Indian science and technology were thousands of years ahead of the rest of the world during the ancient period. However, advances in science and technology did not occur by themselves. This ancient land gave birth to many great scholars and scientists throughout history as one of the world’s oldest civilizations.
The contributions of these ancient scientists not only made India unrivaled in the ancient era, but they also had a lasting impact on our modern world. Even Einstein, who once thought Indians were an inferior race, admitted:
“We owe a lot to the ancient Indians for teaching us how to count. Without which, most modern scientific discoveries would have been impossible.”
Baudhayana was one of the greatest mathematicians of ancient India. He made countless contributions in the field of critical mathematics. Many historians believe that Baudhayana cannot be considered a proper mathematician.
Because his interest in mathematical equations stemmed from his involvement in religious activities rather than a love of mathematics as a subject in and of itself.
He was believed to have lived between 800 and 740 B.C. He is well known for his creation of the Pythagorean 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 provided in the Sulbasutras are used to build the accurately sized altars required for Vedic rituals and sacrifices.
He is also credited with making significant contributions to the advancement of mathematics. In his book, for example, he included formulas for constructing a circle with nearly the same area as a square and vice versa. He is also credited with being one of the first to discover the value of pi.
Aryabhatta was the first major mathematician and astronomer in ancient India. At the age of 23, he gained vast knowledge in the field of mathematics and wrote a book called Aryabhatiya, summarizing the complicated mathematics of his time.
He was said to have been born in 475 A.D. but 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 in his invention of the number zero. He showed that zero can be either a numeric value, a symbol, or a concept. It’s been recognised 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 have many applications. He has made 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 one rotation of the earth around the sun takes nearly 365 days, with 6 hours, 12 minutes, and 30 seconds. It deviates from the modern-day value by only 3 minutes and 20 seconds.
Aulukya (widely known as Maharishi Kanad) was a neuroscientist and philosopher in ancient India. The exact date of his birth is unknown, but he’s believed to have lived somewhere between the 6th century and the 2nd century BCE.
Maharishi Kanad was an ancient Indian scientist who proposed the theory of atoms and explained how all matter is composed of invisible units that cannot be further subdivided 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.
As a result, Kanad was the first to provide a detailed theory on how atoms combine to form compound matter, as well as to explain the atomic theory of matter in his book Vaisesika Sutra. The book is also widely known as the Kanada Sutra.
Brahmagupta was one of the great Indian mathematicians and astronomers in the 7th century. He is well known for his contributions to the field of mathematics, especially for providing concrete ideas about 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 in life, he moved to Ujjain and lived there for the rest of his life.
Ujjain was then the center of ancient Indian mathematical astronomy. At the age of 30, in the year 628, he composed Brahmas-Phuta-Siddhanta. In his book, he gave a detailed explanation of how to get a good understanding of zero and the rules for manipulating positive and negative numbers.
Despite being written entirely in Sanskrit verse, as was common at the time, the book contains no formal mathematical notations. He wrote three books during his lifetime, making significant contributions to mathematics and astronomy.
Maharishi Patanjali was a great sage of ancient India. We don’t know much about him, except for the legends. Also, there is not much evidence of his exact birth date. However, some scholars believe him to have lived in the 4th–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 yoga. Before him, the yoga tradition had been passed down to generations in an oral form. Therefore, he’s believed to be the first to organize knowledge about yoga and its spiritual practices into his yoga sutras.
He was also the last known grammarian of classical Sanskrit in ancient India, with Panini and Katyayana preceding him.
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 invention of medical and surgical procedures by Charaka. 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 was one of the greatest mathematicians and astronomers of the 12th century in 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 principles of different calculi and their applications to computation and other astronomical problems. In simple words, his discoveries in 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 will not find the western world giving proper credit to his contributions just because of his Indian origin.
Nagarjuna was a 10th century Buddhist scientist who was born in present-day Gujarat. He was a true wizard in the history of Indian alchemy and metallurgy. According to a few Tibetan sources, he was found working on some experiment involving 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 today, the technology is used in making imitation jewelry.
Apart from making gold-like elements, in his treatise called Rasaratnakara, he also discussed methods for the extraction of metals like iron, silver, tin, and copper.
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 of Mysore, in southern India. Mahavir Acharya is widely known for his book, called Guitarra Sangraha (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.