INCREDIBLE FACTS ABOUT INDIA
IN THE ANCIENT WORLD
Algebra: While the word "Algebra" comes from Arabic word ‘al-jabr’, its origins can be traced to the ancient Babylonians, who developed an early arithmetical system with which they were able to do calculations for the unknown values. By contrast, in the first millennium BC, the Egyptian, Indian, Greek and Chinese mathematicians solved such equations by the geometric methods. Although the Babylonians and Diophantus used ad hoc methods to solve the equations, Indian mathematicians had developed highly sophisticated advanced algebraic methods to find solutions. Indian mathematician Brahmagupta was the first to solve equations using general methods. He solved the quadratic equations, linear indeterminate equations, second order indeterminate equations and equations with multiple variables.
Astronomy: Many ancient world civilisations firmly thought that the Earth was the center of the universe and the Sun, the Moon and the Stars were rotating around it. This is known as ‘Geocentric Theory’. But, according to the ancient Indian vedic texts and Shatapatha Brahmana, an astronomical textbook, written by Yajnavalkya (c. 9th - 8th century BC), the ancient Indians believed that the Sun was "the center of the universe (lokam)" and the earth, the moon and the stars were rotating around it. This is now known as ‘Heliocentric Theory’. Yajnavalkya recognized that the Sun was larger than the Earth and described an accurate solar calendar in his textbook. He also is said to have accurately measured the relative distances of the Sun and the Moon from the Earth as 108 times the respective diameters, close to modern measurements of 107.6 for the Sun and 110.6 for the Moon. The Aitareya Brahmana (2.7) (c. 9th–8th century BC) stated that "The Sun never sets nor rises. When people think the sun is setting, it is not so. It only changes about after reaching the end of the day and makes night below and day to what is on the other side". Ancient Indians also knew about the Earth's circumference and rotation, twilight and moon phases, calculated eclipses and even knew that the earth was flattened at the poles and not a perfect sphere before the Romans, Greeks and Egyptians did. Indian Astronomer Lagadha wrote possibly the world’s first formal astronomical textbook in 1200 BC.
Astrology: Daivajna Varāhamihira (505-587 BC) was an astrologer, astronomer and mathematician. He was considered to be one of the ‘Nine Jewels’ (Navaratnas) of the court of legendary Gupta emperor Chandragupta Vikramaditya II. He wrote Pancha Siddhāntika and Brihat-Samhita. These two books contain information on the events and phenomena taking place in the universe such as eclipses, comets, earthquakes, seasons, planets, constellation and the effects of planetary movements on humans. ‘Astro-Physics’, stream of physics related to study the magnetic and thermal effects of planetary movements draws inspiration from Varahmihir's textbook. The Vedanga Jyotisha redacted by Lagadha dates to the Mauryan period, with rules for tracking the motions of the sun and the moon. Historically, the study of astrology in India was an important factor in the development of astronomy in the Early Middle Ages.
Atom: The earliest references to the concept of atoms date back to ancient India in the 6th century BCE. There is recorded evidence that Indians knew about ‘Atom’ (called ‘Anu’ in Sanskrit) and knew that water is a combination of Hydrogen and Oxygen molecules. Hence, firmly knew that cloud is a composition of water and air. The Nyaya and Vaisheshika schools developed elaborate theories of how atoms combined into more complex objects (first in pairs, then trios of pairs).
Ayurveda: ‘Ayurveda’ is one of the first formal medicine systems known to humans. Ancient Indians had even established schools of medicine to teach Ayurveda. Ayurveda is known for its preventive, curative and rejuvenate methods without any side effects. Many ingredients used in making the Ayurvedic medicines have recently proven to have medicinal qualities. Black Pepper is widely known to have ‘Myrystin’, which can help to prevent heart diseases, insomnia, joint pains, liver problems and lung disease. Cinnamon can help to regulate blood sugar, to prevent and control Type-2 Diabetes. Coriander is known to cure stomach disorder, to control mood swing and depression. Curry Leaf is proved to have chemical compounds that help to control diabetes. Garlic is known to have ‘Aliin’, which can help to prevent heart diseases, athero-sclerosis, reduce high level of cholesterol, high blood pressure and cancer. Red and Green Chilli is known to have ‘Capsaicin’, which can help to prevent Cancer, Type-1 Diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, reduce cholestrol level and control obesity. Turmeric is known to have ‘Curcumin’, which can help to prevent Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Cancer and Liver disorders. Ayurvedic medicine may also provide clues to therapeutic compounds. For example, derivatives of snake venom have various therapeutic properties. Many plants used in Ayurvedic medicines are antioxidants.
Backgammon: The early form of Backgammon, a board game is first mentioned in Bhartrhari’s Vairagyasataka (p.39), composed around the late 6th or 7th century BCE. The use of dices for the game is an indication of its Indian origin, since dice and gambling were a favorite pastime in ancient India. The rules of the game, however, first appeared in the Middle Persian text Wızarisnı Catrang ud Nihisnı New Ardaxsır (Explanation of Chess and Invention of Backgammon), composed in the 6th century during the rule of the Sasanian king Khousro I (530–571). The text assigns its invention to the Persian sage Wuzurgmihr (Arabic/Persian) Buzarjumihr/Buzorgmihr, who was the minister of King Khousro I, as a challenge for the Indian sages.
Bangles: In the Indus Valley Civilization, Bangles were made from sea shells, copper, bronze, gold, agate and chalcedony. They have been excavated from archaeological sites throughout India. A figurine of a dancing girl, wearing bangles on her left arm has been excavated from Mohenjodaro (2600 BC). Other early examples of bangles in India include copper bangles from the excavations at Mahurjhari, soon followed by the decorated bangles from the Mauryan empire (322–185 BCE) and the gold bangles from the historic site of Taxila (6th century BCE).
Bathroom: Although it was not with personal hygiene in mind, the first records for the use of baths date back to 3000 B.C. At that time, water had a strong religious value, being seen as a purifying element for both body and soul, and so it was not uncommon for people to be required to cleanse themselves before entering a sacred area. Baths are recorded as part of a village or town life throughout this period, with steam baths in Europe and cold baths in Asia. However, the Indus Valley Civilization had the advanced private bathroom in most of the hundreds of houses excavated so far in the world. The baths were usually located on the ground floor, was made of brick, sometimes with a surrounding curb to sit on. The water was drained away through a hole in the floor, down chutes or pottery pipes in the walls, into the drainage system. During it’s time, even the Egyptians rarely had private bathrooms and baths.
Binary Numbers: The modern binary numbers system can be found in the works of German mathematician Gottfried Leibnitz during the 17th century. However, the first description of binary numbers can be found in the works of the Indian mathematician, Pingala (400 BC). He invented the binary number system (counting by 0s and 1s) that, 2,500 years later, turned out to be basic to computer operations. He had also managed to work with Binomial co-efficients.
Bladder Stone: The earliest operation for curing bladder stone has been described in the Sushruta Samhita, written by Sushruta (6th century BCE). The operation involved exposure and going up through the floor of the bladder.
Bow Drill: The bow drill was in use at Mehrgarh between 4th-5th millennium BCE. It was made out of Green Jasper and used to drill holes into Lapis Lazuli and Cornelian stones. Similar bow drills were found in other parts of the Indus Valley Civilization and Iran one millennium later. The earliest form of dentistry involved curing tooth related disorders with bow drills operated, perhaps, by skilled bead craftsmen.
Button: Buttons and Button-like objects, made from seashell were used in the Indus Valley Civilization during 2000-1500 BC for ornamental purposes. Some buttons were carved into geometric shapes and had holes pieced into them so that they could be attached to clothing by using thread. Ian McNeil (1990) assumes that: "The button, in fact, was originally used more as an ornament than as a fastening, the earliest known being found at Mohenjodaro in the Indus Valley. It is made of a curved shell and about 5000 years old."
Calculus: During 12th century, Indian mathematician, Bhāskara II, developed an early derivative representing infinitesimal change, and described an early form of "Rolle's theorem". In the 14th century, Madhava of Sangamagrama, along with mathematician-astronomers of the Kerala school of astronomy and mathematics, described special cases of Taylor series, which are treated in the text Yuktibhasa. Yuktibhasa is widely considered to be the first formal textbook on calculus. Mâdhava (c1340-1425) and Nîlakantha (c1444-1545), who made fundamental contributions to the power series, calculus and astronomy, are amongst the greatest scientists who have ever lived. Their invention of Calculus came 200 years earlier than German mathematician Gottfried Leibnitz and Newton.
Calico Fabric: Calico fabric was originated in Calicut, India during 11th century. In a 12th century Indian literature written by Hemachandra describe that flowers, birds and animals were printed on calico fabric. By the 15th century, the Indian textile merchants traded calico fabric with the Africans. Importantly, Calico fabrics from Gujarat was exported to the Middle East and Egypt.
Carding Devices: The earliest evidence of using bow-instruments for carding comes from India (2nd century CE). These carding devices, called kaman and dhunaki would loosen the texture of the fiber by the means of a vibrating string. Science historian, Joseph Needham ascribes the invention of bow-instruments used in textile technology to India.
