Mathematics is given a high place in sciences, like the crest of a peacock among its colored plum, in India’s ancient treatises. *Vedanta Jyothisa*, an ancient treatise on Mathematics and astronomy mentions this.

*Ganitham* is the Indian term for Mathematics. The word *Ganitham* has in it the phrase *Gana*, meaning weighty, heavy. The field of Mathematics has always been weighty and heavy.

The Lord of Mathematics in Indian tradition is Ganesha, Ganapathy. The term *Gana* also means numbers.

**Ganesha, The Lord of Mathematics**

#### Zero

Mathematics has developed to what it is today, due to zero. This zero, *Shunya, *was one of India’s significant contribution to the world of Mathematics.

Many Millennia ago, the ancient Indian Rishis understood and expressed Zero as *Shunya.* Infact, the concept of *Shunya* existed in India, right from the time of Creation. The symbol of zero *was* expressed in Bakshali document, 200-300 years, before Aryabhatta, as a dot, namely *Bindu*. Bindu is a point of singularity, from which the whole of creation arose. *Bindu* is not exactly nothing, but consists of everything.

The English word Zero draws its origin from the Indian word *Shunya *as it travelled from India westwards.

There is no figure, shape or letter for zero in the Roman numerals, as the concept of zero was not known to the Europeans till the 1500s

When Zero was introduced to Europe, everyone asked what this number was.

Zero before anything is nothing but after anything is something.

This number created lot of doubts and confusion in the minds of the people which is why a French writer in 1500s wrote: *“0” a sign which creates confusion and difficulties.*

Those who could understand the concept of 0 became scholars overnight. Zero acquired a profound significance.

Indian numerals and Zero officially gained acceptance over Roman Numerals in 1543.

Nothing came from India i.e. Zero came from India. It is only after the acceptance of Indian numerals including zero that science in Europe grew in leaps and bounds.

#### Infinity

Apart from zero, infinity also has its origin in India. From one abstract concept of zero, *Shunya*, the Indian mind reached out to the abstract on other end of the spectrum which is the concept of *Anantha*, Infinity.

The symbol of zero today is 0, but its mark in Indian thought is a *Bindu*, a dot. The *Bindu* is not exactly nothing. It consists of everything.

Prior to Creation, the five primordial elements were present inside this *Bindu*, the mark of zero. After the Big Bang, this *Bindu* which is also known as *Hiranyagarbha*, the cosmic womb, blasted open and all the elements spewed out. The growth of the universe from the minutest, *Shunya* to the universal, *Anantha* was instantaneous. The space then became immeasurable. This is the concept of infinity, *Anantha*, meaning that which is beyond measure.

In Indian thought, infinity is symbolized by a coiled serpent known as *Anantha*, on which rests Lord Vishnu. *Anantha* was in the medieval age, widely used in sculpture, paintings, poetry, literature, handicrafts and textiles all over India. Infact *Anantha* symbol was a regular motif from medieval times.

In 1655, John Wallis, the British Mathematician was looking for a symbol of infinity. At this time, India was regularly exporting textile goods to Arabia, known as Indine. The *Anantha* motifs would have travelled with these textile goods to Europe, and John Wallis might well have come across the *Anantha* symbol on one of these textiles.

Back in India, there was a definition of infinity practiced and recited everyday in *homas* conducted. This verse is found in *Satpataha Brahmana* and *Brihadaranyaka Upanishad*. (show the visual of the slokas)

The Indian concept of Infinity, the root of the symbol of infinity were derived from this basic understanding of infinity, by our ancients.

#### Metrics

Right from the *Veda *which were recited in certain metres, i.e beats or counts, this civilization has been going about life with a rhythm.

The very word “rhythm” itself comes from the root *rtha *meaning pattern, cycle. From *rtha* comes the word *rthu *meaning seasons, which are patterns in Nature, the rhythm of Nature.

