Amrita Darshanam- International Centre for Spiritual Studies, in association with Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA), hosted a National Seminar on “Kerala School of Astronomy and Mathematics: Contributions and Contemporary Relevance” on November 4th-5th, 2016, at Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Amritapuri Campus, Kollam.
The inaugural session commenced by the traditional ‘Lighting of the Lamp’ ceremony followed by a prayer and Vedic Chanting. Dr. Sriram Anantananarayanan, Chairperson, Amrita Darshanam, welcomed the gathering and introduced the dignitaries. The benedictory speech was delivered by Swami Sivamrita Chaitanya. Felicitation Addresses were given by Brahmachari Sudeep, Director, Amritapuri Campus, Sri. Pratap Anand Jha from Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) and Dr. Nandakumaran, Principal, Amrita School of Arts and Science, Amritapuri Campus.
The highlight of the inaugural session was the keynote address by Prof. Ramasubramanian, IIT, Mumbai. Setting a perfect stage for the two days National Seminar, Prof. Ramasubramanian gave a scholarly introductory exposition of the subjects of astronomy and mathematics.
Prof. Ramasubramanian highlighted the following points, illustrating contributions by astronomers and mathematicians from Kerala:
- Introduction of Vakya System of computation of planetary longitudes by Vararuchi in 4th century which enormously simplified the calculations involved.
- Madhava in 14th century enunciated the verses that present infinite series expansion for pi and other trigonometric functions like sine and cosine.
- Nilakantha Somayaji in 15th century introduced a planetary model wherein there was a clear recognition of the fact that the 5 planets (mercury, venus, mars, jupiter and saturn) move around the sun and the sun in turn moves around the earth.
Dr. Anand S., Coordinator, Amrita Darshanam, proposed the vote of thanks.
The second day of the national seminar commenced with the presentation of Prof. M. S. Sriram, Madras University. He spoke on ‘Karanapaddhati: A theoretical Guide–book for Preparing Karana and Vakya Texts’. Prof. Sriram stressed the importance of Karanapaddhati composed by the great Kerala astronomer Putumana Somayāji as a unique work.
Following was the talk by Prof. M. D. Sreenivas, Centre for Policy Studies, Chennai, on the Work of Kerala School of Astronomy and Mathematics: "A Scientific Revolution Prior to European Renaissance".
Prof. T.G. Sarachandran, Deputy Director [Retd.], Collegiate Education, Kottayam, focused on the fascination of geometry in Indian Mathematics, with special reference to Kerala Mathematics.
Dr. Vanishri Bhat, a scholar from Bengaluru presented a paper on "Proof for an Infinite Series by Śaṅkara in his Kriyākramakarī".
The post-lunch session had presentations by 3 scholars followed by a presentation by Prof. Ramasubramanian, IIT, Mumbai. Prof. Ramasubramanian demonstrated with examples explaining how the true longitude of sun could be determined on any given day.
The two day national seminar concluded with a panel discussion about the contributions and contemporary relevance of the Kerala School of Astronomy and Mathematics. The Panel Discussion was chaired by Prof. M. D. Srinivas. The points highlighted by the panel were:
- Though there is greater awareness in the past 20-25 years regarding the contribution of the Kerala School of Astronomy and Mathematics, there is a lack of resource materials which can be accessed by students and researchers.
- Semi-scholarly material highlighting the contributions of Kerala School of Astronomy and Mathematics, and articles on research in this area should be published and made available to students and researchers.
- There are revived manuscripts which are yet to be studied. Research opportunities in this area are plenty.
- The syllabi in schools and colleges can incorporate Indian system of mathematics and astronomy.
- Indian system of mathematics can enhance creativity and intuition in students, as there could be several methods to arrive at the solutions.
- Indian medical education system should make indigenous systems mandatory.
- More research should be taken up in the areas of mathematics and astronomy.
- Research should be linked to education.
- Sanskrit could be made mandatory in schools.
- Most of the mathematics taught in schools are of Indian origin. This should be made clear to the students, so that they could feel proud about their tradition.
- Ancient Indian texts in mathematics and astronomy could be translated and made accessible to students.
- Math phobia in students can be addressed by making available simplified methods in local languages.
- Scholars should write text books involving creative usage of verses. Mathematical solutions could be memorized easily if they are in verses.
- Universities should be flexible to include subjects like astrology and astronomy and make them at par with other popular subjects.
- Researchers should demand access to manuscripts. Demand for manuscripts could bring about policy matters which help revive and preserve ancient manuscripts.