Cashmere Wool: It is known as Cashmere, and also known as Pashmina for its use in the handmade shawls of Kashmir. The word "Cashmere" derives from an archaic spelling of Kashmir. It is a fibre made from the wool of a Cashmere goat. Cashmere wool is fine in texture, strong, light, and soft; when it is made into woollen garments, they are extremely warm to wear, warmer than the equivalent weight in sheep's wool. The tradition of making shawls and woollen garments in Kashmir must have been started between 3rd century BC and the 11th century AD. However, it emerged as an industry during the 15th century ruler of Kashmir, Zayn-ul-Abidin, who employed skilled weavers from Central Asia to produce high quality wollen garments.
Cataract Surgery: Cataract surgery was known to the Indian physician Sushruta (6th century BCE). In India, cataract surgery was performed with a special tool called the Jabamukhi Salaka, a curved needle used to loosen the lens and push the cataract out of the field of vision. The eye would later be soaked with warm butter and then bandaged. Greek philosophers and scientists traveled to India where these surgeries were performed by physicians. The removal of cataract by surgery was also introduced into China from India.
Chariot: Archaeologist B.B.Lal has shown with convincing specimen the existence and use of spoked-wheel chariots in the Indus Valley Civilization during 3000 - 1500 BCE. Bhagwan Singh (1987) had made a similar assertion and recent Bhirrana excavations in 2005-2006 further confirm the existence of chariots in the Indus Valley Civilization.
Chess: The world famous board game ‘Chess’ was originated in India during the 6th century. In it’s early form, it was known as the ‘Chaturanga’, which translates as "four divisions of the military" - infantry, cavalry, elephants and chariotry, represented by the pieces that would evolve into pawns, knights, bishops, and rooks, respectively. Chess spread throughout the world and many variants of the game soon began taking shape. This game was introduced to the Middle East from India and became a part of the princely or courtly education of Persian nobility. Buddhist pilgrims, Silk route traders and others carried it to the Far East, where it was transformed and assimilated into a game often played on the intersection of the lines of the board rather than within the squares. Chaturanga reached Europe through Persia, the Byzantine empire and the expanding Arabian empire. During 10th century, Muslims carried chess to North Africa, Sicily and Spain.
Circulatory System: Indian physician Sushruta (6th century BCE) described about the circulation of blood and vital fluids in the human body in his book Sushruta Samhita. He also described about the arteries as 'channels'.
Clay Oven: The earliest form of clay ovens such as the tandoor were excavated in Balakot, a site of the Harappa and Mohenjodaro settlements of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization, dating back to 2500-1900 BC. In Sanskrit, the tandoor was mentioned as kandu. The word tandoor may have been derived from the Dari words tandūr or tannūr; which were also may have been derived from similar words - Persian tanūr and Arabic tandūr. The clay ovens were primarily used to bake various types of flat breads and to roast nuts.
Cotton: Whilst many world civilizations were lumbering around in animal skins and itchy wool, during 5th - 4th millennium BCE, the inhabitants of the Indus Valley Civilization, were cultivating ‘Cotton’, turning it into yarn and weaving it into cloth that would revolutionise the human life forever. The Indus valley cotton industry was developed with specific methods of cultivating, spinning and fabricating cotton. They also pioneered the art of dyeing and printing the cloth in a staggering array of colours. They also invented the early form of the ‘Spinning Wheel’. Later, mechanisation of the spinning wheel by Hargreaves and Arkwright led to industrial revolution, which primarily helped Britain into a developed western country.
Cotton Gin: Buddhist paintings in the Ajanta caves, Western India provides a visual evidence of single roller cotton gin in use by the 5th century BCE. Between the 12th and 14th centuries, dual roller cotton gin was invented in India as a mechanical device known as charkhi, more technically the "wooden-worm-worked roller". The Indian dual roller cotton gin was prevalent throughout the Mediterranean cotton trade by the 16th century. This dual roller cotton gin was, in some areas, driven by water power. The cotton gin was widely used in India until innovations were made, in the form foot pedal powered cotton gins.
Crucible Steel: Perhaps as early as 300 BCE, although certainly by 200 CE, the first crucible steel - ‘Wootz Steel’ was manufacured in South India. High-purity wrought iron, charcoal and glass were mixed in a crucible and heated until the iron melted and absorbed the carbon. Wootz is a steel characterized by a pattern of bands or sheets of micro carbides within a tempered martensite or pearlite matrix. The word wootz may have been a mistranscription of wook, an anglicised version of urukku the word for steel in Tamil. Archaeological evidences suggest that the manufacturing process was already in existence in South India well before the Christian era. Wootz steel was widely exported to and traded with ancient China, Middle East and Europe. As early as the 17th century, the Europeans knew of India's ability to make crucible steel from reports documented by travellers who had observed the process at several places in South India. Several attempts were made to understand the process, but failed because the exact technique remained a mystery. Research of wootz steel was made in an attempt to understand the manufacturing process, including a major effort by the famous scientist, Michael Faraday, son of a blacksmith. Working with a local cutlery manufacturer he wrongly concluded that it was the addition of Aluminium Oxide and Silica from the glass that gave wootz its unique properties.
Dam: Water reservoir and irrigation systems were developed and used in the Indus Valley Civilization during 4500 BCE. As a result, the prosperity and size of the civilization grew rapidly, which lead to planned settlements, which further made use of sewers and drainage. According to the Saka King Rudradaman I, during King Chandragupta Maurya's rule (3000 BCE), Sudarshana Lake was built as a water reservoir on the hills of Raivataka at Girnar, Saurashtra region in Western India for preventing the floods and storing water for irrigating the agricultural lands in summer months. During the 2nd Century AD, Kallanai, a massive dam of unhewn stone, over 300 meters long, 4.5 meters high and 20 meters (60 ft) wide, across the main stream of the river Kaveri was built in Tamilnadu. The purpose of the dam was to divert the waters of the river Kaveri across the fertile Delta region for irrigation via canals. It is the oldest water-regulation structure in the world still in use.
Dentistry: Evidence of dentistry being practiced as far back as 7000 BCE in the Indus Valley Civilization has recently been found in a Neolithic graveyard in ancient India. Teeth dating from around 7000 to 5500 BC show evidence of holes from dental drills. The earliest form of dentistry involved curing tooth related disorders with bow drills operated, perhaps, by skilled bead craftsmen. The reconstruction of this ancient form of dentistry showed that the methods used were reliable and effective.
Diamonds: Diamonds are thought to have been first identified, mined and polished in Golconda, India. Also, there were significant alluvial deposits of diamond stone could then be found along the rivers Pennar, Krishna and Godavari. Diamonds have been known in India for at least 3000 years but most likely 6000 years. Early references to diamonds in India come from several Sanskrit books. The Arthashastra of Kautilya mentions diamond trade in India. Diamonds then were exported to other parts of the world, including Europe. India remained the only major source of diamonds in the world until the discovery of diamonds in Brazil. Description written at the beginning of the 3rd century describes strength, regularity, brilliance, ability to scratch metals, and good refractive properties as the desirable qualities of a diamond.
Diabetes: During the 6th century BCE, the Indian Physician Sushruta identified Diabetes and classified it as Medhumeha. He further identified it with obesity and sedentary lifestyle, advising exercises to help cure it. The ancient Indians tested for diabetes by observing whether ants were attracted to a person's urine, and called the ailment "sweet urine disease" (Madhumeha).
Differential Equation: In 499 AD, Indian mathematician, Aryabhata, used a notion of infinitesimals and expressed an astronomical problem in the form of a differential equation. This equation was eventually solved by Bhāskara II in the 12th century.
Formal Linguistics: Some of the earliest linguistic activities can be recalled from Iron age India with the analysis of Sanskrit. The Pratishakhyas from the 8th century BC, constitute as it were a proto-linguistic ad hoc collection of observations about mutations to a given corpus particular to a given Vedic school. Systematic study of these texts gives rise to the Vedanga discipline of Vyakarana, the earliest surviving account of which is the work of Pānini (c. 520 - 460 BC), who, however, looks back on what are probably generations of grammarians, whose opinions he occasionally refers to. . The oldest surviving Sanskrit grammar text book is Pānini's (400 century BC) Astādhyāyi (8-Chapter Grammar Book). Pānini's Sanskrit grammar work is quite exhaustive with more than 4,000 computer program-like rules. Inherent in his analytic approach are the concepts of the phoneme, the morpheme and the root. Due to his focus on brevity, his Sanskrit grammar has a highly unintuitive structure, reminiscent of contemporary "machine language". There have been suggestions to use Sanskrit as a metalanguage in machine language processing because of its exquisitely refined language structure. Bhartrihari (c. 450 - 510 BC) theorized the act of speech as being made up of four stages: first, conceptualization of an idea, second, its verbalization and sequencing (articulation) and third, delivery of speech into atmospheric air, and fourth, the interpretation of speech by the listener, the interpreter.
