Science and Philosophy in Ancient India
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Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya was ‘a one-man brigade against philosophical obscurantism’ during more than three decades that he wrote and published, beginning withLokayatain 1959. In the eight essays collected in this volume, he concentrates on Mathematics and Medicine in ancient India by tracing the fundamental aspects of these two disciplines of science. It is customary to credit Thales for marking the beginnings of science but Debiprasad disabuses this notion by adducing abundant evidence to show that Uddalaka Aruni f the Chandogya Upanishad fame was the first experimental scientist that the world knows of. Geometry has its origin principally in the making of sacrificial altars while astronomy goes back to the days of the Indus Valley Civilisation. The fascinating history and sociology of ancient Indian medicine and the physicians have been reconstructed by the author with copious material from the texts and is an eye-opener in more than one sense. The philosophical sources of idealism in the Indian context and a particular response of Rabindranath Tagore to an aspect of its heritage throw loight on an area not commonly researched.
Late ProfessorDebiprasad Chattopadhyayawas an outstanding student of Indian philosophy in our times who was a self proclaimed Marxist, itself unique. Until his death in 1993, he taught at the City College, Calcutta and published a large number of books in English and Bengali on a range of themes which opened up new vistas in the history, philosophy and social movements before scholars and the lay readers alike. Like a true Marxist, he looked upon creation of knowledge as a weapon of struggle for better life for the masses.
Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya had earned his Doctorate from Calcutta University and had been conferred an Honorary D.Sc. by Moscow University. In his time, he was elected Member of the Academy of Sciences, (in the erstwhile) German Democratic Republic, Berlin, and National Fellow of the Indian Council of Philosophical Research for 1987-88. As Guest Scientist at the National Institute of Science, Technology and Development Studies, a CSIR constituent, he published the monumental History of Science and Technology in Ancient India. HisScience and Society in Ancient Indiaearned him praise from Professor Joseph Needham and was lauded in a review in Nature. His other prestigious books includeLokayata, Indian Atheism, What is Living and What is Dead in Indian Philosophy, Religion and Society,etc.