Greatest Indian contribution(s) to the world ?

What is/are the greatest Indian contribution(s) to the world?

  • Religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism)

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Philosophy, gurus & ashrams

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Mathematics & modern numerals (including "0")

    Votes: 1 100.0%
  • Chess

    Votes: 1 100.0%
  • Kama Sutra

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Indian music, dances and cinema (e.g. Bollywood)

    Votes: 1 100.0%
  • Indian sculptures and paintings

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Ayurveda & yoga

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Indian cuisine

    Votes: 1 100.0%
  • Other (please specify)

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters


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To follow the series of contributions to the world, let's have a look at India, one of the world's oldest civilisation.
When I saw the title of this thread the first thing that popped into my head was 'zero', so I was happy to see it at the top of your poll! I also voted for religions, yoga and food. Indian food is my favourite food of all - and I think the UK is about the best place (after India!) to eat it!
Yes, my first thoughts were food, and religion.
I was unaware that they brought chess into the world.
Chess is one of my all time favourite board games.
I really miss my glass chess set in New Zealand. I got it as a birthday present from one of my dearest friends last year.
4321go said:
What I think about is the "Buddhism" .It is a GREAT Religion. But I don't know why Buddhism have been fade away from India.

It hasn't really faded away - just in the statistics. All the Buddhists were integrated into the Hindu religion, as one Hindu priest had the great idea to proclaim that Buddha was one of the avatar of Vishnu, and thus not a different god. Nowadays, in India more than anywhere else, a practice close to the original Buddhism survives with the Sadhu. They are real ascetics that have renouced all the material and emotional ties of this world for spiritual enlightenment, like Siddhartha Gautama did 2500 years ago. In comparison, forms of Buddhism in Tibet, China, Korea or Japan have become infused with shamanistic, polytheistic and animistic elements, which in my opinion have completely changed the original teachings of the Buddha.
That's a good point about the scripts Lex - I never thought of that. Aren't most European languages descended from Sanscrit?
Panini's Contribution to Indo-European Theory

Tsuyoiko said:
That's a good point about the scripts Lex - I never thought of that. Aren't most European languages descended from Sanscrit?
In a way yes; I tried to find a link to Indo-European scholar Paul Thieme's 1958 Scientific American article, The Indo-European Language, but to no avail, so I am going to type it 'cause it's a vastly better summary compared to wikipedia info. It involves three figures the Italian Filippo Sassetti, the British Sir William Jones, and the Indian grammarian Panini.
Paul Thieme said:
Romance languages and Teutonic, plus Greek-these were once the center of our linguistic universe. During the past 200 years, however, linguistics has been undergoing a kind of Copernican revolution. Now the familiar European tongues have been relegated to minor places in a vaster system of languages which unites Europe and Asia. Known collectively as the Indo-European language, this superfamily is far and away the most extensive linguistic constelleation in the world. It is also the most thoroughly explored: while other language families have remained largely unknown, the Indo-European family has monopolized the attention of linguists since the 18th century. The modern discipline of linguistics is itself a product of Indo-European studies. As a result of these intensive labors we have come to know a great deal about both the geneology and the interrelationships of this rich linguistic community.

If we look at the family as a whole, several questions spring to mind. Where did these languages come from ? Every family traces its descendent from a common acestor: what was our ancestral language ? What did it sound like ? What manner of men spoke it ? How did they come to migrate over the face of the earth, spreading their tongue across the Eurasian land mass ?

Lingusitics can now provide definite-if incomplete-answers to some of these questions. We have reconstructed in substantial part the grammar and sound system of the Indo-European language, as we call this ultimate forebear of the modern Indo-European family. Although much of the original vocabulary has perished, enough of it survives in later languages so that we can contrive a short dictionary. Fro the language in turn, we can puzzle out some characteristics of Indo-European culture. We can even locate the Indo-European homeland.

We can never hope to reconstruct the Indo-European language in complete detail. The task will be immeasurably easier if the Indor-Europeans had only left written records. But the Indo-Europeans, unlike their Egyptian and Mesopotamian contemporaries, were illiterate. Their language was not simply forgotten, to be relearned by archeologists of another day. It vanished without a trace, except for the many hints that we can glean and piece together from its surviving daughter languages.

[The Discovery of the Langauge]

The first clue to the existence of an Indo-European family was uncovered with the opening of trade with India. In 1585, a little less than a century after Vasco da Gama first rounded the Cape of Good Hope, and Italian merchant named Filippo Sassetti made a startling discovery in India. He found that Hindu scholars were able to speak and write and ancient language, at least as venerable as Latin and Greek. Sassetti wrote a letter home about this language, which he called Sanscrutta (Sanskrit). It bore certain resemblances, he said, to his native Italian. Fore example, the word for "God" (deva) resembled the Italian Dio' the word for "snake" (sarpa), the Italian serpe, the numbers "seven," "eight," and "nine" (sapta, ashta, and nava), the Italian sette, otto, and nove.

What did these resemblances prove ? Sassetti may have imagined that Sanskrit was closely related to the "original language" spoken by Adam and Eve; perhaps that is why he chose "God" and "snake" as examples. Later it was thought that Sanskrit might be the ancestor of the European languages, including Greek and Latin. Finally it became clear that Sanskrit was simply a sister of the European tongues. The relationship received its first scientific statement in the "Indo-European hypothesis" by Sir William Jones, a jurist and orientalist in the employ of East India Company. Addressing the Bengal Asiatic Society in 1786, Sir William pointed out that Sanskrit, in relation to Greek and Latin,
"bears and stronger affinity, both in the roots of verbs and in the forms of grammar, than could possibly have been produced by accident: so strong indeed, that no philologer could examine them all three without believing them to have sprung from some common source, which perhaps no longer exists; there is similar reason, though not quite so forcible, for supposing that both the Gothick and the Celtick, though blended with a very different idiom, had the same origin with the Sanskrit."
Sir William's now famous opinion founded modern linguistics. A crucial word in the sentence quoted is "roots." Jones and his successors could not have done their work without a knowledge of traditional Sanskrit grammar. Jones like every linguist since, was inspired by the great Sanskrit grammarian Panini, who sometime before 500 BC devised a remarkably accurate and systematic technique of word analysis. Instead of grouping related forms in conjugatios and declensions-as European and U.S. school-grammar does to this day-Panini's grammar analyzed the forms into their functional units: the roots, suffixes, and endings.

