Three mathematical notes on Rajiv Malhotra's lecture at IIT Mumbai

April 20
3 mathematical notes on your lecture at Mumbai
Harsha shares three critical notes on a recent lecture by Rajiv Malhotra at IIT Bombay:
1. When you say, that the digits of pi were calculated using adhyatmic vidya. But, if you actually look at how the Kerala school did it, they do it by using the Taylor series for the sin and cos function. This is an impressive achievement, and predates the European school, by a couple of centuries. Adhyatmic vidya is itself much more important. But in this case, we shouldn't conflate the two.

2. On your comment on the speed of light, I think it is very important for you to say in your speech that this is speculative. Even Subash Kak, the original researcher does not definitively state this in his article. He presents some evidence, but leaves it to the reader at the end. Personally, I think there is nowhere near adequate evidence..

3. On vedic maths, it is important to note that what is presented is not special by today's standards. Most of the calculation rules would be considered elementary today. On the other hand, if there was evidence that these were in
the vedas, it would be interesting. But the  Shankaracharya's verses do not refer to the Vedas. Here is Prof Dani's take on it, who also makes these points.

4. As a strategy, mentioning these more speculative things in your speeches, isn't helpful to your cause. For someone who is not an expert, it would be just as impressive to mention the more established contributions which haven't been popularized (like the Taylor infinite series for sin an cos anticipating calculus) as mentioning the not more shaky claims.

... Already, the field is inundated with a lot of claims like proof of Goldbach conjecture (an open problem even today) using Vedic mathematics.

Also, someone one who is not sympathetic to your project would disproportionately emphasize these weaker claims. See this for instance, Rajnath Singh isn't correct, but Mr. Bal is chosing a particularly weak opponent, someone who cant accurately portray the known contributions...."
Rajiv comment: 
1) I agree with him on the value of pi calculated as a series - but I disagree with him that it should be called "Taylor" series. Agreed that we cannot show any DIRECT role for adhyatma-vidya in this. However, the practice of sadhana was part of the training, and hence at least indirectly part of the methodology of discovery.

2) Regarding the speed of light, I must disagree with him. Unlike value of pi which can be calculated strictly theoretically without use of measuring instruments, the velocity of light is not a theoretical derivation. Yet (and
this is the point I wanted to make), there is no evidence of measuring instruments available to get such a value in those times. So how did they "guess" such a value? My thesis is given in pages 221-234 of BD. Sanskrit mantra
theory is based on integral unity that can be "seen" (not in the normal sense of the word) in the rishi-state. A few examples are given in that chapter of BD where ancient texts indicate physical properties of objects that are remarkably accurate, but there is no evidence of physical measurement being carried out. Had the rishi discoverers used lab instruments, they would be writing about them
and teaching it to students. But they never mention what we today consider to be instruments. Except one instrument - the mind in higher state of consciousness.
So it is my "speculation" that velocity of light was an example of such discoveries. It might surprise many of you that modern Western neuroscience is now (re)discovering many facts about the mind using advanced yogis and tibetan buddhist meditators. This is going to be the subject of some volumes I have been working on that I hope to complete. The use of adhyatma-vidya as methodology of
discovery is not to be dismissed just because it does not fit the criteria of "science" as known today.

3) On Vedic maths: I do not think of the math being promoted as something directly based on vedas. But the man who promoted it starting a century ago claimed that he was "inspired" by vedas. So it could be an indirect influence of vedas. Similarly, the great modern mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan attributed
his genius discoveries to Goddess Lakshmi, who he insisted had brought these breakthroughs to him in visions. His biographers failed to pursue this aspect
adequately, presumably out of fear of being branded as unscientific. But how does one explain such a scientific mind making a claim that seems so unscientific? I would not dismiss it out of hand. Modern science knows very
little about the mind, especially the potentials beyond "normal" states.

On the general point of not mixing more credible claims with less credible ones, I am in full agreement. I judge each context based on the audience and what would motivate them... I would like this to be the first place in India where serious scientists take up R&D on adhyatma-vidya. Why let western institutes have a monopoly on researching our tradition's methodologies?]

