Varahamihira


Varahamihira

Daivajna Varāhamihira (Devanagari: वराहमिहिर; 505 – 587), also called Varaha, or Mihira was an Indian astronomer, mathematician, and astrologer born in Ujjain. Varahamihira's picture may be found in the Indian Parliament alongside Aryabhata's, of whom he was a follower. He is considered to be one of the nine jewels (Navaratnas) of the court of legendary king Vikramaditya (thought to be the Gupta emperor Chandragupta II Vikramaditya). Though little is known about his life, he supposedly hailed from South Bengal, where in the ruins of Chandraketugarh there is a mound called the mound of Khana and Mihir. Khana was the daughter-in-law of Varaha and a famous astrologer herself.

Works

Pancha-Siddhantika

Varahamihira's main work is the book "IAST|Pañcasiddhāntikā" (or "Pancha-Siddhantika", " [Treatise] on the Five [Astronomical] Canons) 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, Romaka Siddhanta, Paulisa Siddhanta, Vasishtha Siddhanta and Paitamaha Siddhantas. It is a compendium of native Indian as well as Hellenistic astronomy (including Greek, Egyptian and Roman elements). ["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. Encyclopedia Britannica (2007) s.v. [http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9074832/Varahamihira Varahamihira] ]

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 IAST|Lāṭa, :*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 I suppose 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." [E. C. Sachau, "Alberuni's India" (1910), vol. I, p.153 [http://www.iranchamber.com/podium/history/030812_varahamihira_iranic_astronomer.php] ]

Brihat-Samhita

Varahamihira's other most important contribution is the encyclopedic Brihat-Samhita.

Varahamihira also made important contributions to mathematics. He was also an astrologer. He wrote on all the three main branches of Jyotisha 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 ("Doctrine of the Romans") and the Paulisa Siddhanta ("Doctrine of Paul") were two works of Western origin which influenced Varahamihira's thought.

    A comment in the Brihat-Samhita by Varahamihira says: "The Greeks, though impure, 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)).

    ome important trigonometric results attributed to Varahamihira

    : sin^2 x + cos^2 x = 1 ;!

    : sin x = cosleft(frac{pi} {2} - x ight)

    : frac {1 - cos 2x}{2} = sin^2x

    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.

    Notes

    External links

    *MacTutor Biography|id=Varahamihira
    * [http://www.wilbourhall.org/index.html#panca Pancasiddhantika, Brhat Jataka, Brhat Samhita and Hora Shastra] Various editions in English and Sanskrit. (PDF)


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