Manava

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By J J O'Connor and E F Robertson

Very little is known about Manava. He was the author of one of the Sulbasutras and lived circa 750BC. The Manava Sulbasutra was authored after the Baudhayana sulbasutra.

The mathematics given in the Sulbasutras is there to enable accurate construction of altars needed for sacrifices. It is clear from the writing that Manava, as well as being a priest, must have been a skilled craftsman.

Manava's Sulbasutra, like all the Sulbasutras, contained approximate constructions of circles from rectangles, and squares from circles, which can be thought of as giving approximate values of π (pi). There appear therefore different values of π throughout the Sulbasutra, essentially every construction involving circles leads to a different such approximation. Verses 11.14 and 11.15 of Manava's work give π = 25/8 = 3.125.


References

  • R C Gupta, New Indian values of p from the Manava sulba sutra, Centaurus 31 (2) (1988), 114-125.
  • R P Kulkarni, The value of π known to Sulbasutrakaras, Indian J. Hist. Sci. 13 (1) (1978), 32-41.