Indian Mathematics in Sanskrit: Concepts and Achievements

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Item Code: IDK893
Author: Prof. VenkateshaMurthy
Publisher: Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha, Tirupati
Edition: 2005
Pages: 136
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 11.1" X 6.7”
Weight 290 gm
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Shipped to 153 countries
Shipped to 153 countries
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Book Description


It is now being increasingly recognized that ancient Sanskrit Literature contains profound wisdom of physical and social sciences. The scientific knowledge base presented by our Rishis and perceptive thinkers covers a wide canvas of subjects such as Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, Astronomy, Metallurgy, Bio-Technology and Environment Science etc.

Unfortunately due to a very long period of intellectual domination of the forces from outside the region, we have lost our awareness about the profound contributions made by our ancestors that are hidden in the vast Sanskrit literature. Our continued apathy towards Sanskrit language over the recent centuries has also contributed to our lack of awareness about rich scientific heritage. Our ignorance about the richness of our heritage has made us to lose our sense of pride for what is ours. As a result of all this, our sense of confidence in our own capabilities has also been shaken.

Knowledge of Sanskrit and perceptive analysis of contents of our ancient Sanskrit literature would be of great help in getting a good insight into our rich scientific heritage. It is the responsibility of Sanskrit institutions to arouse the interests of the modern world in Sanskrit by unraveling the profound scientific wisdom that is contained in the Sanskrit literature and by demonstrating its relevance to the modern world. It is only when for dealing with the contemporary challenges of life would be a link between the Sanskrit world and the modern world is established that the acceptability of Sanskrit as a relevant subject for dealing with the contemporary challenges of life would be enhanced. It is with this object in view that the Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha, Tirupati, launched a series of publication of small monographs which cover wide convass of subjects such as Physics, Chemistry, Astronomy, Ayurveda and Mathematics etc. for the enlightenment of younger generations of India.

Prof. Venkatesha Murthy, who is a profound scholar of Mathematics and a member of our Sanskrit-Science Study Centre, has prepared this monograph with his vast experience of teaching ‘Indian Mathematics’ and conducting seminars, workshops and exhibitions related to the subject. I congratulate him for preparing a wonderful monograph.

I hope that this monograph would be found useful by students and scholars alike and inspire many students of Mathematics.



We feel immensely happy and proud to present this monograph titled “Indian Mathematics in Sanskrit: Concepts and Achievements” to the young readers who have a longing to have a glimpse of the wisdom of ancient India.

There is a general belief that contribution of ancient India is limited to the field of human particularly that of religion and philosophy. Of course, no other civilization can claim superiority over what India has achieved in that area. Still if we go through the pages of this monograph, we will realize that in the area of Mathematics India’s contribution was amazing. Now India has already lost much of its ancient lore due to the impact of foreign invasion. What remains also is largely unknown as most of it is in Sanskrit. Hence, we feel that there is an urgent need to save the remaining knowledge and build up awareness in all concerned, especially among younger generations who are not aware of our ancient scientific heritage contained in Sanskrit.

Shouldering the responsibility of creating interest in Sanskrit and work on scientific heritage written in Sanskrit among younger generations and exposing their relevance to the modern world, Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha took the initiative of organizing Sanskrit Science exhibitions, publishing and propagating the Scientific literature of Sanskrit through out India.

I should mention at the out set that the inspiration to publish such monographs came for our Hon’ble Chancellor Dr. V.R. Panchamukhi, Economist of International fame, and versatile scholar in Sanskrit.

I would like to express my sincere thanks to Prof. Venkatesha Murthy for preparing this wonderful monograph.

If this small monograph kindles a tiny flame of desire in the hearts of young readers for studying Sanskrit, the store house of past glory of India., we feel rewarded for our efforts.



“The history of the development of Mathematics in India is as old as the civilization of its people itself. It begins with the rudiments of metrology and computations in prehistoric times, of which some fragmentary evidence has survived to this day. The sacred literature of the Vedic Hindus – The Samhitas, the Kalpasutras and the Vedangas – contain enough materials, albeit scattered, to help form a good idea of the Mathematical ability during the time of development of this class of literature. The Sulba-sutras which form a part of the Kalpasutras are a veritable storehouse of information concerning enumeration, arithmetical operations, fractions, properties of rectilinear figures, the so-called Pythagoras Theorem, surds, irrational numbers, quadratic and indeterminate equations and related matters.

