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A Rationale of Bhaskara and his Method for Solving ax + c = by

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A Rationale of Bhaskara and his Method for Solving


ax c = by

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(Received 10 January 1977 ; after revision 17 March 1977)


Indian Scholar Bhaskara I (522 A. D.) perhaps used the method of continued fraction to find out the
integral solution of the indeterminate equation of the type by = ax c. The paper presents the
original Sanskrit verses (in Roman Character) from Bhaskara I's Maha Bhaskaryia, its English
translation with modern interpretation.

Introduction
Bhaskara I (522 A. D.) gave a rule in his Mahabhaskariya for obtaining the general solution of the
linear indeterminate equation of the type by = ax c. This form seems to have chosen by Bhaskara I
deliberately so as to supplement the form of Aryabhata I. Smith1 following Kaye said that Aryabhata
1 attempted at a general solution of the linear indeterminate equation by the method of continued
fraction. In this paper we shall deduce the formula pn qn-1 - qn pn-1 = (-1)n of the continued fraction
from the Bhaskara I's method of solution of indeterminate equation of the first degree and then we
may draw the conclusion that the formula pn qn-1 - qn pn-1 = (-1)n of the continued fraction was
implicitly involved in the Bhaskara I's method of solution of the indeterminate equation of first degree.

A Few Lines about the Continued Fraction


a/b = a1 +

a2 + a3 +

Let
p1 /q1 , p2 /q2 ;... , pn /qn ... be the successive convergents of a/b then
/
=
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A Rationale of Bhaskara and his Method for Solving ax + c = by

... (i)

p1 / q1 = a1
p2 / q2 =

a1 a2 + 1

... (ii)

a2
a1 (a1 a2 + 1) + a3

p3 / q3 =

a2 a3 + 1

... (iii)

a1 [a2 (a3 a4 + 1) + a4 ] + a3 a4 + 1
p4 / q4 =

p5 / q5 =

... (iv)

a2 (a3 a4 + 1) + a4

a1 a2 a3 a4 a5 + a3 a4 a5 + a1 a4 a5 + a1 a2 a5 + a1 a2 a3 + a1 a2 a3 + a5 + a3 + a1
a2 a2 a4 a5 + a2 a5 + a2 a5 + a4 a5 + 1

...

(v)
and the following result will be easily obtained
pn qn-1 - qn pn-1 = (-1)n

Bhaskara I's Rule


Bhaskara I (522 A. D) gave the following rule in his Maha Bhaskariya
bhajyam nyasedupari haramadhasca tasya
khandayatparasparamadho binidhaya labdham I
kena hato' yamapaniya jathasya sesam
bhagam dadati parisudhamiti pracintyam II 42 II
aptam matim tam binidhaya ballam
nityam hyadho'dhah kramasasca labdham I
matya hatam syaduparisthitam ya
llabdhena yuktam paratasca tadvat II 43 II
harena bhajyo bidhino paristho
bhajyena nityam tadadhah' sthitasca I
aharganosmin bhaganadayasca
tadva bhavedyasya samihitam yat II 44 II
Datta and Singh translate these Slokas as follows:
"Set down the dividend above and the divisor below. Write down successively the quotients of their
mutual division, one below the other, in the form of a chain. Now find by what number the last
remainder should be multiplied, such that the product being subtracted by the (given) residue (of the
revolution) will be exactly divisible (by the divisor corresponding to that remainder). Put down that
optional number below the chain and then the (new) quotient underneath. Then multiply the optional
number by that quantity which stands just above it and add to the product the (new) quotient
(below). Proceed afterwards also in the same way. Divide the upper number (i.e. multiplier) obtained
by this process by the divisor and the lower one by the dividend; the remainders will respectively be
the desired ahargana and the revolutions."
After translation Datta and Singh further said
"The equation contemplated in this rule is
ax c
b

= a positive integer.

This form of the equation seems to have been chosen by Bhaskara I deliberately so as to supplement
the form Aryabhata I in which the interpolator is always made positive by necessary transposition.
Further b is taken to be greater than a, as is evident from the following rule. So the first quotient of
mutual divisions of a and b is always zero. This has not been taken into consideration. Also the
number of quotients in the chain is taken to be even."

Rationale of the Rule


The equation is of the type ax c = by
... (1)
where a = dividend, b = divisor, x = multiplier, y = quotient, remembering that a < b.
Now according to sloka we have.

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A Rationale of Bhaskara and his Method for Solving ax + c = by

Here
... (2)

a = a1 b + a
b = a2 a + r1
a = a3 r1 + r2
r1 = a4 r2 + r3
r2 = a5 r3 + r4 .

