Subhash Kak

Subhash Kak (born 26 March 1947, Srinagar) is an Indian-American computer scientist and a Hindutva-based historical revisionist.[1] He is the Regents Professor of Computer Science Department at Oklahoma State University–Stillwater[2], an honorary visiting professor of engineering at Jawaharlal Nehru University,[3] and a member of the Indian Prime Minister's Science, Technology and Innovation Advisory Council (PM-STIAC).[4]

Subhash Kak
Kak vaxjo2.jpg
Subhash Kak at Foundations of Quantum Mechanics Conference, Växjö, Sweden
Born
Academic background
Alma materNIT Srinagar, IIT Delhi
Academic work
DisciplineComputer Science
Sub-discipline
InstitutionsOklahoma State University–Stillwater
Notable works
Notable ideasInstantaneously trained neural networks

Kak has published on the history of science, the philosophy of science, ancient astronomy, and the history of mathematics.[2] Kak has also published on archaeoastronomy, and advocated the idea of Indigenous Aryans.[5] Scholars have rejected his theories on these topics in entirety, and his writings have been heavily criticized.[5][6]

In 2019, the Government of India awarded him with Padma Shri,[7] the fourth highest civilian award in India.[8]

Early life and educationEdit

Kak was born to Ram Nath Kak, a government veterinary doctor and Sarojini Kak in Srinagar, India.[9][10] His brother is the computer scientist Avinash Kak and his sister is the literary theorist Jaishree Odin.[11]

Kak received a Bachelor of Engineering degree from the Regional Engineering College, Srinagar (now the National Institute of Technology, Srinagar)[citation needed] and a Ph.D. from the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi in 1970.

Academic careerEdit

During 1975-1976, Kak was a visiting faculty at Imperial College, London, and a guest researcher at Bell Laboratories, Murray Hill. In 1977, he was a visiting researcher at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Bombay.[12] In 1979, he joined Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, where he was appointed the Donald C. and Elaine T. Delaune Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. In 2007, he joined the Computer Science department at Oklahoma State University–Stillwater.[13]

Kak has published on the history of science, the philosophy of science, and the history of mathematics.[2]

He was featured as one of the pioneers of quantum learning in the journal NeuroQuantology edited by Cheryl Fricasso and Stanley Krippner.[14] Kak had proposed an efficient three-layer feed-forward neural network architecture and developed four corner classification algorithms for training it.[15] Despite being criticized for scalability issues; it invoked attention within the electronic hardware community.[15] Kak has argued that there are limits to artificial intelligence and that it cannot equate the biological equivalent.[16]

Kak is the Regents Professor of Computer Science Department at Oklahoma State University–Stillwater[2] and an honorary visiting professor of engineering at Jawaharlal Nehru University.[17]

On 28 August 2018, he was appointed member of the Prime Minister's Science, Technology and Innovation Advisory Council (PM-STIAC) in India.[18]

IndologyEdit

Kak primarily advocates for an autochthonous origin of the Indo-Aryans from Punjab<[5] ("Indigenous Aryans" hypothesis) in contradiction of the scholarly consensus about the validity of Indo-Aryan migration theory; Kak reads the promotion of the latter theory to stem from racist tendencies.[19] Scholars have noted his charges to be without any basis, lacking in any critical examination and primarily intended to promote Hindu supremacy.[20]

Kak has also claimed to find evidences of advanced computing and astronomy in the Rig Veda, in what Noretta Koertge deems to be a "social constructivist and postmodern attack on modern science".[21][22] He insists that Vedic scientists discovered the physical laws by Yogic meditation and that it is a valid scientific method which can be only evaluated within the paradigm of Vedic assumptions and by those who have attained Yogic enlightenment.[21] He has also asserted a belief in the superiority of Hindus over Muslims. Philosopher Meera Nanda summarized some of Kak's views on the matter in a 2004 critique: according to Kak, Hindus built "cultural empires" without military conquest, in contrast to Muslim "military empires" reliant on conquest.[23]

