Invention of Zero and Jain Mathematics
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 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.
3rd Century B.C.E.
3rd/2nd Century B.C.E.
2nd Century B.C.E.
Ganit Sar Sangrah
There are many other books written by Jain mathematicians.
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© 2013 Mahaveer Sanglikar