Most of the mathematical contributions and history of Nepal are often overshadowed. Because we view it in total to the history of the Indian subcontinent. But, once separated from this aggregation. The growth of mathematical sciences in Nepal throughout history is quite visible.
This article will go through the historical mathematical advances of Nepal. Starting with “Gurukula”. All the up to modern-day education system of Nepal through four distinct eras. The Lichchavi Era, the Malla Era, the Shah Era, and the Rana Era.
The Inception of Mathematical Sciences in Nepal
In the beginning, mathematics was primarily used for Vedic Astrology or Hindu Astrology. Known as “Jyotish Shastra”. People used to go to Jyotish instructors to study mathematics in the past. “Sumati Tantra” is said to be the first Jyotish book in Nepal.
No dedicated books on mathematics were written in Nepal before 1850. Students learned Sanskrit. Alongside lessons from Indian mathematical books, such as Siddhant Siromani of Bhaskaracharya (II). Hence, Nepalese mathematics is greatly influenced by Indian mathematics.
The first Nepali book, dedicated solely to mathematics, was released in 1883. It was titled “Wyokta Chandrika” and it was written by Gopal Pande. He was not only a mathematical pioneer. He showed great prowess in engineering, architecture, and even political ideologies. He was honored with the title of “Royal Astrologer”, due to his contributions. His children have also carried his legacy throughout their lives.
“Gorkha Bijaganita” was partially written by Noor Dutta Pande, who was the son of Gopal Pande. It focused primarily on algebra. He also wrote another book titled, “Bichitra Ganita”.
To summarize the start of Nepalese mathematical science, we can focus on the four different eras.
- Lichchavi Era (143-1243): People in this era were mostly interested in mathematics for religious causes. Mathematics was employed for astrology and tax calculations. At this age, mathematics was primarily basic and did not focus on difficult problems. The “Sumati Tantra” and the “Sumati Siddhanta” dominated the filed for mathematical textbooks at the period. They focused mainly on astrology.
- Malla Era (1243-1741): The Malla period focused more on geometry and architecture. It can be evident from the architectural structures of the period. Such as palaces and shrines. To make calendars and make future predictions, astrologers used the Sumati Tantra and Sumati Siddhanta in this time period as well.
- Shah Era (1742-1846): The Shah era was also called the “Negligence Period”. Due to the stagnant nature of Nepalese education during this time. This was because of the wars. Which were fought for the unification of Nepal. During this era, “Gurukula” or Kashi were the main sources of knowledge during this period.
- Rana Era (1846-1951): Even though it is considered the inception of the modern era, many scholars might often disagree. Many scholars believe that, the modern era of Nepalese education began in 1952. The first modern school was established in this era, named “Durbar School”. It was established by Prime Minister Jung Bahadur Rana. Only Thapathali and mathematics were taught at this school.
Modern Day Mathematical Education in Nepal
The educational system in Nepal changed dramatically after the country gained democracy in 1951. There were several education commissions and committees established.
Mathematics was originally offered as a degree in 1947 A.D. Both as a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science, respectively. Tri-Chandra College was the first to provide it. In 1918, the same college began offering mathematics at the intermediate level in the arts and in 1926 in the sciences.
The texts used to teach these courses were classical English textbooks. Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, and Calculus. These were all part of the college’s mathematics curriculum at the time. After the founding of the Mathematics Department at Tribhuban University in 1959, students were granted master’s degrees. It established a three-year bachelor’s degree program and a two-year master’s degree program. To get an idea of the current curriculum you may go through the algebra 2 questions of the current education system. The mathematics curriculum has changed at all levels. From intermediate to post-graduate, which helped the growth of students.
The Faculty of Education (FoE) was established to assist the training of teachers at all levels of education. It also aided in the development of a curriculum that is more compatible with worldwide education. Thus, Nepalese students nowadays are on par with their fellow students around the world.
Even though the contribution to mathematical science by the Nepalese is often overshadowed by the Indian mathematicians, when observed properly, it becomes clear that Nepal has had its’ fair share of mathematical uproar and many great mathematicians of its own.
The current mathematical growth is worthy of praise. The students can keep track with the worldwide education. And in some cases, are even excelling in many areas.
Author: Kathy Mercado is popular among readers for the descriptive and thorough nature of each of her essays. Her research effort is visible in any content she writes. This has garnered much praise from readers of all categories.