Indian scientists slam ancient Hindu 'stem cell' claim

India is no stranger to prominent figures citing ancient Hindu myths as evidence of the country's technological prowess
India is no stranger to prominent figures citing ancient Hindu myths as evidence of the country's technological prowess

The organisers of a major Indian science conference distanced themselves Sunday from speakers who used the prestigious event to dismiss Einstein's discoveries and claim ancient Hindus invented stem cell research.

The Indian Scientific Congress Association expressed "serious concern" as the unorthodox remarks aired by prominent academics at its annual conference attracted condemnation and ridicule.

The distinguished gathering of Indian researchers and scientists hosts Nobel laureates, but in recent years has seen Hindu mythology and faith-based theories edging onto the agenda.

At this year's congress, the head of a southern Indian university cited an ancient Hindu text as proof that was discovered on the subcontinent thousands of years ago.

"We had 100 Kauravas from one mother because of stem cell and test tube technology," said G. Nageshwar Rao, Vice Chancellor at Andhra University, referring to a story from the Hindu epic Mahabharata.

Rao, who was addressing school children and scientists at the event, also said a demon king from another centuries-old Hindu epic had two dozen aircraft and a network of landing strips in modern-day Sri Lanka.

"Hindu Lord Vishnu used guided missiles known as 'Vishnu Chakra' and chased moving targets," added the professor of inorganic chemistry.

Event organisers tried to hose down the remarks, saying it was "unfortunate" the prestigious event had been derailed by controversy.

"We don't subscribe to their views and distance ourselves from their comments. This is unfortunate," Premendu P. Mathur, general secretary of Indian Scientific Congress Association, told AFP.

"There is a serious concern about such kind of utterances by responsible people."

Another speaker, a scientist from a university in southern Tamil Nadu state, also raised eyebrows by questioning the breakthroughs of Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein.

India is no stranger to prominent figures debasing science or citing ancient Hindu texts like the Puranas and Vedas as ironclad evidence of the country's technological prowess.

India's minister for higher education Satyapal Singh last year said Darwin's theory of evolution was wrong, and vowed to change the national school curriculum to reflect that.

The minister hails from the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which rules 17 of India's 29 states and territories outright or through alliances.

BJP leader and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2015 pointed to Hindu scriptures as proof that plastic surgery existed in ancient India.

Science minister Harsh Vardhan last year said ancient Greeks took credit from India for early mathematical principles and misquoted Stephen Hawking as praising the Vedas for discoveries greater than Einstein's theory of relativity.

The Breakthrough Science Society, an Indian-based educational charity, said it was "astounded and even horrified" at the remarks made at an academic summit.

"Puranic verses and epics are poetic, enjoyable, contain moral elements and rich in imagination but not scientifically constructed or validated theories," the group said in a statement Sunday.

"Such a hallowed assembly of scientists has been misused to make false and chauvinistic claims about ancient India."


Explore further

Indian scientists debate claims Hindu sages pioneered aviation

© 2019 AFP

Citation: Indian scientists slam ancient Hindu 'stem cell' claim (2019, January 6) retrieved 15 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-01-indian-scientists-slam-ancient-hindu.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
191 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

Jan 06, 2019
Ahahaaa that's silly. But they were perhaps the first to experiment with the X-Gene, with often bizarre and regrettable results.

Much to their surprise however they found that people would tend to worship these early mutants and bring them gifts, which we must agree is a true superpower indeed.

The 'X Men Apocalypse' movie with the oscar isaac character may have been based on this peculiar historical development I dunno maybe.

Jan 07, 2019
More on this unfortunate development here: https://www.bbc.c...46778879

This is what you get when you mix popularism, politics, religion, and science. A virulent mess.

Jan 07, 2019
Rao, who was addressing school children and scientists at the event, also said a demon king from another centuries-old Hindu epic had two dozen aircraft and a network of landing strips in modern-day Sri Lanka.


...and this is why you do peer review of any paper entered to a conference, guys.

Jan 07, 2019
Sigh. Thus went the Arabs, who led the world in Science, Maths, Medicine etc before they lost the plot...

Jan 07, 2019
Yeah 2/5 is what I give torbjorn's sense of humor.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more