India has had a profound impact in teaching the world the basics of numerals and counting. The numeral system being used globally can be credited to India which has immensely benefited both mathematics and science. In the word’s of the famous scientist Albert Einstein – “We owe a lot to the Indians, who taught us how to count, without which no worthwhile scientific discoveries could have been made.”
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400 years ago at the dawn of the Renaissance in Europe, we witnessed the growth of science and its various applications in bringing us to the modern age of technology. This can be credited mainly to the adoption of the Indian numerals in mathematics. Noted historian A.L. Balsham observes –
“The debt of Western world to India in the field of Mathematics cannot be overestimated. Most of the great discoveries and inventions of which Europe is so proud of, would have been impossible without a developed system of Mathematics in India and this in turn would have been impossible if Europe had been shackled by the unwieldy system of Roman numerals.”
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Sincere mathematicians and scholars throughout history have given due credit to India for all the knowledge it shared and the impact it had. Vigila, the spanish monk in the 10th century in his Codex Vigilantus (the earliest latin manuscript containing Arabic numerals), tells of the “extremely subtle intelligence of the Indians when it comes to arithmetics, geometry and other advanced disciplines. The best proof is the 9 figures for which they represent each number no matter how high”.
Many Arabic mathematicians, manuscripts and inscriptions point to the fact that Arabic numerals originated in India such as the books of Persian Al-Khwārizmī (On the Calculation with Hindu Numerals, c. 825) and Al-Kindi (On the Use of the Hindu Numerals, c. 830). Al Biruni, the persian scholar who came to India 1000 years ago along with Mahmud of Ghazni said – “The numerical signs which we use are derived from the finest forms of the Hindu signs”.
Thus we see how India has shared its advanced knowledge of counting with the world which has helped immensely in the development of modern science and technology. The world indeed owes a lot to India.
Reference: “Roots in India”- Autobiography of India series by D.K. Hari and D.K. Hema Hari by Garuda Prakashan.