Gujarat State School Textbook Board’s “Tejomay Bharat” is a heady cocktail of knowledge, humbug and flag-waving

tejomayBy Urvish Kothari*

After years of colonial rule India became independent on August 15, 1947 with a three-way vivisection — East Pakistan, West Pakistan (which includes Afghanistan) and India. Most of us however will be forgiven to think that what the world knows as independent Afghanistan existed long before India’s Independence. So how does that explain the statement above? Well, that is exactly what “Tejomay Bhara”t, a text book, prescribed by the Gujarat State School Textbook Board (GSSTB) for supplementary reading tells us in no uncertain terms on page 49.

Why is that? This textbook is a masterpiece created by Vidyabharati, the educational arm of the RSS. Their experts have claimed that Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet, Burma and Sri Lanka are all a part of undivided India or what they like to refer to as Akhand Bharat. For these worthies, the only perpetual truth is Akhand Bharat, and they believe it’s not just a dream, but a reality, destined-to- be. “Akhand Bharat will first be enmeshed on the landscape of our dreams and emotions and then realise her form and shape in geography…” (page 51.)

When a textbook of such obvious authenticity finds official sanction through the aegis of the venerable GSSTB and is distributed across the state government schools, free of cost in numbers that cross a few thousand, we have to ask ourselves: Are we to impart our kids the nectar of real knowledge or must we insulate them from the realities of the present day by raising them, nee intoxicating them, through a steady diet of false national pride? Not let’s turn to pearls of knowledge.

 Usage of zero: 

The then Chief Minister Modi had this to say in the preface of the book “Vedic Maths”, another book recommended for supplementary reading: “The most important numeral Zero has been gifted to the world by Bharat’s Shri Aryabhatt.”

However, when it comes to “Tejomay Bharat”, while Aryabhatt does get a look-in, he hasn’t been credited with zero. Interestingly though, on page 58, there is mention of a sage who apparently predates Aryabhatt by many thousand years, and who has, hold your breath, been credited with the invention of zero. “The process of adding a zero behind a numeral was initiated by the Rishi Gutsmad 20,000 years ago in the era of Dushyant and Shakuntala” (page 56).

Question: So was the then CM wrong in crediting Aryabhatt with the invention of zero in his message given as a foreward to “Vedic Maths“? What do the publishers of “Tejomay Bharat” have to say about that?

Even more importantly, archaeologically speaking, in the history of human civilisation, the time referred to coincides with the Stone Age. So what solid proof has been advanced to conclude that Dushyant-Shakuntala and Rishi Gutsmad even existed before that? And do the writers in question have any idea as to what else would have coexisted in that time?

 Ramsetu: 

“In the age of the Ramayan, two highly proficient engineer chimps from the monkey kingdom, Nal and Neel, built the Ramsetu across the ocean… This bridge is from Rameshwaram island, extending all the way to Sri Lanka’s beach, and makes its way through the Munnar creek. Its length spanned 30 miles. This bridge made by Lord Shri Rama exists even today, albeit in a dilapidated condition… It may be that in the present day, the technology for constructing bridges has reached dizzying heights; and the world has seen the emergence of some wondrous bridges. But only India could have imagined building a bridge across the ocean, and that too 17,50,000 years ago… That is what is extraordinary about this nation… What is truly unfortunate though is that there are elements which exist within our society today who would love to destroy this ancient prehistoric bridge of such enormous significance. So what is it that we can do to preserve these residues of our proud heritage? Children, be sure to give a thought to this.”

Question: Can one give thought as to what needs to be done to save our kids from outright falsehoods dipped in the false inebriation of national pride that is being peddled as certain knowledge? Curiously, there is a complete loss of perspective regarding historical timelines from the ones who have decided to ‘celebrate’ our culture with their minds closed. As we know, even the era that is deemed prehistoric starts only as far back as 2,00,000 years ago. The epoch that we know as Rigveda, the farthest that one can stretch on this timeline, does not beyond go 3500 BC to 2700 BC, or 5000 years from our time. So how does one claim with such confidence that this Ramayan Bridge is from 17.5 lakh years ago? And if it is proven that this natural formation is actually 17.5 lakh years old, then it further proves the point that it definitely is not Ramsetu, for there was no human civilisation worth speaking of at the time.

