You are on page 1of 4

Ayanamsha vs Precession : New Light on Ancient Wisdom

© Copyright Material -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

[ Published original research, which may be cited with acknowledgement. ]
SUMMARY : Extant Suryasiddhanta supports the notion of trepidation within a range of ±27° at the rate of 54" per year according to
traditional commentators, but Burgess opined that original meaning must have been of a cyclical motion, for which he quoted the
Suryasiddhanta mentioned by Bhāskar-II (cf. Suryasiddhanta, commentary by E. Burgess, ch.iii,verses 9-12).

A twelfth century text by Bhāskar-II (Siddhānta-shiromani, Golādhyāya, section-VI, verses 17-19) says : sampāt revolves negatively 30000
times in a Kalpa of 4320 million years according to Suryasiddhanta, while Munjāla and others say ayana moves forward 199669 in a Kalpa,
and one should combine the two, before ascertaining declension, ascensional difference,etc (Translation of the Surya Siddhānta by Pundit
Bāpu Deva Sāstri and of the Siddhānta Siromani by the Late Lancelot Wilkinson revised by Pundit Bāpu Deva Sāstri, printed by C B Lewis at
Baptist Mission Press, Calcutta, 1861. ; Siddhānta Shiromani Hindi commentary by Pt Satyadeva Sharmā, Chowkhambā Surbhārati
Prakāshan, Varanasi, India). Lancelot Wilkinson translated the last of these three verses in a too concise manner to convey the full meaning,
and skipped that portion combine the two which the modern Hindi commentary has brought to the fore. According to the Hindi commentary,
the final value of period of precession should be obtained by combining +199669 revolutions of ayana with -30000 revolutions of sampaat to
get +169669 per Kalpa, ie one revolution in 25461 years, which is near the modern value of 25771 years. Moreover, Munjāla's value gives a
period of 21636 years for ayana's motion, which is modern value of precession when anomalistic precession is also taken into account. The
latter has a period of 136000 years now, but Bhāskar-II gives its value at 144000 years (30000 in a Kalpa), calling it sampāt. Bhāskar-II did
not give any name of the final term after combining negative sampāt with positive ayana. But the vaue he gave indicates that by ayana he
meant precession on account of combined influence of orbital and anomalistic precesssions, and by sampāt he meant anomalistic period,
but defined it as equinox. his language is a bit confused, which he clarified in his own Vāsanābhāshya commentary Siddhānta Shiromani
(published by Chowkhamba) by saying that Suryasiddhanta was not available and he was writing on the basis of hearsay. Bhāskar-II did not
give his own opinion, he merely cited Suryasiddhanta, Munjāla and unnamed others".

In the capter "direction, Place and Time" (Suryasiddhanta, Ch.iii), Burgess writes :

Quote: (bracketed words are mine) : The (Surya Siddhantic) theory which the passage (verses 9-
12), in its present form, is actually intended to put forth is as follows : the vernal equinox librates
westward and eastward from the fixed point, war Piscium, assumed as the commencement of the
sidereal sphere-- the limits of the libratory movement being 27 degrees in either direction from
that point, and the time of a complete revolution of libration being the six-hundredth part of the
period called the Great Age(ie, Mahayuga as defined by Burgess in chapter i,15-17, where he
gave it a span of 4320000 years), or 7200 years; so that the annual rate of motion of the equinox
is 54".Unquote:

This is the interpretation of existing version of Surya Siddhanta in own words of E. Burgess , "as it
is actually intended to put forth" by all traditional commentators. This is exactly what I illustrated
with example in the illustrated example of computation of ayanamsha.

The moot point is this : Burgess knew the traditional interpretation, but gave his own meaning
based upon modern concept of precession of equinoxes , and tried to create doubts about the
authenticity of these verses (iii, 9-12) by putting forth deliberately false arguments. Let us
examine Burgess.

In verse-9 (Suryasiddhanta, Ch.iii), he translates "pari-lambate" as "falls back", although he says

lambate means "lag, hang back, fall behind" and 'pari' means "about, round about". Therefore,
pari-lambate should have been translated as "fall back roundabout" and not merely as "fall back"
according to own logic of Burgess. If the circle of asterisms lags roundabout any fixed point
(whether Revati or Chitra), it is a to and fro motion as all traditional commentators accepted.
Modern concept of precession is something different from the original concept of ayanamsha.
Theon in West had mentioned this oscillating motion, Arab astronomers also accepted it, and
almost all Europeans accepted it upto Renaissance, after which Hipparchus was rediscovered
and modern concept of precession became a well established fact in astronomy. But this concept
of equinoctial precession was also known to ancient Indians and Greeks.

