Puranic encyclopaedia

by Vettam Mani | 1975 | 609,556 words | ISBN-10: 0842608222

This page describes the Story of Jyotisha included the Puranic encyclopaedia by Vettam Mani that was translated into English in 1975. The Puranas have for centuries profoundly influenced Indian life and Culture and are defined by their characteristic features (panca-lakshana, literally, ‘the five characteristics of a Purana’).

Story of Jyotiṣa

(Astronomy and astrology). Jyotiṣa is the science about the stars and heavenly bodies. The heavenly bodies are the sun, the moon, the other planets and the stars etc. From the very ancient days men believed that these planets and stars in the sky played an important part in controlling the growth and activities of all the living and non-living things in the world.

Astrology has been a recognized science in Egypt, China and India from very ancient days. History tells us that 3000 years before Christ there were astronomers in Babylon. But even before that time astronomy had fully expanded and grown in Bhārata.

The Vedas are supposed to have six Aṅgas (ancillaries) They are Śikṣā (Phonetics), Kalpa (ritual), Vyākaraṇa (Grammar), Jyotiṣa (astronomy) Chandas (metrics), and Nirukta (etymology). From this it can be said that the Indians had acknowledged Astronomy as an ancillary of the Vedas. The expounders of the Vedas say that Astronomy is the eye of the Vedas.

Astronomy has two sides, the doctrinal side (Pramāṇabhāga) and the result-side (Phalabhāga). The Calendar is reckoned in accordance with the Pramāṇa-bhāga. Prediction and casting horoscopes of living beings is the Phala-bhāga.

The astronomers have divided the sky that surrounds the earth into twelve parts called rāś is (zodiacs). All the stars of the first zodiac appear in the shape of a goat (Meṣa) so that zodiac was called Meṣa. Thus the zodiac in which the stars took the shape of an ox was called Ṛṣabha (ox). In the zodiac Mithuna the stars took the shape of a young couple. Karkaṭaka means crab. In that zodiac the stars appear in the shape of a crab. In the same way Siṃha means lion and Kanyā means a damsel. Tulā means balance and Vṛścika means scorpion; Dhanus means bow and Makara means Makara matsya (horned shark). Kumbha is a water pot and Mīna means fish. The name of the zodiac is according to the sign of the zodiac. That is, in what shape the stars in that particular zodiac appear to the people of the earth. The figure of the twelve zodiacs with the earth as centre is given below:—

Mīna Meṣa Ṛṣabha Mithuna

Kumbha Karkaṭaka

Makara Siṃha

Dhanus Vṛścika Tulā Kanyā

In Kerala and some other places the zodiacs are marked to the right in order beginning with Meṣa, whereas it is marked to the left in the same order in some of the other parts of India.

The earth completes one rotation in 60 Nāḍikās (24 minutes) i.e. 24 hours. In each rotation these twelve zodiacs face the earth. For a man standing at a particular point on the earth it will take 60% 12 i.e. 5 nāḍikās (two hours) on an average, for a zodiac to pass him. But it may vary in different places according to the difference of the shape of the earth. A month is the time the sun remains in a zodiac. The planet Jupiter takes a year and Saturn two years and a half on an average to pass a zodiac. The calendar shows which are the planets standing in each zodiac and how far they have travelled at a particular time in that particular zodiac. When a particular zodiac is in a particular region of the earth, a man born in that region is said to be born in that zodiac. When a particular place faces the zodiac of Meṣa the child which takes birth in that place is said to be born in the zodiac of Meṣa. The zodiac of birth is given the name Lagna by astronomers. Those who are well-versed in the resultside of astronomy are of opinion that the life, fortune etc. of living beings depend upon the position of the planets in relation to their lagnas.

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