Ancient Indian Astronomy Texts

Sushil Jain sushjain at
Mon May 20 22:48:19 UTC 1996

	to: Indology
Re. the question of ancient Indian astronomy
Unless I have missed, few people have mentioned Winternitz,
particularly his statements on ancient Indian astronomy in his
_History of Indian Literature_. Is he or his work not relevant
these days? In addition to various sources already mentioned by
several other posters I have always found Winternitz of some
value when required to seek some information on an ancient Indian
topic; so is the case with the issue of astronomy.
"The idea of drawing conclusion on the chronology of the earliest
Indian literature with the assistance of _astronomical_data",
says Winternitz, "is no new one" (vol. 1, p. 294). "The priests
of ancient India, who had to determine the times of sacrifice,
were, like the pontifices in ancient Rome, at the same time
almanac-makers. They had to observe the firmament, in order to
regulate and predetermine the times of sacrifice. Hence we find
numerous astronomical and calendar data in the and
Su+tras. In these, the so-called Naks.atras or 'lunar mansions'
play a particularly prominent part" (ibid.).
In Vol. 3, Part 2 of his work, in a section specifically dealing
with 'Astronomy, Astrology and Mathematics' (pp. 641-653 ff.),
Winternitz adds numerous references/footnotes to ancient Indian
astronomical works, e.g.: _Ga+rgi-Sa.mhita+ (Vr.ddha)_,
_Pus.karasa+din_, the _Naks.atra-kalpa_, _Su+riyapan.n.atti_ (an
astronomical Upa+.nga of the Jains), in addition to
_Su+ryasiddha+nta_ (known to Albe+ru+ni+) etc.
Winternitz also mentions the names of some ancient Indian
astronomers, e.g., La+t.a, Si.mha, Padyumna, Vijayanandin and
A+rya-bhat.a (p. 648), Vara+hamihira, Bha+skaraca+rya,
Brahmagupta (p. 650), and provides brief destriptions of their
extant works.
I thought the foregoing information may of interest to some
Indology Netters interested in ancient Indian astronomy.
Sushil Jain

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