... In the history of the world the invention of zero is very important. It had given the mathematics completeness. Zero is important as not only as a mere number but as a concept too. Today also there are so many problems in the science which could not have been solved without the invention of zero and in turn with the invention of infinity. There can be a debate on the issue of who invented zero. But it is equally true that the part of the world which is supposed to be the most advanced part today were not at all involved in the invention of zero. As other inventions they cleverly and conveniently imported this invention too. Not only that, the America and Europe, the most advanced part of the world today, were using Roman number system in the past, which was supposed to be the most inconvenient and most inefficient for doing basic mathematics operations like addition, subtraction, multiplication, division etc., because in the Roman number system the digit does not have value according to its position.
To just talk about zero ... major portion of the people believes that the zero was first invented in India. 1 is a first natural number. After 1, the subsequent natural numbers are 2,3,4,5,6 etc. There is no end to these numbers. If we add 1 to 1 we get 2. If we add 1 to 2 we get 3. Similarly we get 4,5,6 if we add 1 to 3,4,5 respectively. The opposite of addition is subtraction. If we subtract 1 from 5 we get 4. If we subtract 1 from 4,3,2 we get 3,2,1 respectively. But now the question arises, if 1 is subtracted from 1, what will happen. This question firstly came to the minds of Indian Rishis. If we subtract 1 from 1 we get emptiness. And it is written in the form of 0. Who used zero in the number form first time, though it is difficult to tell, in B.C 2nd century the Unan astrologers used to use 0 as a sign for zero. They also used to use it with the same meaning with which the Babalions used to use. In 200BC Pingal, one of the Indian mathematicians used zero in his chhanda sutra. In Bhakshali script (300BC), the numbers were found written making the use of zero. The oldest sign used for zero is dot (.)
Not only on the zero invention, in Aryabhatta’s era, plenty of work has been done on Algebra and Geometry. But all that work was written in the form of sutra’s in Sanskrit, those who didn’t know Sanskrit were unaware of the fact. That work was persevered from generation to generation by the people who mugged information in the form of shlokas. The base of the invention of zero was found in the Vedic era in different forms. The most authenticated proof which can not be denied by anybody was found scribbled on the ancient construction in Gwaler, one of the Indian city. On one ancient construction done in sanwat 933, some numbers were found scribbled. There is a mention of 50 garlands and a number 270, which are found written using hindi numbers. Here the zero is used not only as a number but also a place holder.
In the history of the world, Brahmagupta was the first Indian mathematician who tried to do various operations on natural numbers and zero. Other cultures like Babalions also used a sign for zero as a place holder and as a number. But a major portion of people believes that - Those were the Indians who used zero as a number and a place holder first time. The number, the placeholder is mentioned in the Vedic literature at various places as 'Shunya'.
Original Novel by Sunil Doiphode
English Version by Mugdha Apte