Chandrayaan-3: A Triumph of Dedication, Leadership, and Spiritual Wisdom

The unique blend of science & spirituality is a powerful recipe for continued success in India's space endeavors

I was walking on the beach this evening, gazing at the beautiful crescent moon in the evening sky. I did a double take when I remembered that the Chandrayaan-3 Vikram lander had a beautiful soft landing on the moon's south pole. I also found myself thanking the moon for graciously allowing the Vikram lander to touch down on its south pole, granting India a place in its celestial home.

In the realm of space exploration, India's Chandrayaan-3 mission stands as a testament to the brilliant work of Indian space scientists, their relentless dedication, and the unique blend of leadership, spiritual ethos, and cultural wisdom that defines India's space program.

This blog post celebrates the remarkable achievements of the scientists who made Chandrayaan-3 a resounding success and explores how India's cultural and spiritual roots have contributed to its scientific temperament and this success.

The Legacy of Chandrayaan-3

The tale of Chandrayaan-2's setback and Chandrayaan-3's triumphant success is a story deserving of a world-class documentary. It's a journey from "we did it" to "we did it even better." But before we delve into the remarkable Chandrayaan-3 mission, let's pause for a moment to appreciate the incredible achievements of its predecessors.

Chandrayaan-1, India's maiden lunar mission, took its historic journey in 2008. Despite its relatively brief operational lifespan, it achieved a monumental discovery by detecting water molecules on the lunar surface, revolutionizing our understanding of Earth's nearest celestial neighbor.

Chandrayaan-2, launched in 2019, consisted of an orbiter, a lander named Vikram, and a rover named Pragyan. While Vikram's attempt at a soft landing faced challenges, the orbiter continued to shine brilliantly, transmitting valuable data and high-resolution lunar images back to Earth.

Chandrayaan-3 emerged as a mission with a clear purpose: to build upon the lessons learned from its predecessors. Its primary goal was to achieve a successful soft landing on the lunar surface, a feat that had posed difficulties during Chandrayaan-2. Drawing from the lessons of Vikram's challenges in Chandrayaan-2, ISRO's engineers meticulously designed Chandrayaan-3 with redundant systems and subjected it to extensive testing, ensuring a significantly higher probability of success for its lander.

The success of Chandrayaan-3 is a testament to the unwavering dedication of India's brilliant scientists. They refused to be deterred by the setback of Chandrayaan-2. Instead, they embraced the valuable lessons learned, harnessed their dedication, and made it happen. These remarkable minds worked tirelessly, often with limited resources, to push the boundaries of space exploration. Their commitment to the mission, coupled with their technical expertise, ensures that India's space endeavors will continue to thrive and inspire generations to come. Chandrayaan-3 stands not only as a triumph in lunar exploration but also as a testament to the indomitable spirit of India's space scientists.

What Sets Our Achievement Apart?

The stellar achievement of Chandrayaan-3 is undeniably exceptional and sets India apart in the realm of lunar exploration. While we celebrate this triumph, it's important to understand what makes it truly remarkable.

China's Chang'e missions, Russia's Luna missions, and the United States' Apollo missions all aimed for lunar regions near the moon's equator and the Sea of Rains. However, none ventured to the lunar South Pole. Landing on the lunar South Pole is of immense significance due to its potential for housing water ice in the moon's craters, a resource crucial for future lunar exploration and even missions to Mars.

Yet, landing at the lunar South Pole comes with unique technical challenges, including rugged terrain and shadows that hinder solar power generation. India's successful landing in this challenging location showcases its technological prowess and engineering excellence.

What truly makes this achievement stellar is that India has led the world in reaching the moon's South Pole. It's a testament to India's self-reliance and unwavering faith in its own scientific ethos. This achievement embodies the spirit of a nation that has come a long way.

ISRO's cost-efficient approach for Chandrayaan-3, including the reuse of the existing Chandrayaan-2 orbiter, not only saved time but also significantly reduced the mission's cost. In fact, the cost of this mission is just a fraction of what's spent on many Bollywood and Hollywood movies.

