Late Indian Astronomy

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The writing of Abu Ma'shar, described above, contains asterisms taken from the works of Varahamihira [a single name often written as Varaha Mihira; Indian astronomer, <505—590]. This is of interest because among Varahami-hira's writings are the Panca Siddhantika, summaries of five astronomical treatises that are no longer extant. Sections of them demonstrate the use of Babylonian linear methods (the step functions of system A, actually; see Neugebauer 1957/1969, pp. 172-174). It contains the following passage:

The Greeks, indeed are foreigners, but with them . . . [astronomy] is in a flourishing state. (Neugebauer 1957/1969, p. 174).

The work, however, does not contain details of the Ptolemaic theory, thus, indicating transmission of these materials prior to ~150 a.d. Thus, the transmission of astronomical ideas from Babylon of Hellenistic times to India and back to the Middle East is demonstrated. Varahamihira was also used as a source by al-Blruni (fl. ~1030) for his famous work on India (Sachau 1910). Another work, the Surya Siddhanta, dated to >~400 a.d., does contain elements of epicyclic motion along with much older material, and acknowledges "Romaka" (Romans and Greeks of the Byzantine empire) as the source of astronomical knowledge. See §9.1.3 for further discussion of the Panca Siddhantika in the context of Indian astronomy.

46 Founded by Hulagu il Khan, a grandson of the Mongol emperor Genghis Khan.

47 We are indebted to Gingerich's insightful essay The Search for a

Plenum Universe (in Gingerich 1993, pp. 136-157) for most of the source material for this paragraph.

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