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Rishi Bhaskara

Bhaskara (also known as Bhaskaracharya (“Bhaskara, the teacher”), and as Bhaskara II to avoid confusion with Bhaskara I) , was an Indian mathematician and astronomer. He was born in Bijapur in Karnataka.

Bhaskara and his works represent a significant contribution to mathematical and astronomical knowledge in the 12th century. He has been called the greatest mathematician of medieval India. His main work Siddhanta Shiromani, (Sanskrit for “Crown of Treatises”) is divided into four parts called Lilavati, Bijaga?ita, Grahaga?ita and Goladhyaya, which are also sometimes considered four independent works. These four sections deal with arithmetic, algebra, mathematics of the planets, and spheres respectively. He also wrote another treatise named Kara?a Kautuhala.

Bhaskara’s work on calculus predates Newton and Leibniz by over half a millennium. He is particularly known in the discovery of the principles of differential calculus and its application to astronomical problems and computations. While Newton and Leibniz have been credited with differential and integral calculus, there is strong evidence to suggest that Bhaskara was a pioneer in some of the principles of differential calculus. He was perhaps the first to conceive the differential coefficient and differential calculus.

On 20 November 1981 the Indian Space Research Organisation launched the Bhaskara II satellite honouring the mathematician and astronomer.

Date, place, and family

Bhaskara gives his date of birth, and date of composition of his major work, in a verse in the Arya metre:

rasa-gu?a-pur?a-mahisama
shaka-n?pa samaye ‘bhavat mamotpatti? /
rasa-gu?a-var?e?a maya
siddhanta-siroma?i racita? //

This reveals that he was born in 1036 of the Shaka era (1114 CE), and that he composed the Siddhanta Siroma?i when he was 36 years old. He also wrote another work called the Kara?a-kutuhala when he was 69 (in 1183). His works show the influence of Brahmagupta, Sridhara, Mahavira, Padmanabha and other predecessors.

He was born near Vijjadavida (believed to be Bijjaragi of Vijayapur in modern Karnataka). Bhaskara is said to have been the head of an astronomical observatory at Ujjain, the leading mathematical center of medieval India. He lived in the Sahyadri region (Patnadevi, in Jalgaon district, Maharashtra).

History records his great-great-great-grandfather holding a hereditary post as a court scholar, as did his son and other descendants. His father Mahesvara (Mahesvaropadhyaya was a mathematician, astronomer and astrologer, who taught him mathematics, which he later passed on to his son Loksamudra. Loksamudra’s son helped to set up a school in 1207 for the study of Bhaskara’s writings. He died in 1185 CE.a

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