Top 9 Scientists Of Ancient India (Many Are Still Unknown)

In ancient times, Indian science and technologies were very advanced and ahead of other parts of the world by at least thousands of years. But it is not that the advancements in the fields of science and technology just came into existence without being invented by someone. So, being one of the oldest civilizations in the world, this ancient land had given birth to many great scholars and scientists in the old times.

Whose contribution not only made India incomparable in the ancient era but still holds a significant impression in our modern world as well. Even Einstein, who once believed Indians were an inferior race, acknowledged – “We owe a lot to the ancient Indians, teaching us how to count. Without which most modern scientific discoveries would have been impossible.”

Ancient Scientists Of India & Their Inventions

Baudhayana

Baudhayana is one of the greatest ancient mathematicians of India who made countless contributions in the field of critical mathematics, but according to many historians, he can’t be called a proper mathematician as his interest in mathematical equations germinated from his involvement in religious activities rather than a keenness for mathematics as a subject itself.

He was believed to have lived between 800 to 740 B.C. He is well known for his creation of the Pythagoras theorem, which he invented almost 1000 years before Pythagoras himself. That’s the beauty of our modern-day morality. We never give proper credit to anyone coming from Indian origin for their contribution. Anyway, Baudhayana shared all of this invaluable knowledge in his book of Sulba Sutras.

The mathematical formulas given in the Sulbasutras are there to construct accurately sized altars needed for the Vedic rituals and sacrifices. He is credited with other significant contributions towards the advancement of mathematics. Such as, in his book he wrote formulas to construct a circle almost equal in area to a square and vice versa. And he is also considered among one of the first to discover the value of ‘pi’.

Aryabhatta

Aryabhatta was the first major mathematician and astronomer in ancient India. At age of 23, he gained vast knowledge in the field of mathematics and wrote a book called Aryabhatiya, summarizing complicated mathematics of his time. He was said to be born in 475 A.D, although his exact birthplace is still unknown. If we take reference from his books, then it’s believed that he lived in Kusumpura or modern-day Patna. 

His major contribution in the field of mathematics can be found by his invention of the number zero. He showed that zero can be either a numeric value, symbol or concept. It’s been recognized as a masterstroke in the field of mathematics. We also find many trigonometric functions in his book, which are still relevant today in modern-day science and many applications.

He has other major contributions in the field of astronomy as well. According to his heliocentric theory, all planets in our solar system revolve around the sun, not the other way around. He also discovered that earth takes almost 365 days, 6 hours, 12 minutes, and 30 seconds for one single rotation around the sun. It deviates from the modern-day value by only 3 minutes and 20 seconds.

Maharishi Kanad

Aulukya (widely known as Maharishi Kanad) was a neuroscientist and philosopher in ancient India. The exact date of his birth is still unknown, he’s believed to have lived between 6th century to 2nd century BCE. Maharishi Kanad is the one among ancient Indian scientists, who proposed the theory of atoms and explained how every matter is made of invisible units that can not be further divided into smaller particles. 

While other sages of that time had discovered the atomic concept way before him, they realized it in a spiritual context, which made it hard to educate normal people about this knowledge. Therefore, Kanad was the first who properly gave detailed theory on how atoms combine to form compound matters and explained the atomic theory of matter in his book called Vaisesika Sutra. The book is also widely known as Kanada Sutra. 

Brahmagupta

Brahmagupta was one of the great Indian mathematicians and astronomers in the 7th century. He is well known for his contribution to the field of Mathematics, especially for providing concrete ideas on positive numbers, negative numbers, and zero. According to his own statement found in several of his works, he was born in the 598 century in Gurjaradesa or modern-day Rajasthan.

However, later he moved to Ujjain and lived there for the rest of his life. Ujjain was then the center of ancient Indian mathematical astronomy. At age of 30, in the year 628, he composed Brahmas-phuta-siddhanta. In his book, he gave a detailed explanation for a good understanding of zero and the rules for manipulating with positive and negative numbers. 

Although, the book was written completely in Sanskrit verse, which was a common thing of that time and it does not contain any kind of formal mathematical notations. In his lifetime he wrote a total of three books, contributing many advances in the field of mathematics and astronomy.

Maharishi Patanjali

Maharishi Patanjali was a great sage of ancient India. We don’t know much about him, except only the legends. Also, there is not much evidence of his exact birth date. However, some scholars believe him to have lived in the 4th to 7th centuries BCE. Patanjali is known to be the embodiment of Anantha, the holy serpent. He’s also known as the father of yoga, as he wrote 195 sutras for practicing different types of yogas.

Before him, the yoga tradition had been passed down to generations in an oral form. Therefore, he’s believed to be the first who organized knowledge about yoga and its spiritual practices in his yoga sutras. He was also the last known grammarian of the classical Sanskrit in ancient India, with Panini and Katyayana preceding him.

Sushruta

Sushruta was one of the greatest physicians and medical surgeons of ancient India. The golden age of surgery in ancient India largely rests on the his invention of medical and surgical procedures. His achievements in the field of medical sciences gave Sushruta the epithet of the “Father of Indian Surgery” and “Father of Plastic Surgery”.

He also wrote a book called “Sushruta Samhita”. The book consists of 184 chapters, describing 1,120 illnesses and their medical procedures in detail. It also talked about 700 plants and other animal sources for the preparation of medicine. According to experts, the book was written in 600 BCE.

Bhaskaracharya

Bhaskaracharya is one of the greatest mathematicians and astronomers of 12th century ancient India. His achievements in mathematics are undeniable as he simplified many math equations, which took several centuries for Europe to solve. He discovered the principle of different calculus and their applications to computation and other astronomical problems.

In simple words, his discoveries on calculus predated Newton and Leibniz by over half a millennium. Which expanded mathematics to a whole new level. You can find more about his mathematical discoveries on Wikipedia. Despite being a well-known fact, you can not find the western world giving proper credit to his contributions, just because of his Indian origin.

Nagarjuna

Nagarjuna was a 10th century Buddhist scientist, who was born in the present day Gujarat. He was a true wizard in the history of Indian alchemy and metallurgy. According to a few Tibatian sources he was found working on some experiment of extracting gold from the base elements.

Even though he did not succeed in the experiment, he somehow successfully made an element that shines like real gold. His discovery was so influential that even till today the technology is used in making imitation jewelry. Apart from making gold-like elements, in his treatise called Rasaratnakara, he discussed methods for the extraction of metals like iron, silver, tin and copper.

Mahavir Acharya

Mahavir Acharya was one of the greatest Jain mathematicians of ancient India in the 9th-century, who made significant contributions to the development of algebra. He was born in the present day city Mysore, in southern India. Mahavir Acharya is widely known for his book, called Gaṇitasārasan̄graha (Ganita-Sara-Sangraha). It contains more than 1,130 verified mathematical rules and equations, divided into nine chapters.

He mainly worked on the same subjects on which Aryabhata and Brahmagupta contended, but his explanation was more clear and concise. He also described the method of solving the Least Common Multiple (LCM) of given numbers. In other words, ancient Indians knew about it way before John Napier introduced the method of solving LCM to the world.