Taj Mahal builders used Harappan measurement units that British discarded

Taj Mahal builders used Harappan measurement units that British discarded | TwoCircles.net

Taj Mahal builders used Harappan measurement units that British discarded
Submitted by admin4 on 9 July 2009 – 3:16pm.

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By K.S. Jayaraman, IANS,

Bangalore : Designers of the 17th century Taj Mahal, the finest piece of Mughal architecture, employed the same unit of measurement used by the Harappan civilization as far back 2000 BC, according to a study by an IIT-Kanpur professor. These units were used by builders in India till the British imposed their own units in the 18th century.

The study by R. Balasubramaniam of the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, and reported in the latest issue of Current Science, has for the first time shown that the unit of length called ‘angulam’ – mentioned in Kautilya’s treatise on statecraft “Arthasastra” dated 300 BC — was used without a break in India for over 3,900 years.

The ancient ‘angulam’ has been found to be equal to 1.763 modern centimetres, according to Balasubramaniam, a professor of materials and metallurgical engineering. He has carried out dimensional analysis of some of India’s historical structures, built during different times, to identify the measuring units used in their engineering plans.

He says he was surprised that ‘angulam’ and its multiples ‘vitasti’ (12 angulams) and ‘dhanus’ (108 angulams) have been used as the unit of measurement right from the Harappan times – the highly developed civilization that thrived for a few centuries on the floodplains of the Indus river in what is now northwest India and Pakistan – till the pre-modern era when the Taj was built.

Balasubramaniam, who last year studied the dimensions of the 1,600-year-old Delhi Iron Pillar at the Qutub Minar complex, found that ‘angulam’ and its multiple ‘dhanus’ were used as the basic units of length in its design.

For example, the total height of the pillar is exactly 4 dhanus, Balasubramaniam told IANS.

Now in a paper published in Current Science, Balasubramaniam has shown that the modular plan of the Taj Mahal complex is based on use of grids of sides measuring 60 and 90 vitasti. He says the study has established that the design and architecture of the Taj is based on traditional Indian units codified in “Arthasastra” and that “there is nothing foreign” in its design.

“The fact that the unit of angulam of 1.763 cm could match very well the dimensions of historical monuments establishes the continuity of India’s engineering tradition through the ages for as long as 3,900 years,” says Balasubramaniam in his paper.

“With the new knowledge we can analyse all the important ancient structures in India,” he says, and hopes the findings “will open a new chapter in the study of metrology (science of measurements)”.

But how did the angulam tradition remain unbroken for so long?

As quoted in the website of Nature India, Balasubramaniam believes the workers from the Harappan days were perhaps using some kind of scale “that was handed over through generations”.

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