Known foremost as the birthplace of yoga and spices, here is a list of 5 inventions and discoveries you might not have guessed come from India.
Originating as a mix of herbs used to clean the hair, the early Indian shampoo was based on a mix of organic materials including Sapindus or ‘soapberries’. The word ‘shampoo’ is derived from the Sanskrit ‘champu’, meaning ‘to massage’. The use of the word shampoo as well as the concept of a special soap designed for hair was brought to Europe by early colonial traders who had encountered it in India.
While sugarcane has been used to add sweetness to foods across South Asia for thousands of years, it was in India that cane sugar granules as we know them today were first produced. The invention of the sugar crystallisation process took place in around 350 AD during the Gupta Dynasty. It took many thousands of years for this discovery to reach the rest of the world, a process that begun with traveling Buddhist monks who brought sugar crystallisation processes to China.
Diamonds were first discovered in the 6th century BC during the Mahajanapada Empire, along the banks of the Krishna River delta in India. For the following 2000 years India remained the only source of diamonds in the world, until the discovery of sources in Brazil and South Africa in the 18th and 19th centuries. During the early years of diamond discovery they were considered to be a source of luck by the Mahajanapada and were even considered to have powers of healing due to the indigo light that they emitted.
4. Snakes and Ladders
A game that is now a favourite of children worldwide, Snakes and Ladders was invented in the 13th century, and is accredited to the saint Gyandev. The game’s original name was Moksha Patamu, and it was created as a tool to help children understand the concept of Karma. In the earliest versions of Snakes and Ladders, ladders represented virtuous actions, while the snakes represented bad deeds. Using this simple imagery the game explained the concept of Karma – that bad deeds would lead to a continuous cycle of rebirth.
5. Plastic surgery
Very early records of the practice of plastic surgery are found in the Sushruta Samhita, a key text of the Ayurveda that is attributed to the 6th century B.C. physician Sushruta. In the Sushruta Samhita a number of processes including reconstruction of the nose, the use of wine as an anaesthetic and the reconstruction of earlobes using cheek flesh are explained. These ideas were spread across the world through translations of the Sushruta Samhita beginning with a translation into Arabic in the 8th century AD.