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Indic Contributions to World Science

Invitation for Book Projects

Notes on:
Indian History of Science and Technology Seminar
India International Center, Delhi. January 2 - 6, 2003.
Sponsored by The Infinity Foundation.

Invitation for Book Projects


For an overview of the foundational thesis on which this project is based, please read the paper titled "Traditional Knowledge Systems" posted at the following web site:



  • India's scientific heritage, besides its philosophical and cultural legacy, needs to be properly understood. The aim is not inspired by chauvinism, but to understand the genius of Indian civilization better. This would overhaul the current assessment of India's potential, and give its people a better rooted place in history.
  • To correct the portrayal of the History of Science, the History of Ideas, mainstream accounts of World History, anthropology and culture. This entails emphasizing to scholars and educators that TKS should be included, especially India's achievements and contributions to world science that have been very significant but unappreciated.
  • To include Traditional Knowledge Systems in economic planning, because they are eco-friendly, sustainable, labour rather than capital intensive, and more available to the masses. This should be done in parallel with the top down 'modern' scientific development using westernized 'globalization', as the two should co-exist and each should be used on the basis of its merits.

Basically this is the philosophy behind the TKS book projects sponsored by the Infinity Foundation.

The following book projects have been commissioned or are under negotiation.

List of Proposed Book Titles

First Tranche:

1. Ancient Iron Technology – Vibha Tripathi
2. Traditional Indian Concepts of Time – CK Raju
3. Traditional Indian Textile Technology – Charu Smita Gupta
4. Ancient Zinc Technology in India – JS Kharakwal
5. Harappan Architecture & Civil Engineering – JP Joshi
6. Traditional Hydraulics & Water Management – R. Hooja

Second Tranche:

1. Traditional Forestry & Ecology Management
2. The Harappan Technology and its Legacy
3. Traditional Herbal Medicinal Systems
4. Ancient Ship Building & Navigation
5. Chalcolithic Technology
6. Traditional Indian Martial Arts
7. Sociology of History of Science
8. History Ancient Indian Astronomy
9. Tribal Technology
10. History of Ancient Indian Mathematics
11. Science & Technology in Ancient India (1000 BC - 500AD)


The books produced under this project will have the copyright in the name of the Infinity Foundation, but in lieu of the royalty the authors will get $ 2000/ – in installments; and up to $1000/ – will be reimbursed towards artwork and travel connected with the book project. Further, $500/ – will be paid if the book Mss is delivered within the time limits to the satisfaction of an international Editorial Board. Normally about 18 months will be given for completion of the Mss of the book. All the book projects would be screened by an international Editorial Board, which alone will decide if the book is to be published or not. Authors would be issued guidelines to maintain uniformity.

Stage I: Authors would be required to submit their book project, with chapter scheme, of about 15 pages. If the General Editors approve the synopsis, the Infinity Foundation would sign an agreement with the author and pay $500/ – as advance.

Stage II: The final Book Mss would be evaluated by the Editorial Board to examine if the Mss is worthy of publication. It may send the Mss back to the author for revision. If the Ms is rejected by the Editorial Board, the Infinity Foundation would have the right to use the material in any way it deems fit in lieu of the payments made to the author.

Further correspondence in this connection may be addressed to the General Editors:
1. Prof. D.P. Agrawal Email: abhash_dp@rediffmail
2. Dr. Rajiv Malhotra Email: rajiv.malhotra@att.net

Notes on:
Indian History of Science and Technology Seminar
India International Center, Delhi. January 2 - 6, 2003.
Sponsored by The Infinity Foundation.

I). The following were agreed at the end of the meeting as follow up items:

1. List of items for an encyclopedia: Each author to send RM/DP a list of the major accomplishments of India and the key Eurocentric falsities to be refuted, in his/her area of specialty. Due in 30 days. 2 pages. This will first be used for a web based encyclopedia of summary items, and later get turned into a printed version.

2. Each person to send a new outline for the web site, about his/her book, so we don't give away too much publicly. Have a separate password protected site with review drafts. Each scholar must quote the specific false statements to be refuted.

3. Distribute draft of manuscript: (i) Send in 30 days what each person will deliver and when; (ii) Send 4 weeks in advance of December meeting to everyone for reading.

