Glimpse of India- Who Invented ZERO?

Who Invented ZERO?

Zero or the digit ‘0’ is present everywhere. We can’t imagine the evolution and development of technology without the humble ‘Zero’. Do you know that Zero was not known to European people until the twelfth century! What about the other countries including India? They say that Zero was known to Indians since prehistoric times. Let’s go through the great history of Zero.

🍁 Egyptians (1770 BC) used pictographs as numbers whose base was 10. They did have a symbol as zero that was used to indicate the base level of buildings.

🍁 Babylonians (2nd millennium BC) had sophisticated mathematics with number system having base 60. Zero was used as the space between numbers. Note that they didn’t represent zero as 0 but as two slanted wedges (//).

🍁 Ancient Greeks were confused about the existence of Zero. According to them how could nothing be equal to something?

🍁 Until then Zero was not considered to be a digit but a placeholder. It wasn’t even used at the end of a number.

🍁 Chinese used empty spaces to depict zero until the thirteenth century.

🍁 India’s connection with Zero

🌷 An ancient Indian mathematician Pingala (3rd century BC) represented Binary Numbers as long and short syllables as we use in Morse Codes. He gave the emptiness a Sanskrit name, ‘sunya’.

🌷An ancient Jain text dated back to 458AD contained ‘sunya’ as zero.

🌷 Ancient Indian mathematical texts showed the use of ‘sunya’, a large dot depicting hollowness. Three samples of radiocarbon dating done in 2017 on manuscripts showed the use of zero (sunya) in 224-383 AD, 680-779 AD, and 885-993 AD. It makes India the first country to use zero as a number.

🌷 Indian mathematician Aryabhata gave the concept of the powers of 10 that was later developed into decimal-based place value notation.

🌷 Another great Indian mathematician and astronomer Brahmagupta (7th century) used zero, negative numbers and simple rules of Algebra in his work.

🍁 This is the brief history of Zero/Sunya. There was a concept of nothingness in scholars’ minds across the world. Some used an empty place and some inverted wedges, but one thing is clear that they didn’t give Zero the status of a number. It was India who gave a hollow-round symbol to Zero and showed the world what can be achieved by counting this ’emptiness’ with the already existing numbers:)

This post is a part of Blogchatter A2Z and Global AtoZ blogging challenge. I’m writing 26 posts in the month of April on the theme Glimpse of India. Follow my work on social media platforms with hashtags #AditiWrites, #CelebrateIndiaWithAditi

#BlogchatterA2Z #AtoZChallenge

Top post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

26 thoughts on “Glimpse of India- Who Invented ZERO?”

    1. Hi Rupali! I’ve given credit to Aryabhata in my article. Yes, he began the number system and used zero as an independent number to it. But, the theory of Zero is older than Aryabhata. Scholars had the idea of zero (nothingness) but couldn’t give it a place because nothing means nothing:)
      Even Brahmagupta, another Indian mathematician did mathematical calculations using zero and that too before Aryabhata. Ultimate credit goes to Aryabhata and I’m glad you remember:)


  1. After reading your title I wanted to shout ‘We We We’ 😀 Enjoyed reading your posts on incredible India Aditi. Some things I knew and many things I came to know after reading your posts. Great work!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Who else but India invented this, Till date I knew it was only Aryabhata, Inventor of the Digit Zero, but glad to know it was way before that we had this magic figure invented. I had read it somewhere that The first recorded zero appeared in Mesopotamia around 3 B.C.
    Happy AtoZ challenge.
    Nice post, will surely share this with my math-loving kiddo.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think the title should be who discovered zero. Do you think numbers are discovered or invented? May be a symbol for a number are invented like 2 or two or दो. But numbers pre exist humanity don’t you think? Take a growing fetus for example. Does not it automatically grow 32teeth, two hands, two feet, one nose, one trunk, etc? The sense of number should have already exist in the fetus right?
    Anyways, coming to zero, I think Indians used zero in two ways – as a number which helps in repetition i.e., cycles (as in 10, 20, etc., or cycles of time called yugas 432000, etc.) and as a number having no value – pure zero (पूर्णमदः पूर्णमिदम् ….. From Isavasya Upanishad).

    As you stated, Greeks might have had confusion, but Indians never did, in regard to zero. That is why they called it पूर्णम् (Poonam, meaning FULL). Now one may ask as to when we do 1-1, how can it be full. Then the answer would be, that 0 being full, pre exists all numbers and hence when you subtract same numbers, you remain with the background 0. This is what they call additive identity (X+0=X).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Another dimension to the facts:)
      Used ‘Invented’ because it’s more about invention of the symbol. The idea existed prior to the existence of human, as you said.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s