The world sulba (Sulva) means a ‘cord’ a ‘rope’ or a ‘string’, and its sulb signifies ‘measuring’ or ‘act of measurement’. Therefore, sulba-sutras are a collection of rules concerning measurements with the help of a cord of various linear, spatial or three-dimensional figures. Sulba-sutras deal with rules for the measurements and constructions of various sacrificial alters and consequently involve geometrical propositions and problems relating to rectilinear figures, their combinations and transformations, squaring the circle, circling the square as well as arithmetical and algebraic solutions of problems arising out of such measurements and constructions. The Baudhayana Sulba-sutra is the oldest (600-500 B.C.). The Manava Sulba-sutra is posterior to Baudhayana and contains descriptions of a number of altars, not found in other works. The Apastamba Sulba-sutra (500-400 B.C.) gives the same rules as were found in Baudhayana Sulba-sutra. The Katyayana Sulba-sutra (400-300 B.C.) is more succinct and more systematic.

Of the various sects that attained prominence in the closing phase of the (active) Vedic period, the Jainas deserve special notice for their interest in, and cultivation of, Mathematics. Their canonical literature lays great emphasis on Mathematics and enumerates various topics such as number reckoning, fundamental operations, geometry, mensuration, fractions, equations, permutations and combinations.

The medieval period witnessed growth of a sizeable mathematical literature in Arabic and Persian and presented as opportunity for cross-fertilization of the efforts of two distinct cultures. Records of late ancient and medieval times show that Indian Mathematics stimulated mathematical endeavours abroad and itself received inspiration from neighbouring and distant cultural areas. Such stimuli have been noticed even in the case of the complex and many-sided phenomenon of European Renaissance of the sixteenth century.”

[“A Concise History of Science in India” – (Editors) D.M. Bose, S.N. Sen, B.V. Subbarayappa, INSA, New Delhi, (1989) p. 136]

The above passages is the main source of inspiration to prepare charts for Sanskrit Science Exhibition being organized all over India by Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha, (Deemed University), Tirupati. The project of preparing these charts on “Indian Mathematics in Sanskrit: Concepts and Achievements” as a part of “Sanskrit – Science Exhibition” undertaken at the suggestion of Dr. V.R. Panchamukhi, Chancellor, Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha (Deemed University), Tirupati during its Annual Convocation – 2000. Later, these exhibits were exhibited in several Universities, Centres of Higher learning, and also during several special occasions all over India. Recently, “Sanskrit – Science Exhibition and Seminar on ‘Relevance of Ancient Scientific Concepts to the Present day’ “was held at St. Petersburg (Russia), on invitation from Government of Russia. The programme at Russia was sponsored by the Directorate of Science and Technology Government of India. Lecture was also delivered with power-point presentations during these occasions.

It gives me immense in acknowledging my sincere gratitude to the respected Chancellor Dr. V.R. Panchamukhi, Prof. K.E. Govindan, Vice-chancellor i/c, Prof. D. Prahlada Char, Former Vice-Chancellor, Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha, Tirupati, Prof. V.B. Subbarayappa, Honorary Professor, National Institute of Advanced Studies, and Chief of Editorial Board, Sanskrit-Science Study Centre, Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha, Tirupati, and my dear friend Prof. V. Muralidhara Sharma, Co-ordinator, Sanskrit – Science Study Centre for bestowing these rare opportunities. My sincere thanks to Sri Chenraj Jain, Chairman, Jains Group of Institutions and Chancellor, MATS University and to Dr. Gruuraja Karajagi, eminent educationist and the Director, International Academy for Creative Teaching, Bangalore for their support and encouragement for all my endeavours.




