Do You Know ?
Did you know that the ancient Hindus originated the concept 'zero'?
The Concept of 'Zero'
The Indian place-value numeration with zero sign ranks among humanity's fundamental discoveries.
Ancient Hindus were first to suggest a heliocentric solar system. Speed of light was calculated as 1,85,016 miles/sec. They had even calculated the distance between Earth and Moon as 108 diameters of Moon and Earth and Sun as 108 diameters of Sun. These figures are very close to the modern day values. All these were stated several thousand years before the famous scientist Galileo postulated in the west that sun was the center of the planetary system and Earth was not flat, which was against the prevailing religious doctrines and he died during his house-arrest by clergy. Another astonishing invention was ancient Hindus calculated the age of Earth as 4.3 billion years. The modern estimate is 4.5 billion years. Just remember that the biblical age of the Earth, as per Christians, is just 6,000 years!
The so called Arabic numerals are actually Hindu numerals and even many Arab mathematicians admit that. During the 700's, the Arabs learned Hindu arithmetic from scientific writings of the Hindus and the Greeks. Then, in the 800's, a Persian mathematician wrote a book that was translated into Latin about 300 years later. This translation brought the Hindu-Arabic numerals into Europe.
The largest numbers the Greeks and the Romans used were 106 whereas Hindus used numbers as big as 1053 (i.e 10 to the power of 53) with specific names (Tallakshana) as early as 5000 B.C. during the Vedic period. Even today, the largest used number is Tera: 1012 (10 to the power of 12).
"It is India that gave us the ingenuous method of expressing all numbers by the means of ten symbols, each symbol receiving a value of position, as well as an absolute value; a profound and important idea which appears so simple to us now that we ignore its true merit, but its very simplicity, the great ease which it has lent to all computations, puts our arithmetic in the first rank of useful inventions, and we shall appreciate the grandeur of this achievement when we remember that it escaped the genius of Archimedes and Apollonius, two of the greatest minds produced by antiquity."
— French mathematician Pierre Simon Laplace (1749 - 1827)
The Arabs borrowed so much from India in the field of mathematics that even the subject of mathematics in Arabic came to known as Hindsa which means 'from India' and a mathematician or engineer in Arabic is called Muhandis which means 'an expert in Mathematics'.
The place value system is built into the Sanskrit language and so whereas in English we only use thousand, million, billion etc, in Sanskrit there are specific nomenclature for the powers of 10, most used in modern times are dasa (10), sata (100), sahasra (1,000=1K), ayuta (10K), laksha (100K), niyuta (106=1M), koti (10M), vyarbuda (100M), paraardha (1012) etc. Results of such a practice were two-folds. Firstly, the removal of special importance of numbers. Instead of naming numbers in grops of three, four or eight orders of units one could use the necessary name for the power of 10. Secondly, the notion of the term "of the order of". To express the order of a particular number, one simply needs to use the nearest two powers of 10 to express its enormity.
These Indian ideas about atom and atomic physics could have been transmitted to the West during the contacts created between India and West by the invasion of Alexander
Bharatvarsh (the Indian Subcontinent) is home to the oldest civilization in the world. Mehrgarh which dates to 7500 BC is the oldest city which predates the Indus Valley Civilisation. Recently there have been archaeological findings off the coast of Gujarat in India which confirm a submerged city which is the worlds oldest city. This Indian city dates back to 8000-9000BC.
In 1922, excavations began at Mohenjo-Daro (which means 'hill of the dead') in the Indus Valley, four hundred miles south-west of Harappa, which revealed a rich urban civilization that no one had suspected. Incredibly, Mohenjo-Daro proved to be as sophisticated as a later Greek or Roman city, built on mud-brick platforms to protect it from floods, with a grid-plan reminiscent of New York, and an impressive sewer system - not to mention sit-down toilets. The size of the city indicated that it held about 40,000 people. The large number of female statuettes found there suggested that a female deity - probably the moon goddess - was worshipped. Their seals proved they possessed some form of writing.