Prof Nagindas Sanghvi in his book, “Ramayan Ni Antyatra” categorically states after studying Valmiki’s version that there was no question of building Ramsetu to Lanka then – for the simple reason that there was no sea to begin with. The waters were shallow enough to wade through. If one goes by the scholarly study of renowned archaeologist Hasmukh Dhirajlal Sankalia who specialized in proto and ancient Indian history, we must conclude that the Lanka cited in the Ramayan is not present-day Sri Lanka but a place most probably nestled in the forest hills of Central India.

In essence, therefore, it is a historical travesty to force-fit two totally separate narrative strands into the same thread: that of reclaiming a natural phenomenon that may have occurred 17.5 lakh years ago by calling it Ramsetu. Worse, by enlisting the help of unsuspecting impressionable minds in a war of calculated hatred, the “Tejomay Bharat” proponents tell you exactly how they have come to represent a truly obscurantist face of our changing times.

Nuclear energy:

“’The sage Kanāda who devised the school of Vaisheshik Darshan, one of the six Hindu (vedic) schools of philosophy, over 2600 years ago, is the true force behind atomic and nuclear energy… Now, you may start wondering how come that, if we were the storehouse of such knowledge from the very beginning, was the invention of nuclear energy credited to the scientists from the West. How is it that the eventual superpowers were USA and Russia and not us, despite all that knowledge? Well, there is a good reason for that. All the literature we possessed in terms of the advances in science and knowledge had already reached Germany. At the very time, Germany had established 12 universities for Sanskrit studies. Based on this material, the Germans had gathered a very fair idea of nuclear research. But when Germany lost the World War-II, Russia and America split the country up, split up Berlin as well, and divided the scientists amongst themselves. These scientists after having left Germany studied our Vedic texts in great detail, totally mastered the science of nuclear energy and used it to technologically further their interests, thus becoming superpowers in the process” (page 60).

Question: Barring the bit about the sage Kanāda, it needs rare courage, or should we say absolute shamelessness to write the kind of absurdity one reads here. The source of nuclear energy resides in Einstein’s famous equation E=MC2, and it is pretty much in public domain that Einstein definitely did not “pick” this bit up at some Sanskrit university in Germany. America was already a nuclear power by the end of World War-II. Not only that, the entire world knows about how it brought about the end to the war by dropping atomic bombs over two Japanese cities. And yet, to perpetuate such balderdash in the name of phony national pride is pathetic, beyond words.

Other gems:

These kind of gems are littered around all over this classic of a textbook. For instance, America has 38 per cent Indian doctors, 12 per cent Indian scientists, 36 per cent scientists at the NASA, 34 per cent in Microsoft, 28 per cent in IBM… the list goes on and on. And the reason why they are at the very top of their fields is because of their unique Indian brain. (page 74)

 Question: Ever since the World Wide Web came into being, unsubstantiated remarks have been circulating the length and breadth of the internet. This gem has been taken from one of these remarks without so much as elementary check. NSA, or any other institution, has never been known to furnish such figures. But what do the ones who are flapping their woeful wings over national pride care about? Whatever it is they can get their hands on an age-old text or a silly remark, everything is fair game in the name of advancing cultural conceit.

This kind of juvenile shot at vainglory does no real justice to giants such as Bhaskaracharya, Aryabhatt, Brahmagupta or Kanāda. Their substantive contributions get unnecessarily devalued because of the fake grandstanding of these self-absorbed Indians who do nothing but mix fact with fiction in the hopeless cauldron that eventually puts a cloud of suspicion over everything. The nutcases who think every invention originated in India cannot even distinguish even between fiction and science fiction. To merely visualize something is vastly different from conceptualizing and then putting it all down in great imaginative detail, which in turn is very different from putting it down with scientific rigour based on well-laid down principles.

Ramayan may cite the Pushpak Vimaan but we know nothing about how it managed to take off, while the references to the airplane or the helicopter or the submarine that we find in Jules Verne’s stories has details that are explained in rich, scientific terms.

In summary, let’s just say that those who want to inherit knowledge in the truest sense of the term take it upon themselves to place before the world what they have deciphered and understood from the logical and unprejudiced study of ancient texts. As for those who are only interested in polluting keen young minds, they would much rather substitute knowledge for bombast… and end up writing and distributing wonders such as “Tejomay Bharat”.

*Translated by Vistasp Hodiwala from original Gujarati (http://urvishkothari-gujarati.blogspot.in)

 

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