Meera Nanda writes about Kak being revered as a stalwart of Hindutva and one of the leading “intellectual Kshatriyas”.[24] Edwin Bryant calls him to a well read and articulate spokesman for the Indigenous Aryan hypothesis and for other issues concerning ancient Indian science and culture.[25]

Scholars have rejected his theories in entirety and his writings have been heavily criticized.[5] Acute misrepresentation of facts coupled with wrong observations, extremely flexible and often self-contradictory analysis, cherry picking of data and forwarding of easily disprovable hypotheses have been located.[5][6][26][27] His understanding of linguistics and subsequent assertion have been challenged.[5][28] Romila Thapar calls Kak an amateur historian whose views on the Indus Civilization were fringe and who was part of a group that had more to do with waging political battles at the excuse of history.[29] Michael Witzel noted him to be a revisionist and part of a "closely knit, self-adulatory group", members of which often write together and/or profusely copy from and cite one another, thus rendering the whole scene into a virtually indistinguishable hotchpotch.[5] Garrett G. Fagan, a noted critic of pseudo-archaeology has concurred with Witzel.[19] Similar concerns of his being a Hindutva-based revisionist have been echoed by other writers.[6][30] In a critique of faulty scientific reasoning in Hindutva ideologies and theories, Alan Sokal sarcastically criticized Kak as "one of the leading intellectual luminaries of the Hindu-nationalist diaspora"[31] Koertge as well as Meera Nanda have remarked that Kak's work advances a Hindutva-based esoteric pseudoscience narrative that seeks to find relatively advanced abstract physics in Vedic texts and assign Indian indigenousness to the Sanskrit-speaking Indic Aryans in a bid to prove the superiority of the ancient Hindu civilization.[21][22]

While Kak's interpretation has been included in recent overviews of astronomy in the Vedic period in India and the West,[32] his chronology and astronomical calculations have been critiqued by several Indologists, such as Michael Witzel,[5] and historians such as Kim Plofker.[33]

Reviewed worksEdit

Archaeoastronomy - The Astronomical Code of the RigvedaEdit

In the book, Kak proposes that the organization of hymns in the Rig Veda was dictated by an astronomic code concerning the courses of planets—length of solar year and lunar year, the distance between sun and earth et al.[5][34] He then leverages the proposition to argue for the existence of a tradition of sophisticated observational astronomy as far back as 3000 or 4000 BCE.[5] Kak also states that the construction of fire-altars were a coded representation of their astronomic knowledge[5] and that the Vedic civilisation were aware of the speed of light.[24] He prepared the section on archaeoastronomical sites in India for the thematic study on Heritage Sites of Astronomy and Archaeoastronomy in the context of the UNESCO World Heritage Convention prepared for UNESCO by the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and the International Astronomical Union (IAU).[35]

Kim Plofker rejected Kak's probabilistic analysis of the presence of planetary period numbers in the Rigveda's hymn number combinations, showing that Kak's apparent matches have "no statistical significance whatever".[33] Witzel has rejected his analysis to be suffering from several shortcomings and questioned his usage of arbitrary multiplication factors to lead to the results.[5] Kak's method depends on the structure of the Rigveda as redacted by the shakhas in the late Brahmana period, well within the Indian Iron Age, when it was organized into mandalas ("books"). According to Witzel, this leaves Kak's approach attempt to date the text flawed, because this process of redaction took place long after the composition of the individual hymns during the samhita prose period.[5] Witzel concludes that the entire issue boiled down to an over-interpretation of some facts that were internally inconsistent and more, to the creativeness of Kak who was pre-motivated to find evidence of astronomy at every verse of Rig Veda.[5][36] Meera Nanda criticized the arbitrary and absurd nature of Kak's analysis at length and noted his method to be "breathtakingly ad hoc" which "reads like numerology."[34] M A Mehendale, in a review over Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, criticized the book for its many shortcomings which did not stand the scrutiny of rigor and remarked it to contain inaccurate and misleading statements.[37] S. G. Dani, a Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar prize recipient rejected Kak's hypothesis as unscientific and highly speculative with extremely vague details and whose results were statistically insignificant.[38]

