Pythagorean theorem in India

Avinash Sathaye sohum at MS.UKY.EDU
Wed Aug 11 17:56:28 UTC 1999

Toke Lindegaard Knudsen wrote:

> On 17 Jun 99, at 16:32, Shrinivas Tilak wrote:
> Dear Dr. Tilak,
> >     While going through my notes this afternoon I found a clipping of a
> > report that appeared in The Tribune (Ambala) of June 26, 1993. Professors
> > Sema'an-I-Salem and Alok Kumar of California State University, Long Beach,
> > according to this report, have translated a text called Kitab Tabaqut
> > al-Umam (Book of Categories of Nations) written by Sa'id-al-Andalusi in
> > 1068.
> >     Among eight contributions to science made by ancient Indian scholars,
> > the book mentions that one Bhadrabahu solved in Kalpasutra, in 290 BCE,
> > "the so-called Pythagorean theorem."
> >     The title of the translation is "Science in Medieval World."
> I realize that I am responding to a rather old posting.  Anyway, I got
> the above-mentioned book on the library.  There seems to be no
> mention of the Pythagorean theorem nor mention of any
> "Bhadrabahu."  In fact, in the introduction the translators state that
> Sa'id al-Andalusi "is able to cite the name of only one Indian
> scholar, 'Kanka al-Hindi.'"  This Kanka al-Hindi does not appear to
> have any relation with Kalpasutras or the Pythagorean theorem.
> Do you still have a copy of that clipping?  If Arabian scholars really
> made comments about the theorems discovery in India I would be
> very interested to learn more.

In his book "Mathematics in ancient India (Chaukhamba O.R.S. 16)" Dr. A.K. Bag
mentions Bhadrabahu to be one of the  Jains  "who quoted mathematical formulas
in connection with their doctrines, but were not Mathematicians
themselves"(p.8). Dr. Bag's book, of course, discusses various conjectures and
facts about the origin of the Pythagorian Theorem in great detail. He supports
the view that it was indeed fairly understood as a theorem - rather than an
experimental fact, in the Baudhayana shulba suktas and gives evidence based on
other geometric constructions from the suktas which show an understanding of the
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