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INDIA'S UNIQUE CULTURAL HERITAGE

 


 

  -- by  Dr Ausaf Sayeed


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Again in the field of literature, the earliest writing can be traced to the Rig Vedic poetry in Sanskrit.  The Rigveda consists of 1028 suktas or hymns that are distributed in ten books called mandalas.  This is perhaps, the earliest poetry in the world. The two great Sanskrit epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata composed by Valmiki and Vyasa respectively, along with the Puranas, constitute the pillars of the Indian literature. The Manu Smriti (1st century BC) is the best illustrator of the Dharma-sastras or Smritis or the Hindu religious laws. Kalidasa, Bairavi, Sudraka, Vishnu Sharma, Dandin and others composed several literary masterpieces in the ancient times.


India
's contribution to the world was also immense in the field of astronomy, mathematics and Medicine. Aryabhatta was the first to state that the earth moves round the sun and that the eclipses are caused by the shadow of the earth falling on the moon. Aryabhatta's Aryabhatiya, Dasagitika-Sutra and Aryastasata belonging to the 5th century, Varahamihira's Pancha-siddhantika, Brahmagupta's Brahmasphuta-siddhanta and Khanda-khadyaka, Bhaskaracharya's Siddhanta-shiromani and Karana-kutuhala and Bhoja's Raja-mriganka are important ancient Indian texts on astronomy.


Ayurveda is the earliest school of medicine known to humans, which was consolidated 2500 years ago by Charaka, the 'Father of Medicine'. Another ancient Indian, Sushruta, who is considered as the 'Father of Surgery', is believed to have conducted complicated surgeries using over 125 different surgical equipments. Usage of anesthesia was also well known in ancient
India . Like-wise, detailed references to anatomy physiology, etiology, embryology, digestion, metabolism, genetics and immunity are found in many ancient Indian texts.


India
's most precious gift to the world is zero (0), which was referred to as Shunya in ancient texts. Algebra, trigonometry and calculus also came from India . One of the best-known achievements of the Indian mathematics is the decimal system. Its first occurrence was on a plate of the year 595 AD where the date 346 AD was written in decimal place-value notation. Aryabhatta, who calculated the value of π as 3.1416, is also credited with the creation of Algebraic analysis. Budhayana explained the concept of the Pythagorean Theorem way back in the 6th century. Brahmagupta's Brahma-Sphuta-Siddhanta has two chapters devoted to arithmetic, algebra and geometry. Bhaskara's Lilavati was for many centuries a standard work on arithmetic and mensuration in the East.  


The world's first university was established in Takshila in 700 BC, where more than 10,500 students from all around the world studied more than 60 different subjects. The
University of Nalanda , established in the 5th century BC, was perhaps the greatest centre of learning in ancient India . Described as "The Oxford University of Mahayana Buddhism", it offered wide range of subjects like literature, logic, grammar, medicine, philosophy and astronomy.  Sanskrit is the mother of all the European languages.  A report in the Forbes magazine of July 1987 described Sanskrit is the most suitable language for the computer software. Vaishali, in modern Bihar , is acknowledged as the World’s First Republic that had a duly elected assembly of representatives and efficient administration as early as 6th century BC.  


India
's culture and heritage is so rich and deep-rooted that it may take several days or even years to understand all its dimensions.  From the time immemorial India has fascinated many a world traveller like Fahien, Hiuen Tsang, Ibn Batuta, Alberuni, Ferishta, Vasco da Gama, Marco Polo and several others. Albert Einstein once said: "We owe a lot to the Indians, who taught us how to count, without which no worthwhile scientific discovery could have been made."  


The great German Indologist Max Muller said: "If I were to look over the whole world to find out the country most richly endowed with all the wealth, power and beauty that nature can bestow - in some parts a very paradise on earth - I should point to
India . If I were asked under what sky the human mind has most fully developed the choicest gifts, has most deeply pondered on the greatest problems of life, and has found solution of some of them, which well deserve the attention even of those who have studied Plato and Kant - I should point to India."


The following quotation of the great American philosopher and writer Will Durant sums up the divine land called India, thus "India was the motherland of our race, and Sanskrit the mother of Europe's languages; she was the mother of our philosophy; mother, through the Arabs, of much of our mathematics; mother, through the Buddha, of ideals embodied in Christianity; mother, through the village community, of self-government and democracy. Mother India is in many ways the mother of us all."

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[i] Dr Ausaf Sayeed;'Trends in Indian Culture and Heritage',  p.80, Har Anand Publications Pvt. Ltd, 2012, 579 pages


 


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