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India Invented Principles of Calculus 250 Years Before Newton. Indian Scholars from a Kerala School Did it
- British researchers in 2007 revealed that Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz have been wrongly credited for the invention of calculus
- According to them, the true credit for invention of calculus and the infinite series lies with mathematicians from the Kerala School in southern India
- Dr George Gheverghese Joseph believes mathematical knowledge was shared by Indian mathematicians with the Jesuit missionaries which ultimately may have been picked by Newton
Manchester, September 14, 2017 : For years, Sir Isaac Newton and the German philosopher Gottfried Leibniz have been acclaimed globally for inventing the mathematical system around the end of the seventeenth century. The debate had been rife for decades over the invention of calculus.
However, British researchers finally settled this centuries-old debate in early 2007. A team from the Universities of Exeter and Manchester had asserted in 2007 that the true credit for the invention of calculus lies with the ‘Kerala School of Astronomy and Mathematics’.
A little known group of scholars and mathematicians from fourteenth century India, the Kerala School are believed to have identified the ‘infinite series’- one of the basic components of calculus circa 1350- 250 years before the invention was wrongly attributed to Sir Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz.
Dr. George Gheverghese Joseph says the work of Kerala Mathematicians influenced Europeans – https://t.co/HScUm4DYQP
— Anjali George (@Kuvalayamala) November 22, 2015
The research team, led by Dr. George Gheverghese Joseph had also affirmed that the fourteenth century school of Indian scholars also discovered the Pi series, and were the first to use it to calculate Pi correct to 9, 10, and later 17 decimal places.
Who Invented Calculus?
The beginning of modern mathematics is usually understood as a European achievement. However, the work of thinkers and mathematicians from the Kerala School is believed to have been completed two centuries before the invention of calculus in Europe.
Several studies prove that Bhaskara II (1114-1185 AD) was an eminent Indian astrologer and mathematician who ‘discovered calculus’ in its proto-form. However, he is believed to have failed in understanding the utility of his knowledge which is why historians of mathematics largely ignore his achievements.
The Kerala School of astronomy and mathematics flourished in the 14th and 16th centuries and was founded in Kerala, South India by Madhava of the Sangamagrama, who expanded on Bhaskara’s work and advanced the progression of calculus in India.
The Kerala school of mathematics and astronomy pic.twitter.com/aEfwL6O4fV
— Miguel A.F. Sanjuán (@MAF_Sanjuan) January 17, 2016
Transmission of Kerala School Results to Europe
A.K Bag had previously suggested in 1979 that this mathematical knowledge might have been transmitted to Europe through trade routes from Kerala by the traders and Jesuit missionaries. His understanding was not backed by any direct verification.
However, the researchers from England, led by Dr Joseph in their thesis published in 2007 had revealed that there exists strong anecdotal evidence that suggests that the Indians shared their mathematical knowledge, inventions and discoveries with Jesuit missionaries.
- Thinkers from the Kerala School were approached for their expertise by members of a committee set up by Pope Gregory XIII for modernizing the Julian calendar.
- Inputs from Kerala mathematicians was also sought to devise better navigational techniques like maintain an accurate record during expeditions.
The Jesuit missionaries, who made voyages to India during the fifteenth century, were equally mathematically knowledgeable and well-versed in Malyalam and other local languages. Drawing on these lines, Dr Joseph in his findings suggested that the Indians must have thus, shared mathematic knowledge with them.
The researchers further contested that this knowledge may have been eventually passed on to Newton, who has been since wrongly attributed in books world over for this discovery.
Restoring India’s Credit for Invention of Calculus
The study drew attention to the fact that the discoveries of numerous non-Western scholars, especially the discoveries from medieval India between the fourteenth and sixteenth century remain largely ignored or forgotten till date.
Arabic and Indian scholars are known to have made discoveries before the 17th century that are now a part of calculus. However, they were not as able and Newton or Leibniz to combine their knowledge to derive a holistic thesis and turn calculus into the problem solving tool that we use today, which is why they remain largely disregarded.
In their 2007 study, Dr Joseph had rightly asserted that this revelation should not diminish Newton or Leibniz. Instead, it should draw attention and appraisal to the non-European thinkers whose contributions are yet to see the light of the day.
He had also revealed that thinkers from the Kerala School, most notably Madhava and Nilakantha must also be recognized and “should stand shoulder to shoulder with Newton” for their invention of the infinite series, also known as the power series.
Dr Joseph had revealed in his findings in 2007 that there exist multiple reasons why the contribution of the Kerala School had never been acknowledged. According to him, a primary reason could be the neglect credited to scientific thinkers and ideas originating in the non-European world, which could be largely attributed to colonialism.
Another chief reason why this information remained undiscovered has been attributed to the limited knowledge of Malyalam, the local language of Kerala, in which most of documentation of these influential texts of the time was written.
