I he Adyar L.ibrary 5eries--No. 79
Director, Adyar Lzb1a1'Y

Vol. I-Adhyayas 1-10
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Prmted by D v. Syamala Rau, at the Vasanta Press,
Loelneosophlcal Society, Adyar, Madras 20 that I should write a Foreword to his commentary on Varahamihira's Brhaljataka. Ever since he came under me as a student, like his two brothers before him, my esteem and affection for him have grown, His unassum ..

with his mastery of Jyotz~a, makes me feel as if the venerable sages who sat at the feet of Daksmamurti had been asked by Him to comment on HIs upadeS'a.

astrological literature, made me feel that he should complete the commentary and that the Adyar Library should publish it. The first part of the work is now nd It covers the ten cha

y previous

When the bhCl~ya IS completed and the remainmg a t



as the best commentary yet written on the best known reatest dai a'n In histor .

great astrologer of his village, who had seen his horoscope, predicted that he would become a very great

well as those who have had occasion to experience, as

possessed by the author, will appreciate the prediction and the scientific basis on which It was made. The

also a mastery of Sanskn t versification, which he has

initiation into Sctvitri by his father, and a feature of the bhut:;ya that will distinguish it from other com-

foundation in religion and philosophy, to which I would refer later, must be traced to the paternal teaching,




reading of history and philosophy IS evidenced by

the topics dealt with therein, especially of the still obscure

well as the nature of Pandavabda and Kali eras. IS


suggestion that the Kallam era, like the Barhaspatya

is acute an elusion that

er of the Sun was once widespread in India and the Middle

East. Mihira is interpreted in lexicons as the Sun in

secayait, meghajalena bhumt1n 'd~ mth'lral}). The famous (or infamous) Hun conqueror Mihirakula bears


VI 11

covered as b

h" (\niuu~h, III ~h1,

Sun in Konarka (Konarak, In On~~d). \Yt h!\ I,

abundant epigraphic testimony to pn .vc thp wu l« l'tl

for the Supreme Effulgence. In a second.n \' ,lnd l., f

sense, it has meant the planets, ~t:ll~ ,tnt! ht',(\t nl~'

to Imply first a feature of the SUpr('llH' H('HH~ ,!lld th, 11

of the Absolute Parabrah11la

art of vulgar fortune-telling, out a br.mc]: (d flH t ~ ph :~" In its hel to

nge 0 a wa, 11 {C I\a.ltdil"'~l aud flu· ld''.l 1'1 , il,hll,l!f d

in t:e famous verse whIch, II , ., JIi' I t; '1,1 J

Vara~amlhlra, one of the mne gem" of \ "d~r :uflHdlt y.~\ I I Hifl . (ratnanz vat · · · nava Vtkranulsya). Sec bulla" .. 4n1H

lattur bas C01l1C into SOtI1C disfavour with the elite as treatlng of predictions. Hope and fear arc constant in th« hum.m mind, and the desire to know the future is

only ., hyphen connecting :0'1 indefinable past and an (,tHll('~'-l future. The individual soul (ltt11tan) moves through T'ime .md Spac(! impelled by the force of its

karma innumerable fo

po~~~:.,~int~ a knowledge of his past, but when the child p" prnj<'ct('d outside i llto tin! world hy the force of a hla'"lt of V l~r.1U'$ .iir (a picturesque description of partu ..

t U Hit " $1.\ ,-,hnWll i 11 predictions in N (Jdil;ranthas. which mv.u r.ihly tr.ice the pr(~sent status and prospects of a 1 H'f'-lt IU to incident I..i and karma In a Former birth ..

ascent of man, so also the adept in jyotu;a, who has to

ties If what he sa s has to be true. Hast answer to

Idle questions IS not real praS'nam'ltrga, as flippant

I t IS this feature which escapes common attention

of even readers of works on jyot~~a that comes out

prominent y In r aJJata a, as a aSIC war' on t e science, and is well brought out with remarkable clear-

ness and force In this bha~ya. The propitiation of

un, unng peno s governe y em, IS only a form of good action, satkarma, meant to

Vedanta Des'ika's works and other authorities of a

Vaisnava complexion, observes caustically that the

graha~~ p, 111) and that despising other divimties is not

a mark of the true Vl~1J.U devotee (na deoatantara-

e urges

various forms of propitiation of Stlrya should be done

Among the many distinctive merits of this com .. mentary bnngmg out this real aspect of lyot-tfla is


expounde he IS an

sible for a Hindu lyot~~as'ltstraJna, because he is a

phic background to Greek astrology and the Indian

success In predictions, even wrth such limrtanons,


, 1

derisions by leaders of society who privately consult

years before they came Col. Meadows Taylor's Story

disease is no justification for condemning modern so cases of failure of hasty or unlearned


In this view and as bringIng out fully th(,: t<·ach~

A remarkable feature of hlb work IS the (h~cov(!ry and application of a principle U1 Var~iharnihira IS works

Varahamihira (p. 66 and p. 441). "rl1(' s(tgt· <h:cJan that he has chosen metres dchb(~rat('ly for cOnVt~Ylng



