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10-Aaryabhat I: a great mathematician
(476 AD - 550 AD = 74 yrs)

Birth, Education and Career
First of all, his name is not Aaryabhatt as normally is spelt, but it is Aaryabhat. He was born in 476 AD in Taregna (Bihar, India), 30 kms from Patanaa. There is no evidence that he was born outside Paatliputra and traveled to Magadh, the centre of instruction, culture and knowledge for his studies where he even set up a coaching institute.

He went to Kusumpur for his advanced studies. Both Hindu and Buddhist traditions identify Kusumpur as Paataliputra (or modern Patanaa). A verse mentions that Aaryabhat was the Kulapati (Head of an Institution) at Kusumpur. University of Naalandaa was there at that time, he might have been the Head of that institution and had an astronomical observatory there. In Taregna Aaryabhat set up an Astronomical Observatory in the Sun Temple in 6th century.

Some other evidences, like many of the commentaries on his work come from Kerala, suggest that he might have been from Kerala - Kodungalloor; on the contrary many other commentaries come from outside Kerala also.

His Works
(1) Aaryabhat's intellectual brilliance remapped the boundaries of mathematics and astronomy. In 499 AD, at the age of 23, he wrote a text on astronomy and an unparallel treatise on mathematics called "Aaryabhateeyam". In this book he writes that it was written in 3,630 years into the Kali Yug. This correspondences to 499 BC. His work covers Arithmetic,  Algebra, plane Trigonometry, and spherical Trigonometry.  It also contains continued fractions, quadratic equations, sums-of-power series, and a table of sines.

(2) His another work is Aarya Siddhaant, a work on astronomy Aaryabhat's one work, Aarya Siddhaant, is known through the contemporaries, Varaah Mihir and later ones - Brahmgupt and Bhaaskar I. This work is based on Soorya Siddhaant (see below), and uses the midnight-day reckoning, as opposed to sunrise in Aaryabhateeya. It also contains a description of several astronomical instruments: the gnomon (Shanku Yantra), a shadow instrument (Chhaayaa Yantra), possibly angle-measuring devices, semicircular and circular (Dhanur Yantra / Chakra Yantra), a cylindrical stick Yasti Yantra, an umbrella-shaped device called the Chhatra Yantra, and water clocks of at least two types, bow-shaped and cylindrical.

(3) A third text, which may have survived in the Arabic translation, is Al ntf or Al-nanf. It claims that it is a translation by Aaryabhat, but the Sanskrit name of this work is not known. Probably dating from the 9th century, it is mentioned by the Persian scholar and chronicler of India - Aboo Rayhaan al-Baroonee

He formulated the process of calculating the motion of planets and the time of eclipses.

Aaryabhat was the first to proclaim that the earth is round, it rotates on its axis, orbits the Sun and is suspended in space - 1000 years before Copernicus published his heliocentric theory.

He is also acknowledged for calculating p (Pi) to four decimal places: 3.1416 and the sine table in Trigonometry. Centuries later, in 825 AD, the Arab mathematician, Mohammed Ibna Musa credited the value of Pi to the Indians, "This value has been given by the Hindu."

And above all, his most spectacular contribution was the concept of Zero, see Shoonya, without which modern computer technology would have been non-existent. Aaryabhat was a colossus in the field of mathematics.

[A giver of ZERO without which the modern world did not exist.]



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Created by Sushma Gupta on January 15, 2002
Modified on 05/05/13