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Aryabhata - The Greatest Ancient Mathematician

Aryabhata – The Greatest Ancient Mathematician

Aryabhata, a mathematician and astronomer, lived during the 476 and 550 BCE. He was amongst the first mathematician-astronomers from the Indian culture. Aryabhata has a massive and notable influence in the astronomical tradition and determined cultures through translations. His calculation methods keep being influential even today. He was born in Pataliputra now known as Patna in the year 476 AD and died in India in the year 550 AD. Based on the dates it is clear that he existed and lived in the Gupta Era. Aryabhata lived in the Gupta Dynasty and composed two respected works – Aryabhatiya in the year 499 AD and Aryabhata Siddhanta, which is now lost and nowhere to be found.

Aryabhatiya has seen many mathematician’s commentaries on the work. It was very famous in the regions of South India. The text is written in the form of couplets and speaks about mathematics and astronomy, the two main topics of Aryabhata. It gives an introduction to the astronomical table and system of phonemic numbers created by Aryabhata. It is represented by the consonant-vowel monosyllable. To make it easier for the readers and researchers, the book is divided into three sections, “Mathematics” which is Ganita, “Kal-Kriya” meaning calculations of time and “Gola” which is a sphere.

The book that was lost, Aryabhata Siddhanta, was mainly popular in the Northwest regions of India. It was prominently popular in the Sasanian dynasty from the year 224 AD to 551 AD or Iran. It was a very crucial document and influenced the development of Islamic Astronomy. It is a relief to know that the few contents of this book are preserved in parts in the texts like Varahamihira which found its glory in AD 550. Bhaskara flourished in AD 629 and Brahmagupta which became popular in 598 AD till 665 AD. It can be called and considered to be one of the first astronomical works with its discovery of aspects from the start of the day till midnight.

Let’s talk about the three major divisions of the book Aryabhatiya and discuss their inclusions. Aryabhata explained the first ten decimal places, algorithms to obtain square and cubic roots by just using the decimal point or the decimal number system. He explains this in the division named Ganita that is Mathematics.

Kal-Kriya or Time Calculations explained a lot about astronomy. How to treat a planetary motion along the ecliptic was one of the main topics of the book. The book achieved the compliments for defining various aspects like time, epicyclic models of planetary motion, eccentric motions, longitudes of the planets, terrestrial locations, hours and days etc.

The Gola division of the book speaks about applying trigonometry and spherical geometry. It is done by projecting lines and points on the surface of the sphere. The sphere is placed on appropriate planes to get the calculations and speculations right. The topics in this book talk about solar and lunar eclipses. It is also describing the motion of the stars which is westward. It sheds light on the spherical earth’s rotation around its axis. Aryabhata, the genius, also figured out and explained the radiance of the moon and the planets in this universe based on the reflected sunlight.

Aryabhata is a celebrated sage in today’s time and is worshipped by the students of mathematics and astronomy. To honour his work and life, the government of India named the very first satellite of India, Aryabhata which was launched in the year 1975.

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