Manjul Bhargava in Sanskrit College

thewire.in had published excerpts from the speech given by Manjul Bhargava, winner of the Fields Medal in Mathematics. Here are some extracts from those excerpts!
India has to be its own cultural ambassador. It has to bring alive all those beautiful works of the country that are not yet known to the public at large. But it has to be done in a scientific manner and it has to be done in a correct manner. That’s why it’s important for institutions like this to do correct translations. It’s very important to have these works available in an accessible form in various languages. Whatever your skills are, please help bring alive these texts in an accurate and correct manner.

My basic point is that there are a lot of treasures in the ancient languages of India. These treasures need to be preserved. Slowly people are forgetting these ancient languages, and it is the responsibility of those who do know those ancient languages to bring to light those treasures to the public.

These treasures are in every area – philosophical treasures, poetic treasures, story-telling treasures and then scientific treasures. And all of these things – they should not be forgotten.  We need to do our best to keep it all alive. That’s why I salute the students of this college.

I always find it a shame that the interest is greater outside India than in India, when this is India’s contribution. India shouldn’t be afraid to own, study, and recognise this contribution. You’ll notice that some textbooks in India go out of their way to call it the Arabic system and not even mention that it was invented in India. It would be nice if this kind of culture was changed.

So here’s the truth: that story about Pythagoras that is shown in Indian textbooks, the fact that he discovered and proved the Pythagorean theorem – well, there’s no shred of evidence that he ever proved the Pythagorean theorem. Nobody has any source on that. It’s just a legend.

On the other hand, there is a concrete source in India – namely, Baudhayana’s Sulba Sutra – that is before Pythagoras, and that has the Pythagorean theorem stated absolutely clearly. And, that goes back to around 800 BCE. The Pythagorean theorem is clearly stated there, with an interpretation in terms of areas that leads to a proof, and in other Indian works as well.

How will the world make a judgement if India doesn’t begin to be its own ambassador about the things that happened here?

Please make it your duty to contribute accurately to our knowledge base while helping to preserve the treasures of India.  I wish you great success in your future endeavours!

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