The impression that science started and developed only in Europe is deeply embedded in the minds of educated people all over the world.
In India we have various sastra which are in reality scientific texts.
Etymologically sastra means scientific work, a branch of knowledge on science. The famous Indian mathematician Varaha Mihira quotes "science is a body of language that has grown and is growing and will grow. It progressively affects man's life.
With this approach if we look at the sciences of India, the Rishi of yore were all scientists in their own chosen field. The penance performed by them, indicate deep research in their field of specialization to achieve a desired outcome. The scientist of yore and their achievements are discussed in detail in this subject capsule.
Some of the scientific knowledge relate to atoms, gravity, astronomy, mathematics, chemistry, geology, hydraulic engineering, technology and other similar diverse field.
The Rishi scientists of India were also philosophers. In their days, science and philosophy had a close bond. Hence various scientific thoughts apart from being expressed in scientific terms were also thought of and expressed in philosophical terms.
When we look at the medieval European scientists like Sir Isaac Newton, John Dalton, Galileo and their likes, they termed their scientific treatise as philosophy. From this we can gather that not only in India, but in Europe also till recent times science and philosophy were truly intertwined.
This brings us the question of science and religion. Is there a conflict or coherence? In India the two seem to have a healthy confluence not only in the past, but also in the present and looks so for the future also.
In India there are very many science texts in the form of palm leaf manuscripts. In the last couple of 100 years, the habit of re-writing of palm leaf manuscripts has been discontinued with. During our own lifetime, in our land, we are witnessing the destruction of a treasure trove of scientific writings and the knowledge etched in them. Once we realize that our palm leaf manuscripts do not contain vague and lofty philosophical views and that it could probably have valuable scientific data in them, we need to endeavour to preserve the data for use by our generation and generations to come for the benefit of the scientific community.
This would help India once again to present its traditional scientific views in modern scientific terminology and to accept us as a land that nourished science for well over 5000 years.