4. Each scholar must figure out requirements for draftsman/artist and computer graphics expert. Maps – lets get retired maps draftsmen from archeological survey. Invest in high quality graphics: time line diagrams; logic flows; schematics of processes; architectural and structural diagrams.

5. Each scholar to get permission and rights from sources, as required.

6. Photographs should be of very high quality – professionally.

7. In case of any additional request for research assistant and/or cost of photos and art work – please submit.

8. Send RM a list of items he should try to get photocopies for you from Princeton University library.

9. Technical editing ¹ regular social sciences/ literature editing. Must specify in contract with publisher that we have final sign-off right and that he should provide technical editors with experience.

10. Need to bring in evidence from Central Asia and other surrounding regions with trade, etc. Key is to examine the major interactions with foreigners in various encounters.

11. Group must clarify the policy that texts that are of disputable date or location will not be used as the basis for chronology, BUT will be mentioned as interesting correlates although unresolved.

12. Develop conventions on: Indian Subcontinent not South Asia; Middle East vs. West Asia; BC or BCE; diacritical marks; jati not caste; etc.

13. Consider new volumes on tools, architecture, coin metallurgy (book by Bannerjee on coin technology – get rights to republish; Balasubramaniam knows); metallurgy of idols; ceramics technology;..)

14. Consider doing 10 volumes w/ color pictures (Steve Rosen book style) on major Indian Science/Tech accomplishments – Indian Pioneering and Major Contributions to the World:

  • Iron Pillar of Delhi
  • Metallurgical Pioneering of India
  • Vijayanagar Empire lake for water harvesting that is a massive project.
  • Mathematics and its export.
  • Indus-Sarasvati Civilization
  • India as mother of Pan-Asian Civilization

15. Consider a separate "Encyclopedia of Eurocentrism and India" – could be in Westology project.

16. DP: Has Planning Commission reference that herbs are a $60 billion market worldwide with India having only 0.3% share. He will send the entire report to RM.

17. DP: Alkujkar has Sanskrit references on science and technology. Will follow up.

18. December 10-13, 2003: follow up meeting of entire team, hopefully with some advisors/editors/reviewers.

II). Notes from talks and discussions pertaining to individual scholars. These are just RM's notes, and by no means exhaustive):

Water – Rima Hooja:

  • Julia Hagewald's Oxford thesis on water in south Asia is very good.
  • Ganga metaphor for flowing water.
  • 4 aspects: physical; textual; cultural including rituals and oral narratives; and worldview.
  • Persian Wheel is pre-Mughal and indigenous, even though Irfan Habib and ICHR encyclopedia of science/tech calls it Persian.
  • Vijayanagar 14th / 15th CE massive lake with largest volume of construction material.
  • Raja Bhoj 1014-1053 massive lake, still shows up in satellite images.
  • Sudarshan lake in Gujerat built in late 4th BCE Chandragupta. Repaired 150 CE by his grandson.

Time – CK Raju:

  • Clash of epistemologies led to math wars in Europe because of difficulties in understanding mathematics imported from India.
  • First math war in Europe: from 10th century to 16th century.
  • Second math war: over infinitesimals and calculus; lasted 3 centuries from 17th C. to 19th CE.
  • Third math war: computational vs. formal math now starting.
  • "Math wars and the epistemic wars" – his paper is available.
  • He has many essays that we should post on a site – give him a special site for his collection. He should send these to RM as attachments.
  • He has papers to how that 'zero' took 500 years to get accepted in Europe and was considered heresy at first. Indivisibles were also an Indian import into and led to real numbers, and the notion of infinitesimal. His work is an example of U-Turn and Westology. This could also be a separate volume on the history of export of Indian mathematics from 1000 CE onwards. CK for follow-up.

Textiles – Charu Gupta:

  • Can tools with many possible uses be assumed to be for textiles arbitrarily.
  • Wants funds for assistants for data collection (Rs. 120,000), photographer, draftsmen, etc.
  • Must also add references from Rome, Greece, etc. about Indian textiles.
  • British colonial impact on the destruction of India's textiles – big item of historical importance.
  • We should not only focus on the textile tools and ignore the trade of textiles.
  • Must read Needham's textile works. Must use Ahmedabad Textile Museum experts. Get their list of publications.

