Mahendra Suri


Born: about 1340 in Western India
Died: about 1410 in India

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Mahendra Suri was a Jain. Jainism began around the sixth century BC and the religion had a strong influence on mathematics particularly in the last couple of centuries BC. By the time of Mahendra Suri, however, Jainism had lost support as a national religion and was much less vigorous. It had been influenced by Islam and in particular Islamic astronomy came to form a part of the background. However, Pingree in [4] writes that this filtering of Islamic astronomy into Indian culture was:-
... not allowed to affect in any way the structure of the traditional science.
Mahendra Suri was a pupil of Madana Suri. He is famed as the first person to write a Sanskrit treatise on the astrolabe. Ohashi writes in [3] of the early history of the astrolabe in the Delhi Sultanate in India:-
The astrolabe was introduced into India at the time of Firuz Shah Tughluq (reign AD 1351 - 88), and Mahendra Suri wrote the first Sanskrit treatise on the astrolabe entitled Yantraraja (AD 1370).
The Delhi Sultanate was established around 1200 and from that time on Muslim culture flourished in India. The ideas of Islamic astronomy began to appear in works in the Sanskrit language and it is the Islamic ideas on the astrolabe which Mahendra Suri wrote on in his famous text. It is clear from the various references in the text and also from the particular values that Mahendra Suri uses for the angle of the ecliptic etc. that his work is based on Islamic rather than traditional Indian astronomy works.

Article by: J J O'Connor and E F Robertson


List of References (4 books/articles)

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Mathematicians born in the same country

Cross-references in MacTutor

  1. History Topics: An overview of Indian mathematics

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JOC/EFR November 2000
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School of Mathematics and Statistics
University of St Andrews, Scotland

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