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Showing posts from May, 2007

Astronomy in Ancient India

Early cultures identified celestial objects with gods and spirits. They related these objects and their movements to predict things like rain, drought, seasons, and tides. The movements of Sun and Moon are used in calendars to measure the day, month and year. It is important to agricultural societies as they need to know the time to plant and harvest. Ancient societies also believed that the position of some celestial bodies have an impact on the human beings. The astronomy and the astrology of India are based upon the stars and the time it takes to make one full orbit around the Sun, relative to the stars. The earliest references to astronomy are found in the Vedas which are dated around 3000 B.C. to 1000 B.C. By 500 AD, ancient Indian astronomy has emerged as an important part of Indian studies and its affect is also seen in several treatises of that period. In some instances, astronomical principles were borrowed to explain matters, pertaining to astrology, like casting of a ho

Physics in Ancient India

Indians in the Vedic era classified the material world into five basic elements: earth, fire, air, water and ether/space. From the 6th century BC, they formulated systematic atomic theories, beginning with Kanada and Pakudha Katyayana. Indian atomists believed that an atom could be one of up to 9 elements, with each element having up to 24 properties. They developed detailed theories of how atoms could combine, react, vibrate, move and perform other actions, as well as elaborate theories of how atoms can form binary molecules that combine further to form larger molecules, and how particles first combine in pairs, and then group into trios of pairs, which are the smallest visible units of matter. This parallels with the structure of modern atomic theory, in which pairs or triplets of supposedly fundamental quarks combine to create most typical forms of matter. In the late Vedic era(9th–6th century BC), the astronomer Yajnavalkya, in his Shatapatha Brahmana , referred to an early conc

Medicines of Ancient India

Ayurveda as a science of medicine owes its origins in ancient India . The literal meaning of the Sanskrit word Ayurveda is the science of life or longevity. Ayurveda constitutes ideas about ailments and diseases, their symptoms, diagnosis and cure, and relies heavily on herbal medicines, including extracts of several plants of medicinal values. Ayurveda was formally organized into eight sections or branches called Astanga (eight-armed) Ayurveda. They are Kayachikitsa Tantra(Internal Medicine), Shalya Tantra(Surgery) - Shalakya Tantra( Ears, eyes, nose and throat), Kaumarabhritya Tantra ( Pediatrics ), Agada Tantra( Toxicology), Bajikarana Tantra( Purification of the genetic organs), Rasayana Tantra( Health and Longevity), and Bhuta Vidya( Spiritual Healing). Ancient scholars of India like Atreya, and Agnivesa have dealt with principles of Ayurveda as long back as 800 BC. Their works and other developments were consolidated by Charaka who compiled a compendium of Ayurvedic prin

Mathematics in Ancient India

The first appearance of evidence of the use of mathematics in the Indian subcontinent was in the Indus Valley Civilization, which dates back to around 3300 BC. Excavations at Harappa , Mohenjo-daro and the surrounding area of the Indus River , have uncovered much evidence of the use of basic mathematics. The mathematics used by this early Harappan civilization was very much for practical means, and was primarily concerned with weights and measuring scales. By 1800 BC, Indian mathematicians were discussing the idea of infinity, pointing out that "if you remove a part from infinity or add a part to infinity, what remains is still infinity." By about 400 BC, Indian mathematicians were doing more work on the idea of infinity. The Surya Prajinapti defines five kinds of infinity: an infinite line beginning from an endpoint, an infinite line going directions, an infinite plane, an infinite universe, and the infinity of time. Lot of progress was made in geometry as a result