This is the age of science and scientific knowledge and it has progressed by leaps and bounds. To keep pace with this, for the specialization of knowledge, the preparation of encyclopedias in different specialties has become necessary. The expansion of knowledge has necessitated the preparation of encyclopedia in special subjects. With the spread of education and expansion of communication the contents and types of encyclopedia have undergone a sea change. In this age of specialization specialists are contributing everyday, funds of new information to their specialized studies. Encyclopedia of any subject has become the criterion to measure its development the expertise has contributed to that branch of study.
The meaning of the word Encyclopedia has changed considerably during its long history. History of encyclopedia is essentially a guide to the study of the development of scholarship. It is said that in the past 2000 years at least 2000 encyclopedias have been issued in various parts of the world. Today most people envisage an encyclopedia as a multi-volume compendium of all available knowledge. Using an encyclopedia helps those intellectuals to add to their knowledge. Even those who need information outside their field of activity and those who want to keep themselves abreast of constantly changing information surge can be benefited by an encyclopedia.
Encyclopedia Britannica says: “No one can know what specific influence the encyclopedia may have had on the thoughts and actions of any individual. One can be sure however that no one can look at the encyclopedia without reacting in some way to its contents. The most ordinary effect is to remind the reader how little he knows of the world around them. This may produce to him a feeling that he is content to leave the situation as it is. It is far more likely to stimulate him at least to make some temporary effort to improve his understanding and out of this may develop further studies that may interest him for life time.”
The encyclopedia is the literary storehouse in the form of a book or any other retrieved form of the whole knowledge available in a subject till date. The aim of an encyclopedia is to gather the knowledge on the face of earth and set forth its general plan to those with whom we live and transmit it to those who will come after us. Thus the labours of past centuries could be preserved not to go in vain on any information that humanity want to know. Any literary work to become encyclopedic in its contents should be all-inclusive to project the ideas and concepts of the subject. It must contain all references through words and should not miss even a single reference or point of information. Encyclopedia is a literary work that provides details, though not exhaustive, on any information about a subject which a reader wants to know.
Encyclopedia is the improved and expanded version of the Dictionary. In dictionaries the meaning and at time the derivation of the word are given. The descriptions given in the encyclopedia should be accurate, precise and methodically comprehensive. Encyclopedias answer the fact finding questions of the reader and help him to obtain reliable information on the subject for which it is intended. It also provides additional reading material, particularly for any special subject. Encyclopedia can be defined as a work that aims at giving a comprehensive summary of all branches of knowledge or knowledge in any specific field or allied subject. The former is known as general encyclopedia and the latter as special encyclopedia. The name encyclopedia is applied to any work of one or more volumes with articles usually in alphabetical order on all branches of knowledge or on all aspects of one subject. The purpose of modern encyclopedia is to condense the current essential information and make it accessible to the non-specialist.
Encyclopedias have become the part and parcel of the human culture. In some countries there are many encyclopedias in every subject and in every language. This is the case of all modern subjects including the social and exact sciences, languages and literature. The development of a subject depends on its encyclopedia. As the horizon of human knowledge expands, the body of encyclopedia also increases. Since the encyclopedia is the storehouse of the total knowledge earned by man, it varies according to the variety and nature of subjects which men possess throughout the world.
To quote Denuis Diderot the aim of an encyclopedia is to gather the knowledge scattered over the face of the earth to set forth its general plan to the men with whom we live and to transmit it to those who will come after us in order that the labors of past centuries may not have been in vain.
An encyclopedia to be turn to the sense of the world should present correct and complete facts as accurately as possible about things it deals with. Encyclopedia is the improved and enlarged version of books which came into being as the result of the man in recording his thoughts, ideas and experiences with the aim of transmitting it to the posterity. When the number of books increased enormously and in different languages the world over, it became necessary to have all these knowledge in a condensed form which resulted in the creation of Encyclopedias. When in became physically impossible to contain and accommodate the ever expanding knowledge of man in a single volumes increased. So also the number of contributors also increased. It is said that the largest encyclopedia ever put together was the Yung Le TaTien developed by the Emperor Yung Lo in the 15th century contributed by 2169 scholars and ran into 917480 pages and 22877 sections and 11100 volumes there are umpteen languages and manifold subjects the world over. It is practically impossible to enumerate the various subjects developed in each country and in each language as well. It is also impossible for a man to just peep once in all these subjects, not to speak of mastering them. Since it is difficult for a man who wants to study a subject to reach all the books and other literature available on the subject, encyclopedias are prepared encompassing the gist and quintessence of all the books published on the subject. As the subjects vary in nature, contents of encyclopedia also vary. In short, an encyclopedia caters to quench the thirst of knowledge of an inquisitive reader.
