The list of Indian inventions and discoveries details the inventions, scientific discoveries and contributions made in India throughout its cultural and technological history, during which architecture, astronomy, cartography, metallurgy, logic, mathematics, metrology and mineralogy were among the branches of study pursued by its scholars.
Bangle: Bangles—made from shell, copper, bronze, gold, agate, chalcedony etc.—have been excavated from multiple archaeological sites throughout India. A figurine of a dancing girl—wearing bangles on her left arm— has been excavated from Mohenjo-daro (2600 BCE).
Bhatnagar-Mathur Magnetic Interference Balance: Invented jointly by Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar and K.N. Mathur in 1928, the so-called 'Bhatnagar-Mathur Magnetic Interference Balance' was a modern instrument used for measuring various magnetic properties.
Bounce lighting: Invented by cinematographer Subrata Mitra for The Apu Trilogy, three Bengali films by parallel Indian film director Satyajit Ray from 1955 to 1959.
Bow drill: The bow drill appeared in Mehrgarh between 4th-5th millennium BCE.
Button: Buttons—made from seashell—were used in the Indus Valley Civilization for ornamental purposes by 2000 BCE.
Calico: Calico had originated in India by the 11th century and found mention in Indian literature by the 12th when writer Hemacandra mentioned calico fabric prints done in a lotus design.
Carding, devices for: Historian of science Joseph Needham ascribes the invention of bow-instruments used in textile technology to India. The earliest evidence for using bow-instruments for carding comes from India (2nd century CE).
Carrom, Chaturanga and Shatranj: The precursors of chess originated in India during the Gupta dynasty (c. 280 - 550 CE).
Chintz: The origin of Chintz is from the printed all cotton fabric of calico in India.
Coherer, iron and mercury: In 1899, the Bengali physicist Jagdish Chandra Bose announced the development of an "iron-mercury-iron coherer with telephone detector" in a paper presented at the Royal Society, London.
Cockfighting: Cockfighting was a pastime in the Indus Valley Civilization by 2000 BCE.
Corrosion-resistant iron: The first corrosion-resistant iron was used to erect the Iron pillar of Delhi, which has withstood corrosion for over 1,600 years.
Cotton Gin: The Ajanta caves of India yield evidence of a single roller cotton gin in use by the 5th century CE.
Crescograph: The crescograph, a device for measuring growth in plants, was invented in the early 20th century by the Bengali scientist Jagdish Chandra Bose.
Crucible steel: Perhaps as early as 300 BCE—although certainly by 200 CE—high quality steel was being produced in southern India called the crucible technique.
Dental drill, and dental surgery: The Indus Valley Civilization has yielded evidence of dentistry being practiced as far back as 7000 BCE.
Dice: The die is attributed to India by some accounts. Some of the earliest archaeological evidence of oblong dice have been found in Harrapan sites such as Kalibangan, Lothal, Ropar, Alamgirpur, Desalpur and surrounding territories, some dating back to the third millennium BCE, which were used for gambling.
Dike: Dikes were known to be widely used in the Indus valley civilization, which are believed to be the first dikes in the world, built as early as the 1st millennium BCE.
Dock (maritime): The world's first dock at Lothal (2400 BCE) was located away from the main current to avoid deposition of silt. Modern oceanographers have observed that the Harappans must have possessed great knowledge relating to tides in order to build such a dock on the ever-shifting course of the Sabarmati, as well as exemplary hydrography and maritime engineering.
Dyeing: Early evidence of dyeing comes from India where a piece of cotton dyed with a vegetable dye has been recovered from the archaeological site at Mohenjo-daro (3rd millennium BCE).
Furnace: The earliest furnace was excavated at Balakot, a site of the Indus Valley Civilization, dating back to its mature phase (c. 2500-1900 BCE).
Hookah: The invention of the modern Hookah is attributed to Hakim Abul Fateh Gilani (c. 1580 CE)
Hospital: Brahmanic hospitals were established in what is now Sri Lanka as early as 431 BCE. The Indian emperor Ashoka (ruled from 273 BCE to 232 BCE) himself established a chain of hospitals throughout the Mauryan empire (322–185 BCE) by 230 BCE.