We've Come a Long Way - and New York Times Hates That

From the days of being an oppressed British colony, where we struggled with self-doubt, compared ourselves to the West, and even ridiculed our own potential, we have indeed come a long way. The journey has been remarkable, marked by significant milestones, including Chandrayaan 3's recent success.

One noteworthy achievement in this journey was India's successful launch of Mangalyaan in 2014. The total cost of this interplanetary space mission was an astonishingly modest 4.5 billion rupees ($74 million; £45 million), making it one of the most cost-effective missions ever undertaken.

However, despite the incredible success of Mangalyaan, the New York Times chose to publish a cartoon that sought to belittle our accomplishment. This cartoon depicted a farmer with a cow, knocking at the door of a room labeled "Elite Space Club," where two men read a newspaper highlighting India's feat.

What's truly remarkable is that India achieved this feat in its very first attempt, joining an elite group of nations, including the United States, Russia, and Europe, that had previously sent missions to Mars. India's triumph in this endeavor, something that eluded even the Americans and the Soviets initially, was a testament to our scientific capabilities and unwavering determination.

This reaction, exemplified by the cartoon, is not uncommon when an underdog achieves greatness. Some people find it difficult to digest the fact that someone they once considered less capable has achieved something extraordinary. They attempt to undermine these accomplishments as a way to break confidence, all without acknowledging the remarkable achievement itself.

Despite such challenges, our nation has continued to rise, demonstrating that confidence in our traditions, knowledge systems, and processes can propel us to achieve even the most audacious goals. Chandrayaan 3's recent success is not just a leap for India in space exploration; it's a testament to our indomitable spirit and our ability to overcome any obstacle on our path to greatness.

The Cow Represents Our Spiritual Ethos; The New York Times Does Not Get That 

While they ridiculed us because they couldn't feel elite anymore, what they fail to recognize is that they may be an economic superpower, a military superpower, and an educational superpower, but what they lack is the spiritual superpower that makes India great. 

Yes, we can worship a cow, be frugal, and reach the moon.

I was listening to a news discussion, and a former DRDO engineer said that this spiritual power is our force multiplier.

India's spiritual culture plays a profound role in nurturing the scientific temperament of its space scientists. The ethos of simplicity, peacefulness of the mind, and dedication to duty are integral to India's cultural heritage. These qualities are reflected in the meticulous work of scientists who approach their tasks with humility and focus.

Indian spirituality promotes a temperament of humility and surrender, that lends depth to the process of knowledge and learning.

Faith, deeply ingrained in India's culture, is a driving force behind many endeavors, including space exploration. The scientists' visit to Tirupati to offer prayers before Chandrayaan-3's launch exemplifies this concept. Their faith, combined with their expertise, reflects the Indian approach of balancing spirituality with scientific inquiry.

It's not just human effort or purushartha alone that makes things successful, but there is daiva (divine blessings as well), and our scientists are perfectly rooted in spirituality to recognize that and act from that place.

As a culture, we do not have arrogance in effort nor in achievement, and that helps in the process of perfecting, iterating, researching, and learning.

Vidya comes to the humble and sincere. Today's achievement should make us aware that our rootedness in our traditional wisdom is what has made us a world leader today.

Our Spiritual Rsis: Great Scientists of Ancient India

  • Maharishi Agastya: Agastya is a revered sage in Indian spirituality, believed to have lived several millennia ago. He is credited with significant contributions to various fields, including astronomy and medicine. Ancient texts mention Agastya's astronomical observations and insights into the movement of celestial bodies. He is also associated with the development of the Siddha system of medicine, which incorporates herbal remedies and healing practices.
  • Aryabhata: While Aryabhata's mathematical and astronomical achievements were previously discussed, it's important to highlight his broader impact on Indian spirituality. His work, "Aryabhatiya," not only delved into mathematical formulations but also offered insights into the motion of celestial bodies. Aryabhata's understanding of the Earth's rotation and precise calculation of pi demonstrated advanced scientific thinking, often intertwined with spiritual and philosophical perspectives.
  • Srimad Bhagavatam: The "Srimad Bhagavatam" scripture contains profound cosmological and philosophical teachings. It describes the creation of the universe, the nature of time, and the interconnectedness of all life forms. Its descriptions of the cosmos and the concept of time reveal a profound understanding of the universe's intricacies that has yet not been discovered by the scientists.
  • Bhaskara I: Bhaskara I, also known as Bhaskara Acharya, was an Indian mathematician and astronomer who lived around the 7th century. He made significant contributions to both mathematics and astronomy. His work, "Aryabhatiya Bhasya," not only elucidated the mathematical concepts of Aryabhata but also contained valuable insights into astronomy. Bhaskara I's writings frequently interwove scientific and spiritual ideas, reflecting the holistic nature of knowledge in ancient India.

