Proud Indians! Share it with the world – Part 1

“Decimal point, zero as value, Pythagoras theorem (Sulbha Sutra), Pythagorean triple (Sulbha Tritiya), Square root of 2 and many such mathematical calculations used in geometry, algebra, trigonometry, statistics, astronomy and almost every field that requires calculation was known to Ancient Indians. There is nothing new that has been invented, they are just re-discovering what we already had. And who knows, they just learnt it all from our books only as it is mentioned at many places that Tesla, Einstein and many others used to read Vedas. I strongly believe that they learnt it all from us and now they are giving it back to us. I have another argument that mathematics comes naturally to Indians. it’s in our genes. Most of the doctors & engineers world over are Indians (irrespective of the limitations we have), Most of the famous companies have CEOs who are Indians, spelling bee and competitions like that are dominated by Indians. Average US citizens’ annual income is $50,000, where as that of Indian living there is almost double which is close to $100,000. There are many such facts which we cannot ignore. I would request parents, teachers, students and government to promote this ancient knowledge of Vedic mathematics which is the easiest way of calculation. Parents can be free from their worries and students will learn quickly.                                                 –TEJINDER SINGH

It really gives a pain to learn that the very thing which can make every Indian feel proud is not promoted and appreciated in India itself. It should have been the first thing after the morning prayers that parents and grandparents must preach their kids without fail every day. The schools and teachers must devote special attention, endeavors and projects so that our coming generations must not forget this very truth about their own country and that they should not feel proud only when others tell us that it all started in India. We should be equipped with these facts and figures and should be able to preach anyone and everyone when it is discussed or talked about and more so, if anyone questions or doubts these facts, we must have institutions and experts who can further draw a light on them and clear the doubts.

I’m talking about the “THE INDIAN PAST”. You can call it “ANCIENT INDIAN HISTORY”. No, I will not write about “History” as you know it, I’M GOING TO WRITE ABOUT THE SCIENCE AND MATHEMATICS OF MODERN AGES, which ironically is seen much respect and pride though we have very few contributions and exploits of modern day science and mathematics. If you disagree, give me 10 names of inventors or discoverers who are Indians (and not of Indian origin because I don’t want to feel pride in cheating myself). I’m writing about Mathematics, Medicine, Biology, Chemistry, Astronomy and some of the subjects considered “advanced” in the common Indian thought process.

Are you aware that Science and Mathematics were highly developed during the ancient period in India? Today, I might surprise you with some facts and figures and I’m sure you will feel proud to be an Indian after learning these facts. I would like to ask you all:

  1. Have you ever heard the names like Baudhayan, Aryabhatta, Brahmgupta, Bhaskaracharya, Kanad, Varahamihira, Nagarjuna, Susruta, Charak, Patanjali?
  2. If you have, are you aware about their contributions to this very mankind?

 MATHEMATICS:

Ancient Indians contributed immensely to the knowledge in Mathematics as well as various branches of Science. I will walk you through the development of Mathematics and the scholars who contributed to it. You will be surprised to know that many theories of modern day mathematics were actually known to ancient Indians. Unfortunately, we are unaware because:

  1. The ancient Indian mathematicians were not as good in documentation and dissemination as their counterparts in the modern western world, their contributions did not find the place they deserved.
  2. Moreover, the western world ruled over most of the world of modern age, which we know of, for a long time, which empowered them to claim superiority in every way, including in the field of knowledge. I strongly believe, that they took all this knowledge by force and/or deception and then gave it back to us after branding as theirs.
  3. The manuscripts and books are in the ancient languages and scripts which are not deciphered properly or if done, were not advertised and shared with everyone.
  4. The Governments and their departments never tried harder to translate and promote them in commonly known languages.

Here are some of our famous (during the past) mathematicians of India and their contributions:

BAUDHAYAN:  Baudhayan was the first one ever to arrive at several concepts in Mathematics, which were later rediscovered by the western world. The value of pi was first calculated by him. As you know, pi is useful in calculating the area and circumference of a circle. What is known as Pythagoras theorem today is already found in Baudhayan’s Sulva Sutra, which was written several years before the age of Pythagoras.

ARYABHATTA: Aryabhatta was a fifth century mathematician, astronomer, astrologer and physicist. He was a pioneer in the field of mathematics. At the age of 23, he wrote Aryabhattiya, which is a summary of mathematics of his time. There are four sections in this scholarly work.

  • In the first section he describes the method of denoting big decimal numbers by alphabets.
  • In the second section, we find difficult questions from topics of modern day Mathematics such as number theory, geometry, trigonometry and Beej-ganita (algebra). The remaining two sections are on astronomy.

Aryabhatta showed that zero was not a numeral only but also a symbol and a concept. Discovery of zero enabled Aryabhatta to find out the exact distance between the earth and the moon. The discovery of zero also opened up a new dimension of negative numerals. As we have seen, the last two sections of Aryabhattiya were on Astronomy. Evidently, Aryabhatta contributed greatly to the field of science, too, particularly Astronomy. In ancient India, the science of astronomy was well advanced. It was called Khagolshastra.

Khagol was the famous astronomical observatory at Nalanda, where Aryabhatta studied. In fact, science of astronomy was highly advanced and our ancestors were proud of it. The aim behind the development of the science of astronomy was the need to have accurate calendars, a better understanding of climate and rainfall patterns for timely sowing and choice of crops, fixing the dates of seasons and festivals, navigation, calculation of time and casting of horoscopes for use in astrology. Knowledge of astronomy, particularly knowledge of the tides and the stars, was of great importance in trade, because of the requirement of crossing the oceans and deserts during night time. Do you realize now, why the first satellite sent into orbit by India has been named after Aryabhatta?

BRAHMAGUPTA: In 7th century, Brahmgupta took mathematics to heights far beyond others. In his methods of multiplication, he used place value in almost the same way as it is used today. He introduced negative numbers and operations on zero into mathematics. He wrote BrahmSputa Siddantika through which the Arabs came to know our mathematical system.

BHASKARACHARYA: Bhaskaracharya was the leading light of 12th Century. He was born at Bijapur, Karnataka. He is famous for his book Siddanta Shiromani. It is divided into four sections: Lilavati (Arithmetic), Beejaganit (Algebra), Goladhyaya (Sphere) and Grahaganit (mathematics of planets). Bhaskara introduced Chakrawat Method or the Cyclic Method to solve algebraic equations. This method was rediscovered six centuries later by European mathematicians, who called it inverse cycle. In the nineteenth century, an English man, James Taylor, translated Lilavati and made this great work known to the world.

MAHAVIRACHARYA: There is an elaborate description of mathematics in Jain literature (500 B.C -100 B.C). Jain gurus knew how to solve quadratic equations. They have also described fractions, algebraic equations, series, set theory, logarithms and exponents in a very interesting manner. Jain Guru Mahaviracharya wrote Ganit Sara Sangraha in 850A.D., which is the first textbook on arithmetic in present day form. The current method of solving Least Common Multiple (LCM) of given numbers was also described by him. Thus, long before John Napier introduced it to the world, it was already known to Indians.

Stay tuned and keep watching for this space. Tomorrow I will highlight some of our Ancient Scientists and their contribution.

 

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