When India is one of the oldest civilizations of the world in which sciences and art flourished, Engineering and technology would also have been developed in this land.
Engineering and technology is the application of sciences for productivity of the people and progress of the land.
Some of the ancient Indian technological advancements have been in the areas of:
Controlled making of fire was the first major discovery. In India the first person to come up with the technology of making fire has a name to him –Atharvan.
The wheel was probably the next level of technological elevation. The potter’s wheel, the spinning wheel, the chariot wheel are some of the early mentions in the Indian texts which date back to many millennia.
The magnets were first explained in Europe by William H Gilbert and demonstrated to Queen Elisabeth I. In India we have the chemistry text Rasarnava which is over 1500 years old, in which 5 basic varieties of magnets are mentioned. They being:
- Bramaka– makes one move
- Chumbaka– catches iron with clutching effect – normal variety
- Karshaka– attracts the object
- Dharavaka– helps fire in melting metals – most powerful
- Romaka– causes hair stirring in metals – fine variety.
These magnets were further classified into 90 varieties.
The notion of electricity is discussed in good detail through the Indian texts in:
Rig Veda Samhita
Lenses were invented by Roger Bacon in 1292 CE. Approximately 2000 years prior to this time lenses have been described and its uses discussed by Gautama in his Nyahadharshana. The description being:
That which cannot be perceived with naked eyes can be perceived with the help of instruments with lenses made of Kacha (glass), Abhrapatala (Mica), Sphatika (crystal), substances.
The uses of lenses have been discussed both in Vaimanika Sastra and in Ayurvedic texts of Charaka.
The native Indian languages have got specific terminologies for various engineering and technological needs. The most popular of these being the terms:
- Mantra– formula
- Yantra– design structure of materials devices
Tantra – techniques of internal operating mechanisms.
This interpretation of these 3 terms thus helps us to understand from their technological application perspective.
The Samarangana Sutradhara is a compilation of various knowledge systems of India during the rule of Raja Bhoja of Central India around 1000 C.E. In this text various mechanical devices, hydraulics and their applications primarily for the purpose of entertainment and amusement is discussed in good detail.
India has a procedure of making ice in the tropics for a very very long time. This has been reported by Sir Robert Barker FRS in 1775. This ice was used in making Sherbath and Kulfi in the Indian summers where the temperature touches or more. During the colonial rule, this technology was suppressed to provide for the trade of bringing ice to India from Newfoundland in U.S.A by the Tudor Ice company.
Through this subject capsule, we see the technological marvels India had through the ages for enhancing its productivity and also for leisure and amusement. This speaks of not only the development of sciences but also its application to reach the common man.