Making of the Indian Philosophy of Science
PROLOGUE Kamalakanta, once deprived of milk by Prasanna Qoalini, the milk-maid, felt that "The whole world is a market". He then went to the market and after looking at different shops in the marketplace, he saw this ad: MESSRS BROWN JONES AND ROBINSON



Offer to the Indian Public A Large Assortment of NUTS PHYSICAL, METAPHYSICAL LOGICAL, ILLOGICAL.


... The author is Linguist, Linguistic research unit, 1. S. I. Calcutta


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Kamalakanta heard the shopkeeper calling, - "Come, black lads, . come to eat Experimental Science. Experiment no. 1 is a fist .... " After witnessing the coercive experiment, Kamalakanta observed that one white man bore down into the brahmins' coconut shop, Out of fear, all the Brahmin shopkeepers escaped and the Englishmen ate coconuts after piercing them with British 'weapons' , On being asked by Kamalakanta, the Englishman answered that they were doing "Asiatic researches". Before being exposed to the white man's "Anatomical Research" Kamalakanta escaped from the marketplace. The narrative, at a time, handled the market management of epistemoLogy, colonial intervention in the Oriental space in the name of 'Asiatic Researches' and the deployment of coercion along with the white men's global Positivist science (that, according to them cannot be reduced to or called as "Western Science"), that is only the "experimental science" (reader must note that these words are in English and not translated in BangIa text by Bankimchandra) developed on the basis of Mill's inductive method. Furthermore, "experimental science" had become a commodity that could, with the punch of PHYSICAL, META.PHYSICAL, LOGICAL, ILLOGICAL NUTS, dislocate the teeth of ALL INDIAN ·YOUTHS. This incidence of "dislocation" of space(s) is the key to understanding the Indian Philosophy (henceforth IP)-riarrative. Kamalakanta was not aware of another possible do- Brahmins, instead of escaping from their shops, participated in . main: the discourse of western science, de-signed their shops according to that derivative paradigm and subsequently produced commodities like "Vedic Science" that were to be cultivated in the "Vedic University"!l! However

about something that .-

called "IP". We forget, at the moment

of speaking

1) "India" is a socio-political construct that was born out of (mainly) 19th. century industrial as well as print capitalist imagination
of nation state

2) and that imagination modes of colonialism.

was also appropriated

by the different

3) "Philosophy" is equated with "darsana" as a part of political translation. 1 Apart from their obvious similarities, there are also differences as Bankirnchandra pointed out that "Philosophy" is sadhya (is to "be mediated) and darsana is ·sadhaniya (ought to be mediated). ( Chattopadhyay, 8.,1879/1974:217-18) 4) What is cat.egorized under the umbrella of homogenized '.'IP" is a purely "good orient"-al project that exdudes "other" non-Sanskritized ways of thought and methods of proving 'truth/s'', This has a precedence in the Sayana Madhava's "sarvadarsatlsamgraha"{14th. century A.D.), which was taken, at the moment of constructing ttIP" as an appropriate paradigm for setting up the 'order of things'. 5) This 'order of things' is approximated and appropriated by the western knowledge-base. Thus what is called "IP" is also a derivative discourse.
(as translated by Dasgupta, 1936:86 }.Nothing was classified separately as "science" in the so called Indian tradition, though some elements of so called "Indian culture" may obviously be categorized as "science" from the European point of view.
6) "Vijnan.all in the Indian tradition means "Consciousness"

1. PROBLEMATICS If anyone has a chance to ask Dr. Kapila or Prof. Goutama or
even "Mr." Carvaka (~) the following question, "What do you think, as an Indian Philosopher or bharatiya darsanika, about the IP of science?" . they might be perplexed as they do not know (a) the meaning of India or bharata (b) the equation of Indian Philosopher or bharatiya darsanika as well as the semantics of'IP/ bharatiya darsana (c) connotation of vijnana or science. They may ask in return, 'What are these things you

7) What as a whole, may be called and perceived as nIP of Science" today is merely a result of retrospective effect, i.e. appropri1. Translation-projects under colonialism cannot ·be devoid of the problems of nation-statist programme. Under the British Raj, when different European disciplineswere borrowed in the realm of Indian epistemology, 'drama' was translated as 'na'Iok', 'epic' as 'moHakbbo', 'grammar' as ·'bEkaron' etc., though there were many problems of usual cultural relativity and spatial world-views. The problem was further complicated in the translations of Ayurveda and Hindu Law. Those problems reveal the possibility of different "local sciences" in contrast to monolithic "global science", This is a serious problem that is to be elaborated elsewhere. .

are talking about?' .:
, In fact, these are the three rnain problems when we are talking


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ating past knowledge by deploying today's knowledge-base and techniques, which may be called "epistemological recurrence" following Bachelard,
8) Due to this recurrence and appropriation

by western episte-

mology, the de-sign of modern "IP" has emerged as a result of "epistemological amalgamation 112.

