The oldest works on Indian mathematics are the Shulbasutra or 'cord verses', which are supplements to the kalpa or ritual canon. They deal with the construction of vedis or altars and sacrificial places, by stretching cords between stakes. They are not primarily mathematical, but consist of rules ancillary to religious ritual. The formulae of the Shulbasutras are of an empirical nature and not the result of a systematic theory of geometry.
Between the earliest of the Shulbasutras and the first of the later mathematicians there is a blank in Indian mathematical theory of nearly a thousand years, and there is no connection between the methods of the Shulbasutras and subsequent mathematical speculation, which completely ignored them. The span of nine centuries that separate these sutras from the first great name in Indian mathematics is mainly characterized by the introduction of astronomical and mathematical ideas from the West.