Science, Philosophy and Society
ONE of the main points to be established in the present paper is that the prodigious first step to natural science was actually taken in ancient India, some time presumably before the Buddha. At the same time, the fact remains that natural science in traditional India did not develop beyond a certain early or rudimentary stage. Apparently, there existed some factor powerful enough to inhibit its development.
What,,then, was this factor? Given the present state of historical research, it may be premature to attempt to provide a full answer to this question. But the question itself is too important to be ignored, and our understanding of ancient Indian history and culture remains more or less incomplete so long as it remains unanswered. Besides, a clearer view of the past promises also a better view of the present, specially in a country where ancient traditions die hard. In other words, it may enable us to understand the factors that are surreptitiously trying to maim natural science in India today, notwithstanding what is otherwise done for its development.
An attempt is accordingly made in the present paper to identify the force which proved inimical to the growth of natural science in ancient India. It is argued that the principal factor which crippled science in ancient India was political. It stemmed from the need to