for Sakaal Times (India) on April 21, 2010
Sir Isaac Newton supposedly conceived of gravity by observing an apple fall from a tree.
Ancient Indian mathematician Bhaskaracharya, in his book Siddhanta Shriromani, defined laws of gravity in the 12th century, 500 years before Newton defined them for us. The speed of light has been known to Indians since the Vedic period, centuries before it was calculated by the Western world.
Maitree, a group of professionals from Tata Consultancy Services and Bengaluru-based NGO Samskrita Bharati, have come together with a unique exhibition, Pride of India, to spread awareness about India's rich scientific heritage.
The exhibition in Pune on Friday April 16th showcased 150 posters, each explaining one Sanskrit shloka from ancient Indian scientific literature.
“The shlokas (verses) by ancient scientists and mathematicians like Bhaskaracharya, Baudhayana, Apastambha and Bhaskaracharya's daughter Leelavati have been showcased in the exhibition.” said Aashish Manjaramkar, exhibition coordinator. “Our aim is to tell that zero is not the only contribution that Indians have made to science and math.” he added.
Manjramkar commented, “Very few of us know that the speed of light was known to Indians in the Vedic period. A shloka says that the speed of light is 2202 yojana per half nimesha. A yojana is a unit of distance which is equal to 9.06 miles and half a nimesha is one tenth of a second. The figure is very close to the modern measurement of speed of light.”
“One of the shlokas in the exhibition describes a conversation between Bhaskaracharya and his daughter Leelavati, who also was a mathematician. The conversation beautifully explains the spherical shape of the earth and the gravitational force that keeps planets revolving in space,” said Manjaramkar.
Samskrita Bharati, which works in all major cities of India and also in 16 US cities, was established in 1983 and works for the promotion of Sanskrit as a spoken language. The organization regularly stages such events across India.