A Siddhanta text is an astronomical treatise, dealing with various measures of time, ranging from a Trti upto the duration of a Kalpa (which culminates in a deluge), planetary theory, arithmetical computations as well as algebraical processes, problems relating to intricate ideas and their solutions, location of the earth, the stars and the planets and description and usage of instruments (SS vs. 6). Of the eighteen Siddhanta works that are noticed, mention could be made of the following texts which have come down to us: Suryasiddhanta, Paitamaha siddhanta, Romaka-siddhanta, Paulisa-siddhanta, Vasisthasiddhanta, Brahmasiddhanta and Vrddhavasisthasiddhanta, Varahamihira wrote the Pancasiddhantika and Paitamahasiddhanta.
Of these the Suryasiddhanta and the Brahmasiddhanta deserve special mention here, since both these have received correction from time to time. At the same time the former work has shown "the process of adaptation of the new science to Indian ideas in its most pronounced state" (Keith, Hist. of Skt. Lit., 518). It reveals in the theory of Kalpas, restores the pre-eminence of mount Meru at the north pole and deals with such astronomical concepts as Naksakras and others in the Indian context.
The astronomer who wrote the Aryabhatiyam (499 A.D.) is Aryabhata (born in 478 A.D.) who introduced new ideas into Indian astronomy. He is the Sanskritist to write a distinct chapter on mathematics in relation to astronomy. It may not be an exaggeration to say that he was the only Hindu astronomer to propound the doctrine of diurnal rotation of the earth, as stated by Arka Somayaji in A Critical Study of the Ancient Hindu Astronomy (p. 2). The astronomers who followed him were Lalla (500 A.D.), Varahamihira (505 A.D.), Brahmagupta, Mahavira (628 A.D.), Sridhara (750 A.D.), Munjala (932 A.D.), Sripati (1039 A.D.), Bhaskara II, the author of SS (1150), Makaranda (1478 A.D.) and Ganesa (1520 A.D). The names of others such as Garga, Vrddhagarga and Narada, who existed before Varahamihira, may be added to this list.
The authorities on Ancient Sanskrit astronomy and mathematics are of the opinion that the last scientific work in Jyotisha is SS. A temple inscription quoted by O.E. SMITH, (History of Mathematics) runs as under:
Bhaskara II worked at the Astronomical observatory in Ujjain where Brahmagupta is said to have conducted certain experiments several centuries ago.
Actually there were two Bhaskaracharyas. The first was a contemporary of the well-known astronomer, Brahmagupta. He wrote the Mahabhaskariya, Laghu Bhaskariya, and the Aryobhatiya which are commentaries on the famous work of Aryabhata. The Second Bhaskara (1114-1185 A.D.), as has been stated in SS (vs 3.) composed the crest-jewel of astronomical treatises, i.e. SS, after having mastered the science under his talented father, Mahesvara, a pioneer in astronomy, who championed the cause of Jyotisha in the eleventh century A.D.
The chief contribution made by Bhaskara II to mathematics cum astronomy consisted in realizing the true nature of division by Zero, anticipating the modern theory on convention of signs, representing unknown quantities by phonemes, presenting solution for quadriatic equations reduced to a single type taking into consideration only positive roots as genuine, solving a few cubic and bi-quadriatic equations and indeterminate equations of the first and second degree, computing elaborate table of sines, studying regular polygons upto 384 sides, giving the value of as 754/240 and anticipating kepler's method of determining the surface and volume of a sphere (N. N. Sachitanand's article in the Hindu, Madras, dated 1-7-1979 and M.D. Balasubrahmanyam's Foreword to the Annotation of SS by Arka Somayaji, Kendriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha, Tirupati series No. 29, 1980). Furthermore, Bhaskara II gave a scientific exposition of the sidereal revolution of planets, circumference of the earth, lunar eclipses, measurement technique of celestial bodies, longitude of the stars and other astromical facts. Needless to say, the third and fourth parts of SS, - under the heading, Ganitadhyaya devoted to astronomy.
After Bhaskara II, very little original work appeared in India in this field. Later scholars were content with the writing of some commentaries on the earlier standard treatises of stalwarts, simply to whet their appetite. But for the scholarly compositions of eminent Sanskritists like Nilakanta and the rest, belonging to the productive Kerala School of astronomy, Jyotisha Pandits concentrated their attention more on astrology than on studies and research in mathematical astronomy.
However, in recent times scholars have been attempting to examine astronomical theories in the light of western thought.