Our scientists today are no less than the spiritual Rsis of yore. They possess intellectual acumen in astronomy, mathematics, physics, and more, while also embracing spiritual practices.

These revered sages and ancient texts exemplify the seamless integration of science and spirituality in traditional Indian thought. They recognized the interconnectedness of the physical and metaphysical realms, providing profound insights into the cosmos while emphasizing the spiritual dimensions of existence.

We Need To Stop Seeking Approval

Our mission is not about seeking approval; it's about having confidence in our collective abilities, in our spirituality, and in our scientific temperament. The achievement of Chandrayaan-3 is a historic milestone for India and Indians, signifying our pioneering role in space exploration. This momentous occasion should serve as a reminder that we don't require external validation, especially from the West, to acknowledge our capabilities.

We aren't searching for a place at someone else's table. We are carving out our own, hosting our own meetings, and taking center stage. They will come to us.

As a nation, we boast a rich heritage of scientific thought and spiritual wisdom that has guided our journey. We bring unique perspectives and seamlessly integrate science and spirituality in our quest to understand the cosmos. It's high time we embrace this uniqueness and stride forward with confidence.

True leaders don't wait for approval or seek validation from others; they forge ahead, charting their own course and crafting their destiny. We must draw inspiration from such leaders and acknowledge that we possess all the qualities needed to excel in space exploration and beyond.

Our history is a testament to our resourcefulness, frugality, and an unwavering "never give up" attitude. We've demonstrated that greatness can be achieved even with limited resources. Self-reliance isn't solely about technology; it's about believing in ourselves, recognizing our potential, and moving forward with unyielding determination.

The Chandrayaan-3 achievement isn't merely a triumph in space exploration; it's a victory of self-belief and confidence. We don't seek approval from others because we know our capabilities. It's time to stride forward with our heads held high, blazing a trail that others will admire. We are pioneers, unafraid to embrace our unique strengths and abilities. In this journey of self-discovery and exploration, we will continue to create history and inspire generations to come.

The Impact on the Youth

My 9 year old nephew loves everything about space and every evening he educates us about details of stars, asteroids, distances, temperatures, planetary movements and so much more. 

I got a few gifts for him when I came back from a business trip to Turkey. One of them was a T Shirt with a space astronaut. Of everything that I shared with him about my trip- he was most overjoyed about the T-shirt.

He also clarified to me that he does not want to be an astronaut but he wants to be an astronomer and wants to work for NASA. 

(In his words, being an astronaut "is risky:))

I have tried in the past to help him see ISRO's achievements in launching satellites, gathering data, mangalyaan and more- but it has been NASA all along for him- his job destination.

As he grows up, Chandrayaan -2 , Chandrayaan-3 and many more achievements by our ISRO scientists will make ISRO attractive to him.

Today he is proud, very very proud of our country's achievements. Many more of these will instill so much pride and confidence in his own roots and country. He will also see opportunities for his own astronomical aspirations within India itself.

Closing Words

To succeed in future space missions, India must stay connected to its cultural roots. Instead of blindly emulating the West, India can tap into its traditional knowledge systems. Vedic cosmology, for instance, holds deep insights that have aided space missions in the past, showcasing the synergy between ancient wisdom and modern science.

Chandrayaan-3's triumph is a testament to the brilliance, dedication, and spiritual ethos of India's scientists. With unwavering support from leadership, a commitment to cultural roots, and an innovative approach that balances spirituality and science, India continues to make its mark in the cosmos. This unique blend of tradition and modernity is a powerful recipe for success, demonstrating that India's space endeavors are not just about reaching the moon but also about exploring the limitless potential of the human spirit.

Categories: : Personal Growth