Kesavan’s Musings

Astrology a mathematical perspective-5

The ancient India was a pioneer in the crucial findings in the fields of mathematics and astronomy.  Ancient Indians excelled in knowledge. 


rya bhatta, a fore-runner to Baskara II, made a lot of findings in Astronomy (Vaana Saastra).  For eclipse (Grahana), he derived a formula and named the node as Raahu, which is in no way connected with the famous story where the Lord Vishnu will distribute the divine nectar (As per classical mythology, the mortal demigods who ate it became immortal) to Devas or Suras (demigods).  Two Asuras (wicked) to get their share in that try to do a trick and got over that and finally got punished.  Then they create the eclipse for taking revenge. These Raahu and Kheythu, the two Asuras of Vedic civilization are different from the Raahu and kheythu, the nodes named by Arya bhatta.   Even though the former story became very famous, it came from the latter events only.

Arya bhatta was born in Kusumpur of Bihar in 476 CE (Many prefer it as Christian era only. But some non-Christians prefer it as Common Era and few prefer it as that period which is coinciding with the Christian era). He has done immense research in Ganitham (Mathematics) and Vaana Saasthram (Astronomy).

At the age of 23 {499 CE}, he had written a book on astronomical mathematics called Aryabhatiyam. He created a new process of calculating the motion of planets and the time of eclipses. Of course, it is not 100% perfect, but almost a near one.  Aryabhatta was the first to announce that the earth is round, it rotates on its own axis, spins away from the Sun and orbits the Sun and is suspended in the space.  After 1000 years Copernicus {1473-1543 CE – A Polish astronomer who produced a workable model of the solar system with the sun in the centre} published his heliocentric theory.  (Having the sun at the centre, all the planets are revolving it). Prior to that, geocentric theory (Having the earth at the centre, the Sun and all the planets are revolving it) was popular. Ptolemy, the Alexandrian astronomer who proposed this geocentric system of astronomy was undisputed until Copernicus.  He is nothing to do with the ancient dynasty of Macedonian kings founded by Ptolemy I and ended with Cleopatra (ruled the Egypt from 323 BC to 30 BC)

Aryabhatta’s most spectacular contribution was the concept of zero without which no numerical calculations can be done. He was a Master in the field of Mathematical Astronomy. 

He was also acknowledged for calculation of value of Pi (π = 3.1416 rounded off to four decimal places; Many are thinking that 22/7 is the exact value of Pi. It has been proved that, it is not a fraction, i.e., not in the form of a/b; both are near values only) and the sine table in trigonometry. This knowledge went to Middle East & there from it went to Europe. In 825 CE, the Arab mathematician, Mohammed Ibna Musa learnt and explored.

During the day, we cannot see the stars because of the shinning Sun. But at the night, we can see all the stars.  In the night sky, while the earth revolves in the elliptical trajectory with Sun at one of the foci, we can see all the planets and the constellations of stars in the opposite direction of the Sun, one by one in a year.  i.e., after few months, some stars cannot be seen & we can trace it again in the next year only.  With this our ancestors can able to derive the orbit of the earth, other planets and mapped path of stars with respect to the Sun and the earth.

To be contd.


Kesava Ranga Ramanujacharya

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