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A Look Back In History: Contribution of Indian Mathematicians in the field of Mathematics

The value of “pi” was first calculated by the Indian Mathematician Budhayana, and he explained the concept of what is known as the Pythagorean Theorem

The Babylonian mathematical tablet Plimpton 322, dated to 1800 BC. Wikimedia
  • The chronology of Indian mathematicians spans from the Indus Valley Civilization and the Vedas to Modern India
  • Mathematical concepts from India were transmitted to the Middle East, China, and Europe
  • Ancient India was not only the land of sages, saints, and seers but also the land of scholars and scientists

September 13, 2016: Indian mathematicians have made a number of contributions in the field of mathematics that have significantly influenced scientists and mathematicians of the modern era. These include place-value arithmetical notations, the use of the ruler, the concept of zero, and, most importantly, the Arabic-Hindu numerals predominantly used today and likely into the future. But, in the course of time, the names are lost in the pages of History.

India has always been a field for mathematical development from time immemorial. Ancient Indian Architecture like ‘Jantar Mantar’, in Jaipur which is the largest observatories ever built, are the precedent of Indian Mathematic Calculations. There are more examples that show the course of Indian mathematical history and how well versed we were.

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The value of “pi” was first calculated by the Indian Mathematician Budhayana, and he explained the concept of what is known as the Pythagorean Theorem. He discovered this in the 6th century, which was long before the European mathematicians.

Craved zero in ancient Gwalior Shiva temple. Wikimedia

Indian Mathematicians are the one who introduced ‘Zero’ and ‘Concept of Infinity’ to the world for the very first time. ‘Decimal System’ is also one of the greatest contributions by Indian mathematicians to the world of mathematics.

‘‘Shunya’’ as we say in Hindi for ‘‘Zero’’ was introduced by the extraordinary mathematicians Brahmagupta who was also known as ‘Ganita Chakra Chudamani’ among his fellow scientists which means ‘‘the Gem of the circle of Mathematicians’’.

Brahmagupta (598–668 AD) was an Native indian math wizzard and uranologist who wrote many essential performs on mathematics and astronomy. Wikimedia
Brahmagupta (598–668 AD). Wikimedia

Brahmagupta wrote many books but he is known for his work in Brahasaputasiddhanta which means ‘Correct Treatise of Brahma’ and includes many mathematical findings and rules of Arithmetics, all written in verse form. He came forth with Geometrical Theories and rules of Trigonometry in his book which are part of today’s mathematical solutions.

Aryabhatta. Wikimedia
Aryabhatta. Wikimedia

When it comes to the contribution of Indian mathematicians the name of Legendary Aryabhatta is always heard of. Aryabhatta is still considered a legendary hero for his incredible work in the field of Algebra, Trigonometry, approximation of pie, Indeterminate equations, Place value system and zero.

Aryabhatta (AD 476–550) was the first in the line of great mathematicians and astronomers to provide a breakthrough in these fields. He is the father of the Hindu-Arabic number system which is of universal relevance today. His most famous works are the Aryabhatiya (AD 499 at age of 23 years) and Arya-Siddhanta.

Ananda Rau is seated on the high stool at the far left along with Ramanujan in the front chair. Wikimedia
Ananda Rau is seated on the high stool at the far left along with Ramanujan in the front chair. Wikimedia

”Where there is a will, there is a way’’ is just the right term for another Great Legend Ramanujan. He was a self-taught mathematician with no specific or formal training in the field of mathematics and made extraordinary contributions, with his phenomenal works like Mathematical Analysis, Number Theory, Infinite Series, and Continued Fractions. His other contributions like Ramanujan’s Master Theorem, Ramanujan Prime, Ramanujan Conjecture makes him India’s one of the greatest mathematical geniuses.

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When he was 16, Ramanujan came across the book “A Synopsis of Elementary Results in Pure and Applied Mathematics by George S. Carr. This book was a collection of 5000 theorems, and it introduced Ramanujan to the world of mathematics. The next year, he had independently developed and investigated the Bernoulli numbers and had calculated Euler’s constant up to 15 decimal places.

Bhaskara (1114 – 1185) (also known as Bhaskara II and Bhaskarachārya. Wikimedia
Bhaskara (1114 – 1185) (also known as Bhaskara II and Bhaskarachārya. Wikimedia

Bhaskara was also one of the greatest mathematicians of medieval India who lived in 12th century, discovered some of the principles of Differential Calculus and showed how to apply it to astronomical computations. Keeping in mind that the earliest Discoveries by Newton or Leibniz that related to differential or integral calculus were in the 1660’s. Bhaskara is well known for his work ”Siddhanta Shiromani’’ meaning ”Crown of Treatises’’ which includes work in Arithmetic, Algebra, Mathematics of the planets and spheres.

There is a famous book ”Science in the Medieval World” written in the 11th century by said al-Andalusi. The chapters show how vastly mathematicians from India have contributed to the world Mathematics.

Calyampudi Radhakrishna Rao at ISI Chennai. Wikimedia
Calyampudi Radhakrishna Rao at ISI Chennai. Wikimedia

Mathematicians like Calyampudi Radhakrishna Rao (popularly known as CR Rao) well-known Statistician, famous for Theory of Estimations and Narendra Karmarkar is known for his Karmarkar’s Algorithm. They are still contributing to mathematics at a global level. There is no doubt that the world today is greatly indebted to the contributions made by Indian mathematicians. We can see the glimpse of Indian mathematical approach in our ancient architecture, historical buildings and even in religion.

