Should Physicists learn Sanksrit? Or should Poets learn Physics?

Consider the anomaly:

  • When you see a Physics concept written in English, you approach a physicist to interpret it for you.
  • When you see the same (or likely even more profound) concept written in Sanskrit, you go to a Sanskrit poet to interpret it for you.

Guru Prasad shared a couple of quotes on the basis of quantum theory recently, which I will reproduce here. Further references are in the comments section of his Facebook posts:

“The one peculiar attribute we find in time, space, and causation is that they cannot exist separate from other things. Try to think of space without colour, or limits, or any connection with the things around — just abstract space. You cannot; you have to think of it as the space between two limits or between three objects. It has to be connected with some object to have any existence. So with time; you cannot have any idea of abstract time, but you have to take two events, one preceding and the other succeeding, and join the two events by the idea of succession. Time depends on two events, just as space has to be related to outside objects. And the idea of causation is inseparable from time and space.” – Swami Vivekananda (1896)

“Since there exists in this four dimensional structure [space-time] no longer any sections which represent “now” objectively, the concepts of happening and becoming are indeed not completely suspended, but yet complicated. It appears therefore more natural to think of physical reality as a four dimensional existence, instead of, as hitherto, the evolution of a three dimensional existence.” – Albert Einstein (1952)

“Swami Vivekananda expresses a view that has become the backbone of quantum theory”
– Michael Coleman Talbot (American author of several books highlighting parallels between ancient mysticism and quantum mechanics)

It is unfair both on the poet to do justice to this profound knowledge as well as unfair for our ancient texts to be taken to poets alone for interpretation. You’ll then be excused if you laugh off the so-called “physics knowledge” in ancient Vedic texts after hearing the colorful lectures from the poet. You’ll also be excused if you reach a conclusion that every scientific theory known to mankind was indeed invented in the rational, “modern” West.

India’s aim for the next decade should be to get scientists the world over to understand Sanskrit. Not the other way ’round! Go Ms. Smriti Zubin Irani, the Nation is with you!

I attended Kalavai Venkat‘s lecture this weekend, and I got thinking.