BANGALORE: “With the origin of the Brahmi script being a mystery and its similarity with the Indus script, there is a necessity for more studies on numerical inscriptions in the Indian context,” observed Dr B V Subbarayappa, eminent historian and former president of the International Union of History and Philosophy of Science.
Delivering the Foundation Day lecture of Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) on ‘Indian Inscriptions - Their Record of Numerals and Eclipses’ on Tuesday, he said, “The number of inscriptions in several Indian languages is nearly one lakh, but only about 20,000 have been published. The history of numbers and numerals in the Indian context is of great relevance.”
While Kharosthi and Brahmi scripts (Circa 5 to 6 AD) were known to contain numerals of the decimal-additive-multiplication systems, he said that many questions remained unanswered in the quest for more clarity on how numeric inscriptions in India developed. “Is the Indus (Harappa) script that of one language? This civilisation was spread across 1.30 million sq km. Was there only one language throughout this civilisation? These questions need to be answered with the help of more studies,” said Dr Subbarayappa. He suggested ICHR that there was a need to catalogue numeral forms and the manner of their presentation in the early inscription up to 5 to 6 AD. “I request the ICHR to undertake such studies,” he said.