In its official diary for 2017, the Maharaja Sayajirao University (MSU) has hailed several sages for their “contribution to science” — from “developing nuclear technology” to “discovering rockets and aeroplanes” and being the “father of cosmetic surgery”. For instance, the January page hails Sushrut as the “father of cosmetic surgery”. Then there is Acharya Kanad, who is described as having “developed nuclear technology”; Kapil Muni, “father of cosmology”; Maharshi Bhardwaj, “discovered rockets and aeroplanes”; Charak Rishi, “father of medicine”; and Garga Muni, “scientist of stars”.
There are a few eminent scientists and mathematicians too — Jagdish Chandra Bose, Vikram Sarabhai, C V Raman, Srinivas Ramanujan and Aryabhatt. University officials said these references were based on the books of RSS ideologue and founder of Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti, Dinanath Batra.
“Dinanath Batra’s books talk about Maharshi Bhardwaj being the author of Brihad-Vimana Shastra, Lohadikaram, which indicates metal and alloys used for flying objects mentioned in the Ramayana like the Pushpak Vimana. Similarly, Acharya Kanad is credited with developing the atomic theory, which he has elaborated in his book Vaisheshik Darshan. These are examples from India’s rich history recommended for the diary,” said an official.
Professor Ajay Ashtaputre, Dean of Faculty of Performing Arts who heads the diary committee, said the names were recommended by MSU syndicate member Jignesh Soni — son of Bapubhai Soni, who is known to be among the founding members of the Jan Sangh in Gujarat. “As a diary committee, we were inclined to follow the recommendations of a senior syndicate member,” said Ashtaputre.
When contacted, Jignesh Soni told The Indian Express: “Sages mean scientists. Rishis are known for their researches, and are considered scientists in their own fields of knowledge. We have depicted the sages from different fields who are a part of our history and shastras. Many may disagree with the facts, but several people also believe it. Why are these names controversial? They are the forefathers of our nation who have achieved something. We should be proud of them. Their names should be included in mainstream education too.”
According to the MSU’s communication cell, about 2,000 copies of the diaries have been printed to be distributed to the university’s well-wishers and donors.