Mathematics is one of the foremost field that culminated in all the scientific developments. Be it a space mission or an invention, use of mathematics is inevitable in every walk of our lives. One such figure who mastered this field in the classical age was Aryabhata. He was one of the leading mathematician and astronomer of India.
Aryabhata’s year of birth is based on the timeline of publication of his work, which can vary. However, historians have estimated that he must have born around 476 CE in Patalipura or Kusumapura, now known as Patna. Other theories involve that he was from Kerala. Whichever may his birthplace be, it is presumed that at some point he must have moved to Kusumapura for higher studies. It is also speculated that he became the head of an educational institute there at some point, and in Patlipura he was at Nalanda University. Moreover, it is believed that he established an observatory at Bihar.
His magnum opus Aryabhatiya, was one of the primary source of mathematical and astronomical studies. This compendium of mathematics has survived numerous centuries and still found relevant to the mathematical field. It includes chapters on spherical trigonometry, algebra and arithmetic among other content. His other major work includes, Varahamihira, a compendium based on astronomical computations. This contemporary work is based on the Surya Siddhanta’s Arya-siddhanta which got lost over the centuries. However, the crucial work on midnight day reckoning has survived through Aryabhata’s Varahamihira. Furthermore, the book introduces and describes several astronomical instruments. Those tools include the gnomon, an umbrella-shaped device, a shadow instrument etc.
Besides those compendiums, his other work survived in Arabic translation, Al ntf or Al-nanf, while its Sanskrit translation remained lost. It is supposed that Aryabhata himself translated the work. In addition to that, his complete works are called Aryabhatiya by the critics. While, Bhaskara I named his work Ashmakatantra. Due to the fact that it has 13 introductory verses, 108 main verses and four chapters, it has also been referred to as Arya-shatas-aShTa.
The first chapter of the text is called Gitikapada, containing 13 verses, based on cosmology and discusses planetary revolution as well. The next chapter includes 33 verses and is called Ganitapada. This chapter highlights the arithmetic and geometric problems and mesuration. How the position of planets is determined on a given day and the unit of time is discussed by Aryabhata in the third chapter with 25 verses, titled Kalakriyapada. The final fourth chapter, Golapada, was consisted of the highest number of verses that was 50. It elucidates the astronomical elements and features of the ecliptic, celestial equator, astrological aspects like rising of zodiacal signs and phenomenon of day and night.
Aryabhatiya represents innovation in the presentation and discussion of such complex mathematical and astronomical aspects in the verses form. It left a profound imprint on the mathematicians in the years and centuries to come. Since the text of his compendium was quite brief, hence his admired disciple Bhaskara I commented on his work to further elaborate on the subject of his discussion.
His legacy was his detailed explanation of astronomical science. Aryabhata’s work is an exposition on planetary movement and solar and lunar changes that occur and the unit of time marked by sidereal periods. This legacy had a great impact on Indian astronomical tradition.