Days after Stephen Hawking's death, Union Science Minister Harsh Vardhan claimed the celebrated British physicist on record stated that Vedas might be having theories superior to Einstein's famous mass-energy conversion formula.
"Hawking on record said that Vedas might have a theory superior to E equals to MC Square (E=MC2) formula," Vardhan said at the inauguration of the 105th session of the Indian Science Congress attended by nearly 5000 researchers at the Manipur University campus here on Friday.
In a subsequent media interaction, Vardhan stuck to the astounding claims he made at the inaugural function.
Asked to disclose his source of information, the minister said, "You do your own research, and if you fail you come to me in Delhi. But Hawking said that on record."
While no such reference is known in Hawking's academic publications and popular titles, a search on Google leads one to the website of Institute of Scientific Research on Vedas (I-SERVE), which on its home page has an article with the heading Stephen Hawking's Opinion on the Science in Vedas.
A sub-headline of the article reads Vedas might have a theory superior to Einstein's law E=MC*2.
At the end of the articles, two emails were given â€“ a Nov 2013 request by I-SERVE chairman K V Krishnamurthy to Hawking to comment on an article titled The World Beyond Fermions (Vedic Model) presented in the 2nd International Conference on Advanced Materials at Jaingsu University, Jaingsu, China and subsequently published in Avagadro Journal of Chemistry.
Hawking didn't make any comment on the request.
An email from Jonathan Wood, Hawking's technical assistant reads: "As you can imagine, Prof. Hawking receives many such (emails) every day. He very much regrets that due to the severe limitations he works under, and the enormous number of requests he receives, he is unable to compose a reply to every message, and we do not have the resources to deal with many of the specific scientific inquiries and theories we receive."
"Its a pathetic and futile exercise to find out references of ancient Indian wisdom in modern science which began 300 years ago with Galileo. It's a useless and defensive exercise and shows a deep sense of inadequacy," astrophysicist Rajesh Kochhar who worked at the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bengaluru and extensively researched on the Vedas told DH.
This is not the first time unsubstantiated scientific claims on India's ancient wisdom was made at the Indian Science Congress. In the 2015 Science Congress in Mumbai, an outlandish claim was made on the ancient knowledge of building and flying an aircraft hundreds of years before the first airplane was made by the Wright Brothers.
The I-SERVE article also carries a Facebook post, with the same article.
On its website, I-SERVE claims it is a scientific research institute dedicated to dig out the technical details of Vedic sciences from ancient Indian literature. It is registered as a charitable non-profit trust and recognised as a scientific and industrial research organization by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, Ministry of Science and Technology.