~t 1 .J. Jot .'1. ..l_ .I. _ ,.L
a."" .... t::~:::;lUlt; C;VCll LV LlIV;:::'C WUV UV UUl,; ~a--uIc::l"Ltay
of the difficult GirvetnabhClsa.
The study of this commentary will make a student
anxious to see Its completion bv the same aifted Den.
May the wish be fulfilled soon!
.011 '" /"t 7' .AI ., T7 ,..,. .......
.:J I U'w/Ir_ 'r .nuyu/I", Rayar, n.. v , n.ANGASWAMI
Madras 20
.,." ....... , n , of'" ~ ..
4U[D oepremoer, l~.Jl INTRODUCTION

VARAIIAMIHIRA'S name stands foremost among the

astronomers and astrologers of not only India but of

the world. He wrote at a period when considerable advance had already beeIl made ill both subjects; and

their treatment had been fused together. He easily

excelled his predecessors in the range and the depth

of his knowledge and In his intuition which is marvel-

Ions. lIe is conscious of this fact and so has no

hesitation in claiming at least equality with, if not

superiority, over the ancient sages when he says:

" f~faij;rlffG:qijqTU if ~~~fa:fa ftia-T:q&tTI~ I ~~~ijfif!flfre ifl ifilSJ1 ~itqr 'l~oeri4~: II' , 1

In a respect, that even a superficial reader might recognize, he towers over all Indian astrologers; and

that is in his mastery of Sanskrit versificatton, combined

WIth genuine poetical fire, not to speak of grammatical accuracy, which almost all the astrologers with the

brilhant exception of Varahamihira are lacking in.

He uses many forms of versification with deftness

Paticas'tddhan.tika ~. eur. for Horas'astra, ~. ;rr. for Pras-na-


marga, and ~. f~. for Sut';yasiddhanta.)



and skill. An entire chapter 1 has been devoted in Brhatsamhit'll to exhibit hlS metrIcal skill \vhcre the

name of the particular form of verse itself is brought out

In each verse. It has usually been supposed that in

breaking from the tradition of writers on technical subjects of employing only the simplest and the com-

monest form of verse, naJIlcly the Anu~tup, Varaha ... mihira's aim was merely to dIsplay his tnastery of

poetical forms. But a pact's po'weI is not gauged

merely by the number of verse .. forms over which he ShO'NS his rnastery. The gl'(!atnl~SS of Vrrlmiki or

Vyasa is not measured by it) nor even of the great

classical poets like Ka:lida:sa. Varahalnihira)s purpose -for he must have had one,-was, as\vIl1 be seen

later on, quite another.

The combination of poetry and science in n. SIngle author IS rare; and excellcnc(; in both, rarer stil1.

Varahamihira combined in himself eminence in both

respects to such an unusual degree that tradition

included him in the nine gCH1S of tht· court of the

fabulous Vikramaditya.

To be bracketed with tht; greatc~t PO(·tR 1S a rare privilege, never to be dre:unt of by an astruloger; and

the fact that Varahamihir:t WilS adrnlttf'd tu that pd ..

vilege, goes a long way to prove that his poetical

talent was in no way in[ctlor to that ()f the greatest

classical poets. In fact, the I1rltl.ztsai;thttt1, his magnum

opus, reads like a mahakavya, not to speak of its being the hIghest authoritative work on the subJ~!c t.

1 •

,. ~. Chapter 104. (Gocfiraphalcu;I,)

· .


Though scholars do Hot question his towering

genIus or his boldness in propounding his ideas against those of his predecessors, they do not consider him tnf'\llible. It is true that Varahamihira did not always

bow down to the dicta of ancient authority. He has no hesitation in saying that wise men arc not to predict

about the occurrence of ccl1pses by following the

~taten1entr:; of sages like "vrddhagarga.l But when he 1'a1$;( .. 5 the objection as to how the birds and hawks

could COInp back to theIr nests, against the opinions

of tht, :t"itronOlner!i who say that it Hi the earth that

rotatt:,,:~ about itself," his intuition IS far from being

It should not be forgotten th(:lt Varahamihtra

l~ not only .in Independent thinker but also one who provok(~s fn:t: thinking in othcf!.;. ] tis, I think, only

11 .r that purpose that he very often raises objections, which could be answered only after devoting much .tH(·ution and thought on the subject. li'or exomplc,

i'H~ ~tatf!S: tht.: correct vi,·"v as t<.) the causes of the (Iclips(·~ and seems to. flout the Pauranic Idea of the

1 t~~u:f,#(q)rn. f1:~ ~tr'TR ~;~~ ~qf~ l


"lQf "'~ 'Rtllt1. ,.~

~f~ ¥i ~rc;llf"~~?'~ ~'l1T Jtluj ~1:a. u

(qnott~d by Blmnotpaht In in*, commentary on ~. ti. 5, 17.)