Furnace: The earliest furnace was excavated at Balakot, a site of the Harappa and Mohenjodaro settlements of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization, dating back to 2500-1900 BC. The furnace was most likely used for the manufacturing of ceramic tiles and clay pots.
Hospital: Institutions created specifically to care for the ill was first established in ancient India. King Ashoka is said to have established a chain of hospitals throughout the Mauryan empire, with physicians and nursing staff, the expense being borne by the treasury. Evidence of an Ashokan edict translated as reading: "Everywhere King Asoka erected two kinds of hospitals, hospitals for people and hospitals for animals. Where there were no healing herbs for people and animals, he ordered that they be bought and planted." Similar views are held by Piercey & Scarborough in Encyclopedia Britannica (2008).
Hypertension: Ancient Indian physician Sushruta (6th century BCE) explained the hypertension in a manner which matches the modern symptoms of the disease.
Indian Clubs: The exercise clubs, which appeared in Europe during the 18th century, were modeled after the physical fitness and martial arts centres used by the Kushti wrestlers and Indian soldiers. During British Raj, the British officers stationed in India performed calisthenic exercises in the clubs to keep physicaly fit. From Britain, the use of exercise clubs spread to Europe and the rest of the world.
Ink: Ink has been used in India since early 4th century BC. Masi was an early form of ink. Indian documents written in Kharosthi with black ink was unearthed in Xinjiang, China. The practice of using a sharp pointed needle and ink for writing was common in ancient South India. The carbon pigment was the main ingredient of ink and it was obtained by burning good quality of wood, bones, tar and other substances.
Indigo Dye: Indigo dye is a dye with a distinctive blue pigment color. The Indigofera tinctoria variety of Indigo was domesticated in India. Indigo, used as a dye, made its way to the Greeks and the Romans via various trade routes, and was valued as a luxury product. Indigo is among the oldest dyes to be used for textile dyeing and printing. Ancient Indians have used indigo as a dye (particularly silk dye) for several centuries. India is believed to be the oldest center of indigo production, processing and dyeing in the Old World. India was a primary supplier of indigo to Europe as early as the Greco-Roman era. The association of India with indigo is reflected in the Greek word for the dye, which was indikon. The Romans used the term indicum, which passed into Italian dialect and eventually into English as the word indigo. The Romans used indigo as a pigment for painting and for medicinal and cosmetic purposes.
Iron: Indian civilization was one of the first world civilizations to successfully extract Iron from the Iron ore. Early iron objects found in India can be dated to 1400 BC with the use of radiocarbon dating. Several spikes, knives, daggers, arrow-heads, bowls, spoons, saucepans, axes, chisels, tongs, door fittings etc. ranging from 600 BC to 200 BC have been discovered from several archaeological sites in India. Some scholars believe that by the early 13th century BC, iron smelting was practiced on a bigger scale in India, suggesting that the date the methods of prossessing iron ore and iron may be earlier. In Mysore, South India, iron was used as early as 11th or 12th centuries BC; these developments were too early for any significant close contact with North India.
Iron Pillar of Delhi: The first known iron pillar was erected during the rule of the Chandragupta II Vikramaditya (375–413AD) in Delhi, which is now known as the ‘Iron Pillar of Delhi’. It is 6.7 m high and weighing more than six tons, is made up of 98% wrought iron of pure quality, is a testament to the high level of knowledge and skills possed by ancient Indian ironsmiths in the extraction and processing of iron to an extent that the iron pillar they’ve erected in the open air Qutab Complex, Delhi still hasn't rusted even after 1600 years, despite harsh weather! Also, Indians went on to invent the key process of making today’s ‘Stainless Steel’.
Jute: Jute has been cultivated in India since ancient times. Raw jute was exported to the western world, where it was used to make ropes and cordage. The Indian jute industry was modernized by the British. The modern day area of Bengal-Bangladesh region was the major center for Jute cultivation, and remained so before the modernization of India's jute industry in 1855, when Kolkata became a center for jute processing in India.
Kabaddi: The game of kabaddi has a history dating to the pre-historic times. A dramatized version of the Mahabharata has made an analogy of the game to a tight situation faced by Abhimaneu, heir of the Pandava kings, when surrounded by the enemies. Buddhist literatures mention of Gautam Buddha playing game of Kabaddi. Suggestions on how it evolved into the modern form range from wrestling exercises, military drills, and collective self defense but most authorities agree that the game existed in some form or the other in India during the period between 1500-400 BCE.
Kamasutra: Kamasutra is an ancient Indian textbook, now widely considered to be the first formal textbook on human sexuality written in Sanskrit by the Indian scholar Vatsyayana during the 4th or 6th century AD. Kamasutra is a collection of texts known generically as the Kamashastra. Kamashastra or "Discipline of Kama" is attributed to sacred doorkeeper bull of Lord Shiva, Nandi, who was moved to sacred utterance by overhearing the lovemaking of the god and his wife Parvati and later recorded his utterances for the benefit of mankind. Historian John Keay says that Kamasutra was collected into its present form in 2nd century CE.
Ludo: Pachisi, an earlier form of Ludo was originated in India during the 6th century. The earliest evidence of this board game can be found on the wall paintings of Ajanta caves, Western India. This game was also played by the Mughal emperors. A variant of this game, called Ludo, made its way to England during the British Raj.
Metrology: Evident by the archaeological excavations, the inhabitants of the Indus Valley Civilization (c. 3000-1500 BCE) developed a system of standardization, using weights and measures. This standardization enabled gauging devices to be effectively used in angular measurement and measurement for construction. Calibration was also found in some measuring devices with multiple subdivisions. These standards were established mainly in order to facilitate the trade.
Multi-Barrel Gun: Some of the earliest firearms and attempts at higher rates of fire and some machine-gun-like traits existed as early as the 16th century, when Fathullah Shirazi (c. 1582), a Persian-Indian engineer and polymath who worked for Mughal Emporer Akbar,I nvented a gun, which had multiple gun barrels that fired hand cannons loaded with gunpowder. He also invented a primitive autocannon.
Muslin: Muslin is a type of finely-woven cotton fabric, named after the city where the Europeans first encountered it, Mosul, in what is now Iraq, but the fabric actually originated from Dhaka in what is now Bangladesh. In the 9th century, an Arab merchant named Sulaiman makes note of the material's origin in Bengal.
Navigation: The word ‘Navigation’ is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Navgath’. Navigation as a science originated on the river Sindh (Indus). The first tidal dock may have been built at Lothal around 2300 BCE during the Harappan Civilisation, near the present day Mangrol harbour on the Gujarat coast. The Rigveda credits Varuna with knowledge of the ocean routes and describes naval expeditions using hundred oared ships to subdue other kingdoms. There is also a reference to Plava, the side wings of a vessel that give stability during storms, to the ship and also to Matsya yantra, the compass used for navigation.
Navy: India has a maritime history dating back to more than 10,000 years. The word ‘Navy’ is derived from the Sanskrit word - 'Nou'. The earliest known reference to an organization dedicated to ‘Ships’ in ancient India can be found in ‘Arthashastra’. The book was written by Kautilya, who was the Prime Minister of the Mauryan Emperor Chandragupta Maurya (c. 320 - 298 BCE). He devoted a full chapter on the empire’s ‘Department of Waterways’ in ‘Navadhyaksha’ (Sanskrit word for ‘Superintendent of Ships’). The Sanskrit word - ‘Nava Dhvipantaragamanam’ (Sailing to other lands by Ships) was mentioned in his book in addition to be mentioned in the Buddhist text, ‘Baudhayana Dharmasastra’ as an interpretation of the word ‘Samudra Samyanam’. The Maurya, Chola, Vijayanagara, Kalinga, Maratha and Moghul empires ruled the oceans, in and around India for many centuries with their established ‘Navy’.
Negative Numbers: The use of negative numbers was known in ancient India. Indian mathematician Brahmagupta, in his book Brahma-Sphuta-Siddhanta (written in 628 A.D), discussed the use of negative numbers to produce general quadratic formula that remains in use today. He also found negative solutions of quadratic equations and gave rules regarding operations involving negative numbers and zero, such as "A debt cut off from nothingness becomes a credit; a credit cut off from nothingness becomes a debt." He called positive numbers "fortunes," zero "a cipher," and negative numbers "debts." The use of negative numbers were passed to Europe by Arab mathematicians.
Numerical Systems: The modern numerical systems were originated in ancient India. Other civilisations did contribute some features to the Indian numerical systems but numerical systems, in its entirely, were compiled in ancient India. The Hindu-Arabic numeral system dates back to the Indus Valley Civilization. The inscriptions on the edicts of the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka (1st millennium BCE) confirms that this number system was used by the Mauryans. By the 9th century BCE, advanced Indian numerical systems such as ‘Place Value System’ and ‘Decimal System’ were in use. Ancient Indians used the numerical systems even before the Romans and Greeks did. The largest numbers the Greeks and the Romans used were 106 whereas the Indians used numbers as big as 1053. Also, ancient Indians were the first to use the ‘Negative Numbers’ for mathematical calculations, accounting and trading purposes. Later these numerical systems were translated and carried to China, the Middle East, Africa and the Europe by the travellers, traders and scholars.
