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Aryabhatta and the Arabs

UNDER the Abbasside Khalifs ALMANSU'R and ALMAMUN, in the middle of the eighth and beginning of the ninth centuries of the Christian era, the Arabs became conversant with the Indian astronomy. It was at that period, as may be presumed, that they obtained information of the existence and currency of three astronomical systems among the Indians; one of which bore the name of ARYABHATTA, or, as written in Arabic characters, ARJABAH^i,1 (perhaps intended for A'RJABHAR) which is as near an approximation as the difference of characters can be expected to exhibit. This then unquestionably was the system of the astronomer whose age is now to be investigated; and who is in a thousand places cited by Hindu writers on Astronomy, as author of a system and founder of a sect in this science.



It is inferred from the acquaintance of the Arabs with the astronomical attainments of the Hindus, at that time, when the court of the Khalif drew the visit of a Hindu astrologer and mathematician, and when the Indian determination of the mean motions of the planets was made the basis of astronomical tables compiled by order of the Khalifs, for a guide in matters pertaining to the stars,' and when Indian treatises on the science of numbers were put in an Arabic dress; adverting also to the difficulty of obtaining further insight into the Indian sciences, which the author of the Tarikhtthukmd complains of, assigning for the cause the distance of countries, and the various impediments to intercourse : it is inferred, we say, from these, joined to other considerations, that the period in question was that in which the name of ARYABHATTA was introduced to the knowledge of the Arabs. This, as a first step in inquiring the antiquity of this author, ascertains his celebrity as an astronomical authority above a thousand years ago.
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