HOW MUSLIMS CARRIED HINDU WISDOM TO THE WEST II

By Dr Radhasyam Brahmachari

India: The Mother of Human Civilization:

It has been mentioned in the first part of this article that the Caliph al-Ma’mun, the eldest son of Caliph Harun al-Rashid, established a library called Bayt al-Hikma, or House of Wisdom, in Baghdad during his reign (September 13, 786 – August 9, 833), where scholars used to come to study various branches of knowledge and discuss and exchange their views. The Caliph also engaged a team of translators to translate Greek, Persian and Sanskrit texts into Arabic. This may lead the reader to believe that, the Arab wisdom had been enriched by Greek, Persian and Hindu wisdom. But, if he delves a bit into the matter, he will find that the authors of Greek, Persian and the Mesopotamian civilizations were the people migrated from India to those countries.

One will be amazed to know that Parasya, (English Persia) the original name of today’s Iran, has been derived from “Parashu”, the battle-axe of Lord Parashuram, believed to be an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, used to carry. So, the scholars believe that once upon a time a group of Hindus, under the leadership Lord Parashuram, went to that country and settled there. The reader will also be astonished to know that the name Iraq is a corrupt of Sanskrit ”Arka”, the sun. At first, Arka became Arak and then Arak became Iraq.

Tel El-Amarna is a city located on a flat stretch of land beside the Nile Valley in Egypt. [1] A stone edict of 1460 BC discovered at this place says that the kings of Mitani Dynasty used to rule the Upper Euphrates, where the Mesopotamian and Babylonian civilization flourished. The names of the kings of the Mitani Dynasty were Hindu or Sanskrit name, such as Dushratta, Sustarna, Dustarna, Artatarma and so on. King Dushratta lived during the reign of kings Amenophis III and Amenophis IV of Egypt. [2] These Mitani kings used to worship Aryan gods like Indra, Varuna, Nasatya etc. [3] All these evidence point to the fact that migrated Hindus of India were the authors of the so called Mesopotamian and Babylonian civilizations.

Most striking are the evidence to prove that the immigrated Hindus of India were the authors of the Greek Civilization [4]. The scholars believe that name Greece is a corrupt of Sanskrit “griha” or more pointedly from Rajagriha, the present Rajgir in the state of Bihar, India. So, the scholars believe that the Hindus from Rajagriha went to Greece first and settled there [5]. Hindus who migrated from Magadh were called Madadhan in Greece. After passage of time this ‘Magadhan’ became ‘Makedan’ or ‘Macedan’, and finally ‘Macedonia’, the birth place of Alexander. Where from the name Alexander had been derived?  A man of incomparable beauty in this world is called ‘Alokasundar’ in Sanskrit and after passage of time, Sanskrit ‘Alokasundar’ became ‘Alexander’ in Greece.

The Indians belonging to the tribe of Bhil left their dwelling place Hamman in Afghanistan and settled in Greece, where there chiefs were called Bhilpos, a corrupt of Bhilpati. Gradually this Bhilpos became Philips, the tribe to which Alexander belonged. The migrants from Ayodhya were called Ayodhan (people of Ayodhya) in Greece. Later on, this Ayodhan became Ionan and from Ionan, names like Ionian Island, Ionian Sea were derived. There is a small place called Attak lying on the bank River Indus and nearly 942 miles north of the Arabian Sea. These people, after migrating to Greece, named their new dwelling place as Attak-sthan, which after passage of time, gradually became Atakthan Or Atthan and finally Athens, the great ancient city of Greece. Sparta, the name of the other great city of Greece is a corrupt Sanskrit spardha (audacity or arrogance).

Scholars agree that the name Europe has been derived from Sanskrit Surupa (a beauty). It would be really perplexing to the readers to know that Lord Krishna, the son of Devaki, became Apollo in Greece. Radhakanta is the other name of Lord Krishna and, as Radha is a woman and abala (physically weak), He is also known as Abalakanta, and this Abala gradually became Apollo in Greece. Scholars also agree that the Greek god Zeus was no other than Lord Shiva of Kailash. The Sanskrit arya became aristo in Greece and hence Aristotle and English words aristocrat, aristocracy etc. are corrupts of Sanskrit arya.

