Brihat Samhita

by N. Chidambaram Iyer | 1884 | 135,584 words | ISBN-13: 9788171104215

This is the English translation of the Brihat-samhita, one of the fundamental works of ancient Indian astronomy (known as Jyotisha). It was written in the 6th century A.D. (or 1st century B.C.) in about 4000 Sanskrit verses (slokas) by the polymath known as Varahamihira, who was considered as a great scientific scholar of mathematics, astronomy and...

Chapter 1 - Introductory

1. Glory be to the Sun who is the author and the Soul of the Universe, the ornament of the firmament and who is enveloped in a thousand rays of the colour of molten gold.

2. Having correctly examined the substance of the voluminous works of the sages of the past, I attempt to write a clear treatise neither too long nor too short.

3. What means the notion that the works of the Ṛṣis are sound and not so the works of men? In cases where the matter refers to no mantra, what is there to choose between, when the meaning is the same because the words are different?

4. If Brahmā has declared—“Kṣititanaya divasavāro net śubhakṛta[1] and mantra “Kujadinamaniṣṭam[2] what is there to choose between the work of man and that of a Deva?

5. Having examined the vast works that have proceeded from writers from Brahmā downwards, I purpose to write a brief work embodying the substance of the same. The task is a pleasing one to me.

6. There was darkness (chaos) in the beginning. Then came water (into existence). On it (floated) a golden-coloured egg, the (divine) seed consisting of the Earth and the Firmament from which there arose Brahmā, the creative agent with the sun and moon for his eyes.

7. Kapila[2] says that the universe had its origin in pradhāna[3]; Kaṇātha[4] in dravya[5] and the like; a few[6] in kāla (time); others[7] in Svabhāva (nature); and some[8] in karma.

8. Enough of this (subject of Cosmogony) on account of its vastness. If these questions were discussed, it would swell very much in length. The subject I have now to treat of is the Aṅgaviniścaya (Saṃhitā) section of Jyotiṣaśāstra.

9. Jyotiṣa-Śāstra treats of many different subjects and consists of three sections. The sages call the whole by the general name of Saṃhitā. This section[9] which treats of the motions of the planets is called the Tantrā-śāstra (Saṃhitā or natural astrology).

10. In my work on Astronomy, I have treated of the rising and setting of the planets as well as their retrograde and reretrograde motions and the like. In my work on Horoscopy, I have fully treated of nativity, of yātrā and of marriage.

11.In the present treatise, I have rejected questions and re-questions, historical narrations, unimportant planetary phenomena and all that is useless; and my purpose is to speak clearly only of the vital truths of the several subjects treated of.

Footnotes and references:

1.

Both the phrases mean that Tuesday is an inauspicious day though expressed in different words.

2.

Ibid.

3.

Kapila was the author of the Sāṃkhya Philosophy.

4.

Pradhāna is a due proportion of the three guṇas Sattva. Raja and Tamas.

5.

Kaṇātha, also called Kānatha, which term literally means the atom-giver i.e. the founder of the atomic theory.

6.

Dravya: these are nine: earth, water, air, fire, ākāśa (sky), kāla (time), dik (direction), ātmā (the soul), and manas (the mind).

7.

A few: these are the Paurāṇikas.

8.

Others: these are the Lokāyatikas

9.

Some: these are the Mīmāṃsakas.

10.

The śloka is evidently quoted from Varāha Mihira’s work on Astronomy, known as the Pañcasiddhāntikā which appears to have been lost.

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