Science and Technology through the Ages | Ancient India History (UPSC Notes)

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Science and Technology through the Ages | Ancient India History (UPSC Notes)

Spiritual growth in the Indian subcontinent has been going on for a long time, and many countries outside of India are interested in it. Many Indian religions, like Buddhism, Jainism, and Hinduism, were taken over by the Greeks, Persians, Huns, and Mongols who attacked this country.

India has also added to the world’s material culture in its own way. You can find the distillation of perfumes, the making of dyes, the extraction of sugar, the weaving of cotton, and even the techniques of algebra and algorithm, the concept of zero, the technique of surgery, the concepts of atom and relativity, the herbal system of medicine, the technique of alchemy, the smelting of metals, the game of Chess, martial arts, and Karate, among other things, in ancient India, and there is evidence that they might have come from there.

Developments in Ancient India

The Math and Astronomy Fields

• India’s old people were very smart when it came to science and maths. Ancient Indians made a huge amount of progress in Science and Maths.

• This part talks about the changes in mathematics and the people who made them. Many of the mathematical ideas we use today were already known to the old Indians.

• However, because ancient Indian mathematicians were not as good at writing things down and sharing them as their modern western counterparts, their work did not get the credit it earned. Let’s take a look at what some of these ancient Indian scientists gave to the field.


• Baudhayan was the first person to come up with a number of mathematical ideas that were later found again by people in the west.

He was the first person to figure out what pi was. As you know, pi can be used to figure out how big a circle is and how far around it it goes.

• The Pythagorean theory can be found in Baudhayan’s Sulva Sutra, which was written many years before Pythagoras’ time.


• Aryabhatta was a mathematician, astronomer, magician, and physicist who lived in the fifth century.

• He was one of the first people to study maths.

• At the age of 23, he wrote Aryabhattiya, a summary of mathematics at the time.

• Aryabhatta is said to have found the number zero.

• The science of astronomy was very advanced in India in the past. The name of it was Khagolshastra. Aryabhatta learned about astronomy at Nalanda’s famous telescope, Khagol.

Astronomy was made because people needed accurate calendars, a better understanding of climate and rainfall patterns so they could sow seeds and choose crops at the right time, set the dates of seasons and holidays, find their way around, figure out the time, and make horoscopes for astrology.

• It was very important for traders to understand astronomy, especially the tides and the stars, because they had to travel across seas and deserts at night.

• Aryabhatta came up with the idea that the earth is round and spins around its own axis.

• He also gave a scientific reason for solar and lunar eclipses, making it clear that Rahhu, Ketu, or any other rakshasa (demon) had nothing to do with them.


• Brahmgupta took maths to a new level in the 7th century.

• He used place value almost the same way as we do today when he taught how to multiply.

• He brought negative numbers and functions on zero into math.

• He wrote Brahm Sputa Siddantika, which is how the Arabs learned about how we do maths.


• Bhaskaracharya was the brightest star in the sky in the 1200s.

• His book Siddanta Shiromani got him a lot of attention. It is split into four parts: Lilavati (Arithmetic), Beejaganit (Algebra), Goladhyaya (Sphere), and Grahaganit (Mathematics of Planets).

• Bhaskara came up with a way to solve algebraic problems called the Chakrawat Method or the Cyclic Method. Six hundred years later, European scientists found this method again. They called it the “inverse cycle.”


• In 850 CE, the Jain Guru Mahaviracharya wrote Ganit Sara Sangraha, which is the first maths book in its modern form.

• He also talked about the latest way to figure out the Least Common Multiple (LCM) of a set of numbers. So, Indians knew about it long before John Napier told the rest of the world about it.

Science field

Important ancient Indians who made important contributions to science were:


• Kanad was a scientist from the Vaisheshika School of Indian thought. He lived in the sixth century.

• His theory about atoms is just as good as any other current theory about atoms.

• Kanad says that the world is made up of atoms called kanas, which can’t be seen by any human organ. These can’t be broken up any further. So, they can’t be broken up and can’t be destroyed.

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Varahamihira lived during the time of the Guptas.

• He did a lot of important work in drainage, geology, and ecology.

• He was one of the first scientists to say that plants and bugs could show where underground water was.

• Varahmihira’s Brihat Samhita has an idea about earthquake clouds that has caught the attention of the scientific world.

