It is a well-known and widely accepted fact that the Vedas are the oldest treasures of knowledge in the whole world and that they incorporate, apart from other things, systematised scientific knowledge of Indians. Jyotissastra is referred to as one of the six auxiliaries of the Veda, nay as the essential part of it, as the eye. As the human eye forms the means to acquire direct perceptual knowledge and to revise its conclusions, Jyotissastra makes time-to-time observations about the transit of the Sun, Dinamana, Eclipses, etc. This Science of Astrology (Jyotissastra) has many branches within its scope, but it is mainly divided into three sections termed Skandhas. Some are of the opinion that it has five branches. Varahamihira speaks of three main divisions or Skandhas. The first branch of Skandha, he names as Tantra, in which he explains the movement of planets by means of mathematical calculations. Yogi in his commentary provided in this present edition, mentions it as Siddhanta. The second division is known as Hora or Horoscopic section. This is considered as Anga (subsidiary), because it helps to arrive at conclusions through bhavas and other factors Therefore it is also named Anga viniscaya. The third one is termed Sakha by sage Garga which is widely known as Samhita (a compendium of scientific theories). Varahamihira defines it as the “treatment of the subject in its entirety”.
The world Samhita has a religious halo, as in many places, it has been used in connection with the scriptures, other sciences, codes of conduct, etc., as in names like and it is to be noted that sage Garga is often quoted by Varahamihira in many place. Vrddha Garga is also quoted by him. Though a popular Gargasamhita is available, it is not quoted in the present work. It deals mainly with the story of Srikrsna and Balarama. Another astronomical Samhita of the same name was popular during his times.
Taking into consideration of the word Samhita, apart from several other meanings it is known as a concluded opinion arrived at after a deep and concentrated study. But generally Samhitas are not seen as independent studies of the subject; rather they are the compilations of material from various sources. Through his proclamation it is clear that Varahamihira also has such an opinion. Apart from Varahamihira, Bhattotpala and Yogi quote verses of several earlier Acaryas. There is no information either about their works or their names. It is sure that Varahamihira was a he promises that he would explain that available facts with essential and valid features, which are widely beneficial for people. Therefore, the Samhita deals with very useful facts for the benefit of common man. It is worth quoting Prof. Ramakrishna Bhat:
“In all countries of the world, especially in Indian, where astrology is held in high esteem on account of its being the ‘eye of wisdom’, this was an honoured discipline. No activity, however insignificant it might be in the social, political or religious sphere of man, would be permitted without due regard being paid to the injunctions of Jyotirvidya. For astrology is a Sastra, science, according to the wise men of the East, who had tested the veracity of this Sastra in the crucible of their experience and penance of several centuries. If some rationalists of today were to destroy this science as superstition, we have to forgive them for their unscientific attitude”.
The work of Varahamihira is a Samhita, an astronomical encyclopaedia revealing various facets of Indian culture. On the authority of earlier Acaryas. His scientific attitude never allows him to follow blindly certain theories of even ancient writers. For example, he opines that even the statements of ancient sages about the Sun’s transit, which goes against actual facts, should be accepted only after careful verification. For instance, though it is stated in ancient works that Sun’s transit to South starts from the middle of the star Aslesa, it is not to be accepted without proper observation.
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