Bīrūnī, Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad, Alberuni's India (v. 1)

(London :  Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co.,  1910.)



Jump to page:

Table of Contents

  Page 23  

CHAPTER I.                                 23

from any foreigner. According to their belief, there is
no other country on earth but theirs, no other race of
man but theirs, and no created beings besides them have
any knowledge or science whatsoever. Their haughti¬
ness is such that, if you tell them of any science or
scholar in Khurasan and Persis, they will think you to
be both an ignoramus and a liar. If they travelled and
mixed with other nations, they would soon change their
mind, for their ancestors were not as narrow-minded
as the present generation is. One of their scholars,
Varahamihira, in a passage where he calls on the people
to honour the Brahmans, says : " I'he Greeks, though
impure, must he honoured, since they were trained in
sciences, and therein excelled others. What, then, are
we to say of a Brahman, if he combines with his Page 12.
purity the height of science 1" In former times, the
Hindus used to acknowledge that the progress of science
due to the Greeks is much more important than that
which is due to themselves. But from this passage of
Varahamihira alone you see what a self-lauding man
he is, whilst he gives himself airs as doing justice to
others. At first I stood to their astronomers in the
relation of a pupil to his master, being a stranger
among them and not acquainted with their peculiar
national and traditional methods of science. On having
made some progress, I began to show them the elements
on which this science rests, to point out to them some
rules of logical deduction and the scientific methods of
all mathematics, and then they flocked together round
me from all parts, wondering, and most eager to learn
from me, asking me at the same time from what Hindu
master I had learnt those things, whilst in reality I
showed them what they were worth, and thought myself
a great deal superior to them, disdaining to be put on a
level with them. They almost thought me to be a
sorcerer, and when speaking of me to their leading men
in their native tongue, they spoke of me as the sea or as
  Page 23