• He has tried to link earthquakes to the effects of planets, things that happen under the sea, underground water, clouds that don’t look like clouds, and animals that act in strange ways.

• Aryabhatta and Varahmihira made Jyotish, or astrology, look like it was based on science and a plan. Astrology is a way to figure out what will happen in the future.

• Varahamihira was one of the nine gems in the court of Vikramaditya. These nine gems were all learned people. Varahamihira’s predictions were so correct that King Vikramaditya gave him the name ‘Varaha’.


• Nagarjuna was a scientist in the 10th century.

• The main goal of his trials was, like western alchemists, to turn common materials into gold. Even though he didn’t reach his goal, he was able to make something that looked like gold. To this day, this technology is still used to make fake jewellery.

• In his book Rasaratnakara, he talked about how to get gold, silver, tin, and copper out of the ground.

Field of Medical Science (Ayurveda & Yoga)

• Ayurveda is an ancient Indian method of medicine that has been around for a long time. Ayurveda’s main goal has always been health and long life. It is the oldest form of medicine on Earth.

• The oldest medical book in the world is the Atreya Samhita, which is a book about Ayurveda.

• Ayurvedic medicine is named after Charak, and surgery is named after Susruta.

• Famous ayurvedic doctors include Susruta, Charak, Madhava, Vagbhatta, and Jeevak.


• Susruta was one of the first people to study surgery. Susruta Samhita is what he wrote.

• The Susruta Samhita also tells how to choose a dead body and keep it in good shape so that it can be studied in detail.

• The most important things Susruta did were in the fields of facial surgery and getting rid of cataracts.


• Charak is thought to be the first person to study medicine in India.

• He was the Raj Vaidya, or royal doctor, at Kanishka’s court.

• His Charak Samhita, a book about health, is a very important work. In Charak Samhita, getting rid of the cause of a disease is more important than just treating the sickness itself.

• Charak also knew what genetics was all about.

Yoga & Patanjali

• Yoga was created in ancient India as a branch of Ayurveda to help people heal their bodies and minds without using drugs.

• Yoga involves both the body and the mind.

 Physical yoga is called Hathyoga. In general, it aims to get rid of a sickness and make the body healthy again.

 Rajayoga is mental yoga. Its goal is self-realization and freedom from ties by gaining balance in the body, mind, emotions, and spirit.

• Patanjali is the one who organised this great science in a clear way.

In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, Aum is called a cosmic sound. Patanjali wrote more than just Yoga Sutras. He also wrote a book about health and worked on a grammar book by Panini called Mahabhasaya.


Developments in Mediaeval India

• During the Middle Ages, Science and Technology in India grew in two ways: one was based on old traditions, and the other was based on new ideas that came from Islamic and European influence.

• By this time, there had already been a setback to the usual way of learning classical subjects by native people. During this time, schooling started to look more like what it did in Arab countries. Because of this, Maktabs and Madrasas were made. These organisations used to get money from the royal family.

• There were big shops called karkhanas that supplied the royal household and government offices with food, supplies, and tools.

The karkhanas not only made things, but they were also places where young people could get skilled and vocational training.

The Field of maths

• During this time, many works in the field of mathematics were made.

• Ganitakaumudi and Bijaganitavatamsa, two of Narayana Pandit’s math books, are well known. Gangadhara, in Gujarat, wrote Lilavati Karamdipika, Suddhantadipika, and Lilavati Vyakhya. These were well-known books that explained how to use terms like sine, cosine, tangent, and cotangent.

• Tantrasamgraha was written by Nilakantha Somasutvan. It has rules for trigonometric functions.

• Ganesa Daivajna wrote Buddhivilasini, which is a reflection on lilavati and has many pictures.

• Krishna of the Valhalla family wrote Navankuraon on the Bijaganit of Bhaskara-ll and the rules of indeterminate equations of the first and second orders.

• Nilakantha Jyotirvida put together Tajik and added a lot of scientific terms from Persian.

Field of Biology

• Progress was also made in the area of biology.

Mriga-Paksi-Shastra was written by Hamsadeva in the 13th century. It is a book about biology. This is a general description of some hunting animals and birds.

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• In his work Tuzuk-i-jahangiri, Jahangir wrote down what he learned from his experiments and notes about breeding and mixing species.