Pagoda: The origin of Pagoda can be traced to the ancient Indian Buddhist stupa. The Buddhist pagoda, a dome shaped monument, was used in India as a commemorative monument associated with storing sacred relics. Later, the Buddhist stupa architecture was adopted in the SouthEast and East Asia, where it became prominent as a Buddhist monument used for enshrining sacred relics.
Palampore: Palampore is a hand-painted and mordant-dyed bed cover that was made in India during the 18th century. It was exported to the Europe and to Dutch colonists in Indonesia. Only the wealthiest could afford to buy a Palampore; therefore, the few Palampore bed covers that have survived are often quite valuable today. Palampore bed cover was made using the kalamkari technique, whereby an artist drew designs on cotton orlinen fabric with a kalam pen containing mordant and then dipped the textile in dye. The dye adhered to the cloth only where the mordant had been applied. This lengthy process had to be repeated for each color in the design. Small details were then painted by hand on the cloth after the dying process was completed. Palampore patterns were usually very complex and elaborate, depicting a wide variety of plants, flowers, and animals, including peacocks, elephants, and horses. Because a Palampore bed cover was hand-created, each design was very unique.
Pascal’s Triangle: Pascal's triangle is a geometric arrangement of the binomial coefficients in a triangle. The earliest depictions of a triangle of binomial coefficients can be found in Chandas Shastra, an ancient Indian book on Sanskrit prosody written by Pingala between the 5th - 2nd centuries BC. While Pingala's work only survives in fragments, around 975, Halayudha used the triangle to explain obscure references to Meru-prastaara, the "Staircase of Mount Meru". It was also evident that the shallow diagonals of the triangle sum to the Fibonacci numbers.
Perpetual Motion Machine: Perpetual motion, literally, refers to motion that goes on forever and a device or system that produces more energy than it consumes. Such a device or system would be in violation of the law of conservation of energy, which states that energy can never be created or destroyed. A perpetual motion machine is a mechanical device, which avoids losing energy to friction and air resistance or sustains motion despite losing energy to friction and air resistance. The earliest conceptual design of a perpetual motion machine dates back to 1150 BC, by an Indian mathematician and astronomer, Bhāskara II. He described a wheel that he claimed would run forever without stopping or slowing down.
‘Pi’: The Indian text Shatapatha Brahmana gives π as 339/108 ≈ 3.139. The infinite series for ‘π’ (Pi) was first mentioned by Madhava of Sangamagrama (c. 1340-1425) and his Kerala school of astronomy and mathematics. He made use of the series expansion of arctanx to obtain an infinite series expression, now known as the Madhava-Gregory series, for π. Their rational approximation of the error for the finite sum of their series are of particular interest. They manipulated the error term to derive a faster converging series for π. They used the improved series to derive a rational expression, 104348 / 33215 for π correct up to nine decimal places, i.e. 3.141592653.
Plastic Surgery: Plastic surgery was being carried out in India by 2000 BCE. The system of punishment by deforming a miscreant's body may have led to an increase in demand for this practice. Sushruta (6th century BCE) made important contributions to the field of Plastic and Cataract surgery. The medical works of Sushruta and Charak were translated into Arabic language during the Abbasid Caliphate (750 CE). The translated medical works in Arabic made their way into Europe by the travellers, traders and scholars. British physicians traveled to India to see Rhinoplasty being performed by the Indian surgeons. By 1794, reports on the Indian Rhinoplasty were published in Britain’s the Gentleman's Magazine. British surgeon Joseph Constantine Carpue spent more than 20 years in India learning Indian plastic surgery methods. By 1815, he was known for performing the first rhinoplastic surgery in England, using a surgery method developed in India several centuries earlier. The Indian rhinoplastic reconstruction involved using a flap of skin taken from the forehead, and was to become known as Carpue's operation. Instruments described in the Sushruta Samhita by Sushruta were further modified in the Western medical world.
Plough: The domestication of oxen in Mesopotamia and by its contemporary to the Indus Valley civilization, perhaps, led the inhabitants to develop the pulling power necessary to operate the plough as early as the 6th millennium BC. The very earliest plough was the simple scratch-plough, or ard, which consists of a frame holding a vertical wooden stick that was dragged through the topsoil (still used in many parts of the world). It breaks up a strip of land directly along the ploughed path, which can then be planted.
Polo: The modern game of ‘Polo’, though formalized and popularized by the British, the early form of ‘Polo’ was actually originated in Manipur, India. It was known as 'Sagol Kangjei','Kanjai-bazee', or 'Pulu'. It was the anglicised form of the latter, referring to the wooden ball which was used, that was adopted by the sport in its slow spread to the west. The first polo club was established in Silchar, Assam, in 1834.
Prayer Flags: The Indian Buddhist Sutras were written on cloth banner and carried within India and to other parts of the world. These sutras, written on banners, were the origin of prayer flags. Legend ascribes the origin of the prayer flag to the Shakyamuni Buddha, whose prayers were written on battle flags used by the devas against their adversaries, the asuras. The legend may have given the Indian bhikku a reason for carrying the 'heavenly' banner as a way of signyfying his commitment to ahimsa. This habit was carried to Tibet by 800 CE, and the actual prayer flags were introduced no later than 1040 CE, where they were further modified.
Puppetry: Evidence of the earliest puppetry comes from the excavations at the Indus Valley Civilization. Archaeologists have unearthed red terracotta dolls and animals with detachable heads capable of manipulation by a string or stick dating back to 2500 BC. The epic Mahabharata; Tamil literatures from the Sangam Era, and various literary works dating from the late centuries BCE to the early centuries of the Common Era - including Ashokan edicts describe about puppets and puppetry. Works like the Natya Shastra and Kamasutra also mention about the puppetry. Javanese Wayang theater was influenced by Indian puppetry tradition. The Europeans learned about puppetry as a result of extensive contact with the Eastern World. Some scholars trace the origin of puppets and puppetry to India 4000 years ago, where the main character in a Sanskrit plays was known as sutradhara ('the holder of strings').
Pythagorean Theorem: Indian Mathematician Budhayana compiled the Baudhayana Sulba Sutra, the best-known Sulba Sutra book, which contains a list of Pythagorean triples discovered algebraically, such as: (3,4,5), (5,12,13), (8,15,17), (7,24,25) and (12,35,37) as well as a geometrical proof of the Pythagorean theorem for an isosceles right triangle and a statement of the Pythagorean theorem for the sides of a square: "The rope which is stretched across the diagonal of a square produces an area double the size of the original square." It also contains the general statement of the Pythagorean theorem (for the sides of a rectangle): "The rope stretched along the length of the diagonal of a rectangle makes an area which the vertical and horizontal sides make together." The Apastamba Sulba Sutra (c. 600 BC) contains a numerical proof of general Pythagorean theorem, using an area computation. Van der Waerden believes that "it was certainly based on earlier traditions". According to Albert Bŭrk, this is the original proof of the theorem; he further theorizes that Pythagoras visited Arakonam, Tamilnadu, India and copied it.
Religions: Ancient India is the known birthplace of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism. Ancient Indians were the first to conceptualise and practice organised religion, offered prayers, followed rituals and worshiped statues. Hinduism is often stated to be the "oldest religious tradition". It is formed of diverse traditions and types and has no single founder. It is the world's third largest religion after Christianity and Islam, with approximately a billion adherents in India and all over the world.
Rockets: Tipu Sultan and his father, Haidar Ali were the first to use rockets in a warfare. Their rocket brigade was well trained in adjusting the elevation of the rocket depending on its size and the distance to the target, and they launched rockets rapidly using rocket launcher fixed in a wheeled cart with ramps. The rocket’s range was 2.4 kilometres, an outstanding target distance at that time, attributable because of the use of iron tubes for holding the propellant as it enabled higher bursting pressure in the combustion chamber and hence higher thrust and longer range. In 1780, during the 2nd Anglo-Mysore War, at the battle of Pollilur, Colonel William Braille's ammunition stores were thought to have detonated by rockets, resulting in a humiliating British defeat. The British were so impressed by the rockets that they sent several rocket cases to Britain for analysis. Colonel William Congreve had later confirmed that the rockets then available in Britain had a range less than half that of Tipu’s rockets.
Ruler: Rulers made from Ivory were used by the inhabitants of the Indus Valley Civilization prior to 1500 BCE. Excavations at Lothal (2400 BCE) had helped to find a ivory ruler calibrated to about 1/16 of an inch - less than 2 mm. Ian Whitelaw (2007) said that 'The Mohenjodaro ruler is divided into units corresponding to 1.32 inches (33.5 mm) and these are marked out in decimal subdivisions with amazing accuracy - to within 0.005 of an inch. Bricks found throughout the region have dimensions that correspond to these units.
