The Science of Tradition

Humans and human societies are complex and amazing and capable of multiple ways of knowing and propagating knowledge.

For years the mystery of how homing pigeons found their way home confounded scientists.  Accurate navigation in adverse weather over long distance flight is a skill that human technology is only now mastering. Yet, pigeons have been doing it for millennia.  Recent research by Hans-Peter Lipp from the University of Zurich, Switzerland, suggests that the pigeons are able to detect subtle changes in the Earth’s gravitational field. As Lipp says, “Birds must have a gyroscope in their brain.” To detect subtle changes in the Earth’s gravitational field, a highly technical apparatus is required. Yet human beings invented even an ordinary gyroscope only in the early 20th century.  How did a pigeon do this? Did the pigeon need to know the theory of gravitation? Did it have to fashion an instrument? Did it need textual knowledge? Does it even need to be able to verbally articulate how and why of its navigation to be able to do so?

No, a scientist would answer, this immense technical know-how is obtained via evolutionary processes. Before we come to the how, let us look at the what. An extremely sophisticated instrument, that doesn’t even easily fit into our five known senses, allows the pigeon to navigate its world. While scientific research is now trying to explain how pigeons fly home, their sophisticated apparatus needed no scientific theorizing for it to be developed and to work. Ordinary people, if not philosophers of science, have bought into the common place dogma of modern science: that the only way to do science is to follow the modern scientific method; that we can only understand something, if we can reduce it to theory and are able to verbalize it; that this verbalizing must be accessible in a textual form and be peer-reviewed; and that this textual articulation of scientific theory is necessary to build sophisticated technology. Yet, till a few years ago all of humankind’s theory-building could not have built the technology that an ordinary pigeon possesses.

Now we may say that the pigeon developed this through evolutionary processes over a long period of time. Let us ponder two questions from there. If a pigeon has such sophisticated technology, what non-textual, ultra-sensory technologies do human beings possess, who are an order of magnitude more sophisticated beings than pigeons. Secondly, what sophisticated non-textual knowledge do human societies accrue over a period of time via evolutionary and other processes? It is this knowledge, accrued over time, which I shall call tradition.

My mother got dengue fever some years ago. My father had recently passed away, and we were very worried for her. She was admitted to the hospital where they were taking regular platelet counts and the count had been dropping. She was being given medicines for dengue, but the platelet count was still dropping. She had become pale. My jijaji, brother-in-law,  said a friend told him the juice of the leaves of the papaya plant is very effective for dengue. We somehow obtained this juice and gave it to her. Overnight her platelet count dramatically improved.

Now we do not understand the processes that went into play into the discovery that papaya leaf juice is a cure for dengue. We also know that my anecdotal evidence that it works as a cure for dengue does not pass muster as a scientifically valid result. It reached us through the word of mouth, not via a journal article (scientific scripture) or from a doctor (communion with the scientific priesthood).  Nonetheless, if a friend told me his father had dengue, I would likely tell him to give him papaya juice leaf, just as a friend had told my jijaji. This result of my non-scientific knowledge would spread as a meme, perhaps the same way that it spread for unknown years.

It is also quite possible that my friend’s father did not get better after administering papaya juice. It is unlikely that he would spread the meme in that case. Over time, through a process of evolutionary experiments certain memes would die out while others would spread. The one’s that survived would possibly have been tested over years to become part of what I’d call traditional knowledge, a knowledge that was not acquired using modern scientific methods. But couldn’t we test this papaya-juice hypothesis via scientific double-blind studies today?  Again, there are two problems with this. The first, such modern scientific studies are very expensive. Who would fund such a study? Certainly not someone who sells papaya at a hundred rupees a kilogram, or one who sells or grows papaya trees. The low value decentralized papaya growing ecosystem could not fund this study. A for-profit medical company would not undertake to do this study, since they wouldn’t be able to patent papayas or papaya-leaf juice at the end of the process.

The way modern patent laws work, they would need to isolate and extract the “active ingredient” in papaya-leaf juice that cures dengue. Then, they could patent it as a chemical molecule and sell a pill that cures dengue.  To get this pill approved, they would then need to spend millions of dollars in several rounds of double-blind studies over some years to prove the results. This pill would likely cost 100x more than the papaya-leaf juice, for them to make up the cost of the research, testing and approval process.

But, for the pill to really succeed in the market, they would need to do two other things. They would need to hide the fact that they isolated this molecule from papaya-leaf juice and that patients could obtain the same cure by simply drinking the juice.  Who would pay 100x for a pill, when simple, inexpensive juice would obtain the same results? But even better, they would simply dismiss the natural cure as “unscientific quackery” and “superstition” or a “hoax.” If they were powerful enough, they could even outlaw giving “nature cures” for dengue, and insist on relying on “professional medical treatment” by a doctor. The doctor, no doubt, would be invited to fancy 5-star conferences, where they would be presented with the scientific evidence for the pills and where the quackery of “alternative medicine” would be soundly derided.

The second problem with the scientific double-blind studies is that they are, of necessity, of limited times and durations. The studies could not possibly test for every different local environmental condition or for different racial or genetic variations in people. It is also possible that the remedy that worked in-context in the papaya juice, without side-effects, may cause serious side effects, when the chemical compound is isolated as a drug.  It may also not be possible to study the effects over a prolonged period of time, or over multiple generations.  And as we know, even with a well-conducted study, the results may soon be overturned later with another study. This is true of many of the results of dietary and nutritional science.  At one point, scientific studies “proved” that mother’s milk was bad for babies and nursing mothers. This science was published and pushed by milk food companies.  So a natural process followed for thousands of years was deprecated on the basis of modern science. Later, after numerous health studies found otherwise, these results were overturned.