AU these problems before venturing into the ments should be "proved" the "global'f(?) Philosophy

must be seriously explained and elaborated realm of "IP of Science", as all these state(i.e. need pramana) according to the need of of science.

As the construction of Indian Nationality is a much explained and much debated p·henomenon in contemporary academics (Chatterjee1993,Nandy1994, KaviraJ,1995), I would like to keep aside points 1and 2, though we must keep in mind that the construction of flIP" also subscribed the colonial' de-sign of the Indian Nation State. Even Radhakrishnan(1923:766}, to cite an example, imagined "Indian Race" in the course of his construction of IP. 3

tioned above. If darsana is "sadhaniya", it is a way of life and enlightened epistemology is not. Truths about knowledge and life are two different things from the Euro-centric perspective. I do not think that it is a tenable difference as, irrespective of Eastern and Western(a mere geographical distinction reinterpreted geo-politically} tradition there was a concern regarding the body of the subject as well as about truth and knowledge. What Plato considered as epimeleia heautou ('Care for self: cf. Radhakrishnan's equation of darsana and atmavidya} may also be carefully equated with the plea of Patanjali in the context of yoga darsana. If one sets up today a specific domain of "Philosophy" and "darsana", point (3) is not at all an issue to be discussed seriously for the sake of this paper. (see fn.· 1) Whereas (4) needs to be discussed as it is an extension of the Nehruvian India-Project that ultimately ends up in Hinduist BharataProject in connection with the white men's construction of a good (aryan) oriental project. All three projects exclude "other" bad orients or homogenize, by way of hegemonic epistemological amalgamation, all the diversities. Thus IP is born. as a subject with some common. characters. In this regard, the following questions may arise: . Why is Sufi, among many others, not considered a part of IP? Why was Dara Sukoh's excellent work on Sufi totally ignored in two expositions of IP by Dasgupta and Radhakrishnan? Why was the Santal's (actually HOR is their endonym) HORkQren mare HapRamko ReyaHk kOtha also not considered in the list of IP?·

Regarding point (3), for the purpose of our discussion, we shall take it for granted that "philosophy is equal to darsana". However, it creates problems due to Bankimchandra's generalized comment men2. To understand the growth and acquisition of knowledge, following the French tradition of epistemology, one may deploy Bachelard's concepts of epistemologi- . cal break(or rupture: if there is a threshold in between two paradigms, this threshold or line of demarcation is called epistemological break) ;epistemological recurrence(this concept hies to grasp the essence of History as a perennial reappropriation and re-interpretation of past truth in the light of the present, e.g" Paninian system of linguistic analysis has been borrowed in modern times to interpret languages); epistemological obstacle (science has broken away from common sense and common knowledge. Mundane everyday knowledge poses an obstacle to the understanding of scientific truth, e.g., general human beings an epistemological obstacle ·to understand the nature of morphological analysis done by . linquists); and to add one more "epistemological amalgamation"(When more than one different alien concepts come under one heading, this is called epistemological .. amalgamation) In the realm of colonial pedagogy.

~~ On the contrary, Buddha was made an auatara of Visnu and his Philosophy is part of IP despite its non-conformist attitude towards Vedic faith. This coercive selving is represented as proof of tolerance on the part of Bharat-project managers. Why does this type: of paradox exist within thesysterri? • of IP? Only the politically and strategically constructed Vedic system and its opponent have been taken into consideration, others are excluded . What is the raison de etre behind this type of exclusion-inclusion?
which have also their place in India. The most obvious reason is that of common usage. India even today is mainly Hindu .... " (1923:56, emphasis added). This is a . short example of the endeavour for the Hinduization and constitution of otherness as well as hegemonic selving of others.


