Posted on: 20 June 2012

Digital Rare Book:
The Anthropology of Numbers
By Thomas Crump
Published by Cambridge University Press - 1997

Read book Online:

The LOKAVIBHAGA is a Jain cosmological text originally composed in Prakrit by a Digambara monk, Sarvanandi,[1] surviving in a Sanskrit version compiled by one Simhasuri. It contains the oldest known mention of numeral zero ("0") and the decimal positional system[2] The discovery of the manuscript preserving the text was mentioned by the Archaeological Department of Mysore in their report for 1909-10.

The work was supposed to have been first given by word of mouth by Vardhamana, and is said to have been handed down through Sudharma and a succession of other teachers. Rishi Simhasuri or Simhasura made a translation of it, apparently from the Prakrit into Sanskrit.

The surviving manuscripts state that the original Prakrit work was written down by Sarvanandi at Patalika in the Banarastra on a certain day the astronomical details of which are given. It is further stated therein it was in Saka 380, corresponding to CE 458. The surviving text is a Sanskrit translation by one Simhasuri, copied "some considerable time" after that date by one Simhasuri.[3] A translation was published by Balachandra Shastri.

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The book is only an extract therefore very difficult to follow the arguments ; pages are missing :( Also , the little bit I read he insisted on calling the numerals 'Arabic' although they have been manifestly borrowed from the Indians. ( Note the opposing directions of writing arabic and of writing numbers from 1 to 10.)