A scientifically planned towns and buildings were part of the landscape and about 300 settlements in a belt extending 1,520 km from North to South covering a million square kilometers have been discovered, of which Harappa, Mohenjo-Daro, Kalibangan, and Lothal are important sites. The towns were designed with citadels and defensive walls and the streets and lanes had drains. Individual bathrooms and lavatories were impressively drained into a larger system. Well-developed docks and store houses as well as bullock carts for transportation were very popular.
The earliest recorded Indian mathematics was found along the banks of the Indus. Archaeologists have uncovered several scales, instruments, and other measuring devices. The Harappans employed a variety of plumb bobs that reveal a system of weights 27.584 grams. If we assign that a value of 1, other weights scale in at .05, .1, .2, .5, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500. These weights have been found in sites that span a five-thousand-year period, with little change in size.
Archaeologists also found a “ruler” made of shell lines drawn 6.7 millimeters apart with a high degree of accuracy. Two of the lines are distinguished by circles and are separated by 33.5 millimeters, or 1.32 inches. This distance is the so-called Indus inch. 'In subsequent years, further excavations along the 1800 miles of the Indus river valley revealed more than 150 sites, half a dozen of the cities. The whole area, from the Arabian sea to the foothills of the Himalayas, was once the home of a great civilization that rivaled Egypt or Greece. To the east of the Indus lies a vast desert, the Thar Desert. When remains of towns were found in this desert there was some puzzlement about how they had survived in such arid conditions. Then satellite photography revealed the answer: the Thar Desert was once a fertile plain, traversed by a great river; there were even unmistakable signs of canals. Now only a small part of this river, the Ghaggar, exists. Scholars concluded that the river that had now vanished was the Sarasvati, mentioned in the Vedic hymns.
It seemed that in the heyday of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa, this whole plain was one of the richest places in the world. At a time when ancient Britons were Bronze Age farmers, and the Greeks were a few Mycenaean warrior tribes, one of the world's greatest civilizations flourished in the land of the Indus and the Sarasvati. It seems that some great catastrophe destroyed this civilization some time after 1900 BC. Evidence shows that the earth buckled, due to the pressure of the tectonic plate that has raised the Himalayas, and the result was a series of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions that literally caused the rivers to sink into the ground. The cost in human life must have been appalling.
'The Vedas are written in Sanskrit, a complex language that Sir William Jones - in 1786 - demonstrated to be related to Greek, Latin, German and Celtic (giving rise to the expression 'Indo-European languages'). And if the Vedas speak of the Sarasvati River, then it would seem clear that they were written before about 2000 BC, and not later than 1500 BC, as scholars originally believed. And if - as seems likely - Sanskrit was the language of the Aryans, then it was also clear that they could not have invaded as late as 1500 BC.
There are four major collections of Vedic hymns - the Rig-Veda, the Samaveda, the Yajurveda and the Atharvaveda, of which the Rigveda is recognized as the oldest and most important.
In the 1980's, a Vedic scholar, David Frawley, observed that the hymns of the Rigveda are full of an oceanic symbolism that seems to argue that they sprang from the maritime culture - which certainly contradicted the assumption that the Aryans came from somewhere in central Europe. He also noted hymns that spoke of the 'ancestors' as coming from across the sea, having been saved from the great flood.
Studying the astronomical references in the Vedic hymns, Frawley concluded that one reference to a summer solstice in Virgo indicated a date of about 4000 BC, while a reference to a summer solstice in Libra pointed to about 6000 BC. He also concluded that the authors of the Vedas were familiar with the precession of the equinoxes. These revolutionary ideas were set out in a book called Gods, Sages and Kings (1991).
The word sanskrita, meaning "refined" or "purified," is the antonym of prakrita, meaning "natural," or "vulgar." It is made up of the primordial sounds, and is developed systematically to include the natural progressions of sounds as created in the human mouth. Sanskrit was considered as "Dev Bhasha", "Devavani" or the language of the Gods by ancient Indians. There are 54 letters in the Sanskrit alphabet. Each has masculine and feminine, shiva and shakti. 54 times 2 is 108.
Mother of all Higher LanguagesThe Sanskrit language has helped shape many European languages including French, German, Russian, and English. It shows many ancient forms of words such as father, through, shampoo, trigonometry, and mouse, while guru, pundit, dharma, bandh, and yoga are among hundreds of Sanskrit words that can now be found in the Oxford dictionary.
