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12 Unknown Facts about Ancient India That Will Mesmerize You

By Andrew Alpin, 23 June 2018

India is a land of such diversity that no two languages are alike. Every state of India 29 in all are steeped in a history and culture of their own. The focus here is on the history and culture of a country that is fascinating in more ways than one. Besides boasting of an amazing geography and topography that gives you some of the most beautiful places in the world, India’s Vedic history is equally mesmerizing for its concepts of fact taught through spiritual verse, mythology and education alike. India gave the world one of the greatest disciplines and that is Yoga. Dive deeper into the holistic aspects of Yoga and you get the concepts of spiritual cleansing and the chakras of energy. But apart from all this, you’ll be amazed to know that found in various literature, educational works, and mythology of the ancient Vedic period of India are facts, concepts, and ideas that bear an uncanny similarity to present day technology. Read on and be mystified.

1The Mahabharata Mentions the Concept of Cloning

Very much like the Odyssey and the Illiad are India’s two greatest epics called the Mahabharata and The Ramayana. Guess what? The Mahabharata being the story of two warring clans of cousins explains how one lineage was born through the concept of cloning. According to the narrative of the scripture, Ghandhari the mother of the clan called the Kauravas bore 100 sons. It explains that an embryo (a piece of flesh as depicted in the epic) was taken from her womb and split into a 100 parts and each part was placed into a container which was buried and later gave rise to a child or rather a fetus. Well?? It does bear a lot of similarity to IVF reproduction of today.

The Mahabharata Mentions the Concept of Cloning

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Karna: Another example of cloning

Karan or Karna is another character in the Mahabharata who belonged to the Pandava clan and as the story concerning his mother Kunti goes; his birth was the result of being “born from the “characteristics adopted from men of her choice”. Clearly a reference to cloning.

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2Sushruta Samhita: One of the oldest medical and surgical encyclopedias known to mankind

Although a sacred medical Vedic text known as the Atharva Veda exists dating back to the early Iron Age, it is the Sushruta Samhita that has baffled historians and medical experts alike. The Vedic work is a detailed medical treatise written in the 6th century BC. It contains 184 chapters of disease, illness and procedures including surgery to treat illness promote well being and health and prolong life.

Sushruta Samhita:  One of the oldest medical and surgical encyclopedias known to mankind

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The text describes precision surgical instruments

The scripture discusses 1,120 illnesses, 64 mineral preparations, 54 preparations based on animal sources, and 700 medicinal plants. The author Sushruta is widely regarded as being the first human to perform surgeries where several various precision surgical instruments are also described in the text.

The Sushruta Samhita also discusses embryology, the human anatomy and even venesection. How to position the patient for each vein and how to protect the vital structures of the body. Evidence of dental surgery dating back 9000 years was discovered in a place called Mehrgarh along with orthopedic surgical procedures.

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3The first to acknowledge the existence of the Solar System

History, of course, credits Copernicus for the heliocentric concept of the solar system but it was the Rig Veda that first spoke of the model of the solar system with the sun as the center around which planets rotated.

“Sun moves in its orbit which itself is moving. Earth and other bodies move around sun due to force of attraction, because sun is heavier than them.” - Rig Veda 1.164.13

The first to acknowledge the existence of the Solar System

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Another reference to the solar system

“The sun moves in its own orbit but holding earth and other heavenly bodies in a manner that they do not collide with each other through force of attraction.” - Rig Veda 1.35.9

Reference to the solar system

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4Ancient India already knew the speed of light

A Vedic Scholar called Sayana who lived in the 14th century was quoted as describing

"With deep respect, I bow to the sun, who travels 2,202 yojanas in half a nimesha."

According to Vedic measurement, 1 yojana is approx 8 -9 miles. 1 nimesha is 16/75 of a second. Thus 2,202 x 9 x 75/8 = 185,794 miles per second or 299,000 km per second. Scientifically the speed of light is 299,792.46 Km per second. If you are smirking at the mistake of 792 then aren’t they allowed some leeway given the fact the speed of light that was only accurately measured in 1676? As for the scholar Sayana?? His source was the Vedas.

