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The maths of India

Varahamihira

Aryabhatta is said to have discovered the diurnal motion of the earth' which he thought to be spherical. I leave the explanation of these scientific matters to those who are making scientific investigations of Hindu Astronomy. But one thing is certain that it was about this time that the old Krttika series of asterisms was discarded and the new series commencing from the 1st point of Asvini was adopted. The first point of ASvini recedes one degree or by one day in 73 years and it has receded twenty days now giving a total of twenty into seventy-three (20 X 73) that is, 1460 years. The point was on the equinoctial circle on the first day of Vaisakha and now it is on the 10th of Ohaitra. So the point was seen there 1460 years ago, that is, 1921-1460 that is 461 A.D. This is only an approximate calculation. If accurate calculation is made it will fall within the active period of Aryabhata's life.

Aryabhatta had many students and his next successor Lalla was one of his pupils and some say Varahamihira, too, was his pupil.


Aryabhatta had another celebrated astronomer as his contemporary. This was Varahamihira. In his Vrhajja- taka in the 26th chapter, he says that he was son of Adityadasa, that he was an Avantaka, that he   received his knowledge from his father and that he obtained a book from the Sun-God at Kampillaka or Kapitthaka. Bhattotpala tells us that he was a Migadha dvija. Some say that he was a Magadvija, i.e., one of the Magii long settled in India. From all this the late Pandit Sudhakara Dvivedi in his Ganakatarangiui infers that it is not impossible that Varaha was a Magadha Brahmin. He might have gone to Ujjain for livelihood He studied with his father at his own house in Magadha and also studied the works of Aryabhatta there, he travelled to make himself known, he worshipped Sun-God at Kampillaka (Kalpi) and obtained a book from him. I acquired a manuscript of his son's work Prthuyasah-Sastra at Samkhu the northernmost part of the Nepal valley, the opening verse of which says that the son Varahamihira asked his father some questions while he was residing at the beautiful city of Kanyakubja on the Ganges.

Varaha might have retired to Kanyakubja in his old age to be on the Ganges and there imparted his knowledge to his son Prthuyasah. Amaraja, the commentator of Khandanakhandakhadya says that Varahamihira died in the Saka year 509 that is 587 A.D. Some people think that Varaha wrote his Panca-Siddhantika in 505 A.D. that is Saka 4:27. But this is impossible if we are to believe Amaraja. Varaha would then be only 18. Therefore Dr Thibaut after carefully considering all the facts of the case thinks that 427 Saka was the date when Lalla revised the Romaka-Siddhanta and that the Panca-SiddhSnta was composed about 550 A.D. So Varahamihira was a later contemporary and perhaps a student of Aryabhata.

The Ganakatarangiui has given a list of Varaha’s works and thinks that the Vrhat-Saipbita is his last work. It is an Eucyclopoedic work. It treats not only of Astronomy and Astrology but of such subjects as gardening, agriculture, sculpture, strilak^ana, purusalakgana and so on. This great work is the Pafica-Sidhantta in which he gives a summary of all the Sidhantas current in his time. They are five in number Paulisa, Romaka. VaSi^tha, Paitamaha and Sur.yyasiddhaata. Varaha says that of these five PmiliSa and Roraaka have been explained by Latadeva.

The Siddhanta made by PauliSa is accurate. Near to it stands the Siddhanta proclaimed by Romaka, more accurate is the Savitra (Saura) and the two remaining are far from the truth.

Kern says that the third Skandha of Jyotisa "'namely, its Jataka section has been borrowed from the Yavanas or Greeks. This is a fact. The Yavana-Jataka of Yavan&caryya is still regarded as an authoritative work on the subject and there are other works like Miuaraja Jataka also taken from the Yavanas. I found in Nepal a manuscript of a Yavana-Jataka written in the character of the tenth century oa palm-leaf which contains the following statement at the end.
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