Sanskrit: Sanskrit is an ancient Indian classical language. Perhaps, it was widely in use many centuries before Latin and Greek came into existence. Also, its grammar is more perfect than Greek and Latin. The oldest surviving Sanskrit grammar text book is Pānini's (400 century BC) Astādhyāyi (8-Chapter Grammar Book). Pānini's Sanskrit grammar work is exhaustive with nearly 4,000 computer program-like rules. Inherent in his analytic approach are the concepts of the phoneme, the morpheme and the root. Due to his focus on brevity, his Sanskrit grammar has a highly unintuitive structure, reminiscent of contemporary "machine language". There have been suggestions to use Sanskrit as a metalanguage in machine language processing because of its exquisitely refined language structure.
Seamless Celestial Globe: In the 1980, Emilie Savage-Smith discovered 3 celestial globes without any seams in Kashmir and Lahore. Seamless celestial globe is now considered as one of the most remarkable feats in metallurgy. Prior to this discovery, it was believed by modern metallurgists to be technically impossible to create a metal globe without any seams. The earliest seamless globe was made in Kashmir by the astronomer and metallurgist Ali Kashmiri ibn Luqman in 998 AH (1589-90 CE) during Akbar the Great's reign; another was one made in 1070 AH (1659-60 CE) by Muhammad Salih Tahtawi with Arabic and Sanskrit inscriptions; and the last one was made in Lahore by astronomer and metallurgist Lala Balhumal Lahuri in 1842 during Jagatjit Singh Bahadur's reign. Out of 21 seamless celestial globes produced, only few remain as examples. Indian metallurgists during the Mughal period had pioneered the method of lost-wax casting in order to produce seamless celestial globes.
Sewage System: When other inhabitants of the world civilizations were living as nomadic forest dwellers, inhabitants of the Indus Valley civilization had established formal cities of Harappa and Mohenjodaro in the Sindh Valley. It was home to the world's first planned cities, where every house had a kitchen, store room, living room, bedroom, bathroom and even a toilet! The ancient cities of Harappa and Mohenjodaro constructed networks of brick-lined sewage drains from around 2600 BC. Private and public toilets were connected to the sewage drains. The sewage was disposed through underground drains, which were 7-10 feet wide and 2 feet below ground level. The sewage was then led into cesspools, built at the intersection of two drains, which had stairs leading to them for periodic cleaning. Plumbing using earthenware pipes with broad flanges for easy joining with asphalt to stop leaks was in place.
Ship Dock: The world's first ship dock was built in Lothal, Harappa (2400 BCE). It was built away from the main current of the sea in order to avoid the deposition of silt. Modern oceanographers had concluded that the Harappans must have possessed great knowledge about hydrography and maritime engineering in order to build such a ship dock on the ever-shifting course of the Sabarmati river. This knowledge also enabled them to select Lothal's location in the first place, as the Gulf of Khambhat has the highest tidal amplitude and ships can be sluiced through flow tides in the river estuary. This ship dock was the earliest known dock found in the world, equipped to berth and service ships.
Snakes and Ladders: The game of ‘Snakes and Ladders’ was originated in ancient India and was widely played by the name of ‘Moksha Patamu’, the earliest known Jain version ‘Gyanbazi’ dates back to the 16th century. Perhaps, the Hindu spiritual teachers invented the game to teach children about the Hinduism’s consciousness of everyday life. The game is based on the good deeds as opposed to bad deeds. The Ladders represented virtues such as generosity, faith, humility, etc., and the Snakes represented vices such as greed, unloyalty, anger, etc. The moral of the game was that a person can attain salvation (Moksha) through performing good deeds whereas doing bad deeds leads to rebirth in the lower forms of life (Patamu). The number of Ladders was less than the number of Snakes as a reminder that performing good deeds is difficult compared to committing sins. Presumably, the number "100" represented Moksha (Salvation).
Smallpox Vaccine: Indians were using a year-old live smallpox matter as inoculation against the smallpox. Tikadars would fan out into the country for inoculation before the smallpox season during the winter months. In 1767, British doctor J Z Holwell wrote a book describing the Indian way of inoculation against smallpox and it’s effectiveness. Western medicine did not have any inoculation against smallpox at that time. In 1798, Edward Jenner demonstrated inoculation against the smallpox using cowpox and it became a part of Western medicine by 1840. No sooner did that happen that the British in India banned the older method of inoculation, without testing the effectiveness of the new method of inoculation. From then on, the smallpox became a greater scourge than ever before in India.
Solar System: Indian mathematician and astronomer Aryabhata (500 AD) mentioned the earth to spin on its axis and described the planet periods with reference to the sun. He also mentioned that the solar system to be several hundred million miles across. In all of these things he was ahead of the rest of the world by more than a thousand years. In Indian astrology, the sun is at the center of the solar system, in which all the planets revolve around the fixed sun. It is now known as the Heliocentric Theory. Also, Indians were the first to calculate the age of the Earth to 8.64 billion years in 5th century BC!
Solar Year: Bhaskara Achārya (1114 - 1185), also known as Bhaskara II, was an Indian mathematician and astronomer. The study of astronomy in Bhaskara Achārya’s works is based on the solar system and movements of planets, which are determined by gravitation. It is now known as heliocentric theory. The heliocentrism had been propounded in 499 by Aryabhata, who argued that the planets follow elliptical orbits around the Sun. The law of gravity had been described by Brahmagupta in the 7th century. Analysing the available information, Bhaskara Achārya accurately calculated many astronomical quantities, including, the length of the sidereal year, the time that is required for the Earth to orbit the Sun, as 365.2587 days. The modern measurement is 365.2596 days, a difference of just nine seconds! This amazing result was achieved using observations that had been made with only the naked eye, not with sophisticated scientific instrument. Bhaskara Achārya did this feat several centuries before British Astronomer W.M.Smart did in 1920’s.
Spinning Wheel: The origins of spinning wheel are still unclear but it was probably invented in India. The device certainly reached Europe from India between the 13th and 14th century CE. Improved from the hand-spinning method, the spindle was set horizontally in a wheel turned by a foot pedal and produced a single thread. Later, the mechanisation of spinning wheel by Hargreaves and Arkwright led to the industrial revolution, which primarily helped Britain to become a developed western country.
Stepwell: Rock-cut step wells in India date back to 200-400 CE. Subsequently, the wells at Dhank (550-625 CE) and construction of stepped ponds at Bhinmal (850-950 CE) took place. The city of Mohenjodaro had as many as 700 wells wells, which may be the predecessors of the step well. They have been discovered in just one section of the city, leading scholars to believe that 'cylindrical brick lined wells' were invented by the people of the Indus Valley Civilization.
Sugar: Different species of sugarcane must have been originated in several countries. However, the large scale cultivation of sugarcane is attributed to South Asia and the Southeast Asia. The process of crystallizing sugarcane juice into sugar was discovered during the Gupta dynasty, around AD 350. The process was soon transferred to China by the Buddhist monks. Chinese documents confirm at least two missions to India, initiated in 647 CE, for leanring the process and obtaining required equipments for crystallizing sugar. The etymology of the English word "sugar" originates from the Arabic and Persian word shakar, itself derived from Sanskrit word Sharkara.
Sushruta: During 600 BC, ‘Sushruta’, an Indian physician had become the master to perform surgeries such as joint replacements, caesarean, cataract removal on humans. He also performed various complex cosmetic surgeries to wounded soldiers in war. In his well known medical textbook ‘Sushruta Samhita’, he classified the surgery into 8 main categories, described more than 300 surgical procedures and explained the usage of over 120 surgical instruments. Not surprisingly, today’s physicians and surgeons still follow similar surgical procedures, techniques and use instruments as described in his medical textbook. Hritshoola, means ‘Heart Pain’, was first known to Sushruta. He also linked reason for the heart pain to ‘Obesity’ (medoroga).
Trigonometry: The significant developments of trigonometry were made in India. The Indian mathematician and astronomer, Aryabhata (476–550 AD), in his work Aryabhata-Siddhanta, first defined the sine as the modern relationship between half an angle and half a chord, while also defining the cosine, versine, and inverse sine. His works also contain the earliest surviving tables of sine values and versine (1 - cosine) values, in 3.75° intervals from 0° to 90°, to an accuracy of 4 decimal places. He used the words jya for sine, kojya for cosine, ukramajya for versine, and otkram jya for inverse sine. The words jya and kojya later eventually became sine and cosine respectively after a mistranslation! In the 14th century, Madhava of Sangamagrama and his successors at the Kerala school of Astronomy and Mathematics made early strides in the analysis of trigonometric functions and their infinite series expansions. He developed the concepts of the power series and Taylor-Maclaurin series, produced the trigonometric series expansions of sine, cosine, tangent and arctangent. Using the Taylor series approximations of sine and cosine, he produced a sine table to 12 decimal places of accuracy and a cosine table to 9 decimal places of accuracy. He also gave the power series of π and the θ, radius, diameter and circumference of a circle in terms of trigonometric functions. His works were expanded by his followers at the Kerala School up to the 16th century.
