Credibility of Criticism (Re: NEW: Pythagoras Theorem )

Dominik Wujastyk ucgadkw at UCL.AC.UK
Mon Apr 9 16:07:41 UTC 2001

On Mon, 9 Apr 2001, Yashwant Malaiya wrote:

> While I am an admirer of Pythagoras (many of his thoughts
> resemble principles prevailing in India), it is not impossible
> that the "Pythagoras Theorem" may actually have been invented
> by somone else.

It is a commonplace for indologists specializing in jyotisa that the
right-triangle theorem was known in Baudhayana's sulbasutra.  Staal has
recently made some extremely interesting observations about the details of
Baudhayana's statement of the theorem, which is more general than
Pythagoras's, and applies not only to squares on sides, but also, for
example, to hemispheres.  Baudhayana, however, shows no awareness of the
generality of his own phrasing, and it looks as though he intended to be
talking specifically about triangles.

The stuff about Baudhayana is very old information for indologists.  Goes
back to Jolly, I think, or perhaps Jacobi.  Staal's discoveries are new.

Dominik Wujastyk
Founder, INDOLOGY list.

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