But hIS next hne

~zyrtfR+1f'f"~: ~rfJlJf~rq: u (;. tI" 5, 13)

meamng that a correct nature of ("nentliH" reasonma requires that Rahu should not be the {'at\"'(~' 1 "l not clear. Even according to the astronomIcal view, a~ tilt! IlIhic· .. • t'if the ~tOOIlts orbit, Hahu and Ketu are the mam (:,m~,{H, nf th(~ ('t·hpM·, <ince the proxirmty of the Moon, 1U conjunction or nppC>I"'l t son j t() one of the nodes, is the real cause of the eclipse". S() it 1'1 not probable- that Varaharnihira wrote thus. On the other haml~ tiu: reuding found 111 the Malayalarn

edmon 'Viz.

~rg;: CfiHor;r~~~: ~t~~iU~: It

meaOlng that (though tllt' .~u'at A.f:3.rY:ll:., with drvme perception have explained the twhiP,"" tinl') the {'Orrect nature of SCIence [which blends the ph!lo~"()pl1H iLl ' ... ·l til t}u' purely a~trononlic:l1) lays down Rahu n~ the r:m~;I' of tlw rihp~i:.t. If the argtlnumt(,j of Varaharmhun are gont~ throll~h in tlu~ hght. It WIll be dear that he has the greateht nmemtH,Ul hH t!lf' 1 ~:UUa.l}IC ideas wluch are never wrong if 11fOp<:riy Itnlh;;f ·,tOOll. IT ance It call be easily discerned that he only ~eem\, W tl~)ut th(~ Paur&.mc idea .... ; hut actually

does not do so.

Muladhara.1 But astronomy deals with the planets ot

knowledge In his Horas'astra, as will be evident from my commentary. He wants h15 readers to think for

from every author who professed to have some know .. ledge In the science, Varahamihira takes up for diswho have

with insight. it is not his purpose either to condemn the views or to bring them to ridicule In the eyes of the readers. Astrology is not

are places where the VIews expressed are purely philosophical and religious, as the philosophy propounded In the Sur a-siddhunta; Views which are partly

m+{!f&:IJf~~ a~r (f~qfq~t q{ It ~~r ftmwlfr snar: ~~~l~~rifijrrr~: I a~T a~r +I~ ~~&uf ijfrraWi:f II

~o(J~) fif~flJ: ~T.a: q$l~~rtq{t~~: 11

srfi~;:a~ijT l:cfi iJ~~QI!i ~~rr: ,



as In the case of eclipses. The SaPtar~icctra 1, which

cession of the equinoxes not in a purely astronomical way, but in a quasi-philosophic way. So it cannot be

. .

to be rejected as fa ul ty. On the t

astronomically, So it Vartthamrhira .

of yogas like Vajra and Yava, as they are found in the

Sun? t Is It really impossible? It is true that Mercury

Sun, but can they not occupy the fourth Bhava from the Sun? In the hi h latitudes It 1

between the Bhava and Ras'i



But in the view of Varahamihira the distinction does

should not be sacrificed for the sake of knowledge


hawks could get back to their nests in the rotating


In this connection" the attention of scholars

1 , the commentary of Bhattotpala is the least reliable.

1 it. ~T. I, 2.



o InterpretatIon of the words, but also he extends his

com to speak of his readIngs which arc somcumcs wrong,

. '

'u " ...

Varahamlhlra's works. ara arm Ira imse assures us that his Brhatsainhtfit consists f)f ] 00 chapters; bu t

Utpala has given us a commentary on 6 C taptcrs, I t is to be regretted that BrJutts(J;}itltit(f has no better

ought to have been very efficient, as an astroloacr. I { understood aro .ierlv I have n

doubt that he will be found to be WI thou t :1 ny flaw,

rss of Varahannbrra the II ()r[s'~tS r;

p most popular and widely used. Indian astronomy b.rs

Varahmihrra professed to treat the: last two in the

brought in the necessary amount of galltta mto the hO(Jks .. HIS Paiicasiddhanta, which IS morn directly mathcmati ..

cal, is both critical and construcuvc, J t may be regarded as designed to establish hIS adlukara (a uthority) to

made their contribution. The Brhatsasnhita and the

aim IS to expound and not to review the knowledge

· ..

the t\VO works needs no other work to equip himself for a command of both (Sarhhita and Hora).

BrhaJicttaka, as its name implIes, claims, lIke

Brltatsaihh'tt?t, to mark a great advance in volume, as ,-veIl as quality, o'ver earlier treatises on Samhita and

flora. If ora is usually divided into ja:taka, pras'na,

muhurta and nimitta. While the aim Implicit in its

title makes the first of the four divisions the sole

subject of the Brhaj/lJtaka, it will be found that it contains much useful matter on the other three divisions

also. lIence It is also known as Horas'astra, as named by the celebrated author.