With rhythm in its blood, counting and measuring was not far behind. Also with trade and a structured economy, as the prime means of prosperity, science of measuring and counting was fairly advanced in India. This is evidenced by the many measuring weights found in the archaeological sites of the port of Lothal and others across India, in the warehouses and foundries of erstwhile Indus Valley (Sindhu-Sarasvati civilization) cities and many more.

The words *Yojana *for measuring distance and *Yuga *for measuring time, can be found, as way back, as in the *Rig Veda*, last compiled 5100 years ago.

#### Geometry

What we know as Geometry today has come down to us from *Gyaamiti* of our ancients. *Gyaamiti* was the body of Mathematics, *Ganitham* that dealt with lines and shapes. It was also known as *Rekha ganitha*.

*Rekha* means lines, borders, that which binds space. The evidence of *Gyaamiti*, *Rekha Ganitha* through the times can be seen from its application in

- Architecture
- Ship building
- Port building
- Water harnessing projects
- Town planning and drainage system
- Astronomy

*Gyaamiti* or Geometry comprised of the science behind shapes such as,

- Plane figures –
*Kshetra* - Cubic figures –
*Ghana* - Pile of Bricks –
*Chiti* - Saw Shaped –
*Krakachya* - Shadows –
*Chaya*

Geometry which is ascribed to Euclid the Greek was prevalent in India as *Gyaamiti*. Usage of *Gyaamiti* in Indian civilization goes back to 3000 BCE.

#### Algebra

The method of dealing with numbers and quantities known as Algebra today, can be traced to the Indian body of knowledge called *Bija Ganitham*. [ बीज गणितं ]

*Bija* means seeds. *Bija Ganitham *is that part of *Ganitham* that reduced the problem, situation being studied, to expressions in terms of basic entities or seeds. It involved the relations between them . – what in modern terminology are referred to as variables and alphanumeric equations.

As the story goes, when this branch of Mathematics travelled to Arabia, the *Bija *got transposed as *Jaba*, perhaps due to the opposite direction of reading followed in Arabic script.

This body of knowledge and the word *Jaba*, out of reverence, came to be called *Al Jaba*, *Al* standing for anything holy in Arabic.

When the knowledge of Mathematics travelled from Arabia to Europe, this *Al Jaba* ended up as Algebra.

#### Trigonometry

Trigonometry of today was practiced as “*Trikonamiti*” in Indian Tradition.

*Trikona* comes from Tri for three and kona means corners. Corners give rise to angles. Trikona means that which is concerned with “three angles” or a triangle.

We have the famous sun temple of Konarak. Here in this word Konark we have the concept of Kona, meaning angles. The whole temple is about angles.

It’s not only the Konarak temple every temple has got an angle to it. Infact every structure has many angles to it.

We also have a word *drishtikona, *for perspective.

The science of *trikona, *triangle has been known as *trikonamitti *from time immemorial.

This *trikonamitti* has been used from vedic times for building the homa kunda, fire altars.

The classic example of the use of Tikonamiti, Trigonometry was the measurement of the height of Mount Everest, *Sagar Mathe,* by Andrew Waugh using theololite.

Andrew Waugh was assisted in this effort by Pandit Nain Singh from India.

#### Algorithm

What we call today as the concept of Algorithm can be traced back to the Arabian mathematician, Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi better known as Al Khwarizmi.

Al Khwarizmi wrote about the concept of Indian technique of calculation based on decimal notation numbers. This book was read by the medieval European mathematician Adelard in 12th century CE and translated as the book “De Numero Indico”.

While the name algorithm has its roots in the name of the Arabic mathematician Al Khwarizmi, the concept and content of algorithms has its roots in the Indian numerals and Indian Mathematics, *ganitham*.

On a lighter vein, perhaps *Algorithm* should now be rebranded as *Alganitham*.

#### A Healthy Contribution

Thus we see that the Indian civilization has given forth a very healthy contribution to the field of Mathematics and from thereon to science. The present fields of Mathematics used in the world are a contribution of the Indian mind.