Now, the argument is that this is the natural progression in science—the results are always tentative and ever improving. But, the problem arises, when that tentative science is used for real life choices. I learnt that I was not breast fed as a child, my father was a modern and scientific man, who would have none of it. I was a sickly child, prone to catch cold and fevers easily. Was this correlated? I don’t know. But, I do know that mothers stopped breastfeeding babies, since science said so. Stopped using ghee and used hydrogenated oil, since science said so. Hydrogenated oil was pushed as the healthy alternative to ghee based on science.  When I was about ten, our family switched to dalda– hydrogenated vegetable oil, from traditional ghee. As it turns out, the latest research shows that the trans-fat produced by hydrogenation is “the worst type of dietary fat” there is.  How many millions of people were pushed into being heart patients by this science?  Now “science” grandly informs us that ghee is actually quite good for health. The problem arises, when traditional knowledge of hundreds of years is overturned by the arrogance of flimsy tentative knowledge based on limited isolated tests, because it comes stamped with the authority-claims of science.

I remember my grandfather, who lived to his healthy late 90s every day used to eat pinnis, essentially made up of ghee, flour and shakkar (traditional sugar).  When we told him it was bad for his health, he would laugh it off, saying one should eat what one wants. He would walk miles even in his 90s and had no health problems till the end of his life. Modern science would tell us that anecdotes don’t make for good research, and I agree. But “good research” apparently isn’t one to bet on either. The good research that said fat is bad, and pushed people to low fat diets, is now determining that fat wasn’t bad after all, and low fat diets may have caused greater health problems.  Over twenty years ago, I remember reading a book called “Dr. Abravanel’s Body Type Diet” that recommended diets based on a person’s “body type” that became very popular in the US, ending with some exercise postures.  Later, when I encountered Ayurveda and Yoga, I realized that the “body types” were based on Ayurvedic Doshas and exercise postures were Yoga Asanas, all used without acknowledgment.

Traditional knowledge accumulates both via a natural methodology comparable to the scientific method as well as by the researches of different healers and preceptors, who may cognize knowledge based on experience and intuition. The process of evolutionary memetic selection that I described is one of the ways the method works. The advantage of traditional knowledge is that it is rooted in the local environment, in local conditions. In most cases, it doesn’t try to push that specific local knowledge as universally applicable. Local plants, herbs, and materials are often more appropriate for maintenance of health. Traditional systems of building and architecture in the Himalayas, for instance, allows construction of houses that show better earthquake resistance than buildings created using the knowhow of modern construction and modern science.  This is true not only in India, but of traditional societies like the Incas that built amazing earthquake-proof structures. Traditional knowledge and solutions are also more rigorously tested by decades of accumulation and are often more natural and cheaper. Knowledge of side effects, if any, and how to counter them also comes packaged together.When I was a child growing up in Chandigarh, we often used to visit relatives in Kasauli, a nearby hill town. The children would wander off for hikes into the hills, but we had to be aware of one plant—bicchu butti. This plant would cause a stinging, itching sensation when touched. But nature provided its own remedies. There was this palak patta that also grew nearby. The juice of this plant, when rubbed, would quickly relieve the sting.  The local children knew this, and so we learnt. It was certainly more practical than trying to rush off to find the doctor.

The examples that I have given above are relatively simple. But rural, tribal communities have an immense store, and lore, of local knowledge. Some of these are very sophisticated. In an article on Indian calendars, I had spoken of how Hindu festivals are linked to the moon and thus to insect germination cycles. These in turn may be linked to local deities. Deities can most simply be understood as, ‘what is honored.’ For instance, there is a tradition in parts of India where craftsmen “worship” their tools. Tools are honored, naturally, since a craftsman depends on them. This may also be the time that tools undergo specific maintenance. When an unnatural, literally not based on nature, “God religion” converts the natives, many of these festivals and practices are destroyed, since worship is reserved for the “true God.” Thus religious conversion to monotheistic religion often leads to the destruction of local knowledge systems and practices. Much of the Incan knowledge too was lost, when they were brutally conquered and converted, since their knowledge was connected to their deities and traditions that were dubbed Satanic by the Christian conquerors and wiped out.  When I argue for traditional knowledge, I talk of human wisdom, not of religion with a claim of a historic god-revelation. Revelatory religion, with its claim of infallibility as a “message from God”, is not empirically grounded. It does not have the benefit of testability, which is present in the case of accumulated human traditional knowledge.

Modern science also, unfortunately, plays a role similar to monotheistic religion in some instances. This is when the scientific method is used with the arrogance of knowing rather than the humility of discovery.  Science, then become like a Church, complete with a priesthood with arcane rituals that the non-specialists or “laity” cannot dare question. Anything not stamped by the authority of science is then labeled “superstition”, a word that is lifted straight from Christian theology. Scriptural authority translates into that of “reputed” scientific journals that may be properly cited. Standards and certifications define the limits of interpretation and practice, so that anyone going outside these can be charged with heresy and be guilty of malpractice.  And it cannot wait to ban “superstitious” practices, even though it may not fully understand them yet.  We are made wary of our own intuition and experience, since these are subjective and fallible in comparison to the claimed objectivity and authority of modern science.