In an age, in which valuable knowledge was con ..

served and transmitted with care, on the ground that,

If nupart ed to unworthy men science will either perish

through t}'H~ir rnentnl incapacity or be misused by

their lack of moral elevation, the only safe form

of H1.strucfi01t tca« oral. A book held a subordInate por-:;itH>n in t(!aching and in the diffusion of know-

Ivdp'n. An inspirpd teacher would connt his disciples

an lnfhu!nc(; (!qually '.vide. The idea~ of a great

t(\tlch('f win be: broadcast by his school, through the

,lg('~ with an (In(·ctivcness which no book could excel,

\Vt' ~('(' todav, and have seen for over a century, the en 1: un Itout; rffr-e t~ of the passl nf{ of the COnIlll<lud of

HH'lL Sci(!nc(~ ha~ descended to be the handmaid of erut·]ty and de~tructHHl. The Simplification of scientific

knowledge in it (orm that would make it RO easy 'that




form, puts a premium on such knowledge, strengthen-


Inept or VICIOUS

discr les all that he knew he did so orall .

founder of a school wrote a book, he protected It from

teacher looked ahead to an mfluence which would last


this knowled e. But a ti

tion of a commentary on a claSSIC comes to be re

mented u on over and over a


Bha~totpaJa's stands forernost. He has interpreted every

stanza hteral1y and has given the name of each verse

form, though sometimes wrongly, but always completely ignorant of the actual role 0/ the verse form ~n the great work. Among the few commentaries which

attempt a more serious interpretation, those of Govlnda

SomayajI and Rudra deserve special mention. Thus these three are the most popular. But Bhattotpala's great reputation is built almost entirely upon his generous quotations from prev"ious Writers. So the

value of his commentary IS more histOrIcal than

scientific, Probably it is also the earhest, But hIS Insight into the original IS far inferior to those of the other two. The difference between hIm and Govinda

Somayaji mIght be explained by the analagous

dIfference that exists among the Smrti commenta-

tors between an Apararka and a VIJfianes'vara. The weakness of Bhattotpala IS that he does not dive

beneath the word (S'abda) of the origInal and has

no perceptIon of the hidden import of content and


Govinda's commentary deals only WIth the first ten cha pters of the Brhajflltaka and is therefore known

as DadctdhyZZyi. But it cannot be regarded as a torso

because, according to him, Varahamihira himself completed all that he wished to say, all that was relevant, in these ten chapters. Moreover, he has commented on what he considered as important St'lokas occurring

In the later chapters, withIn the ten chapters. In

what high esteem Brhajjzttaka and Its commentary D

DaS'ltdyztYi are held can be understood from the words of the au l h or of Pra~inamltrga namely:


~1ft ;a+rTij +r~~fT ~q~1l ~T~T II

~CJiFf ~~~rrr tfi~+r~~fi{~gaT II


({~tt~ftlft ~~itfff ~'" ~er i18T ~ffl: I

Rudra's V~vaf'afta is superior even to Das'ctdkYClyi.

He is able to see an inner Ineaning which even the

author of the DaS'czdhyayi mi ssed. He alone, of the

three seems to have derived the maximum benefit from

traditional interpretation.' In spite of the description

implicit in its title, the great Ja:taka, the Hom, to give

its real name is an extraordinarily compact werk, In

384 verses Varahamihira has compressed jn this classic

the entire science of the Jataka. Its popularity is due to

J Rudra has copiously copied from Das1Cidhyayi and In fact he o\ves much to that work. There IS a Malayalam Commentary In

the form of conversation between a teacher and a pupIl dealIng WIth

only important verses by Kanas's'a Pamcker, ThIS excels the COUltnentanes of both.


that. Anyone can get by heart the whole of the Brha] ..

Varahamihira and has the s'Iokas of Varahamihira at hIS finacr's ends can always pass for a Daivajfia.

l1CSb he anne at. ron s ave stones every ten . cot to mark distance, their value is little to the traveller.

advances through the I~Ioras/astra has apparently traversed only a distance covered by 384 of these marks,

relating to the twelve Zodiacal signs alone by 20 s'lokas in tho first chaper and the planets by 19 s'Iokas in the

\V 11C IS a con) »na Ion ()

380 s'lokns in 25 chapters. Th us the t11Un her of verses Ina be nven as 380. I n the 26th cha tcr the contcn ts

comes to 383 which is indicated by the word ~~ 383 in the second s'Ioka of the first chapter. Another s'loka

m ihira by the word lltt~ (:ij '::12, t;,;:"ff:::32, +ri:\~-::] 2 x 32 1d 384) in the tenth verse in the seventh chapter. The

. ,

of verses can be considered as 380, 383, 384 or 385.


The very first verse in S'ztrdulavtkrt-dita Inetre ot

S'ardula (rm{{i-385) as the author calls it, may be said

to indicate 385.1 Though I also concur wIth the view,

the last verse, accordIng to me, IS a different one as

will be seen later.

Curiously, for so short a treatise, the number of verse forms used is unusually large. Why were they so used? The chapter relating to GOC7lrajJhala (ch. 104) In Brhatsainhztl't gives the clue to find the

hIdden treasure. Varahamlhira has a device peculIarly

his own, The verse form 1.8 a jloznter to some -tnne,

meantng. To gIve an example, whenever he gIves us

the PUB'j)ttagr'lt there is a rajayoga concealed in the

s'loka. ThIs aspect was practically o'<.,rerlooked by all the

commentators. I was fortunate in making an approach to the study of the Hora in the hght of this principle and my mterpretation, as attempted In the present commentary, IS the result.