Consider the even number of (partial) quotients, say four Remember that Datta and Singh said "... .
So the first quotient of mutual division of a by b is always zero. This has not been taken into
consideration." Therefore a5 is the even (partial) quotient.
Let t 1 = optional number.
Now

r4 t1 c

= k1 ,

r3

t1 =

k1 r3 + c
r4

Consider the table

Here

s1 = a5 t1 + k1

= a5 (

k1 r3 + c
r4

) + k1 [t1 =

k1 r3 + c
r4

k1 (a5 r3 + r4 ) + a5 c
=

r4
k1 r2 + a5 c
r4

[r2 = a5 r3 + r4 ]

s2 = a4 s1 + t1

= a4 (

k1 r2 + a5 c
r4

) +

k1 r3 + c
r4

k1 (a4 r2 + r3 ) + c(a4 a5 + 1)
=

r4

k1 r1 + c(a4 a5 + 1)
r4

[r1 = a4 r2 + r3 ]

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A Rationale of Bhaskara and his Method for Solving ax + c = by


s 3 = a3 s 2 + s 1

= a3 (

k1 r1 + c(a4 a5 + 1)
) +

r4

k1 r2 + a5 c
r4

k1 (a3 r1 + r2 ) + c(a3 a4 a5 + a3 + a5 )
=

r4

k1 a + c(a3 a4 a5 + a3 + a5 )
[a = a3 r1 + r2 ]

r4
L = a2 s 3 + s 2

= a2 (

k1 a + c(a3 a4 a5 + a3 + a5 )

k1 r1 + c(a4 a5 + 1)
) +

r4

r4

k1 (a2 a + r1 ) + c(a2 a3 a4 a5 + a2 a3 + a2 a5 + a4 a5 + 1)
=

r4
k1 b + c(a2 a3 a4 a5 + a2 a3 + a2 a5 + a4 a5 + 1)

[b = a2 a + r1 ]

r4
k1 b + cq5

by (v)

r4

U = a1 L + s 3
a1 [k1 b + c(a2 a3 a4 a5 + a2 a3 + a2 a5 + a4 a5 + 1)]
=

k1 a + c(a3 a4 a5 + a3 + a5 )
+

r4

r4

k1 (a1 b + a) + c[a1 a2 a3 a4 a5 + a1 a2 a3 + a1 a2 a5 + a1 a4 a5 + a3 a4 a5 + a1 + a3 + a5 ] k1 a

r4

[a = a1 b + aand by (v)].

Here
p6
q6

a
=

L
and

k1 b + cq5
k1 a + cp5

Now
p6 L q6 U = p6 (k1 b + cq5 ) q6 (k1 a + cp5 )
= a(k1 b + cq5 ) b(k1 a + cp5 )
= k1 b + acq5 k1 ab bcp5
= c(aq5 bp5 )
= c(p6 q5 q6 p5 )
6

= c(1 )
= c

We have taken L = x, U = y
p6 L q6 U = c
p6 x q6 y = c
or,ax by = c
or,ax c = by

which is the original form ax c = by.


Thus we see that the formula pn qn-1 - qn pn-1 = (-1)n of the continued fraction is implicitly involved in
the Bhaskara I's method of solution of the indeterminate equation of the first degree.

Example
Now let us take an example from the Ganita Sara Samgraha B of Mahavira. Mahavira says
drstvamrarasin pathiko jathaika
trimsatsamuham kurute trihinam
sese hrte saptativistrimisrai
rnarairvisudham kathayaikasamkham
Rangacharya translates this as follows:
"A traveller sees heaps of mangoes (equal in numerical value) and makes 31 heaps less by 3 (fruits);
and when the remainder (of these 31 heaps) is equally divided among 73 men, there is no remainder
(of these 31 heaps) is equally divided among 73 men, there is no remainder. Give out the numerical
value of one (of these heaps)."
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A Rationale of Bhaskara and his Method for Solving ax + c = by

This gives us at once the following equation


73x = 31x - 3.

Take the even number of partial quotients say 2. (Here a3 = 2nd partial quotient as Datta and Singh
said".... So the the first quotient of mutual division of a and b is always. This has not been taken into
consideration).
Now according to Bhaskara I's rule we have
9.t 3
11

where t is the optional number

take t = 4, then k1 = 3.
Consider the Valli (table)

Ans x = 26.

Acknowledgements
The author expresses his gratitude to Prof. M. C. Chaki and Dr. A. K. Bag for their kind suggestions
and guidance for presentation of this paper. Thanks are due to the referee for his comments towards
the improvement of the paper.

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