Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Patna (Pataliputra), the Indian city that boasts of ancient eminent scholars - Brief note India

Chanakya ( 350 – 275 BCE)  Indian Machiavelli,
Map showing Pāṭ

          Aryabhata 476–550BCE) greatt
Pāṭaliputra, an ancient city of  India, adjacent to modern-day Patna, was  originally built by Magadha ruler Ajatasatru in 490 BCE as a small fort (Pāṭaligrama) near the Ganges river. During the periods Magadha, Mayura and Gupta, the rulers encouraged  learning and scholarship and patronized scholars. Hence there prevailed a conducive  atmosphere for  persons who were  in the keen pursuit of knowledge and wisdom. Thus during the period groomed  numerous scholars who were passionate to follow their line of interest. The ancient  city of  Patliputra produced  a galaxy of several eminent world class scholars whose contributions  were helpful for the progress of science and technology in the later period. An interesting fact is the modern day Patna, the capital of Bihar state India, is one of the oldest continuously inhabited places in the world and the history of Patna spans at least three millennia. It is the most populous city of East India after Kolkata. Patna has a unique distinction of being directly linked  with  two most ancient religions of the world, namely, Buddhism and Jainism. The city for numerous centuries  was a silent spectator of the rise and fall of  great empires of the Mauryas and the Guptas. It was once ruled by  the Delhi Sultanate and the Mughal Empire, and also the Nawabs of Bengal. The city witnessed numerous rebellions by the natives against the British who had cheated the Nawob of Bengal and took over the vast territory  for the benefit of the British Crown and the East India company.  In this region the East India company shmalessly indulged in wheeling and dealing to the dismay of the rulers and their subjects. The city emerged in the post-independent India as the most populous city of East India after Kolkata.

Perhaps, it is the only city in the world that produced a group of luminaries in the ancient world, each one of them  was a scholar in his own way.

Aryabhata:  (Sanskrit: आर्यभट;  or Aryabhata  (476–550)  was the first among  the important mathematicians - astronomers in the classical age. His works include the Aryabhatīya (499 CE, when he was 23 years old)  and the Arya-siddhanta.

 His other note-worthy contributions are  detailed explanation of lunar eclipse and solar eclipse, their occurrences,  rotation of Earth on its axis, reflection of light by moon, sinusoidal functions, solution of single variable quadratic equation, value of π correct to 4 decimal places, circumference of Earth to 99.8% accuracy, calculation of the length of sidereal year.

Major works, etc. Aryabhatiya, Arya-siddhanta. His major contribution was, he gave the approximation of Pi correct to four decimal places.
Aśvaghosa (c. 80 – c. 150 CE), an Indian philosopher- poet, born in Saketa in northern India to a Brahmin family,  is believed to have been the first Sanskrit dramatist; was adjudged as  the greatest Indian poet.  Prior to Kalidasa  much of Buddhist literature prior to the time of Aśvaghoṣa had been composed in Buddhist 'Hybrid' Sanskrit, Aśvaghoṣa wrote in Classical Sanskrit.He poet of repute  and influential Buddhist writer.

Chanakya:  Chanakya ( 350 – 275 BCE) was an Indian teacher, philosopher, economist, jurist and royal advisor. He is called the master of statecraft.He is quite familiar among the  Indian politicians who have to sail through various political storms or scams  almost daily - day in and day out. Also traditionally known  as Kautilya or Vishnu Gupta, who wrote the most important ancient Indian political treatise, the ''Arthashastra'' (Economics) and his work laid the possible foundation for the development Classical Economics.

After a long stint as a teacher of Economics and Political science at the ancient University of Taxila, Chanakya administered  the first Mauryan emperor with skill  intelligence and was responsible for Chandragupta's rise to power at a young age. He was one the key founders of  the Maurya Empire.

Arthashastra and Chanakya Niti, also known as Chanakya Neeti-shastra are his important works. The former discusses the essentials of economics, covering  topic like monetary and fiscal policies, welfare, international relations, and war strategies in detail. This great work  outlines the important duties of a ruler right from administration of the empire to nuances of war strategies to be followed.

Chanakya Niti is a collection of aphorisms, said to be selected by Chanakya from the various Shastras.  Some scholars believe that Arthashastra is actually a compilation of a number of earlier texts written by various authors, and Chanakya might have been one of these authors. The late Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru described Chanakya as Indian Machiavelli—he was the guru of Chandragupta Maurya.

Panini:  Panini (4th century BCE,) was a Vyakaranin from the early Mahajanapada era of ancient India. He was born in  Pushkalavati, Gandhara (on the outskirts of modern-day Charsadda, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan).

Panini  is known for his  extensive  work in Sanskrit grammar,  with particular  reference to  his formulation of the 3,959 rules governing  Sanskrit morphology, syntax and semantics in the grammar known as Astadhyayi, meaning "eight chapters"),- the earliest known treatise on linguistic description that defined Classical Sanskrit. It forms the basics of Vedanga, that deals with grammar and the Vedic religion.

There is a relationship between, it is believed,  Panini's  3959 grammar rules of Sanskrit morphology and the Backus–Naur Form syntax used to describe modern computer programming languages.

Vatsyayana: Vatsyayana, a Hindu philosopher in the Vedic tradition, is believed to have lived around 2nd century CE in India. His is the the author of the internationally famous ancient text on Man-woman relationship - ''Kama Sutra''. 

Being a religious person, he believed that his work on Kama Sutra  was not a mere guide to satisfy the sensual pleasures of perverted mind. The text was prepared not in that context, for sex was not the main preoccupation of humans.  The duty of a true ''Prusha'' - man goes beyond that.  He must acquire the essence of life, in conjunction with preserving his  Dharmic life (virtue or religious merit), his Artha (worldly wealth) and his Kama (pleasure or sensual gratification). A true mastery over his senses  is more essential than anything else. An intelligent person, truly adhering to  Dharma and Artha and also to Kama, without becoming a slave of his passions, will be  successful in everything that he may do.