My attention to the secret so carefully hidden, 'was

drawn by the study of the Ramayal)a. It IS well known

that In the horoscope of S'rl Ramacandra as given in

the Ramayal}.a which the divine Valmlki composed

under the duect Inspiration of the Creator so as to

disclose the past, present and the future, exactly as

they occurred, there is an astronomical puzzle. The hero is described as born when there was a conjune. tion of N avami and Punarvasu In the Caitra month with

1 I am indebted to Sri K. Subramama lyer, B.A., L.T. (ReI.

bred I Ieadmaster, Travancore Educational ServIce) for thIS infor.


at a pu ication 0

. .

IS Ignorance 0 astronomy.




In exaltation and Punarvasu

it is certain that the Sun was in exaltation. But the

combination of Navami and Punarvasu necessitates

planets in exaltation IS a mathematical rmpossibility,

Valmiki tn ed here.' I t IS incredible that he who

gave so elaborate a horoscope should have aimed only

difficulty by interpreting Valmiki's "~cfl~tir~ ~~ "

as five grahas in own house and exaltation'. us it means that four grahas Kuja, Guru, S'ukra and

S'ani were In exaltation and the Moon was in hIS


should not be forgotten that Sri

of SIxty years. The horoscopes of all individuals are wntten only


of the year in the horoscopes In the sacred books will convince

one that they are Paramarthtka ones and have to be interpreted differently. But that 1S no reason why such a. glarmg mistake


reading the vast literature of jyotisa, I recognised

irre evan t an

ose presence C0U

chiefly to submit interpretations based upon this study.


earlier. So It is desirable to consider the main


corresponds to 505 A. D., Varahamihira could have flourished only about that time.

.. .

drawn our attention to the fact that Solstitial points

2. In his B'?hatsamhitll \l"arahamihira has

were in Makara (Capricorn) and Kataka (Cancer)

during his time while they were at the asterisms Dhanistha and As'lesa.1 So it is evident that at the

. . .

time of Varahamihira the First Point of Aries was at

the beginning of the asterism Asvini. Modern

astronomy has shown that the rate of Precession of

the equinoctial and solstitial points is about 50."29 per annum" and as they have now preceded by about 230

the First point of Aries ought to have been at the beginning of the asterism As'vini at the beginning of

the sixth century. This also proves that the date of

Varahamihira can be fixed only in the first half of the sixth century.

3. Varaharnihira has made various references to the great Astronomer Aryabhata as for example in his

reference to the contradictory staternents regarding the

beginning of a solar day.J It is evident from this that Varahamihira was either a contemporary of Aryabhata

or he flourished later. Aryabhata has stated that he was aged 23 years when 3600 years were over In

,1 a{r~qNf~f$Glijfl~+{ll;:j ~~~fifir~+{ I ~ii ~rNe:T~1~ijTrin ~~lU~!i II

~=i$J+lm fq~f(r: !;j'~~qU~~o~Rn: II ('{. ~ III, 1 & 2.) ! 0~r~(f~~tI~ ~qsr~re ~ifr~ :qr~+R:: I


Kali 1 which means that Ar abhata was born in

475-476 A.D. Consequently Varahamihira could not be

Now let us consider the arguments on the other

not definitely stated that the S'aka referred to is S'ali-

mence on a Wednesday But to

. surmount this difficulty scholars substitute ffi;r for

«tRI. This IS an unwarranted vandalism and so can

Moreover, Varahamihira himself has referred to

Yavanas, who consequently made 3

.. .

(au~+lGT~-~;wfq:j~TtJT~-l 0)

tngonometry, dIscovered the

· .


Bhattotpala, who has commented on the S'loka

" a:t1~~R§Iij ~:," has not referred to any other S'aka.

So it is reasonable to take 888 S'aka, 1 mentioned by him

In the colophon to his commentary on the Brhajfataka, as' the date of completion of the work as 310 A.D. in

which case It will be absurd to fix the sixth century as the date of Varahamihira. A~ a citizen of Avanti

Varaha mihtra might have used Vikrama S'aka. There

is no tangible reason for his preferring S'alivahana

S'aka to the S'aka mentIoned by him or the S'aka of

his native place.

