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At many places our ancient books exhibit deep knowledge of various branches of maths, and that is discussed a lot. For instance, Yuktibhasha, a 15th century Malyalam textbook of maths teaches differential calculus - this is about a hundred years before Newton or Liebniz.

As an electrical engineer, I am curious if our ancient texts contain any knowledge specific to electricity that is still accessible to us? Any veda, purana, upanishad, dharmashastra, any bhashya or otherwise a well regarded book would be pertinent for this question - not necessarily just Sanskrit texts.

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  • It's possible that basic concepts of electricity were discovered, but certainly not iPhones or electrical devices like how Praveen Mohan suggests. So vague concepts are certainly not out of the realm of possibility, but using electricity for major machines is certainly not possible.
    – Haridasa
    Commented Dec 29, 2023 at 15:36

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Perhaps someone can help with the translation, but I think the following segment talks about metallic fibers or tissues functionaning as a conduit for some sort of an electric or light-giving ornament.

The source is chapter 1.52 from Lakshminarayana Samhita which reads like an actual Purana.

dūramūrtidarśakāni divyakācāni bhūriśaḥ |
dehānāvaraṇadṛṣṭipradavidyutprasādhanam || 15 ||
dhātutantudhṛtividyutprakāśāḥ supradīpakāḥ |
agniyantrodbhavodyogā jalayantrāṇi bhūriśaḥ || 16 ||

My knowledge of Sanskrit is limited, so don't take any of this for granted.

Divyakācāni—Can this be translated as "divine glass"?

Vidyutprasādhana—An Electric ornament?

Dṛṣṭiprada—That grants sight?

As to how this "glass" works:

Dhātu can be translated as "metal" but also as "tissue". In combination with Tantu however, could the word Dhātutantu indicate "metal fiber"? In any case, the third compound, Dhṛti, suggests that the fourth compound, Vidyut or "lightning" is being "hold" in these fibers or tissues. The final compound, Prakāśa, indicates "lights" or the fact that the whole is being illumated.

If this is too far fetched I would be interested into knowing what it actually translates to. The rest of the chapter also contains some interesting stuff such as cloud-seeding machines.

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  • Thanks for bringing this to my attention, had no idea such a text existed. As for the actual translation, the meaning is: "Multiple shining glasses, capable of seeing solid things great distances away1. Constituting the body of that electrical equipment that allows one to see2, is metal, wires, covering, and an electrical light that is bright3. The transformative (Agni) equipment is connected to multiple types of transportive(Jala) ones". The next verse (that you haven't given) provides info about the the further detailed transporting capability of things within the Jalayantras. Commented Jan 28 at 1:02
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    @DushyantShreyaskar I have discovered several more such and other technologically interesting references in the same text. Would like to share to see if it applies to this topic. How can I contact you? Commented Jan 28 at 19:31
  • I'm not on any social media sites at the moment, unfortunately. You can reach me at ' [email protected] ', I may take some time to respond though, as I don't often check e-mails. Commented Jan 28 at 20:12

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