The reader must take care here to not assume the converse. I am not against modern science. I was brought up in a “modern” household, one that kept itself abreast of latest scientific news affecting our world and I was trained as a scientist and engineer. I have a great deal of respect for the scientific method. If I am arguing for the legitimacy of certain traditional ways of knowing or pointing out flaws in the scientific approach, which sometime tend to become hegemonic, it is not because I am against science or the scientific method. Instead, I extremely value it. The idea of experimentation and theory building has a lot of value; its fruits are evident, especially in physics, chemistry, engineering and technology. Rather I am arguing for co-existence, tolerance, and a certain humility from scientists and from the cheer leaders of science. (Often monotheistic arrogance about modern science as the ONLY way actually comes from non-scientists or “rationalists” of various hues from the humanities and social sciences). There exist other valid ways of knowing, and the process by which traditional knowledge accumulates and propagates also has validity.

For “lay” people, science comes as another anecdote. We don’t read the medical journals, but read a watered down, perhaps inaccurate news story. Or a friend might claim what the “latest research” says. The doctors we consult may be contradictory; their remedies may be ineffective.  What do we rely on to live our lives? On a practical basis, we may learn more from exemplars, like our grandparents, on how to live, than by the contradictory, variable claims of modern science that we often receive filtered down. Humans and human societies are complex and amazing and capable of multiple ways of knowing and propagating knowledge. It is worth remembering that even a pigeon possesses remarkable technology that modern science barely understands. An animal in the wild possesses knowledge of what to eat and what not to; it rarely falls sick and knows how to heal itself.  While the authority of modern science dazzles us, it is worth remembering that in our innate knowledge, in folk wisdom, our experience and our intuition, we have access to others pools of knowledge and ways of knowing. Even pigeons do.

Sankrant Sanu is an entrepreneur, author and researcher based in Seattle and Gurgaon. His essays in the book “Invading the Sacred” contested Western academic writing on Hinduism. He is a graduate of IIT Kanpur and the University of Texas and holds six technology patents. His latest book is “The English Medium Myth.” He blogs at .
  • Cybil Peril

    Thought provoking issue. Thanks.

  • guest

    Great article, although we could place some more emphasis on breaking down and loss of traditional knowledge with monotheistic religions. I would like to state, from my understanding (for what its worth) that social science does the same, looks at issues in one country and thinks that their solutions can be applied everywhere, or that there is only one way to have a society. Which has proven dangerous in what we consider modern and archaic and how we treat what does not fit in our concept of modern.

    • Savarkar’s Disciple

      I dunno if you remember me discussing GLOCALIZATION I have begun to wonder even if this Glocalization was appropriated by the Judeo-Christian Western Culture from some Native traditons,it could be Bharat as in when our Culture spread across South East Asia and other parts local customs and deities were given equal importance and not destroyed or annihilated unlike a TOP DOWN ABRAHAMIC Hegemonic Models.

      • Vagabond

        “Glocalization” is just another form of Knowledge-Colonization.
        Fancy terms are being deliberately invented to suit the agenda.
        Finally, the “unscientific”[whatever that means today] knowledge dies, along with the culture that produces that knowledge.

        • Savarkar’s Disciple

          Actually all of the “unscientific”[whatever that means today] knowledge does not die but a lot of it is appropriated as a part of Western Secular Science which is later on sold to foreign going Colonised Hindu Doctors etc and then they come back and sell it to the Colonised Desis who are willing to shell out Thousands of Rupees for some New Agy type Secularised Method but dont want to even think of using their own Native Knowledge which was available free of cost.

      • guest

        Very interesting, never thought about this. Really interesting. think about developing it. However, in premodern Bharat times, I do not think there was the idea of ‘commercial’ meaning like McDonalds applies it. (read mcdonalization of society? a friend suggested it, and old book but very interesting.

        So the big difference would be that it was not commercialised, but instead, organic, customised naturally to the local with wisdom rooted in the local rather than borrowed from outside, which does not work.

        • Savarkar’s Disciple

          Thanks for the link,the pre modern Bharat might not have been commercialized in todays sense but one of the primary reason for our Samskriti to spread across Southeast Asia and elsewhere was actually TRADE.With trade went in our Dharma, Shastras, Stories, Ramayan, Mahabharat etc so I completely agree with the Organic growth part but also its a better model for Globalization compared to the European or Arab Model or Chinese Model.
          If you read Arun Bhattacharjee’s Greater India or R.C.Majumdar’s Ancient Indian Colonies In The Far East Suvarnadipa & Corporate Life in Ancient India you will realize that China could not spread beyond a point because it imposed its way of life on the locals as in the language,the clothing, food etc and had Chinese Governers so basically it functioned somewhat like the British Empire.The same thing has been discussed by Michel Danino and Sanjeev Sanyal in many of their videos.