Ancient India already knew the speed of light

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5The Vedas figured out gravity before the west did

Consider this verse from the Vedas? “This earth is devoid of hands and legs, yet it moves ahead. All the objects over the earth also move with it. It moves around the sun.” - Rig Veda 10.22.14.

The explanation is similar to the concept of gravity which was only discovered by Sir Isaac Newton in 1687.

The Vedas figured out gravity before the west did

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6A spiritual verse provides a calculation of the distance between the earth and the sun

The Hanuman Chalisa is a devotional hymn dedicated to the famous monkey god Hanuman believed to be a Vanara or a monkey like humanoid. Hanuman himself was a staunch devotee of the Hindu God Ram. Coming back to the Chalisa, it mentions the verse “Yug sahastra yojana par bhanu, leelyo taahi madhura phal jaanu”. This translates to ‘[When] Hanuman travelled thousands of kilometers to swallow it thinking of it as a fruit’. The literal translation of the first three words of the excerpt describes the distance as being 1 Yuga=12000 years. 1 sahastra Yuga =12000000 years and 1 Yojana being approx 8-9 miles.

Hence 12000 x12000000 x 9=96000000 miles or 153,600,000 kilometers. The distance between the Earth and the Sun is 152,000,000 kms. Oh Goodness!!! They were off by just 1%.

A spiritual verse provides a calculation of the distance between the earth and the sun

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7The first to measure the Earth’s circumference

Well, the credit of the discovery goes to the Greeks but equal credit should go to the Indian Astronomer and mathematician Aryabhatta who lived between 476 to 550 AD. Aryabhatta has been credited with a mathematical treatise, The Aryabhatiya that he wrote when he was just 23. It includes arithmetic, algebra, sums of power series, trigonometry, tables of sines, quadratic equations and fractions.

The first to measure the Earth’s circumference

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Aryabhatta was the most accurate in deducing the value of PI

The first documented calculation of PI in Europe was by Lambert in 1761. Aryabhatta was the most accurate in his deduction of the value of Pi at 3.1416. This is widely used today. Aryabhatta deduced a formula to prove that the Earth revolves around its axis. By estimating PI to be 3.1416, he worked out the approximate value of the circumference to be 39736 km. The actual circumference today is regarded as 40,075 Km. so, how cool is that?

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8Ancient India knew the exact length of a year

In ancient India, there were four ways to measure a year that included the terms Nakshatra, Savana, Lunar and Saura. The Term Saura was based upon the method of the tropical zodiac that included seasons, the equinoxes, solstices, half years and months that were in relation to the 6 seasons. Based on Saura the length of one year was regarded to be 365 days, 6 hours, 12 minutes and 30 seconds.

Ancient India knew the exact length of a year

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9The Vedas explained the science behind the eclipses

While in ancient times the world feared the eclipse as being the wrath of the sun god, the Vedas produced a scientific explanation. This can be found in the verse addressing the sun. “O Sun! When you are blocked by the one whom you gifted your own light (moon), then earth gets scared by sudden darkness.” - Rig Veda 5.40.5.

10The game of chess

The game of chess originated in India before the 6th century and was called chaturanga. From India, the game spread to Persia where it was further developed and later spread to southern Europe.

11Kung Fu originated in India

As early as the 6th century, India was frequented by several Chinese scholars like Hieun Tsang and Fahein. The trend spread to sharing of education, culture, and trade. To defend themselves from robbers, the travelers learned the skill of kalaripayattu an ancient South Indian martial art with movements that includes jumping, gymnastics and kickboxing. It also included the art of weaponry.

Moreover, the Chinese themselves regard the actual founder of Kung Fu to be the Indian Buddhist priest named Bodhidharma. The art was later developed by Buddhist monasteries in China of which the most famous is Shaolin.

12 The Numeral system and the zero was conceived in India

The numeral system of today known as the Hindu-Arabic numeral system was credited to the mathematician Aryabhatta who also developed the place value notation in the 5th century. This was later developed into a symbol for zero by another Indian mathematician called Brahmagupta.

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