Varāhamihira

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Varahamihira, VarAhamihira, Varaahamihira


Varāhamihira Era

Varāhamihira lived in A. D. 505-587. Science of astronomy has its roots in Jyautiṣa and is even considered as one of the six Vedāṅgas.[1] Scholars feel that it dates back to at least 1400 B. C. The Suryasiddhānta, believed to be a revealed work, is the earliest treatise available on this subject. It was thoroughly revised by Varāhamihira, a great name among the astronomers.

Roots of Varāhamihira

Varāhamihira was the son of Āditvadāsa of Kapitthaka or Avantikā. Practically nothing is known about him. Tradition describes him as one of the ‘Navaratnas’ or ‘Nine-jewels’ of scholars adorning the court of the king Vikramāditya.

Works by Varāhamihira

His well-known works are:

  1. Brhajātaka
  2. Bṛhatsamhitā
  3. Laghujātaka
  4. Pañcasiddhāntika

Attributes of Varāhamihira

  • He was both an astronomer and an astrologer.
  • In the Pañcasiddhāntika he enunciates the astronomical principles embodied in the works of ancient scholars like Pailiśa, Romaka, Vasiṣṭha and Brahma. The first two treatises enlisted above are on astrology. Incidentally they also furnish some geographical data.
  • Varāhamihira was the first astronomer to furnish a revised version of the calendar, after calculating the precision of the equinoxes from the period of the preparation of the earlier Suryasiddhānta.
  • He has employed śunya or zero as a positive numerical symbol.


References

  1. Vedāṅgas means limbs of the Vedas.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore