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Invention of Zero and Jain Mathematics

Updated on July 9, 2018
jainismus profile image

Mahaveer Sanglikar is a famous numerologist, graphologist, face reader, motivator and author from Pune, India.

Zero | Source

Zero was invented in ancient India, which was later adopted by Arabs. Europeans adopted it from Arabs. Here is a brief history of the number Zero, which was a revolution in the history of mankind.

A Brief History of Zero

Zero is one of the two greatest inventions in the history of mankind. Wheel was the first greatest invention and it is a co-incidence that both the inventions are 'circular'. Both the inventions changed the life of mankind. The wheel made a revolution in transportation and machinery, while Zero brought a revolution in mathematics and calculation.

There was a Zero like concept in ancient Mesopotamia, but for the Mesopotamians, Zero was not a separate number. Instead of a separate number, they used a space for Zero.

The Mayans were another inventors of Zero in another form, but unfortunately, they had no communications with other world, so their Zero couldn't spread worldwide.

It were the Indian mathematicians who first used Zero as a number, and used a circle for it. Later, the Arabs adopted Indian Zero and used it in their mathematics. From Arabs, Zero went to Europeans and then it spread worldwide.

Who Invented Zero?

No doubt that the Indian mathematicians first used Zero in its present form, in concept and as a separate number. But which Indians actually were they?

Those who know about Vedic mathematics, think that it was Bhaskaracharya, a great mathematician of 7th century was the first to invent Zero. But the oldest reference to Zero is in a Jain work 'Lokvibhag' which was written by a Jain ascetic Acharya Sarvanandi. Bhaskaracharya was born in 600 C.E., while the book Lokavibhag was written in 458 C.E., 142 years before the birth of Bhaskaracharya.

Lokvibhag is a book on Jain Cosmology. It was written in the rein of the Pallav King Sinhvarman, at the city of Patalika in Vanrashtra as the book says. The book was written in Prakrit language. Later the book was translated to Sankrit by another Jain Acharya Sinhasuri. The Sanskrit translation is available.

It is notable that Bhaskarachary himself brought the numbers to his Sanskrit works from the numbers which already existed in Bramhi script. In ancient India Brahmi script was exclusively used to write books and inscriptions in Prakrit languages. Ancient Prakrit languages and Brahmi script are closely related to Jain works. All the sacred text of Jains were written in Prakrit Languages and Brahmi script.

Jain Mathematics

Jain mathematics is a section of Indian mathematics. In simple words, Jain mathematics could be described as the Mathematics developed and used by the Jain ascetics of India.

Jain mathematicians contributed a lot for the development of mathematics in ancient times.

As Jain philosophy says that the universe is infinitive, beginning less and endless, they did lot of research in the concepts of Space, Time and Matter. It was a necessity of the Jain ascetics to make big calculations. All this developed Jain mathematics.

Jain mathematicians used a very big numbers in their calculations.

Have a look at following number:

2588 = 1013 065324 433836 171511 818326 096474 890383 898005 918563 696288 002277 756507 034036 354527 929615 978746 851512 277392 062160 962106 733983 191180 520452 956027 069051 297354 415786 421338 721071 661056.

This is a number from Jain cosmological book. This number is the total age (in years) of the universe.

Jain mathematicains divided large numbers in three categories, namely Enumerable (Countable) Innumerable (Not countable) and Infinitive (Endless). An interesting thing to know about infinitive is that, according to Jain mathematicians, all infinitives are not the same. They divided infinitive in 5 categories.

Apart from this Jain mathematicians worked on indices, set theory, permutation combinations and many other concept we use today.

Books on Jain Mathematics

Here is a small list of ancient Jain books on Jain mathematics, which is useful for the student of ancient mathematics:

3rd Century B.C.E.
Vaishali Ganit
3rd Century B.C.E.
Stanang Sutra
3rd/2nd Century B.C.E.
3rdCentury B.C.E.
Anuyogdwar Sutra
2nd Century B.C.E.
Bhadravati Samhita
Acharya Bhadrabahu
298 B.C.E.
Acharya Yativrushabh
176 B.C.E.
Tatvarthadhigam Sutra
Acharya Umasvati
150 C.E.
Acharya Sarvanandi
458 C.E.
Acharaya Virsen
8th Cenury
Ganit Sar Sangrah
9th Century

There are many other books written by Jain mathematicians.

Suggested Video on Jain and Vedic Mathematics

© 2013 Mahaveer Sanglikar


Submit a Comment
  • Dmr Sekhar profile image

    Dmr Sekhar 

    4 years ago

    Interesting! When did Jain Dharm started? Is it before 2000 BCE or later.

    DMR Sekhar

  • Parthanon profile image


    5 years ago

    Was there any writing system in india during Mahaveer and Buddha's time? I have read thet Buddha's teachings were not put in writing until 400-500 years after his death. At tha time it was passed on oraly. Does the same apply to Mahaveer's teachings?

  • jainismus profile imageAUTHOR

    Mahaveer Sanglikar 

    5 years ago from Pune, India

    Yes, I am going to write a separate article on Siribhoovalaya.

  • profile image


    5 years ago

    Do you have any information on jain text Siribhoovalaya

  • thumbi7 profile image

    JR Krishna 

    6 years ago from India

    Very interesting hub.

    Look at the age of universe..Don't know how to read that number

    Voted up and shared

  • DREAM ON profile image


    6 years ago

    You took a lot of facts and made them interesting and easy to follow.Now I know who invented the zero.

  • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

    Vinaya Ghimire 

    6 years ago from Nepal

    I believed Bhaskaracharya invented the concept of zero until I read this hub. I'm not too much familiar with Jainism, but I know Siddhartha was a student of Jain sadhu before he became the Buddha. Sunnya (Zero) is often associated with Buddhist philosophy, however, some believe that the Buddha never spoke about Sunnya, and it was Nagarjuna, belonging to first or second century common era, who incorporated Sunnyata in Buddha's Teachings.

  • rajan jolly profile image

    Rajan Singh Jolly 

    6 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

    Very interesting and thanks for spreading the info.

  • teaches12345 profile image

    Dianna Mendez 

    6 years ago

    Thank goodness for the invention of Zero. I believe this article is very interesting and presents such fascinating facts. Thank you for the stimulating education.

  • LetitiaFT profile image


    6 years ago from Paris via California

    Fascinating! Thanks for sharing.

  • DDE profile image

    Devika Primić 

    6 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

    I knew who invented the zero and was surprised, you have such meaningful information and an interesting title too.

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 

    6 years ago from Olympia, WA

    Nice job of summarizing a very difficult concept. I did not know that zero came from India. Thank you for the information.


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