India's Contributions to Humanity
A user named "FrostHammer" commented on Salon.com:
"India is one giant open sewer with one billion poor people who shit in the streets and worship cows and rats and stare at blank walls for decades, finding 'enlightenment'...They cannot afford to eat meat even if their stupid religion allowed it."
The myth that people in India are starving because they will not kill the cows persists, even though it is comparable to saying people in Latin America are impoverished because they will not kill the unborn.
In a detailed study of cows in West Bengal, Stewart Odend'hal of the University of Missouri found that far fro depriving humans of food, cows eat only inedible remains of harvested crops (rice hulls, tops of sugarcane, etc.) and grass.
"Basically," he said, "the cattle convert items of hardly any direct human value into products of immediate utility."
India's past economic and food crises were often due to occasional severe drought, political upheaval, a centralized government stifling free enterprise, a corrupt bureaucracy, or unnecessary industrialization, than with sacred cows.
This is true of a number of Third World countries.
A panel of experts at the Agency for International Development cited in the Congressional Record for December 2, 1980, concluded: "India produces enough to feed all its people."
Raising animals for food is a waste of resources!
Food expert Frances Moore Lappe, author of the 1971 bestseller Diet for a Small Planet, once said in a television interview that we should look at a piece of steak as if it were a Cadillac.
"What I mean," she explained, "is that we in America are hooked on gas-guzzling automobiles because of the illusion of cheap petroleum. Likewise, we got hooked on a grain-fed, meat-centered diet because of the illusion of cheap grain."
In his book Proteins: Their Chemistry and Politics, Dr. Aaron Altschul notes that in terms of calorie units per acre, a diet of grains, vegetables, and beans will support twenty times as many people than a meat-centered diet.
A report submitted to the United Nations World Food Conference concurs:
"The overconsumption of meat by the rich means hunger for the poor. This wasteful agriculture must be changed -- by the suppression of feedlots where beef are fattened on grains, and even a massive reduction of beef cattle."
"India is one giant open sewer with one billion poor people who shit in the streets and worship cows and rats and stare at blank walls for decades, finding 'enlightenment.'"
In his 1980 PBS miniseries, Cosmos, Dr. Carl Sagan said if we are to revere a power greater than ourselves, does it not make sense to revere the sun? "Our ancestors revered the sun, and our ancestors were far from foolish."
Christians in the West, enjoying the past five hundred years of secular social progress (all of which goes against the Bible), should be honest enough to admit they can learn from the so-called "pagan" religions and civilizations before them.
A letter writer to my local paper years ago similarly claimed, like FrostHammer, that because “intellectually enlightened Western European Christians came to America 400 years ago,” America does not “resemble Laos, India, Ethiopia or Iran,” but instead possesses “the cities and the institutions that are the envy of the world.”
This statement appears to be based more on prejudice than on fact.
There have been numerous civilizations throughout history; many were learned in the arts, sciences, humanities and metaphysics.
Athens, for example, was a democracy devoted to human excellence in mind and body, to philosophy, and to the cultivation of the art of living.
While Christianity kept the West in the Dark Ages for over a millennium, the civilizations in Asia were flourishing.
Hindu historian A. Kalyanaraman supports this observation by citing evidence from the principle Hindu scriptures, known as the Vedas, as well as the testimony of Megasthenes, who journeyed from the Greco-Roman world to India during the 3rd century BC.
Kalyanaraman finds a great deal of political freedom and equality in ancient India, where social mobility was acknowledged.
The Vedas describe numerous saints and sages who were of low birth, but were considered by their virtue to have been raised to the highest status.
The Greek Megasthenes observed:
“The law ordains that none among them under any circumstances be a slave; enjoying freedom, they shall expect the equal right to it which others possess...
"All Indians are free and not one of them is a slave. The Indians do not use even aliens as slaves; much less a countryman of their own.”
The earliest moral and legal codes (Dharma-sastras and Niti-sastras) originated in India, as did the earliest representative institutions (Sabha and Parishad).
A modern Western text, India: Yesterday and Today, also says, “the four orders...of Hindu society...were classes in the Western sense rather than castes in the Indian manner.”
Long before Columbus’ era, India had a reputation throughout the world for its opulence. “The part of India known as Malabar,” wrote Marco Polo, “was the richest and noblest country in the world.”
