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Encyclopedia > Aryabhatiya

"Āryabhatīya", an astronomical treastise, is the Magnum Opus and only extant work of the 5th century Indian Mathematician, Aryabhatta. Aryabhata (आर्यभट) (Āryabhaṭa) is the first of the great astronomers of the classical age of India. ...


Structure and style

The book is in Sanskrit and is a short 118 verses written in a poetic form, of which 33 verses are concerned with mathematical rules. It is important here to point out that no proofs are contained with his rules, and this is considered a primary reason for the neglect by western scholars. It is highly likely that the study of the Aryabhatiya was meant to be accompanied by the teachings of a well-versed tutor. While some of the verses have a logical flow, some don't and it's lack of coherance makes it extremely difficult for a casual reader to follow. Sanskrit ( संस्कृतम् ; pronunciation : ) is an Indo-European classical language of India and a liturgical language of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. ...

Indian mathematical works often used word numerals before Aryabhata, but the Aryabhatiya is oldest extant Indian work with alphabet numerals. That is, he used letters of the alphabet to form words with consonants giving digits and vowels denoting place value. This innovation allows for advanced arithmetical computations which would have been considerably more difficult without it. At the same time, this system of numeration allows for poetic license even in the author's choice of numbers.


The Aryabhatiya begins with an introduction called the Dasagitika or "Ten Giti Stanzas." This begins by paying tribute to Brahman, the "Cosmic spirit" in Hinduism. Next, Aryabhata lays out the numeration system used in the work. It icnludes a listing of astronomical constants and the sine table. The book then goes on to give an overview of Aryabhata's astronomical findings. For other uses of this word and similar words, see Brahman (disambiguation). ...

The bulk of the mathematics in the Aryabhatiya is contained in the next part, the Ganitapada or "Mathematics."

The next section of the Aryabhatiya is the Kalakriya or "The Reckoning of Time." In it, he divides up days, months, and years according to the movement of celestial bodies. He divides up history astrologically - it is from this exposition that historians deduced that the Aryabhatiya was written in 499 C.E. It also contains rules for computing the longitudes of planets using eccentrics and epicycles. Eccentric is from the Greek for out of the centre, as opposed to concentric, in the centre. ... In the Ptolemaic system of astronomy, the epicycle (literally: on the cycle in Greek) was a geometric model to explain the variations in speed and direction of the apparent motion of the Moon, Sun, and planets. ...

In the final section of the Aryabhatiya, the Gola or "The Sphere," Aryabhata goes into great detail describing the celestial relationship between the Earth and the cosmos. This section is noted for describing the rotation of the earth on it's axis. It further uses the armillary sphere and details rules relating to problems of trigonometry and the computation of eclipses.


It presents astronomical and mathematical theories in which the Earth was taken to be spinning on its axis and the periods of the planets were given with respect to the sun (in other words, it was heliocentric).He believes that the Moon and planets shine by reflected sunlight and he believes that the orbits of the planets are ellipses. He correctly explains the causes of eclipses of the Sun and the Moon. His value for the length of the sidereal year at 365 days 6 hours 12 minutes 30 seconds is only 3 minutes 20 seconds longer than the true value of 365 days 6 hours 9 minutes 10 seconds. In this book, the day was reckoned from one sunrise to the next, whereas in his "Āryabhata-siddhānta" he took the day from one midnight to another. There was also difference in some astronomical parameters.

A close approximation to π is given as : "Add four to one hundred, multiply by eight and then add sixty-two thousand. The result is approximately the circumference of a circle of diameter twenty thousand. By this rule the relation of the circumference to diameter is given." In other words, π ≈ 62832/20000 = 3.1416, correct to four rounded-off decimal places.

Aryabhata was the first astronomer to make an attempt at measuring the Earth's circumference since Erastosthenes (circa 200 BC). Aryabhata accurately calculated the Earth's circumference as 24,835 miles, which was only 0.2% smaller than the actual value of 24,902 miles. This approximation remained the most accurate for over a thousand years.

He also propounded the Heliocentric theory of the universe, thus predating Copernicus by almost one thousand years.

Aryabhata's methods of astronomical calculations have been in continuous use for practical purposes of fixing the Panchanga (Hindu calendar).

Significant verses


The Aryabhatiya was an extremely influential work as is exhibited by the fact that most notable Indian mathematicians after Aryabhata wrote commentaries on it. At least twelve notable commentaries were written for the Aryabhatiya ranging from the time he was still alive (c. 525) through 1900 ("Aryabhata I" 150-2). The commentators include Bhaskara and Brahmagupta among other notables. Bhaskara (1114-1185), also called Bhaskara II and Bhaskara Achārya (Bhaskara the teacher) was an Indian mathematician-astronomer. ... Brahmagupta (ब्रह्मगुप्त) (598-668) was an Indian mathematician and astronomer. ...

The 8th century Arabic translation of the Āryabhatīya was translated into Latin in the 13th century, before the time of Copernicus. Through this translation, European mathematicians may have learned methods for calculating square and cube roots, and it is also possible that Aryabhata's work had an influence on European astronomy. Arabic can mean: From or related to Arabia From or related to the Arabs The Arabic language; see also Arabic grammar The Arabic alphabet, used for expressing the languages of Arabic, Persian, Malay ( Jawi), Kurdish, Panjabi, Pashto, Sindhi and Urdu, among others. ... It has been suggested that History of the Latin language be merged into this article or section. ...

Although the work was influential, there is no definitive English translation. There are a number of translations but many are incomplete. The meanings of certain parts of the work are still disputed to this day.


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  Results from FactBites:
Aryabhatiya - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (839 words)
It is highly likely that the study of the Aryabhatiya was meant to be accompanied by the teachings of a well-versed tutor.
The Aryabhatiya was an extremely influential work as is exhibited by the fact that most notable Indian mathematicians after Aryabhata wrote commentaries on it.
The 8th century Arabic translation of the Aryabhatiya was translated into Latin in the 13th century, before the time of Copernicus.
Aryabhata - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1560 words)
Aryabhata was the first in the line of brilliant mathematician-astronomers of classical India, whose major work was the Aryabhatiya and the Aryabhatta-siddhanta.
Aryabhatiya presented a number of innovations in mathematics and astronomy in verse form, which were influential for many centuries.
The subsequent confusion continued for some time, but in 1926 B Datta showed that al-Biruni's two Aryabhattas were one and the same.However there is a precise mention of the year of birth of Aryabhata in the Aryabhatiya (3-10) which corresponds to 476 AD.
  More results at FactBites »



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