Incense clock: Although popularly associated with China the incense clock is believed to have originated in India, at least in its fundamental form if not function. Early incense clocks found in China between the 6th and 8th century CE—the period it appeared in China all seem to have Devanāgarī carvings on them instead of Chinese seal characters.
India ink, carbonaceous pigment for: The source of the carbon pigment used in India ink was India. Ink itself has been used in India since at least the 4th century BCE.
Indian clubs: The Indian club—which appeared in Europe during the 18th century—was used long by India's native soldiery before its introduction to Europe.
Interferometer, lateral shear: Invented by M.V.R.K. Murty, a Lateral Shear Interferometer utilizes a laser source for measuring refractive index.
Iron: Iron was developed in the Vedic period of India, around the same time as, but independently of, Anatolia and the Caucasus. Archaeological sites in India, such as Malhar, Dadupur, Raja Nala Ka Tila and Lahuradewa in present day Uttar Pradesh show iron implements in the period between 1800 BCE—1200 BCE.
Iron pillar: The first iron pillar was the Iron pillar of Delhi, erected at the times of Chandragupta II Vikramaditya (375–413 CE).
Kabaddi: The game of kabaddi originated in India during prehistory during the period between 1500-400 BCE.
Ludo: Pachisi originated in India by the 6th century. The earliest evidence of this game in India is the depiction of boards on the caves of Ajanta.
Oil spill, micro organisms as treatment of: Indian (Bengali) inventor and microbiologist Ananda Mohan Chakrabarty created a species of man made micro organism to break down crude oil.
Optical fibre: Narinder Singh Kapany is often described as the "father of fibre optics", for inventing the glass fibre with cladding during the early 1950s.
Oven: The earliest ovens were excavated at Balakot, a site of the Indus Valley Civilization. The ovens date back to the civilization's mature phase (c. 2500-1900 BCE).
Pajamas: Pajamas in the original form were invented in India, which was for outdoor use and was reinterpreted by the British to be sleepware.
Palampore: पालमपुर् (Hindi language) of Indian origin was imported to the western world—notable England and Colonial america—from India.
Plastic surgery: Plastic surgery was being carried out in India by 2000 BCE. The surgeon Sushruta contributed mainly to the field of Plastic and Cataract surgery.
Plough, animal-drawn: The earliest archeological evidence of an animal-drawn plough dates back to 2500 BCE in the Indus Valley Civilization.
Prayer flags: The Buddhist sūtras, written on cloth in India, were transmitted to other regions of the world. The Indian monk Atisha (980-1054 CE) introduced the Indian practice of printing on cloth prayer flags to Tibet.
Prefabricated home and movable structure: The first prefabricated homes and movable structures were invented in 16th century Mughal India by Akbar the Great. These structures were reported by Arif Qandahari in 1579.
Private bathroom and Toilet: By 2800 BCE, private bathrooms, located on the ground floor, were found in nearly all the houses of the Indus Valley Civilization.
Puppets and Puppetry: Evidence of puppetry comes from the excavations at the Indus Valley. Archaeologists have unearthed terracotta dolls with detachable heads capable of manipulation by a string dating to 2500 BCE.
Reservoir, artificial: Sophisticated irrigation and storage systems were developed by the Indus Valley Civilization, including the artificial reservoirs at Girnar in 3000 BCE and an earlycanal irrigation system from circa 2600 BCE. Irrigation was developed in the Indus Valley Civilization around 4500 BCE.
Rocket artillery, iron-cased and metal-cylinder: The first iron-cased and metal-cylinder rockets were developed by Tipu Sultan, ruler of the South Indian Kingdom of Mysore, and his father Hyder Ali, in the 1780s.
Ruler: Rulers made from Ivory were in use by the Indus Valley Civilization period prior to 1500 BCE.