<. • . Why are Non-Sanskrit/Pali texts ignored in the representation

3. Radhakrishnan answered such questions in this way: "It is necessary to give some justification for the title "Indian Philosophy", when we are discussing the philosophy of the Hindus as distinct from the other communities

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Thus IP is a metanarrative that ignores, in its process of homogenization, the "other" fragments of Philosophy. In fact, the entire BhaktiSufi period is ignored in the narratives of IP. I want to keep pending all these questions for the purpose of the . paper and turn to (5). (5) may be explained from the following quote from one ·of the exponents of "modern" education, Iswarchandra Vtdyasagar, who wrote this passage in "notes" of the Sanskrit College(12 April, 1852): "True it is that the most part of the Hindu system of Philosophy do not tally with the advanced ideas of modern times, yet it is undeniable that to a good Sanskrit scholar their knowledge is absolutely required by the time that the students come to the Darsana or Philosophy class their acquirements in English will enable them to study the modern Philosophy of Europe. Thus they shall have ampleropportunity ,of comparing the system of Philosophy of their own, with the new Philosophy of Western World. Young men (sic) thus educated will be better able to expose the errors of ancient Hindu Philosophy than if they were to derive their knowledge of philosophy from European sources. One of the principal reasons why I have ventured to suggest the study _ of all the prevalent systems of Philosophy in India is that the student will clearly see that the propounder of different systems have attacked each other and have pointed out each other's errors and fallacies. Thus he (sic) will be able to judge for himself his(sic) knowledge of European Philosophy shall be to him an invaluable guide to the understanding of the merits of the different systems.

the Indian context. Obviously, other possibilities are ignored. This designed paradigm was followed by everyone from B.N. Seal and P.C. Roy to D.P. Chattopadhyay and Irfan Habib. All of them explored . India as 'object' to locate "science" and "technology" maintaining the connotatio-ns of western "science" and "technology" per se. Though, as I have said earlier, there was no such monolithic and stipulated semantics of science interpreted as vijnana in the supposed Indian territory. The term vijnana was not simply there. We found this word, apart from Buddhist texts, in Patanjali's Mahabhasya(VI. 1.84, varttika 5) asdenoting "specific knowledge or understanding" along with the word vijneya (the object of knowledge'). What matters is that what we understand today as uijnana was totally missing in the meaning of the word used . by Patanjali. What was prevalent in the Brahmanic tradition was vidya (<1vid= to know, now may be translated as education) within which, according to Arthasasatra, there were four categories: anviksiki (roughly 'logic'), trayi ('knowledge of the three vedas), bortta (Agriculture and businessmanagement) anddandoniti (politics). Thus there is no stipulated dividing practice between Natural-and Social Science in the Indian context. The First vidya is called. anviksiki(logic), which is .according to Kautiiya,

"pradipah sarvovidyanamupayah
. .


asrayah sarvadharmanam sosvadanviksiki matah."
[anuiksiki{logic) is like a lamp for all the vidyas, means for all the works , the shelter for aU the dharmas or qualities or sectarian religions] This central emphasis on the role of anviksiki inaugurates the scope of "philosophy of science" in the contemporary sense of the term.


I quote this long passage as this prescription is a trend-setter in the future projects related to IP and thus it helps to build up a paradigm. The main allegation was that as "Hindu Philosophy" is fallacious and erroneous as well, it is to be codified, approximated, appropriated ("dislocated") and de-signed by European Philosophy. (It is also to be noted that Viclyasagar did not deny the "utility" of Sanskrit scholars.) So, Vidyasagar's suggestion was to read. utilitarian Mill's logic rather. than IP's branches. Mill's inductive method was the basis of 19th century Western Science introduced as episteme in the realm of colonial epistemology, and peculiarly enough, from then on only the experimental science verified by Mill's method of induction (to understand the politics of Utilitarianism please see Stokes, 1959), is considered as science and anything appropriated by that is signifled as "science" in

Apart from vidya, there was another category: kala (Greek ars, English arts). Under this heading 64 items were listed that include chemistry, carpentry, aesthetics, civil engineering, knowledge of excavation, painting, the art of tailoring, beautician's artwork, medical science etc. However, it is also surprising to note that agriculture is totally absent from the list. The absence of agriculture from the list of kala and its presence within vidya may entail the fact that agriculture was marginalized due to the proliferation of industry that was subscribed by technology developed by visvaka-rmas (Mukherjee, 1993 ). This list reveals . that kala is application of some parts of vidya and in the 'modern'




