The reconnect with Indic knowledge sources, which was lost over 1000 years ago, will now be possible only through Digital Medium. 

Interactive delivery models using gamification and driven by visual graphic representations will ensure the mass connect of our society with its erstwhile forgotten and ignored ancient knowledge treasures!

Today, we see the important role that visual graphic representation, gamification and digital interactivity are playing in enhancing learning process of the younger generations. With the ever-increasing prominence of online learning, which has been rather rudely expedited by the current Corona virus pandemic, development of these new innovative learning processes will further excel, swiftly.

Is the concept of Interactive and Innovative Learning, a new one?

When we look at ancient Indic texts and resources, we find that everything is presented in the form of Shlokas or Short Poems and colorful, eventful, and exciting stories, which we generally term as Mythology. Mythology is present with almost all ancient cultures of the world. However, there are historical and ageless facts hidden in many parts of the mythology. Stories are woven around facts and knowledge to make it appealing and to ensure retention by the learners and listeners. However, when the continuity of this process gets disrupted, the regular updates and enhancements that need to happen will be missed and disconnect with the process and sources take shape. Eventually, we miss the distinction between the factual part and the creative part of the mythology, which in turn develops into a dogma. Then, it is either disregarded, wholly, or religiously believed in.

A recent video that I watched made me dwell deeper into this line of inquiry and gain more clarity. At a TEDx US event, Raj Vedam, beautifully described how many of the mythological stories are nothing but innovative learning delivery and narrating tools, originally created or developed with a specific purpose. He talks about one story from Greek Mythology and two stories from Indic Mythology. I invite you to watch this video to learn of all three stories in full. I will touch upon one story from Indic mythology and a favorite of mine – Watching of the Arundathi or Alcor Star by newlywed couples.

What do couples look for in the sky immediately after tying the knot?

In many parts of India, immediately after tying the knot in a Hindu wedding, the priest takes the just wedded couple into an open area and points into the sky. The couple pays their respects and bows down. When I saw this as a child in one of my relative’s wedding, I inquired and got to know that the priest points to the star Arundathi. Why the star Arundathi? Because she was a very pious and dutiful wife. Well, then is there another star representing a pious and dutiful husband for the couple to look at also? I never found an answer, I never bought this story and could not understand the rationale behind this custom. But now I know the reason behind this custom.

A newly married couple is asked to look at not one star, Arundathi, but at a Binary Star, Mizar-Alcor! Binary Stars are sets of two stars, one major stationary star and its minor partner revolving around it. However, there is one Binary Star in the known galaxy that is comprised of two equal stars, which revolve around each other in perfect harmony. Our ancients called this Binary Star after the Sage Vasishta (Mizar) and his wife Arundathi (Alcor). So, a newly wedded couple is advised to take inspiration from this star couple and lead a harmonious and perfect partnership, where both are equals and must contribute equally to building a rewarding relationship.

How did our ancients figure this Binary star in the first place? That is a completely different line of inquiry and not subject to this article!

Over the ages, the concept and the message got lost. The custom remained more as a dogmatic ritual, which could be easily made fun of and that hardly many could explain the meaning of. There are hundreds of such customs, potentially, with most of them having a sound reason and perfect sense along with a scientific and/or spiritual aspect.

Indic Knowledge Sources to Reconnect With

Our Indic mythology should be looked at holistically with a line of inquiry to probe and see if there are any relevant historical, scientific, philosophical, and spiritual facts and wisdom that it has to offer. Once we do this, a lot will come to the surface that will make sense.

Overall, when we look at the Indic sources, a lot of knowledge is waiting to be rediscovered, reconnected, reviewed, analyzed, and updated. Especially, concerned with the subjects of astronomy, mathematics, and health sciences.

I would like to mention here three particularly important knowledge treasures that I am fascinated about – Surya Siddhanta, Vaiseshika Sutra and Sushruta Samhita

Surya Siddhanta is arguably the most ancient and profound book on astronomy. It is now being proven that there have been several updates to the original work, which normally happens to any academic text of today. Though it was earlier dated to be from around 600 CE, it now is proven that the original text is from several millennia before. Nilesh Oak is doing some astounding research in this respect. Helio centric theory, planetary motions, inter-planetary distances, and many other facts and concepts are presented in this treasure trove.

Vaiseshika Darshana is one of the 6 Aastika schools of thought of Vedic Hindu philosophy. Sage Kanada, the leading thinker of this school has presented many scientific concepts in the seminal work Vaiseshika Sutra (2nd century BCE), such as the theory of atoms, types of molecules, the force of attraction of the earth, among others.

Sushrutha Samhita (1st century BCE) is the seminal work dedicated to health sciences, especially to surgery. Starting with Rhinoplasty, many surgical procedures along with a wide variety of surgical tools are mentioned in this book. Indian Rhinoplasty was the cover feature in 1794 of the then newly launched Gentlemen magazine of the United Kingdom and this was before The Royal College of Surgeons was founded in London in 1800.

Digital Medium to Reconnect with Indic Knowledge

It is exclusively because of the internet that I am educating myself about the Indic history and trying to connect with my cultural roots. Being an agnostic seeker, I never found solace in the religious rituals and always had the troubling thought that there is a gross disconnect, between facts and customs, reason, and ritual, etc., I always strongly felt that there is much more than the religious aspects of this culture – scientific, philosophic, and spiritual. Internet and online sources have become my library of inquiry.

In comparison to online books and papers, presentations in the form of videos and infographics or banners on social media platforms will have more penetration. But it will not be sufficient to fulfill a mass connect. A movie star birthday greetings or trailer of the new movie will get millions of views and shares within a couple of days. But Indic Knowledge material will not get that amount of traction even in a couple of years on regular social media channels, dominated by pure entertainment, trivial and click-bait stories and gossip. Almost every Indian would be aware of Sunny Leone but I bet not even one-millionth of them would have heard of Surya Siddhanta – case in point!

Thus, I strongly believe that a dedicated digital platform should be set up that offers Indic knowledge in an interactive and gamification model, loaded with visual graphic representations. The target market should be high school, college students, and young professionals. If the younger generations start to find affinity, the elder generations will be forced to join the process.

The aim is not to provide academic learning but general learning. There is a lot of rediscovered knowledge in a more enhanced format floating around in the digital world but not getting mainstream attention. It should be presented in bite-size and interactive formats. It is time that in addition to the religious facet of this culture, we rediscover the scientific, spiritual, and philosophical facets too.

Only dedicated digital platform with innovative delivery models will make that happen! 

DISCLAIMER: The author is solely responsible for the views expressed in this article. The author carries the responsibility for citing and/or licensing of images utilized within the text.