Seamless celestial globe: Considered one of the most remarkable feats in metallurgy, it was invented in Kashmir by Ali Kashmiri ibn Luqman in between 1589 and 1590 CE.
Sewage collection and disposal systems: Large-scale sanitary sewer systems were in place in the Indus Valley by 2700 BCE.
Shampoo: Shampoo originally meant head massage in several North Indian languages. Both the word and the concept were introduced to Britain from colonial India, by the Bengali entrepreneur Sake Dean Mahomed.
Snakes and ladders: Snakes and ladders originated in India as a game based on morality.
Stepwell: Earliest clear evidence of the origins of the stepwell is found in the Indus Valley Civilization's archaeological site at Mohenjodaro.
Stupa: The origin of the stupa can be traced to 3rd century BCE India.
Swimming pool: The "great bath" at the site of Mohenjo-daro was most likely dug during the 3rd millennium BCE.
Toe stirrup: The earliest known manifestation of the stirrup, which was a toe loop that held the big toe was used in India in as early as 500 BCE.
Universal Serial Bus: Computer architect Ajay Bhatt was the co-inventor of the Universal Serial Bus (USB).
Urban planning: Remains of major Indus cities (mature period c. 2600–1900 BCE) display distinct characteristics of urban planning.
Wind-powered device: The ancient Sinhalese used the monsoon winds to power furnaces as early as 300 BCE.
Wootz steel: Wootz originated in India before the beginning of the common era.
Cashmere wool: The fiber is also known as pashm or pashmina for its use in the handmade shawls of Kashmir.
Cotton: Cotton was cultivated by the inhabitants of the Indus Valley Civilization by the 5th millennium BCE - 4th millennium BCE.
Diamond Gemstones: Early diamonds used as gemstones originated in India.
Indigo dye: Indigo, a blue pigment and a dye, was used in India.
Jute: Jute has been cultivated in India since ancient times.
Sugar: Sugarcane was originally from tropical South Asia and Southeast Asia. Crystallized sugar was discovered by the time of the Imperial Guptas.
AKS primality test: The AKS primality test is a deterministic primality-proving algorithm created and published by three Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur computer scientists,Manindra Agrawal, Neeraj Kayal, and Nitin Saxena on August 6, 2002.
Algebraic abbreviations: The mathematician Brahmagupta had begun using abbreviations for unknowns by the 7th century.
Analysis, classical: Madhava of Sangamagrama is considered the founder of classical analysis.
Basu's theorem: The Basu's theorem, a result of Debabrata Basu (1955) states that any complete sufficient statistic is independent of any ancillary statistic.
Binary numbers: The modern system of binary numerals appears in the works of German polymath Gottfried Leibnitz during the 17th century. However, the first description of binary numbers is found in the chandaḥ-śāstra treatise of the Indian mathematician Pingala.
Binomial coefficients: The Indian mathematician Pingala, by 300 BCE, had also managed to work with Binomial coefficients.
Brahmagupta–Fibonacci identity, Brahmagupta formula, Brahmagupta interpolation formula Brahmagupta matrix, and Brahmagupta theorem: Discovered by the Indian mathematician, Brahmagupta (598–668 CE).
Calculus textbook: The Yuktibhāṣā, written by Jyesthadeva of the Kerala school of astronomy and mathematics in circa 1530, is widely considered to be the first textbook on calculus.
Chakravala method: The Chakravala method, a cyclic algorithm to solve indeterminatequadratic equations is commonly attributed to Bhāskara II, (c. 1114–1185 CE)
Decimal number system: The modern decimal number system originated in India.
Derivative and differential: In the 12th century, Bhāskara II developed the concept of a derivative and a differential representing infinitesimal change.
Differential equation: In 499, the Indian mathematician Aryabhata used a notion of infinitesimals and expressed an astronomical problem in the form of a basic differential equation. Manjula, in the 10th century, elaborated on this differential equation in a commentary. This equation was eventually solved by Bhāskara II in the 12th century.