          • guest

            Wow, that is very interesting. I hope you are working on developing that in a book. I know little about history —but makes sense. So in that sense it is Glocalization but in a way that profit does not go only one way right? and talk about freedom and space to be. yes, this should be developed. but I am still not sure if we can say that the MNCs borrowed it because I think they did it only for one reason ‘markets’ it is like KFC etc. have to sell or want to sell eliachi chai—to make it more Indian…

          • Savarkar’s Disciple

            “that profit does not go only one way right?”-No it does not,I am not saying the MNC model is based on it but certain aspects like Glocalization “MIGHT” be an appropriation.Actually what I remember this whole Company thing is based on the model of the Church which is a top down model.But without enough research and proper references indicating to some kind of influence I cant entirely say if Glocalization is based on Our Bharatiya Samskriti Model or directly taken from the “INCULTURATION” strategy of the church.But then who is to tell that if this so called INCULTURATION strategy too was stolen from someone HAHAHA ….Never the less since you mentioned KFC,their formula for KFC Chicken is supposed to be some top secret thing now you never know from which Native tradition they might have stolen it and are now selling it as their own patent.Similarly they can do it with your Elaichi Chai too if it becomes a hit abroad and who knows they could even try to patent it to a point where we”POLYTHEIST HEATHENS” will not be allowed to use Elaichi ourselves without paying to our Western Masters.If these guys can steal Potato and Tomatoes and call them heathen to begin with then start using it to point where the Brits are known for Fish and CHIPS and Italy for PIZZA with Tomatoes without paying the natives of South America a single penny then anything and everything is possible.

            “I hope you are working on developing that in a book. “-That is a distant dream which I dunno if at all will ever come to be true.




          • guest

            Thanks for this SD, got busy with work.

            Also I sometimes read this new newspaper
            I wonder if you are one of the writers 🙂 Yes, the west has stolen much. and continues. It is important that such voices rise. Thanks for all the links, I only looked at the petition and sent it to friends. but will read the others. Will write again. PS: write the book, no more time for distant dreams. It is now, the iron is hot, people are trying to understand all this….so…..write, start small, may be a blog, or a short book or an article, and then expand,

          • Savarkar’s Disciple

            I dont write for YUGAPARIVARTAN or any other blog….especially if you see anti Israel stuff (by Mr.Kunda) done without proper due diligence..I would be the last guy to be writing there….But yeah some of the stuff over there is good…I see u and ur Sardarji friend thats where u declared ur a Khatri…..incase you wanna burst the BUBBLE of your friends MARTIAL race/class then read the link I provided and quote from it…. its a SAARANSH of Veena Talwar Oldenburg’s Dowry murders…and yes i agree about a blog or short book or an article… thanks for showing faith in my limited skills of writing..


          • guest

            Thanks for this. Will check it out. Sometimes when I read all this my mind starts to get dull–with overload of information and the fear of the mountain of work that must be done before we are decolonized. how much have we internalised. I do not know much about Jews etc. I do not know how to feel about it. But yes Yugaparivaratan has some good ideas. Yes, I am not sure if I agree with some of the things that Singh sardar said. Some of course are ok. Oh yes the khatri part, we re kshatriyas, but you know. what are we really, even in our family we are mixed. Then we are urbanites for generations, neither do we till lands nor wield swords or guns to protect the nation. We become this bland person who is called a ‘citizen. who demands rights but has forgotten duties.
            Yes, please write. We need writers and those who bring things to light. I do know that we have an enormous task in front of us…..!!

          • Savarkar’s Disciple

            You might have already seen these videos but its relevant to the discussion we had.


          • guest

            No, I had not seen these. Thanks for sharing. I know these theories, but this is more detailed. So, next —I remember we talked about ‘history centricism’. remind me again your points and questions and I will think about it again since am trying to read being different. thanks

          • Savarkar’s Disciple



            Since you mentioned about reading Being Different please refer to Pg 47
            Posture based Difference Anxiety Vs My Counter Arguements

            I think you will find a Comparison table where RM mentions that Hindutva is REACTIONARY& lays too much emphasis on unique History (the too political part I agree with him on that). Refer my earlier responses and the links mentioned in them.

            “Conversely, many Hindus who are concerned about the way the Sameness Myth deconstructs (and eventually destructs) their faiths have jumped on the History-Centrism bandwagon for identity protection, in the form of Hindutva.


          • guest

            Sorry for the delay, every time i write to you, something at work or home comes up and it is hard to keep up. I will check surely (reading being different also slowed down, actually stopped–such is the life of ordinary people). But will surely check this. thanks again,

          • Savarkar’s Disciple
          • guest

            naya saal mubarak, will check this and come back, thanks for sharing.

          • Savarkar’s Disciple

            Gregorian Calendar ki NutanWarsh ki aap ko bhi shubhecha

          • Savarkar’s Disciple
          • guest

            Thanks for sharing. Due to work I have been slow in reading all the comments and discussions on his group. But I think they discussed this briefly. However this detailed response is very relevant. I agree, and sadly though. Because when I was a child growing up on Bollywood, i thought that there was such a thing as true ‘equality on human level’ but have realized that religions of the book just wont be allowed that. Just hoping that may be centuries down the line those seeking the truth with question it. Still surprises me how such colourless joyless ways of life became so popular…tells you that not many of us are critical or good thinkers…:) thanks for bringing this to my notice.

          • Savarkar’s Disciple

            Download,share and read if and when u get time

          • guest

            Thanks SD, always a repository of information. Great site, needs to be bookmarked. And downloaded, you never know when this can be taken down. BTW, just out of curiosity, do you get enough time to read and make notes and possibly write. I find myself running against time always, there is so much to learn. Whether it is our distorted history, or about Hinduism, trying to understand human consciousness, or how Hindus have been treated through the ages in various lands and times. We need to know this, to completely understand who we are and pass it to our own children.

