- Ancient Indian knowledge, tradition and practices now find more space in the new NCERT textbooks.
- Books meant for students of Classes 6 to 10 carry new or additional information on ancient Indian philosophy, ayurveda, yoga, teachings of Upanishads and smritis and scientific achievements of ancient India in areas such as astronomy and metallurgy.
Consider the key additions:
* Chapter 7 of Class 6 History textbook (‘Our Pasts – I’) introduces students to the six schools of India philosophy: Vaishesika, Nyaya, Samkhya, Yoga, Purva Mimansa and Vedanta or Uttara Mimansa. These are believed to have been founded by sages Konada, Gotama, Kapila, Patanjali, Jaimini and Vyasa.
* Chapter 12 of the same book now carries information on ayurveda. The new paragraph reads: “Ayurveda is a well known system of health science that was developed in ancient India. The two famous practitioners of Ayurveda in ancient India were Charaka (1st-2nd centuries C.E.) and Sushrut (c. 4th century C.E.). Charak Samhita, written by Charak is a remarkable book on medicine. In his treatise, Susruta Samhita, Sushruta speaks about elaborate surgical procedures.”
* Although the old version of the Class 6 Geography textbook (‘The Earth Our Habitat’) already had material on astronomer Aryabhatta, NCERT has added more information on him in chapters 1 and 3. Chapter 17 of the Class X Science book, too, has additional text on Aryabhatta including his work on the Earth’s diameter, solar and lunar eclipses.
* The Class 6 Science textbook introduces yoga as “an invaluable gift of the ancient Indian tradition” and highlights its health benefits such relieving joint pain and a healthy heart. This has been introduced in Chapter 8 on body movements.
* Chapter 17 of the Class 8 Science textbook touches on ancient India’s achievements in astronomy and states that the practice of astronomy is mentioned in Rig Veda. “In ancient India our ancestors performed methodical observations of sky. Their knowledge of astronomy was highly advanced for their time. Passage of the Sun, stars, moon and planets in the sky helped them to devise calenders and almanacs.”
* In Chapter 17 of the Class 8 Science textbook, NCERT has added new information on what ancient Indian mythology says about the constellation Ursa Major, also known as Saptarshi. It states: “According to ancient mythology the seven sages who form the Saptarshi, preserve the eternal knowledge of Vedas and explain it to people in every new age.”
* Chapter 16 of the Class 10 Science textbook quotes two hymns from Atharva Veda to demonstrate how sustainable living has always been an integral part of India’s tradition and culture.
– NCERT has added portraits of Rani of Kittur, freedom fighter Veer Surendra Sai, Rani Laxmi Bai, Bahadur Shah Zafar, Peshwa Nana Sahib and Veer Kunwar Singh, a hero of the 1857 rebellion, across different chapters of the Class 8 History book Our Past-III, Part II.
– Chapter 4 of Class 7 History, Our Past-II, has new material on Akbar commissioning translation of many Sanskrit works such as Mahabharata, Ramayana, Lilavati and Yoga Vashisht into Persian.
– Chapter 8 (Devotional Paths to the Divine) of Our Past-II has a new paragraph on the Vaishnava poet-saints of Maharashtra such as Dnyaneshwar, Namdev and Tukaram. The same chapter also has new information on the Rishi order of Sufism that flourished in Kashmir in the 15th and 16th centuries.
– Chapter 8 (Devotional Paths to the Divine) of the Class 8 History book has included more material on Sankaradeva, a Bhakti saint from Assam, whose teachings were based on Bhagavad Gita and Bhagavat Purana.
– Chapter 6 of the Class 7 History textbook talks about the keen interest taken by Vijayanagara rulers in building tanks and canals.
The chapter also states: “During the Vedic period, both productive as well as protective aspect of forest vegetation were emphasised. This was the time when the concept of cultural landscape such as sacred forests and groves, sacred corridors and a variety of ethno-forestry practices were evolved that continued to the post-Vedic period, besides a wide range of ethnoforestry practices were infused with the traditions, customs and rituals and followed as a means for protection of nature and natural resource.”