Dr George Gheverghese Joseph, who himself hails from Kerala, had made the findings while researching for the then-unpublished third publication of his best-seller The Crest of the Peacock: the Non-European Roots of Mathematics.
The book titled A passage to infinity — Medieval Indian Mathematics from Kerala and its Impact was later released in 2011.
It had been revealed that this new finding was not aimed at discrediting Newton. Instead, it was intended to place the Western civilizations into a more accurate historical context and place credit where it belongs.
In an interview with The Telegraph in 2014, Dr Joseph had said that the West has now recognized the contribution of the mathematicians of the Kerala School. Subsequently, certain concepts relating to the trigonometric series that were previously known as the Newton, Gregory and Leibniz series have now been renamed as the Madhava-Newton-Gregory and the Madhava-Leibniz series respectively.
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"In India, to be born as a man is a crime, to question a woman is an atrocious crime, and this all because of those women who keep suppressing men in the name of feminism."
Feminism, a worldwide movement that started to establish, define and defend equal rights for women in all sections- economically, politically, and socially. India, being a patriarchal society gives a gender advantage to the men in the society thus, Indian feminists sought to fight against the culture-specific issue for women in India. Feminism itself is nothing but a simple movement that pursues equal rights for women (including transwomen) and against misogyny both external and internal. It states nowhere that women should get more wages than men, that women deserve more respect than men, that's pseudo-feminism.
Pseudo feminists state that women deserve more respect and rights, any other gender deserves no respect. They feel that women should be the ones ruling the world and at higher positions. When feminism takes a turn for extremities it becomes pseudo-feminism and people who label themselves as feminists will bash anyone who speaks against even the wrongdoings of a woman. They'll bash women who're wife and sisters for not speaking up and support any women criticizing political leaders even if it's completely irrational. This is where hypocrisy and pseudo-feminism merge with each other.
They take advantage of the rights given to women to protect themselves to threaten other genders. The rights given to women are supposed to make them feel reassured that they can reach out to the judiciary if their rights are being hampered not to threaten to make the victim sound like the culprit.
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Indian Feminist Movement has made significant progress however, even in the modern world women are still unsafe and are discriminated against when it comes to getting a job, land ownership, and access to education. While filling the official papers it is still asked "Wife of /Daughter of:….."
People in India still continue the practice of sex-selective abortion, abandoning the girl child, not letting girl child study instead they should learn household chores, they are seen as a burden to the family. Such injustices make feminism such an important movement, gender equality is worth fighting for to create a safe environment for women. Feminists over the years have been criticized for focusing on the rights of privileged women and not giving equal representation to poorer and lower caste women, which has led to separate caste-specific feminist organizations and movements.
Some notable milestones in the Feminist Movement
- Raja Ram Mohan Roy campaigned against Sati Pratha (practice in which a widow sacrificed herself by sitting atop her deceased husband's funeral pyre) and child marriage
- Savitribai Phule started the first school for girls at Bhidewada in Pune city in 1848.
- In 1972, SEWA, the biggest trade union for women was set up by Ela Bhatt for women working in the informal sector.
- The Chipko Movement was launched and led by women in 1973.
- #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and abuse was started in 2006 and revived in the year 2015.
People in India still continue the practice of sex-selective abortion, abandoning the girl child, not letting girl child study instead they should learn household chores, they are seen as a burden to the family.Unsplash
Feminism is often misunderstood as pseudo-feminism and hence, becomes the target for public hatred and is accused of wronging other genders under the façade of feminism. It is misunderstood by Indians as female domination instead of gender equality. Indian society and Indian feminists believe that only men are perpetrators of a heinous crime like rape and they refuse to even recognize the men who say they were raped and it's the toxic masculinity in the society that believes how can a woman rape a man? Reality is different from what we believe, women can be the perpetrator too, women threaten to file a case of domestic violence, or sexual assault against innocent people just to fulfill their ego.
Thankfully feminism and pseudo feminism are two separate concepts and feminism is just about equality and not judgment. Indian society and feminists actually need to understand the difference between the two and stop tarnishing the Feminist Movement as a whole.
Keywords: Feminism, World, India, Pseudo-Feminism, Gender
Kerala is a land of many good things. It has an abundance of nature, culture, art, and food. It is also a place of legend and myth, and is known for its popular folklore, the legend of Yakshi. This is not a popular tale outside the state, but it is common knowledge for travellers, especially those who fare through forests at night.
The legend of the yakshi is believed to be India's equivalent of the Romanian Dracula, except of course, the Yakshi is a female. Many Malayalis believe that the Yakshi wears a white saree and had long hair. She has a particular fragrance, which is believed to be the fragrance of the Indian devil-tree flowers. She seduces travellers with her beauty, and kills them brutally.