          • Savarkar’s Disciple

            Well it depends sometimes I take out time also I tend to keep soft copies and use Kindle so for instance if I have bought RMs hardcopy book then I tend I also buy the Kindle version as it helps me to glance whenever I am free.The problem is many of us are so busy with our works that we don’t get time to read either you gotta take out time or use other methods.I think some of us have to use a more non conventional medium than just books may be we can do it through animation,Apps,games,drama,satire,Dance,documentaries,Songs etc basically use all the senses to remember a particular thing this will also help to spread to the masses.Everyone is not gonna have time and neither are they gonna read through all the complex things related to Our History hence we will have to use pop culture soft power to spread it to masses.It can be a lot of fun unfortunately I am very sure neither u nor me are rich enough to start our Hinduised version of such a Company and if we ask for funds we aren’t gonna get any so we have to wait,in the mean time keep learning and when such an opportunity does arise we need to pounce on it.You remember our discussion about Mahabharata spoof that some Colonised Minds came up with Momma’s Boy.Some of us need to just help in spreading the Indian Grand Narrative (predominantly Good Cops)while others have to defend it by offending the others ie by being BAD COPS.If your thinking only books can do it then your wrong look at movies,pop culture etc they are the ones which spread to the masses not books some of us need to read the serious stuff then we need to do exactly what RM is suggesting in the following video

            See from 34:31 to 37:46

            Also speed reading helps.


          • guest

            Thanks so much for this. I will definitely write back soon. I think I am going to try the speed reading things.

          • Savarkar’s Disciple

            Apart from reading this article try and go through the videos mentioned in the linked most of them are hardly 3-6 mins except one

          • guest

            Sure, will do. This article on feminism seems interesting. thanks, will get back with notes.

          • Savarkar’s Disciple
          • guest

            Hey SD, I think I forgot to look at this one, will do and get back to you. hope you are doing well. Sad about the riots in Bengal. really sad.

          • Savarkar’s Disciple

            Please don’t forget to upvote Bauddhikakshatriya important that people notice the truth about Sakshi San

          • guest

            Wow, what in the world is this? I cannot believe it. i do not have the time or else would have commented but will come back to it. Also, you mean Iwarrior, will read and get back to it. thanks for sharing.

          • Savarkar’s Disciple

            This Sakshi San also deletes comments which does not suit them they have deleted a highly upvoted comment of Bauddhika Kshatriya which exposed them.Anyways thanks for taking the time out to visit that channel and also inform others how these small time sepoys are attacking RM.

          • guest

            Will do, I saw some of them, but then lost interest–when they said that ‘Christianity is considered western or foreign’ well, it is…but might go back to listen to it, just to be aware of the counter argument. Will come back after have viewed etc. several other conversation remain pending for us, but they will come. The one on Civil service was great!! the one that you helped organise.

          • Savarkar’s Disciple

   Read the above article you will realise why we did a Topic on Civil Service actually I had send loads of data but RM couldn’t use all.

            Aryan migration theory and race explained | 11-4-17 The Hindu editorial decode
            Youtube Channel Brainy IAS
            This is the same guy mentioned in RMs video from 39:00 Decolonizing the Indian Civil Service

          • guest
          • Savarkar’s Disciple

            This will certainly help you read faster,it also has Hindi

          • guest

            Perfect, will try this soon, thanks!! btw, watched half of the civil services one, will get back on that. Great work …..

          • Savarkar’s Disciple
          • guest

            Wow, had not seen this, something to look forward to this weekend. thanks so much for sharing. hope all is well at your end.

          • guest

            Thanks, knew some of this from his other talks, but this one has some new points and a plan/proposal comparing to China, so nice work Thanks so much for sharing. and I have not forgotten about history centricism, just work and family (in opposite order ) keeps it all busy and it is hard to formulate intelligent comments. But will come back to it. thanks for sharing this.

          • Savarkar’s Disciple


            Have you seen this ? I was one of the volunteers to work on this project.

          • guest

            Oh saw it but did not ‘see it’ but will do. thanks, will get back after am done watching…

          • Savarkar’s Disciple
          • guest

            Will check it out. the one that you sent on IAS civil services was excellent and also a bit sad. Those who work for the country are made to hate it. Will check this one and get back to you. Thanks

  • Vagabond

    Excellent article.
    But for [Modern]India, Science [currently] means: “blind belief in west”, no rationalism,no empiricism, no nationalism !!!

  • VarunaPraghasa

    Great article Sir. You have forgotten one important tradition that too an oral tradition that has been there around for centuries together. The Vedic traditions which had no book for who knows how many number of years. Yet they have been transmitted pretty accurately,

  • Anirudha Deshmukh

    What an outstanding piece! The way tradition has got defined here, not as an inferior or invalid alternative to science, and how the valid play ground of science also delineated, not an all conquering methodology, deserves highest accolades. Congratulations and Thank You!

  • Mukul Mittal

    Very nice article, Sankrant.

    I have long been thinking on these lines, and you have articulated my thoughts beautifully.

    I believe modern science has developed its own orthodoxy, and as one comment pointed out, `science’ or `scientific temper’ has been used in our country as a stick to beat traditional knowledge (mostly Hindu) with – first by British and then Nehruvian socialists.

    You have rightly pointed out the heavy dependence of commercial interests in scientific discovery, especially in medical/pharma sector. The funny thing is that many medical practices that have been common in the U.S. for decades are still frowned upon in our country (one example — husband’s presence and active support to wife during child birth).

    One more point – Traditional knowledge was always based on empirical evidence. For example, villagers and farmers had their own ways of studying and forecasting weather patterns, and I still remember Girdhar’s Kundaliyan from my childhood on these aspects.

    • Cybil Peril

      Not just Nehruvian but commies and Abrahamics too. These instruments are divisive forces designed to use as soft political tools for ruling. Major ruling houses r behind these destructive forces.

