Union Minister for Human Resource Development Ramesh Pokhriyal on Saturday claimed ancient Indian medical practitioner Charaka was the first person to study and discover atoms and molecules. He also claimed that Sanskrit, being a “scientific language”, will be the only basis of a “talking computer” if there ever is one.

The Bharatiya Janata Party leader made the remarks at the convocation ceremony of Indian Institute of Technology Bombay.

“According to NASA [United States’ National Aeronautics and Space Administration], if a walking-talking computer, a computer that uses spoken language, were to be a reality, it can survive only because of Sanskrit,” Pokhriyal said. “NASA is saying this because Sanskrit is a scientific language in which words are written exactly the way they are spoken. No other language is as scientific.”

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Pokhriyal added: “Who conducted research on atoms and molecules? Charaka Rishi was the one who researched atoms and molecules, discovered them.”

According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, Greek philosopher Leucippus is thought to have founded atomic philosophy in the fifth century BCE. His disciple Democritus named the building blocks of matter atomos, which means “indivisible” around 430 BCE. Charaka is believed to have lived at least a century later.

Pokhriyal also spoke about the benefits of Ayurveda. “In the entire world, the first thing that any big hospital in any country wants is to set up an AYUSH wing because no medical treatment is complete without AYUSH,” he claimed. “Some students seem unsure [of whether to agree or disagree with me]...but we must know all this because to take India to the top, we must know the past, as well as where we stand today and about the path ahead.”

Ayurveda is one of the five components of “AYUSH”, whose other letters stand for yoga and naturopathy, Unani, siddha and homoeopathy. The Narendra Modi government had set up a Ministry of AYUSH in 2014.