Earliest and only known Modern LanguagePanini (c 400BC), in his Astadhyayi, gave formal production rules and definitions to describe Sanskrit grammar. Starting with about 1700 fundamental elements, like nouns, verbs, vowels and consonents, he put them into classes. The construction of sentences, compound nouns etc. was explained as ordered rules operating on underlying fundamental structures. This is exactly in congruence with the fundamental notion of using terminals, non-terminals and production rules of moderm day Computer Science. On the basis of just under 4,000 sutras (rules expressed as aphorisms), he built virtually the whole structure of the Sanskrit language. He used a notation precisely as powerful as the Backus normal form, an algebraic notation used in Computer Science to represent numerical and other patterns by letters.
It is my contention that because of the scientific nature of the method of pronunciation of the vowels and consonants in the Indian languages (specially those coming directly from Pali, Prakit and Sanskrit), every part of the mouth is exercised during speaking. This results into speakers of Indian languages being able to pronounce words from any language. This is unlike the case with say native English speakers, as their tongue becomes unused to being able to touch certain portions of the mouth during pronunciation, thus giving the speakers a hard time to speak certain words from a language not sharing a common ancestry with English. I am not aware of any theory in these lines, but I would like to know if there is one.
'Hindu Kush' means Hindu slaughter. The Indian name for Hindu Kush mountain range was 'Paariyaatra Parvat'. Until 1000 A.D. the area of Hindu Kush was a full part of Hindu cradle. The name 'Hindu Kush' was given by the muslim conquerors indicating the Hindu genocide that took place in this region.
The Mahabarata is the longest poetry ever written. Its 100,000 verses encompass all facets of Dharma or human way of life. It narrates the story about the great Mahabarata war between the noble Pandavas and their evil cousins the Kauravas.
The oral tradition of Vedic chanting has been declared an intangible heritage of humanity by UNESCO. In a meeting of jury members on November 7, 2003, at Paris, Mr. Koichiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO, declared the chanting of Vedas in India an outstanding example of heritage and form of cultural expressions. The proclamation says that in the age of globalization and modernization when cultural diversity is under pressure, the preservation of oral tradition of Vedic chanting, a unique cultural heritage, has great significance.
Bodhidharma, a Buddhist monk from India, introduced Kalari into China and Japan in the 5th century. He taught this art in a temple This temple is today known as the Shaolin temple. The Chinese called him Po-ti-tama. What he taught has evolved into Karate and Kung Fu. One can find a lot of similarities among the three.
Thus Judo, Karate, Kung Fu and other similar marshal arts which are today identified with the far-east actually originated from India. At times the changes made in the original nature of the Indian sport-forms were so many and so fundamental that the game lost all similarity with its original form in India. Some Indian games were not transmitted abroad and remained confined to India.
For instance we have Kabbadi, Kho-Kho, AtyaPatya, Malkhamb, Gulli-danda, etc., which are being played today exclusively in India. In this chapter we shall look into how the games like Chess and Ludo (Snakes and Ladders), the martial art of Karate, and Playing cards had existed in India for the past 2000 years and how in some cases the indigenous form of the game became totally extinct erasing the fact that the game had ever been played in India.
The teacher here is not looked upon only as a coach as in western martial arts like boxing and fencing. This relationship between a teacher and student in Judo and Karate could have its roots in the Guru-Shishya tradition of India.
According to Abul Fazal's (author of the Ain-e-Akbari) description of the game, the following cards were used. The first was Ashvapati which means 'lord of horses'. The Ashvapati which was the highest card in, the pack represented the picture of the king on horseback. The second highest card represented a General (Senapati) on horseback. After this card come ten other with pictures of horses from one to ten.
Another set of cards had the Gajapati (lord of elephants) which represented the king whose power lay in the number of elephants. The other eleven cards in this pack represented the Senapati and ten others with a soldier astride an elephant. Another pack has the Narpati, a king whose power lies in his infantry. We also had other cards known as the Dhanpati, the lord of treasures, Dalpati the lord of the squadron, Navapati, the lord of the navy, Surapati, the lord of divinities, Asrapati, lord of genii, Vanapati, the king of the forest and Ahipati, lord of snakes, etc.
