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Forum LockedCompass in India

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K. V. Ramakrishna Rao View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote K. V. Ramakrishna Rao Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Compass in India
    Posted: 12-Jan-2007 at 10:20

In Vedas, there is reference to "ayas" implying Iron and "Akarshan" attaction, thus, pointing to Iron-magnet relationship.

 
In IVC, S. R. Rao pointed out the availability of compass like instrument used.
 
Kanada (c.550 BCE) mentions about a needle that moves towards a magnet as –

 

Manigamanam sucyabhi sarpanam drastakaranam” (Kanadasutra.V.I.15). In the commentary called the Upaskara, the passage has been clearly explained to signify that the needle goes towards the magnet.

 

Kalidasa (c.500 BCE) records: “Siva’s mind has been fixed steadily because of penance. And therefore, now try to distract his attention just like an iron piece is attracted or drawn towards a magnet (ayaskantena lohavat akarshtum)” (Kumarasambavam.II.59).

 

Milindapanho (VII.2.16) composed during 4th-5th centuries CE, mentions about an instrument used by the pilot of a ship for steering the ship.

 

“And again, O King, as the pilot put a seal on the steering apparatus, lest any one should touch it”.

 

Rhys Davis translates the term as “steering apparatus” and it Sanskrit it is “yantra”, a mechanical devise, just like “matsya yantra” working on mechanical and accompanied with other principles.

 

Mookerji points out a compass on one of the ships in which Hindus of the early Christian era sailed out to colonize Java and other islands in the Indian ocean. The Hindu compass was an iron fish (called in Sanskrit matsya-yantra or fish machine). It floated in a vessel of oil and point to the north (History of Indian Shipping, London, 1912).

 

The Hindus had already in use a magnetic compass known as Matsya Yantra for determining direction. The work "Merchants Treasure" written at Cairo by Baylak al Kiljaki mentions the magnetic needle as being in use in the Indian Ocean. The route that Fa- hien, the celebrated Chinese monk, took to return home after his stay in India (412-413) is fully described by him. Leaving Tramralipti, the Orissa port, he took fourteen days to reach Sri Lanka. From there he embarked for Java and called at Nicobars
(Nakka-varam)"

 

The 0 declination line runs right through Southern India, therefore a simple load stone craved placed on a  float will point Due north but, it differs in Europe and Russia, and Northern China. Thus, its invention in South India is natural and appropriate.

 

Bombay Gazetteer recorded: “Hindu cpompass was an iron fish that floated in a vessel of oil and pointed to the north. The fact of this older Hindu compass seems placed beyond doubt by the Sanskrit work Macchayantra, or fish-machine, which Malesworth gives as a name for the mariner’s compass” (Bombay Gazetteer, p.725).

 



Edited by K. V. Ramakrishna Rao - 12-Jan-2007 at 10:22
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote T.SELVAM Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Jan-2007 at 05:37
The following website gives the detaiuls:
 
"As found in the Encyclopedia Britannica, 1999 "Sometime in the 12th century, mariners in China and Europe made the discovery, apparently independently, that a piece of lodestone, a naturally occurring magnetic ore, when floated on a stick in water, tends to align itself so as to point in the direction of the polestar. This discovery was presumably quickly followed by a second, that an iron or steel needle touched by a lodestone for long enough also tends to align itself in a north-south direction." and further that the "Chinese were using the magnetic compass around AD 1100, western Europeans by 1187, Arabs by 1220, and Scandinavians by 1300." This apparently is not a thorough investigation into the origins of the compass, but rather a single observation perhaps from the English scholar Alexander Neckam, who wrote of sailors using a magnetic compass to assist navigation in 1190, De Utensilibus (On Instruments).

Some speculate that in 101 BCE Chinese ships reached the east coast of India for the first time with help from the navigational compass pioneered by the Chinese. They had discovered the orientating effect of magnetite, or lodestone as early as the 4th century BCE.

The figure to the right shows a working model of the first instrument known to be a compass. The spoon is of magnetic loadstone, and the  plate is of bronze. Rather than navigation, these simple direction pointers were likely used for geomancy, the technique of aligning buildings according to forces of nature.
 
The bowl of water with edge markings (to the left) shows a simple mariner's compass, with a floating magnetized needle pointing north and south.By the time of the T'ang dynasty (7-8th century CE) , Chinese scholars had devised a way to magnetize iron needles, by rubbing them with magnetite, and then suspending them in water (early 11th century). They also had observed that needles cooled from red heat and held in the north-south orientation (the earth's axis) would become magnetic. These more refined needle compasses could then be floated in water (wet compass), placed upon a pointed shaft (dry compass) or suspended from a silk thread. Consequently, they were much more useful for navigation purposes since they were now much more portable (and smaller).

A further refinement in the box compass (to the right) is from about 1200 CE, and is much more suitable for navigation. It retains markings of the heaven's plate around its circumference, in a simplified form. Compass markings generally had an inner circle with the eight trigrams and an outer circle with 24 directions based on azimuth points".

Then, how Indians can claim as you pointed out?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote K. V. Ramakrishna Rao Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Jan-2007 at 21:11

No comments for Britannica Encyclopedia 1999, as it gives rival claims of 12th – 13th centuries attributing to the Chinese, Europeans and Arabia, but I point out the conspicuous missing of India (this is only the bias against India).

