All the regions of human society beyond geographical limitations
accept that Sanskrit is the main spring of a grand series of scientific
disciplines in the ancient world and in the Indian peninsular. The
disciplines like Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Botany, Metallurgy,
Meteorology, Management etc., have their clean traces back in the
ancient sanskrit literature. Hence emerged the new branch
"Sanskrit-Science" with millennia's strength as a result of the
uncessant efforts of modern knowledge seekers all over the world.
Knowledge of Sanskrit and perceptive analysis of scientific
knowledge base presented by our Rishis and perceptive thinkers
would be of great help in getting a good insight into our rich
It is the responsibility of our institutions to arouse the interest
of younger generations in sanskrit by unravelling the profound
scientific wisdom that is contained in the sanskrit literature by
demonstrating its glory and relavance to the modern world.
It is with this objective in view the Sanskrit-Science Study
Centre of Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha has taken initiative to launch
a series of publication of small booklets which would cover a wide
canvass of foresaid disciplines of sanskrit-science.
Dr. S. Balachndra Rao is Hon. Senior Fellow at the
prestigious National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS),
Bangalore. He worked for 35 years as a faculty in the
Dept. of Mathematics at the National College, Basavanagudi,
Bangalore and retired as Principal and Professor of
Mathematics at that college.
Dr. Balachandra Rao's current field of interest is
research in the field of tradition I Indian Astronomy. His books
in the field: 1. Indian Mathematics and Astronomy - Some
Landmarks, 2. Ancient Indian Astronomy- Planetary
Positions and Eclipses, 3. Indian Astronomy- An
Introduction and 4. Aryabhata - I and His Astronomy.
Dr. Rao has translated 1. Ganesh Daivajna's
Grahalaghavam and 2. Bhaskara Charya's Karana
Kutuhalam. 3. Currently he is translating Bhaskara's
It is now being increasingly recognized that ancient
Sanskrit Literature contains profound wisdom of physical and
social sciences. The scientific knowledge base presented
by our Rishis and perceptive thinkers covers a wide canvas
of subjects such as Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics,
Astronomy, Metallurgy, Bio- Technology and Environmental Science etc.
Unfortunately, due to a very long period of
intellectual domination of the forces from outside the
region, we have lost our awareness about the profound
contributions made by our ancestors that are hidden in the
vast Sanskrit literature. Our continued apathy towards
Sanskrit language over the recent centuries has also
contributed to our lack of awareness about rich
scientific heritage. Our ignorance about the richness of our
heritage has made us to lose our sense of pride for what is
ours. As a result of all this, our sense of confidence in our
own capabilities has also been shaken.
Knowledge of Sanskrit and perceptive analysis of
contents of our ancient Sanskrit literature would be of great
help in getting a good insight into our rich scientific
heritage. It is the responsibility of Sanskrit institutions to
arouse the interests of the modern world in Sanskrit by
unraveling the profound scientific wisdom that is contained
in the Sanskrit literature and by demonstrating its relevance
to the modern world. It is only when a link between the
Sanskrit world and the modern world is established that
the acceptability of Sanskrit as a relevant subject for dealing
with the contemporary challenges of life would be enhanced.
It is with this object in view that the Rashtriya Sanskrit
Vidyapeetha, Tirupati, launched a series of publication of
small book-lets which cover wide convass of subjects such
as Physics, Chemistry, Astronomy and Ayurveda etc. for the
enlightenment of younger generations of India.
Prof. S. Balachandra Rao, who is profound scholar
of Astronomy and Mathematics has prepared this booklet
with his vast experience of teaching of Astronomy and
conducting the seminars and workshops related to the
subject. I congratulate him for preparing such a wonderful
I hope that this booklet would be found useful by
students and scholars alike and inspire many students of
We feel immensely happy and proud to present
this small booklet entitled Bhaskara -I and His Astronomy
to the young readers who have a longing to have a
glimpse of the wisdom of ancient India.
There is a general belief that contribution of
ancient India is limited to the field of humanities
particularly that of religion and phylosophy. Of course,
no other civilization can claim superiority over what India
has achieved in that area. Still if we go through the pages
of this small book let, we will realize that in the area of
Astronomy India's contribution was amazing. Now India
has already lost much of its ancient lore due to the
impact of foreign invasion. What remains also is largely
unknown as most of it is in Sanskrit. Hence, we feel that
there is an urgent need to save the remaining
knowledge and build up awareness in all concerned
especially among younger generations who are not aware
of our ancient scientific heritage contained in Sanskrit.
Shouldering this responsibility i.e. creating the
interests among the younger generations in Sanskrit by
unravelling the profound scientific wisdom that is
contained in the Sanskrit literature and demonstrating
its relevance to the modern world, Rashtriya Sanskrit
Vidyapeetha took the initiative of organising the Sanskrit
Science exhibitions, publishing and propogating the
Scientific literature of Sanskrit through out India.
I should mention at the out set that the inspiration
to publish such booklets came from our Hon'ble
Chancellor Dr. V.R. Panchamukhi, Economist of
International fame, and versatile scholar in Sanskrit.
I would like to express my sincere thanks to
Prof. S. Balachandra Rao for preparing this wonderful
If this small booklet kindles a tiny flame of desire
in the hearts of young readers for studying the Sanskrit,
the store house of past glory of India., we feel we would
have been rewarded for our efforts.
The above verse shows the singular importance given
to astronomy (and mathematics) over the other branches
of knowledge in the Vedic times. In the Rgvedic
rescension of the Yedanga Jyotisa (RVJ) the word
jyotisam (astronomy) is used while in its place we find
the word ganitam (mathematics) in the Yajurvedic
The night sky filled with innumerable bright stars
and planets, the "wanderers", has been the object of
constant curiosity and excitement to man ever since the
beginning of civilization. During the day, the rising Sun
in the east and the setting Sun in the west, so also the
periodically waxing and waning Moon at nights, drew
the attention of the observer in man.
All these recurring phenomena as well as the annual
repetitions of the seasons acquainted the early
astronomers with their periodicity. In the course of time,
further interesting phenomena like the solar and lunar
eclipses, the visits of comets, etc., intrigued the
astronomers to an even greater extent. And they began
formulating the laws that govern these phenomena.
1. Ancient Indian Astronomy
Like many other branches of knowledge, the origins
of the science of astronomy in India have to be traced
back to the Vedas. In the Vedic lore, jyotisa is one of the
six auxiliaries (saangas) of the Vedic corpus of
knowledge. The six vedangas are: (i) Siksa (phonetics),
(ii) Vyakarana (grammar), (iii) Chandas (metrics),
(iv) Nirukta (etymology), (v) Jyotisa (astronomy) and
(vi) Kalpa (rituals).
It is important to note that although in modern
common parlance the word Jyotisa is used to mean
predictive astrology, in the earlier literature Jyotisa
included all aspects of astronomy. Of course, mathematics
was regarded as a part of Jyotisa. Vedangajyotisa is the
earliest Indian astronomical text available.
2. Vedic Period and Vedangajyotisa
The Vedangajyotisa was mainly used to fix suitable
times for performing different kinds of sacrifices. The
text is found in two rescensions Rgveda Jyotisa and
Yajurveda Jyotisa. Though the contents of both the
rescensions are the same, they differ in the number of
verses. While the Rgvedic version contains only 36
verses, the Yajurvedic version contains 44 verses. This
difference in the number of verses is perhaps due to the
addition of explanatory verses by the adhvaryu priests
by whom it was used.
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