How disheartening it is to know that many of the advanced knowledge in science and mathematics and astronomy and medicine that we know today are said to be the discoveries of Europeans while the truth is that long before the west even came out of Stone Age, ancient Indian sages and scholars had not only discovered them but also put them to regular use!
The dirty game of British Imperialism not only robbed India’s wealth and culture but also belittled the highly advanced knowledge in science and philosophy. Those robbers, in an attempt to show racial supremacy even created the hoax of Aryan Race that never actually existed. It is even sadder that we Indians run for their culture while ignoring our own. It is high time that we start recognizing and respecting our own culture and it is high time that west starts giving credit for things that rightfully belongs to us.
Today we will focus of Pythagoras Theorem. Well, just like the Atomic Theory is credited to John Dalton, Pythagoras Theorem is credited to Pythagoras. The truth however is that ancient Indian sage Kanada came up with Atomic Theory over 2,600 years before John Dalton and ancient Indian mathematician and possibly a sage and an architect name Baudhayana actually gave the Pythagoras Theorem over 200 years before Pythagoras was even born.
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Who was Baudhayana?
Not much is known about Baudhayana. However, historians attach the date c. 800 BCE (or BC). Not even the exact date of death of this great mathematician is recorded. Some believe that he was not just a mathematician but in fact, he was also a priest and an architect of very high standards.
What makes Baudhayana Important?
The case of Baudhayana is one of the many examples where Greeks and other western civilizations took credit of the discoveries originally made by ancient Indians. Baudhayana in particular is the person who contributed three important things towards the advancements of mathematics:
- He gave us the theorem that became known as Pythagorean Theorem. Actually we should be calling it Baudhayana Theorem.
- He gave us the method of circling a square.
- He also gave us the method of finding the square root of 2.
Let us take a look at each of his contributions separately.
Pythagorean (Baudhayana) Theorem
Baudhayana wrote what is known as Baudhayana Sulbasutra. It is one of the earliest Sulba Sutras written. Now Sulba Sutras are nothing but appendices to famous Vedas and primarily dealt with rules of altar construction. In Baudhayana Sulbasutra, there are several mathematical formulae or results that told how to precisely construct an altar. In essence, Baudhayana Sulbasutra was more like a pocket dictionary, full of formulae and results for quick references. Baudhayana essentially belonged to Yajurveda school and hence, most of his work on mathematics was primarily for ensuring that all sacrificial rituals were performed accurately.
One of the most important contributions by Baudhayana was the theorem that has been credited to Greek mathematician Pythagoras. There is an irony to this as well that we will discuss in a while.
What later became known as Pythagorean Theorem has been mentioned as a verse or a shloka in Baudhayana Sulbasutra. Here is the exact shloka followed by English interpretation:
दीर्घचतुरश्रस्याक्ष्णया रज्जु: पार्श्र्वमानी तिर्यग् मानी च यत् पृथग् भूते कुरूतस्तदुभयं करोति ॥
dīrghachatursrasyākṣaṇayā rajjuḥ pārśvamānī, tiryagmānī, cha yat pṛthagbhūte kurutastadubhayāṅ karoti.
When translated to English, it becomes:
If a rope is stretched along the diagonal’s length, the resulting area will be equal to the sum total of the area of horizontal and vertical sides taken together.