Varahamihira

Varahamihira

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Varāhamihira also called Nagari , is an abugida alphabet of India and Nepal...

: वराहमिहिर) (505–587), also called Varaha or Mihira, was an India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

n astronomer
Astronomer
An astronomer is a scientist who studies celestial bodies such as planets, stars and galaxies.Historically, astronomy was more concerned with the classification and description of phenomena in the sky, while astrophysics attempted to explain these phenomena and the differences between them using...

, mathematician
Mathematician
A mathematician is a person whose primary area of study is the field of mathematics. Mathematicians are concerned with quantity, structure, space, and change....

, and astrologer
Astrologer
An astrologer practices one or more forms of astrology. Typically an astrologer draws a horoscope for the time of an event, such as a person's birth, and interprets celestial points and their placements at the time of the event to better understand someone, determine the auspiciousness of an...

 who lived in Ujjain
Ujjain
Ujjain , is an ancient city of Malwa region in central India, on the eastern bank of the Kshipra River , today part of the state of Madhya Pradesh. It is the administrative centre of Ujjain District and Ujjain Division.In ancient times the city was called Ujjayini...

. He is considered to be one of the nine jewels (Navaratnas
Navaratnas
Navaratnas Nauratan was a term applied to a group of nine extraordinary people in a emperor's court in India...

) of the court of legendary ruler Vikramaditya
Vikramaditya
Vikramaditya was a legendary emperor of Ujjain, India, famed for his wisdom, valour and magnanimity. The title "Vikramaditya" was later assumed by many other kings in Indian history, notably the Gupta King Chandragupta II and Samrat Hem Chandra Vikramaditya .The name King Vikramaditya is a...

 (thought to be the Gupta
Gupta Empire
The Gupta Empire was an ancient Indian empire which existed approximately from 320 to 550 CE and covered much of the Indian Subcontinent. Founded by Maharaja Sri-Gupta, the dynasty was the model of a classical civilization. The peace and prosperity created under leadership of Guptas enabled the...

 emperor Chandragupta II Vikramaditya
Chandragupta II
Chandragupta II the Great, very often referred to as Vikramaditya or Chandragupta Vikramaditya in Sanskrit; was one of the most powerful emperors of the Gupta empire in northern India. His rule spanned c...

).

Works


He was the first one to mention in his work Pancha Siddhantika that the ayanamsa, or the shifting of the equinox is 50.32 seconds.

Pancha-Siddhantika


Varahamihira's main work is the book (or Pancha-Siddhantika, "[Treatise] on the Five [Astronomical] Canons
Siddhanta
Siddhanta, a Sanskrit term, roughly translates as the Doctrine or the Tradition. It denotes the established and accepted view of a particular school within Indian philosophy.-Hindu philosophy:...

) dated ca. 575 CE gives us information about older Indian texts which are now lost. The work is a treatise on mathematical astronomy and it summarises five earlier astronomical treatises, namely the Surya Siddhanta
Surya Siddhanta
The Surya Siddhanta is one of the earliest siddhanta in archeo-astronomy of the Hindus by an unknown author. It describes the archeo-astronomy theories, principles and methods of the ancient Hindus. This siddhanta is supposed to be the knowledge that the Sun god gave to an Asura called Maya. Asuras...

, Romaka Siddhanta
Romaka Siddhanta
The Romaka Siddhanta is an Indian astronomical treatise, based on the astronomical learning of Byzantine Rome...

, Paulisa Siddhanta
Paulisa Siddhanta
The Paulisa Siddhanta refers to multiple Indian astronomical treatises, at least one of which is based on a Western source. "Siddhanta" literally means "Doctrine" or "Tradition"....

, Vasishtha Siddhanta
Vasishtha Siddhanta
Vasishtha Siddhanta is one of the earliest astronomical systems in use in India, which is summarized in Varahamihira's Pancha-Siddhantika . It is attributed to sage Vasishtha and claims a date of composition of 1,299,101 BCE....

 and Paitamaha Siddhantas. It is a compendium of Vedanga Jyotisha
Vedanga Jyotisha
The ' is an Indian text on Jyotisha, redacted by Lagadha .The text is foundational to the Vedanga discipline of Jyotisha. It is dated to the final centuries BCE...

 as well as Hellenistic astronomy (including Greek, Egyptian and Roman elements).He was the first one to mention in his work Pancha Siddhantika that the ayanamsa, or the shifting of the equinox is 50.32 seconds.