Burgess wrongly quotes Bhaskar-II, because he relied upon a wrong translation of Bhaskar by
Colebrooke (As. Res., xii 209 ; Essays, ii,374, etc) and did not try to read Siddhanta Shiromani
which was wrongly translated by Lancelot Wilkinson due to Colebrooke's influence. Bhaskar-II did
not give his own opinion at all, and merely quoted Surya Siddhanta and Mujjal (elsewhere
Munjala and Manjula) and unnamed "other", saying Suryasiddhanta gives -30000 revolutions of
sampaat or equinoctial point per Kalpa while ayana has a motion of +199669 revolutions per
Kalpa (0f 4320 million years). Bhaskar's own opinion was that these should be followed, which
means both Surya Siddhanta and Mujjala were correct in Bhaskara's opinion. Colebrooke,
Burgess, Wilkinson, etc have misquoted Siddhanta Shiromani and created an impression that
ancient Indians were inept in astronomical observations, as Whitney shamelessly declared in his
prologue to Burgess, but the Hindi translation by Satyadeva Sharma is correct, although he could
not get the real meaning.

The startling fact is that Siddhanta Shiromani clearly says that "the point of intersection of
equatorial plane and ecliptic" (which is the very definition of equinox) has a negative motion of
30000 revolutions per Kalpa according to Suryasiddhanta, while Mujjala's value of ayana's
motion is +199669, and both (Suryasiddhanta and Mujjala ) must be added to get the final
motion (of the equinox ). Hence, we get +169669 revolutions per Kalpa, which gives
(4320000000 / 169669 =) 25461 years per revolution or 50.9" per year, which is very near to
modern value of about 50.3" per year for precession of equinoxes.

We must not forget that Hipparchus had given a period of 36000 years for precession, which was
not corrected by Europeans till the onset of modern age. It is unfortunate that Siddhanta
Shiromani is still being misinterpreted by foreigners, and if a true rendering is offered by Indian
scholars, they are abused, esp by those who do not care to consult the originals and declare the
forign missionaries to reliable. Bhaskar-II neither excluded Suryasiddhanta, nor Mujjala, but
mentioned the both must be used, which is clear from verse-19, where he clearly asks to add
Mujjala's ayana-chalam to Suryasiddhantic sampaat-chalanam.

Another startling fact is that Bhaskar-II differentiates sampaat-chalanam of Suryasiddhanta

from ayana-chalanam of Mujjala, and says both must be added before computing phenomena
like declension, ascensional differences, etc. But modern commentators like Colebrooke
misinterpret Bhaskar-II deliberately, and imply that sampaat-chalanam of Suryasiddhanta quoted
by Bhaskara-II was an erroneous thing which must be forgotten, while ayana-chalanam of Mujjala
was a crude approximation of modern precession. But this interpretation is falsified by Bhaskara's
original verses as shown above. The root of this problem lies in the fact that sampaat-chalanam
of Suryasiddhanta is a distinct phenomenon from ayana-chalanam of Mujjala according to
Siddhanta Shiromani, but readers are not informed of the real meaning of Siddhanta Shiromani
and false quotation from Siddhanta Shiromani was quoted by Colebrooke and Burgess (12th
verse, chap.iii). This is a sign of intellectual incompetence and dishonesty of Western "experts"
who are blindly followed by brown sahibs of India. Those who do not consult the original texts
cited above will not believe me.

Siddhantatattvaviveka by Kamlakara Bhatt is a medieval text, which clearly states that

Saurpaksha is distinct from Drikpaksha. Saurpaksha (astronomy of bhuvaloka) is Suryasiddhanta
as it exists. Drikpaksha (astronomy of Bhooloka or physical/material/sensory world) is that version
of Suryasiddhanta which was not preserved because it was useless in astrology. Siddhanta
Shiromani uses many concepts of Drikpakshiya astronomy, as the instance cited above proves.
Saurpakshiya Suryasiddhanta does not contain any refence to 30000 cylces per Kalpa mentioned
by Bhaskara-II. He was quoting from Drikpakshiya Suryasiddhanta which as a text has been lost ;
Bhaskara-II said in his own commentary of Siddhanta-shiromani that Suryasiddhanta is not
available ("anupalabdha") and he was quoting it on the basis of "aagama". Only its fragments are
left, scattered here and there. Modern commentators confuse both variants of Suryasiddhanta.
Siddhantatattvaviveka is prescribed in post-graduate (Ganitacharya) syllabus of Sanskrit
universities, but no modern commentator has ever tried to translate it or comment on it.

According to Bhaskara-II , negative sampaat-chalanam of Drikpakshiya Suryasiddhanta should

be added to positive ayana-chalanam of Mujjala to get final Drikpakshiya precession, which is
very close to modern value. Ayana-chalanam of Mujjala is also Drikpakshiya, because
Saurpakshiya entities are not used in Drikpakshiya astronomy, and vice versa. I have put some of
the most important extant theorems of Drikpakshiya Suryasiddhanta at a website. I had put parts
of it at one of most popular websites, where a German "Indologist" deleted it and abused me
profusely ; later I found those deleted materials at an Australian website, without any name of
author; the matter was copied hurriedly in wrong formatting, so that portions of all lines are
beyond the page !!. But I am here divulging one important secret of ancient science of India which
has been neglected by wrongheaded commentators.

