Discovering Sangamagrama Madhavan – Pioneer to stalwarts like Newton, Leibniz, Gregory..

published on September 7, 2010
Inauguration on 12th September 2010 at Aloor Panchayat, Iringalakkuda


It is without doubt that mathematics today owes a huge debt to the outstanding contributions made by Indian mathematicians over many hundreds of years divided into ancient (Apastamba , Baudhayana ,  Katyayana ,  Manava ,  Panini , Pingala  and  Yajnavalkya) , classical ( Vararuchi, Aryabhata, Varahamihira, Brahmagupta ),medieval( Narayana Pandita, Bhaskaracharya, Samgamgrammadhava, Nilakanda Somayaji, Jyestadeva, Achuta Pisharoti, Melpathur Narayan Bhattathiri, Sankaravarman) and modern periods ( Srinivas Ramanujan, Harish Chandra, Narendra karmakar S Chandrasekhar, S N Bose). The beautiful number system ( zero and decimel system)  invented by the Indians on which  mathematical development has rested is complimented by Laplace as  The ingenious method of expressing every possible number using a set of ten symbols (each symbol having a place value and an absolute value) emerged in India. The idea seems so simple nowadays that its significance and profound importance is no longer appreciated. Its simplicity lies in the way it facilitated calculation and placed arithmetic foremost amongst useful inventions. The importance of this invention is more readily appreciated when one considers that it was beyond the two greatest men of Antiquity, Archimedes and Apollonius  It was Einstein who  said we should be grateful to Indians who taught us how to count

While rest of the world was in dark ages India made strides in Mathematics  the last 3000 years of legacy   through the works  of Sulbakaras ( 800-600 BC), Aryabhata, Varahamihira, Brahmagupta, Bhaskaracharya, Samgamagram madhava, Nilakandaa Somayaji, Jyeshtadeva, Sankaravarman extending to those of  Srinivasa Ramanujan, S N Bose, Harish Chandra Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis,and reaching to  the current period  of   Narendra Karmakar, Jayant Narlikar, S. R. Srinivasa Varadhan ,  E C G Sudarsan and Thanu Padmanabhan.

Why to rediscover Samgamagrama Madhavan?

Political chaos caused halting of  further  generation of  new knowledge  in North India  while Kerala, the south western tip of India,  escaped the majority of such   political upheaval,  allowing a generally peaceful existence to continue causing  the pursuit of scientific development  to continue ‘uninterrupted’ and is hailed as the second Golden age of Indian Mathematics, first being the period of 5th century AD to 10th Century AD It has come to light only during the last few decades of 20th century that mathematics (and astronomy) continued to flourish in Kerala  for several hundred years during medieval era especially from 14th to 18th century.. Kerala mathematics was strongly influenced by astronomy leading to the derivation of mathematical results of very high importance. As a result of the untiring works of people like Prof K V Sharma who found that only about 1% of the total available manuscripts in mathematics and Astronomy in Kerala is deciphered and made known to the world while the rest is still under the vast unexplored ocean of knowledge. It is quite probable that there are still further discoveries of ‘Kerala mathematics’ to be made, and a full analysis has yet to be carried out even though  several findings have already been  showed that  several major concepts of renaissance European mathematics attributed to stalwarts like Newton, Leibniz, Gregory, Taylor and Euler were first developed in India. This further demands the necessity of mining out the unexplored landscapes of Kerala Mathematics so that we may by lucky enough to get gems of high values and qualities. In this context we should remember a self taught mathematician from Trivandrum, Mr P Padmakumar, who discovered astonishing properties of magic square called Srirama Chakram which is now known as strongly Magic Square. We should promote the works of such people among us who are capable of carrying out such wonderful jobs of deciphering our ancient knowledge.

