Mathematics and Philosophy  By Govind Kumar  


In India, mathematics is related to Philosophy. We can find mathematical 
concepts like Zero ( Shoonyavada ), One ( Advaitavada ) and Infinity 
(Poornavada ) in Philosophia Indica. 

The Sine Tables of Aryabhata and Madhava, which gives correct sine values or values of 
24 R Sines, at intervals of 3 degrees 45 minutes and the trignometric tables of 
Brahmagupta, which gives correct sine and tan values for every 5 degrees influenced 
Christopher Clavius, who headed the Gregorian Calender Reforms of 1582. These 
correct trignometric tables solved the problem of the three Ls, ( Longitude, Latitude and 
Loxodromes ) for the Europeans, who were looking for solutions to their navigational 
problem ! It is said that Matteo Ricci was sent to India for this purpose and the 
Europeans triumphed with Indian knowledge ! 

The Western mathematicians have indeed lauded Indian Maths & Astronomy. Here are 
some quotations from maths geniuses about the long forgotten Indian Maths ! 

In his famous dissertation titled "Remarks on the astronomy of Indians" in 1790, 
the famous Scottish mathematician, John Playfair said 

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"The Constructions and these tables imply a great knowledge of 
geometry,arithmetic and even of the theoretical part of astronomy.But what, 
without doubt is to be accounted,the greatest refinement in this system, is 
the hypothesis employed in calculating the equation of the centre for the 
Sun,Moon and the planets that of a circular orbit having a double 
eccentricity or having its centre in the middle between the earth and the 
point about which the angular motion is uniform.If to this we add the great 
extent of the geometrical knowledge required to combine this and the other 
principles of their astronomy together and to deduce from them the just 
conclusion;the possession of a calculus equivalent to trigonometry and 
lastly their approximation to the quadrature of the circle, we shall be 
astonished at the magnitude of that body of science which must have 
enlightened the inhabitants of India in some remote age and which whatever 
it may have communicated to the Western nations appears to have received 
another from them...." 

Albert Einstein commented "We owe a lot to the Indians, who taught us how to count, 
without which no worthwhile scientific discovery could have been made." 

The great Laplace, who wrote the glorious Mechanique Celeste, remarked 

"The ingenious method of expressing every possible number 
using a set of ten symbols (each symbol having a place value and an absolute 
value) emerged in India. The idea seems so simple nowadays that its 
significance and profound importance is no longer appreciated. Its 
simplicity lies in the way it facilitated calculation and placed arithmetic 
foremost amongst useful inventions. The importance of this invention is more 
readily appreciated when one considers that it was beyond the two greatest 
men of antiquity, Archimedes and Apollonius."