But, India also has a fair share in enriching the world's material culture. It is not well know that among other things; the distillation of perfumes, the making of dyes, the extraction of sugar, the weaving of cotton (muslin) cloth, and even the techniques of algebra and algorithm, the concept of zero, the technique of surgery, the concepts of atom and relativity, the principle of magnetism actually utilised in making a Mariner's Compass, the herbal system of medicine, the technique of alchemy, the smelting of metals, the game of Chess, the martial art of Karate, etc., are to be found in ancient India and there are evidences which indicate that they might have originated here.
But while doing this it has to be acknowledged that in the last millennium India has been a borrower of the ingredients of material culture. But in antiquity when with the exception of Greece and Rome, the west constituted the under-developed world, India had attained a high level of material culture which was contemporaneous with the civilizations of Egypt and Mesopotemia. Upto the end of the first millennium A.D., India was way ahead of the developed countries of today.
Spires of temples at Jodhpur.
All this is not being said here, with the intention of justifying any resting on our laurels, but to make it evident that deep in our history the inhabitants of this country have achievements to their credit. But lost as they are in the hazy past, coupled with our country today being painted as a borrower of technology, expertise, commodities, etc., from the developed west, makes it doubly difficult for us to lay claim to the heritage, howsoever infinitesimal, that we have bequeated to the world's culture in earlier times.
In the following chapters we shall take up a few of these issues and trace the roots of their origin, development and transmission the world over.
Go on to the next chapter :
Ancient India's Contribution to Production Technology and Mechanical Engineering