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20 Feb 2024

Shunya (Zero)

Written by
The Logical Indian
Science and Wellbeing

The Birth of Zero

The concept of zero finds its origins in the numerical notations of ancient India. While early debates surrounded the contributions of scholars like Aryabhatta and Brahmagupta, it is now widely acknowledged that both made significant strides in the discovery of zero. Aryabhatta introduced the decimal system and utilized zero as a placeholder, while Brahmagupta developed rules for arithmetic operations involving zero and negative numbers, laying a solid foundation for mathematical advancements.

Advancements and Refinements

Indian mathematicians continued to refine and advance the concept of zero throughout history. Texts such as Brahmasphutasiddhanta in the 7th century explicitly recognized zero as a numeral, showcasing the deep understanding and contributions of Indian mathematicians to this revolutionary idea.

The Emergence of Modern Zero

The modern equivalent of the numeral zero emerged from Brahmagupta's brilliance in 628 AD. His symbol, a dot beneath a number, marked the birth of our familiar zero. Brahmagupta not only introduced this symbol but also formulated rules for addition and subtraction involving zero, propelling arithmetic operations forward.

Tangible Evidence

Evidence of zero's existence in ancient India is found in tangible artefacts, such as a circle inscribed on a temple wall in Gwalior dating back to the ninth century. Additionally, the Bhakshali Manuscript, dating to the third or fourth century, provides further proof of India's early exploration of zero as a numeral.

Further Advancements

Indian mathematicians like Mahavira and Bhaskara continued to build upon Brahmagupta's work, addressing challenges such as division by zero. While some concepts were conceptually flawed, others, like Bhaskara's assertion that any number divided by zero is infinity, showcased advancements in understanding zero's properties.

Global Spread and Acceptance

Zero's enlightenment spread beyond India, with Islamic and Arabic mathematicians carrying Indian wisdom westward. Chinese mathematicians adopted the symbol 'O' for zero in the 13th century, while Europe embraced zero more widely in the 17th century. The linguistic connection between the Sanskrit word 'Shunya' and the Hindi equivalent likely influenced the word 'zero' itself.


The invention of zero is a remarkable journey that highlights the ingenuity of ancient Indian mathematicians. From Aryabhatta to Brahmagupta, Mahavira to Bhaskara, these scholars paved the way for a concept that revolutionized mathematics globally. As we effortlessly use zero in our calculations today, let us pause to appreciate India's incredible gift to the world—the marvellous invention of zero.

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IndiaFirst Life & the logical indian

Headquartered in Mumbai, IndiaFirst Life Insurance Company Limited (IndiaFirst Life), is one of the country's youngest life insurance companies. The Logical Indian is an independent and public-spirited digital media platform for Indian Millennials. IndiaFirst Life and The Logical Indian have come together to showcase India’s rich history of innovation in different fields of life which have made a significant mark on humanity and globally. Please note, The Logical Indian (5w1h Media) as an entity is responsible for source validation and fact-checking from credible sources of the articles posted on this page.