Ancient Indian Science

Most of the credit for today’s advancements in science and technology is given to the western world. But did you know that ancient India housed many great scientists, mathematicians, and astronomers who made many discoveries that the then Western world didn’t know? From the first use of zero to performing world’s first plastic surgery, we were in the forefront in every aspect of science.

  • Aryabhatta, an Indian mathematician, and astronomer of the fifth century was the first person to use zero and calculate the approximate value of ‘pi’.


  • While Nicolaus Copernicus is credited for proposing the heliocentric model of the solar system, it was mentioned that the earth is round, that it rotates on its own axis and that it revolves around the sun in the book Aryabhatia authored by Arybhatta. He also calculated the duration of the day and the distance between earth and moon.


  • Sushruta, the father of surgery, was the first surgeon in the world to perform plastic surgical operations. He was the first to classify surgical operations and did this as early as in the sixth century.


  • Bhaskaracharya, a twelfth-century Indian mathematician, and astronomer was the first to calculate the time period of revolution of the earth around the sun.


  • Acharya Kanad first developed the theory of atoms in the sixth century well before the birth of John Dalton, who is credited with the discovery of atoms. Kanad claimed that matter is formed of indivisible units and called this unit the ‘anu’.


  • Pingala, a great ancient Indian scholar, was the first to mention the concept of a binary number system, which finds great use in today’s world running on computers, in his book Chandaḥśāstra. This work also contains the Fibonacci numbers, which he named mātrāmeru.


  • The great epic Mahabharatha mentions the concepts of cloning, test-tube babies, and surrogate mothers. Though there is no practical evidence for this, the foresight of the authors needs to be recognized. The fact that Gandhari gave birth to 100 sons has a scientific basis. A single embryo was broken into 100 pieces and they were grown separately in pots. This process is similar to those of embryo transfer and test-tube technology in modern day medical science.


  • Charaka, rightly referred to as the Father of Indian Medicine was the first physician to explain the concepts of digestion, metabolism, and immunity. He is one of the founders of the Ayurveda, the system of medicine that is being followed even today.
  • Our ancestors also had knowledge in aeronautical science. A book that justifies this statement is the Sanskrit text Vaimānika Śāstra. The Ramayana also mentions aircraft such as the Pushpak Vimana.


Due to various reasons like lack of proper documentation and the Western World’s domination after the industrial and scientific revolutions, these facts are not known to many. But what needs to be remembered is that all these scholars are great sources of inspiration for the budding scientist in each of us. Let’s try to explore more unvisited realms of science and make our country proud and the world a better place to live in!

Also Read: The Bright Minds of India

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