The Field of chemistry

• One important way that chemistry was used was to make paper. The way paper was made was pretty much the same all over the country. The only difference was how the pulp was made from different raw materials.

• The Mughals knew how to make gunpowder and how to use it in gunning, which is another use of Chemistry.

• The work Sukraniti, which is credited to Sukracarya, tells how saltpetre, sulphur, and charcoal can be mixed in different amounts to make gunpowder for different kinds of guns.

• The work Ain-i-akbari talks about how perfume (attar) was controlled in the office of Akbar.

Field of Astronomy

• In astronomy, a number of comments about astronomical ideas that were already known came out.

• Mehendra Suri, an astronomer at the court of Emperor Firoz Shah, made the ‘Yantraja’ astronomical device.

• The families of scientists and almanack makers Paramesvara and Mahabhaskariya were both well-known in Kerala.

Commentaries on Aryabhatiyaa were written by Nilakantha Somasutvan. Kamalakar learned about the Islamic ideas about astronomy. Fie knew everything there was to know about Islam.

Astronomy was supported by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh-ll of Jaipur. Fie built the five astronomical telescopes (Jantar Mantar) in Delhi, Ujjain, Varansasi, Mathura, and Jaipur.

Field of Medicine

• The Ayurveda method of medicine did not make as much progress as it did in the past because the kings did not support it. But some important books about Ayurveda were written, such as the Sarangdhara Samhita and Chikitsasamgraha by Vangasena, the Yagaratbajara, and the Bhavaprakasa by Bhavamisra.

• The Sarangdhara Samhita, which was written in the 13th century, talks about using opium as medicine and looking at pee to figure out what’s wrong. Some of the drugs listed are from the Rasa-chikitsa system and even drugs from other countries.

The Rasachikitsa method was mostly about a wide range of mineral medicines, both those made from mercury and those that didn’t.

• The Siddha method, which was mostly used in Tamil Nadu, was thought to have come from the reputed Siddhas, who were thought to have made many mineral-based medicines that helped people live longer.

• During the Middle Ages, the Unani Tibb method of medicine was very popular in India.

• In the book Firdausu-Hikmat, Ali-bin Rabban put together a summary of all of Greek medicine and Indian medicine. Around the 11th century, Muslims brought the Unani method of medicine to India, which helped it grow quickly.

• Hakim Diya Muhammad put together the medical information from Arabic, Persian, and Ayurvedic in a book called Majinye Diyae.

The book Tibbe Firozshahi was written by Firoz Shah Tughalaq. Based on Ayurvedic sources, the Tibbi Aurangzebi is a poem about Aurangzeb.

• Nuruddin Muhammad’s Musalajati-Darshikohi, which is dedicated to Darashikoh, is about Greek medicine and has almost all of Ayurvedic medicine at the end.

Field of Agriculture

• In the Middle Ages, farming was done in a way that was similar to how it was done in early India.

• When foreign traders brought in new crops, trees, and ornamental plants, it led to some important changes.

• During the 16th and 17th centuries, tobacco, chilies, potatoes, guava, custard apple, cashews, and pineapple were all important plants that were brought to India.

• The Jesuits of Goa started growing mango trees in a planned way in the middle of the 1600s.

• During the Middle Ages, the State put agriculture on a sound footing by putting in place a way to measure and classify land that was good for both the rulers and the tillers.


Developments & Scientists in Modern India

• The scientists of this time are responsible for the growth of scientific ideas in modern India. In the second half of the 1800s, Sir C.V. Raman changed the way Indian scientists thought in a way that had never been done before. Dr. Homi J. Bhabha, who is known as the “father of our nuclear physics,” looked into the future of Indian science. In the fields of plant physiology, atomic energy, and industry, Dr. J.C. Bose, Dr. Vikram Sarabhai, and Dr. Abdul Kalam brought about revolutionary changes that brought back the glory of Modern India.

Srinivas Ramanujan (1887-1920)

• Srinivasa Iyengar Ramanujan was born in Tamil Nadu on December 22, 1887. He was one of India’s best mathematicians.

• In 1911, he wrote a great study paper about Bernoulli Numbers and sent it to the same journal. This made him famous, and people came to know him as a maths genius.

• At Madras Port Trust, where he worked as a clerk, he met a lot of people who had studied maths. He found a book called “Orders of Infinity” by G. H. Hardy. Ramanujan wrote Hardy a letter that helped him get into Trinity College.