On the authority of Abul Fazal we can say that the game of playing cards had been invented by sages in ancient times who took the number 12 as the basis and made a set of 12 cards. Every king had 11 followers, thus a pack had 144 cards. The Mughals retained 12 sets having 96 cards. These Mughal Ganjifa sets have representations of diverse trades like Nakkash painter, Mujallid book binder, Rangrez, dyer, etc., In addition there were also the Padishah-i-Qimash, king of the manufacturers and Padishah-izar-i-Safid, king of silver, etc.
Cards were known as Krida-patram in ancient India. These cards were made of cloth and depicted motifs from the Ramayana, Mahabharata, etc. A tradition carried on today with floral motifs and natural scenery.
The pre-Mughal origin of the game of cards is evident if we examine the pattern of painting the cards. We also find that despite the observation of Abul Fazal that Akbar introduced the pack with 8 sets, we find that even earlier, in Indian (Hindu) courts we have packs with 8, 9 and 10 sets apart from the usual 12. The numbers were derived from the eight cardinal directions Ashtadikpala, for the pack with 8 set, from the nine planets Navagraha for the one with 9 sets and from ten incarnations Dashavatara of Vishnu for the pack with 10 sets.
Themes from the Ramayana and Mahabharata are painted on these cards. The largest number of such cards are to be found in Orrisa. The largest number of such cards are to be found in Orissa. The painters from Orissa have represented various illustrations like the Navagunjara, a mythical birdhuman animal which was the form assumed by Sri Krishna to test Arjuna's fidelity, illustrations from the Dashavatata of Vishnu are also portrayed.
All these cards were hand-made and were painted in the traditional style. This required considerable patience and hard meticulous work. The kings usually commissioned painters to make cards as per their preference. The commoners got their cards made by local artists who were to be ; found in urban and rural areas. In order to -obtain the required thickness a number of sheets of pieces of cloth were glued together. The outlines of the rim were painted in black and then the figures were filled with colors.
As cards were played by members all strata of society we find different types of cards. Some cards were also made of ivory, tortoise shell, mother of pearl, inlaid or enameled with precious metals. The cards were of different shapes; they were circular, oval rectangular, but the circular cards were more common. The cards were usually kept in a wooden box with a lid painted with mythological figures. This art of handmade, hand painted cards which had survived for hundreds of years. gradually feel into decay and became extinct with the introduction of printed paper cards by the Europeans in the 17-18th centuries. With the extinction of the art of making and painting cards also was erased the memory that Indians ever had played the game of cards with their own specific representations of the Narapati, Gajapati and Ashvapati.
The game was created by the 13th century poet saint Gyandev. The ladders in the game represented virtues and the snakes indicated vices. The game was played with cowrie shells and dices. Later through time, the game underwent several modifications but the meaning is the same i.e good deeds take us to heaven and evil to a cycle of re-births. There are certain references which take the game back to 2nd century BC.
Also known as ‘paramapadam’, there are a hundred squares on a board; the ladders take you up, the snakes bring you down. The difference here is that the squares are illustrated. The top of the ladder depicts a God, or one of the various heavens (kailasa, vaikuntha, brahmaloka) and so on, while the bottom describes a good quality. Conversely, each snake’s head is a negative quality or an asura (demon). As the game progresses, the various karma and samskara, good deeds and bad, take you up and down the board. Interspersed are plants, people and animals.
The game serves a dual purpose: entertainment, as well as dos and don’ts, divine reward and punishment, ethical values and morality. The final goal leads to Vaikuntha or heaven, depicted by Vishnu surrounded by his devotees, or Kailasa with Shiva, Parvati, Ganesha and Skanda, and their devotees. In this age of moral and ethical degeneration, this would be a good way of teaching values to children who think they already know more than their parents.
If paramapadam teaches moral values, pallankuli develops skill and quick thinking. Two players compete on a board consisting of between seven and twenty pits per player; each player has to collect the coins or shells or seeds with which the game is played, the player with the maximum number being the winner. There are nine variations of this game, each a ‘pandi’, with regional, caste and religious variations. It was very popular among women and required a good memory and alertness, as they had to count and remember the number of coins or seeds accumulated by the opponent.
