Early Life

  • Aryabhata was born around AD 476.
  • There are many theories regarding his place of birth. While one school of thought believes he was born in Pataliputra (Patna, Bihar), others are of the opinion that he was born in Kerala.

    Statue of Aryabhata
    Statue of Aryabhata
  • He lived in Magadha during the reign of the Guptas.

Aryabhata Work in Mathematics & Astronomy

  • He has composed at least two important works: Aryabhatiya and Arya Siddhanta. The latter is not available any more.
  • Aryabhata wrote Aryabhatiya in verse couplets, which is an elaborate work on mathematics and astronomical studies.
  • It has four distinct sections, namely: Gitikapada, Ganitapada, Kalakriyapada and Golapada.

Aryabhatiya

  • Gitikapada include varga (squares), ghana (cubes), vargamula (square roots), ghanamula (cube roots), area of a triangle and volume of a prism, area of a circle and volume of a sphere and circumference of a circle.
  • Ganitapada deals mainly arithmetic progression, geometrical progression, simple, simultaneous and quadratic equations, and geometrical figures.
  • Kalakriyapada, with twenty-five stanzas, actually means the estimation of time. It deals with topics like the division of time, definitions of solar year, lunar month, civil day, and sidereal day.
  • Golapada is the longest section of the work and it is for this section that he is most famous. The word gola means sphere. This section has fifty stanzas and explains the different ways of representing planetary motions.

Contribution

  • Aryabhata devised Calendric calculations and these calculation have been in continuous use in India for the practical purposes of fixing the Panchangam (the Hindu calendar).
  • In the Islamic world, the group of astronomers including Omar Khayyam introduced Jalali calendar  in 1073 CE based on Aryabhata’s calculation
  • He also calculated calculated that the circumference of the earth as being 39968.05 km, which is very close to the modern-day scientific calculation of 40072.66 km.
  • He also argued that the shadows of the moon and the earth are a result of the eclipses and not the mythical Rahu-Ketu.
  • Aryabhata introduced two systems of estimating time: the audayika system (from sunrise to the next sunrise) and the ardharaatrika system (from midnight to the next midnight).
  • He also calculated the time for one sidereal rotation of the earth as 23 hours 56 minutes 4.1 seconds.
  • Aryabhata invented a system of expressing numbers on the decimal place-value model by using the Sanskrit alphabet.
  • One of Aryabhata’s most important contributions is his approximation of the value of ‘pi’, or π.
  • The Arabs got hold of Aryabhatiya and translated it into Arabic under the title Zij al-arjabhar. It greatly influenced the development of Arabian mathematics.

Legacy

  • The extreme briefness of the text was elaborated in commentaries by his disciple Bhaskara I (Bhashya, c. 600 CE) and by Nilakantha Somayaji in his Aryabhatiya Bhasya, (1465 CE).
  • Aryabhata is also remembered for defining terms like prime vertical, meridian, equator, horizon, hour circle, and parallax.
  • Aryabhata believed in the geocentric model of the universe. He was the first Indian astronomer to explain that the rotation of the earth causes the apparent daily motions of the immovable stars .
  • He explained this theory through the popular example of a person in a moving boat to whom a stationary object appears to move in the opposite direction.
  • Some of Aryabhata’s rules for the calculation of square and cube roots by the arithmetical method are still in use.
  • The ISRO first indigenously built Indian satellite was named Aryabhata in his honour.

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