The 11th century Arabian scholar Alberuni also described the details of "The Five Astronomical Canons":
"They [the Indians] have 5 Siddhāntas:
  • Sūrya-Siddhānta, ie. the Siddhānta of the Sun, composed by deva,
  • Vasishtha-siddhānta, so called from one of the stars of the Great Bear, composed by Vishnucandra,
  • Pulisa-siddhānta, so called from Paulisa, the Greek, from the city of Saintra, which is supposed to be Alexandria, composed by Pulisa.
  • Romaka-siddhānta, so called from the Rūm, ie. the subjects of the Roman Empire, composed by Śrīsheṇa.
  • Brahma-siddhānta, so called from Brahman, composed by Brahmagupta, the son of Jishṇu, from the town of Bhillamāla between Multān and Anhilwāra, 16 yojanas from the latter place."

Brihat-Samhita


Varahamihira's other most important contribution is the encyclopedic Brihat-Samhita.
It covers wide ranging subjects of human interest, including astrology, planetary movements, eclipses, rainfall, clouds, architecture, growth of crops, manufacture of perfume, matrimony, domestic relations, gems, pearls, and rituals. The volume expounds on gemstone evaluation criterion found in the Garuda Purana, and elaborates on the sacred Nine Pearls from the same text. It contains 106 chapters and is known as the "great compilation".

On Astrology


He was also an astrologer. He wrote on all the three main branches of Jyotisha
Jyotisha
Hindu astrology , also Jyotish or Jyotisha, from Sanskrit , from "light, heavenly body") is the ancient Indian system of astronomy and astrology...

 astrology:
  • Brihat Jataka - is considered as one the five main treatises on Hindu astrology on horoscopy.
  • Daivaigya Vallabha
  • Laghu Jataka
  • Yoga Yatra
  • Vivaha Patal

  • His son Prithuyasas also contributed in the Hindu astrology; his book "Hora Saara" is a famous book on horoscopy.

Western influences


The Romaka Siddhanta
Romaka Siddhanta
The Romaka Siddhanta is an Indian astronomical treatise, based on the astronomical learning of Byzantine Rome...

 ("Doctrine of the Romans") and the Paulisa Siddhanta
Paulisa Siddhanta
The Paulisa Siddhanta refers to multiple Indian astronomical treatises, at least one of which is based on a Western source. "Siddhanta" literally means "Doctrine" or "Tradition"....

 ("Doctrine of Paul") were two works of Western origin which influenced Varahamihira's thought. Though this view is controversial as there is much evidence to suggest that it was actually Vedic thought indigenous to India which actually first influenced Western astrologers and subsequently came back to India reformulated.

A comment in the Brihat-Samhita by Varahamihira says: "The Greeks, though foreign
Mleccha
Mleccha , also spelt as Mlechchha, people of foreign extraction in ancient India. Mleccha was used by the Aryans much as the ancient Greeks used barbaros, originally to indicate the uncouth and incomprehensible speech of foreigners and then extended to their unfamiliar behaviour...

, must be honored since they were trained in sciences and therein, excelled others....." ("mleccha hi yavanah tesu samyak shastram kdamsthitam/ rsivat te 'p i pujyante kim punar daivavid dvijah" (Brihat-Samhita 2.15)).

Some important trigonometric results attributed to Varahamihira





He not only presented his own observations, but embellished them in attractive poetic and metrical styles. The usage of a large variety of meters is especially evident in his Brihat Jataka and Brihat-Samhita.

1. ^ "the Pañca-siddhāntikā ("Five Treatises"), a compendium of Greek, Egyptian, Roman and Indian astronomy. Varāhamihira's knowledge of Western astronomy was thorough. In 5 sections, his monumental work progresses through native Indian astronomy and culminates in 2 treatises on Western astronomy, showing calculations based on Greek and Alexandrian reckoning and even giving complete Ptolemaic mathematical charts and tables. Encyclopædia Britannica (2007) s.v.Varahamihira ^
2. E. C. Sachau, Alberuni's India (1910), vol. I, p. 153

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