Maharaja Sayajirao University in Baroda, Gujarat, in its annual diary, has given credit to various Hindu saints for inventing nuclear technology, cosmetic surgery, rockets and aeroplanes. The administration told The Indian Express that the diary was made with reference to books by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh leader Dinanath Batra, who is also the founder of the Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti.
Professor Ajay Ashtaputre, who is in charge of the committee that oversees the publishing of the diary, said the inclusion of the saints was recommended by Jignesh Soni, a senior member of the institute’s syndicate. Soni is also the son of a prominent RSS leader, one of the founding members of Jan Sangh that existed between 1951 to 1977. “[The word] Sages means scientists. Rishis are known for their research, and are considered scientists in their own fields of knowledge,” Soni told the newspaper. “Their names should be included in mainstream education too.”
According to the institute’s official diary for 2017, Sushrut is the “father of cosmetic surgery”, Acharya Kanad “developed nuclear technology”; Kapil Muni is the “father of cosmology”; Maharshi Bhardwaj, “discovered rockets and aeroplanes”; Charak Rishi is the “father of medicine” and Garga Muni is the “scientist of stars”. Around 2,000 copies of the diary have already been distributed by the university.
it is not uncommon for Hindu nationalists to make claims to ancient scientific progress. Some of these might have basis in some fact. For instance, in the 500 CE treatise Sushruta Samhita, the sage Sushrut describes carrying out the world’s first plastic surgeries by grafting living skin from a person’s cheek to a nose.
However, several of these claims have been made without reference to any credible ancient texts. In October, 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had faced criticism for suggesting that Indians had been practising genetic science in ancient times, saying, “That is why Karna [from the epic Mahabharata] could be born outside his mother’s womb.” Modi also said there was evidence of ancient cosmetic surgery in that Ganesha had the head of an elephant and the body of a human being. Modi had been addressing doctors at a hospital when he made these remarks, leading many to comment that he had dangerously conflated actual scientific progress with mythology.