Narayana comments:
"...This is with reference to Rajivji's third point, regarding 'being inspired' by the Vedas. The discovery of Benzene ring by visualising the structure in a dream. Not only that but Kekule was believed to have come up with the tetravalent nature of carbon by visualising it in a dream. Western 'scientists' and their Indian acolytes (whom Rajivji refers to as ideological sepoys) dismiss visions of Indian sages and Vedic science but readily believe such 'stories'
when put out by, well, 'Western scientists'!

Rajiv comment: yes. Thats what Uturn is.

Ashok asks:
"...the 18th chaupai of Sri Hanumaan Chalisa, where the distance of the Sun from the Earth has been described clearly. Yug (12000) Sahastra (1000) yogan (8 miles) par bhanu. Comes to 96,000,000 miles, which I understand is reasonably close. Of course the earth's orbit is elliptical, so the distance will vary during different parts of the year..." 

Partha responds:
"...Sant Tulsidas whom many of us consider a reincarnation of Valmiki, lived in the 16th century, by which time information about the Sun's distance from the earth could be claimed to have been communicated worldwide, from wherever it was first learnt by whatever means. That the Sant wrote his Ram Charit Manas entirely without biblio-aids and that he practically visualized whatever he wrote should be used as an important rider, when we talk of this scientifically near-accurate astronomical data being given by him in his Hanuman Chalisa. He has also used units from olden times (Yojana, Yug etc)..."

Come adds:
"..There are references to the Sun-Earth distance in other Indian scriptures, going back to the Vedas, at least according to ancient commentators. Some scientists including Rupert Sheldrake have shown that there are other methods to acquire knowledge about nature than the modern "scientific method", ..."

Rajiv comment: Rupert Sheldrake is a prominent UTurner and should not be cited as reference for saying things he has appropriated. We must stop acknowledging as source the person(s) who stole ideas and covered up. 

tvikhanas notes:
"...To add to Rajivji's point, a staggering and undeniable example of adhyatmic influence on science is Panini's grammar. The core of this grammar "Shiva sutras" is named so because it was revealed to Panini by Shiva himself. People have remarked how wonderful the grammar is and it keeps revealing amazing new facets when examined from modern viewpoints. A researcher recently found that
the certain choices made in constructing Shiva Sutras when cast as optimization problems turn out to be the best possible solutions (A Mathematical Analysis of Panini's Shivasutras by Wiebke Petersen).

If this seems some how less remarkable, then say a proof of Fermat's Last Theorem from 1500 BC, it's because we have also internalized western view that "linguistics" is an inferior and less fundamental science compared to maths or physics along with many other ill-founded ideas. Indian tradition in fact considers Vyakarana far more important than equivalents of mathematics, metallurgy etc which perhaps explains its survival against impossible odds.

As a side note, western view towards linguistics is also evolving, mainly due to study of Sanskrit and also due to advent of computers. It is interesting to note that technical study of Sanskrit grammar is picking up again in the West. There are "mathematical linguists" like Petersen quoted above, along with Computer Scientists like Gerard Huet who have initiated major projects on parsing Sanskrit. I recently learned that there is a whole area of assigning formal semantics to natural languages in which Gerard Huet with his Sanskrit project is an important member...." 

Romanization of Sanskrit

This thread is tied to the 'Sanskrit untranslateables' that is covered in the book "Being Different". Will the use of Roman script for Sanskrit somehow result in a loss in authenticity and meaning? Furthermore, Sanskrit is the language of Yoga. What impact will the Romanization have on the practice of Yoga?

April 9
Romanization of Sanskrit
Aditya shares: I came across a website and was excited about what it has to offer. On the whole the idea of creating a learners guide for English speakers who would like to learn Sanskrit seems a noble Idea. However as I went through the website certain issues came to my attention which were not quite palatable to me.