• In London, he wrote a lot of papers. He was the first Indian to become a Fellow of Trinity College and the second Indian to become a Fellow of the Royal Society of London.

Chandrasekhara V. Raman (1888-1970)

• Chandrasekhara V. Raman, better known by his initials, C.V. Raman was not only a great thinker, but he also thought that people should be treated with respect and cared for. In 1930, he won the Nobel Prize in Physics. He was the first person from Asia to win this award.

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• He worked on instruments like the veena, violin, piano, and mridangam because he loved music so much.

• In 1921, he talked to the Royal Society of London about the science of stringed instruments in a paper. In 1924, the Royal Society made him a Fellow.

• On his way to England, he was very interested in how blue the sea was. He wanted to know why it stayed blue even when there were big waves. He used the idea of the Raman Effect to explain it.

Raman Effect

• A beam of monochromatic (only one colour) light spreads out when it goes through a clear material. Raman looked at the pieces of light.

• He found that there were two very weak spectral lines that ran in the same direction as the monochrome light. This showed that broken light wasn’t a single colour, even though the light that hit it was.

• This showed him a great thing that had been hidden by nature. This event is now known as the Raman Effect, and the spectral lines in the light that it scatters are called Raman Lines.

• Scientists had been arguing about whether light was made up of particles or waves. The Raman Effect showed that light is made up of tiny particles called photons.

Jagdish Chandra Bose 1858-1937

• J.C. Bose is another modern Indian scientist who brought honour and glory to the country.

• He was made a Knight in 1917 and a Fellow of the Royal Society of London in 1920 for his paper “The Electromagnetic Radiation and Polarisation of Electric Ray.” He was the first Indian scientist to get this award for his work in Physics.

• Dr. Bose is known all over the world for creating the Crescograph, a device for tracking plant growth that can record plant growth and movement down to a millionth of a millimetre. Dr. Bose showed that plants have a circulatory system by looking at drawings made by the Crescograph.

• Dr. Bose also made a lot of other instruments known all over the world as Bose instruments.

• Bose’s tools show that even steel and other metals used in scissors and machines get tired and work better after a break.

• His radio ideas were also ahead of Marconi’s. He was the first person to come up with a portable coherer (a radio signal detector) and a tool for showing how electric waves bend.

Homi Jehangir Bhabha (1909-1966)

• Dr. Homi Jehangir Bhabha was a great scientist who led India into the atomic age. He is known as the “father” of nuclear science in India.

• While he was a Professor of Physics at the Indian Institute of Sciences, he had the idea to build a study institute for some of the new areas of Physics. So, in 1945, they started the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR).

• At Trombay, the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), which is India’s first atomic research centre, was set up. Under his skilled direction, India’s first atomic reactor, Apsara, was also built.

• He was in charge of a United Nations-backed international meeting on the peaceful uses of atomic energy.

Dr. Vikram Ambalal Sarabhai (1919-1970)

• Dr. Vikram Ambalal Sarabhai is another great mind in modern India. He was the driving force behind the launch of India’s first satellite, Aryabhatta, and is considered to be one of the world’s top scientists.

• He worked with Dr. C.V. Raman to learn about cosmic rays and got his Ph.D. from Cambridge University. His research on cosmic rays has shown that they are a stream of energy particles that come from space. On their way to the earth, they are affected by the sun, the earth’s atmosphere, and the earth’s magnetic field.

• He also helped India save crores of rupees by starting a project to make military equipment and antibiotics and penicillin in India. Before this, these things had to be brought in from other countries.

• Dr. Vikram Ambalal Sarabhai set up a lot of schools that are known all over the world. Indian Institutes of Management (IIMS), which offer management studies that are thought to be among the best in the world, are the most well-known of these schools.

He was in charge of building the Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS).

• He also made plans to use satellites to bring schooling to the villages.

Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam

• From 1963 to 1982, Dr. Kalam worked for the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

• At the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, he made the Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV 3), which put the satellite Rohini into space.

• As Director of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in 1982, he was in charge of the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP). He made Prithvi, Trishul, Akash, Nag, and Agni, which are all projects for the defence forces.

• He really follows Indian religion and culture. He has put science, faith, and philosophy all together. He has a strong belief in being led from the inside, or “relying more on inner signals and less on external cues,” and in doing his tasks without thinking about himself.