Not only Greece, there are so many places in Europe, the names of which has been derived from Sanskrit. The two countries Norway and Sweden are collectively called Scandinavia. It is well known that, Skanda was the other name of Kartikeya, the son of Lord Shiva and, once upon a time the land was ruled by Skanda and therefore called Skandanavi. And scholars agree that today’s Scandinavia is a corrupt of Sanskrit Skandanavi. Similarly, the Caspian Sea was named after Rishi Kasyapa and words like August, Augustine, Augustus etc. were derived from Rishi Agastya. Names like Andrew or Andrews were derived from Sanskrit Indra. So. Mark Twain, the American author, said, “India is, the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legend, and the great grandmother of tradition. our most valuable and most instructive materials in the history of man are treasured up in India only.

Antiquity of Hindu numerals:

From the above discussions it becomes evident that the wisdom by which the Muslims enriched themselves by translating Greek and Persian texts, were basically Hindu wisdom. An example may be cited to make the point clear. It is well known that, if one adds the squares of two sides of a right-angled triangle, the result is equal to the square of the hypotenuse of the triangle. This discovery was, so far, believed to be made by the Greek mathematician Pythagoras. But now it has been accepted that the Hindu mathematician Bouthayana discovered it centuries before the times of Pythagoras and included it in his Sulba Sutra. [6] Boudhayana lived in 800 BC. [7] (Similar is the case with astronomy by the Greek astronomer Ptolemy.) In this context, it would be relevant to say a few words about the Sanskrit origin of the name Pythagoras. A school teacher in Sanskrit is vidyapith (school) guru (teacher). After passage of time, vidyapithguru became pith-guru in Greece. Then pithguru became pithgoras and ultimately, in English, it became Pythagoras.

It has been mentioned in the first part of this article that the Hindu Numerals or style of writing numbers infinitely large or infinitesimally small, using nine symbols, one zero and a decimal point, was invented by the Hindus in India. But, due to their ignorance, the Europeans took it to be an Arabic invention and called it the Arabic numerals. In this system, if a digit is multiplied by ten, the digit shifts by one place towards the left and if multiplied by hundred, the digit shifts by two places. Similarly, if a digit is divided by ten, it shifts by one place towards the right of the decimal point and if it is divided by hundred, it shifts by two places towards the right. So, this system is known as a base ten system. In Babylon, a base sixty counting was used and this system is still used in measuring angles and time, where 60 seconds make one minute and 60 minutes make one degree or one hour.

The question naturally arises – When and who invented this base ten Hindu numerals? Many are convinced that, famous Indian mathematician, astronomer and scientist Aryabhatta was the inventor of this Hindu numeral. But this notion seems not to be true. Vedic Mathematics is the name given to the ancient system of Indian Mathematics which was rediscovered from the Vedas between 1911 and 1918 by Sri Bharati Krsna Tirthaji (1884-1960). The system flourished, perhaps, during Vedic times and hence it is not possible to pin point when and by whom this system was invented [8] But, what is important in the present context is that the system uses the base 10 Hindu numerals. The system provides sixteen Sutras, or word-formulae by which one can perform difficult arithmetical calculation, e.g. multiplying an eight digit number by a six digit one, within seconds and that too, by mental calculation, without using pen and paper. These formulae describe the way the mind naturally works and are therefore a great help in directing the student to the appropriate method of solution [9]. It is important to note that, had there not been a base 10 numerals, such simplification in arithmetical calculation could not have been possible.

In India a decimal system was already in place during the Harappan period, as indicated by an analysis of Harappan weights and measures. “Weights corresponding to ratios of 0.05, 0.1, 0.2, 0.5, 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500 have been identified, as have scales with decimal divisions. A particularly notable characteristic of Harappan weights and measures is their remarkable accuracy.” So, it is nearly impossible to ascertain the true antiquity of the Hindu numerals.

