Page 17 - April 2021
P. 17

        The Man We All Need To Know
That the 5th century mathematician-astronomer Aryabhata was a genius is widely known, but who really was he? Here is a construct
n Science India Bureau
India’s first indigenously built sat- ellite, the Aryabhata, that was launched on April 19, 1975 was named after the famous 5th century Indian astronomer and mathematician Aryabhata.
The satellite’s name was so chosen because Aryabhata, whose timeline spanned 476-550 CE, was the first of the major mathematician-astronomers of the classical age of Indian mathemat- ics and astronomy. Among many of his achievements — both real and attrib- uted to him as his legend grew over the centuries — the most stunning is his exact calculation of the earth’s circum- ference (with less than 1% error) a thou- sand years before the Western world calculated it right.
WHERE DID HE LIVE?
Aryabhata’s timeline makes him the resident of the Gupta Empire, which is widely considered the Golden Age of Indian History, when arts and sciences flourished.
We know about his timeline because in one of his famous books, the Ary- abhatiya, he mentions that he was 23 years old in the 3,600th year of Kali Yuga, which corresponds to 499 CE,
The statue of Aryabhata at the campus of Inter- University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA). Pune
implying that he was born in 476 CE. He also hints that he was a resident of Kusumpura (which was the name of Pataliputra, or present day Patna), through the phrase: Kusumapura ab- hyaarcitam gnaanam, which loosely translated means knowledge respected in Kusumpura.
Though less accepted, there has been another hypothesis on the place of his origin. Some scholars believe he hailed from present-day Kodungallur in Kerala because of the reference to a city of stone being Aryabhata’s place of birth in Aryabhatiyabhasya, the com-
mentary on Aryabhatiya by 7th century mathematician and astronomer Bhaska- ra I. The ancient name of Kodungallur meant ‘a city of hard stones’.
At any rate, Aryabhata definitely lived in Kusumpura for advanced stud- ies at the Nalanda University. This is known from some contemporary Hindu and Buddhist texts. Besides, Bhaskara I’s commentary on Aryabhatiya men- tions that the legendary mathematician- astronomer had an astronomical obser- vatory and was the head of a university in Kusumpura, in clear reference to the Nalanda University of Pataliputra that
  APRIL 2021 SCIENCE INDIA 17
        Image Courtesy: Wikipedia




















































































   15   16   17   18   19