Tuesday, September 10, 2019


On the North East side of the strong walls of Gwalior fort in Madhya Pradesh, is a rundown temple called “Chaturbhuj mandir”. In the core of the temple is an idol of Vishnu Bhagwan, with four hands, carved from a single rock. The idol has been battered and hence the temple is not in use. Neither the lamps are lighted nor is the Vishnu idol worshipped. None of the Gwalior residents visit the Vishnu temple, even by a remote chance. The city of Gwalior boasts of many beautiful examples of architecture and decorative wood cutting work. Hence, no one seems to be interested in the down trodden temple.
On the right side of the Vishnu idol, a text is etched in stone. Mathematicians from all over the globe, visit this temple to read the article etched in stone, which is a surprise! What attracts the dry and drab mathematicians to this place is a matter worth pondering upon!
The article states that the construction of this temple was completed in Samwat 933, on magh shukla dwitiya, according to Hindu calendar. A person called Ala donated his own land, measuring 270 hands long and 187 hands wide, for the temple so that the Vishnu idol could be worshipped everyday with a floral garland.
Anyone would wonder, what is so special about the battered temple, its donated land and the mathematicians who seem to be attracted to this site? If the temple is not in use, why would anyone be bothered about the garlands or the land encroachment?
Here lies the answer!
The special feature of the etched article is that it has the world’s first “written zero” etched in it. Besides, all the letters and figures have been noted in a decimal pattern. The article has been etched in Samvat 933 or Christian AD 876.bThis etched stone article proves that, the decimal system and the use of “zero” has been routinely used in India, for at least 1100 years.
In Sanskrit, “zero” means “nothing”! Arabs call it “Zeefar”, as deduced from Arabian word “Seefara”! It took around the beginning of 17th century for the “zero” concept to reach Europe! They were then, still using the unscientific and complicated pattern of roman numbers. Arabian “Zeefar” became “Zeferium” in Latin, “Zeero” in French and finally “Zero” in English. Even today, “Zero” is called “Naught” in English, which basically means “nothing” in Sanskrit.
The credit of discovering this stone etched article in “Chaturbhuj” temple goes to Sir Alexander Cunningham. He was the founder of Archaeological Survey of India. He roamed about the whole of India and reported about the archaeological treasure of India, to the whole world. His book titled “Four Reports”, parts 2 -16, during 1862-1865, has a mention of this temple. When this book was published, it was undoubtedly globally established that India was the inventor of “Zero”. From then onwards, scientists and mathematicians from all over the world visit this “Chaturbhuj” temple at Gwalior. Let us all respect our archaeological treasure and preserve our wealth!!!
Green Blogger
Dr Mrs Jaya Vikas Kurhekar