Early Agriculture – P. Singh (proposal):

  • Overwhelmed by the task. Lucknow based K. S. Saraswat will be his partner; getting resistance from his management, so it will be a silent role for now.
  • Consider others who are big names in field.
  • Include section on relationship of agriculture to: (i) concept of time and other cosmology; and (ii) rituals and festivals – most festivals are agriculture related.

Iron metallurgy – Balasubramaniam (proposal):

  • Sheffield steel was really Indian crucible steel. Best brains of Europe worked for years to learn how Indians made crucible steel, and in this process metallurgy was developed in Europe.
  • Deogarh temple 600 AD has hundreds of iron objects.
  • Delhi iron pillar – 410 AD
  • Eran (Madhya Pradesh) 500 AD iron clamp.
  • He will send RM CD for web posting.
  • Tripathi to do pre 5th century, and Bala to do 5th CE on.
  • Bala's work must be supplemented with historical, chronological.
  • Iron pillar has measurements in exact inches.

Iron II – Vibha Tripathi:

  • 1320 BCE iron pillar in Turkey has Vedic devas/devis. Given Vedas/Avesta similarities, this led to theory of diffusion of iron and Vedas to India. Rigveda mentions ayas about 10 times – e.g. Indra's horse had the same color as asay. (Assumed to be iron; but Tripathi disagrees because there is also Krishna-ayas, etc in texts.) Also, was iron found in neighboring countries, hence assumed to be from there.
  • Refuting the above, Tripathi finds that iron in India is much earlier. Baluchistan cemeteries have iron objects. Some earlier iron in western Asia was meteorite material sculptured as rock/stone carvings, and with no metallurgical processing at all.
  • Also, iron could be by-product of copper technology, and this could be likely origin in India, because copper was well-known technology in many parts of India.
  • Smelting furnace dated 800 BCE found in Naikund, India.
  • Damascus steel swords, now found in museums were made in India.
  • She should not ignore the Muslim period and Vijaynagar..
  • Would like a post-doc for a year to fill these gaps.

Zinc – Kharakwal:

  • From natural sources, up to 28% zinc content in brass is attainable, without first separating zinc by distillation and then mixing it into an alloy. This older method of <28% was prevalent in many parts of the world before India.
  • But a major breakthrough was India's discovery of zinc distillation, whereby the metal was vaporized and then condensed back into pure metal.
  • This happened as early as 400 BCE. It remained unknown outside India for a long time. The first time it was learnt from India by Europe was in England in the 1700s. India was exporting zinc for centuries on an industrial scale.
  • Retorts used for the distillation are found in very large numbers in Rajasthan.
  • The alloys could now be made with zinc component based on the required properties. For instance, strength and durability increase with higher zinc component. The alloys with copper look like gold when the zinc is >28%.
  • Most early brass has under 10% zinc. For the first time, >10% zinc is found in Taxila in 400 BCE. While Taxila was doing it on small scale, it was Jawar, Rajasthan where it became industrialized on a large scale.
  • 1100 BCE in Dariba and Agucha in 6th C BCE, and Jawar in 5th c. BCE for mining of zinc. These mines have pots and other objects of these dates, and the mining could be even older.
  • 3 major items are proven in his report: (i) zinc distillation and metallurgical usage was pioneered in India; (ii) industrial scale production was pioneered in Rajasthan; (iii) England transferred the technology of zinc in 1736. British metallurgy documents do not mention zinc at all prior to this transfer. Yet, today Eurocentric accounts state that Indians did not have industrial production of zinc.