Realising that specialization in mathematical astronomy and other sciences has witnessed a decline, the Tirupati Vidyapeetha started a project entitled, 'Coordination of Sanskrit and Ancient India', so that unpublished and rare works on Sanskrit mathematics, Astronomy, and other disciplines might be critically edited with translation and annotation, besides monographs on historical and descriptive studies on Jyotisha might be brought out. Under this scheme, the Vidyapeetha has already brought out Dr. Arka Somayaji's Exposition in English and Annotation of Bhaskaracarya's SS. (1980). Under the same project, the Vidyapeetha has now come forward to issue Professor T.S. KUPPANNA SASTRYA'S collected paper on Hindu astronomy, mathematics and other related disciplines. I record here that it is rather unfortunate for SASTRY and us that he could not live to see his outstanding publication-the last challenging magnum opus of SASTRY. That Professor SASTRY, an eminent scholar in almost all the branches of Sanskrit literature (including mathematics and Astronomy) was specially qualified to write the collected papers, will become evident, If we look at his curriculum vitae and publications.
Professor SASTRY (1900-1982) alias Srinivasan, was born in Tirumanilayoor (near Karur, Tiruchirapalli district of Tamilnadu) to Subrahmanya Iyer and Bhagirathi Ammal. A scion of Nilakantha Diksita, the celebrated Sanskrit polymath of the sixteenth century, Professor SASTRY devoted all his time to a critical study and appreciation of almost all the Sanskrit Shastras including Ganita, Jyotisha, and modern astronomy, in boyhood he underwent training in the traditional recitation of Samavedic hymnology. Having Completed his schooling in Karur, he passed the B.A. examination as a student of the famous St. Joseph's College, Tiruchirapalli. He worked as Headmaster of the High School at Tirumayam (erstwhile Pudukkottah State), and then joined the Maharaja's High School, Pudukkottah (later known as Brihadambal High School). Subsequently he worked as lecturer, Assistant Professor in Sanskrit at Maharaja's College, Pudukkottah. Government Arts College, Kumbhakonam and in the Madras Presidency College from where he retired in 1955. Then he taught at the Madras Sanskrit College for about five years as Professor of comparative Philology and History of Sanskrit Literature. Even after retirement he served the college as Honorary Professor of Sanskrit.
Professor SASTRY critically edited six astronomical texts. He brought out a critical edition of the Mahabhaskariya with the commentaries of Govindasvamin and Parameshvaran with annotation and indices in 1957. Again he edited the Vakyakarana, the basis of the Vakya almanacs of South India, with the commentary of Sundararaja in 1962. He also critically edited the Vedangajyotisha with translation and notes. Subsequently he critically edited the Pancasiddhantika with translation and notes.
Dr. K. V. Sarma (now Professor at the Adyar Library Research Centre) who informally collaborated with Professor SASTRY in editing the first two works mentioned above, write (in the Bio-data of Professor T.S. Kuppanna Sastry) as under:
His (Prof. Sastry's) deep understanding of Indian astronomy helped him in preparing a rational edition with detailed exposition in English of the Vedanga Jyotisha and the Pancasiddhantika, both of which are master-pieces illustrative of forensic skill in presenting distended facts to prove his point. He prepared also a book on the computation of eclipses incorporating modern corrections, but couched in such a form that it could be used by Indian almanac makers.
His collected papers issued by the Vidyapeetha, is a collection of valuable and original papers-published in several learned Journals-numbering about twenty. The author has made a systematic, thorough-going and comparative study of the Hindu and Western systems of astronomy. The book deals with such interesting and illuminating topics as the Vasistha Sun and Moon, calendar in Hindu Tradition, Varahamihira's Saka Era, Hindu astronomical processes, Vatesvara Siddhanta, Aryabhata School of Astronomy, Hindu Astronomy in the age corresponding to pre-copernican European Astronomy, Tamil Astronomy, determining the date of Adi Sankaracharya (on astronomical grounds), the law of gravitation, the structure of atom and the theory of Relativity and others. Needless to say, among the astromers who have attempted a methodological and critical study of Jyotisha, Professor T.S. Kuppanna Sastry, the eminent scholar of ancient and modern astronomy, stands out as preeminent. I state in all humility that the development of astronomy, marshalled in its historical perspective in the collected papers, will furnish some definite criteria governing the relevancy and applicability of ancient Indian observations as enshrined in Jyotisha to modern astronomy.
It is now left for us to thank Dr. K. V. Sarma sincerely for his hearty cooperation and assistance in printing this book. He read through the proofs, compiled the Bibliography of Prof. SASTRY's writings and sent us the author's Bio-data. Special acknowledgement should be made to the Rathnam Press, Madras for setting the appropriate types for the book.
Lastly I pay homage to my guru, Professor T.S. Kuppanna Sastry for his excellent contribution to mathematics cum astronomy.
Original Tantric Texts (23)
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