Indian. Philosophy

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sense of the term 'technology' . is an application of 'science', This type of 'order of things' was obviously unknown to the scholar educated in thewestem tradition. The question then is whether one is to be allowed to deploy western disciplinary technology in the' understanding of the eastern field of knowledge and its subsequent order of things? ' ,

As this paper is written in English, it is very difficult to keep the
ancient IP 'order of things' undisturbed. Intervention .must be there as ' the traces of English always threaten the discursive formation. This is a dangerous trap and we must keep it under erasure(see fn. 1), e.g. we must treat "science" as an exonymfor different uidyas discussed in the sastras. Keeping in mind(samskara in the Naiyayika sense or 'Trace' as used by Derrida) this occidental de-sign-ation of science, one must venture" to swim in the realms of vidya and kala of Indian epistemological spaces. From the perspective of western epistemology, it is very difficult to understand the Indian dividing practice of kala, and vidya. Even Foucault misunderstood such dividing practices when he said that "China, Japan, India, Rome, the Arabo-Muslim societies - which endowed themselves with an ars erotica." (1988:57) On the other hand, he said, ", ·:ou~ civilization possesses no ars erotica. In return, it is undoubtedly the only civilization to practice a scientia sexualis; or rather, the only civilization to have developed over the centuries procedures for telling the truth of sex which are geared to a form of knowledge'-power strictly opposed to the art of initiations and the masterful sacred: ... II (1988:58). It is almost like saying, "We (meaning white men) have science, and you (colonized)' have arts." The problem is that, as is evident from the sex-management depicted in Kamasutra, kala or ars is an amalgamation of both science and arts. In fact, the European dividing practice between ars and science is not at all tenable in ,the Indian spaces.

, On the contrary, P.e.Ray (1902-3)conjectured that the rigorous development of technology had led logic to a domain of success. And that scientific temper subsequently decayed due to the intervention of idealist philosophy. Ray even compared 'the European Mid~le a~e w~th that of India. Ray alleged that Medieval Philosophy;. especlall~ ldeah.st philosophy was responsible for the decay of expenmental science In ancient India. Meghnad Saha( 1965) also lamented the lack of technology and scientific temper due to Brahminical as well as idealist manoeuvres 'of science. However, there are many problems in the discursive formation of these three extraordinary scholars. All of them were eager to look for the projected global science (read European or, Wester~ Sc~~nce ~f induction) in the oriental space. Seal's use of the word positive ~CIence" and Mill's method prove that he ignored the amalgamated existence of induction and deduction in the pancavayavi nyaya. Secondly, Ray's equation of western-eastern middle age is a result of.severe E~rocentricism. Sahats(1965) lamentation depends on the notion that developrnent" means industrialization. There is no doubt that due to the intervention of the priestly commune, the free flow of knowledge was disturbed, but there is also another side of the coin, that was onl.Y exposed by Tagore in the Hibbert lecture(1~30) in Oxf~rd. In this lecture, "Religion of Man"(1930), Tagore mentioned the phtlosophy of the Sauls and otherwise ignored poets like Rajjab, Kabir, Dadu et al. The marginalized philosophy was thus foregrounded. Tagore's narrative shows that IP is not only Brahminical and Sanskritic in its structure. However his discourse was also appropriated by 19th century Humanism (Abu Sayed Ayub noticed such appropriations). He ~ade it possible to place ignored Medieval Philosophy in the narrative of IP.


It is also important to note here that Sea-l(1915) differentiated
between logic, and applied logic in the course, of discussing the methodology of Science in ancient India. The Problem with Seal) as pointed out by Chattopadhyay(1985:27-33), is that he asserted that positivist science is responsible for the development of technology in ancienf India .. He even asserted that India had a greater tradition of logic than that of Aristotle and that Indian logic anticipated Mill's method of induction. '

Milinda:Reverend .

Sir, will-you debate with me again?

Nagasena: If your majesty will 'debate as a scholar, yes, but if · you will debate as a king, no. Milinda: How is it ·then that scholars debate? Nagasena: When the scholars debate one with the other, your majesty, there is summing up and unravelling, there is also defeat, and yet the scholars do not get angry at it. ,Thus do the schola.rs debate,


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your majesty.
. Milinda: And how do the kings debate?

