Gupta Empire Science Mathematics Astronomy Medicine
The Gupta Empire period was popular for several reasons. One of the reasons was the advancement achieved by the Gupta’s in the field of science. Many new developments were brought about in the scientific area. One of the crucial achievements in science was the development made in metallurgy.
The development of metallurgy is evident from the construction of pillars like the Iron Pillar. The pillar is an illustration of the skills of the Gupta people. Another important progress was the discovery of modern system of numbers. This invention had laid the base for modern day science.
Some of them include development in mathematics, astronomy and medicine. The chief exponents of the development in science and related fields were Aryabhatta and Varahamihira.
One of the important developments in this field was the decimal system notation. The place-value system achieved its final stage during this time. During the Gupta dynasty period, there was no symbol for denoting ‘zero’. However, Aryabhatta in place-value system used the powers of ten with null co-efficients to indicate ‘zero’.
The Gupta’s followed the Sanskritic tradition and used alphabetical letters to represent numbers. It is believed that pi (p) was considered irrational during the Gupta rule. The Gupta’s did not follow the Brahmi numerical system. By using the technique propounded by Aryabhatta, the precise five significant figures in calculating the diameter of a surface was achieved. The same principle of irrationality of pi was proved in Europe much later in 1761. This shows the level of development during the Gupta period.
Another important concept developed during this time was Trigonometry. In Ganitapada the area of a triangle has been described as the result of a perpendicular with the half-side is the area. Concepts like ‘sine’ were also known to the Gupta’s. New techniques also evolved during this period to solve problems based on Diophantine equations or Aryabhatta algorithm, algebra and geometry.
One of the important developments in this filed was the theory propounded by Aryabhatta that the earth is round in shape unlike the ancient belief that it is flat. The theory of gravity was also promulgated by the astronomers of the Gupta period. The astronomical system of Aryabhatta was known as the ‘audAyaka system’. In this system the days are calculated from dawn.
Aryabhatta also proved that the earth revolves around its own axis every day. He was of the opinion that the motion of stars was a result of the motion caused by the rotation of the earth. This theory of Aryabhatta contradicts the previously believed notion that it is the sky that rotates and not the stars. He believed that the Earth’s orbit is elliptical and not circular. Aryabhatta described a model of the solar system wherein the Sun and the Moon are carried by epicycles.
According to this system, the Sun and the Moon revolve around the Earth. The positions of the various planets in the planetary system were calculated in relation to their moving points. The calculations made by Aryabhatta in reference to the planets movement was believed to have been supported by an underlying heliocentric model.
He scientifically elucidated the reasons for the occurrence of the solar and lunar eclipse. Aryabhatta stated that the lunar eclipse occurs when the moon enters into the shadow of the Earth. He even calculated the sidereal rotation. Aryabhatta calculated the sidereal year and stated that it takes around 365 days for the earth to complete one revolution around the sun.
During the Gupta dynasty period there was usage of mercury and iron in medicine. The use of these materials indicates the fact that the people belonging to the Gupta era had the knowledge of chemistry and they even practiced it. A lot of development took place in the field of medicine. This is shown by the fact that doctors during that time were aware of operations and also knew how to conduct one in case it is required.