Diophantine equation and Indeterminate equation: The Śulba Sūtras (literally, "Aphorisms of the Chords" in Vedic Sanskrit) (c. 700-400 BCE) list rules for the construction of sacrificial fire altars.
Fibonacci numbers: The Fibonacci numbers are a sequence of numbers named after Leonardo of Pisa, known as Fibonacci. Fibonacci's 1202 book Liber Abaci introduced the sequence to Western European mathematics, although the sequence had been previously described in Indian mathematics. The so-called Fibonacci numbers were also known to the Indian mathematician Pingala by 300 BCE.
Hindu-Arabic numeral system: The Hindu-Arabic numeral system originated in India.
Large numbers: The religious texts of the Vedic Period provide evidence for the use of large numbers.
Limit: The mathematicians of the Kerala school of astronomy and mathematics were the first to make use of an intuitive notion of a limit to compute their results in infinite series.
Leibniz formula for pi The Leibniz formula for pi was derived in the early part of the 15th century by Madhava of Sangamagrama (c. 1340-1425 CE), an Indian mathematician and founder of the Kerala school of astronomy and mathematics over 200 years before Leibniz.
Mean value theorem: An early version of this calculus theorem was first described by Parameshvara (1370–1460) from the Kerala school of astronomy and mathematics in his commentaries on Govindasvāmi and Bhāskara II.
Negative numbers: The use of negative numbers was known in ancient India and their role in mathematical problems of debt and directions between points on a straight line was understood.
Pascal triangle: The so-called Pascal triangle was solved by the Indian mathematician Pingala by 300 BCE.
Pell's equation, integral solution for: About a thousand years before Pell's time, Indian scholar Brahmagupta (598–668 CE) was able to find integral solutions to vargaprakṛiti (Pell's equation): x^2-ny^2=1; where N is a nonsquare integer, in his Brâhma-sphuṭa-siddhânta treatise.
Pi, infinite series: The infinite series for π is attributed to Madhava of Sangamagrama (c. 1340-1425) and his Kerala school of astronomy and mathematics.
Pythagorean theorem: Baudhayana (c. 8th century BCE) composed the Baudhayana Sulba Sutra, the best-known Sulba Sutra, which contains examples of simple
Pythagorean triples, such as: (3,4,5), (5,12,13), (8,15,17), (7,24,25), and (12,35,37) as well as a statement of the Pythagorean theorem for the sides of a square.
Ramanujan theta function, Ramanujan prime, Ramanujan summation, Ramanujan graph and Ramanujan's sum: Discovered by the Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan in the early 20th century.
Rolle's theorem: The calculus theorem now known as "Rolle's theorem" was first stated by the Indian mathematician, Bhāskara II, in the 12th century.
Sign convention: Symbols, signs and mathematical notation were employed in an early form in India by the 6th century when the mathematician-astronomer Aryabhata recommended the use of letters to represent unknown quantities. By the 7th century Brahmagupta had already begun using abbreviations for unknowns, even for multiple unknowns occurring in one complex problem.
Taylor-Maclaurin series: In the 14th century, the earliest examples of the Taylor-Maclaurin series were first given by Madhava of Sangamagrama and his successors at the Kerala school of astronomy and mathematics.
Trigonometric functions: The trigonometric functions sine and versine were discovered by the Indian mathematician, Aryabhata, in the late 5th century.
Anesthesia: Anesthesia was known to Sushruta, who used to give herbal wine as anesthetic before he performed surgeries.
Angina pectoris: The concept of Hritshoola—literally heart pain—was known to Sushruta (6th century BCE).
C-section: Susruta was known to have performed C-section from 6th century BCE.
Cataract surgery: Cataract surgery was known to the Indian physician Sushruta (6th century BCE).
Circulatory system: The knowledge of circulation of vital fluids through the body was known to Sushruta (6th century BCE).
Diabetes: Sushruta (6th century BCE) identified Diabetes and classified it as Madhumeha.
Hypertension: Sushruta (6th century BCE) explained hypertension in a manner which matches the modern symptoms of the disease.