Nagasena: When the kings debate, your majesty, they state a proposition, and if anyone differs from them, they order his punishment saying "Inflict punishment upon him." Thus, your majesty, do the kings debate." . In this conversation, from Miiind Panho, the power-knowledge nexus is opened up by Nagasena. Tatva or theory is to be investigated by deploying conversational techniques or modes of debating so that proma or perfect knowledge may be achieved : this scope of conversation,free from domination and manipulation is the key to understanding the IP of sciences. Even the setting up of purvapaksa (opponents'version of argumentation), before establishing uttarpaksa (strategic _category in the IP discourse, where one can expound one's own view by negating [khandana purvapaksa]) shows the same dialogical pattern inherent in the critical discourse of IP. 4This pattern of conversation, of course, makes us remember Haber.masian emancipatory .discourse or "Dialogue Constitutive Universals".

problem solving discourse" based on pramana and tarka (evidence and argument) with no interest in winning the dispute. The only purpose of this rational conversation (ukti-pratyukti)is tattvanirnaya or 'Determination of theory' in a given spatio-temporal condition with no humiliation of the opponent. Thus, it depends on the mutual understanding between vadi-prativadi, that triggers the decision-making policy. Vada is also related to Caraka's concept of sandhya sambhasa (friendly and congenial debate). Only the seekers after truth (tattvabubhutsu) can participate in this type of debating. On the other hand, "JaJpa means a dispute in which disputants give wrangling rejoinders in order to defeat their respective opponents." (ibid) In this case, one of the debaters must win and the judge or panel of judges may determine the winner. Uddotkara mentioned that this type of debate needs the proving and rebuttal "based upon equivocation (chala) and parity of reasoning. Uati) and censure of all kinds." (Matilal, 1985: 13 ) "Chala means the intentional misinterpretation of the opponents' argument for the purpose of defeating him (sic)· Joti consists in the drawing of contradictory conclusions, the raising of false issues or the like with deliberate intention of defeating an opponent." (Dasgupta, S: 362 )..Anyway, this tricky debate with the intention of winning has nothing to do with Communicative Competence (a la Habermas) and it leads to a manipulative discourse generally found in . popular interviews and chat shows. , Thirdly, n A Jalpa is called vitanda when it is only a destructive criticism which seeks to refute opponents' doctrine without seeking to establish ~r formulate any newdoctrine.l'(lbid] It is, from the standpoint of critical theory, a latent or non-latent strategic systematically distorted communication (intended) to manipulate others' argument by using chala, jati etc. and there is no question of proving the counterthesis. Vifandapervades today's political discourse or language of coni", petitive advertisement and there is no question of vadain these frus-' trating times of total manipulation. · From 'these perspectives, one may think of heterglossic (a la Bakhtin) polylogues, which try to break, ata time, the repression by internal nature and power relations in interaction. Instead of two metaphoric participants, we must have many participants involved in many polylogues. The Jaina philosophers may refer to.this plurality of truth-seeking logic as 'anekanta'. This anekantavada (philosophy of many


In Nyaya theory on modes of debating or Katha (speech, discussion), Matilal (1985:9-22) had already discussed in detail the family resemblance between Greek and Indian method of "Dialectic"or method of disputation. The reason behind .choosing the Nyaya. theory, among many other theories of debating is that Nyaya Theory Is most "systematic" (ibid) - a formal system in accounting the modes of debates. '
Kotha is, instead of monologue, rather a dialogue between vadi (propagator) andprafivadi (refuter). There are three types of Katha



according to Nyaya Philosophy, viz. Vada,jaipa,


"When two opposite parties dispute over their respective theses, in which each of them tries to prove his (sic) own thesis with reasons, each of the theses is called vada." (Dasgupta,S.1922/1975:360). Vada from the perspective of Critical Theory of Habermas, is a "rational
4. ~t is important here to note Panchanan Sastri's contemporary representationt 1988 and 1994) of these two categories as bhusani (literary omaments)and dusani (depraved. or corrupted). What is noticeable here is that contemporary IP also maintains the dialogical pattern. of representation in its various expositions. ..



