Hindu Contributions

"If there is one place on the face of this Earth where all the dreams of living men have found a home from the very earliest days when Man began the dream of existence, it is India."- Romain Rolland - French Philosopher 1886-1944.

Hindu Contribution aims at disproving the generally held belief that in Ancient times India had only been a land of spiritual development with modest achievements as far as material culture goes. In the opinion of many Westerners as well as some educated Indians, ancient India was only a land of sages, seers, Hermits and philosophers or Sadhus, Sanyasis, Rishis and Gurus as they are called. But though spiritual philosophies did flower in India, they were not the only contribution of India to human civilization.

The impression that India is only a land of spiritual development exists because India has been the birthplace of non-temporal values and attitudes like renunciation, meditation, the physico-psychic discipline of Yoga, the concepts of non-violence (Ahimsa), Equality among religions that has found its expression in our outlook of religious tolerance 'Sarva Dharma Samabhava', etc.

Even in today's world we see spiritual movements like Ramakrishna Mission, ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness), Chinmaya Mission, etc., originating in India and spreading Internationally. These movements flourish especially in the Western seem to countries. Thousands of westerners flock to India for spiritual enlightenment. The influence of Swami Vivekananda on the west is well known.

India has had a long tradition of spiritual development and since ancient times, foreigners especially the Greeks have been enamored of it. Many foreigners who came to India as invaders and traders embraced Indian religions like Buddhism and Hinduism and were absorbed intoIndian society. Apart from theGreeks (Yavanas), they included Persians (Para-shakas or Para-shikas - forerunners of

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present day Parsis), Huns (Hunas) and Mongols (Kushanas). Many emperors looked upon as Indians were actually of foreign origin. Notable among them were Milinda or Menander who was a Greek, Kanishka who was a Kushana (Mongol) and Rudradaman who was a Shaka (Scythian).

But, India also has a fair share in enriching the world's material culture. It is not well know that among other things; the distillation of perfumes, the making of dyes, the extraction of sugar, the weaving of cotton (muslin) cloth, and even the techniques of algebra and algorithm, the concept of zero, the technique of surgery, the concepts of atom and relativity, the principle of magnetism actually utilized in making a Mariner's Compass, the herbal system of medicine, the technique of alchemy, the smelting of metals.

Even the game of Chess, the martial art of Karate, etc., are to be found in ancient India and there are evidences which indicate that they might have originated here. But while doing this it has to be acknowledged that in the last millennium India has been a borrower of the ingredients of material culture.

But in antiquity when, with the exception of Greece and Rome, the West constituted the under-developed world, India had attained a high level of material culture, which was contemporary with the civilizations of Egypt and Mesopotamia. Upto the end of the first millennium A.D., India was way ahead of the developed countries of today.

All this is not being said here, with the intention of justifying the slackening of our material pragress, but to make it evident that deep in our history the inhabitants of this country have some great achievements to their credit.

But lost as they are in the hazy past, coupled with our country today being painted as a borrower of technology, expertise, commodities, etc., from the developed west, makes it doubly difficult for us to lay claim to the heritage, howsoever infinitesimal, that we have bequeathed to the world's culture in earlier times. In this channel we have taken a few of these issues and trace the roots of their origin, development and transmission the world over.


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