  • Arun

    You have made a very valid point regarding accumulation of knowledge by means other than the “scientific” method. You have also done well to point that out that this is not an argument against the “scientific” method per se, that is likely the bogey man argument which would be raised against your point.
    In the Indian cont ext, there is another aspect which is very releant that in India, for the Nehruvian elite which came to rule, “scientific” does’nt imply even this rigour of theorizing, verifying with data etc. etc. . It is simply used as a political argument to beat native Hindu society with and run them down. Knowledge accumulated in India was not accumulated in this “scientific” way. What the agenda of the Nehruvian elite has been is not to promote knowledge, but to use this new “scientific” method argument to argue not just that traditional Hindu knowledge is no knowledge, but more fundamentally that traditional Hindu society had “no knowledge” at all as the “scientific” process was unknown to them. Admittedly so. You could see that in the Pythagoras theorem case. For India, this ulterior agenda is as critical.

    • Vagabond

      “Admittedly so. You could see that in the Pythagoras theorem case.”
      Do you mean Pythagoras theorem developed in [Ancient] India was “less Scientific” than in other places/Civilizations?

  • Madhusudan Sharma

    I hv some anecdotes on health which came to me by way of WhatsApp. Wonderful/creative way of passing it through generations. At least 50 of them I knew before but not on such rhyming phrases. Here the they are:
    *”प्राचीन स्वास्थ्य दोहावली”*

    पानी में गुड डालिए,
    बीत जाए जब रात!
    सुबह छानकर पीजिए,
    अच्छे हों हालात!!

    धनिया की पत्ती मसल,
    बूंद नैन में डार!
    दुखती अँखियां ठीक हों,
    पल लागे दो-चार!!

    ऊर्जा मिलती है बहुत,
    पिएं गुनगुना नीर!
    कब्ज खतम हो पेट की,
    मिट जाए हर पीर!!

    प्रातः काल पानी पिएं,
    घूंट-घूंट कर आप!
    बस दो-तीन गिलास है,
    हर औषधि का बाप!!

    ठंडा पानी पियो मत,
    करता क्रूर प्रहार!
    करे हाजमे का सदा,
    ये तो बंटाढार!!

    भोजन करें धरती पर,
    अल्थी पल्थी मार!
    चबा-चबा कर खाइए,
    वैद्य न झांकें द्वार!!

    प्रातः काल फल रस लो,
    दुपहर लस्सी-छांस!
    सदा रात में दूध पी,
    सभी रोग का नाश!!

    दही उडद की दाल सँग,
    पपीता दूध के संग!
    जो खाएं इक साथ में,
    जीवन हो बदरंग!!

    प्रातः- दोपहर लीजिये,
    जब नियमित आहार! तीस मिनट की नींद लो,
    रोग न आवें द्वार!!

    भोजन करके रात में,
    घूमें कदम हजार!
    डाक्टर, ओझा, वैद्य का ,
    लुट जाए व्यापार !!

    देश,भेष,मौसम यथा,
    हो जैसा परिवेश!
    वैसा भोजन कीजिये,
    कहते सखा सुरेश!!

    इन बातों को मान कर,
    जो करता उत्कर्ष!
    जीवन में पग-पग मिले,
    उस प्राणी को हर्ष!!

    घूट-घूट पानी पियो,
    रह तनाव से दूर!
    एसिडिटी, या मोटापा,
    होवें चकनाचूर!!

    अर्थराइज या हार्निया,
    अपेंडिक्स का त्रास!
    पानी पीजै बैठकर,
    कभी न आवें पास!!

    रक्तचाप बढने लगे,
    तब मत सोचो भाय!
    सौगंध राम की खाइ के,
    तुरत छोड दो चाय!!

    सुबह खाइये कुवंर-सा,
    दुपहर यथा नरेश!
    भोजन लीजै रात में,
    जैसे रंक सुरेश!!

    देर रात तक जागना,
    रोगों का जंजाल!
    अपच,आंख के रोग सँग,
    तन भी रहे निढाल!!

    टूथपेस्ट-ब्रश छोडकर,
    हर दिन दोनो जून!
    दांत करें मजबूत यदि,
    करिएगा दातून!!

    हल्दी तुरत लगाइए,
    अगर काट ले श्वान!
    खतम करे ये जहर को,
    कह गए कवि सुजान!!

    मिश्री, गुड, खांड,
    ये हैं गुण की खान!
    पर सफेद शक्कर सखा,
    समझो जहर समान!!

    चुंबक का उपयोग कर,
    ये है दवा सटीक!
    हड्डी टूटी हो अगर,
    अल्प समय में ठीक!!

    दर्द, घाव, फोडा, चुभन,
    सूजन, चोट पिराइ!
    बीस मिनट चुंबक धरौ,
    पिरवा जाइ हेराइ!!

    हँसना, रोना, छींकना,
    भूख, प्यास या प्यार!
    क्रोध, जम्हाई रोकना,
    समझो बंटाढार!!

    सत्तर रोगों कोे करे,
    चूना हमसे दूर!
    दूर करे ये बाझपन,
    सुस्ती अपच हुजूर!!

    यदि सरसों के तेल में,
    पग नाखून डुबाय!
    खुजली, लाली, जलन सब,
    नैनों से गुमि जाय!!

    भोजन करके जोहिए,
    केवल घंटा डेढ!
    पानी इसके बाद पी,
    ये औषधि का पेड!!

