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Krati Krati

That is not the sound of my teeth chattering. It is 34,000th of a second.

The story of measurement was written by the Babylonians, Mesopotamians, Mayans, Indians, Egyptians, and Chinese. The measurement of time began with the discovery of sundials in Egypt like the one below. These dials defined the length of an hour based on the amount of daylight.

Sundials were used for 300 years and caused plenty of chaos. During this time, many ways were used to measure time without using the sun, with the most success coming from monks and their regulated prayer times!

As we approach the new year, the Indians deserve a shoutout for defining the sheer scale of numbers and time.

The concept of time is rooted in the ancient Indian texts called the Vedas, written in 1500-500 BCE. Not just time, but cycles of time and it's spiritual and material consequences are described in great detail in these books.

Aryabhata (476-550 CE) is the first of the major mathematicians and astronomers to emerge from ancient India. He is credited with creating the positional number system and devising the modern day zero for 10 to the null coefficient. He approximated the value of pi calculated the area of a triangle using principles of trigonometry, and extended the concepts of algebra related to series of squares and cubes.

There's a good reason why the first Indian satellite was named Aryabhata!

Bhaskar I (600-680 CE) built on Aryabhata's work to calculate that it takes 365.258756484 days for the earth to go around the sun. Fifteen hundred years ago, he computed this value and came within .00085 days of the accepted value in modern times.

Mic drop!

Bhaskar II (1114-1185) followed and wrote the Siddhānta-Śiromani (Crown of Treatises) on arithmetic, algebra, and the mathematics of planets and spheres. His work on differential calculus and its applicability to astronomy was pathbreaking and formed the basis for discoveries in later eras.

Bhaskar II's work predates Newton and Liebniz's contributions by 500 years, and he has a satellite too!

The French scholar Pierre-Simon Laplace wrote this about the numeral system that gave birth to krati krati: "The ingenious method of expressing every possible number using a set of ten symbols (each symbol having a place value and an absolute value) emerged in India. The idea seems so simple nowadays that its significance and profound importance is no longer appreciated." Based on this system, telling time in seconds, minutes, hour, days, weeks, months, and years is like second nature to us.

Turns out that this was not granular enough for the ancient Indian scholars...

Recently, a friend sent me the picture below listing time units in Sanskrit stretching from 34,000th of a second to 4.3 billion years, the smallest and largest time measurements in the history of the world, invented in India, way before computers were a thing.

Beyond this list, the Indians offer time units for the work of the Gods stretching to 155 trillion years and then repeating. No question that the Gods plan to outlive the mortals.

Cheers to a Happier New Varsh and to vanquishing the demon pathogen by the krati krati.


Sundial image from

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