The mother of us all: Ancient India’s Vedic civilization

Part One: The Homeland

Researchers have determined that the Vedic culture of India was the first global civilization. They have uncovered archeological and historical evidence indicating that the society which began millennia ago in the Indus Valley grew to encompass all of South Asia, then spread peacefully to many parts of the world.

Science and technology in ancient India were highly developed. “Some 1,000 years before Aristotle, the Vedic Aryans asserted that the earth is round and circles the sun. … 2,000 years before Pythagoras, philosophers in northern India understood that gravitation holds the solar system together, and therefore the sun, the most massive object, has to be at its center. … Our modern numerals 0 through 9 were developed in India. Mathematics existed [in India] long before the Greeks constructed their first right angle.” [1] “To Hindus is due the invention of algebra and geometry and their application to astronomy.” [2] Quadratic equations were first developed in India. [3] “For years much of the world has thought that the advancements in mathematics came from the Arab countries, but nothing can be farther from the truth. They only inherited the advanced formulas from the Hindus, wrote about them, and then helped transfer them to Europe through Spain.” [4]

1,500 years ago the Indian mathematician Aryabhata wrote treatises on spherical trigonometry and astronomy, asserting that the planets are round and spin on their axes through elliptical orbits. He accurately calculated the size of the earth and the length of the year, the lunar month, and the heliocentric revolutions of Mars and Jupiter. 500 years before Newton and Leibnitz, Indians were using calculus to determine the daily motion of the planets. [5]

Medical practices in ancient India were also far in advance of those in other countries and in many respects rival our current procedures. 2,600 years ago Vedic medical texts “recorded complicated surgeries like cesareans, cataract, artificial limbs, fractures, hernia, intestinal surgery, bladder stone removal, rhinoplasty or plastic surgery of the nose, and brain surgery, plus suturing, the knowledge of the instruments needed for particular operations, types of forceps, surgical probes, needles, and cutting instruments. Over 125 surgical instruments were described and used, including lancets, forceps, catheters, etc., many of which are the same or similar as those we have today. Deep knowledge of anatomy, physiology, etiology, embryology, digestion, metabolism, genetics, and immunity is also found in these texts.” [6] They describe, 1,700 years before William Harvey, blood circulation and its role in delivering nutrition. They discuss “385 plant-generated, 57 animal-generated, and 64 mineral-generated medicines and how to use them.” [7]

5,000 years ago Indians were smelting iron to make tools, more than a thousand years before Europeans. They exported tempered steel to China and Arabia. [8] 3,000 years ago they were producing glass and coloring it with metal salts and exporting optical lenses to China. They excelled in ceramics, fabric dyeing, and cement making. [9]

Will Durant wrote, “The growing of cotton appears earlier in India than elsewhere, apparently it was used for cloth in Mohenjodaro.” [10] Both the spinning wheel and loom are Indian inventions. [11]

Much of the evidence for these achievements was discovered during excavations of the sites of Mohenjodaro and Harappa. Sir John Marshall, the archeologist who excavated Mohenjodaro, wrote, “These discoveries establish the existence … during the 4th and 3rd millennia BC of a highly developed city life: and the presence in many of these homes of wells and bathrooms as well as elaborate drainage systems, betokens a social condition of the citizens at least equal to that found in Sumer and superior to that prevailing in contemporary Babylonia and Egypt.” [12] “It took another 2,000 years for the Roman Empire to reach the level of town planning and sanitation that had already been existing in the Harrapan culture.” [13] “This Indus civilization was the most populous and largest of any culture of the 3rd millennium, a huge center of many ideas and forms of knowledge that spread in all directions.” [14]

“5,000 years ago, when the peoples of Europe were hauling stones across the face of the continent and grubbing out a meager existence, Indians … were living in elaborately designed cities with sturdy houses, broad, straight roads, public baths, and drainage systems that were hardly equaled until the Roman era three thousand years later. … But 5,000 years ago … the Indus Valley civilization was already age-old … with many millennia of human endeavor behind it. Usually we think of Mesopotamia as the cradle of civilization, but evidence suggests that the society of northwestern India, which has preserved its essential spirit over countless generations, deserves equal billing.” [15] “This, therefore, was the real cradle of civilization as we know it.” [16]

According to Will Durant, “India was the motherland of our race, and Sanskrit the mother of Europe’s languages … she was the mother of our philosophy, mother, through the Arabs, of much of our mathematics, mother, through Buddha, of the ideals embodied in Christianity, mother, through the village community, of self-government and democracy. Mother India is in many ways the mother of us all.” [17]

Mark Twain called India, “Cradle of the human race, birthplace of human speech, mother of history, grandmother of legend, great-grandmother of tradition. … She had the first civilization; she had the first accumulation of wealth; she was populous with deep thinkers and subtle intellects. India is the prime source of human development.” [18]

Vedic civilization was truly a golden age, fully developed both spiritually and materially. The next article, “The Global Culture”, describes how this civilization spread around the world.


1. Ancient Roots of Modern Science, Teresi, Dick, qtd. in Advancements of Ancient India’s Vedic Culture, Knapp, Stephen (Detroit: World Relief Network, 2012) pp.7-8.

2. Ancient and Medieval India, Williams, Monier, qtd. in Advancements p. 69.

3. Mysteries of the Ancient Vedic Empire, Knapp, Stephen (Detroit: World Relief Network, 2015) p. 4.

4. Advancements, p. 70.

5. Ibid. p. 61, 65.

6. Ibid. p. 91.

7. Ibid. p. 93.

8. Ibid. pp. 116-7.

9. Ibid. p. 122.

10. Our Oriental Heritage, Durant, Will, qtd. in Advancements p. 106.

11. Advancements p. 107.

12. Prehistoric Civilization of the Indus, Marshall, John, qtd. in Advancements p. 158.

13. Advancements p. 160.

14. Ibid. p. 162.

15. India: The Challenge of Change, Traub, James qtd. In Mysteries of the Ancient Vedic Empire, Knapp, Stephen (Detroit: World Relief Network, 2015) p. 7.

16. Ibid.

17. Mysteries p. 5.

18. Ibid.

William T. Hathaway is the author of eight books and was a Fulbright professor of creative writing at universities in Germany, where he currently lives. His novel of the climate change, Wellsprings: A Fable of Consciousness, tells of an old woman and a young man healing nature through techniques of higher consciousness. Chapters are posted at His peace novel, Summer Snow, is the story of an American warrior falling in love with a Sufi Muslim and learning from her that higher consciousness is more effective than violence. Chapters are posted at

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