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Development of geographical knowledge in Ancient India

The history of Indian geography is as old as the history of Indian civilization. Although a systematic account of geographical knowledge is not mentioned in any particular book, however, geographical knowledge can be seen in Vedic text, Hindu mythology, Purana, and epics such as Ramayana and Mahabharata. Geographical knowledge also can be seen in Jain and Buddhist texts book.

The first time, the geography ( Bhugol) term was used by Aryabhat in his book "Surysidhantika". 

In Ramayana epics, geographical knowledge such as mountains, topography, plateau, hills, inhabitants, oceans, and important places has been mentioned from the Himalayan in the north to Sri Lanka in the South.

Buddhist Jataka story also mentioned the geographical knowledge of Ancient India.

As per Purana and Ancient Vedic text, there are seven islands on the earth namely -Jambu island, Kusha island, Plashka island, Pushkara island, Salmali island, Krankara Island, and Shaka island. Most part of Asia including the Indian subcontinent is part of Jambu island. 

The origin of the universe is also mentioned in the Vedic text. Brahma has created the universe and it has a certain life. After a certain age, the universe will be destroyed by Shiva and again recreation of the universe happened by Brahma. In big bang theory, the most accepted modern theory also explained the same things that the universe has a certain age. The expansion and collapse of the universe happen in a cyclic manner.

As per Vedic text, everything from the universe is made up of five basic elements such as air, water, fire, soil, and sky. The same is true even today.

In Vedic text, the concept of nine planets ( 9 Graha) is mentioned. We still use to pray on nine planets in Hindu religious rituals. The concept of the nine planets is 100 % true in modern geography. However as per Vedic text names of the nine planets are Sun, Moon, Earth, Mars, Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, Rahu, and Ketu. 

Ancient Indian geographers were also familiar with the geographical conditions of Mesopotamia, Central Asia, South East Asia, and Tibet.

Aryabhata, Varahamihira, Bhaskaracharya, and Brahmagupta were the main Indian scholars who contributed to the field of geography.

It was Aryabhata, who first told us that the earth rotates around its axis; and day and night happen due to the earth's rotation around its axis. 

Gupta era text, Surya Siddhanta mentioned the many geographical knowledge such as the spherical shape of Earth, calculation of Yugas ( geological time), eclipse, and color of the eclipse.
The correlation of every geographical thought to religion is seen.
Ancient geographers gave a detailed explanation of earthquakes, the atmosphere, weather, and climatic phenomenon.
Varahmihra explained the eclipse concept. As per Varahmihra, if solar and lunar eclipses occurred in the same month, it leads to disaster. It was also forbidden to see the eclipse from the naked eye. Modern geographers and scientists also suggest the same things.

From the above point, we can say geographical knowledge in ancient India was well established in every field from climatology, physical geography, astrology, world geography, etc.
Try to solve the following questions:
  • Point out the development of geographical knowledge in Ancient India. ( UPPSC, UP PCS, 2018, 15 Marks)

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9 January 2022 at 12:50 ×

Good information is being provided, keep it up.
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