Toilet: The 3rd millennium BC was the "Age of Cleanliness." Toilets and sewers were built in many parts of the world. Mohenjodaro, a site of the Indus Valley Civilisation had the advanced toilets built into the outer walls of every house. These were the "western-style" toilets made from bricks with wooden seats on top. They had vertical chutes, through which waste fell into sewerage system or large cesspits. Sir Mortimer Wheeler, the director general of archaeology in India from 1944 to 1948, wrote, "The quality of the sanitary system could well be envied in many parts of the world today."
University: Nalanda University was perhaps the world's first residential university. It had dormitories for students and teachers. In its heyday, it accommodated over 10,000 students and 2,000 teachers. It was considered as an architectural masterpiece. It had eight separate compounds and ten temples, with classrooms and meditation halls. On the grounds were lakes and parks. It had possibly one of the largest library of its time. The library was located in a 9 storied building. Its collection of manuscripts was said to comprise hundreds of thousands of volumes. It also produced meticulous copies of various manuscripts. The subjects taught at Nalanda University covered every field of learning, and attracted pupils and scholars from all over the world. The Tang Dynasty Chinese pilgrim Xuanzang left detailed accounts of the university in the 7th century. In 1193, the Nalanda University was sacked by Bakhtiyar Khilji. Legend has that the only thing Khilji asked was if there was a copy of the Koran at Nalanda before he ordered to sacked it. The Persian historian Minhaz, in his chronicle the Tabaquat-I-Nasiri, reported that thousands of monks were beheaded or burned alive, and burning of the library of Nalanda University continued for several months and "smoke from the burning manuscripts hung for days like a dark pall over the low hills."
Vaccination: The tradition of vaccination may have originated in India in 1000 AD. In the Dictionaire des sciences me`dicales, the French scholar Henri Marie Husson described about early form of vaccination in the Ayurvedic text Sact'eya Grantham. The earliest record of vaccination for the smallpox was found in Nidāna, a 79-chapter medical textbook, written by Madhav. In his book, he lists various diseases along with their causes, symptoms and complications. He included a special chapter on smallpox (masūrikā) and described the method of vaccination to protect against the smallpox.
Veterinary Medicine: The first written record of veterinary medicine can be found in the Vedic period literatures. Later, one of the edicts of Ashoka (272 - 231 BCE) reads: "Everywhere King Asoka erected two kinds of hospitals, hospitals for people and hospitals for animals. Where there were no healing herbs for people and animals, he ordered that they be bought and planted."
Vimana: Although, there aren’t any physical remains of an ancient Indian aircraft, in Vedic literatures, there are descriptions of flying objects that were generally called the ‘Vimana’. Also, references to flying objects are common in ancient Indian literatures. The most popular Indian epics, the Ramayana and Mahabharata describe Vimana’s use in travelling and in warfare. The Samara Sudradhara, written in 400 BC, describes about the ‘Vimana’ in great detail in it’s 230 verses including the construction, take off, cruising for more than 1,000 miles and even what to do in case of a collision with a bird! The Vimanika Sastra, written in 400 BC, describes about 3 different types of flying objects, 31 parts and 16 materials that were used in their construction.
Water Wheel: Ancient Indian texts, written in 400 BC, describe about the use of ‘Cakkavattaka’ (Turning Wheel), which commentaries explain as ‘Arahatta-Ghati-Yanta’ (wheel with pots attached). On this basis, Joseph Needham suggested that the equipment must have been a ‘Noria’. Thorkild Schiøler mentioned that it is "more likely some type of tread or hand-operated water-lifting wheel, which was primarily used for agricultural irrigation from river or canal."
Yoga: Rig Veda, earliest of the Hindu scripture mentions about the Yoga. Certainly the mind and breath control was practiced since the Vedic times. Popular yoga writer Georg Feuerstein believes that yoga was fundamental to the Vedic ritual, especially to chanting the sacred hymns. In Upanishads, an early reference to meditation is made in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, one of the earliest Upanishads (approx. 900 BCE). The main textual sources for the evolving concept of Yoga are the middle Upanishads, (ca. 400 BCE), the Mahabharata (5th c. BCE) including the Bhagavad Gita (ca. 200 BCE), and the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (200 BCE-300 CE). Several seals discovered at Indus Valley Civilization (c. 3300-1700 BC) sites depict figures in a yoga or meditation-like posture, "suggesting a precursor of yoga" that point to the Harappan devotion to the "ritual decipline and concentration", according to Archaeologist Gregory Possehl.
Zero: The concept of using ‘0’ as a number, and not merely a symbol for separation is attributed to ancient Indians. The oldest document that may be argued to contain the use of zero and decimal notation is the Jain cosmological text Lokavibhaga, which was completed in 458 AD. The first evidence proving the ancient Indian use of zero is the tablet stone inscribed on the wall of a small temple near Lashkar, Gwalior dated 933 in the Vikrama calendar (876 CE). However, Arabic court records and the Persian mathematician Al-Khwarizmi's book On the Calculation with Hindu Numerals, very clearly indicate that the use of zero by the ancient Indians predate 876 AD. The Indian mathematician Brahmagupta, in his book, Brahmasphutasiddhanta trated the number ‘0’ (Shunya) as a number, rather than as a placeholder digit in representing another number as was done by the Babylonians or as a symbol for a lack of quantity as was done by Ptolemy and the Romans. In chapter 18, Brahmagupta even describes about the negative numbers, addition and subtraction. It is now known that without ‘0’, we couldn’t have formed the ‘Binary Code’. Without the Binary code, we couldn’t have created the Internet, softwares and several digital technologies.
Zinc: Zinc mines of Zawar, near Udaipur, Rajasthan, were active during 400 BC. There are references of medicinal uses of Zinc in the Charaka Samhita (300 BC). The Rasaratna Samuccaya (800 AD) explains the existence of two types of Zinc ores for Zinc metal, one of which is ideal for metal extraction while the other is used for the medicinal purpose.
IN THE MODERN WORLD
Ballistic Missiles: India is one of the only four countries in the world that has Anti Ballistic Missile capability called as the Indian Ballistic Missile Defense Program. The Integrated Guided Missile Development Program (IGMDP) was an Indian Ministry of Defence program for the development of a comprehensive range of missiles, including the intermediate range Agni missile (Surface to Surface), and short range missiles such as the Prithvi ballistic missile (Surface to Surface), Akash missile (Surface to Air), Trishul missile (Surface to Air) and Nag Missile (Anti Tank). The program was headed by Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO), with former President of India, Dr. A.P.J.Abdul Kalam, being one of the key chief engineers of the project. India has methodically built an indigenous missile production capability, using its commercial space-launch program to develop the skills and infrastructure needed to support an offensive ballistic missile program.
Bhabha Scattering: In 1935, Indian nuclear physicist Homi J. Bhabha published a paper in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, Series A, in which he described the first calculation to determine the cross section of Electron-Positron scattering. Electron-Positron scattering was later named as the ‘Bhabha scattering’, in his honour. Bhabha scattering has been used as a luminosity monitor in a number of e+e- collider physics experiments. The accurate measurement of luminosity is necessary for the accurate measurements of cross sections of Electron-Positron scattering.
Bollywood: India produces more movies than any other country in the world. Every year, the Indian film industry produces more than 800 full-length musical feature films, 300 short films, 200 documentaries and several TV dramas in more than 15 Indian languages. This amounts to more than two films being produced every day!
Bose Speaker: Bose audio speakers and audio systems are very popular for its unique Acoustimass and Acoustic Waveguide Technology. Dr. Amar Gopal Bose of ‘Bose Corporation’ invented the Acoustimass and Acoustic Waveguide Technology.
Crescograph: Crescograph is a device for measuring growth in plants, was invented in the early 20th century by the Indian Physicist Jagdish Chandra Bose. Crescograph uses a series of clockwork gears and a smoked glass plate to record the movement of the tip of a plant or its roots at magnifications of up to 10,000. Marks are made on the glass plate at intervals of a few seconds, demonstrating how the rate of growth varies under varying temperatures, chemicals, gasses and electricity.
Cruise Missile: BrahMos is a supersonic cruise missile that can be launched from the submarines, ships, aircrafts or land. The acronym BrahMos is perceived as the confluence of the two nations represented by two great rivers, the Brahmaputra of India and the Moskva of Russia. BrahMos is a joint venture between India's Defense Research and Development Organization and Russia's NPO Mashinostroeyenia who have together formed the BrahMos Corp. Propulsion is based on the Russian Yakhont missile, and guidance has been developed by BrahMos Corp. At speeds of Mach 2.5 to 2.8, BrahMos is the world's fastest cruise missile. At about three and a half times faster than the American subsonic Harpoon cruise missile.
Curry Night: Perhaps, the most popular of all India's culinary exports to the world, the ‘Curry’ was recently named as the most popular dish in many parts of the world. ‘Curry’ derives its name from 'Kari', a Tamil word for tangy vegetable gravy. In some parts of the world, going for a 'Curry and a Lager' is an intrinsic part of a 'Night Out'!
