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KNOW YOUR HISTORY: Astronomy and India

“India has an ancient and glorious history of astronomy. Our connection with the twinkling stars in the sky is as old as our civilisation. Many of you might be aware that at various places in India, there are magnificent observatories (Jantar Mantars) – which are worth seeing. And these observatories have a deep bond with astronomy. Who doesn’t know about the prodigious talent of the great Aryabhatta.

During his career, he has expounded in great detail about the solar eclipse, as well as the lunar eclipse. And he has explained it both from a philosophical as well as a mathematical standpoint. Mathematically, he has described how to calculate the size of the shadow of the earth. He has also provided accurate information on how to calculate the duration and extent of the eclipse. His disciples like Bhaskara, strived hard to further this spirit of inquiry and knowledge. Later, in the 14th or 15th century, Maadhav of Sangam village in Kerala, used calculus to calculate the position of planets in the universe. The night sky, was not merely something that whetted the curiosity. It was an important source for mathematicians and scientists.”

Pre-modern Kutchi Navigation Techniques and Voyages

“This book, in a way, is the diary of Maalam. Maalam was a navigator and whatever he experienced professionally, he recorded it in his diary. Even in the modern age, the very same “Maalam’s volume” exists as a collection of ancient Gujarati manuscripts. It describes ancient navigation technology… and how direction is determined in sea voyages with the help of stars; it is stars that navigate us towards our destination.”

Excerpts from PM Narendra Modi’s address in the 7th Episode of ‘Mann Ki Baat 2.0’

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