Klaus Klostermaier in his book A Survey of Hinduism praised Kak, for opening up an "entirely new approach to the study of Vedic cosmology from an empirical astronomical/mathematical viewpoint".[39] Klostermaier's books have been heavily criticized for offering pro-Hindu views that have little currency in scholarship.[40][41][42]

InfluenceEdit

Kak's work influenced Raja Ram Mohan Roy's 1999 book Vedic Physics: Scientific Origin of Hinduism, which sought to prove that the RigVeda was coded per the laws of quantum and particle physics.[24] Kak wrote the foreword to this book commending Roy's interpretations as a new way of looking at Vedic Physics.[24][31] Meera Nanda, one of Kak's foremost critics, noted the result to be a "shameful demeaning of physics as well as the Vedas" and resembling "ravings of mad men".[24]

In Search of the Cradle of CivilizationEdit

Kak co-authored In Search of the Cradle of Civilization (1995), equating the Vedic Aryans with the Harappans.[43] and thus, participating in the political controversy around the "indigenous Aryans" theory.[44] The chronology espoused in this book is based on the archaeoastronomical readings obtained by correlating textual references and archaeological remains.

A review by Indian archaeologist M. K. Dhavalikar over Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute noted it to be a "beautifully printed" contribution that made a strong case for their indigenous theory against the supposed migratory hypotheses but chose to remain silent on certain crucial aspects which need to be convincingly explained.[43] Guy Beck showered glowing praises on the book in his review over the Yoga Journal.[45] Klostermaier et al. praised the book.[46] Prema Kurien noted that the book sought to distinguish expatriate Hindu Americans from other minority groups by demonstrating their superior racial and cultural ties with the Europeans.[47]

The Nature of Physical RealityEdit

Stanley Krippner, an American psychologist,[a] praised the book as an engaging read that would leave readers wiser.[54]

