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Tuesday, January 5, 2016

An ancient coin mint dated 200 B.C.!

That was a joke we made about my childhood friend who claimed that he has a coin which was actually minted 200 years before Christ! When asked how he was sure of that, my friend replied that the date 200 B.C. is written on the coin!
Every country, religion, always had people who cleverly faked things to imply that they are actually very ancient and tried to take advantage of that. Most of the time, it is almost impossible to prove the genuineness of such an artifact.

Recently, I came across a bunch of ‘supposedly ancient Indian scriptures’ each claiming to be part of ancient Vedic literature (2000 B.C.). Some of them talked about Yoga which is one of my fields of interest. Many of the ideas discussed in these scriptures seemed to have lot in common with the ideas propagated by many modern Yoga Gurus, though none of these find mention in the generally accepted Yoga bible “The Yoga sutra” by Patanjali. I could see many telltale marks of intentional fabrication, though it is very difficult to pin them down.

While a western scholar would labor hard to fix historical credibility of any purported ancient scripture, most traditional Indians give no importance to historicity and their judgments are guided by faith alone. But such an approach has its own associated long term adverse consequences.

What is the right approach? Yes, historicity is important. But since it is almost impossible to judge in many cases, we probably have to take a via media. There are other factors that can help in accepting or rejecting such documents. (See my earlier post on how we should look at such documents.) After all, old is not always gold!