Indian Philosophy 0·£ Science


perspectives or standpoints or non-one-sidedness which is a derivative of Buddhist anekamsika·-d·octrine-) evolves out of the revolt against the monistic absolutism of Brahminical authoritarianism. Theyintroduced the polylectic (often dubbed as dialectic) of syadvada, which synthe. sizes the different partial standpoints by denying the metanarrative of absolute. Jaina-theorists affixed 'in some respect' (syat) to mere affir- ' mation or negation or inexplicable phenomena. Thus it opens up a non ..pre-deterrninistic open-ended project to solve the problem of valid. ity of argumentation. According to this anekanta-theory, different ways (nayas) or standpoints can sort out the validation of truth. They introduced the polylectics of syadvada, which synthesizes the different partial standpoints by d.enying the metanarrative of absolute.

avyaktyavyah as "indeterminate" to make a provision for uncertainty . principle as literary avyaktyavyah means "indescribable". Later on, D.S. Kothari (1985) justified :Mahalanabis' position as he noticed the similarity of Niels Bohr's complementary principle. J.B.S. Haldane(1957), following Mahalanabis, also noticed in the syadvada, in reference to the then Philosophy, the position of conclusion intermediate to certainty and uncertainty ..Haldane mentionedone crucial thing in connection with syadvada, that is known today as halting problem of Turing machine -. He mentioned paradoxes of Principia Mathematica, which when given in a machine, would elicit an answer that is indeterminate
or avyaktyav·yah.

In this system. of logic, both the formal and non-formal systems of reasoning can be incorporated. P.C. Mahalanabis found the foundation of Statistics in the Jaina Philosophy of syadvada in relation to Probability Theory. Syadvada includes polylectics of sevenfold predictions, which are depicted in the following Mahalanabis' translation:

s_yadasti syat nasti

= may be", it



= may be, it is not. nastice

This saptabhamgi liaya is an epistemologically amalgamated systern of formal and non-formal approach. Moreover, what is known as poststructuralist plurality of interpretations is also covered by this. sevenfold syadvodaas a part of anekantavada, a theory of manifold perspectives. 1 think this consideration of indeterminacy as a valid judge.ment apart from usual affirmative and negative statements and their compounds may open up a new avenue for understanding ever unknown and unknowable vijneya·_ This plurimethodical approach inclines towards post-structural "method" of decentred subjects as post-structuralism, as a method, encourages plurality in every sphere of interpretations. Thus, plurimethod is the bricoleur'scup of tea. The bricoleur assembles miscellaneous materials in contrast with the type-cast engineer, who starts out with a well-defined machine or explanation following a blueprint of prede.. termined theory: Levi-Strauss used the word 'bricolage' as the work of a bricoleur He also argued that no theory could escape the effects of bricolage. The bricoleur's work, then, falls outside the domain ofenlight- .. . ened science and pure reason. *

= may

be, it is and may_ be,

it is not.


=. may be, it is indetermi-

syadasti" syadavyaktauyasca· syat nastica syadavyaktavy.asca syadasti

= may

be, tt is and it is in..


== may be, it is not and it is

nasti ca syadavyaktavyasca=may be, it is and it is not and it is indeterminate
here is that Mahalanabis(1954) translated

What is noticeable

6. Sukumar Ray, in his excellent piece on the prison-house of 'language (bhaSar ottacar, "Torture of Language", 1915) depicts the following
incident:"Once an English gentleman, quoting from the Bible, said, 'You people believe that this world is not only 'flesh', but there isalso spirit in it.' As, incidentally, I accepted the hypothesis, he said 'You' are Orientals [English in original], so you have the insight. It is natural for you to accept the theory of spirits (ghosts) .' I then understood that he did not mean anything more of the word 'spirit' than merely a 'ghost'." The incident, depicted by Ray, S. clearly opened up the: discursive formation of "orientalism" or representation of the "Orient" from the perspective of white men.

5. However, the translation of syat (Oas+potential/optative third form, singular) as "may be" by Mahalanabisshould not be confused with ,"sceptic" "may be". According to Ghos:~,199·1., Itwould be. more appropriate to read it as "in some respect" Of "somehow". (for better elaboration of the meaning' 'of syat see Matilal, 1981 :52-53)



