Test-tube babies were created in India centuries ago, scientists told

Test-tube babies were created in India centuries ago, scientists told January 7, 2019

ONCE upon a time India had a blind king named Dhritarashtra, whose wife Ghandari gave birth to 100 sons, called Kauravas. The couple also had one daughter. Now get this: their offspring were ‘test-tube babies’, which is somewhat bonkers as the king ruled around 1,000 years ago.

Image via YouTube

Yet V Nageshwar Rao, above, Vice-Chancellor of India Andhra University, told astonished delegates at the 106th Indian Science Congress (ISC) that this was indeed the case because Hindu holy writings said so:

How can a woman give birth to 100 children in her lifetime? This happened because the egg was fertilised and then divided into parts and grown, just like test tube babies. The birth of Kauravas is due to stem cell research and test tube technology.

Image via YouTube

His remarks sparked outrage when the event began last week, and led to a protest yesterday (Sunday) outside the Indian Institute of Science in Bengaluru by several science organisations.

Further demonstrations were planned across multiple cities today, and the organisers of the event expressed shock that that this sort of baloney had been been presented as fact. The theme of the gathering was “Future India: Science and Technology”.

It gets worse. Another academic  – scientist Kannan Jagathala Krishnan – challenged the theories of Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton and said they did not understand physics.

In a bid to calm the situation, the ISC said it would exercise more caution when inviting speakers to the event from next year.

This is not the first time the ISC has found itself held up to ridicule.

In 2015, a paper presented on Indian aviation technology claimed that the ancient Hindu sage Maharishi Bharadwajhad had given detailed guidelines for making the aircraft. Captain Anand Bodas, a retired pilot who authored the paper, had quoted the Brihatvimanshastra to prove his claims. Oh, and his planes could move in any direction, and travel from planet to planet.

Bodas said:

There is official history and unofficial history. Official history only noted that the Wright Brothers flew the first plane in 1903.

Last year, union minister for science and technology Dr Harsh Vardhan shocked the audience and organisers of the event when he said even Stephen Hawking had said that the “Vedas have better theories than Einstein’s”.

Plastic surgery gave Ganesha his elephant head. Image via YouTube.

And even Prime Minister Narendra Modi happily mixed mythology with science in 2015 when he claimed that the elephant god Ganesha got his head because of the presence of plastic surgeons in ancient India.

The ISC now says it plans not to not invite anyone without properly checking their work, and making sure that such controversies are not repeated.

The association’s General Secretary, Premendu P Mathur, said:

We are extremely shocked at the comments made by the two speakers at the ISC. The ISC distances itself from such comments and finds them unscientific.

We are also concerned about the reputation of the ISC and will make sure that the process for selection of speakers is more rigorous from the next year. We will make sure that all speakers send their research abstract to us and limit themselves to talking only about the abstract in their sessions.

Mathur pointed out that the ICS:

Provides a platform for divergent opinions ranging from biochemistry to physics and anthropology. Our aim is to bring as many people from the scientific community as possible under one roof, so that there can be more dialogue and discussion.

If some speaker ends up saying something outlandish, we cannot really control it. However, we want to make sure that nothing that hampers the image of the ISC happens from next year.

H/T BarrieJohn

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  • (((J_Enigma32)))

    As goofy as those claims are, they demonstrate that if Indians invented anything first, it was science fiction. Think about it. In their texts they describe:

    – Flying machines
    – Advanced biomedicine
    – Reactionless drives
    – FTL
    – Other universes

    Meanwhile, the closest you get to Sci-Fi with Western mythology is bilocation and instantaneous teleportation, a feat some saints, imams, and rabbis have been capable of (fun fact: if you’ve ever read Dune, Kwisatz Haderach is derived from the Hebrew קְפִיצַת הַדֶּרֶךְ, or Qəfiẓat haDéreḫ, which means something like “to teleport” and is a power ascribed to miracle working rabbis. The Islamic equivalent is طيّ الأرض, or Tayy al-Arḍ, and it means the same thing).

    The moral is, if you want a history of sci-fi, start with Indian texts.

    Also, I assumed that the traditional representations of gods like Ganesh wasn’t supposed to be taken literally, they were visual metaphors for the power of the deities in question. Why is Modi assuming they’re a literal representation? Did he come from the Christian Fundamentalist strain of Hindu thinking?

  • Die Anyway

    > “…making sure that such controversies are not repeated.”

    Controversies?
    “Plastic surgeons in ancient times were able to transplant the head of an elephant onto a human body” is not a controversy. It’s just plain stupid.

  • Cali Ron

    A fundamentalist Hindu. I want to say that’s impossible, but even after being raised in an evangelical house I was shocked to hear my kind, loving 83 year old mother had voted for the man who bragged about grabbing women by the p…. The religiously deluded will believe anything their deceiver, er church, tells them.
    None are so blind as those who refuse to see.

  • TheBookOfDavid

    This shouldn’t even be controversial. After all, we know from the unofficial historical accounts of Mars Attacks! that head transplants were actually fairly common.

  • TheBookOfDavid

    Fundamentalist Hindus could have spared themselves much public embarassment if they had only consulted my ancient scripture before their speaking engagement. The Book of David clearly states that the Vedas were a product of overactively imaginative authors, and were never meant to be taken as literal fact by overenthusiastic fans. Despite its recent publication, TBoD is still an authoritative account of eternal truth, as it is based on the cosmic revelation of a highly spiritual man.

  • barriejohn

    Religion and nationalism; a caustic mix.

  • Jim Jones

    AKA, ‘Mary’ was the name of his test tube.

  • Agni Ashwin

    as the king ruled around 1,000 years ago.

    Dhristarashtra, if considered a historical figure, is usually dated to around 3000 to 3500 years ago.

  • Zetopan

    Yeah, but not with elephant heads on dual sexed human bodies! I watched the same documentary as you and never saw an elephant head anywhere in it!

  • Starlady

    I seem to remember that a woman was presented to queen Victoria after having over 50 children, mostly as twins and triplets. Wikipedia has a list of women who have had vast numbers of children. Some women regularly produce more than one egg each month and some poor women have a pregnancy every 10 months. So it’s mathematically possible to have 100 babies naturally. You could, say, have 33 sets of triplets from the age of 16 to 45. I doubt that most of them would survive to adulthood. Of course it’s much more likely that someone had about 30 babies and the tale grew with repetition, or even that it’s complete fiction. No test tubes required.