In the front page of ' Indian Express ' today ( 4.12.2014 ) is a news item that a former Chief Minister of Uttarakhand and present M.P.said that in ancient India a nuclear test had been conducted, and that in ancient India head transplants could be done. He also qouted the Prime Minister who had earlier claimed that in ancient India we had genetic engineering and head transplants.
I have explained in my article ' A Visit to Akshardham ( which can be seen on facebook and on my blog justicekatju.blogspot.in ) that while we had undoubtedly made great achievements in science in the past, by mixing up what was true with what was untrue we dilute the former.
It is true that we were ahead of the whole world in science in ancient India.
Our mathematicians had invented the decimal system, which was one of the greatest and most revolutionary scientific achievements in the world, without which scientific progress in the world would have been considerably retarded ( see my article ' The Decimal System in Mathematics ' on my blog and on my facebook page ). Aryabhatta, Brahmagupta, Bhaskar, etc made great contributions to the progress of mathematics and astronomy
It is true that Sushruta had invented plastic surgery in ancient India, and had made a great contribution to the development of surgery, as did Charak in medicine.
It is true that Panini and Patanjali made grammar truly scientific
It is true that in the Harappa-Mohenjodaro ( Indus Valley ) Civilization we had developed the concept of town planning ( which exists only on paper in most of our cities today ), an excellent drainage and sewage system ( which has largely collapsed in many cities in India today ), and had created a surprisingly modern port ( at Lothal ).
However, it is not true that we had aeroplanes, atom bombs, guided missiles, and genetic engineering in ancient India. And we certainly did not have head transplants.
In plastic surgery, no plastic is used. In plastic surgery a piece of one's own body is removed and placed in another part of one's body. For instance,in a heart bypass surgery ( which may become necessary because a heart artery has become blocked ), a part of a vein in one's leg is removed and placed in one's own heart. We cannot put a piece of someone else's body in our body because our immune system will reject it. All this was discovered by Sushruta in ancient India, whereas Westerners learnt it only a century or so ago.
However, this does not mean that we can do a head transplant. This is because firstly a lot of our blood while circulating goes to the head ( may be one third of the total ), and therefore a head surgery causes a lot of blood loss, which one's body may not be able to sustain.
Secondly, it must be realized that one is really one's brain. All one's thinking, reasoning, memories, commands to the various parts of the body, recording of sensations, etc are functions of the brain.
If one loses one's leg or hand, an artificial limb can replace it. Also, there can be a heart, kidney or liver transplant. But if one's head is transplanted ( assuming that can be done ), and another person's head is put in its place, it will be that other person living in one's body.
By making such exaggerated and untrue claims we mix up the true with the untrue, and thus make even the former, of which we can be justly proud, questionable in the eyes of foreigners.