The British took the game to England in 1892 and named it Snakes and Ladders and changed it according to Victorian values.
The dice is attributed to India by some accounts. Some of the earliest archaeological evidence of oblong dice have been found in Harrapan sites such as Kalibangan, Lothal, Ropar, Alamgirpur, Desalpur and surrounding territories, some dating back to the third millennium BCE, which were used for gambling. The oblong or cubical dice (akṣa) is the precursor of the more primitive vibhīṣaka—small, hard nuts drawn randomly to obtain factors of a certain integer. Dicing is believed to have later spread westwards to Persia, influencing Persian board games. Early references to dicing can be found in the Ṛig Veda as well as the newer atharvaveda.
A die found in excavations at a Harappan period site. Note that the six is not opposite the one.
The Game of Chess
The game of chess was invented in India and was originally called Ashtapada (sixty-four squares).
"Ashtapada" Sanskrit for spider -"a legendary being with eight legs" was played with dice on an 8x8 checkered board. There were no light and dark squares like we see in today's chess board for 1,000 years. Other Indian boards included the 10×10 Dasapada and the 9×9 Saturankam.
Later this game came to be known as chaturanga. The Sanskrit name Chaturanga means 'quadripartite' — the four angas (divided into four parts). The earliest known form of chess is two-handed chaturanga, Sanskrit for "the 4 branches of the army." Like real Indian armies at that time, the pieces were called elephants, chariots, horses and foot soldiers. Unlike modern chess, chaturanga was mainly a game of chance; results depended on how well you rolled the dice.
Chaturanga is well recognized as the earliest form of chess. Played on an authentic cloth game surface by 2, 3 or 4 players, Chaturanga combines the basic strategy of chess with the dynamic challenge of chance as each move is determined by the random roll of wooden dice. There is evidence of ‘chaturanga’ having been played with dice, which is still not uncommon, although it involved more skill than chance in this version. In fact, Yudhishthira and Duryodhana, in the Mahabharata, played a version of chaturanga using a dice. The game Chaturanga was a battle simulation game which rendered Indian military strategy of the time.
In 600 AD this game was learned by Persians who named it Shatranj. Shatranj is a foreign word among the Persians and the Arabians, whereas its natural derivation from the term Chaturanga is obvious. Again affix the Arabic name for the bishop, means the elephant, derived from alephhind, the Indian elephant.
Even the word 'checkmate' is derived from the Persian term Shah Mat which means 'the king is dead!'. The Sanskrit translation of this term would be Kshatra Mruta. Another term viz. 'the rooks' which is the name for one set of the counters used in chess, originated from the Persian term Roth which means a soldier. The Persian term is derived from the Indian term Rukh, which obviously seems to have originated in the Sanskrit word Rakshak which means a soldier from Raksha which means 'to protect'.
About the introduction of this game into Persia, the Encylopedia Britannica says that the Persian poet Firdousi, in his historical poem, the Shahnama, gives an account of the introduction of Shatranj into Persia in the reign of Chosroes I Anushirwan, to whom came ambassadors from the sovereign of Hind (India), with a chess-board and men asking him to solve the secrets of the game, if he could or pay tribute. The king asked for seven days grace, during which time the wise men vainly tried to discover the secret. Finally, the king's minister took the pieces home and discovered the secret in a day and a night.
The Encyclopedia Britannica concludes that "Other Persian and Arabian writers state that Shatranj came into Persia from India and there appears to be a consensus of opinion that may be considered to settle the question. Thus we have the game passing from the Hindus to the Persians and then to the Arabians, after the capture V of Persia by the Caliphs in the 7th century, and from them, directly or indirectly, to various parts of Europe, at a time which cannot be definitely fixed, but either in or before the 10th century. That the source of the European game is Arabic is clear enough, nor merely from the words "check" and "mate", which are evidently from Shah mat ("the king is dead"), but also from the names of some of the pieces.
