Jacob Koshy

Harsh vardhan
Union Minister for for Science and Technology Dr. Harsh Vardhan. File photo. | Photo Credit: PTI

The Union Science and Technology Minister, a medical doctor, however, didn’t clarify which specific Vedic “theory” he was talking about.
Union Science Minister Harsh Vardhan has claimed that the late cosmologist Stephen Hawking once said the Vedas had a theory superior to that of Albert Einstein’s famous equation, E=mc2.

Dr. Vardhan was speaking at the 105th edition of the Indian Science Congress, organised at the Manipur University here, and his address preceded the inaugural address of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was also on stage. “We recently lost a renowned scientist, cosmologist Stephen Hawking. He emphatically said on record that our Vedas might have a theory superior to that of Einstein’s E=mc2,” Dr. Vardhan said in his address.

E=mc2 is an equation that denotes the equivalence of mass and energy, and was first proposed by Einstein in 1905 as part of his Special Theory of Relativity. Dr. Vardhan, who’s also a medical doctor, didn’t clarify which specific Vedic “theory” he was talking about. When pressed for the source of this claim by Hawking, who died on Wednesday the 14th, he refused clarification. “You in the media should do some work and find out the source of this statement. When you have failed, then I shall disclose the source of my information,” he told a group of journalists.

No documented evidence

There’s no documented evidence for such remarks by Hawking.

Stephen Hawking is, however, on record denouncing astrology. “The reason most scientists don’t believe in astrology is that it is not consistent with our theories which have been tested by experiment,” Professor Hawking had said at the Albert Einstein memorial lecture in New Delhi in 2001, according to a report in The Hindu.

This isn’t the first time that the Indian Science Congress has witnessed bluster regarding the links between ancient Indian texts and modern astronomy. At the Science Congress in 2015, there were claims that the Vedic texts spoke of sophisticated airplanes.

A scientist-historian, who’s an expert on ancient astronomy and to its references in ancient Indian texts, said that Dr. Vardhan’s statement was “nonsensical” and it was unlikely that Hawking could have made such a link. The mass-energy equation was Einstein’s solution to reconciling the laws of electro-magnetic radiation with the laws of motion. “There have been philosophical musings about energy giving rise to creation but that doesn’t come under a scientific theory. And certainly no question of being superior,” Mayank Vahia, scientist at the Tata Insitute of Fundamental Research told The Hindu over phone.

Department of Scientific and Industrial Research

A search for the phrase “Stephen Hawking + Vedas” leads—as the first link—to a webpage of the Institute of Scientific Research on the Vedas. The first post has a submission by the organisation’s secretary, Sivaram Babu who claims Stephen Hawking has “referred the Vedic science books authored by Dr. Sivarambabu (Organizing secretary, I-SERVE) and said that the Vedas might have a theory superior to Einstein’s law E=MC2.”

Turns out, this reference to “Stephen Hawking’ links to a 2011 post on a fan-page maintained by a ‘hari.scientist’ with the handle ‘Stephen Hawking.’ The late scientist’s original Facebook page is Stephen Hawking @stephenhawking.

I-SERVE says it’s recognized by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR), Govt. of India, as a SIRO (Scientific and Industrial Research Organization).

DSIR is one of organisations under the charge of Dr. Vardhan.