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Krippner is an avid supporter of dream telepathy experiments and claimed to have proved the same via a set of experiments. These have not been independently replicated.[48][49][50][51] His books have been criticized for endorsing pseudoscience.[52][53]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Kurien, Prema A. (2007). A place at the multicultural table the development of an American Hinduism. Rutgers University Press. pp. 163, 166. ISBN 9780813540559. OCLC 703221465.
  2. ^ a b c d Akella, Usha (21 December 2013). "The Renaissance man". The Hindu. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
  3. ^ https://www.jnu.ac.in/se-faculty
  4. ^ "New committee formed to advise PM on science, tech-related policy issues". Thehindubusinessline.com. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Witzel 2001.
  6. ^ a b c Guha, Sudeshna (2007). "Review of The Indo-Aryan Controversy: Evidence and Inference in Indian History". Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society. 17 (3): 340–343. doi:10.1017/S135618630700733X. ISSN 1356-1863. JSTOR 25188742.
  7. ^ Analytics India Magazine
  8. ^ "Padma Awards conferred by President Ram Nath Kovind | DD News". www.ddinews.gov.in. Retrieved 23 March 2019.
  9. ^ Kak, S. The Circle of Memory. Mississauga, 2016
  10. ^ Sharma, Swati (10 February 2019). "A Renaissance man". Deccan Chronicle. Retrieved 10 May 2019.
  11. ^ Kak, Ram Nath. Autumn Leaves. Vitasta, 1995.
  12. ^ "Short Biography" (PDF). Ece.okstate.edu. Retrieved 3 December 2018.
  13. ^ "Kak, Subhash, Ph.D. - School of Electrical and Computer Engineering". Ece.okstate.edu. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
  14. ^ Fracasso, Cheryl; Krippner, Stanley (11 September 2011). "Pioneers Who Have Changed the Face of Science and Those That Have Been Mentored By Them". NeuroQuantology. 9 (3). doi:10.14704/nq.2011.9.3.446.
  15. ^ a b SHORTT, A; KEATING, J; MOULINIER, L; PANNELL, C (4 March 2005). "Optical implementation of the Kak neural network" (PDF). Information Sciences. 171 (1–3): 273–287. doi:10.1016/j.ins.2004.02.028. ISSN 0020-0255.
  16. ^ Kak, Subhash. "Will artificial intelligence become conscious?". Theconversation.com. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
  17. ^ https://www.jnu.ac.in/se-faculty
  18. ^ "New committee formed to advise PM on science, tech-related policy issues". Thehindubusinessline.com. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
  19. ^ a b Fagan, Garrett G. (2006). Archaeological Fantasies: How Pseudoarchaeology Misrepresents the Past and Misleads the Public. Psychology Press. p. 217. ISBN 9780415305921.
  20. ^ Sur, Abha; Sur, Samir (2010). "In Contradiction Lies the Hope". In Costa, Beatriz Da; Philip, Kavita (eds.). Tactical Biopolitics: Art, Activism, and Technoscience. MIT Press. p. 210. doi:10.7551/mitpress/9780262042499.001.0001. ISBN 978-0-262-51491-0.
  21. ^ a b c Koertge, Noretta (2005). Scientific values and civic virtues. Oxford University Press. pp. 231, 232. ISBN 978-0195172256. OCLC 803903015.
  22. ^ a b Nanda, Meera (2004). Prophets Facing Backward : Postmodern Critiques of Science and Hindu Nationalism in India. Rutgers University Press. pp. 110, 111. ISBN 9780813536347. OCLC 1059017715.
  23. ^ Nanda, Meera (2004). Prophets Facing Backward : Postmodern Critiques of Science and Hindu Nationalism in India. Rutgers University Press. p. 98. ISBN 9780813536347. OCLC 1059017715.
  24. ^ a b c d e Nanda, Meera (2004). Prophets Facing Backward : Postmodern Critiques of Science and Hindu Nationalism in India. Rutgers University Press. p. 114. ISBN 9780813536347. OCLC 1059017715.
  25. ^ Bryant, Edwin (6 September 2001). The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture: The Indo-Aryan Migration Debate. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199881338.
  26. ^ Kazanas, Nicholas (1999). "The Ṛgveda and Indo-Europeans". Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute. 80 (1/4): 15–42. ISSN 0378-1143. JSTOR 41694574.
  27. ^ Nanda, Meera (2004). Prophets Facing Backward : Postmodern Critiques of Science and Hindu Nationalism in India. Rutgers University Press. p. 118. ISBN 9780813536347. OCLC 1059017715.