Harrappan architecture and civil engineering – Joshi:

  • All bricks are of ratio 1:2:4 regardless of size, location and period.
  • Over 800 of the 1100 known sites so far are in India.
  • Town planning – many pioneering items.
  • Tandoors (only in pre-Harappan level); roti made by chakla-belan; fire pits different than those that were functional cooking fires; tava (skillet);
  • Evidence of stairs for multiple storied buildings.
  • Different components of towns – citadel, upper town, lower town; fortified.
  • Separate worker quarters near copper smith furnaces.
  • Geometric compass, linear scale made of ivory; plumb bob; A. K. Roy – wrote on Geometrical Instruments of the Harappans.
  • Ritualistic places such as fire altars were on the Eastern side of a settlement.
  • Granaries in Mohenjo-Daro and Lothal – with ducts and platforms.
  • Sluice Gate at Lothal is very important item in the dock-yard: to maintain water level for loading/unloading despite tides.
  • Banawali – only place with moat all around it.
  • Dholavira – 2 large rock cut water tanks; dams on the river;
  • Drains – open and closed; cest pits; inspection chambers; Dholavira has 35 meters large drain. Benavali and Lothal also have drains. Small drains from bathrooms are in many places.
  • Wedge-shaped bricks used for wells so inner diameter is smaller than outer – also in Mesopotamia.
  • Kuntasi in Saurastra has a tower for either watchman or light house; similarly at Rojadi.
  • Kalibangan cemetery is towards the west, and wind direction is away from town.
  • Prithviraj time historians called the river Sarasvati.
  • Dholavira had dams for irrigation and diversion of water.

Shipbuilding and navigation – Sila Tripathi:

  • Malimo (pilot) Kanha is named by Vasco da Gama as the naval pilot who brings him to India.
  • Deep sea shipping existed in India contrary to Eurocentric portrayals – as contrasted against sailing close to the coast. Ships sailed to islands such as Andamans (2,000 years ago), Lakshdweep and Maldives. European scholars say that Indians had only coastal navigation.
  • Boat building by Portuguese was done in India and not in Europe. Arab sailors in medieval period got their boats in India. British banned Indian ship building.
  • Need to refute assertion that Indians lacked knowledge of sea winds and monsoons for navigation. But Kautila's shastras it says what times are good/bad for seafaring.
  • Must add Greek/Roman/SE Asia sources.
  • Must read the Indian Ocean trade literature.
  • CK Raju has thesis to refute European scholars – how they got cartography, etc. Raju agreed to write the purva paksha on Eurocentrism thesis, and also a skeleton argument to refute it. This must get written.

III). New Project Idea:

RM had a chat with Roddam Narasimha, Head of NIAS, Bangalore, who felt strongly that there was an URGENT need to do a simple Encyclopedia of Indian Science and Technology, because he was appalled to find that very genuine research on Indian contributions was being trashed by ill-informed Indians as "chauvinism." While we are all against exaggerations and chauvinism, it seems that mis-educated Indians have made a major international campaign to discredit any and all claims on behalf of our traditions. Therefore, he felt that while the impact of our series would take many years to materialize in the general public, he proposed a one-volume with the important hard facts on Indian contributions written authoritatively and with a solid editorial board. We both felt that 500 items in a single volume would be a great product. This is still in the exploratory stages. It seems that many Indian social scientists have sold out as mercenaries to the West.

IV). Agenda and Schedule – January 2-6, 2003:

** New Proposal

2-Jan Time Topic
Rajiv Malhotra 1400 Opening
D.P. Agrawal 1430 Intro
C.K. Raju 1500 General
Tea Break 1530  
Rima Hooja* 1600 Hydraulics
Discussion 1730  

3-Jan Time Topic
CK Raju* 930 Time
Tea Break 1100  
Discussion 1130  
Charu Gupta* 1200 Textiles
Lunch Break 1330  
Discussion 1430  
Tea Break 1530  
P Singh** 1600 Agriculture
Discussion 1730  

4-Jan Time Topic
Balasubramanyam** 930 Iron-I
Tea Break 1100  
Discussion 1130  
Hema shankar 1230 Publication
Discussion 1300  
Lunch Break 1330  
Vibha* 1430 Iron II
Tea Break 1600  
Discussion 1630  

5-Jan Time Topic
Jeewan* 930 Zinc
Tea Break 1100  
Discusion 1130  
JP Joshi* 1200 Harp Archit
Lunch Break 1330  
Discussion 1430  
Tea Break 1530  
Sila Tripati** 1600 Shipping-I

6-Jan Time Topic
Balram** 930 Shipping
Tea Break 1100  
Discussion 1130  
Misra 1200 General
Shanti 1230 General
Lunch Break 1300  
Conclusions 1400  
Close 1700