    जो भोजन के साथ ही,
    पीता रहता नीर!
    रोग एक सौ तीन हों,
    फुट जाए तकदीर!!

    पानी करके गुनगुना,
    मेथी देव भिगाय!
    सुबह चबाकर नीर पी,
    रक्तचाप सुधराय!!

    अलसी, तिल, नारियल,
    घी सरसों का तेल!
    यही खाइए नहीं तो,
    हार्ट समझिए फेल!!

    पहला स्थान सेंधा नमक,
    पहाड़ी नमक सु जान!
    श्वेत नमक है सागरी,
    ये है जहर समान!!

    तेल वनस्पति खाइके,
    चर्बी लियो बढाइ!
    घेरा कोलेस्टरॉल तो,
    आज रहे चिल्लाइ!!

    अल्यूमिन के पात्र का,
    करता है जो उपयोग!
    आमंत्रित करता सदा ,
    वह अडतालीस रोग!!

    फल या मीठा खाइके,
    तुरत न पीजै नीर!
    ये सब छोटी आंत में,
    बनते विषधर तीर!!

    चोकर खाने से सदा,
    बढती तन की शक्ति!
    गेहूँ मोटा पीसिए,
    दिल में बढे विरक्ति!!

    नींबू पानी का सदा,
    करता जो उपयोग!
    पास नहीं आते कभी,
    यकृति-आंत के रोग!!

    दूषित पानी जो पिए,
    बिगडे उसका पेट!
    ऐसे जल को समझिए,
    सौ रोगों का गेट!!

    रोज मुलहठी चूसिए,
    कफ बाहर आ जाय!
    बने सुरीला कंठ भी,
    सबको लगत सुहाय!!

    भोजन करके खाइए,
    सौंफ, गुड, अजवान!
    पत्थर भी पच जायगा,
    जानै सकल जहान!!

    लौकी का रस पीजिए,
    चोकर युक्त पिसान!
    तुलसी, गुड, सेंधा नमक,
    हृदय रोग निदान!!

    हृदय रोग, खांसी और
    आंव करें बदनाम!
    दो अनार खाएं सदा,
    बनते बिगडे काम!!

    चैत्र माह में नीम की,
    पत्ती हर दिन खावे !
    ज्वर, डेंगू या मलेरिया,
    बारह मील भगावे !!

    सौ वर्षों तक वह जिए,
    लेत नाक से सांस!
    अल्पकाल जीवें, करें,
    मुंह से श्वासोच्छ्वास!!

    सितम, गर्म जल से कभी,
    करिये मत स्नान!
    घट जाता है आत्मबल,
    नैनन को नुकसान!!

    हृदय रोग से आपको,
    बचना है श्रीमान!
    सुरा, चाय या कोल्ड्रिंक,
    का मत करिए पान!!

    अगर नहावें गरम जल,
    तन-मन हो कमजोर!
    नयन ज्योति कमजोर हो,
    शक्ति घटे चहुंओर!!

    तुलसी का पत्ता करें,
    यदि हरदम उपयोग!
    मिट जाते हर उम्र में,
    तन के सारे रोग!!

    • guest

      Simply brilliant, this should be taught as a nursery rhyme to children.

  • Savarkar’s Disciple

    This is my take on the article as to what Sankrant Sanuji is trying to refer to
    “If a pigeon has such sophisticated technology, what non-textual, ultra-sensory technologies do human beings possess, who are an order of magnitude more sophisticated beings than pigeons.”
    -Sankrant Sanuji is referring to the concept of Aham Brahamasmi which obviously West and our Scientific Minded people will try to deny as MUMBO JUMBO HEATHEN RUBBISH while stealing and appropriating VIPASSANA as MINDFULNESS.

    “The one’s that survived would possibly have been tested over years to become part of what I’d call traditional knowledge, a knowledge that was not acquired using modern scientific methods.”
    -The West has a problem of accepting ORAL TRADITION as equally legitimate

    ” The low value decentralized papaya growing ecosystem could not fund this study. A for-profit medical company would not undertake to do this study, since they wouldn’t be able to patent papayas or papaya-leaf juice at the end of the process.”
    -TOP DOWN Models of the West would never accept a decentralized system thus maintaining their Hegemony over certain disciplines just like the Church and its exclusive claim to Jesus the only son of their beloved Male God.

    “But even better, they would simply dismiss the natural cure as “unscientific quackery” and “superstition” or a “hoax.”
    -Again eventhough the Papaya I dont think is in anyway considered SACRED but many such trees,shrubs,plants like Tulsi etc which are considered Sacred by natives will made into some pill while removing the SACRED aspect of it thereby Secularising it leading to oppurtunity of APPROPRIATION & DIGESTION without giving its original discoverer its due credit.

    “The doctor, no doubt, would be invited to fancy 5-star conferences, where they would be presented with the scientific evidence for the pills and where the quackery of “alternative medicine” would be soundly derided.”
    -The Colonised Ones will willfully swallow this POISON PILL without even thinking

    “At one point, scientific studies “proved” that mother’s milk was bad for babies and nursing mothers.”
    -Thanks to Postivism and Baconian/Western Science these practices will be mocked as primitive especially by the PROGRESSIVES so that the Heathens give it up and once the Heathens have been annihilate as a CULTURE and converted to the Christian fold suddenly the Scientific Journals will come up with Articles suggesting Breast Milk as good for new borns.