  28. ^ Jain, Danesh; Cardona, George (26 July 2007). The Indo-Aryan Languages. Routledge. pp. 35, 36. ISBN 9781135797119.
  29. ^ "Romila Thapar: On historical scholarship and the uses of the past (interview with Parita Mukta)". Ethnic and Racial Studies. 23 (3): 594–616. 1 January 2000. doi:10.1080/014198700329006. ISSN 0141-9870.
  30. ^ Brown, C. Mackenzie (19 January 2012). Hindu Perspectives on Evolution: Darwin, Dharma, and Design. Routledge. p. 239. ISBN 9781136484667.
  31. ^ a b Sokal, Alan (2006). "Pseudoscience and Postmodernism: Antagonists or Fellow-Travelers?". In Garrett G. Fagan (ed.). Archaeological fantasies: how pseudoarchaeology misrepresents the past and misleads the public. Routledge. p. 317. ISBN 978-0-415-30593-8.
  32. ^ In S. Wolpert (ed.), "Encyclopedia of India." Scribner's, 2005.
  33. ^ a b Plofker, Kim (December 1996), "Review of Subash Kak, The Astronomical Code of the Ṛgveda", Centaurus, 38 (4): 362–364, doi:10.1111/j.1600-0498.1996.tb00021.x, ISSN 0008-8994
  34. ^ a b Nanda, Meera (2004). Prophets Facing Backward : Postmodern Critiques of Science and Hindu Nationalism in India. Rutgers University Press. p. 112. ISBN 9780813536347. OCLC 1059017715.
  35. ^ Kak, Subhash (2010), "India", in Ruggles, Clive; Cotte, Michel (eds.), Heritage Sites of Astronomy and Archaeoastronomy in the context of the UNESCO World Heritage Convention: A Thematic Study, Paris: ICOMOS / IAU, pp. 99–107, ISBN 978-2-918086-07-9
  36. ^ Kurien 2007, p. 255.
  37. ^ Mehendale, M. A. (1996). "Review of THE ASTRONOMICAL CODE OF THE ṚGVEDA". Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute. 77 (1/4): 323–325. ISSN 0378-1143. JSTOR 41702197.
  38. ^ Dani, S. G. (1994). "The astronomical code of the Rigveda". Current Science. 66 (11): 814. ISSN 0011-3891. JSTOR 24095698.
  39. ^ Klaus Klostermaier, A Survey of Hinduism, Second Edition. State University of New York Press, 1995, pp. 129.
  40. ^ Joel P. Brereton (1991). "A Survey of Hinduism by Klaus K. Klostermaier (Review)". Journal of Asian History. 25 (1): 86–87. JSTOR 41930803.
  41. ^ Knut A. Jacobsen (1997). "A Survey of Hinduism by Klaus K. Klostermaier (Review)". Numen. 44 (1): 97–98. JSTOR 3270387.
  42. ^ Patricia M. Greer (2002). "A Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism by Klaus K. Klostermaier (Review)". International Journal of Hindu Studies. 6 (1): 92–94. JSTOR 20106796.
  43. ^ a b M. K. Dhavalikar (1996). "Untitled [review of In Search of the Cradle of Civilization: New Light on Ancient India, by Georg Feuerstein, Subhash Kak, & David Frawley]". Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute. Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute. 77 (1/4): 326–327. ISSN 0378-1143. JSTOR 41702199.
  44. ^ Edwin Bryant, The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture: The Indo-Aryan Migration Debate. Oxford University Press, 2001.
  45. ^ Beck, Guy (September–October 1996). "Origins of Yoga [review of In Search of the Cradle of Civilization: New Light on Ancient India, by Georg Feuerstein, Subhash Kak, & David Frawley]". Yoga Journal. 130 (130): 116–117. ISSN 0191-0965.
  46. ^ "Reviews". www.ece.lsu.edu. Retrieved 22 March 2019.
  47. ^ Kurien, Prema A. (2007). A place at the multicultural table the development of an American Hinduism. Rutgers University Press. pp. 242. ISBN 9780813540559. OCLC 703221465.
  48. ^ Parker, Adrian. (1975). States of Mind: ESP and Altered States of Consciousness. Taplinger. p. 90. ISBN 0-8008-7374-2
  49. ^ Clemmer, E. J. (1986). Not so anomalous observations question ESP in dreams. American Psychologist 41: 1173-1174.
  50. ^ Hyman, Ray. (1986). Maimonides dream-telepathy experiments. Skeptical Inquirer 11: 91-92.
  51. ^ Neher, Andrew. (2011). Paranormal and Transcendental Experience: A Psychological Examination. Dover Publications. p. 145. ISBN 0-486-26167-0
  52. ^ Henry Gordon. (1988). Extrasensory Deception : ESP, Psychics, Shirley MacLaine, Ghosts, UFOs. Macmillan of Canada. p. 27
  53. ^ Kurtz, Paul. (1978). Review of Future Science: Life Energies and the Physics of Paranormal Phenomena. Skeptical Inquirer 2: 90-94.
  54. ^ "Book Review". 4 February 2012. Archived from the original on 4 February 2012. Retrieved 22 March 2019.

SourcesEdit

External linksEdit