(Last Updated on : 17/03/2011)
Sulva Sutras are the oldest works as far as Indian geometry and religious architecture are concerned. These texts are considered as the only source of Indian mathematics since the Vedic Age. There are four major Sulva sutras which are compose by Baudhayana, Manava, Apastamba and Katyayana. These texts date back to 800 BCE. The oldest is the Baudhayana sutra which is around 800 BCE to 600 BCE.
These sutras consist of theories regarding the origin of the geometry. According to the theory of the ritual origins of geometry, different shapes denote different religious ideas. The need to manipulate these shapes lead to the creation of applicable mathematics. The mystical properties of numbers and geometry were spiritually powerful which led to their incorporation into religious texts. These texts also contain discussion and non-axiomatic demonstrations of cases of the Pythagorean Theorem and triples.
The Sulva Sutras that exist in some form are: Apastamba, Baudhayana, Manava, Katyayana, Maitrayaniya, Varaha, Vadhula and Hiranyakeshin. These texts also contain instructions for making altars dedicated to the gods. The altars are made of mud-brick, complicated in shape and size and require the use of mathematical formulas. The word Sulva means "cord" and the sulva-sutras are named so as the Hindu priests used a simple cord for most of their constructions. In the beginning section of these sutras the names and measures of the units that can be used are mentioned.
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