Secondly, though Varahamihira has admitted that

dunng his time the Ayana calcu lation was from the beginning of Makara and Kataka, he need not have

actually meant that the solstltIal points were there. It is true that astronomical observations for the past

2000 years have shown that the equinoctIal and solsti-

tial points precede every year by about 50". But it is

premature to conclude from this that they should do so for ever and complete the cycle In about 25000 years

It is quite possible that that the motion of the First Point of ArIes is oscIllatory about a point which Itself

has a backward motton. At least the Hindu astronom ..

ers thought so, rightly or wrongly. Thousands of years should elapse before this is verified. Though

at first sight Varahamihira's s'loka makes one think

that the first point of Aries was at the begmning of the asterism AS"vinl during his time, hiS next


1 Cf~~!T2fija ~Ti6' iial{ f'ijifOW-lT n



H a,!1l'=ij +1~{+f~l fqFii:cJT gfra ijTtHT (lr;~T+{ I ;:pcfiC:E6+=fBQTHT fqMi~ ~it~{t ij;:itq ! It, 1

combined with the s'loka of (~arga (quoted hy Hh,q ~nt ~ pala In his commentary on ~ffifgar chapnr ~, v efl.,,(, j)

~"~~T f;;q~~ SQ1RT ~fiigTR:~f~ t

3l1~~t ~faJtlTStflafflr.{T ~;:~;n;:t1g~o!1~ It 'I

makes U$ conclude that during th« tnn« of \',Lf.did rnihira the beginning of Makara \\'d~ (;1'" it 1~ now th« standard solstitial point, Its preC(!SSI0U pn )dtH'DH~ ~'\'11 effects and its progression or natural PfH,iti{lH prndUcHif' beneficial rcsul is ; while du ri ng tllt I t It lit I ot (t .t n~.l, t lubeginning of S'laVtuJa was t}){! stand.u d ~~ill .... tltl,ll Pf1ltlt, Its precession producing evil cfl'('cts .uul It., II1o~tr!'~'11l'Jl or natural position producing b(IIWfici.tl u .. -ult .... ' 'flu apparent contradiction betwe-en Vatahaludur i ,HHi Garga can be explained only by assununu tIll' tH ~IIUUfH'* of Makara and asterrsm S'raVat;lil tn b« t}H' l..,t,llHL.rd solstitial points for t wo di ff(~rcnt YUg«l(,j (If "I" h .

1a" • h' ! 4

~. ~. r. . 1lI, Blo •

The effect of Sun turnmz from :nu! aftl"r "1.iktu 'upf ~ ,I.!.,~, ,t IS given by

a~HHoij.Hfr.Ilf.?l o~r .. ,",: ~*1+1fl~lft~;f: I !>l~f(1~tl ~itifoT fq~a'llftl~;q'fi~t;Il1t;! U II

(!. fi. dL Ill, <,j ~.)

~ ,-~

It 1~ evrdent from thlM that \'arih,mllhu.ll!ut''', ~Hlt ,,~~, ~!llt

ahead or behInd.


Before finally deciding the date of Varahamihira It would be desirable to know what the S'aka Era is as


commence in 78 A.D. but not the S'aka Era. difficult to understand why all internal evidences are overlooked and foreign ones sought for constructing

nonsense S'akas of Scythians who were also known by that name, just as

India IS known as Bharata Varsa though it is not Identical with the sacred Bharata Varsa of the sacred books ?1

N obod that a know led e of astronom

than historical or geographical, a true understanding of the Puranas is highly essential.

1 Refer to my article 'The PuraI].ic Bhsrata Varsa j In Adyar Librarr BulletIn, Vol. XIII. Part 3, pages 151 to 158.

The main internal evidence is supplied by the


In this It should be noted that the time is given


which word is followed by the word 'cxrrcm~'. If the

of exact time e .• :

This IS followed by the mention of the actual lace

o per ormance of Karma. Why should the time and place be given in two sections? Why should the be

does not


But for this they could have long ago taken up the right track and understood what S'aka actually means.


1 For example 1D the S' ri Bhaga vata the interva.l of time between the birth of Pariksit and the crownmg of Nanda is given by

" eJR.ij ~cr~) i5l;+i ~rqo;:{it\Tf~it:qijl=1. I

ttqi(~B'(Qi g ~ci q~C{~i)~H:l{ U" (XII, 2, 26)

or histonans. So they change this and similar passages 10 other pura1J.as into ',~ q!i~~iT~Hi{ '. But 1D the Purana It 1S clearly stated that the seven sages were In Magha during the reign of Yudhisthira

, lJC{T q~l¥ij) ~1l.:~~cr ~ilS(lGt 'l'ri~: l

ij~r WJ;c{~~ll(it~ e&f~ift Qfir5lffti' u (5'rl Bhagavata, XII, 2, 32)

· ..


because they were created from

We are

of the hairs.' The Yorndes'a and S'akrddes'a not only

but also their punfying nature, not being an object

from the roots of hairs, denote only Punyakarmas bein far away from Karma 0 a as 81 nified b the

word ~~~ or those with ~C1 (low) ~r (desires) reto all sorts of virtuous en 0 ment in this mate-

, arent villains mentioned in the sacred

do not come into the sphere of Papakarmas, and so can-



Tradition recognises SIX kings of the Kali age as the founders of S'akas or Spiritual eras. They are

Yudhisthira, Vikramadi tya, S'alivahana, Vljayabhinanda, Nagarjuna, and Kalki. Of these the first three

are in existence and the others are yet to begin.