Indi.an Philosophy of Science


The narrative elaborated above mainly depends on the usual exposition of IP as brahminical texts. However, there is the other side of the coin. In India, as mentioned by Mukherjee(1993), we find an apparently dispersed community of bricoleurs, who call themselves visvakarmas or sons of visvakarmas, a group of 'engineers' devoted to technological ·inventions in the realm of almost all the 64 kalas that include architecture, musicology, civil 'engineering, art etc. Mukherjee (1993) researchedthis class of people throughout India and she found a surprising equation of Buddha, .Ravana, Visvakarma andcsum (demon). Almost all of them except Buddhato some extent, surprisingly enough, got the villain status and visvakarmawas placed in between hero and villain. It was,' no doubt, due to the domination of the priestly commune that the bricoleur-class was represented as villain. Some oral stories justify this conjecture: Once Brahmawas eager to see works of different artisans from the different parts of the country .. After all the other workers had - finished the Job, Visvakarma came and made a camel out of some wasted materials .. Due to the late arrival of Visvakarma, Brahrna cursed him saying that Visvakarma would not earn more than his work so that there would be no savings. · Laksmi decided not to come to Visvakarma's house but later on, moved by his pitiable condition, blessed him saying 'that Visvakarma. would get work wherever he went.
f) Mother goddess



efforts of churning the ocean, there was a role of Visvakarma, who was not at all mentioned in the Mahabharata. Taking our cue from her, we may. relate Guha's (1985) exposition of the Rahu narrative in this regard. Guha documented the Rahu narrative in the light of some subaltern oral texts. There we found that the hero-villain relationship between Bisnu, the god and Rahu, the anti-god or demon was totally inverted from the subalterns' gaze ..What is more important is that the supposed hero from the standpoint of super-ordinates' dominant and fantastic gaze turns out to be the "hero" of thieves or rather dacoits (thus a villain from the subalterns' gaze) who could subsume the others' share of the property (nectar that comes out of churning the ocean) without acknowledging others' toil. The same case of "snatching nectar" is also visible in case of science, technology and industry. A type of hegemonic and coercive selving or subsumption on the part of super-ordinate is seen in the realm of kala. Following Ray's conjecture, we may also hypothesize the fact that the industrial techniques developed from below helped to create the pattern of vidya in the metalanguage of Sanskrit. However, the question is: what was the working hypothesis for their work? What was Visvakarrna's philosophy?' 'Mukherjee met Ram Mistri in Bodhgaya. He said, "When we are at work, we have become Visvakarrna - when we want to do some work, procedures for producing the thing come spontaneously to our mind - and then we have become visvakarmas." (ibid:27). This type of 'spark-ing' .activity, without any blueprint makes me compare it with Bhartrihari's sphota and Levi-Strauss' concept of bricoleur, There is no analytical procedure (Bhartrihari [7 C. AD] in the context of vyakarana. Kuntaka in the context of literary theory (lingua aesthetics) criticized analytical procedures and abstractions (by calling them apoddhara) adopted by them. It has come to them like a spark or sphota.
. .

e, Manasa blackmeiled Visvakarma when he refused to make a hole in Lakhindar's bedroom. Visvakarma was bound to do so. From then on, all the visvakarmas would sing the Behula ... Lakhindar story at the time of Durgapuja.


Story A shows us Brahminical control over the engineers, whereas story Bsimultaneously shows the refusal and compassion on the part ' of the dominant goddess. In Story C, even a subaltern goddess dominated Visvaka.rma. All these brief stories show us the acute marginalization of artisan or bricoleur-class. That is, there was a strong industrial system es elaborated by Mukherjee (ibid) and that was dominated. by the priestly commune, Of course, all these stories were a' hegemonic subsumption on the part of the dominator. Mukherjee{ibid)starts with the Rahu narrative. To her, in the engineering

This was not understood by the pioneers of 19th· century industrial capitalism. The indigenous unalternating division of labour vis a vis alternating division of labour, Asiatic amalgamation of agriculture and handicrafts versus strong western demarcation between these two, Asiatic common possession of land with fuzzy boundaries versus strong concept of private property and enumerated land-boundaries, small industrial units versus gigantic-eco-enemy mechanical factories ...all thesem!smatche~ ~longwi.th t~e western w~ite. men's gaze gave, birth to a notion of "spiritual India Without any material development". Who cares for the fact that India had faced, as our nationalist historians like








Indian Philosophy

of Science


Dadabhai Naoroji or R~C. Dutta emphasized, "deindustrialization" due to colonial intervention? If we do not have our industry, why did they use the term "deindustrialization"? Our industry and its subsequent technology survived, as is evident from visvakarma-narratives, despite being marginalized by the strong priestly commune, who tried to erase the subaltern domain.


