Mahendra Suri

Quick Info

about 1340
Western India
about 1410

Mahendra Suri was an Indian mathematician and follower of Jain. He was the first to write a Sanskrit treatise on the astrolabe.


Mahendra Suri was a Jain. Jainism began around the sixth century BC and the religion had a strong influence on mathematics particularly in the last couple of centuries BC. By the time of Mahendra Suri, however, Jainism had lost support as a national religion and was much less vigorous. It had been influenced by Islam and in particular Islamic astronomy came to form a part of the background. However, Pingree in [4] writes that this filtering of Islamic astronomy into Indian culture was:-
... not allowed to affect in any way the structure of the traditional science.
Mahendra Suri was a pupil of Madana Suri. He is famed as the first person to write a Sanskrit treatise on the astrolabe. Ohashi writes in [3] of the early history of the astrolabe in the Delhi Sultanate in India:-
The astrolabe was introduced into India at the time of Firuz Shah Tughluq (reign AD 1351 - 88), and Mahendra Suri wrote the first Sanskrit treatise on the astrolabe entitled Yantraraja (AD 1370).
The Delhi Sultanate was established around 1200 and from that time on Muslim culture flourished in India. The ideas of Islamic astronomy began to appear in works in the Sanskrit language and it is the Islamic ideas on the astrolabe which Mahendra Suri wrote on in his famous text. It is clear from the various references in the text and also from the particular values that Mahendra Suri uses for the angle of the ecliptic etc. that his work is based on Islamic rather than traditional Indian astronomy works.

References (show)

  1. D Pingree, Biography in Dictionary of Scientific Biography (New York 1970-1990).
    See THIS LINK.
  2. R C Gupta, Indian values of the sinus totus, Indian J. Hist. Sci. 13 (2) (1978), 125-143.
  3. Y Ohashi, Early history of the astrolabe in India, Indian J. Hist. Sci. 32 (3) (1997), 199-295.
  4. D Pingree, Islamic astronomy in Sanskrit, J. Hist. Arabic Sci. 2 (2) (1978), 315-330; 425.

Additional Resources (show)

Other pages about Mahendra Suri:

  1. See Mahendra Suri on a timeline

Other websites about Mahendra Suri:

  1. Dictionary of Scientific Biography

Cross-references (show)

Written by J J O'Connor and E F Robertson
Last Update November 2000