It is a common misconception held by many that India has been the land of only sages and peers who composed and studied mythological texts and stories. On the contrary, the historic Indian civilization has had a very vibrant and comprehensive tradition of science and technology since ancient times.
Historian James Grant Duff once wrote, “Many of the advances in the sciences that we consider today to have been made in Europe were made in India centuries ago.”
Intrinsic fundamental principles of modern sciences have been provided with a foundation by the numerous postulates and scientific methods discovered by the Avant grande ancient Indians. While some of these important contributions have been acknowledged, many remain unknown. Here are some ancient Indian contributions in the field of science and technology-
Binary numbers that are used as a language to write computer programs are a set of two numbers- 1 and 0 called Bits and Bytes respectively. They were mentioned by Pingala in his work “Chandahśāstra”, a treatise on prosody. Pingala is credited with using binary numbers in the form of short and long syllables a notation similar to Morse code.
The Indian contribution to introducing the concept of ‘Zero’ is relatively well known. It was formulated by the mathematician Aryabhatta. This invention is of great importance as it enables one to write numbers no matter how large, by adding zeroes at the end.
A. L. Basham, an Australian Indologist writes, “…The world owes most to India in the realm of mathematics…”
Famous English chemist, John Dalton is now credited with the development of the atomic theory. However, a theory of the atom was formulated centuries ago by Indian sage Acharya Kanad who speculated the existence of small, indestructible particles called “Anu” strikingly similar to an atom.
Ancient Indian physician, Sushruta had composed in the 6th century BCE the Sushruta Samhita, one of the most detailed books on surgery which mentioned complex techniques of plastic surgery, like Rhinoplasty, as well as surgery to cure cataract amongst thousands of other procedures and medicines to cure illnesses.
Aryabhatta, the man credited with discovering 0 had also made other contributions to the field of science like propounding the curvature of the Earth as well as the fact that it rotates on its axis around the sun. The mathematical genius also made predictions of solar and lunar eclipses, the duration of a day as well as the distance between the celestial bodies of the Earth and Moon.
When we think about the concept of gravity, the first name that pops into our minds is Sir Isaac Newton. Most of us may be aware of the story of how Newton was inspired to formulate the “Universal Law Of Gravitation” when an apple fell from the tree. The world believes that gravity was discovered by Newton, however ancient Indians knew of gravity way before him. India’s familiarity with gravity began with Varahamihira (505-587 CE) who was an Astronomer and Mathematician who thought of the concept of gravity. He claimed there must be a force which might be keeping bodies stuck to the Earth, and also keeping heavenly bodies at specific places. Interestingly, another Indian Mathematician, Brahamagupta had commented on the concept of gravity. He exclaimed, “Bodies fall towards the earth as it is like the earth to attract bodies, just as it is like water to flow.”