India is well known for its knowledge and wisdom. There were many wonderful discoveries made by Indian astrologers and mathematicians. One such interesting discovery is the shape of Earth. It is believed that till 17th century there was no clear picture available about the shape of Earth. People and many scholars believed that the actual shape of earth was flat. There were many theories and controversies available all over the world about the shape of Earth. Another explanation or idea about the spherical shape of earth was given by Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543). His contribution to Mathematics, astronomy, physics etc., were amazing. Just before his death he gave lots of valuable information in his book De revolutionibus orbium coelestium that was considered to be a very big contribution for scientific revolution. Sir Isaac Newton gave a clear picture about the shape of earth to be spherical in in work called Principia. It was considered to be one of the important works of science. In 7th century Galileo Galilei’s contribution to mathematics and astronomy was also amazing. He devoted his life on various discoveries and inventions. He has also provided enough information about the spherical shape of Earth.

Before Copernicus, Galileo and Newton, an Indian astronomer named Aryabhata (476–550 CE) provided a detailed description about the shape of earth and other details about Earth. The book also described a lot of information about other aspects of astronomy and mathematics. In his book Aryabhatiya, there is a chapter by name Boogola, which means Spherical Earth. In that chapter he has described various information about the aspects of spherical Earth.

वृत्तभपञ्जरमध्ये कक्षापरिवेष्टित: खमध्यगत:।
मृज्जलशिखिवायुमयो भूगोलः सर्वतो वृत्तः॥ (Chapter 4, Verse 6)

The globe of the Earth stands (support less) in space at the centre of the circular frame of the asterisms (i.e., at the centre of the Bhagola) surrounded by the orbits (of the planets); it is made up of water, earth, fire and air and is spherical (circular on all sides).

From the above verse it is clear that earth was spherical in shape as the word भूगोलः literally means circular on all sides. Aryabhata named the chapter as Bhoogola and described lots of information about earth and its properties. The chapter describes about the composition, positioning, shape, and other aspects associated with astronomy of earth.

Other references to Spherical shape of Earth can be seen in Varaha Avatar. In Hindu scriptures there is a description that Lord Vishnu takes Varaha avatar which is a boar form and saves earth from drowning. Though the drowning part of earth is debatable, in all the places when Varaha Avatar is described, the shape of earth is also displayed as Spherical.

Aryabhata has not just given the shape and composition of Earth. But he has also described and explained the circumference of the spherical earth. Though some of the points mentioned in the book Aryabhateeya is not completely acceptable based on modern discoveries, it is not a book that should be completely ignored.

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