Of these different S'aka:bdas, that of Yudhisthira is


the earliest. It is generally believed to have commen ..

ced a year prior to the Kaliyuga, which, according to the

ancient astronomical works commenced on the third of Solar Caitra (Me§)a) in the year 3102 B.C. The second,

'O~z., that of Vikramaditya, is reckoned from the Caitra month in certain parts of India, and from the month of

Kartrka in some other parts of India In 59 B.C. The

third is the S'alivahana S'akahda which commenced

from Caitra in 78 A.D. The other three are yet to come and hence we have nothing to do with them.

It has been stated in the HinduPural..1as that Brahma, the creator of the world has a hundred years

to hve according to his reckoning of time, and his day corresponds to one Kalpa. He has hIS night of the

same duratIon, dUrIng which time the three worlds

cease to exist. This Kalpa consisting of 1,000 cycles

or Mahayugas is distributed among ] 4 Manus or rulers

in succession. Each Mahayuga consists of four yugas '012., the Krta "nth 432 x 103 X 4 years, the Treta "'lith

432 X 108 X 3 years, the Dvapara with432 x 103 X 2 years, and Kah wlth 432 x 103 years. Thus there are 432 x 10'

years in each Maha:yuga, and a Kalpa is equivalent to 432 x 107 years. The period of each Manu is known

as a Manvantara and, according to the Puranas, this is


the Kaliyuga of the 28th cycle of the Manvantara of Vai ..

vasvata the sevent

books. Krtayuga commenced on a Kartika S'ukla ami da with the asterism S'ravana and Vrddhi

on a Vaisakha

pada Kr§1Q.a Trayodas'I day with Krttika and Vyatipata

m not puzzle the astronomers, while the data given for

Kr~Q.a Trayodas'i it IS Impossible to have the asterism

Krttika or the yoga vyatlpata. But In every Paficanga

we ca



8.30 a.m. at the end of new moon. Thus the 1st of

Mesa in that year fell on a Kr~1Ja Trayodas't day, and hence Kali may be said to have commenced on Caitra

Kr!?I}.a Trayodas'i day corresponding to the solar year.



in the month of Bhadrapada on a Sunday T~vith Krittika

at midnight, and another on 1 st Caitra Krsna Trayodas'i day. As the two eras had only an interval of about eIght months, a confusion seems to have arisen and the

two sets of data were combined and given to mark the

beginning of Kali, It will be shown subsequently how the two eras were fused into one.

Scientifically, a year begins with the month of

solar Caitra. This combined with the belief that S'ri

Rama was born in the month of Caitra is responsible for begmmng the year in the month of Caitra, AssumIng for tpe present that the Mahabharata IS historical,

or at least has a historical background, it is easy to

guess at which point of time Yudhi~thira will begin

his S'akabda, Yudhisthira knew that S'rI Krsna was

. . ~ ..

the Paramatman whose grace alone brought him VIctory

in the Great War, and He blessed this world with His

holy feet on a S'ravaQa Kr~J}a~taml day vnth the

asterism Rohini at midnight. SO IS it not natural to expect Yudhisthira to begin his era at midnight

on some bIrthday of S'ri Kr~1J.a or a day or two

later to solarise, viz., that on Sunday 1st Sirhha

3103 B.C. (8 months prior to Kah), This according to the system followed north of the Vindhyas, is the Bhadrapada Krsna Astami day with the aster ism

., • • .. 4fI

Krttika: (Rohu.J.i commending at tnidnight). Moreover,

IS Dot the fifth month quite sym bolic of the Pa1J.Q.avabda?

But this combination does not admit the Vyattpatayoga. The first of Sirhha vIas close to Bhadrapada

Krsnastami day according to Barhaspatya recknoning

. .. - .



ing this Bhadrapada l(r~l).a~tan11 day which i~ all4( I Sirnha Krsnastami fell on the last day of Sirnha with

. ... . .

and near last of the month and on whatever ( ay Yudhisthira (if he is a historrcal person) ob~prvt·d it, at

observe the later Sirnha K r~I.lh~tanH. It III .lY he takt·Jl that Yudhisthim commenced hi~ era on tbc: hrst (~f



perro . e era con) nHH1Ci!H~ wu 1

Pa~lQ.avabda of the Kaliyu,L!d! while: tht· the first of 1\11 esa l~ tilt, a!'ltr(l~

moon makes 13 revolutions and ,t'·J2Jl->3 ;:odiaca1 signs In

1 :zJrat~tNrr.tq~:n+~t ~~iiTr~~ \+uqfd: ~ mqf'tfi~ ~f~<ff r~v.rifir~ii ;r :qT~EF;:r U

'" '

X 111

will become greater and greater till 133 cycles are over when the position of the moon will be about '08 sign, i.e. the moon once again comes to the same

hence the was given to the era com ..

mencing after a S'aka or 2527 years.