Kalyanaraman writes that Egypt traded ivory, precious stones, gold and sandalwood with India, while Rome traded Indian spices—mostly cinnamon and cassia.
The Sanskrit literatures known as the Puranas mention sandalwood from Malaysia. Ancient India’s epic poem, the Mahabharata, even compares the women of the Mediterranean to the goddesses of the heavenly planets.
The Rig Veda, one of four Vedas, refers to metallurgy. The Vedas also refer to mining iron ore, copper, brass and bronze. By the 6th century AD, India was far ahead of Europe in industrial chemistry.
The Hindus were masters at calcination, distillation, sublimation, steaming, making anesthetics, soporific powders, metallic salts, compounds and alloys.
India was producing steel during the era of Alexander. Centuries later, steel would be introduced to Europe by the Muslims.
Jivaka (6th century BC) was adept at surgical operations such as trepanning of the skull, abdominal openings to cure hernia, etc.
Panini’s classical work on grammar, the Ashtadhyani contains a comprehensive list of parts of the body (human anatomy) as well as rare and common diseases.
He further describes ligaments, sutres, lymphatics, nerve plexus, adipose and vascular tissues, mucous and synovial membranes with astonishing accuracy.
Susruta dealt with surgery, obstetrics, dieting, baths, drugs, infant feeding, personal hygiene and medicinal education. He also understood the process of digestion and the functions of the stomach and liver.
Bhavamisra, in 1550, detailed the circulation of blood in a book written on anatomy and physiology, a century before the West.
Susruta described cataract surgery, hernia, cesarean section, the dissection of cadavers and the use of skin grafts to repair a torn ear.
Rhinoplasty (fixing a broken nose) was a common practice among Indian physicians. A drug called “sammohini” was used as an anesthetic.
Ancient Indians were experts in plastic surgery until the 18th century. They knew the importance of taking a pulse. They were aware that mosquito bites transmit diseases as far back as the 6th century BC.
Square roots and cube roots and the “Pythagorean” theorem are mentioned in the Sulbha Sutras of Bodhayana. (700 BC)
Bodhayana also calculated the areas of triangles, circles, and trapezoids and determined pi = 3.14136 when measuring and constructing temple altars.
Aryabhata (5th century AD) drew up a table of sines and provided India with a system of trigonometry more sophisticated than that of the Greeks.
Ancient mathematical texts such as the Jyotisha Vedanga dealt with geometry, fractions, quadratic and cubic equations, algebra, permutations and combinations.
In the West, we have been taught to call our base-ten system of numeration (which replaced Roman numerals) “Arabic numerals.”
India gave the world the base-ten numerical system, our modern numerical script, and (many thanks to the Buddhists!) the concept of zero as a placeholder and a numerically recorded quantity.
Indian mathematics came to the West through the Arabs. The Arabs themselves called mathematics “Hindisat,” or “Indian art.”
Before Newton, Bhaskara (1150 AD) was well-acquainted with the principles of differential calculus and the concept of infinity.
Astronomers such as Vachaspati (800 AD) anticipated the foundations of solid coordinate geometry centuries before Descartes.
They also explained the movement of celestial bodies in terms of the earth’s rotation and motion about the sun. Charaka, a physician from the 7th century BC, described the wave motion of light, had a calendar of 12 lunar months and classified stars into zodiacal constellations.
India had rockets in the late 18th century; they were even used in military battles against the British. This generated interest in rocket technology in England.
The Indian people built “iron forts and thousand pillared halls” and were described by observers as adorning themselves in silk, wool, linen and cotton.
For thousands of years, India has enjoyed music, orchestral bands, dance, song, stage acting and all the other fine arts.
A. Kalyanaraman claims that in comparison to other parts of the world, slavery was virtually nonexistent. He admits there were various forms of indentured servitude, but says they weren't as brutal as those in the West.
Kalyanaraman further insists that the whole of Southeast Asia received most of its culture from India. India gave the world rice, cotton, sugarcane, spices and chess.
Indian philosophy and metaphysics can be found in Pythagoras, Plato, Plotinus, Emerson, Thoreau, and Schopenhauer.
History must not be written from a Western, colonialist perspective. These are just some of India’s contributions to humanity.
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