Electronic Voting Machine: India is the largest democracy in the world with more than 800 million registered voters. India is the very first country in the world to use Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) in the national, state and local elections since 1998. The EVM consists of two units - (1) Control unit and (2) Balloting unit with a cable for connecting it with Control unit. Balloting unit can list upto 16 candidates. Four Balloting units linked together can list upto 64 candidates; can be used with one Control unit. The Polling officer monitors Control unit and the Balloting unit is used by the voter for registering the vote. EVM’s use a 6-volt battery and helps to eliminate the use of printed ballot paper; it’s transportation, storage, counting and human errors.
Gold Consumption: India is the world’s largest consumer of gold and gold jewellery, accounting for 22% of global consumption. Estimated Indian gold reserves at 25,000 -30,000 tonnes are double of the next largest country - the USA with 14,000. For the last 2,000 years, India has been the largest buyer of gold. The early Christian saint John of Ephesus predicted that the Roman love of Indian Spices (paid for in gold coins) will be the reason for Roman downfall. To ‘control’ the drain of gold, the Romans started cheating the Indians by reducing the gold content in the coins. The Indians just stopped accepting the coins and demanded payment in pure gold. During various collapses of temporary gold standards in history, the Indian gold reserves (unwillingly) stabilised world economies. In recent history, the Indian gold reserves went out to stabilise the American currency during the Great Depression and the German currency during the post-Weimar drift.
Hotmail: The original Hotmail service was founded and developed by Sabeer Bhatia and Jack Smith. It was one of the world’d first webmail services on the Internet. It was launched on July 4, 1996, American Independence Day, symbolizing "freedom" from ISP based e-mail and the ability to access a user's inbox from anywhere in the world. The name "Hotmail" was chosen out of many possibilities ending in "mail" as it included the letters HTML - the coding used behind all web pages (to emphasize this, the original spelling was "HoTMaiL"). Hotmail was acquired in 1997 by Microsoft for an estimated $400M, and rebranded it as "MSN Hotmail".
Indian Railways: Indian Railways is the largest and busiest rail networks in the world, transporting eighteen million passengers daily and more than two million tonnes of freight daily. It is also the largest commercial or utility employer, with more than 12 million employees. The railroutes cover a total length of more than 63,327 km (39,500 miles). As of 2008, Indian Railways owned about 225,000 wagons, 45,000 coaches and 8,300 locomotives and ran more than 18,000 trains daily, including about 8,984 passenger trains and 9,387 goods trains.
Indian Space Mission: India’s indigenous space program started in 1963. From then on, India is developing it’s own satellites and launch vehicles without any kind of technological help from the developed countries. All Indian satellites mainly support telecommunications, TV broadcasting, earth observation, weather forecasting, remote distance education and healthcare services. India's constellation of 7 communication and remote sensing satellites is the largest in the world. India is now ranked 5th in the world in terms of satellite launches. Setting a world record, in April 2008, India's indigenous PSLV-C9 rocket successfully placed ten satellites into the orbit in a single launch. In October 2008, India launched unmanned indigenous Chandrayaan-1 moon mission to map a 3-D atlas of the moon, scan the lunar surface for rare energy sources such as Helium-3 and search chemical and mineral composition of the moon surface. So far, the USA, Russia, China, and Japan are the other countries to have successfully launched a moon mission.
Intel Pentium Microprocessor: Intel Pentium needs no introduction as 95% of the modern computer CPUs run on it. Vinod Dham is often referred to as the father of the Intel Pentium processor, although many people, including John H. Crawford (of i386 and i486 alumni), were involved in the design and development of the processor.
Maha Kumbh Mela: Kumbh Mela is a mass Hindu pilgrimage. It occurs four times every twelve years and rotates among four locations: Allahabad (Prayag), Haridwar, Ujjain and Nashik. Every 12-year cycle includes a Maha Kumbh Mela at Allahabad (Prayag), which is attended around 70-80 million people, making it the largest human gathering anywhere in the world.
Molecular Biophysics: Gopalasamudram Narayana Iyer Ramachandran is considered as the ‘Founder’ of molecular biophysics, for bringing together different components such as peptide synthesis, X-ray crystallography, NMR and other optical studies, and physico-chemical experimentation, together into one field of molecular biophysics. He found the first Molecular Biophysics unit in 1970.
Nobel Prize is world renowned and respected. Following Indians have won the Nobel Prize and made India proud.
Nobel Prize for Literature (1913): Rabindranath Tagore (1861 - 1941) - Tagore was born and lived in Calcutta for most of his life. He was one of modern India's greatest poets and the composer of independent India's national anthem. In 1901, he founded his school, the Santiniketan. The school was a success and gave birth to Viswabharati. He was awarded the 1913 Nobel Prize in Literature for his work "Gitanjali"; for the English version, published in 1912. The noble citation stated that it was "because of his profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse, by which, with consummate skill, he has made his poetic thought, expressed in his own English words, a part of the literature of the West." In 1915, he was knighted by the British King George V. He renounced his knighthood in 1919 following the Amritsar massacre.
Nobel Prize for Physics (1930): Sir C.V. Raman (Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman) (1888 - 1970) - C. V. Raman was born on 7th Nov. 1888 in Thiruvanaikkaval, in the Trichy district of Tamil Nadu. He finished school by the age of eleven and by then he had already read the popular lectures of Tyndall, Faraday and Helmoltz. He acquired his BA degree from the Presidency College, Madras, where he carried out original research in the college laboratory, publishing the results in philosophical magazine. Then went to Calcutta and while he was there, he made enormous contributions to vibration, sound, musical instruments, ultrasonics, diffraction, photo electricity, colloidal particles, X-ray diffraction, magnetron, dielectrics, and the much celebrated "RAMAN" effect which fetched him the Noble Prize in 1930. He was the first Asian scientist to win the Nobel Prize. The Raman effect occurs when a ray of incident light excites a molecule in the sample, which subsequently scatters the light. While most of this scattered light is of the same wavelength as the incident light, some wavelengths of the light beam are different from that of the primary light beam. It occurs because of the result of Raman effect. The Raman effect is useful in the study of molecular energy levels, structure development, and multi component qualitative analysis.
Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology (1968): Dr. Hargobind Khorana - Dr. Khorana was born on 9th January 1922 at Raipur, Punjab (now in Pakistan). Dr. Khorana was responsible for producing the first man-made gene in his laboratory in the early seventies. This historic invention won him the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1968 sharing it with Marshall Nuremberg and Robert Holley for interpreting the genetic code and analysing its function in protein synthesis. They all independently made contributions to the understanding of the genetic code and how it works in the cell. They established that this mother of all codes, the biological language common to all living organisms, is spelled out in 3 letter words: each set of three nucleotides codes for a specific amino acid.
Nobel Prize for Physics (1983): Dr. Subramaniam Chandrasekar - Subramaniam Chandrashekhar was born on October 19, 1910 in Lahore (in Pakistan). He attended Presidency College, Madras, from 1925 to 1930, following the footsteps of his uncle, Sir C. V. Raman. His work spanned over the understanding of the rotation of planets, stars, white dwarfs, neutron stars, black holes, galaxies, and clusters of galaxies. He won the Nobel Prize in 1983 for his theoretical work on stars and their evolution.
Nobel Prize for Peace (1979): Mother Teresa (1910 - 1997) - Born in 1910, Skoplje, Yugoslavia (then Turkey) and originally named Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, Mother Teresa dedicated her life to helping the poor, the sick, and the dying around the world, particularly those in India, working through the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta. The Society of Missionaries has spread all over the world. They provide effective help to the poorest of the poor in a number of countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, and they undertake relief work in the wake of natural catastrophes such as floods, epidemics, and famine, and for refugees. The order also has houses in North America, Europe and Australia, where they take care of the shut-ins, alcoholics, homeless, and AIDS sufferers. Mother Teresa died on September 5, 1997.
Nobel Prize for Economics (1998): Dr. Amartya Sen - Born in 1933, Bolpur, in West Bengal. He was honoured with the Nobel Prize for his work in the Welfare economics. When Thailand's Baht plummeted, markets from Bombay to New York were in turmoil and there was talk of worldwide depression, Sen's argument that growth should be accompanied by democratic decision-making seemed only too correct. Amidst the human suffering caused by mass unemployment and exacerbated -- as many felt - by the stringent economic policies of the International Monetary Fund and ideas of free-market capitalism, Sen's call for social support in the development appeared humane and wise. A new brand of softer, gentler economics seemed in order. Although Sen is probably best known for his research on famines, his work on women - the attention he has drawn to their unequal status in the developing world, and his calls for gender-specific aid programs - is just as important.
Optical Fiber: Narinder Singh Kapany is often described as the "Father of the Fiber Optics", for inventing the glass fiber with cladding during the early 1950’s. In 1952, he conducted experiments that led to the invention of optical fiber, based on Tyndall's earlier studies.
Radio Waves: In 1894, Physicist, Jagdish Chandra Bose, publicly demonstrated the use of radio waves in Calcutta, but he was not interested in patenting his work. He also ignited gunpowder and rang a bell at a distance using electromagnetic waves, showing independently that communication signals can be sent without using wires. In 1896, the Daily Chronicle of England reported on his Ultra High Frequency experiments: "J.C. Bose has transmitted signals to a distance of nearly a mile and herein lies the first and obvious and exceedingly valuable application of this new wireless marvel." The public demonstration by Jagdish Chandra Bose in Calcutta was earlier than Marconi's wireless signalling experiment on Salisbury Plain in England in May 1897.
