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Ancient Science And Technology

Ancient Science And Technology

Introduction

  • Indians have played an important role in the field of science and technology.
  • The Indus Valley Civilization, Vedic age and later periods saw great achievements by Indians in the field of Science and technology.
  • In modern times many Indian scientists and mathematicians have done phenomenal work and some of them even received awards like Nobel Prize for their contributions in science in technology.

Ideas in Science and Technology in Ancient India  

Physics

  • They conceptualises that the universe is composed of Panchabhutas – Water, land, fire and either-each a medium of sense perception.
  • They knew the existence of atoms and molecules even before the Greeks.
  • Vaiseshika School elaborated the atomic theory.
  • Brahmagupta anticipated Newton‘s theory of gravitation by declaring that –‘All things fall on the Earth by law of nature’ and it is the nature of the Earth that attract the things.

Mathematics  

  • Indians made three important contributions – notation system, decimal system and usage of zero.
  • Indian notation system was adopted by Arabs and numerals are called Arabic in English. They are found in Ashokan inscription.
  • Indians were the first to use the decimal system and Mathematician Aryabhata was associated with it.
  • Knowledge of Geometry is reflected in the Sulbasutras of 5th century BC. Aryabhatta (Surya Siddhanta) formulated the rule for finding out the areas of a triangle which led to the origin of Trigonometry.                             (Ancient Science And Technology)

Some Of The Prominent Names In The Field Of Ancient Science And Technology    

Baudhayana (800 BCE)

  • Baudhayana was a mathematician who lived in ancient India around 800 BCE. His major contributions include:
  • He is considered the earliest author of Sulbasutras which was used for the accurate construction of altars needed for Vedic sacrifices.
  • He gave a near accurate value of Pi(π).
  • He gave the theorem today known as “Pythagoras theorem” before Pythagoras had developed it.
  • He also gave a near accurate value of square root of 2 (577/408) which is correct to 5 decimal places.

Kanada Sage

  • Kanada, a philosopher estimated to have lived in India between 6th century to 2nd century BCE. His name Kanada means atom eater.
  • He was the first person to give the atomic theory. He gave the idea that Parmanu (Atom) was an indestructible particle of matter which cannot be divided further. Later on, Dalton made similar observations in his Dalton’s atomic theory.

Aryabhatta (476- 550 CE)

  • Aryabhatta also was known as Aryabhatta 1 was the first major astronomer and mathematician from the classical age of Indian astronomy and Indian mathematics.
  • His major works include Aryabhatiya and Arya-Siddhanta.
  • He calculated the orbits of planets, and scientifically explained the Solar and lunar eclipses.
  • He calculated the distance between Earth and Moon. He proposed that Earth rotates on its axis.
  • He gave the theory that the apparent motion of stars is due to the movement of Earth.
  • He calculated the circumference of the earth and proposed that the shape of Earth is not flat.
  • He worked on the place value system and zero as a symbol and concept.

Charaka (300 BCE)

  • Charaka is considered as the “Father of Indian Medicine” who lived in around 300 BCE in India. His major contributions include:
  • He was among the principal contributors to the ancient system of medicine ‘Ayurveda’ and wrote his medical treatise the ‘Charak Samhita’.
  • He is known for his works on metabolism and fundamentals of genetics.
  • He wrote about three doshas which the body contains i.e. Vata (movement),  Pitta (transformation) and Cough (lubrication and stability). Diseases occur when the balance among these three doshas gets disturbed.                              (Ancient Science And Technology)

Sushruta

  • Sushruta was the author of “Sushruta Samhita” an ancient Sanskrit text on medicine and surgery.
  • Sushruta invented surgical instruments and worked on the dissection of dead bodies.
  • Sushruta was aware of cataract operations.
  • He is also known as the “father of surgery” and “father of plastic surgery”.

Varahamihira (505- 587 CE)

  • Varahamihira was born in Avanthi region during the Gupta rule.
  • He wrote the Pancha-siddhantika which summarises 5 alias astronomical treatises namely the Surya Siddhanta, Romaka Siddhanta, Paulisa Siddhanta, Vashishtha Siddhant and Pitamaha Siddhanta.
  • He gave trigonometric formulas and improved the accuracy of sine tables of Aryabhatta.
  • He explained the shifting of equinoxes and the nature of scattering of light.
  • He was also the author of Brihat Samhita and Brihat Jataka.
  • He gave theories on earthquake and explained that how the termites may indicate water underground.

Bhaskara 1 (600 – 680 CE)

  • He was a mathematician who first wrote numbers in Hindu decimal system with a circle for zero.
  • he was the follower of the Aryabhatta School of astronomy and was the author of “Mahābhāskarīya” and the “Laghubhāskarīya”.
  • He worked on many trigonometric formulas and give a rational approximation of sine function.

Brahmagupta (598 – 670 CE)

  • Brahmagupta was an Indian mathematician and astronomer. He was the first person to give rules to compute with zero.
  • He was the author of the “Brāhmasphuṭasiddhānta”, a theoretical treatise on mathematics and astronomy, and the “Khaṇḍakhādyaka”, which was a more practical text.
  • He worked on mathematics and astronomy and he is supposed to have invented many astronomical instruments for his observations.
  • He explained that the shape of the earth is spherical and worked on the calculation of eclipses.
  • He worked on methods for calculating the distance of the heavenly bodies.

Bhaskaracharya or Bhaskara II (1114- 1185)

  • Bhaskaracharya was an Indian mathematician and astronomer born in Bijapur in Karnataka.
  • His main work includes “Siddhanta Shiromani” which has four sections dealing with Arithmetics, Algebra, Mathematics of planets, and Spheres.
  • He worked on differential calculus and algebra.

List of the Books and Authors in Ancient India
Astronomy

  • Jyotisha Vedanga (500 BC) is the earliest source dealing exclusively with astronomy. It contains rules for calculating the position of new and full moon amongst the 27 nakshatras.
  • Aryabhatt explained the true cause of solar and lunar eclipses, stated that the Sun is stationary and the Earth rotates around the Sun. He gave the value of pie (3.1416), and stated that the Earth is spherical in shape in his book i.e. Aryabhatiya (499 AD).
  • Varahamihira stated that the Moon rotates around the Earth, and the Earth rotates around the Sun in his book Brihat Samhita (6th Century AD).

Chemistry

  • There was great development in Metallurgy with large scale production of various metals like gold, silver, copper, iron, brass and other alloys.
  • Post Mauryan Period steel products were exported to the west.
  • Gupta period copper statue of Buddha from Sultanganj and iron pillar of Mehrauli at Delhi are the finest examples.

Medicine

  • Hymns of Atharva Veda is associated with Ayurveda.
  • Charak Samhita of Charak (100 AD) refers to the various diseases with cure and treatments, also about prevention and control through diet.
  • Susruta Samhita of Sasrutha refers to various kinds of diseases and operation with anaesthesia, surgical treatment, cataract, rhinoplasty etc.

Apart from all the Ideas in Science and Technology during Ancient India, there was also the development of grammar and linguistics that help in the recitation of the Vedic prayer and mantra with meticulous correctness such as the production of Sanskrit grammar as in Astadhyayi of Panini in 400 BC and Mahabhasya of Patanjali in 2nd century BC.  All these advancement first originated for religious purposes.

(Ancient Science And Technology)

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