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

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



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CHAPTER I.                                 25

classes to be guided by the results of science, whilst the
common crowd will always be inclined to plunge into
wrong-headed wrangling, as long as they are not kept
down by fear of punishment. Think of Socrates when
he opposed the crowd of his nation as to their idolatry
and did not want to call the stars gods ! At once eleven
of the twelve judges of the Athenians agreed on a sen¬
tence of death, and Socrates died faithful to the truth.

The Hindus had no men of this stamp both capable
and willing to bring sciences to a classical perfection.
Therefore you mostly find that even the so-called
scientific theorems of the Hindus are in a state of utter
confusion, devoid of any logical order, and in the last in¬
stance always mixed up with the sillynotionsof the crowd,
e.g. immense numbers, enormous spaces of time, and
all kinds of religious dogmas, which the vulgar belief
does not admit of being called into question. Therefore
it is a prevailing practice among the Hindus jurare in
verba magistri; and I can only compare their mathema¬
tical and astronomical literature, as far as I know it, to
a mixture of pearl shells and sour dates, or of pearls Page 13.
and dung, or of costly crystals and common pebbles.
Both kinds of things are equal in their eyes, since they
cannot raise themselves to the methods of a strictly
scientific deduction.

In most parts of my work I simply relate without Theauthor's
criticising, unless there be a special reason for doing so.
I mention the necessary Sanskrit names and technical
terms once where the context of our explanation de¬
mands it. If the word is an original one, the meaning
of which can be rendered in Arabic, I only use the
corresponding Arabic word; if, however, the Sanskrit
word be more practical, we keep this, trying to trans¬
literate it as accurately as possible. If the word is a
secondary or derived one, but in general use, we also
keep it, though there be a corresponding term in Arabic,
but before using it we  explain its  signification.    In
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