Ganita The Ganita Story

By S. Dani and Rahul Roy

In the 6th century BCE, a Greek mathematician named Pythagoras proved that the square of the hypotenuse of any right-angled triangle is the sum of the squares of its two other sides. This revolutionary theorem is considered the most ancient and widespread mathematical development after basic arithmetic and geometry. However, several discoveries or developments in Mathematics, such as the Pythagorean theorem, came about independently in various parts of the world including ancient Greece, Mesopotamia, Egypt, India, and China, in different times, although some of them may have also influenced one another with the flow of information through these lands. For instance, ancient clay tablets from Mesopotamia reveal that Babylonians knew about this theorem more than millennia before Pythagoras. Despite developing quite independently of Chinese, and probably also of Babylonian mathematics, some very advanced mathematical discoveries were made at an early time in India. Mantras from the early Vedic period invoke powers of ten from a hundred all the way up to a trillion, and provide evidence of the use of arithmetic operations such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, fractions, squares, cubes and roots.
Many claims are made about the contribution of ancient India in the field of science and technology, especially mathematics, astronomy, medical sciences and metallurgy etc. There is no doubt that Indians made a significant and long-lasting impact in the world of mathematics. But there is little understanding or appreciation, intellectually, of the specifics of our ancestors’ knowledge or achievements, beyond the jingoistic claims. This video explores the discoveries and developments of concepts like zero and Pythagorean theorem that came into existence independently in different parts of the world, at different times. It may not be correct to claim that a particular country or civilization was the ‘first’ to discover the concept. 

About the Speakers: The story is told in the voices of well known mathematicians such as S. Dani and Rahul Roy. The film is divided into two parts: the first part explores the discovery of number system, zero and negative numbers, while the second part is about Pythagoras theorem and proof system.

Direction: Yousuf Saeed