Mujjala's ayana-chalanam, as mentioned in Siddhanta Shiromani, gives a period of (4320 million /

199669 = ) 21636 years per cycle. Siddhanta Shiromani says that it is ayanachalanam and not
precession, precession is obtained after substracting (Saurpakshiya) Suryasiddhantic
sampaatchalanam. If this 21636 year cycle is not precession, what is it ??
Readers should read a Wikipedian article Milankovitch cycles ( ) which informs :"Earth's axis completes one full
cycle of precession approximately every 26,000 years (25771.5 precisely at present, 25789.5
years is long term mean). At the same time, the elliptical orbit rotates, more slowly, leading to a
21,000-year cycle between the seasons and the orbit... This orbital precession is in the opposite
sense to the gyroscopic motion of the axis of rotation(cf. anomalistic precession as distinct from
equinoctial precession), shortening the period of the precession of the equinoxes with respect to
the perihelion from 26,000 to 21,000 years." (at some sites of NOAA of USA, 22000 is mentioned
instead of 21000)

Ayana-chalanam of Mujjala is not orbital precession, it is the most important of all components of
Milankovitch cycles as this Wikipedian definition shown. If we take cue from Siddhanta Shiromani,
the aforementioned Wikipedian clause can be rewritten thus : This orbital precession of
equinoxes is in the opposite sense to the gyroscopic motion of the axis of rotation, shortening
the period of the precession of the equinoxes with respect to the perihelion from 25771 to 21,636

Siddhanta Shiromani also says that Mujjala's ayana-chalanam (21,636 years per cycle) is
opposite to sampaata-chalanam. Bhaskara-II clearly defines sampaata-chalanam as "the point of
intersection of equatorial plane and ecliptic" (which is the very definition of equinox). Hence, what
Siddhanta Shiromani says is exactly what Wikipedia informs us, the only difference is that
Siddhanta Shiromani is misinterpreted and declared to be obscurantist, and the great cycles
mentioned in Siddhanta Shiromani is "discovered" by 20th century scientists. But we must
remember Bhaskara-II did not discover these things, he acknowledged Suryasiddhanta, Munjala
and others.

Bhaskara-II knew Drikpakshiya Suryasiddhanta, which has not survived because it was not useful
in astrology. In his formula of precession, Bhaskara-II used a crude figure 30000 cycles per
Kalpa. If we replace it with a slightly higher value, we can get the modern value of precession,
while Bhaskara-II got an approximate value of 50,9" per year, which was the most precise value
before modern astronomy developed in the West.

According to Bhaskara-II, orbital precession is derived by substracting anomalistic precession

(sampaat-chalanam) from the first component of Milankovitch cycles (Munjala's ayana-
chalanam). Bhaskara-II acknowledged earlier authors. Hence, we must conclude that modern
values and concepts of orbital precession, anomalistic precession, Milankovitch cycles, etc were
known to ancient Indians well before Bhaskara-II.

But two things must be borne in mind : this sampaat-chalanam he finally gets by combining the
two quantities mentioned above. According to Bhaskara-II, Suryasiddhantic sampaat-chalanam is
30000 per Kalpa. He does not give a name for the term which is finally obtained by combining
this sampaat-chalanam with Munjala's ayana-chalanam, but the definition he provides for
Suryasiddhantic sampaat-chalanam is exactly the definition of the final quantity whose name he
does not provide. Hence, there were many types of sampaat-chalanams !! This is not a case of
confusion of terms. It is a result of Saurpakshiya term with Drikpakshiya terms bearing same
names but having different magnitudes and sometimes even having difference in basic properties
( or was Bhaskara really confused, due to non-availability of Drikpakshiya Suryasiddhanta) ?.

Second confusion is due to use of the term ayana-chalanam for Munjala's precession. It is quite
distinct from Saurpakshiya Suryasiddhantic ayana-chalanam (trepidation) as mentioned in
existing text. Burgess could not digest this theory of libration (oscillation) and tried to distort the
meaning of terms to fit modern view of orbital precession with this Saurpakshiya precession.
Bhaskara-II knew and respected Suryasiddhanta which he cited and used in his computations as
shown above, and gave exact value of Drikpakshiya precession. Therefore, it is foolish to impose
Drikpakshiya precession (50.9" per year according to Bhaskara-II, 50.3" really) upon
Saurpakshiya precession (54" per year, oscillating within a range of ± 27 degrees.

I do not want to say that all ancient texts are true and should be blindly followed. But it is equally
wrong to deride them as outdated and obscurantist just because they could not be understood by
Westerners.We have yet to discover the real Wonder that Is India. Unless and until ancient texts
are proven false, it is suicidal to reject them. But intellectual offsprings of Lord Macaulay will not
We saw above that orbital precession of 25461 years was known to ancient Indians whom
Bhaskara-II quoted aroung 1100 AD. It needs a special treatment with the help of Saurpakshiya
Mandochcha or anomalistic precession as per extant Suryasiddhanta (387 revolutions per Kalpa),
to get the modern value of 25771.5, which is dealt at the aforementioned website.

-Vinay Jha