Ramanujan's Sum: Srinivasa Ramanujan (22 December 1887 - 26 April 1920) was an Indian mathematician, who, with almost no formal education in mathematics, made substantial contributions to mathematical analysis, number theory, infinite series and continued fractions. At 17, Ramanujan conducted his own mathematical research on Bernoulli numbers and the Euler-Mascheroni constant. In 1912-1913, he sent samples of his mathematical theorems to three academicians at the University of Cambridge. Only G.H.Hardy had realised the brilliance of his theorems, subsequently inviting him to study at the Cambridge. Ramanujan had compiled more than 3900 results (mostly identities and equations) during his short span of lifetime. Ramanujan Prime and the Ramanujan Theta function have inspired further research. Recently, the Ramanujan's formula have found applications in Crystallography and String theory.
Supercomputer: PARAM Padma supercomputer was developed indigenously by the Center for Development of Advanced Computer (C-DAC). India is one of the only five countries in the world to have the next generation high performance scalable supercomputing cluster with a peak computing power of one Teraflop per second. The applications that could be run on the supercomputer are bioinformatics, computation atmospheric science, computational structural mechanics, evolutionary computing, seismic data processing, computational chemistry and computational fluid dynamics.
INTERESTING QUOTES ABOUT INDIA
A Rough Guide to India: "It is impossible not to be astonished by India. Nowhere on Earth does humanity present itself in such a dizzying, creative burst of cultures, traditions, religions, races, languages, music and dance. Enriched by successive waves of human migration from distant lands, every one of them made an indelible imprint, which was absorbed into the Indian way of life. Every aspect of the country presents itself on a massive, exaggerated scale, worthy in comparison only to the superlative mountains that overshadow it. It is this variety, which provides a breathtaking ensemble for experiences that is uniquely very Indian. Perhaps the only thing more difficult than to be indifferent to India would be to describe or understand India completely. There are perhaps very few nations in the world with the enormous variety that India has to offer. Modern day India represents the largest democracy in the world with a seamless picture of unity in diversity unparalleled anywhere else."
Albert Einstein: "We owe a lot to India and the Indians, who taught us how to count, without which no worthwhile scientific discovery could have been made!"
Apollonius Tyanaeus, Ancient Greek Traveller: "In India, I found a race of mortals living upon the earth, but not adhering to it, inhabiting cities, but not being fixed to them, possessing everything, but possessed by nothing."
B.G.Rele: "Our present knowledge of the nervous system fits in so accurately with the internal description of the human body given in the Vedas (5000 years ago). Then the question arises whether the Vedas are really religious books or books on science, medicine, and philosophy".
Colonel James Todd: "If not India, where else in the world I can find philosophies and philosophers, to whose works Plato, Thales and Pythagorus were disciples? Where do I find astronomers whose knowledge of planetary systems yet excites? Where do I find architects and sculptors whose works claim admiration? and the musicians who could make the mind oscillate from joy to sorrow, from tears to smile with the change of modes and intonation?"
Dr.Arnold Toynbee, British Historian: “It is already becoming clear that a chapter which had a Western beginning will have to have an Indian ending if it is not to end in the self-destruction. At this supremely dangerous moment in history, the only way of salvation for the mankind is the simple Indian way.”
Emmelin Plunret: "They were very advanced Indian astronomers in 6000 BC. Vedas contain an account of the dimension of Earth, Sun, Moon, Planets and Galaxies."
Grant Duff, British Historian of India: "Many of the developments in the science and technology that we consider today to have been made in Europe were in fact made in India several centuries ago".
Henry David Thoreau, American Thinker: "Whenever I have read any part of the Vedas, I have felt that some unearthly and unknown light illuminated me. In the great teaching of the Vedas, there is no touch of sectarianism. It is of all ages, climbs, and nationalities and is the royal road for the attainment of the Great Knowledge. When I read it, I feel that I am under the spangled heavens of a summer night"
Hu Shih, Former Chinese Ambassador to USA: "India conquered and dominated China for 20 centuries without ever having to send a single soldier across its border."
Keith Bellows, VP, National Geographic Society: "There are some parts of the world that, once visited, get into your heart and won’t go. For me, India is such a place. When I first visited, I was stunned by the richness of the land, by its lush beauty and exotic architecture, by its ability to overload the senses with the pure, concentrated intensity of its colors, smells, tastes, and sounds. I had been seeing the world in black and white and, when brought face-to-face with India, experienced everything re-rendered in brilliant colour."
Lancelot Hogben, Mathematician: "There has been no revolutionary mathematical contribution than the one which the Indians made when they invented ‘ZERO’."
Mark Twain: "India is the cradle of human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legends and the great grand mother of all world traditions. So far as I am able to judge, nothing has been left undone, either by man or nature, to make India the most extraordinary country that the sun visits on his rounds. Nothing seems to have been forgotten, nothing overlooked. India has many gods in all forms and all religions on this earth. In religion, all other countries are paupers. The one land that all humans desire to see, and having seen once, by even a glimpse, would not give that glimpse for all the shows of the rest of the globe combined."
Max Muller, German Scholar: "If I were to look over the whole world to find out a country most richly endowed with all the wealth, power and beauty that nature can bestow - in some part a very paradise on earth - I should point to India. There is no book in the world that is soul stirring and inspiring as the Vedas and Upanishads."
P.Johnstone: "Gravitation was known to the Indians before the birth of Newton. The system of blood circulation was discovered by them centuries before Harvey".
Romain Rolland, French Scholar: "If there is one place on the face of the earth where all dreams of living humans have found a home from the very earliest days when we began the dream of existence, it is India".
Sir W.Hunter, British Surgeon: "The surgical methods of ancient Indian physicians were very skilful and advanced at that time than anywhere else. A special branch of surgery was dedicated to rhinoplasty or operations for improving deformed ears, noses and forming new ones, which European surgeons have now borrowed."
Sir William Jones, British Orientalist: "The Sanskrit language, whatever be its antiquity is of wonderful structure, more perfect than the Greek, more copious than the Latin and more exquisitely refined than either."
Sri Aurobindo, Indian Philosopher: Indian "India of the ages is not dead nor has she spoken her last creative word; she lives and has still something to do for herself and the people. And that which must seek now to awake is not anglicised oriental people, docile pupil of the West and doomed to repeat the cycle of occident’s success and failure, but still the ancient immemorable Shakti recovering her deepest self, lifting her head higher towards the supreme source of light and strength and turning to discover the complete meaning and a vaster form of her Dharma."
Swami Vivekananda, Indian Philosopher: "Civilizations have arisen in other parts of the world. In ancient and modern times, wonderful ideas have been carried forward from one race to another...But, my friends, it has been always with the blast of war trumpets and the march of embattled cohorts. Each idea had to be soaked in a deluge of the blood. Each word of power had to be followed by the groans of millions, by the wails of orphans, by the tears of widows. This, many other nations have taught; but India for thousands of years has peacefully existed. Here activity prevailed when even Greece did not exist. Even earlier, when history has no record, and the tradition dares not peer into the gloom of that intense past, even from until now, ideas after ideas have marched out from her, but every word has been spoken with a blessing behind it and peace before it. We, of all nations of the world, have never been a conquering race, and that blessing is on our head, and therefore we live!"
Sylvia Levi: "India has left indelible imprints on the human race in the course of a long succession of centuries. India has the right to claim the top place amongst the great nations summarizing and symbolizing the spirit of humanity. From Persia to the Chinese sea, from the icy regions of Siberia to Islands of Java and Borneo, India has propagated her beliefs, her tales, her traditions, her faith and her civilization!"
W.Heisenberg, German Physicist: "After the conversations and discussions about the Indian philosophy, some of the ideas of recent Quantum Physics theories that had seemed so crazy to me suddenly made much more sense and understandable."
Wheeler Wilcox: "India - The land of Vedas, the remarkable works contain not only religious ideas for a perfect life, but also facts, which science has proved true. Electricity, radium, airship, all were known to the seers who founded the Vedas."
Will Durant, Late American Historian: “It is true that even across the Himalayan barrier India has sent to the west, such gifts as grammar and logic, philosophy and fables, hypnotism and chess, and above all numerical and the decimal system. India will teach us the tolerance and gentleness of mature mind, understanding spirit and a unifying, pacifying love for all human beings. India is the motherland of our human race and Sanskrit is the mother of all Indo-European languages. She is the mother of our philosophy, of our mathematics, mother of ideals embodied in Christianity and mother of our democracy. Mother India is in many ways the mother of us all."
William James, American Author: "From the Vedas, we can learn the practical art of surgery, medicine, music, house building under which mechanized art is included. They are the complete encyclopaedia of every aspect of life, culture, religion, science, ethics, law, cosmology and meteorology."