Brihat Samhita

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

This page describes the rain-clouds (garbhalakshana) which is the twenty-first Chapter of the English translation of the Brihat-samhita. This work, written by Varahamihira in the 6th century, is classified as jyotisha literature, also known as Indian astronomy. It contains however, also content regarding astrology, palmistry, agriculture, gardening, perfumes, medicines and various other encyclopedic topics.

Chapter 21 - On the rain-clouds (garbhalakṣaṇa)

Note: The main idea in this chapter is that clouds that appear in seasons of the year are to be deemed as pregnant clouds and that they yield rain at particular times and places.

1. As food is the support of life and food depends upon rain, it is important to discover the laws of rain by any means.

2. I will now proceed to state these laws in accordance with the views of Garga, Parāśara, Kāśyapa, Vajra and others on the subject.

3. The predictions of an astronomer who pays exclusive attention, both day and night to the indications of rain afforded by pregnant clouds (garbhalakṣaṇa), will as little fail of success as the words of Ṛṣis.

4. What science can possibly excel, in interest, the science relating to the prediction of rain, by a thorough study of which one though ignorant in other matters passes for a great astrologer in this Iron Age.

5. Some[1] say that the days of the appearance of the pregnant clouds immediately follow the bright half of the lunar mouth of Kārttika—October and November. This view is however not in accordance with the views of many writers on the subject. We therefore will give here the views of Garga and others.

6. The days on which clouds are to be deemed pregnant commence from the day when the moon reaches the asterism of Pūrvāṣādha[2] on any of the lunar days, from the first, of the bright half of the lunar month of Mārgaśīrṣa—November and December.

7. If pregnant clouds appear when the Moon is in a certain asterism the delivery of rain will occur 195 days after,[3] when the Moon will be in the same asterism.

8. Clouds conceiving during the bright half will be delivered during the dark half of a lunar month and clouds conceiving during the dark half will be delivered during the bright half. Also clouds conceiving during the day will be delivered at night and clouds conceiving at night will be delivered during the day; also clouds conceiving in the twilight of the morning will be delivered in the twilight of the evening and clouds conceiving in the twilight of the evening will be delivered in the twilight of the morning.[4]

9. Clouds that conceive in the bright and dark halves of the month of Mārgaśīrṣa (November and December) and in the bright half of Pauṣa (December and January) will be delivered of rain respectively in the dark half of Jyeṣṭha (May and June) and in the bright and dark halves of Āśleṣā (July); but the fall of rain in these cases will only be moderate; and clouds that conceive in the dark half of Pauṣa will be delivered of rain in the bright half of Srāvaṇa (July and August).

10. Clouds that conceive in the bright half of Māgha (January and February), will be delivered of rain in the dark half of Śrāvaṇa and those that conceive in the dark half of Māgha will be delivered in the bright half of Bhādrapada (August and September).

11. Clouds that conceive in the bright half of Phālguna (February and March) will be delivered of rain in the dark half of Bhādrapada and those that conceive in the dark half of Phālguna will be delivered in the bright half of Aśvayuja (September and October).

12. Clouds that conceive in the bright half of Caitra (March and April) will be delivered of rain in the dark half of Aśvayuja and those that conceive in the dark half of Caitra will be delivered in the bright half of Kārttika (October and November).[5]

13. Clouds that conceive in the east will be delivered in the west and clouds that conceive in the west will be delivered in the east. The same rule holds with regard to the other directions and also with respect to the winds that appear both at the times of conception and delivery.[6]

14-18. If gentle and agreeable winds blow from the north, north-east and east, if the sky should be clear, if the Sun and Moon should appear surrounded by bright, white, thick halos; if the clouds should appear huge, bright, dense or shaped like a needle or a sword and red, if the sky should appear dark as the crow’s egg; If the Moon and Stars should appear white; if the twilight should be marked by the rainbow, by the low rumbling roar of thunder, by lightning, by the mock Sun or parhelion, if it be of agreeable appearance, if groups of birds and animals should sound sweet music from the north, north-east and east; if the planets should appear of large bright disc, if their course should lie to the north of the constellations, if they should be free from abnormal affections, if the trees should grow well and be free from disease; if men and cattle should be happy; then these are indications of a healthy pregnancy and in such cases the clouds will yield abundance of rain. We will now proceed to state the indications of a healthy pregnancy of rain-clouds in the several seasons of the year.

19-22. In the months of Mārgaśīrṣa and Pauṣa, if the sky should appear very red just before sunrise and just after sunset; if the clouds should appear surrounded by halos; if the month of Mārgaśīrṣá should be found to be very cold and if the fall of snow should be excessive in the month of Pauṣa; if strong winds should blow in the month of Māgha, if the discs of the Sun and Moon should be dimmed by the fall of snow, if at rising and setting the Sun should be hid by clouds and if be then exceedingly cold; if strong and violent winds should blow in the month of Phālguna, if fine clouds should be found marching from place to place, if broken or imperfect halos should appear in the sky, if the Sun should appear of the colour of gold or red; in the month of Caitra if the sky should be marked by winds, clouds, rain and halos; and in the month of Vaiśākha if there should be rain, lightning and thick clouds, then in all these cases, it may be concluded that the pregnancy of the clouds is a healthy one.

