Mythstories Mythstories



about Nala's Causeway


Nala

Nala is the son of Visvakarma (the smith of the gods). He is the architect god and skilled in the arts of building.

Rocks protrude out of the sea dividing India and Sri Lanka. Part of Nala's causeway has survived to this day!


India - A Place of Learning

The results of coming under the periodic influence of many other conquerors are not all negative. India has a tremendously rich heritage as a font of knowledge based upon the interchange of ideas.

When Europe was entering the 'dark ages' after the fall of the Roman Empire, India was embarking on a Golden Age of scientific discovery under the rule of the Gupta Kings. It was a period when both art and science flourished.

Gupta mathematicians invented and developed the decimal system, made up from nine digits and zero. This was later passed on to Europe and the west by the Arabs and enabled Europeans to move forward from the laborious use of Roman numerals.

Indian mathematicians also developed algebra, calculated square roots, worked out the value of Pi and recognised the importance of positive and negative numbers. They theorised and wrote upon the concepts of zero and infinity. The Hindu beliefs in infinite space and constant cycles of creation probably aided in the understanding of these complex mathematical ideas.

Court astronomers had discovered seven of the planets and chartered their paths, although they did not possess telescopes. They knew the earth to be round and not flat, had worked out the cause of eclipses and how to predict their occurrences.

In the 5th century Aryabhata theorised that the earth orbited the sun, while rotating on its axis. In the 7th century Brahmagupta calculated the earth's circumference reasonably accurately.

Even although these new ideas were completely opposite to many enshrined in some sacred Hindu texts, scientists, although not universally believed, were not persecuted because of their new ideas. Hinduism allows opposite ideas to stand side by side.

Medicine was also well developed under the Gupta kings. Doctors could set broken bones and were able to deliver babies by caesarean section. They even used a form of 'plastic' surgery to carry out operations on battle injuries. Drugs were made from herbs, plants and minerals and they recognised the importance of cleanliness, light and fresh air in medical etiquette.

Even before Gupta times, as early as 500 BC, theories had been developed on atoms, molecules, micro-organisms and bacteria.

When the age of the Gupta kings declined, invasions and instability caused a decline in the sciences in India.

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