Indian Art and Culture GK notes: Scientists of Medieval India

Scientists of Medieval India - Indian Arts and Culture Notes

The medieval period marks the advent of Islam in India. The pattern of education as prevalent in Arab countries was gradually adopted during this period by the Muslim rulers. Maktabs and Madrasas came into existence in Medieval India.
The two brothers, Sheikh Abdullah and Sheikh Azizullah, who were specialists in rational science, headed the madrasas at Sambal and Agra. Apart from the local people, learned men from Arabia, Persia and Central Asia were also invited to take
charge of education in madrasas.
Also, the Muslim rulers attempted to reform the curriculum of primary schools. Some important subjects like Arithmetic, Mensuration, Geometry, Astronomy, Accountancy, Public Administration and Agriculture were included in the cirriculum of the primary education. Though special efforts were made by the ruler to carry out reforms in education, but till sciences did not make much headway during this period.
Large workshops called Karkhanas were maintained to supply provision, stores and equipments to royal household and government departments. The karkhanas not only worked as manufacturing agencies, but also served as centres for technical and vocational
training to young people.

Mathematics in Medieval India:

  • Narayana Pandit, son of Narsimha Daivajna was well known for his works in Mathematics – Ganitakaumudi and Bijaganitavatamsa.
  • Gangadhara, in Gujarat, wrote Lilavati Karamdipika, Suddhantadipika , and Lilavati Vyakhya. These were famous treatises
    which gave rules for trigonometrical terms like sine, cosine tangent and cotangent.
  • Nilakantha Somasutvan produced Tantrasamgraha, which also contains rules of trigonometrical
  • Ganesa Daivajna produced Buddhivilasini – a commentary on Llilavati
  • Krishna of the Valhalla family brought out Navankura on the Bijaganit of Bhaskara-II and elaboration of the rules of indeterminate equations of the first and second orders.
  • Nilakantha Jyotirvida compiled Tajik, introducing a large number of Persian technical terms.
  • Faizi, at the behest of Akbar, translated Bhaskara’s Bijaganit. 
  • Akbar ordered to make Mathematics as a subject of study, among others in the education
    system .
  • Naisiru’d –din-at –tusi, was another famous scholar of Mathematics.

Agriculture in Medieval India:

  • The pattern of agricultural practices in Medieval India was more or less the same as that in Ancient India.
  • The principal crops were wheat, rice, barley, millets, pulses, oilseeds, cotton, sugar-cane and indigo.
  • The Western Ghats continued to provide black pepper of good quality and Kashmir maintained its tradition for
    saffron and fruits. Ginger and cinnamon from Tamil Nadu, cardamom, sandalwood and
    coconut from Kerala, were becoming increasingly popular.
  • Tobacco, chillies, potato, guava, custard apple, cashew and pineapple were the important plants which were introduced to India during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
  • Production of opium from poppy plants began in Malwa and Bihar regions  during this period.
  • The systematic Mango-grafting was introduced by the Jesuits of Goa in the middle of sixteenth century.
  • For Irrigation, wells, tanks, canals, rahat, charas and dhenkli charas (a sort of a bucket
    made of leather used to lift water with the help of yoked oxen) were used.
  • Persian wheel was used in the Agra region.
  • In the medieval period, the State had  introduced a system of land measurement and land classification,
    beneficial both to the rulers as well as the tillers.

Medical Science in Medieval India:

  • The Ayurveda system of medicine did not progress much as it did in the ancient period because of lack of royal patronage.
  • However, some important work on Ayurveda like the Sarangdhara Samhita and Chikitsasamgraha by Vangasena, the Yagaratbajara and the Bhavaprakasa of Bhavamisra were compiled.
  • The Sarangdhara Samhita, written in the thirteenth century, includes use of opium as medicine and urine examination for diagnostic purpose. The drugs mentioned include metallic preparation of the rasachikitsa system and even imported drugs.
    The Rasachikitsa system, dealt principally with a host of mineral medicines, both mercurial and non-mercurial. The Siddha system mostly prevalent in Tamil Nadu was attributed to the reputed Siddhas, who were supposed to have evolved many life prolonging compositions, rich in mineral medicines.
  • The Unani Tibb system of medicine came to India along with the Muslims by about the eleventh century  and flourished in India during the medieval period.
  • Ali-bin- Rabban summarized the whole system of Greek medicine as well as the Indian medical knowledge in the book, Firdausu-Hikmat.
  • Hakim Diya Muhammad compiled a book, Majiny-e-Diyae, incorporating the Arabic, Persian and Ayurvedic medical knowledge.
  • Firoz Shah Tughalaq wrote a book, Tibbe Firozshahi.
  • The Tibbi Aurangzebi, dedicated to Aurangzeb, is based on Ayurvedic sources.
  • The Musalajati-Darshikohi of Nuruddin Muhammad, dedicated to Darashikoh, deals with Greek medicine and contains, at the end, almost the whole of Ayurvedic material medica.

Astronomy in Medieval India:

  • Mehendra Suri, a court astronomer of Emperor Firoz Shah, developed an astronomical,instrument ‘Yantraja’.
  • Paramesvara and Mahabhaskariya, both in Kerala, were famous families of astronomers and almanac-makers.
  • Nilakantha Somasutvan produced commentary of Aryabhatiyaa.
  • Kamalakar studied the Islamic astronomical ideas. He was an authority on Islamic knowledge.
  • Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh-II of Jaipur  set up the five astronomical observatories in Delhi, Ujjain, Varansasi,
    Mathura and Jaipur.

Chemistry in Medieval India:

  • An important application of Chemistry was in the production of paper. Kashmir, Sialkot, Zafarabad, Patna,
    Murshidabad, Ahmedabad, Aurangabad and Mysore became well known centres of paper production. The paper making technique was more or less the same throughout the country differing only in preparation of the pulp from different raw materials.
  • The Mughals knew the technique of production of gunpowder and its use in gunnery,
    another application of Chemistry.
  • The work Sukraniti attributed to Sukracarya contains a description of how gunpowder can be prepared using saltpeter, sulphur and charcoal in different ratios for use in different types of guns.
  • The work Ain –I-akbari speaks of the regulation of the Perfume office of Akbar. The attar (perfume) of roses was a popular perfume, which is supposed to have been discovered by Nurjehan.

Biology in Medieval India:

  • There were advancements in the field of Biology.
  • Hamsadeva compiled a work in the field of Biology entitled Mrga-paksi-sastra in the thirteenth century. This gives a general,
    though not always scientific, account of some animals and birds of hunting. The Muslim
    kings, who were warriors and hunters, maintained a fleet of animals such as horses, dogs,
    cheetahs and falcons for hunting.
  • Akbar had a special interest in producing good breeds of domestic animals like elephants and horses.
  • Jahangir, in his work – Tuzuk-ijahangiri – recorded his observations and experiments on breeding and hybridization. He described about 36 species of animals. His court artists, specially, Mansur, produced elegant and accurate portraitures of animals. As a naturalist, Jahangir was also interested in the study of plants. His court artists have drawn around 57 plants in their floral portraitures.

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