-by Aakash Mandyal of NewsGram. Twitter @Akashsen6

  • Manthra koliyer

    Indians have really contributed a lot for the field of Mathematics

  • Antara

    Mathematics has always been a strong suit of the Indians since the ancient times. No wonder the world owes a lot in this field to the Indians.

  • Anubhuti Gupta

    It’s so sad that us Indians only forget sometimes how much our ancestors have contributed to mathematics. We should walk with our head held high because of them

Next Story

Dangerous Forces Behind New Delhi Riots

Here's everything you need to know about the ongoing New Delhi communal riots

New Delhi riots
Since the past few months, there have been a lot of anti-CAA/NRC protests in New Delhi. Wikimedia Commons


Till just a week back the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) of New Delhi (India) was heavily praised in the media as if God has sent down a bunch of benevolent and seasoned leaders to save the country. Most of the front-ranking columnists reveled in the party’s landslide victory. It was made clear through the media writings that AAP is the best option for India. But one is amazed how come its all elected members have become “seasoned and virtuous” leaders overnight when their past records are annoyingly off-putting. Disparity, discrimination, misgovernance and corruption were the glaring hallmarks of the party’s previous regime in the capital state. But all such outrageous venality has been gleefully overlooked, nor that has ever become a subject of discussion, analysis, and apprehension in the newsroom

In fact, the media does not ever focus its spotlight on this APP party that cheers up and instigates Muslim communities and other specific kinds of hooligans. However, the media endlessly grills the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath because he is from a party that loves the country and believes in its rich cultural ethos.

New Delhi riots
Till just a week back the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) of New Delhi (India) was heavily praised in the media in spite of all the corruption and funding done by the party. Wikimedia Commons

Well, if Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister ever yells against gun-toting criminals, the media loses its cool. When such miscreants from a particular community are arrested, then the media groans, it screams and it beats its chest and try utmost to discredit the whole administration. It will forcefully claim that the Uttar Pradesh government is depriving the “minority” by appeasing the majority (Hindu) and therefore the Muslim are “not safe” in the country. What it means is that the culprits from the minority community must not be booked and put behind the bar. Were the dreaded terrorists Burhan Wani, Yakub Memon and Afjal Guru and such others not “glorified”, and sometimes exonerated, by the media? No surprise, media has no sense of regret in branding a “holy cow” as a “ferocious wolf” and vice versa these days in India.  This is, in fact, a tragedy, a trend that is pushing the country to a kind of anarchy and chaos of misinformation.

What is very astonishing is how long the media can keep the truths buried and thus play with the emotion and naivety of the masses and continue to mislead them!

New Delhi riots
The AAP and the protestors are leaving no stone unturned to defame the Modi government which passed the Citizenship Bill to give the shelter to the prosecuted Hindus, Sikh, Buddhist, Sindhi, Christian communities in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan in India. Wikimedia Commons

The police have already found a whole lot of evidence substantiating that certain APP leaders of New Delhi have allegedly been found to be involved in the most “despicable riots” and violence. They have incited the particular community, which they lovingly called marginalized MONORITY, after the Citizen Amendment Bill passed by the Modi Government. Most of the non-ruling parties, such as – Congress, CPM, TMC…, got together to incite the Muslim communities by their inflammatory speeches. A huge amount of public property across the country has been destroyed with impunity by the frenzied crowds; trains, motors vehicles, buildings have been set ablaze while many innocent people have been shot and killed.  There are increasing numbers of political leaders who thus “plan and orchestrate” such terror activities. Instigating the crowds has become a new game.

Nothing could be abominable than the fact that a political representative of the citizens allowed hundreds of miscreants into his building to throw petrol-bombs and acid pouches upon the citizens right from the terrace?  The building belongs to Tahir Hussain who has recently been elected APP leader. Though he was defended initially by the media and his party by suppressing his sinful acts but later police arrested him and charged him of killing a number of Hindus by using his building for the terror activities. Most of the rioters have been invited from other neighboring states.

How do we define this decadence? The dead body of an Intelligence Bureau constable Ankit Sharma was recovered from a ditch behind the house of Tahir Hussain in which many other Hindus were also found killed, and some women raped and shot dead. The autopsy report says that Ankit Sharma was stabbed brutally over 400 times. His father Ravinder Sharma claims that it is the handiwork of APP leader Tahir Hussain and his party cadre.

What a big irony that this is a party that is still receiving the heroic applause from the media fraternity claiming this will save the citizens in every respect.

One wanton Sharukh Khan who blatantly brandished a pistol and fired eight bullets at police personnel in the recent Delhi riot was shielded because he was from the Muslim community. Some media quickly gave him a Hindu name — “Anurag Mishra” calling him Hindu terrorist. Later he was arrested in Uttar Pradesh by the police putting all scandal-mongers to shame.

 About all these increasing threats to the innocent commoners and the integrity of the nation are hardly covered by the media which is purportedly busy in spreading the false news or hiding the misdeeds of the particular community and political leaders. It is leaving no stone unturned  to defame the Modi government which passed the Citizenship Bill to give the shelter to the prosecuted Hindus, Sikh, Buddhist, Sindhi, Christian communities in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan in India. It was in fact initiated out by the BJP government on the humanitarian ground which was even contemplated by the previous Congress government.