The man who took Hindu numerals to the West:

The Persia born Abu Abdullah Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi or simply Al- Khwarizmi (lived in 9th century AD), a Muslim mathematician, astronomer as well as a geographer was the man who carried the Hindu numerals to Spain and thus to Europe. [10]

Al- Khwarizmi received an invitation from the Caliph Al-Ma’mun to come to Baghdad and join the team of scholars working at the House of Wisdom. So, he left Persia, went to Baghdad, settled there and started studying the various texts recently translated into Arabic from Greek, Persian and Sanskrit. While other scholars were more interested in Greek and Persian texts, Al- Khwarizmi was much inclined to study the Sanskrit texts just brought from India. At that time, he found a rough translation of the Sanskrit astronomical treatise Brahmasphuta Siddhanta by the celebrated Hindu astronomer and mathematician Brahmagupta.

To introduce Brahmagupta, the Wikipedia says, “Brahmagupta (598–668 CE) was an Indian mathematician and astronomer who wrote many important works on mathematics and astronomy. His best known work is the Brāhmasphuṭa Siddhānta (Correctly Established Doctrine of Brahma), written in 628 CE in Bhinmal. Its 25 chapters contain several unprecedented mathematical results.”  [11]

“Brahmagupta was born in 598 CE (it is believed) in Bhinmal city in the state of Rajasthan of Northwest India. In ancient times Bhillamala was the seat of power of the Gurjars. His father was Jisnu Gupta. He likely lived most of his life in Bhillamala (modern Bhinmal in Rajasthan) during the reign (and possibly under the patronage) of King Vyaghramukha. As a result, Brahmagupta is often referred to as Bhillamalacarya, that is, the teacher from Bhillamala. He was the head of the astronomical observatory at Ujjain, and during his tenure there wrote four texts on mathematics and astronomy: the Cadamekela in 624, the Brahmasphutasiddhanta in 628, the Khandakhadyaka in 665, and the Durkeamynarda in 672.

The Brahmasphutasiddhanta (Corrected Treatise of Brahma) is arguably his most famous work. The historian al-Biruni (c. 1050) in his book Tariq al-Hind states that the Abbasid caliph al-Ma’mun had an embassy in India and from India a book was brought to Baghdad which was translated into Arabic as Sindhind. It is generally presumed that Sindhind is none other than Brahmagupta’s Brahmasphuta-siddhanta”.

Many believe that Brahmagupta was the first to use zero as a number as he gave rules to compute with zero. But the notion does not seem to be true. We have seen above that the decimal system of writing numbers was invented by the Vedic people and that could not have been possible without zero. Philosophically, the concept of zero is a part and parcel of Hindu theology. Hindu philosophy believes that the matter is composed of five elements or pancha bhutas, namely ksiti, ap, tejas, marut and byom. The fifth element byom stands for nothingness or void or shunya (the Sanskrit word for zero).

According to modern science everything is made up of atoms and the entire matter of the atom is concentrated in the nucleus, which is 1000 times smaller than the atom. About fifty years ago, scientists were convinced that the atomic nucleus is made up of protons and neutrons, commonly known as hadrons, which are still 100 times smaller than the nucleus. So, it comes out that the mass of an atom is confined within 10-15 part of the volume of the atom, while rest of the part is void or shunya. Astrophysicists call these void as electron gas. The part of an atom occupied by matter becomes still smaller when in 1964 M. Gellemann and G. Zweig postulated that hadrons are made up of still smaller particles called quarks. They also predicted the existence of six types of quarks in nature which were said to be a thousand times smaller than the hadrons.

Hydrogen and helium are fuels that keep a star burning. And when a star cools down due to shortage of fuel, the electron gas collapses, and hence it gradually turns into a ‘red giant’, a ‘white dwarf’, a ‘neutron star’ and finally into a ‘black hole’. Matter in these bodies condenses to unbelievable densities. In a neutron star it reaches a value of 1014 or one hundred million metric tons per cubic centimeter and it is still higher in a black hole. (to read more, see Vedanta and Modern Science) [12]

From the above discussions, it becomes evident that the existence of void or shunya, contemplated by the Hindu philosophers, is a physical reality. This author is convinced that this concept of voidness or Shunya of the philosophers was the fore-runner of mathematical zero or shunya. And this mathematical zero was, most probably, introduced in the Vedic era.

