Sachchidananda 'The Life Divine' Book I,Ch.9, 10, 11, 12 - Track 502

Again if you examine the history of India, the kind of intellectual development that has gone into the making of Indian culture is amazing. It is said that India looked after three important categories of people.

People who are imbued with imagination but not highly intellectual; for these people India gave eighteen Puranas, and eighteen Upapuranas. They are full of stories and imaginations but not purely fictitious imagination based upon solid experiences of certain levels of experience. This literature itself is so vast that even if you spend the whole lifetime, you cannot complete this. It is such a huge literature, so only for one category of people India has produced so much literature. This cannot be done without a very high development of intellectuality. Even to write one Purana is a very difficult task. Even to write one story is difficult, what to talk of hundreds of stories and all meaningful stories.

Then there is a second category of people, who are highly intellectual and for these people India provided three kinds of literature, one was the literature connected with the scientific study of everyday things. Horse for example, was regarded as a very important instrument at that time, not as much as today but at that time horse was a very important instrument of civilization. The science of horse was developed intellectually to such an extent that one could by following the science of horse breeding, you could judge whether that particular horse (by merely seeing a horse), you could judge whether that horse was capable of longevity, had the capacity of strength, had the capacity of agility and had great intelligence. Because horses also have different grades intelligence, just as human being also have got grades. Some horses are very-very intelligent like Chetak of Pratap, or the horse of Alexander the Great. How to judge a horse, among so many horses which are before you and select the best from all these points of view, there was a science about it.

Elephant, which was also a very important instrument, how to judge an elephant that also was a big science and there were experts in this field. How many things there are in everyday life, for everything there was a tremendous effort at that time, to make everything an object of scientific study, analyze it, come to the last point in the analysis and build up from that last point to the super structure. This was the effort.

It is said there was 64 arts at that time, not only sciences of everyday life things but also the arts. Infact the woman of that time was required to study as many arts as possible that was a kind of an Aryan woman that was trained right from her childhood, into varieties of activities and artistic activities. If you read some of the descriptions, you will find that today the kind of education that we are giving to our daughters is hardly anything as compared to the kind of conception we had for the daughter’s education in those times. If you read the characters like Kadambari, Mahashweta and others, it is amazing the kind of training that was given to the Aryan woman and this was all highly intellectual.

The second was the pure sciences − medicine, surgery, mathematics, astronomy, astrology, physics, chemistry, metallurgy and several sciences which were developed up to a very high level of accomplishment. If you read Mahabharata from a point of view of metallurgy, it’s an amazing science. What kinds of weapons were made, which were used in Mahabharata and which were destroyed on a large scale, this could not be without a highly developed intellectuality.

Samkhya, Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Yoga, Poorva Mimamsa, Uttara Mimamsa, of Jainism, of Buddhism Cārvāka. These philosophies were so precise that each one of them was put in the form of an aphorism. You know intellectuality comes to a high degree of sophistication when it becomes so precise that you can state your statement in as brief manner as possible. As long as the ideas are vague, you can be very vast and very long winding that shows that intellectuality has not reached its high pitch. It is when you can say things briefly and precisely that the height of intellectuality can be measured and there is no philosophy in the world which was developed in this aphoristic manner as you have Nyaya sutra, Vaisheshika sutra, Samkhya sutra. Every system of philosophy has Sutras, then Sutras were commented upon. There is a vast literature of commentaries and these commentaries are further commented, and they were further commented, so commentaries on commentaries, such a vast literature from an intellectual point of view. It is so prolific, so vast that even if you spend five hundred years to study what is still available, it would not be enough. What is available is a fraction of what was at one time available, but destroyed. If you study the history of India how much destruction has taken place. All that was destroyed, out of that only a fraction has remained and out of that fraction which has remained, only fraction has been studied in the modern times, and what you know of it is only that fraction. How many manuscripts even now have remained unread there is no time for people to read all that. There is so much available, even if you go to big libraries of India like Saraswati Library, or Banaras Library, or some very big library at Jaipur and other places, so many manuscripts are lying and they are not even read. We don’t have manpower to read or to understand, so we have only read fraction of what is available and what is available is only a fraction of what was at one time existent in our culture. 

This is the amount of intellectuality that existed in India alone. Take Plato and Aristotle in Greece, the kind of intellectual development which took place in Greece was very high. It is said that Plato reached such a height of intellectual thought that that height has never been reached again, as somebody has said that all the rest of literature in philosophy that has been written in the West can be regarded as footnotes to Plato. The entire history of the Western philosophy is nothing but footnotes to Plato.