Sir Galileo Galelei is one of the great names who revolutionized science in the 17th century. He is the father of science. He is the father of modern physics and scientific method in Europe. He is also the father of observational astronomy. He was a physicist, a mathematician, an astronomer, and a philosopher all rolled into one. This great scientist had his advent on 15th February, 1564 at Pisa in Italy.
Galileo’s achievements are many. Some of them being,
- Discovered that the earth is round, for the people of Europe
- Confirmed telescopically the phases of Venus
- Carried forward the understanding of Heliocentric model, after Nicholas Copernicus
- Observed and analyzed sunspots
- Discovered the 5 large satellites of Jupiter, which is known as Galilean satellites
Galileo’s discovery and the opposition
Galileo was the one discovered that the earth is round and not flat. Before that, the people in the West were of the view that earth is flat.
When Galileo published his view on the earth being round, and about the Heliocentric model, he was vehemently opposed by the church. A church priest then cried out in a court of law, saying,
“Commonsense must tell anyone that the earth cannot possibly be a ball, otherwise, the people on the lower half would fall into the void”.
The Priest’s view on what would happen if the earth were to be round
It is clear that the people in the west didn’t understand gravity, for such a view being presented by the priest. The world later on understood and accepted Galileo discovery, as modern science made great advances.
Galileo’s Trial and house arrest
The Pope Urban VIII ordered Galileo to stand trial for heresey in 1633, as his views were found to be “absurd, phylosophically false, and formally heretical, because they were contrary to Holy Scriptures.”
Galileo recanted his opinion to save his life, and lived under house arrest. While under house arrest, he wrote one of his best-known works, Two New Sciences, in which he summarized work he had done some forty years earlier on the two sciences now called kinematics and strength of materials.
Galileo passed away on 8th January 1642, Italy, while serving house arrest.
It was only 1978, Pope John -11, pardoned Galileo, when it was well established that the earth is round.
Astronomy, a subject in India, even before Galileo
The world is of the opinion that Astronomy existed as a subject, only after Galileo. The reality is quite different.
Indian Jyotisha, Astronomy is a science par excellence that the ancient Indians had developed. Indian astronomers have written a series of astronomical treaties through millennia which form a rich contribution of Indians to the world of astronomical sciences.
The scientific aspects discussed in Indian Astronomy, Ganita Jyotisha include,
- Heliocentric view in Indian Astronomy
- Scientific naming of planets and stars
- Distances in space
- Measurement of astral bodies
Indians knew the earth was round
Indians also knew that the earth is round. They always called the earth as “Bhugola”. Bhu means “earth” and Gola means “round”. Bhugola means, “the earth which is round shaped”. This very word for earth, shows that the ancients of this land knew that the earth is round.
Aryabhatta wrote his book “Aryabhatiyam” in the year 499 CE, when he was just 23 years in age. In this work, he clearly mentions the earth as being round. This is full thousand years before Galileo and others in Europe proved and accepted that the earth is round.
Indians also knew of a land on the other side of the globe, from India, which was known as Siddhapura in the Indian astronomical texts. This again establishes that the ancient Indians, very well knew of a place on the other side of the globe, exactly 180 degrees, opposite to India.
The west had adopted the heliocentric model after Galileo proposed it, 400 years ago, and before that it was the geocentric model that was in vogue.
The Geocentric model
In contrast, the India texts pertaining to Ganitha Jyotisha, the Veda and other texts have all along been mentioning heliocentric model for many millennia.
The Heliocentric Model
Heliocentric comes from the Greek word Helios, meaning Sun. In this view, the sun is at the centre of everything in the sky. Ganitha Jyotisha, Astronomy with its inclination to accurate recordings has always held the helio-centric view point. This is clearly indicated in a shloka in Rig Veda, compiled over 5000 years ago.
The Shloka in Rig Veda
According to the above sloka, the moon which is the satellite of the earth revolves around its mother planet and follows it in its revolution around the sun.
This sloka clearly indicates that the people of this country had recorded the helio-centric model, 5000 years ago.
If we see the arrangements of idols in a Navagraha temple, it is always seen that the idol of sun is in the centre, surrounded by the idols of other planets.
Navagraha shrine with the idol of sun in centre
This again testifies that Indians always knew and followed the heliocentric model. They knew that all the planets revolved around the sun. Hence, the Solar System is called Surya Mallika, Surya meaning Sun.
Astronomy was a subject in India even before Galileo!
More on Indian Astronomy in our documentary film, Wonders of Indian Astronomy, and short film.