Al- Khwarizmi and his works:

When Al- Khwarizmi joined the team of scholars at the House of Wisdom in Baghdad, he observed many of his colleagues were engaged exclusively over the Greek and Byzantine texts gradually coming into Arabic. But attention of Al-Khwarzimi was drawn to the writings from India, kept in the archives for papers brought from India in the time of Caliph’s late father, Harun al-Rashid. But he became extremely fascinated with Brahmasphuta Siddhanta, a treatise on mathematics and astronomy, by Hindu astronomer Brahmagupta. This work opened a universe before him.

“Al-Khwarzimi’s study of this single paper, touched off a mathematical exploration and discovery that still resonates in the modern era. Using bilingual aides, Al-Khwarzimi began to render the foreign characters into Arabic. And with each day, he uncovered ideas and symbols that initially mystified him, but gradually became clear in the blinding light of understanding. First, he found the Indian method of representing numerical quantities with symbols. Until that times, the Arabs and others in the Mediterranean, Mesopotamian region had been using several methods of representing quantities. One was a verbal method … writing out the numbers as words, the other was a complicated finger counting method, which was perhaps as versatile as the Chinese abacus, but inadequate to the needs of ever more abstract calculation of star positions. Finally, there was the Roman numeral system”. [13]

As he opened the pages of Brahmagupta’s work before him, he could find a system of Indian symbols representing quantities from 1 to 10 and then combinations of those symbols to represent ever increasing quantities rising to infinity. This new system of symbols stunned him and made him amazed. In this work, he saw a system of writing numbers, the decimal system, and could comprehend it as the most efficient way to manage ever more complex calculations. He could grasp that this Hindu system of numerals was infinitely easier to do than other ways of representing quantities.

He decided to take this system of symbols his own and began to express his mathematical calculations with this new system of numerals. Gradually it came to be known as the Hindu/Arabic numerals, even though it was purely Hindu/Indian numerals. Later on this system numerals was transferred to Europe, through Islamic Spain and accepted as a universal, efficient and coherent language. But unfortunately it lost its Hindu identity.

“In the Hindu writing of Brahmagupta, was a single black dot. When Al-Khwarzimi asked his translators for an explanation, they replied that it meant nothing. Thinking they were playing with him, he pressed for an explanation And they responded by saying the black dot represented quantity of nothing – shunya or zero. Al-Khwarzimi was stunned by its implications. He was baffled and exited by the meaning of zero, its mystery and evasiveness.”

It is really fortunate for entire civilized world that “Mohammad Al-Khwarzimi was swift to take all these to foreign symbols and ideas into his heart and mind and make them his own. Had he not done so, the history of the world could have been unfolded in a different. What we call the modern era might not have come until centuries later. Al-Khwarzimi knew the importance of sharing this concept as widely as possible. He sensed the tragedy that might have ensued had the paper of Brahma Gupta been eaten by moth in the Caliph’s library as India would be ravaged by Islamic hordes.” Al-Khwarzimi, finally titled the Arabic translation of Brahmasphuta Siddhanta as Sindhind.

This author is convinced that Al-Khwarzimi has expressed his indebtedness to the Hindu tradition of knowledge through the naming Arabic translation of Brahmasphuta Siddhanta as Sindhind – Sind stands for Sanskrit Siddhanta and Hind stands for Hindu or Hindustan. But today’s Muslim scholars are on their heels to deny their indebtedness to the Hindus and claim that these numerals are pure Arabic origin. So, a Muslim author writes, “Arab contributions to human civilization are noteworthy. In arithmetic the style of writing digits from right to left is an evidence of its Arab origin. For instance, the numeral for five hundred in English should be written as 005, not as 500 according to English’s left-to-right reading style.” [14] It is for the readers to decide, how great this author is for making such an asinine comment.

 

 

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One Response to HOW MUSLIMS CARRIED HINDU WISDOM TO THE WEST II

  1. Aryabhatta says:

    A great mathematician. Without the inventions the world would be different.

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