  Foreword I
  Preface II
  Contents III
Chapter I: Sulba-sutra Theorem (Pythagorean Theorem) and its application
1 - 43
1. Introduction: Sulba-sutra Theorem (Pythagorean Theorem) and its application 3 to 7
2. Theorem: Square on the diagonal of a rectangle - Chart 4
3. Theorem from Manava Sulba-sutra (Pythagoras theorem) - Chart 6
4. Theorem: Square on the diagonal of a square from Baudhayana Sulba-sutra –Chart 8
5. Surds and Their Approximate Values from Katyayana Sulva-sutra 9
6. Value of Square root of 2 from Baudhayana sulva-sutra - Chart 10
7. Verification of Sulba-sutra value of Square of 2 – Thibaut’s and Rodet’s approximations 11 to 14
8. An approximation to square root of 3 15
9. To get Ö3 Geometrically – Baudhayana Sulba-sutra - Chart 16
10. (Ö3 and 1/Ö3) in Katyayana Sulva-sutra - Chart 17 & 18
11. Ratio of circumference of a circle to its diameter from Sulba-sutras 19
12. Geometrical basis for Aryabhata’s Value of ‘Ratio of circumference of a circle to its diameter’ - Chart 20
13. Algorithm to find Aryabhata’s Value of ‘Ratio of circumference of a circle to its diameter’ 21
14. Algorithm to Double the Number of Sides ‘n’ of an Inscribed Regular Polygon – Chart & Explanation 22 & 23
15. Algorithm to find a Value of p of Aryabhata – I (c. A.D. 476) – Chart & Explanation 24 & 25
16. Sloka from Aryabhatiya (c. A.D. 499) about Nearly Accurate value of p - Chart 26
17. Aryabhata – I, and Others (c. A.D. 476) about Nearly Accurate value of p. - Explanation 27
18. Power Series of p Madhava and of Gottgried Wilhelm Leibnitz – Chart & Explanation 28 & 29
19. Definition of Indian Trigonometrical Functions – Chart & Explanation 30 & 31
20. Origin of the term Sine and other Trigonometrical terms – Chart & Explanation 32 & 33
21. Algotrithm to find desired number of Rsines - Aryabhatiya 34 & 35
22. A General Method to Calculate (‘N’, the Desired number of) Rsines – Chart & Explanation 36 & 37
23. To Calculate Six Rsines Geometrically – Charts & Explanation 38 & 41
24. Value of a Radian Measure in Aryabhatiya – Chart & Explanation 42 & 43
Chapter II: Zero and Infinity in Indian Mathematics
45 to 51
1. Etymology of the word Zero and Operations with Zero – Chart & Explanation 46 & 47
2. Zero in Lilavati and Bijaganita of Bhaskaracarya-II (b. A.D. 1114) – Chart & Explanation 48 & 49
3. Universal property of infinity in Bijaganita of Bhascara II – Chart & Explanation 50 & 51
Chapter III: Numerals in Sanskrit Works
53 to 63
1. Numbers and Numerals in Sanskrit works 55
2. Sanskrit Words as Numerals – Chart & Explanation 56 & 57
3. Sanskrit Alphabets as Numerals; Sloka and Explanation 58 & 59
4. A Ready Reckoner 60
5. and Buddhist Alchemist Nagarjuna’s Magic Square – Charts & Explanation 61 to 63
Chapter IV: Aryabhatiya Alphabetical Numeral system and its Application
65 to 79
1. Aryabhatiya Numeral System of Aryabhata -1 67
2. Sloka from Aryabhatiya and a Ready Reckoner for Aryabhatiya Numeral System 68 & 69
3. Sloka from Aryabhatiya on the Aryabhatiya Numerals denoting number of revolutions of Geo-centric planets in a yuga (43,20,000 Years) 70
4. Table showing the order of Geo-centric planets in the increasing order of their number of revolutions in a yuga in the Aryabhatiya Numerals and International numerals 71
5. Explanation of converting Aryabhatiya Numerals denoting number of revolutions of Geo-centric planets in a yuga (43,20,000 Years) into International Numerals. 72 to 78
6. Present day sidereal periods of Geo-Centric planets from Science Data Sources and from Aryabhatiya (A.D. 499) of Aryabhata –1 :A Comparison 79
Chapter V: Explanation for Naming the week-days
81 to 90
1. Why Week-days are Named so? – A sloka Aryabhatiya and an Overview 82 & 83
2. Explanation for Naming the Week-days a table better understanding 84 to 85
3. A sloka on the order of Names of Week-days in Atharvaveda-jyotisha 86
4. Comments on the Sloka on Week-days in Aryabhatiya 87
5. A Working Model to show why week-days are named so – Chart & Explanation 88 & 89
6. A Static Model to get the names of Geo-centric planets from the names of week-days Explanation & Chart 89 & 90
Chapter VI: Bhavana & Cakravala: Solving Second Degree Indeterminate Equation
91 to 122
1. Need for Rational Approximation of ÖN 93
2. Vargaprakruti: Explanation of the equation Nx2 + h = y2 95 to 97
3. Bhavana of Brahmagupta. 99 to 105
  (i) Rule 1 & Rule 2 of Bhavana of Brahmagupta. 100 to 103
  (ii) Supplementary Rule with Examples 104 & 105
4. Chakravala 106 to 122
  (i) Differentiating Bhavana and Cakravala 106
  (ii) Cakravala of Acarya Jayadeva 107 to 109
  (iii) Cakravala of Bhaskara-II 110 & 111
  (iv) Cakravala – an Extension of Bhavana 112 & 113
  (v) Speciality in Cakravala of Acarya Jayadeva 114 & 115
  (vi) To find least integral values of 61x2 + 1 = y2 using Jayadeva – Bhaskara method 116 & 117
  (vii) To find least integral values of 61x2 + 1 = y2 using Language’s Method 118 & 119
  (viii) General Method of Cakravala to solve Nx2 + 1 = y2 for integral values of x and y and 67x2 + 1 = y2 120 to 122
5. Epilogue 123 to 125
  References: 127 & 128

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