ancient indian history

Astronomy & Astrology

Astronomy and Astrology

While astronomy and astrology share historical origins in India, they have evolved differently. Astronomy is now a well-established scientific field, whereas astrology continues to be practiced as a belief system for predicting human affairs based on celestial observations.
Both, however, continue to be culturally significant in India.
Astronomy and astrology have deep roots in India, with their development spanning thousands of years.
1. Ancient Vedic Period (1500 BCE – 600 BCE):
The earliest mentions of astronomy and astrology in India can be found in the Vedas, ancient sacred texts. They contained astronomical references for calendrical and ritual purposes.
The Rigveda includes hymns related to celestial objects and their movements.

2. Siddhanta Period (5th – 18th Century):
The Siddhantas were significant astronomical texts that laid the foundation for Indian astronomy. The most famous among them is the “Surya Siddhanta,” believed to have been written around 400 CE.
Aryabhata’s “Aryabhatiya” (499 CE) and Varahamihira’s “Pancha-Siddhantika” (6th century) were notable works during this period.
3. Medieval Period (7th – 18th Century):
– The works of astronomers like Brahmagupta, Bhaskara I, and Bhaskara II contributed to the development of mathematical astronomy and trigonometry in India.
Astrology became increasingly prominent, with texts like “Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra” by Parashara and “Brihat Jataka” by Varahamihira gaining popularity.
4. Kerala School of Astronomy (14th – 16th Century):
Kerala, in southern India, was a center for astronomy and mathematics. The scholars of the Kerala School made significant advancements in trigonometry and calculus.
Madhava of Sangamagrama, a prominent figure from this school, developed series expansions for trigonometric functions.

5. Modern Period (20th Century – Present):
– India has made significant strides in modern astronomy with institutions like the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), and the establishment of several observatories.
ISRO’s achievements include launching satellites for Earth observation and space exploration.

The ancient belief that the celestial bodies influence fate and future of mankind, and that future can be predicted on the basis of the influence of these bodies, can be traced to a very early period of Indian history. And this belief of predicting the future events led to the development of the sciences of astronomy and astrology. The Babylonians were the first to study the stars. Though very little reference to the astrological study is made in the literature of the Vedic period, method of reckoning of the year, however vague, was known at that time. By the close of the Vedic period a calculated calendar was developed; and a calendar, arranged on the basis of a five year Yuga with a 366 days a year was in use. Though the position of the sun and the moon at the solstices, and at new and full moon with regard to Naksatras was known, there was yet a general ignorance regarding the motions of the sun and the moon, resulting in the faulty calculation of months and years. But, in spite of the limitations of this early system of reckoning, it did bequeath to the posterity the idea of a Yuga, a period during which a complete change of the heavenly bodies occurs and that of a lunar day or tithi the thirtieth part of a synodical month. However insignificant, this contribution may be, it has its importance in as much as it provides a base for future development of these sciences.
Saka Samvat has come down to our times and declared the national calendar of India. The astronomy which the Greeks introduced in India was Saka rulers from the centre they made the meridian for propagated extensively by the of their capital Ujjayani which astronomical calculations.
Reference: The Sakas in India & their impact on Indian life & Culture by Dr V M. Mohan.

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