Some speculate that in 101 BCE Chinese ships reached the east coast of India for the first time with help from the navigational compass pioneered by the Chinese”. Anybody can speculate anything, but we require evidence. Can you find out the source for this?  They had discovered the orientating effect of magnetite, or lodestone as early as the 4th century BCE. The magnetic property of loadstone was known to Indians also as pointed out, but whether, it was out into use as a needle in the compass to show the direction. The comes the question of using it for navigation.

About the plate and spoon, you can note that it was used for geomancy and not for navigation.

 

The reference to, “The bowl of water with edge markings (to the left) shows a simple mariner's compass, with a floating magnetized needle pointing north and south”, is important, because, such type of yantras have been mentioned in Indian literature (c.550 BCE) as pointed out.

 

Again the next reference, “By the time of the T'ang dynasty (7-8th century CE) , Chinese scholars had devised a way to magnetize iron needles, by rubbing them with magnetite, and then suspending them in water (early 11th century)”,  also pint to the same concept of floating needle in the liquid, that too only in 7th-8th century CE. But, Indian claim goes back to c.550 BCE, 1200 years before. Therefore, unless, literary evidences dating back to c.550 BCE is shown for Chinese, it cannot be accepted such concept was there.

 

Of course, definitely, Europeans modified and refined it.

In fact, there has been interesting dialogue taken place in another forum “tech-archive.net”, about it under, “Who had the compass first, how did it spread”.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Decebal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Jan-2007 at 22:43
Correct me if I'm wrong, but Kalidasa's exact age is not known and most historians think he probably lived during the Gupta era in the 5th century CE, not BCE.  If evidence for the magnet is given as from his writings, then why the chronology does not indicate doubt about the time of the writing, a piece which is essential for this argument?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote K. V. Ramakrishna Rao Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-Jan-2007 at 04:02

The date of Kalidasa, like the date of any other Indian personality or dynasty or monument varies according to the scholar who tried to fix.

 

Thus, he is placed from 8th century BCE to 8th cent. CE or even up to 11th cent.CE., as listed below:

 

I. M. Hippolyte Fauche based on the verse of Canto XIX of Raghuvamsa fixes his date to 8th cent. BCE.

 

Compared with Kautilya, he is placed in 3rd cent.BCE.

 

He is placed with Chandragupta II (269-233 BCE) of Gupta dynasty, according to Puranic chronology.

 

Placed with Vikramaditya (82 BCE – 19 CE) as one of “Nine Gems” – 1st cent.BCE / CE.

 

Lassen, Buhler, C. V. Vaidhya plsce him in the middle of 2nd cent. BCE.

 

He is placed with Chandragupta II (380-413 CE) of Gupta dynasty, according to western chronology.

Popularly he is dated to Gupta period, which is wrong as proved from the internal evidences of his works.

 

Bhau Daji, Bhandarkar, Max Mueller, r. c. Dutt and Weber place him in 6th cent.CE.

 

Comparing with Bhavabhuti, he placed in 8h cent. CE.

 

Making him a protégé of King Bhola, he is brought to 11th cent. CE also.

 

 

6      S. A. Sabnis, Kalidasa His style and his times, M. M. Tripathi P. Ltd., Bombay, 1966, pp.1-16. After discussing all theories, he places him in 1st cent. BCE.

6      C. V. Vaidya, The Pandyas and the Date of Kalidasa, Annals of Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (ABORI), Vol.2, 1921, pp.63-68

6      K. G. Sankara, Mr. Vaidya’s Date for Kalidasa, ABORI, Vol.2, 1921, pp.189-191.

6      P. K. Gode, The Word Atmabha and the date of Kalidasa, ABORI, Vol.I, 1920.

6      K. G. Sankara, MM. H. P. Sastri’s Date for Kalidasa, Quaterly Journal of Mythic Society (QJMS), Vol.II, pp.232-237.

6      D. R. Bhandarkar, Can we fix the Date of Kalidasa more accurately?, ABORI, Vol.8, 1927, pp.200-204.

6      B. S. Upadhyaya, The Date of Kalidasa, Journal of Uttar Pradesh Historical Society (JUPHS), Vol.XIV, 1941, pp.23-40.

6      C. Kunhan Raja, Kalidasa and Astronomy, JUPHS, Vol.XV, pp.5-23.

6      D. V. Ketkar, Date of Kalidasa, ABORI, Vol.365, 1955, pp.150-156.

6      Chattopadhyaya, The Date of Kalidasa,

6      H. A. Shah, Kautilya and Kalidasa, QJMS, Vol.11, pp.138-145 and Vol.12, pp.238-248.

 

In the astronomical context, I am interested  in Kalidasa, who composed the astronomical works Jyuotirvidabharana and Satruparaabhava. Thus, I take c.500 BCE in the context.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote M. Nachiappan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12-Feb-2007 at 03:59

Then, you could have mentioned the date of Kalidas as 8th century BCE also.

 

It is unfortunate that the dates in Indian history are still not decided unanimously, when students of schools and colleges, scholars and others go on read the books without knowing that they are provisional or final.

 

Anyway, what hapened to the Indian instruments?

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