23. If the pregnant clouds should be of the colour of pearls or silver or of the colour of the bark of the Tamāla[7] tree or of the blue lotus or of collyrium, they will yield abundance of rain.

24. If the pregnant clouds should be exposed to the hot rays of the Sun, if they should be accompanied by gentle winds and appear as if covered by drops of rain, they will yield abundance of rain.

25-26. If the appearance of the pregnant clouds should be marked by meteoric falls, by thunderbolts, duststorms and the appearance of mock-fires about the horizon; or if at the time of such appearance, clouds should present the shape of cities and towers and if spots should appear in the solar disc or if there should be planetary conjunctions at the time; or if there should be a shower of blood, if halos or rainbows should appear in the sky, if there should be a solar or lunar eclipse at the time, in all these cases the pregnancy will miscarry.

27. If the symptoms of a healthy pregnancy assigned for the several seasons of the year should fail, the pregnancy will miscarry and the clouds will yield little or no rain.

28. Clouds that conceive when the Moon is in the asterisms of Pūrvabhādrapada, Uttarabhādrapada, Pūrvāṣāḍha, Uttarāṣāḍha and Rohiṇī will yield abundance of rain.

29. Clouds that conceive when the Moon is in the asterisms of Śatabhiṣaj, Āśleṣā, Ārdrā, Svāti and Maghā will yield rain continuously for several days unless the pregnancy should have suffered in any of the ways stated above.

30. Clouds that conceive when the Moon is in any one of the five asterisms referred to in the last stanza in the six months from Mārgaśīrṣa to Vaiśākha, will yield rain respectively for 8, 6, 16, 24, 20 and 3 days continuously.[8]

31. If a healthy pregnancy should be established in the five ways given below (vide stanza 37), the rainfall will extend to 100 yojanas (500 miles) all round. If one of the five indications be wanting, the extent will be reduced to one-half; if two should be wanting, to one-fourth, and so forth.

32. If the pregnancy should be marked by all the five indications, the quantity of subsequent rainfall will be a Droṇa; if in such a case the rain should be attended by strong winds, the quantity will only be 3 Ādhakas;[9] if by lightning, the quantity will be 6 Āḍhakas: if then the sky should be overcast by clouds, the quantity of rainfall will be 9 Āḍhakas; if there should be the roar of thunder then 12 Āḍhakas of rain will fall.

33. If either the Sun or Moon should be attended by a malefic planet at the time of conception, the subsequent rainfall will be marked by hail, thunder and fish. If, on the other hand, either the Sun or Moon should be attended by or within view of a benefic planet at the time of conception, the rainfall will be abundant.

34. If there should be fall of heavy rain at the time of conception, the pregnancy will miscarry and there will be no rain. This will be the case only when the quantity of rainfall exceed one-eighth of a Droṇa.[10]

35. If, owing to adverse planetary influences, the pregnant clouds should fail to yield rain at the seasons described, they will do so at the period of the next conception and in such a case the rain will be marked by a shower of hail.

36. If milch animals should remain unmilked for a long period, the milk will become solidified; so, the rain which the clouds fail to yield at the proper season becomes congealed after a time in the sky.

37. The signs of a healthy pregnancy are winds, rain, lightning, roar of thunder and the appearance of clouds at the time of conception; in such a case the subsequent rainfall will be abundant; but if the rainfall should be excessive at the time of conception, there will only be a poor drizzling shower during the rainy season.

Note on the prediction of rain-clouds:

This chapter enables us to determine before hand the time, duration, place, extant, quantity and quality of rainfall. As rain is a subject of vital importance, the value of a fore-knowledge of the agricultural prospects of the country can never be over-estimated. The several civilized Governments will therefore do well, having a due respect for the wisdom of the ancient Hindu Sages, to call upon their Meteorological departments to study this chapter and chapters 22 to 28 and submit a report on the future prospects of the land, by way of testing the truth of the statements above made. Government astronomers may also be directed to submit similar reports on the future condition of the Earth and of mankind at large, judging from the various phases of the Moon, course and conjunctions of the planets, the appearance of comets and so forth.

Footnotes and references:

1.

Some: Siddhasena and men of his School.

2.

Pūrvāṣādha or the first quarter of Uttarāṣāḍha according to commentator.

3.

i.e., fully 7 months after, as the siderial period of the moon is exactly 27 days, 7 hours, 43 minutes, 11.4 seconds. This stanza enables us to determine the very day of the occurrence of rain.

4.

The commentator adds: clouds conceiving at mid-day will be delivered at mid-night and vice versa. In all these cases, the interval between conception and delivery is of course 195 days. This stanza enables us to determine the very hour of the occurrence of rain-fall.

5.

These stanzas enable us to determine the particular fortnight of the fall of ram.

6.

This stanza enables us to determine the direction of the fall of rain.

7.

Tamāla: a tree with a very dark bark and with white blossoms.

8.

This enables us to determine the duration of rain.

9.

Āḍhaka: an Āḍhaka is one-fourth of a droṇa or 50 phalas.

10.

A Droṇa is equal to 200 phalas. The stanza implies that the measurement should be made by means of a rain-gauge which ought to be a circular vessel with a mouth, a cubit in diameter.

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