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Mathematics & Astronomy in Ancient India

: admin 25 Jan, 2017 Category: General Info 1,040 views

Mathematics & Astronomy in Ancient India:

Science and Mathematics were highly developed during the ancient period in India. Ancient Indians contributed immensely to the knowledge in Mathematics as well as various branches of Science. Many theories of modern day mathematics were actually known to ancient Indians. However, since 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. Moreover, the western world ruled over most of the world for a long time, which empowered them to claim superiority in every way, including in the field of knowledge.

Ancient Indian Mathematicians:
Baudhayan: 7th to 8th century BC Mathematician
Aryabhatta: 5th century Mathematician
Brahmagupta: 7th century Mathematician
Baskaracharya: 12th century Mathematician
Mahaviracharya: 9th century Mathematician


  • The value of pi was first calculated by him. 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 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 Beejganita (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.
  • Disregarding the popular view that our planet earth is ‘Achala’ (immovable), Aryabhatta stated his theory that ‘earth is round and rotates on its own axis’ .He explained that the appearance of the sun moving from east to west is false by giving examples.


  • 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 Brahm Sputa Siddantika through which the Arabs came to know our mathematical system.

Bhaskaracharya :

  • Bhaskaracharya was the leading light of 12th Century.
  • 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.


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