    “Over twenty years ago, I remember reading a book called “Dr. Abravanel’s Body Type Diet” that recommended diets based on a person’s “body type” that became very popular in the US, ending with some exercise postures.”
    -A probable DIGESTION of Yoga and Hindu emphasis on CUSTOMIZATION whether Dr.Abravanel actually appropriated and took a U-Turn or not only Sankrantji would be able to tell.

    “The advantage of traditional knowledge is that it is rooted in the local environment, in local conditions.”
    -One of the Biggest flaws of TOP DOWN Models is to ignore the localization/customization.Its like the top down models believe is “One size fits all” hence they are often rigid to a point where they become arrogant,this rigidness could also be a form of Marketing Myopia.

    “Traditional systems of building and architecture in the Himalayas, for instance, allows construction of houses that show better earthquake resistance than buildings created using the knowhow of modern construction and modern science.”
    -The houses which were build according to local knowledge did not suffer during the Uttarakhand Tragedy but unfortunately no GOI or any State Govt(Top Down Models) will take cognizance and apply it as a norm or rule in such areas hence we keep having man made tragedies but still call it ACT OF GOD

    “But nature provided its own remedies. There was this palak patta that also grew nearby. The juice of this plant, when rubbed, would quickly relieve the sting. The local children knew this, and so we learnt. It was certainly more practical than trying to rush off to find the doctor.”
    -Shoo away Heathen Grotesque Multiple God worshipping Infidel what do you know,we have our foreign degrees we know everything.

    “An animal in the wild possesses knowledge of what to eat and what not to; it rarely falls sick and knows how to heal itself.”
    -Thats coz the Abrahamic God Jehovah has created them for the consumption of MAN

    I hope Sankrantji doesnt mind my Sarcasm at the end.

  • Sud

    Sankrant, Thanks for the article.
    BTW, FYI, Papaya plant was introduced to India recently. I doubt if it is from a long tradition that we know of the cure to dengue from it.
    (An ayurveda based example would have been better?)

    • I received an email indicating the opposite/
      Papaya Juice – Siddha tradition has this and a couple more as a remedy for certain types of fevers etc. So it was not a “Gharelu upchar” though there are those as well –

      Derived from either Ayurveda or from lokopchar/local methods.
      In any case, that example came from my real life. In my example, it doesn’t matter so much which stream it comes for as its folk transmission and validity.

      • Dwarakanath M N

        Interestingly, I heard that a medical “research” on Hanuman-phala (variant of the famous Seeta-phala / Rama-phala) which cures many cancers – was stopped by big pharma companies.

        One of my acquaintances (80-year-old cancer patient) is surviving on Hanuman-phala for last 2.5 years. At least, he has the satisfaction that he isn’t causing financial burdens on his care-takers.

      • Sud

        Thanks. It helped me when I was down with Dengue last year.

        I am myself not sure of a traditional origin for this or not. For now just going by what my Ayurvedic friends tell me. And from research articles such as this

        Conjecture is that it is a modern discovery in India, and not a transmission from any kind of ayurveda, siddha or folk tradition. But reserving conclusion till I find out proof eitherwise.

  • koorkhen

    Very good article. The root issue of the ‘Scientific’ aspect is ‘Money’. So even when scientists came up with discovery ( not backed by traditional knowledge ) any acceptance would happen only if the money aspect is well defined. Thus the incentive for discovery is well defined and is not science.

    To add to your papaya juice and itch plant example is the Snake venom which is very easily cured with herbs and plants of 12 different varieties ( for different kinds of snakes and poisons ). Mongoos plant being the most popular and known. Recently herbal cure for venom has been scientifically validated. The issue then is not whether it cured but to explain to the so called scientific community on why and how it worked and that too in a lingo they understand (normal human lingo is primitive). This will not be acknowledged as it is not a million dollar cure.

    The biggest money making business in healthcare is surgical correction of broken bones. Whereas traditional knowledge and medical science knows the self healing / setting property of the bones. Medical science used casting or plaster but these are no longer remunerative enough. You will hardly find a facility to correct fractures the natural way or without surgery.

    Certainly the issue is not science or tradition or superstition it is Commerce ( MONEY )

  • Saravanan K

    Excellent. cant agree more.. but crucial point which everyone tends to overlook is like scientific discovery need to be treated with humility and clear understanding that this discovery can be just work in progress subject to changes as things crystallise without casting doubts about the methodology and scientific temper behind it,, traditional wisdom and knowledge needs to be made distinct from the notion that unless we acccept the religious underpinning propogated as the real truthone shouldnt be even looking at adopting the knowledge and wisdom passed down over generations..need to clearly demarcate the vulnerability of theeternal truths and not use this as a pretext to claim absolute ownerships of the truth…tough for people to practice but…………….”When I argue for traditional knowledge, I talk of human wisdom, not religion with a claim of a historic god-revelation. Static revelation, with the claim of infallibility, does not have the benefit of testability, which is present in the case of accumulated human traditional knowledge.”

  • Samoa

    Excellent article Sankrant. Extremely well articulated. What I keep discussing with my friends you presented it very well. I am archiving this article of yours :-).Similar to the article you wrote a Dozen years ago on ‘Idea of India’ citing scriptural and geographical references challenging Romila Thapar’s version.

  • Nital Dave

    Traditions are practices generally rooted on some scientific basis. Over a period of time the only practises remain and the base on which it was developed gets overwritten. By the way the Papaya leaf juice is found effective by many to cure the low platalet count.

  • Ashish

    Very Interesting, thanks!