Two primary issues I had were:-
1) The Introduction section which mentions the whole question of "Origin or Sanskrit" and other arguments without enough references thus making all kinds of now controversial claims about the so called "dravidian" people being pushed south etc.
2) A claim that Devanagari script can take a significant amount of time to learn so it starts off with IAST (Romanized transliteration) along with an apologetic statement "Western scholars of Sanskrit tend to prefer it to Devanagari, which is OK; after all, Sanskrit has never really had a script of its own, and the tradition of using Devanagari instead of other scripts is actually quite recent."...

Ajay comments:
"....Though Sanskrit teaching in other scripts might look good as it will become easier to teach initially. But long term result of not learning Devangari are
1) Losing the relationship between Sanskrit and Devnagari script. I can't imagine [losing] this relationship; like, the 'OM' word (symbol) in Devanagari looks majestic.
2) Not able to read original Sanskrit text as it is...." 
Royaldecor comments:
"...I differ with the views.Telugu which is a pali script, is widely used in south and east india  can convey the sanskrit sounds perfectly as it has 56 alphabets. All kirtans are in telugu script and in fact telugu is the largest
spoken language in india, if hindi dilects like maghi and bhojpuri are delinked from hindi..."  

Karthik adds:
"...IAST is a standard that has been devised to write sanskrit, and is derived from the latin alphabets, with addition of diacritics (ISO 15919 is a later standard for representing all Indian languages). This does not mean it is going to be written using conventions that are used for writing english or french of german. It means it is a different set of conventions to represent sanskrit. IAST can represent sanskrit without ambiguity..."

Aditya responds:
"..I came across another article which appeared in the Indian Express today with the title "‘Romanagari’ can form system for language learning".
This study of course seems silly to a layman like me but after all I am layman and the NBRC scientist have to do some research. The fact that they are doing such research shows to me a trend which I was alluding to earlier which is Romanization of Sanskrit/Indian languages. Do we need to use Roman alphabets to learn other Indian languages apart from our mother tongue? 

Regarding IAST/Devnagari I fully understand that the number of people learning in Devanagari is always going to be more, but the question is which script is being used by influential people in academia and it seems that among western academia and also western laymen at least IAST has caught on at the expense of Devanagari.

What was objectionable to me was the justification in about IAST that "Western scholars of Sanskrit tend to prefer it to Devanagari, which is OK; after all, Sanskrit has never really had a script of its own, and the tradition of using Devanagari instead of other scripts is actually quite recent." ..
... With respect to Devanagari rather than Romanized script my larger point of interest was in securing a debate on an Indic script which is popular for Sanskrit. But don't see  a reason why those who learn Sanskrit in India cannot learn more than one Indic scripts. After all most Indians speak and understand 3 or more languages. I wouldn't want this discussion to go into a language war within India. That in my view would be a wrong direction to take it to. "

RoyalDecor responds:
"....Please understand, there is never a language war on script of sanskrit in india.I am not propagating any language but stated the facts.Sanskrit is used for dual purposes.One for communication and second is for chanting hymns as expressed in vedas and other shastras for performing various rituals.The core hindu religion firmly stands on the pillars of CORRECTLY chanting the
hymns,which involves rigorous practice and training at the vedic schools.A visit to a vedic school as well as any balaji temple in US and interaction with the priest will shed more clarity on the subject.The writer of the post being a
north indian may not be aware that few alphabets are missing in tamil and malayalam and also bengali which may be the reason devnagiri and telugu  scripts were evolved to be compatable for chanting the hymns correctly..." 

arrk notes:
"...Roman script is quite unsuitable for Samskrutam. The foundational problem is with the loss of phonetics. The A is phonetically different from the first vowel of Devanaagari. What is the consequence of loss of phoneticity?
(1) The first victim will be Vaiyaakarna of Samskrutam. The Vaiyaakarna of Paanini is a human voice system based Vaiyaakarna. Many rules that appear natural in the human voice system (hence phonetics) and captured in Paanini will be entirely lost in non-phonetic script, and will look arbitrary rule to a learner and un-initiated. In the long run it will have serious consequences.

