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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

Science And Technology In Ancient India

India was not only the land of philosophy, sages and seers but also the land of scientists and scholars. Science and technology in ancient India covered many major branches of human knowledge and activities, including mathematics, astronomy and physics, metallurgy, medical science and surgery, fine arts, mechanical and production technology, civil engineering and architecture, shipbuilding and navigation, sports and games. It is now generally accepted that India was the birth place of several mathematical concepts, including zero, the decimal system, algorithm, square root and cube root. The concept of zero originated in Indian philosophy's concept of ‘ sunya’ , means ‘void’ and the symbol for zero emerged to represent this philosophical concept. The discovery of urban settlements of Mohenjodaro and Harappa indicate existence of civil engineering & architecture, which blossomed to a highly precise science of civil engineering and architecture and found expression in i

Leaders of the Past

Last few weeks I briefly talked about some of the influential figures of the past. We still remember them because they left a mark in the history by their service to the motherland. The problems they deal with and the solution they had may not be that important in the new world, but the way they approached the problem and their leadership skills can be a lesson for everyone. There is something common about all of them. First of all, they never tried to be the master. They were always ready to serve. Secondly, they educate, energize and engage people with their message and gain the confidence of the general public. Chankya saw the invasion of Greek culture in India . He wanted to protect and preserve his own culture. He found that a King who respect truth and serve justice to the people is necessary to build a nation and defend its culture from foreign invasion. The wisdom of Chankya and courage of Chandra Gupta made that mission possible. Shankaracharya saw the division in

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

M.K. Gandhi was born in India on October 2, 1869 . He became a major political and spiritual leader of India and Indian independence movement against British colonial rule. Indians recognized him as ‘Father of the Nation’ and his birthday is commemorated each year as Gandhi Jayanthi. He is commonly known in India and across the world as ‘Mahatma Gandhi’. He was a British educated lawyer. While he was working in South Africa , he used his ideas of peaceful civil disobedience in the Indian community's struggle for civil rights for the first time. After return to India , he joined the Indian independence movement. He begins with organizing the poor farmers and laborers to protest against oppressive taxation and widespread discrimination. He traveled across India and witnesses the problems the country faces. He saw the poverty stricken villages, illiterate citizens, unjust customs and religious and ethnic divisions within the society. He understood the life of India is i