From the invention of the decimal system in mathematics to the noble philosophy of ahimsă, Hindus have contributed their share in all fields of knowledge and learning. Over five thousand years ago, when Europeans were only nomadic forest dwellers, ancient Hindus had established a civilization, known as the Harappan culture, in the Indus Valley, the northwestern region of India. When much of the world was still sunk in sleep, people of the Harappan culture were conduc-ting trade workshops in weaving, bead-making, pottery, dying of fabrics, and metallurgy.
The people of the Indus Valley also produced seals, used for documenting business transactions. The seals were made of stone (in the form of square tablets) and were engraved with figures of animals, such as goats, buffalo, elephants, and tigers. The discovery of these seals in distant lands suggests that the Harappan navigators must have sailed as far as Mesopotamia for trade. Most of the knowledge that ancient Hindus had acquired in the fields of arts and sciences passed onto Egypt and subsequently to Greece and Europe. In the words of Georges Ifrah, "Still more important was the influence of Indian astronomers, from whom they [Arabs] borrowed, probably beginning in the eighth century, their zero, decimal-place-value numeration, and computation methods." 28
In his Dictionary of Scholars, Ali ibn-Yusuf al-Qifti, a Moslem scholar (1172-1248), wrote, "there came from India to Baghdad a man deeply learned in the doctrines of his country. This man knew the method of sindhid [an Arabic transcription of the Sanskrit siddhănta, "astronomical cannon"], concerning the movements of the heavenly bodies and equations calculated by means of trigonometric ratios in quarters of a degree. He also knew various ways of determining eclipses and the risings of the signs of the zodiac. He had composed a summary of a work on these subjects, attributed to a prince named Figar. In it, the kardagas were calculated by minutes. The caliph [king] ordered that the Indian treatise be translated into Arabic, to help Moslems acquire exact knowledge of the stars. The translation was done by Mohammed ibn-Ibrahim al-Fazzari, the first Moslem to have made a thorough study of astronomy." 28
Author : Shri Bansi Pandit