that is, form prehistoric times up to A.D. 1800; and Part II with the modern period from A.D. 1800 onwards. Regarding the latter, a problem arose as the terminus ad quem. The year of independence was the obvious choice inasmuch as the very character and range of science underwent a profound change after independence compared to what prevailed during the colonial period. So, the story of most of the scientific activities which started prior to 1947, i.e. during the nineteenth century and the early part of the twentieth has been carried up to independence, with minor adjustment of data for the post-independence era. But in a few areas like atomic and nuclear energy, space, etc. in which the main thrust was after 1947; attempt has been made to incorporate major post-independence developments. Without these transgressions our account of modern period would not have been realistic.
A more or less common pattern has been followed in the selection of subjects for the two parts, namely, exact sciences- mathematics, astronomy, physics and chemistry; bio-sciences- botany, zoology, and medicine; earth sciences; and technology- agriculture having been treated as part of technology. Three of the articles published in the first edition of the Heritage, namely, 'Vedic Mathematics' by the late Bibhutibhusan Datta; 'Botany in India- Past and Present' by the late Girija Prasanna Majumdar; and 'Astronomy in Ancient India' by the late P.C. Sen Gupta, have been reprinted in part I of this volume. The story of mathematics has, however, been completed by a supplementary account of post-Vedic mathematics up to the end of the medieval period, and for astronomy, in which P.C. Sen Gupta finished off with Bhaskara I, a separate paper had to be added to cover the medieval period after Bhaskara I, on which a considerable amount of work has recently been done. Part I also includes several new areas such as physics and mechanics, zoology, mining, shipbuilding, and engineering and architecture. A new comprehensive article on Ayurveda its internationalism and its strength through cross-culture interchange- have been emphasized through the last article of this Part.
The late Prof. P. Ray, one of the editors of this volume, before he was incapacitated by age, edited most of the articles of Part I with meticulous care, besides contributing his own papers on chemistry and zoology. We place on record our deep appreciation of his contributions.
The modern period, it is needless to say, is fraught with problems different from those typical of the ancient and the medieval periods. Unlike Europe, modern sciences did not develop in India from her traditional sciences. These sciences arrived in India with the European Jesuit missionaries, fortune-seekers, and colonists from the eighteenth century and from still earlier times. They included medical men, naturalists, engineers, mathematicians, botanists, and like. The Jesuit mission under S. Francis Xavier. Although they were primarily interested in proselytizing activities, they made important contributions to geography, philology, and other areas of study. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, several members of this order - Johann Grueber, Albert d'Orville, Noel, Mandeslo, Pimentel, Calmette, Bucher, Barbier, Boudier, and Joseph Tieffenthaler- determined the latitudes and longitudes of different parts of India from where they operated.
This is the first and it Present the only systematic, and so far as it goes, authoritative encyclopaedia of Indian culture. The printing and the get-up are simply superb.- The Philosophical Quarterly, India.
One of the most notable enterprises of its kind yet attempted in any Asiatic country reached fruition in India recently with the publication of three volumes in which a survey is made of the whole field of Indian religion, history, and culture.- The Straits Times, Singapore, S.S.
The cultural Heritage of India is a monumental compendium of the treasures of Indian thought of centuries.- Romain Rolland.
The volumes are a contribution of the highest value to all students of Indian thought.- Professor A.B. Keith, Edinburgh.
I feel positive that the publication of these volumes will prove to be of great service not only to India, but also to the rest of the world, where ignorance of India and Indian culture has been a very great obstacle to the due appreciation of the part played by India and Indians in the civilization and progress of the world.- General J.B.M. Hertzog, sometime Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa.
A work that is encyclopaedic in scope
. The vigour with which India is asserting her individuality and cultural importance points towards a renaissance that will enrich not only India, but the rest of the world as well.- The New York Times, New York.
We get from this encyclopaedic book the impression of a people who at their best display the most exquisite refinement of feeling, the subtlest grace, the nicest delicacy
. And it may happen that it will be to India, as well as to Palestine, that we shall have to look for the spirit which will unite men in building a Kingdom of God Upon earth.- The Times Literary Supplement, London.
From the Jacket
THE PRESENT volume is devoted to a study of India's work in the filed science and technology. Readers will find with surprise that her achievements in this field are by no means negligible. There are thirty-two articles on the subject, all written by competent scholars. The articles, if not exhaustive, give a fair idea of how the Indian genius, not content with the subjective quest, has also turned its gaze on the objective world.
THE FIRST volume, with an introduction by Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, includes contributions by thirty-one scholars about early Indian life and culture. It traces the growth of the two great Indian ideals-unity in diversity and divinity of man (pp. lxiv+ 652 & 9 illustrations).
THE SECOND volume, with an introduction by Dr. C. P. Ramaswami Aiyar and contributions from thirty-eight scholars, reaffirms India's ideals and shows how they bind together diverse races into a common pattern (pp. xxviii + 738).
THE THIRD volume, with an Introduction by Dr. Surendranath Dasgupta and contributions from thirty-five scholars, presents Indian philosophy in its different aspects. Again a thread of unity is discernible among them (pp. xxi + 695 & 6 illustrations).
THE FOURTH volume has an Introduction by Dr. Bhagavan Das and contributions from forty-four scholars. It is a study of Hindustan and India's other religions (pp. xix + 775 & 3 illustrations).
THE FIFTH volume carries and Introduction by Dr. K. M. Munshi and contributions from fifty other scholars. It deals with the literary heritage of India right from the Vedic times. The volume elaborately brings out the basic unity of Indian culture and civilization through the fusion of Sanskrit and Sanskritic languages with the Dravidian, Austric, and Sino-Tibetan languages (pp. xxv + 839).
THE SIXTH volume, with an Introduction by Dr. Raja Ramana and contributions from twenty-nine other distinguished scientists, presents a connected account of India's achievements in science and technology (pp. xx+ 550 & 25 illustrations).
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