Inoculation and Variolation: The earliest record of inoculation and variolation for smallpox is found in 8th century.
In vitro fertilization:Dr. Subash Mukherjee was the first to successfully use human menopausal gonadotrophins (hMG) for ovulation stimulation in an IVF programme to ensure the availability of multiple ovarian follicles for aspiration, was the first to approach the ovaries via the vaginal route by posterior colpotomy.
Leprosy: Kearns & Nash (2008) state that the first mention of leprosy is described in the Indian medical treatise Sushruta Samhita (6th century BCE).
Metabolism:Charaka had knowledge about the metabolic processes and digestion. His book Charaka Samhita describes the various processes.
Molecular Biology:Har Gobind Khorana was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (shared with Robert W. Holley and Marshall Warren Nirenberg) in 1968 for his work on the interpretation of the genetic code and its function in protein synthesis.
Obesity: Obesity was known to Sushruta (6th century BCE), who also related it with diabetes and heart disorder.
Stones: The earliest operation for curing stone is also given in the Sushruta Samhita (6th century BCE).
Veterinary medicine: The Egyptian Papyrus of Kahun (1900 BCE) and literature of the Vedic period in India offer the first written records of veterinary medicine.
Visceral leishmaniasis, treatment of: The Indian (Bengali) medical practitioner Upendra Nath Brahmachari (December 19, 1873 - February 6, 1946) was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1929 for his discovery of 'ureastibamine (antimonialcompound for treatment of kala azar) and a new disease, post-kalaazar dermal leishmanoid.
Diamond: Diamonds were first recognized and mined in central India. India remained the world's only source of diamonds until the 18th century.
Zinc: Zinc was first recognised as a metal in India. Zinc metal extraction was one of the most difficult extractions but not for Indians. Zinc mines of Zawar, near Udaipur, Rajasthan, were active during 400 BCE.
Atomism: The earliest references to the concept of atoms date back to India in the 6th century BCE.
Ammonium nitrite, synthesis in pure form: Prafulla Chandra Roy managed to synthesize NH4NO2 in its pure form, and became the first scientist to have done so.
Bhabha scattering: In 1935, Indian nuclear physicist Homi J. Bhabha published a paper in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, Series A, in which he performed the first calculation to determine the cross section of electron-positron scattering.
Bose–Einstein statistics, condensate and Boson: On June 4, 1924 the Bengali professor of Physics Satyendra Nath Bose mailed a short manuscript to Albert Einstein entitled Planck's Law and the Light Quantum Hypothesis seeking Einstein's influence to get it published after it was rejected by the prestigious journal Philosophical Magazine. The paper introduced what is today called Bose statistics, which showed how it could be used to derive the Planck blackbody spectrum from the assumption that light was made of photons. Einstein, recognizing the importance of the paper translated it into German himself and submitted it on Bose's behalf to the prestigious Zeitschrift für Physik. Einstein later applied Bose's principles on particles with mass and quickly predicted the Bose-Einstein condensate.
Chandrasekhar limit and Chandrasekhar number: Discovered by and named after Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, who received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1983 for his work on stellar structure and stellar evolution.
Cosmic ray showers, theoretical explanation of: In 1936, physicist Homi Jehangir Bhabha collaborated with Walter Heitler to formulate a theory on cosmic ray showers.
Formal language and formal grammar: The 4th century BCE Indian scholar Pāṇini is regarded as the forerunner to these modern linguistic fields.
Galena, applied use in electronics of: Bengali scientist Jagadish Chandra Bose effectively used Galena crystals for constructing radio receivers.
Linguistics: The study of linguistics in India dates back at least two and one-half millennia. During the 5th century BCE, the Indian scholar Pāṇini had made several discoveries in the fields of phonetics, phonology, and morphology.
Mahalanobis distance: Introduced in 1936 by the Indian (Bengali) statistician Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis (June 29, 1893–June 28, 1972), this distance measure, based upon the correlation between variables, is used to identify and analyze differing pattern with respect to one base.
