Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Aryabhata's sloka for pi

The Greek letter pi for the ratio between circumference of a circle and its diameter was given only in the 18th century by William Jones, a mathematician (father of the more famous Sir William "Oriental" Jones, founder of Asiatick Society of Bengal), 2000 years after the Greeks had realized that such a thing existed. We, or at least some mathematicians, only celebrate March 14 (3-14) somewhat recently after the American usage of month followed by date (3-14), rather than the British usage of date followed by month (14-3).

Incidentally the ratio for circumference to diameter was stated as a Sanskrit sloka by Aryabhata in the fifth century. I attach the sloka and its meaning in this JPEG here. Aryabhata knew it was not an EXACT number but an approximate number ( though he didn't know about irrational or transcendental numbers), so he used the word "aassanow" which means "approximately".

Aryabhata's Sloka for pi

If you liked this, you might also like reading these:

1. Some 
mathematical terms in Sanskrit (and their English (or Greek/Latin) & Tamil translations)
2. The mathematician Mahavira's Sanksrit Anthem for Mathematics
3. Nilakanta Somasatvan's Sloka - with a pun, a number, a date, a book
4. Some Sanskrit slokas from Indian Astronomy
5. VarahaMihira's Agastya Sthothram

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