!~ ,


My point here is' that osuro or visvakarma or mayadanava as villain-bricoleur showed plurimethodical (cf. Feyerabend) approaches in their gigantic works ranging from architecture to music. This plurimethodology helped dominators to construct their anekanta-method or polylectics in the realm of vidya as well as darsana. The paradox of this story is that the schools who .adopted such methods, were ultimately marginalized.

in Dreitzelv H. P. ed. Patterns of Communicative Behaviour. New York : . Macmillan. . Haldane, J. B. S. 1957. 'The Syadvada Systems of Prediction'. Sankhya. Vol. 18. Reprinted in Chattopadhyay, Debiprasad. 1991. (Pg - 433-40). Kothari, D. S. 1985. 'The Complementary Principle and Eastern Philosophy'. French, A. P. et al, (ed.) Neils Bohr: A Centinary Volume. Mass: CUP. Reprinted in Chattopadhyay, Debiprasad. 1991. (Pg-441-48). Mahalanabis, P. C. 1954. 'The Foundations 0/ Statistics' ( A Study in Jaina Logic). Dialectica 8. Reprinted in Chattopadhyay, Debiprasad. 1991. (Pg 417-32). Motilal, B. K. 1985. Loqtc, Language and Reality. Delhi : Motilai


J. 1970. 'Towards a Theory of Communicative


~ ~


Abhayankar, K. V. 1961/86. A Dictionary of Sanskrit Grammar. Baroda:



Oriental Institute.
Nationalist Thought and Colonial World : A Derivative Discourse? London: Zed. 1993. The Nation and its Fragments. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Chattopadhyay, B. 1954. Collected Works of Bankimchandra. Vol. 2. CaI~ cutta : Sahitya Samsad .. Chattopadhyay, Debiprasad. 1981. lokaYOto. Delhi : People's Publishing House. 1991. History of Science end Technology in Ancient India. Vol.2. Calcutta : Firma K.L.M. Dasgupta, 5 .. N. 1922/75. History of Indian Philosophy. Delhi : Motilal Benarasidas. . Feyerabend, P. 1988. Against Method. London :. Verso. Foucault, M..1973. The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences. New· York: Vintage Books. 1988. The History 0/ ~exuality : An Introduction. Vol. 1. New York : Vintage Books. 1988. The Archaeology of Knowledge and Discourse on Lang~age.. New York : Pantheon Books. · Guha, R. 1985. 'The Career of an Anti-God in Heaven and on Earth', in Mitra, A. ed. The Truth 'Unites: Essays in Tribute to Samar Sen. (Pg.- 125.). Calcutta :.Subarnarekha. 1ge5. An Indian Historiography 0/ India :.A Nineteenth Century Agenda and its Implications. Calcutta: K. P. Bagchi and Co.
Chatterjee, ]~1986.

Banarasidas. Matilal, B. 1981. The Central Philosophy of Jainaism (anekantavada). (L.D. Series 79) Ahmedabad: L.O. Institute of Indo logy. . Mukhopadhyay, M. 1993. biSSokOrmar SOndhane. Calcutta : Dipayan. Nanrly, A. 1994. The Illegitimacy 0/ Nationalism. Delhi: aUp. Radhakrishnan, S. 1923. Indian Philosophy. Vol. land 2. Bombay: Blackie and Sons. Publishers. Pvt. Ltd. Ray, P. C. 1909. History of Hindu Chemistry. Vol. 1. and 2. The Bengal
Chemical. and Pharmaceutical Works Ltd. Calcutta. Ray, S. 1915/1989. 'bhaSar ottacar' - 'Torture of Language'. Sukumar rOconaSONgroHo. Vo1.3. (Pg-39-44). Calcutta: Ananda. ' Stokes, E. 1959. The English Utilitarians and India. Bombay : OUP.

Saha, M. 1965. meghnad rOcona SaNkO Ion. Sastry, P. 1988. carbakO darSanam. Calcutta. 1988. bouddhO darsanam. Calcutta. Seal, B. N. 1915. The Positive Sciences a/the Ancient Hindus. London. ,Tagore, R. 1996. The English Writing 0/ Rabindranath Tagore. Vol. 3. Ed. . S. K. Das. Delhi : Sahitya Academy. · /I



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