Yakshi idol in Veroor, Sri Dharamashastha temple Image source: wikimedia commons
The Yakshi is believed to live in a palm tree which can appear like a palace. Victims are taken here before they are killed. Travellers on highways are often advised not to stop near heavily forested areas, or speak to anyone who closely resembles a Yakshi. Some believe she can change form, while other hold to the belief that she doesn't. after securing her victim, the only trace left behind is body parts like hair, nails, and teeth.
They say, like other ghosts, a Yakshi's feet will not touch the ground. This is something to look out for. Mysterious deaths have been reported across the rural areas in Kerala, and all these have been attributed to the legend.
Keywords: Legends, Yakshi, Urban legend, Ghost, Kerala, Myth, Vampire
The LGBTQ+ acronym stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and others. In India LGBTQ+ community also include a specific social group, part religious cult, and part caste: the Hijras. They are culturally defined either as "neither men nor women" or as men who become women by adopting women's dress and behavior. Section 377 of the India Penal code that criminalized all sexual acts "against the order of nature" i.e. engaging in oral sex or anal sex along with other homosexual activities were against the law, ripping homosexual people off of their basic human rights. Thus, the Indian Supreme Court ruled a portion of Section 377 unconstitutional on 6th September 2018.
But the question is, "was India always against homosexuality"? Has the concept of homosexuality being unnatural existed forever? No, in Indian history and Hinduism homosexuality has never been an offense, in fact in several instances it has been depicted how people embraced their identity, be it sexual identity or gender identity. Section 377 was brought to India by the British in 1862, while India was colonized. Even after the Independence, it was only in 2018 that the Supreme Court ruled it as irrational and illogical.
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Homosexuality in Ancient India
When Supreme Court decriminalized homosexuality in India, there was an uproar about it being a western ideology and liberalism. But in reality, homosexuality has existed since the time of the Vedas. The Gay and Lesbian Vaishnava Association (GALVA) researched and discovered that it was around 3102 B.C. (during the Vedic Age) that homosexuality or non-normative sexual identity was recognized as "Tritiya Prakriti", or the third nature. Ancient India not only made mentions of homosexuality but accepted it as well.
Hinduism is the most vastly followed religion in India. Hinduism does not explicitly mention homosexuality however it does contain a homosexual theme and characters in its text. There have been various instances in our scriptures and texts that have introduced us to LGBT+ characters such as the androgynous form of Shiva and Parvati Ardhanariswara meaning "the half-female lord". One of the most popular and ancient texts on sexuality, eroticism, and emotional fulfillment of life, "Kamasutra" has a complete chapter dedicated to homosexuality and homosexual sex. Numerous Hindu sculptures and temples have statues depicting homosexual activities.
Numerous Hindu sculptures and temples have statues depicting homosexual activities. Facebook
Our Mughals were Queer
Mughals are often seen under the light of cruelty, rigid ethics, nobility, and polygamy. Simultaneously, Mughals are also the ones credited for the emergence of Sufism, abolished jizya tax, love beyond religion, classes, and gender.
In the Baburnama written in memoirs of our very first Mughal ruler Muhammad Babur, several instances documented Babur's infatuation and affection towards a teenage boy named Baburi. We also have multiple Persian couplets as evidence of Babur's affection for Baburi. Mughals engaged in homosexuality and pederasty, and they believed that later was a form of "pure love".
But as time passed homosexuality was suppressed more and more though people practiced it in secret if revealed they were punished. According to the Fatwa-e-Alamgiri Sharia-based text of the Mughal Empire, there is a common set of punishments for homosexuality, which could include 50 lashes for a slave, 100 for a free infidel, or death by stoning for a Muslim.
British Raj and Independence of India
In 1862, Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalized homosexual sex came into force. Even after Independence in 1947, the section remained a part of the Indian Constitution. There were protests all over the country to give people of the LGBT+ community basic human rights but it was not until 2018 that The Supreme Court of India ruled the portion of Section 377 has unconstitutional and struck it off. One judge said the landmark decision would "pave the way for a better future.". With Section 377 gone are LGBT+ people allowed to fall in love freely? No, people are still afraid to love because of the stigma in our society when it comes to homosexuality; they are seen as lesser humans.
ALSO READ: Significant Support for Rights for LGBTQ+
Although the Supreme Court has decriminalized homosexual activities, same-sex marriage remains illegal in the country. Homophobia is still prevalent in India, and homosexual children would rather commit suicide than come out to society with their true identity, that's how harsh of a world we live in. Lacking support from family, society, or police, many gay rape victims do not report the crimes. In 1977, writer and Indian mathematician Shakuntla Devi published "The World of Homosexuals". It was the first study in the Indian context; the book contains interviews with homosexual men set in the years of Emergency. She wrote, "rather than pretending that homosexuals don't exist it is time we face the facts squarely in the eye and find room for homosexual people." We've had small victories in our fight against homophobia and getting LGBT+ community the rights they deserve as humans, but we still have a long and exhausting fight ahead of us.