It all started a few months ago. Someone had posted on my Face Book wall a link of a page from a book titled “What is India?”. Mr. Salil Gewali is its compiler. The page instantly caught my attention; for it showed a smiling photo of Noble Physicist and co-founder of Quantum Mechanics Werner Heisenberg and this sentence below it: “After the conversations about Indian philosophy, some of the ideas of Quantum Physics that had seemed so crazy suddenly made much more sense.”
Immediately, I remembered that only a few months ago I had written an article about Heisenberg, Tagore and Vivekananda. Werner Heisenberg was a German and recipient of the 1932 Physics Nobel Prize. He is best known for the Uncertainty Principle of Quantum Mechanics. When he came to India he visited Tagore as a guest. This great scientist was awestruck when Tagore had given him a glimpse of Indian metaphysics and co-relation between spiritualism and cosmic creation.
Salil’s compilation has a good deal to offer in this regards. The quotes of renowned Western intellectuals like Voltaire, Friedrich Hegel, Albert Einstein, Aldus Huxley, Arthur Schopenhauer, Schrodinger, David Henry Thoreau, Ralph Emerson, TS Eliot, Oppenheimer, Mark Twain and so on and so forth and what they said about India, about her civilization, about her culture, and about her contribution to the world and to the Modern Science.
To most of these greats India was an alien country — not only an alien but a dominated country, a subjugated country. What most of these scholars said about India in the 18th, 19th, and 20th century that’s what India was then — a British colony, a Jewel in the Crown of the mighty British Empire. A poor country, a famine stricken country, a malaria, typhoid, cholera, and other disease infested country, an overpopulated, and a starving country with strange customs in the eyes of a Westerner. Then, why were these intellectuals so impressed with India and praised her with such lofty words? Most of them had never travelled to India, not to mention never lived there. All they learned about her was from translations of India’s age-old scriptures and literature, and from books written by others. Many of these people wrote volumes of books themselves in her praise. Why?
Not because what India was in the 18th, 19th, and 20th century when they wrote those words of praise, but for what India was three to five thousand years ago. Or, perhaps even before that. They praised India for what she contributed to the world civilization and culture in the diverse areas of religion, philosophy, psychology, science, mathematics, astronomy, language, medicine, management, economics, trade, and so forth since time immemorial. Considering this wide time scale of 5000+ years the modern and industrial civilization of Europe and the USA only a few days ago! So that’s what Salil captured, the praise of so many Western intellectuals as result of his research and compiled his findings in this book. His work is commendable.
Lastly let me recall what a great German philosopher August Schlegel said about Indian wisdom:
‘Even the loftiest philosophy of the Europeans appears like a feeble spark before the Vedanta.’
The compilation may be visited at : http://www.scribd.com/doc/36498555/What-is-India#fullscreen:on
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