A Celebration of Ancient India

A Celebration of Ancient India

~Rishu Gupta, Poornima College, Jaipur

From the Vedic times, around 3000 B.C. to 1000 B.C., Indians (Indo-Aryans) had classified the material world into four elements viz. Earth (Prithvi), fire (Agni), air (Maya), water (Apa) and ether (Akasha). According to some scholars these five elements or Pancha Mahabhootas were identified with the various human senses of perception; earth with smell, air with feeling, fire with vision, water with taste and ether with sound. Whatever the validity behind this interpretation, it is true that since very ancient times Indians had perceived the material world as comprising these 5 elements.

Astronomer and mathematician

Aryabhata I using Hindu Brahmi (aka ‘Arabic’) numerals accurately calculated pi (π) to 3.1416, and the solar year to 365.3586805 days. A thousand years before Copernicus, Aryabhata propounded a heliocentric universe with elliptically orbiting planets and a spherical Earth spinning on its axis, explaining the apparent rotation of the heavens. He wrote Aryabhatiya which is a summary of Hindu mathematics up to that time. He gave tables of half chords which now really are sine tables and used jya for our sine. Jya (India) became Jiba then Jaib (Arabs) which then became Sinus (Romans) which then became Sine (modern terminology).

Chemical Science

Nagarjuna was an extraordinary wizard of chemistry and metallurgy. Textual masterpieces like “Ras Ratnakar”, “Rashrudaya” and “Rasendramangal” are his renowned contributions to the science of chemistry.Where the medieval alchemists of England failed, Nagarjuna had discovered the alchemy of transmuting base metals into gold. As the author of medical books like “Arogyamanjari” and “Yogasar,” he also made significant contributions to the field of curative medicine.


Bhaskaracharya, or Bhaskara II, is regarded almost without question as the greatest Hindu mathematician of all time and his contribution to not just Indian, but world mathematics is undeniable. His work “Lilavati (or Leelavati)” covers many branches of mathematics, arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and a little trigonometry and mensuration. The Lilavati is written in poetic form with a prose commentary. Bhaskara derived a cyclic, ‘Cakraval’ method for solving equations of the form ax2 + bx + c = y, which is usually attributed to William Brouncker who ‘rediscovered’ it around 1657. Bhaskara’s method for finding the solutions of the problem Nx2 + 1 = y2 (so called “Pell’s equation”) is of considerable interest and importance. His work the Siddhanta Siromani is an astronomical treatise and contains many theories of trigonometry and calculus. Bhaskara is thought to be the first to show that: sin x = cos x δx

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