Union Minister for Human Resource Development Ramesh Pokhriyal on Saturday claimed that Indian scriptures mentioned the concept of gravity long before physicist Isaac Newton did, ThePrint reported.

The Bharatiya Janata Party leader made the remarks in his address at Gyanotsav, an event organised by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-affiliate Shiksha Sanskriti Utthan Nyas to discuss the new education policy. He appealed to the directors of the Indian Institutes of Technology and National Institutes of Technology to undertake more research on ancient Indian science.

“We need to prove that all that we keep talking about like Charaka, Aryabhata, they all existed and that our scriptures mentioned the concept of gravity much before Newton discovered it,” the HRD minister was quoted as saying by ThePrint.

The event was attended by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, Patanjali founder and yoga guru Ramdev’s close aide Balkrishna, and other RSS leaders. Several other directors of IITs, NITs, heads of the University Grants Commission and All India Council for Technical Education also attended.

Pokhriyal said youngsters questioned him when he said that India was ahead in all fields including science and technology. “When we spoke about yoga, people used to cringe,” he added. “Whatever we had in the past was never conveyed to the youngsters in a modern way, we erred someway in communicating our ancient wisdom. This is why I want to appeal to all the directors of IITs and NITs that they should take up more research on ancient knowledge.”

The minister also asked the institutions to prove that Sanskrit is the “most scientific language” and the “most appropriate language” for talking computers – if they become a reality in the future, IANS reported.

“Sanskrit is the oldest language as the ‘Vedas’ and ‘Puranas’ were written in the language,” he said. “Sanskrit is the mother of all languages on the planet. If there is any other language that you can claim to be older than Sanskrit, you should tell me.”

Pokhriyal had made similar claims at the convocation ceremony of the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay last week. He had then clarified that he was referring to the work of a NASA scientist who had published an article “Knowledge Representation in Sanskrit and Artificial Intelligence” in the Artificial Intelligence magazine.

At Saturday’s event, the minister also claimed that “Rishi Pranav” was the first to discover atoms and molecules. However, in his address to IIT Bombay he had claimed ancient Indian medical practitioner Charaka was the first person to study and discover atoms and molecules.

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.