The Panda vabda and Kah are to be considered as

. .

to ether and natural1 In 2527th Kali on first


as the last day of the month.' Probably a dispute

arose and the era was commenced by some on the first and others on the last day. Or rather some

the establishment or the re .. establishment of Pandavabda took place, and since one S'aka or 2527 years had elapsed the era became known as Panda-

! These facts can be verified not only by astronomical calculation but also by referring to the Pancanga for N andana (1952·53 A.D.) and Vtjaya (1953-54 A.D.) SInce another 2527 years


The next to be considered IS Vikrama S'aka:bda.1

It commenced in 59 B.C. in the month of Caitra. After

the "S'aka era" was founded, astronomy as a science had developed to a very great extent and the need to

begin the year in the month of Caitra was felt, and it

was brought about once again. It is quite certain

that the Romans also were adopting the same thing, and Julius Caesar in 46 B.C. adjusted the deficiency of

more than two months and began 45 B.C. at such a time that the Ides of March cOIncided with the Me~a

Vi§iU of the Vikramabda year. The HIndu year is slightly nlore than 365! days in length, while the

Gregorian year is slightly less then 365i days in length, and the difference between them is about 1.4 days 10

a century; and thus the penod of 20 centuries has made

the Ides of lVlarch precede by about 28 days. \Vhether

Pope Gregory had done rIghtly or wrongly In revising the Julian Calender is too big a question to be dealt

WIth here. Suffice it to say that the julian Calender had its baSIS In the Vikramabda. The Vikrama S'aka

took such a firm root that it ousted the Pa1JQ.avabda

practically out of the north. However, there seem to

have been some places in North Iridia where people were not so ready to adopt this and so they began it

plamed the passing from the stage of PUl].ya karma to Karmayoga.

1 The spIritual sIgmficance of the S'aka.bdas IS as already ex-

Pandavabda IS symbolIc of pa.ssmg from the perfect stage of Put}gya

karmas to Karmayoga. The SIX S'a.kabdas, therefore symbolise the passmg from the SIX lower stages of PUQya karmas to Karmayoga

The time before the commencement of the S'akabdas is only the projection of the spiritual plane on the material one


e commencmg In

V ikramabda of the Barhaspatya system should be

of the lunar system should be followed south of it.


at all. It seems that, along with the whole of Bharata

a 1 was adopted by Kerala also. But as it is done even now, the


commenced the year on the first of Sirhha, while those of North Kerala observed It on the last day of Sirhha

and commenced the year on the first of Kannya.

In all places, except Tamil Nad and Malabar,

the reckoning of tIme 15 according to the lunar system while the Tamil Nad follows the Iuni-solar system and

Mal abar the solar system. So there IS nothing wrong is inferring that the Kollam A1;.1Q.u commencing on

the first of Sirhha in the South Malabar and on the

first of Kannya in the North Malabar IS really the

S'a:ka Era. which commenced in 2527 Kah with a

few centuries left out. It was the late Prof. P. Sunda .. ram Pillai who first pointed out that the Kollam

era is the true Ko] Ja rn era w] tb eentunes left out.

Sri K. Subramania lyer (now retired from Travancore Educational SerVice has) suggested that the Kollam

era IS the Paras'urama era (with the centuries left

out), marking the colonisation of Kerala by Paras'urama and his adherents. But I am Inclined to believe

that the Kollam era IS identical with the real S'aka

era of 2527 Kali, SInce then only the Siffiha.Kannya

dispute is easily solved.

NO'N, since the S'aka era 18 IdentIfied vlith that of

2527 Kali, Varahamihira's mention of 427 S'aka cannot

help in any way to fix his date as the SIxth century A.D.

But nobody can deny the fact that Aryabhata \vas

born in 475.476 A.D. Since Varahamihua makes various

references to Aryabhata there is little doubt that

llarahamihira flOUrished In the first half of the SIxth

century A.D.

x vu

o expec im 0 e a But in his astrological

other than a Vaisnavrte. However there is no gain"

IS respect.

SJT~~r:q ~"f;(T'f.. ~ ( ~q: is q: Sit{ I

lj a:~lJfcr ~ qr ;rr-m ~~T~~f;Cf efT ~t~r: n

~r: &:f1~~ qc:q-T gga: ~r: ij-;a:r: l ~1sre:e~ ilEg~;rflJl~\rm~rmcrt~~tfil{ II


N aksatra Purusa vrata, seem to suggest,' by the fervour

. .

preaching the philosophy of S'ri Vaisnavism induces me to believe that he came in contact with them. Some of the verses in the Horasastra, as commented on

the work



deep obligation is also due to Dr. G. Srinivasa Murti, B.A., B.L., M.B. & C.M., Vaidyararna, Honorary Director, Adyar Library and General Editor of the

<i fq~~a~T~qJ.T2:q~ \q fta~ci lfT8Jffi ~~N~ I ~~;rTij iU~ «.~ 1CJ~ ~~T~rv ij+h~ '«iii: II

(,. ~. 40. 1 to 6.)

(iI. ~. 105 .. 16.)


Pandit V. N. Sastri for the preparation of indices and

Aiyangar, B.A., Tnvandrum and to Sri R. Bangaru-

suggestions, and aleo to Sri A. ris na attar, Ulan, for hIS val uable suggestions and for allowing me the

use of his library. Lastly, I acknowledge my inde te . ness to the Manager of the Vasanta Press, Adyar,

of the Horas'astra, now presented to the public.



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