Friday, July 9, 2010

History of Indian Mathematics

India Gave Much
More Than Zero

Writes Vinod Varshney

India not only gave the concept of zero to the world, but influenced many foreign mathematical traditions by its disocoveries. Much was not known until Radha Charan Gupta proved this by his immaculate research.

For his pioneering work he will be honoured at the International Congress of Mathematicians being held in Hyderabad during August 19-27, 2010. He is the first Indian to get this distinction--Kenneth O. May Prize.

Radha Charan Gupta, currently engaged in extensive research work at Ganita Bharati Institute in his native city Jhansi (Uttar Pradesh, India). It has been acknowledged that no scholar in the twentieth century has done more to advance widespread understanding of the development of Indian mathematics.

Gupta Expounded Cosmological Theories Also
He skillfully analyzed many unknown ingenious mathematical formulas in Sanskrit. He published several papers on the remarkable mathematical discoveries of the Jaina tradition, many of which had been almost inaccessible to anyone except specialists in Prakrit (an ancient Indian language). He also expounded many Jaina, Buddhist or Hindu cosmological theories.

Prof. Gupta's major contributions include work on the history of development of trigonometry in India. He had been the President of the Association of Mathematics Teachers of India since 1994 until recently. He also founded the journal Ganita Bharati.

Radha Charan Gupta was the gold medalist in the M.Sc. mathematics examination at Lucknow in 1957, and earned a Ph.D. in the history of mathematics from Ranchi University in 1971. He became a professor of mathematics at Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi in 1982.

Why Indians Do Not Get Felds Medal ?

Mr Gupta's research work is a superb example of objectivity. He maintains, “ Different cultures, including the Indian, have contributed immensely in the development of mathematical knowledge, and it should be recognized by all.”

Many would be surprized to know that he contributed some 500 original international grade research articles, yet even today he does not use any modern amenity like computer and internet. Considering his working conditions, his contribution is even more creditable.

Gupta Period Was the Golden Period for Indian Maths

“Indian mathematics grew maximum in the Gupta Period, dubbed as Golden Period of India, and many great names like Aryabhat and Bhaskaracharya emerged. Later for a few centuries there was lull, but again between 14th and 17th century Indian Mathematics grew in South India and such great names as Madhav and Neelkanth emerged, whose contributions have much connection with modern mathematics.”, told Prof Gupta in reply to a question.

He said, “There is no dearth of talent in India, but working environment here is peculiar and the one who protected oneself from this, could contribute something. This is the main reason why any Indian so far could not get the Felds Medal, considered as the Nobel Prize in mathematics."


  1. Most people identify history with dynasties, kings and rulers. History of mathematics certainly can give an idea how we started representing natural facts and realities into numbers etc. Maths is rightly considered mother of all sciences. I have not heard about Radha Charan Gupta. Thanks for telling about him. We Indians should know our scholars better.

  2. Arun Kumar, JaipurJuly 11, 2010 at 8:16 PM

    आजकल सब कुछ बाजार आधारित हो गया है. गणित का कोई बाजार नही है. ऎसे मे श्री राधाचरन गुप्ता जी जैसे लोग अपनी प्रतिबध्ता के चलते इस क्षेत्र मे सक्रिय है. ऐसी प्रतिभाओ को जब सम्मान मिलता है तो सन्तोष होता है. बधाई._____ अरुन कुमार, जैपुर

  3. प्रोफ़ेसर गुप्ता ने हिंदी में "प्राचीन भारतीय गणित की ऐतिहासिक व सांस्कृतिक झलकियाँ" पुस्तक भी लिखी जो अपने किस्म की रोचक पुस्तक है. इसे एनसीईआरटी ने तीन साल पहले ही प्रकाशित किया था