Appropriation of the Indian Knowledge by the Westerners


I would like to talk to you about transmission of this knowledge to Medieval Europe. In Toledo, if you remember there was a Christian Spain and Muslim Spain. Muslim Spain Cordoba was the capital; in the Christian side Toledo. At Toledo there was a monastery whose only job was to translate texts from Arabic into Latin. So Gerard of Cremona is the name that has come to us from the past. He translated 87 Arabic works from Latin. Math, astronomy and medicine. And Constantine the African, he is a Christian monk in Italy who translated Arabic medical works. Here I have shown a small graphic. This graphic shows Indic knowledge that first went to the Greeks and Romans. Most of it was destroyed in Byzantine kingdom by the Christian rulers who did not want Pagan knowledge to exist over there. So it died over there. However some of that knowledge existed in Islamic lands, Arabian lands before they became Islam also in Lebanon, Syria and all these kinds of places. Muslims inherited these works along with knowledge that was destructively obtained from India and they were consolidators they consolidated all of the information and it was injected into Europe into Latin by this translation school that I talked about. Also there were travelers in every period of time including colonial people who directly took Indic knowledge to Europe and all of this knowledge today has come back to us bereft of any citations, and repackaged with obviously much more refined knowledge systems and so on. Unfortunately we have lost track of where did this knowledge come from? And we are left in awe of the western civilization which could have built such an enormous edifice of knowledge without acknowledging that they stood on the shoulders of your ancestors to understand and how to take it from there to the next point on.

Here’s an example of transmission of knowledge in 1200s to 1300s Marco Polo, JordanusCatalani and all these people. This book you can download in Google. It shows you transmission of some Indic knowledge in this period of time. 1400s Europeans NiccolocDa Conti very famous because he visited Vijayanagara and found eye witness accounts to how Vijayanagara was at that period of time. His works were very influential in 15 century cartography. Afanasy Niktin of Russia, Vasco da Gama are these were visitors. This book over here, India in the 15 century, he talks about voyages to India, knowledge transmissions. 1500s the Portuguese had come relatively with armies 13 ships of 1500 men and so on. There were several visitors some of them not visitors, conquerors and other such things. Some of them for example were Portuguese scientists. Pedro Nunes, this De Castro, he was the fourth Viceroy to India. So these are scientists also who came to India and studied Indian works, translated them and took it back with them. This Frieze or statue in Lisbon shows these prominent people of the Portuguese society who are looking outward to the ocean because that is where they got their knowledge from, from India. So this monument that is there in Lisbon, I think Sahana you took this picture when you went over there shows this fact, even today.

Now when Europe finally got its acts together, got the Knights and the soldiers and the Pope’s blessings and everything, they finally went and reconquered Spain. They went through a period of Inquisition, when they were stamping out the Moorish influence. The Muslim influence in Spain. At that time any Muslim knowledge was seen as seeking knowledge from Satan inviting savage retribution. Until that period of time the nobility of Europe would send their eldest sons to Muslim Spain to learn at the feet of the Moors. Because the Moors had got better knowledge than us so they would go there and learn. But from then on it was the Inquisition period. In Renaissance European scholars hid their sources and passed off Greek and Indic works as original knowledge. All of a sudden you had people coming out of dark ages and disease and illiteracy and the oppression of the Church and coming out and saying I invented this and I invented that and so on. And we barely questioned the veracity of these claims. However this is what was going on over there. So European works in astronomy, math, medicine was greatly predated by Indian and Greek works however they ignored citations to Indian sources, therefore I call them plagiarizing.

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