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The Transmission of Scientific Knowledge from Tamilnadu to Europe (15th to 20th centuries)

The Transmission of Scientific Knowledge from Tamizhagam to Europe

(15th to 20th centuries)

K. V. Ramakrishna Rao

(In this page the author mentioned often the word “bramin” readers pls read that word as “Tamils”. Because the knowledge of Thamizhagam is not only belongs to a purticular caste. I think the author thaught so. This is a good article but having such mistakes. Anyway I thank the author for such a work )


About the transmission of mathematical and astronomical Science from South India, particularly from Kerala, studies have been already conducted and published by C. K. Raju, George Ghevergheese Joseph, Denis F. Almeida, and the Aryabhata Group of University of Exeter1. Though, Prof. D. S. V. Subba Reddy2 has pointed out the European interest and their books on Indian medicine, he stopped short with appreciating interest shown by them. However, about the transmission of scientific knowledge and/or manuscripts from Tamizhagam, it appears no study has been so far. The study of Jesuit writings reveal interesting details that such transmission had taken place during 1600 to 1850 period and even beyond. The study of events at Tranquebar, Pondicherry and Madurai provides wealth of such information.

Many times, the masquerade of the Jesuits has to be removed to find out their scientific pursuits (piercing the corporate veil to understand a company). The author has already presented and published some papers about Saltpetre3, the scientific pursuits of Robert de Nobili4 and Le de Gentil5, the interest of European Scientists in India6, etc. That even the British adopted such methods under the guise of scientific survey is interesting to study their motive7. The cross-reference of Tamil Siddha books correlates corroborate and gives ample evidence for such transmission taking place. The Tamil Siddha works – a compilation popularly known as “Periya Gnanak Kovai” and as well as individual works have been consulted8 for this purpose.

South India up to 18th Century:

From 10th century onwards (with due respect to the Pallavas), South India excelled in scientific and technological activities. Indian shipping, astronomy, chemical, textiles and food processing, architecture and other fields attained status. They in turn encouraged other industries and businesses. The Indian traders and businessmen had been common in many countries. The Cholas were reigning supreme during 10th to 14th centuries. During Vijayanagara period (14th to 16th centuries), everything was at peak followed by the Nayaks. The visiting Europeans (including Jesuits)9 were stunned at multi-storied buildings, gardens, dams and water reservoirs, the shipping activities, metal technology and above all, the time bound activities of the people. They could not understand the time reckoning methods of Indians, as the Europeans were struggling with corresponding activities involving calendar, longitude problem, compass and time reckoning. Here come the Jesuits and missionaries, their colleagues and contemporaries.

Europe during the material period:

During the same period, the European countries were faced with all problems, frequent wars, famines, diseases and above all religious fanaticism interfering with every walk of life. The imports from India and East Indies were as follows:

Year     Percentage

1588        14%

1621        48%

1669        70%

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Posted by on March 7, 2009 in Literary Research


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