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Today, mathematicians are aware of Rishi Baudhayana. This is because his Sulbasutra text predates the works of Pythagoras by several centuries. Hindus follow Baudhayana’s prescription for Vedic Samskara are even today. There is much clarity in his prescription. Because of this, even families who otherwise follow the Sutras of Rishi Apastamba borrow procedures of Baudhayana. Pundits chant the Udagashanti mantras, a grouping of mantras created by Baudhayana. Besides, these mantras are important in rituals such as Upanayanam and wedding.

Sky Observation was important for Vedic rituals

A section of the Udagashanti mantras highlights the importance of observing the rising sign in the east. Narayana Iyengar mentions this in his paper. His paper (Indian Journal of the History of sciences) mentions astronomical observations in India in the 2nd millennium BCE. In addition, the paper notes that the Sanskrit Pundits wrote commentaries on these mantras, as late as the 11th century. These commentaries bring a different context to the observation of the Heliacal rising of stars. In summary, such commentaries are a proof for the custom of verifying astronomical calculations in the Panchang. Bhodayana emphasized the importance of sky observations in a distant past. These show that scientific temperament accompanied religious rituals in India until the arrival of Islamic rule.

Role of science and mathematics in Hindu rituals

Many intellectuals in India today remain totally ignorant of such facts. Therefore they are ready to brand Vedic sciences as fictional. Certainly, Vedic rituals, invoking the guidance of Devatas in the subtle fields, belongs to the domain of faith. However, the stringent timing requirements and the necessary spatial configurations for rituals give us different picture. These provided the impetus for the blossoming of scientific temper in the India subcontinent. Therefore, it is worth popularizing the idea that the interpretations of scientific facts in the mantras continued for several millennium. I had memorized some sections from the Udagashanti mantras without understanding their meanings. However, I realized the references to sky observations in them after finding Narayana Iyengar’s paper.

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