Rapid advances the multiplication of subjects, particularly science, warranted the elaboration of the system. Encyclopedia distinguished themselves for their accurate entries, excellent and exhaustive explanations and highly developed system, of cross references. Special subject encyclopedias are the order of the day. Everyday new subject encyclopedias and additional volumes are published. Special encyclopedia in Humanities, Natural sciences, Social sciences and Technology are also being published to satisfy the demand of specialists in these fields. Encyclopedias in new subjects hitherto unknown to outside world are also coming to the limelight. This is why every state government and national government establishes and promotes the establishments for the preparation of encyclopedias. These day’s encyclopedias are taken as multimillion projects by a team of experts and publishing organizations having infrastructure in the nook and corner of the world. Of late encyclopedias are becoming more picturesque and illustrative. The modern developed printing technology has made them coveted showpieces. The ultramodern techniques in printing and retrieving systems have helped the quality production of encyclopedias. Information technology has developed the retrieval system in Digital format as well. One thousand pages can be converted to be held in one Compact Disc (CD) minimizing the problem of storage space.
Indian astrology is a neglected subject. It is vast, deep, rich useful to mankind like any other subject. It is a part of Indian culture. People fruitfully use them in their day to day life. As far as Indian Astrology is concerned one could not even have dreamt of such a project, so far. It is a pity that India could not contribute at least one encyclopedia in Astrology which is her pride. In subjects where encyclopedias are already published the task is easier because the compiler will have a basic structure before him on which we can rebuild fresh editions. But in a subject which has neither dictionaries nor encyclopedias published till date, the task becomes more difficult. Unfortunately to the learners, the Indian Astrology falls in this second category. The gist and essence of the above statement is applicable to present encyclopedia also. Except three small dictionaries in English having 300 pages as an average, no book was still published in Indian Astrology nearing the nature of Encyclopedia.
This being a special encyclopedia and that also in the field of Indian Astrology, only limited group of people the world over are expected to show interest in this work. Astrology is a professional subject of practice and as is seen in every profession, they pay less attention to the theory and academic point of their subject. Indian Astrology cannot be and need not be an exception. In Indian astrology more importance is given to traditional oral instruction then the bookish knowledge. There are traditional astrologers in India who make accurate and pinpointed predictions who have not gone through many books and they are not aware also about the different astrological practices in different parts of India. Not to speak of the world over. At this juncture an all inclusive encyclopedia of Astrology in English is a desideratum.
This author made a humble attempt in this regard and published an annotated Dictionary of Astrology in Malayalam with explanation of about 14000 astrological ideas. This was in the year 1988. Since the language used was Malayalam the scope was limited in the limited area of Kerala alone in India. The author wanted to take the niceties, greatness and utilities of Indian Astrology to the world community through an international medium. As things stand now English is the most suitable medium for an Indian to take an Indian subject to the world community. So it was decided to prepare and publish an encyclopedia in Indian astrology incorporating as many astrological ideas as possible in English. I have only touched the fringe of it. There are numerous unpublished palm leafs kept in the almirahs the world over and the traditional practical knowledge which is not recorded in books is to be tapped and recorded. Indian astrology is to be studied as an inter-disciplinary science with Ayurvaeda, Tanthra, Mantra, Vaasthu and Vedas. For this, people with national spirit and wider orientation should learn all these subjects and conduct research to bring the greatness of Indian wisdom before the world and bring back the lost glory of hoary India.
In such a situation this Encyclopedia and Indian Astrology can serve many purposes.
1. English knowing Astrologers of the world can know the niceties, nuances, depth and vastness of Indian Astrology.
2. Practicing astrologers can learn many more techniques of unfailing prediction and shine in their profession.
3. Astrology though applied to make predictions, has different forms and techniques in different countries, among while the Indian system is unique that requires at least 18 years full time learning to master it. Since no attempt seems to have been made beforehand to present these principles of Indian Astrology in a complete book form, it is hoped that this encyclopedia will serve to fill that void.
4. Even the English knowing astrologers in India do not have a book in English where all the astrological ideas and concepts are incorporated. Perhaps this is the only encyclopedia published so far.
5. Knowledge related to any subject is international property. Barriers of language and territories should not prevent them to reach far and wide and to be useful to mankind the world over. So it is the duty of intellectuals knowing the subject to preserve, propagate and add to the subject for the posterity. The present Encyclopedia is a humble attempt of the author to fulfill that responsibility.
6. Though Indian Astrology is useful to mankind and has enough potential like medicine. Architecture, Meteorology, there are few takers for it. It is true that there are no authentic books. However when the number of print order is only for 1000 or 2000 copies, it is not even a drop in the world population of 6000 millions.
7. It is the duty of savants of astrology to teach the principles of astrology in its pure and pristine form and not with personified examples and prescriptions.