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Textual references to a place-value system are seen from the 1st century CE onward.

The Buddhist philosopher Vasubandhu in the 1st century says "when [the same] clay counting-piece is in the place of units, it is denoted as one, when in hundreds, one hundred." A commentary on Patanjali's Yoga Sutras from the 5th century reads, "Just as a line in the hundreds place [means] a hundred, in the tens place ten, and one in the ones place, so one and the same woman is called mother, daughter and sister." A system called bhūta-sankhya ("object numbers" or "concrete numbers") was employed for representing numerals in Sanskrit verses, by using a concept representing a digit to stand for the digit itself.

The single manuscript with worked examples available to us, the Bakhshali manuscript (of unclear date), uses a place value system with a dot to denote the zero.

The dot was called the shunya-sthāna, "empty-place." The same symbol was also used in algebraic expressions for the unknown (as in the canonical x in modern algebra).

Hindu cosmology required the mastery of very large numbers such as the kalpa (the lifetime of the universe) said to be 4,320,000,000 years and the "orbit of the heaven" said to be 18,712,069,200,000,000 yojanas.

Computations were carried out on clay tablets covered with a thin layer of sand, giving rise to the term dhuli-karana ("sand-work") for higher computation.A multiple of 100 or 1000 was represented by a modification (or "enciphering" Such enciphered numerals directly represented the named place-value numerals used verbally.They continued to be used in inscriptions until the end of the 9th century.By the end of the 7th century, decimal numbers begin to appear in inscriptions in Southeast Asia as well as in India.Throughout the 8th and 9th centuries, both the old Brahmi numerals and the new decimal numerals were used, sometimes appearing in the same inscriptions.

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