(2) Samskrutam is not only a communicational language. It is Yoga Bhaashya. In particular the Vaaca Yoga is completely steeped in these notions. Using Roman
alphabet will destroy the Vaac Yoga aspect and will be completely sidelined. The notion of Shabda Shareera and notion of Beeja Mantras will be adversly effected.

3) This will have consequences on the Mantra tradition of the tradition.

4) The Samskrutam phonetic sounds based speech has natural speech recognition aspects to it. I definitely know some who are working towards it. Replacement of Devanaagri will cause irreperable loss to that aspect.

To me this effort to use Roman script either arises out of ignorance of deeper aspects of Samskrutam or intentional plan to destroy the Dharma traditions. In both cases it must be rejected by Dharma tradition people.


Is Narayana Murthy a good ambassador for brand India?

April 19
Is Narayana Murthy a good ambassador for brand India?

Rajiv Malhotra posts: In my recent IIT Mumbai talk, I criticized Mr. Murthy by contrasting him to the way the late chairman of Sony projected Japanese culture.

This generated an angry response by one man who says he is close to Murthy. He stopped watching my Youtube when he heard me say this. His defense of Murthy is not based on citing any facts on Murthy's intellectual positions regarding Indian civilization - such  as Aryan/Dravidian issues, dalit divides, foreign nexuses in India, etc. rather it is entirely of a personal kind.

But my critique of Murthy is not personal. Nor do I doubt that he knows his IT/CEO profession well. I am referring to his lack of competence in Indian history and culture to be able to select grant recipients in a manner that benefits Indian civilization.

I have summarized prior messages in this egroup pertaining to this issue, as fyi to refresh memory:

Sheldon Pollock (author of "The Death of Sanskrit") got the Padma Bhushan award by the GOI, and named head of the project funded by Narayana Murthy ($10+ million initial funds) to bring out translations of Indian classics. Many Indian institutions have been digested by westerners and used as a winter home. Pollock is a left-wing Sanskritist who claims that the old "Brahamanical Sanskrit" is long dead; and he is reviving the "real" Sanskrit that belongs to subalterns like dalits, women, etc. whose voices have been oppressed. Narayan Murthy's private foundation funded him to select and translate Indian classical works. He is selecting certain works and focusing on translations that fragment Indian civilization into mutually conflicting segments - languages, authors, interpretations used to show no unity at all except by evil nationalists. He gets to translate and INTERPRET various classical Indian texts - including supporting Aryan/Dravidian divides, dalit/non-Dalit divides, and so forth.
The article, "Columbia U. Professor Broadens Access to Sanskrit, Ancient Language of the Elite", appeared in Chronicle of Higher Education:
The big picture one must know is as follows: The pseudo-sec scholars have thus far been criticized for lack of Sanskrit knowledge and are therefore vulnerable to being considered eurocentric. To remedy this a whole battalion of well indoctrinated young scholars from places like JNU have been sponsored to get their PhDs under him, so these next-gen sanskrit scholars will combine pseudo-sec ideology with knowledge of sanskrit. Imagine a large group of academic professors who are well educated in Sanskrit but opposed to dharma - as casteist, abusive of women, anti-Muslim, chauvinistic, etc. - in other words the standard "caste, cows, curry" stuff. Imagine a sanskrit speaking Arundhati Roy and dozens like her.

This has been going on for a decade, first under Hawley at Columbia (who fluently speaks Vraj bhasha, sings Krishna bhajans, is seen doing "seva" in Vrindavan - much to the excitement of most Indians). Now it has been expanded and deepened under Pollock. ... Infosys has patronized people like Howard Gardener rather than the original sources of their reformulated ideas such as Sri Aurobindo.

Venkat posts:
A good overview of his thoughts is provided below which is a October 2002 Narayan Murthy gave a talk at IIT-d - Learning From The West".

Come adds:
"...I must refer to a video lecture by Francois Asselineau, an economist and intellectual in France who is warning against the creeping destruction of European nations  being promoted by the EU ruling bureaucracies under the influence of the USA. The goal is to break up European countries into smaller provincial "independent" states of Europe, among which the sole common language would be American English and which would be governed by a centralised "transatlantic" Euro-American super-government..."

