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Ancient India’s Brahmagupta: Pioneering the Foundations of Mathematics and Astronomy

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In the annals of history, there are individuals whose contributions shape the course of human knowledge. Brahmagupta, an Indian mathematician and astronomer who lived during the 7th century CE, was one such luminary. His groundbreaking works, the “Brāhmasphuṭasiddhānta” and the “Khaṇḍakhādyaka,” not only revolutionized the fields of mathematics and astronomy but also laid the groundwork for countless future discoveries. In this blog post, we will delve into the life and accomplishments of Brahmagupta, highlighting his pioneering insights into gravity.

Brahmagupta: A Brief Biography

Born around 598 CE in the ancient city of Ujjain, Brahmagupta belonged to a lineage of esteemed mathematicians and astronomers. His father, Jisnugupta, was also a mathematician, and it is likely that Brahmagupta inherited his passion for these disciplines from his family. Brahmagupta’s genius became evident at a young age, and he made his mark as a prominent mathematician during the Gupta dynasty in India.

The Brāhmasphuṭasiddhānta: A Theoretical Masterpiece

In 628 CE, Brahmagupta authored his most renowned work, the “Brāhmasphuṭasiddhānta,” which translates to the “correctly established doctrine of Brahma.” This monumental text, consisting of 24 chapters, encompasses a wide range of mathematical and astronomical concepts. It was a significant departure from earlier works, as Brahmagupta introduced innovative ideas and theories that would influence scholars for centuries to come.

One of his most notable contributions was his description of gravity as an attractive force. In this groundbreaking insight, Brahmagupta used the Sanskrit term “gurutvākarṣaṇam (गुरुत्वाकर्षणम्)” to articulate this concept. This was a remarkable precursor to Isaac Newton’s universal law of gravitation, which would not be formulated until over a millennium later.

Brahmagupta’s work on algebra was equally pioneering. He introduced the rules for performing arithmetic operations with both positive and negative numbers, including zero. These foundational concepts were instrumental in shaping the development of algebraic notation and paved the way for future mathematical advances.

The Khaṇḍakhādyaka: A Practical Guide

Following the success of the “Brāhmasphuṭasiddhānta,” Brahmagupta continued to contribute to mathematics and astronomy. In 665 CE, he penned the “Khaṇḍakhādyaka,” which translates to “edible bite.” This text, in contrast to the theoretical nature of his earlier work, served as a more practical guide for astronomers and surveyors. It provided valuable insights into the calculation of various celestial phenomena, such as eclipses, planetary positions, and lunar and solar cycles.

Legacy and Impact

Brahmagupta’s contributions to mathematics and astronomy extended far beyond his time. His pioneering ideas and theories laid the foundation for the development of modern mathematics and the scientific understanding of celestial bodies. The concept of gravity as an attractive force, as described in the “Brāhmasphuṭasiddhānta,” was a remarkable precursor to Isaac Newton’s groundbreaking work in the 17th century.

Furthermore, Brahmagupta’s work on algebraic rules and number systems significantly influenced subsequent mathematicians in India and the Islamic world. His legacy can be seen in the algebraic notation and techniques that we use today.


Brahmagupta, a brilliant mathematician and astronomer of ancient India, left an indelible mark on the history of science. His theoretical treatise, the “Brāhmasphuṭasiddhānta,” and practical guide, the “Khaṇḍakhādyaka,” revolutionized our understanding of mathematics and astronomy. His description of gravity as an attractive force and his contributions to algebraic notation continue to inspire and shape the world of mathematics and science. Brahmagupta’s work serves as a testament to the enduring impact of knowledge and the brilliance of human innovation.

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By Mala Chandrashekhar

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