By Shri Sudheer Birodkar
Aryabhatta was a mathematician and astronomer born around 476 A.D. in a town named Ashmaka in the state of Kerala in modern day India. When he was still a young boy, he had been sent to the University of Nalanda to study astronomy. He made significant contributions to the field of astronomy and was the first in the line of great mathematician and astronomer from the classical age.
Aryabhatta propounded the heliocentric theory of gravitation, predating Copernicus by almost one thousand years. When he was just 23 years old, he wrote his magnum opus ‘Aryabhattiya’, a compendium on mathematics and astronomy. His other works are ‘Aryasiddhanta’ and several treatises on mathematics and astronomy. He also found the approximate value for pi. Aryabhatta was the first one to have propounded the earth was a sphere in the 5th century. Aryabhatta's methods of astronomical calculations, calculating eclipses, etc expounded in the Aryabhatta-siddhanta were reliable for practical purposes of fixing the Panchanga.
Influence on European mathematicians
The Aryabhattiya was translated into Latin in the 13th century. Through this translation, European mathematicians received methods for calculating the areas of triangles, volumes of spheres as well as square and cube root. Aryabhatta's ideas about eclipses and the sun being the source of moonlight may not have caused much of an impression on European astronomers as by then they had come to know of these facts through the observations of Copernicus and Galileo. In recognition of his contribution, India named its first series of satellites in his name.
References & Citations
- Panchanga is an Indian calendar
- Sudheer Birodkar, "Ancient India's Contribution to World Culture". Reprinted with permission.