Comparative grammar in the strictest sense was founded by a young German named Franz Bopp. In 1816 Bopp published a book on the inflection of verbs in a group of Indo-European languages: Sankrit, Persian, Greek, Latin, and the Teutonic tongues. Essentially Bopp's book was no more than the application of Panini's technique for the analysis of Sanskrit verbs. But Bopp's motive was a historicl one. By gathering cognate forms from a number of Indo-European languages he hoped to be able to infer some of the characteristics of the lost language-the "common source" mentioned by Jones-which was the parent of them all.

In the course of time Bopp's method has been systematically developed and refined. The "affinities" which Jonese saw between certain words in related languages have come to be called :correspondences," defined by precise formulas. The "Indo-European hypothesis" has been proven beyond doubt.
So in the sense that India not only provided the language material to spark the long distance, genetic relationship between the languages of Europe and India, but also provided a vastly different, scientific method of language analysis, Panini's Indian Grammar as a scientific model of language should be mentioned as a major contribution to humanity as well. Here are some additional links that you might find interesting.

The Evolution of Languages: The Exploratorium Magazine Online Ruhlen interview with audio clips
William Jones (philologist): wikipedia
The Early History of Indo-European Languages, The Progression of Early Indo-European Languages (8000-1000 B.C.) pdf, 2 page chart
Indo-European: wikipedia
The Early Indo-European Languages: Scientific American Mrach 1990 Thomas V. Gamkrelidze and V. V. Ivanov
Chess, as it's a great game, and Indian (classical) music. Indian music is perhaps one of the most advanced rhythmically.
What I like about Bollywood movies is that they can be having a huge killing bloody massacre, yet they will all be dancing and singing around.
I havent had much experience in watching Bollywood films, but there were one or two which will be memorable for the above said reasons.

I've met a couple of Bollywood stars, they really are OTT (over the top), makeup and hair stylists are right on hand for the teensiest change of wind.
They really really like everything to be just perfect.
I like their dedication though, and the patience of their assistants is amazing.
Tsuyoiko said:
I never thought of that. Aren't most European languages descended from Sanscrit?

No. Sanskrit is related to Latin, Ancient Greek, etc. but only because all of them descend from a older Aryan language. The Aryans lived in the region of the Caucasus (hence the term "Caucasian" for white) and northern Black Sea. They split into 2 groups, one that went westwards to conquer Europe, and one that went southeastwards to conquer Persia and Northern India. That's why they are called Indo-European languages. These Aryans had originally a common polytheist religion, which has derived into the Greco-Roman, Celtic, Norse and Hindu religions (=Indo-European religions). So Wiccan and other pagan religions are in fact distantly related to Hinduism and Buddhism (well as much as English or Gaelic are related to Hindi or Bengali).
@Lexico - thanks for taking the time to type that article (here is an ice pack for your RSI :109: ) and for those links - that will keep me busy on Monday morning, when I should be working :p

Maciamo said:
No. Sanskrit is related to Latin, Ancient Greek, etc. but only because all of them descend from a older Aryan language.
Yeah, when I wrote it I knew I wasn't remembering exactly right. But isn't Sanscrit closer to that root language than any of the others?
Tsuyoiko said:
Yeah, when I wrote it I knew I wasn't remembering exactly right. But isn't Sanscrit closer to that root language than any of the others?

Nobody knows that. What's interesting is that Sanskrit still has native speakers in India, although it has also evolved into numerous new languages like Latin, but it's quite a long time that nobody speaks Latin as their mother-tongue anymore.
Maciamo said:
Nobody knows that. What's interesting is that Sanskrit still has native speakers in India, although it has also evolved into numerous new languages like Latin, but it's quite a long time that nobody speaks Latin as their mother-tongue anymore.
I wonder if it's the oldest language that is still in use? The other obvious contenders (that I can think of with my very limited knowledge!) are Hebrew and Chinese.
Zauriel said:
Hey, How come Kama Sutra--the world's greatest lovemaking manual isn't included in the poll?

Alright, I have added it.
Great, Maciamo-sama.

Kama Sutra has been an excellent help to any couples on human sexuality and erogenuous zones of a human body. Numerous versions of Kama Sutra were published across over the world. If you want to sexually please your partner, you should read Kama Sutra.
Probably Hindu philosophy mathematics, and wootz steel. All others are important too.
I voted, but I will admit. . . not so seriously. I lived with some folks from Gujarat in the USA, as I worked for almost two years with Japan Sari Palace, out of Roselle, NJ. Of course I had had an interest in India from before that, and had taught myself Hindi to some degree.

I just love that cooking. . .man I can eat japatis all day long with alu subji and achar. And give me a plate of gulab manjoo and I'll just start planning on buying a bigger waist size right away.

But I do like the music too, and at one point in time had a --well I cannot recall the name of the instrument, it was like a sitar, but not. It's the instrument that kind of helps keep the drone sound going.

And of course I just had to add the Kama Sutra. . . it highlights the 'spirtual' aspect of sexual connection in yoga-like bounds. It does so in a way that no other surviving belief-system work that I know of does. yeah !! MM

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