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Figure 2.8. The 27 naskatra constellations from Vedic mythology, from G.R. Kaye's Memoirs of the Archaeolgical Survey of India, No. 18: Hindu Astronomy, published in Calcutta in 1924. 22.7 x 27.4 cm. Note that they include both constellations and individual stars, some of which are familiar (e.g., Krittika, the Pleiades; Svati, the star Arcturus). See also Color Section 1.

1st Millennium bc, and later Vedic texts. In addition, the Persians moved into northwest India during the late 5th Century, bringing with them Babylonian ideas involving astronomy and astrology, including omens related to those found in the Enuma Anu Enlil.

During the Hellenistic period after Alexander the Great's conquests, Greek influences made their way into the region. Needham (1970) points out that settlers were left behind in India to form the Greek kingdoms of Bactria and Sogdia. In fact, an examination of Indian texts gives some insight into pre-Ptolemaic astronomy from Greece, especially since few Greek texts survive from this period as a result of being replaced by Ptolemy's great work. Gradually, the ideas of Aristotle and Ptolemy took hold, and Indians made refinements to epicyclical theory (such as the use of an oval-shaped epicycle) that they later shared with the Arabs. They also adopted the 7-day week and the dedication of each day to the deities of the Sun, Moon, and five known planets. In addition, they adopted the Greek constellation system. In later Indian manuscripts, one sees the zodiac represented, along with traditional Greek constellations. Often, the figures were dressed in traditional Indian clothing or were altered to match Indian prototypes, sometimes resulting in curious hybrids (Figure 2.9). But the influence is unmistakable. However, Kak (2000) has provided some evidence for reciprocal influence from India to the West, in that the Druids used a calendar system similar to that mentioned in the Vedanga Jyotisa, and they employed a 27-day lunar month suggesting a linkage of the lunar phases and the 27 naksatras. Also, some of the Venus mythologies of Mesopotamia and Greece seem to have been predated by Vedic texts, as well as images of elephants in ancient European artwork. Finally, some elements of Indian geometry and mathematics predated those in Babylonia and Greece.

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