Author: C Dwarakanath
Bhagwan Das/Several Contributors
Publisher: Publication Division
ISBN/UPC (if available): 9788123018980
Little is known about the origins of Plastic Surgery. It is certainly not a modern achievement. Centuries ago ancient medico experts like Dhanvantari, Caraka and Susruta discovered not merely various medicines of different potencies but also introduced plastic surgery for the handicapped or the wounded soldiers.
No less important was the contribution by Indian mathematical giants like Aryabhata whose works are a fore-runner to any study by the modern astronomers, scientists and physicists.
Who these seers were and what they contributed to mankind are still clouded in the mist of antiquity. This book makes an effort to unfold their purposeful life with the objectives they achieved.
The objective of the series is to offer the general reader authentic accounts of the life and work of the great figures since the earliest times who have contributed in large measure to the culture and thought of India and influenced the mind and life of its people. The series includes seers and philosophers, poets and dramatists, mystics and religious leaders, writers on science, aestheticians and composers.
The books are intended for the average reader who is keen to learn more about the past but who has no knowledge of details and is not so interested in finer academic issues.
FROM THE BOOK PREFACE:
We are glad that soon after the volume on the philosophical system; we are able to bring out the volume on the writers of science in ancient India. While the former volume is important, for emphasizing the ultimate philosophical basis of all Indian thought and culture, the present volume is significant, especially in the present times, for drawing attention to the contributions of ancient India to the scientific and technical fields.
As suggested by H. J. J. Winter', the very belief is one Divine cause and the cosmic law, whether of the Vedic Rta or Taoist way is a scientific hypothesis, and the theory of cause and effect and of fundamental laws and order in nature, are forerunners of the discovery of scientific laws. It is significant in this respect that science and technology had an ancient history in India as these were developed as ancillary subjects of the Veda, the vedangas: phonetics, grammar, prosody and etymology to preserve and understand the Vedic texts, and astronomy, inclusive of mathematics and geometry, for the determination of the correct times of the seasonal and other rites and rituals and for the construction of sacrificial altars of different shapes (Jyotisa and Kalpa).
A similar group of technical subjects were developed as subsidiary Veda, medicine called Ayurveda or science of life, architecture, military science including the manufacture of weapons, and the arts of music and dance. Every kind of useful art and branch of technical knowledge was cultivated as is borne out by another group forming part of the subject of general study in ancient India called the 'Sixty-four arts'(Catuassasti Kalas). On some scientific and technological subjects, there are also separate Sanskrit texts.
In modern times, scholars, particularly Indian scientists like the late P. C. Ray and later, Datta and Singh, started the collection and interpretation of the materials for the study of the sciences in India in chemistry, mathematics etc. Later, some western scientists interested in the history of science, for example, Joseph Needham and H. J. J. Winter wrote on the development of science in Asia, and the value of their study, as a complement to the history of science in Greece, Egypt and West Asia. Now in the Ministry as well as outside in the country, Indian scientists have organized systematic work on the history of Indian sciences.
In the series presented by us, we have selected two of the sciences and technical subjects which had been developed in ancient India more than the others, namely the medical and mathematical sciences (Ayurveda and Jyotisa), which are also known to have spread far and wide and to have definitely influenced the growth of these sciences in other parts of the world. Western medical science had derived much from Ayurveda in surgery and surgical instruments and the Indian numerals and decimal system are accepted as inventions of the Indian mind. These two are also still studied and practiced widely and both in the Ministry and in WHO, the Ayurveda has gained recognition.
In the accounts of Indian medicine, we have concentrated on the three greatest names, the founders of the science, Dhanvantari, Caraka and Susruta; similarly, for Jyotisa, we have selected the three foremost writers, Varahamihira, Aryabhata and Bhaskaracarya. The chapters here have been written by scholars who have specialised in these branches and their authoritative writings provide us with adequate, competent and reliable expositions of the contributions of these six outstanding figures in the history of ancient Indian science.