Of all the mathematicians of medieval period, name of Sangamagrama Madhavan  is the most important who founded a continuous chain of Guru Shishya parampara from 14th century  to 18th century and is generally known as Kerala School of Mathematics. Sangamagrama Madhavan and his school were known to the western world through the series of papers published by Mr Charles Whish duirng 1834 in the journal called Transactions of Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. In his series of papers Whish showed that works of Newton, Leibniz, Gregory and others (who lived duirng 17th to 18th century) were just rediscoveries of the mathematics contributed by Kerala School. However his works did not get much attention from the academicians and researchers of the west. Only after one century of Whish’s works that world started knowing and admiring the valuable contributions of Kerala Mathematics through Prof S K Sharma, Mr C Rajagopal and his colleagues. One of the members of the Kerala School namely Jyeshtadeva needs a special mention. While the rest of the scholars wrote their works in Sanskrit, Jyeshta Deva wrote his book  Yukti Bhasha, a treatise in mathematics and Astronomy, in Malayalam  for wider accessibility of the knowledge.

Place of birth and Period of Sangamagram Madhava

Place of birth of Sangamagrama Madhavan can be known from the 13th sloka of  his only surviving book called Venuaroham which runs as follows:

Bekuladhishtitatwena viharoyo visishyate
Grihanamanisoyam syannigenamanimadhava.

He , known as,  Madhavan belongs to  the house described as the bekuladhishtita Vihar or in malayalam Iranji ( Bakulam ) ninna Palli . Even to this date there is a house named Iringatappally in Kallettunkara near Iringalakkuda. Ulloor describes Sangama Grama Madhavan as belonging to Iringatappally house in  Sangama Grama ( village of Snagameswara, diety of Koodal Manikya Temple-Iringalakkuda) . From the writings of his disciples, the period of his life time can be fixed as 1350 -1425 , three hundred years before the life time of Newton , Gregory and Leibnitz.

It is a fact that even the village of  Kallettunkara does not know Samgamagrama Madhavan,  one of the stalwarts of Mathematics and Astronomy. It is high time that appropriate steps to be taken to rediscover him . There is a temple of Krishna in Kallettunkara where the Great Acharya used to sit for hours watching the stars . There are two stone slabs in the temple used by the Acharya for the sky watch. People of Kerala should come together to work for regaining the glory of Kerala School of Mathematics.


Swadeshi Science Movement Kerala jointly with the Panchayat and the people of  Kallettinkara and Iringalakkuda wish to formulate variety of programme in reviving the memory of Samgamagrama Madhavan in the mind of people of India , particularly, in the mind of People of Kerala. Formal inauguration of such  activities is proposed to be held on 12th September 2010 in Aloor Panchayat Community hall at 10 am. Experts in the field of History of Mathematics and public men and leaders   will take part in the function. We hope that Chairman, ISRO and Minister for Education and Culture will take part in the inaugural function.

Following are some of the programme envisaged during the inaugural function on 12th September

1.      Naming the Panchayat Library as Samgamagrama Madhavan Grantha Sala

2.      Naming the rod leading to the ancestral house of the Acharya as Samgamagrama Madhavan Road.

            Step will be Taken   to install a board in the Railway station indicating “to visit the birth palce of Samgamagrama Madhavan step down  here” A brief write-up about Samgamgram Madhan may be displayed in the railway station and the Panchayat office. This will stamp the name of Samgamagrama Madhavan in the mind of people

Some of the future activities are

1.      On October 17 Vijayadasami day organizing vidyarambham, public function and a function for school children.

2.      Establishing Samgamagrama Madhavan Research Centre in Kallettinkara / Iringalakkuda   to promote studies on history of Mathematics and Astronomy with special reference to Kerala School.

3.      Organizing monthly programme on Science, Technology and Mathematics for the benefit of public and students.

4.      Taking up projects with the help of various funding agencies.

5.      Requesting Calicut university to establish a Study Centre for Mathematics and Statistics in Kallettinkara / Iringalakkuda

Let Iringalakkuda may once again become samgamam (union) of scholars and students revitalizing the broken chain of the Guru Sishya Parampara. Media form an important component in promoting this noble act and we request the help from media of all format- print and electronic– in reviving the legacy and glory of Iringalakkuda.



  M.S. Moideen                                                             Prof. V.P.N. Nampoori

       President                                                                             President

Aloor Grama Panchayath                                                       Swadeshi Science Movement

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