Gopal notes:
"I remember his speech in Banglore years back where he suggested to one of the event organizers not to sing the Indian National anthem because it can offend foreign students in the audience..."

jp claims:
"...Akshya Patra idea was supported by Narayan Murty. But later he hijacked the entire project in a very shrewd .. way..."

Ajay comments:
"To me it seems, Mr. Murthy doesn't know what exactly he is doing; inadvertently he is harming the very cause he wants to serve. He may not be aware of work of Rajiv ji. Someone who knows Mr. Murthy should present him 'Breaking India' book so that he can understand and realise what elements are working against India and how; should also present him 'Being Different' so that he can better handle the differences various cultures have and doesn't feel sorry or inferior about all this..."

Ananth shares some links:
"...Gail Omvedt embarrassed Narayana Murthy in an article that was published in the Hindu.  The article is available in Ref 1

(Digression: Ref 1 cites Ref 2 as the source.  I am not able to access Ref 2.  However, I was able to dig up Ref 3, which seems to be a reaction to Ref 2 End Digression)..."
Rajiv adds:
"...Rajiv comment: Some of my supporters went to Mrs. Murthy a decade back and presented a Powerpoint on many of the issues i have uncovered, i.e. the things we discuss here. They were told in polite words that it was Mrs. Murthy's decision how she would spend her money. ... Consider, for example, the discussions we had here on Dharma Civilization Foundation. Its chief founders spent over a decade closely following my work with great interest, and with loud expressions of support for me. Yet when it was time to write a donation check, who did they support? Gerry Larson - whose support for foreign Aryans and whose fight against the unity and coherence of Hinduism became the basis for attacking BD." 

Come adds:
"The global zeitgeist imposes a reverence for specialisation which makes people like Narayana Murthy,  who is not an academic scholar on Hinduism, defer to "recognized' authorities, especially if they are western and teach in major western universities. Independent researchers are held as amateurs and few major "Establishment" foundations would dare extend sponsorships or awards to them since they are afraid that this would discredit them in the eyes of the masters of universitary discourse." 

Akshay asks:
"...To understand Murthy, you gotta read Better India Better World. It show's his deep rooted ..."

Additionally, Mr. Narayana Murthy showed up in a few more old threads:
Houston Seminar on Breaking India: September 11, 2011 - Audience Q &
I am looking for a source for the quote from Narayana Murthy that Rajiv-ji mentions in the video.

Timeline: 8:53 to 9:05
<quote> According to Narayana Murthy, when he was asked why Indians were so good in IT, rather than explain that we have a whole learning tradition, he said"Thanks for the British for teaching us Maths and Science."

Rajiv response: I heard this in his talk in 2003 at the Bangalore conference organized jointly organized by Templeton and Infinity Foundation. I felt he was impressing the western guests. The "scientific debt to colonialism" is a common theme amongst many leftists. Gyan Prakash of Princeton has written a book on
Indian science during the British period in which the direction of influence is onw-way from Europe to India as if the europeans learned nothing scientific from
Indians. (Mr. Murthy has said that he was rooted as a leftist in his younger days but that he later turned into a capitalist. That kind of rejection of the left is for its economic model only, but it does not automatically involve
embracing the dharma paradigm.) The key issue is: where lies the root of Indians' competence in science? The west claims to have invented the scientific method - a claim many Indians accept. Thats why I started the very ambitious project of doing 20 volumes on the History of Indian Science and Technology, of which 8 are published already. ...For the same amount of money, Mr. Murthy could have re-ignited a whole India based Sanskrit scholarship and translation under the guidance of pandits. Of course, its his hard earned money and we respect his
right to spend it howsoever he chooses. I am merely expressing my personal opinion on how I wish our tycoons would back their own civilization in the same manner as American tycoons helped build their civilizational foundations. The Rockefeller, Ford, Carnegie philanthropy did not go to foreign scholars to write American history.

What do you think? Is Narayana Murthy a good brand ambassador for India? and why.