Ancient Indian Mathematics

The Jains recognized five kinds of infinities. They had various rules regarding combinations and permutations. They concieved of large amounts of time. The founder of Jainism is said to have been a mathematician (the first time I am hearing this). Another prominent person is Bhadrabahu.
“Ancient Jaina Mathematics: an Introduction”:
bq. As mentioned before, the Jainas recognized five different kinds of infinity: infinity in one direction; infinity in two directions; infinity in area; infinity everywhere; and infinity perpetually. This is quite a revolutionary concept, as the Jainas were the first to discard the idea that all infinities were same or equal, an idea prevalent in Europe till the late 19th Century.

5 thoughts on “Ancient Indian Mathematics

  1. Good info, JK
    Ashwini, I think if the government now tried to add this to the curriculum, they are going to be accused of “saffronizing” the text books by focusing on the greatness of India’s past 😉

  2. I don’t think this was supressed intentionally. There has been very little research into Jain mathematics. If you are mathematically inclined, then you should read the book ‘Joseph, George Gheverghese. 1994. The Crest of the Peacock: Non-European Roots of Mathematics: Penguin Books’. This has some great information on Indian mathematicians, about whom we know little. I bought this book two years back, but then it was too much mathematics. I read the prose and gifted it to a mathematician friend.
    If you look at Discovery channel, there is a program on Egypt everyday. That civilization has been studied so much that we even know what brand toothpaste Tutakhamen used. There has not been that kind of effort in studying the Indian civlization.
    The Communist effort has been to dismiss any study of the past as ‘safronization’. Atleast in the blogosphere, we can dig up the facts and present and preseve them for reference.
    Speaking of Indian history, we all know about Chanakya and Chandra Gupta Maurya. Do we know what happened to Chanakya after he placed Maurya on the Magadha throne. Most stories end there. Chanakya was burned to death by a jealous minister of Bindusara (Chandragupta’s son). There are so many such things which I learned recently.

  3. If you are interested in indian history/archeology, you should join
    This is a very low volume mailing list, mainly postings of articles which appeared elsewhere, like Sulekha Newshopper.
    The article which I posted appeared at the infinity foundation, run by Rajiv Malhotra. There is lot of information on his site
    Besides this, it is worth reading the book Gem in the Lotus, India by John Keay, any book by D.D. Kosambi…
    Currently I am fascinated by the period till the end of the Mauryan empire and so I am reading books related to that.

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