Mercurous Nitrite: The compound mercurous nitrite was discovered in 1896 by the Bengali chemist Prafulla Chandra Roy, who published his findings in the Journal of Asiatic Society of Bengal..
Metrology: The inhabitants of the Indus valley developed a sophisticated system of standardization, using weights and measures, evident by the excavations made at the Indus valley sites.
Molecular biophysics: Gopalasamudram Narayana Iyer Ramachandran is considered one of the founders of the rapidly developing field of molecular biophysics.
Panini-Backus Form: Pāṇini's grammar rules have significant similarities to the Backus–Naur Form or BNF grammars used to describe modern programming languages, hence the notation is sometimes referred to as the Panini–Backus Form.
Ramachandran plot, Ramachandran map, and Ramachandran angles: The Ramachandran plot and Ramachandran map were developed by Gopalasamudram Narayana Iyer.
Ramachandran, who published his results in the Journal of Molecular Biology in 1963. He also developed the Ramachandran angles, which serve as a convenient tool for communication, representation, and various kinds of data analysis.
Raman effect: The Encyclopædia Britannica (2008) reports: "change in the wavelength of light that occurs when a light beam is deflected by molecules. The phenomenon is named for Sir Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman, who discovered it in 1928. When a beam of light traverses a dust-free, transparent sample of a chemical compound, a small fraction of the light emerges in directions other than that of the incident (incoming) beam. Most of this scattered light is of unchanged wavelength. A small part, however, has wavelengths different from that of the incident light; its presence is a result of the Raman effect."
Raychaudhuri equation: Discovered by the Bengali physicist Amal Kumar Raychaudhuri in 1954. This was a key ingredient of the Penrose-Hawking singularity theorems of general
Saha ionization equation: The Saha equation, derived by the Bengali scientist Meghnad Saha (October 6, 1893 – February 16, 1956) in 1920, conceptualizes ionizations in context of stellar atmospheres.
Universe: The earliest known philosophical models of the universe are found in the Vedas, the earliest texts on Indian philosophy and Hindu philosophy dating back to the late 2nd millennium BC. They describe ancient Hindu cosmology, in which the universe goes through repeated cycles of creation, destruction and rebirth, with each cycle lasting 4,320,000 years.
Bhatnagar-Gross-Krook: The operator is named after Prabhu Lal Bhatnagar, E. P. Gross, and Max Krook, the three scientists who introduced it in a paper in Physical Review in 1954.
BCH code: The BCH error detecting codes were discovered by Hocquenghem, Bose & Ray-Chaudhuri by 1960, and are named after their inventors.
Pati-Salam model: A mainstream Grand Unification Theory proposed by Jogesh Pati in collaboration with Abdus Salam in 1974.
Ivory: The use of ivory in India dates to the Indus Valley Civilization (2300-1750 BCE).
Public bathing: According to John Keay the Great Bath of Mohenjo Daro was the size of 'a modest municipal swimming pool', complete with stairs leading down to the water at each one of its ends.
Radio: In 1894, the Bengali physicist, Jagdish Chandra Bose, demonstrated publicly the use of radio waves in Calcutta, but he was not interested in patenting his work.
Same language subtitling: Same Language Subtitling (SLS) refers to the idea of subtitling in the same language as the audio, converse to the original idea of subtitling, which was to present a different language. This idea was struck upon by Brij Kothari, who believed that SLS makes reading practice an incidental, automatic, and subconscious part of popular TV entertainment, at a low per-person cost to shore up literacy rates in India.
Simputer: The Simputer (acronym for "simple, inexpensive and multilingual people's computer") is a self-contained, open hardware handheld computer, designed for use in environments where computing devices such as personal computers are deemed inappropriate. It was developed in 1999 by 7 scientists of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.
Wilson-Bappu effect: In a paper published in 1957, American astronomer Olin Chaddock Wilson and Manali Kallat Vainu Bappu had described what would later be known as the Wilson-Bappu effect. The paper opened up the field of stellar chromospheres for research.