Local VariationsTamil variations of chaturanga are ‘puliattam’ (goat and tiger game), where careful moves on a triangle decide whether the tiger captures the goats or the goats escape; the ‘nakshatraattam’ or star game where each player cuts out the other; and ‘dayakattam’ with four, eight or ten squares, a kind of ludo. Variations of the ‘dayakattam’ include ‘dayakaram’, the North Indian ‘pachisi’ and ‘champar’. There are many more local variations.
Krishna and Radha playing chaturanga on an 8x8 Ashtāpada.
The origin and diffusion of chess from India to Asia, Africa, and Europe, and the changes in the native names of the game in corresponding places and time.
The Christian Chronology
(The Gregorian calendar has achieved the status of an international calendar not due to its superior scientific basis but due to military success of its followers)
From the days of British colonial rule we ( Indians) have developed a habit of following the Christian, or rather the Gregorian calendar. The main difficulty of this chronology is that, it originated only nearly 2000 years ago and hence incapable of accommodating events of long past as stated above. The geological time-frame invented by the scientists can take care of events which happened not earlier than 4 billion years ago. Most importantly, the origin and the process of counting months and years in Gregorian calendar are in no way linked to astronomical events. That is the reason why it was a matter of dispute whether the month February in 2000 A.D. would contain 29 days or 30 days.
Some texts try to establish a link between the birth of Jesus and the beginning of this Christian or Gregorian calendar and say that a bright star then appeared in the sky. According to the famous German astronomer Johannes Kepler, it was a conjunction of the planets Jupiter and Saturn in the zodiacal sign Pisces and the incident look place in 7 B.C. Most of the historians and researchers on Jesus believe that he was born somewhere in between 6 B.C. and 4 B.C. Moreover, the people who are connected with the origin of this calendar, possess entirely childish and amusing ideas about the creation of this universe and its antiquity. The Irish prelate James Ussher in 17th century openly declared, without giving any thought to the possible repercussions of his statement that this universe originated on February 26, 4004 B.C. at 9 a.m. Even today most of them believe that God created this earth and heaven within six days from nothingness and finished His task on that day.
In fact, the present Christian chronology originated in 753 B.C., the year of foundation of the city of Rome. In its original form, 304 days divided into 10 months made a year and its present form bears the testimony of this fact. At that time the parting 4 months, namely September, October. November and December were the 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th months of the year and their names were coined from septem, octo, novem and decem, the Latin words for 7.8.9 and 10. This shows the colossal lack of knowledge the Romans of that time had about the solar cycle and one can easily imagine the frightening disharmony it had with the solar cycle. Here one should also notice the striking similarity between the Latin words for 7, 8, 9 and 10 as mentioned above and the Sanskrit words saptam, astam, navam and dasam. This shows that the Romans learned the art of counting from India. However, in 46 B.C. emperor Julius Caesar introduced, quite arbitrarily, the month July after his name and then emperor Augustus Caesar introduced the month August after his name and made 12 months or 355 days a year. Then onwards it was called the Julian calendar.
In 1582, Pope Gregori XIII, in his endeavour to make it in harmony with the solar cycle, introduced some vital revisions. He introduced the practice of counting a year normally of 365 days and, a leap year of 366 days every fourth year. Furthermore, he made the rule that, a centesimal year will be treated as a leap year only when it is divisible by 400. Despite all such efforts it was seen that, a discrepancy of 11 days had crept in the year 1700 A.D. A compromise was made in that year by skipping those 11 days and in fact, 4th September was counted as 15th September in that year. In the Eastern Europe the said correction was done in 1917, when the discrepancy reached 13 days. According to the old calendar the Bolshevik revolution in Russia took place in October, but in November after correction. That is the reason why the Communists some times call it the Great October Revolution and some times the Great November Revolution. It is important to note here that, there is no scope of occurrence of such a discrepancy in Hindu calendar because months and years are counted here according to actual position of the sun in the sky. However, in 1752, only 5 years before the battle of Palāśī, this Gregorian calendar was adopted as the royal calendar of Britain and with the gradual expansion of the British Empire, it ultimately acquired the present status of an international calendar. So, one should notice that the Gregorian calendar has achieved the status of an international calendar not due to its superior scientific basis but due to military success of its followers.
Om Tat Sat
(My humble salutations to the lotus feet of Veda wicki dot and Philosophers, Historians for the collection)