How The Vedas Influenced Indian Astronomy Through The Ages – Swarajya

This prayer or offering follows a series of prayers to the first 20 natural numbers, odd numbers, even numbers, multiples of four, five, ten, twenty, forty and fifty. The religious significance is not my scope.

What they counted a trillion of, is an enigma. But these slokas demonstrate the use and understanding of decimal (base 10) numbers and large numbers.

Note the absence of the familiar laksha (lakh) and koti (crore). By the classical era, new names for some larger numbers emerged. Aryabhata, for example, uses koti for arbuda, and vrndam for samudra.

The fractions paada, shapha, kushTha and kalaa respectively 1/4, 1/8, 1/12 and 1/16 are mentioned in the Vedas, too.

These are all names of numbers only, not mathematical operations or algorithms, which are explained in Vedangas.

Other Stars, Planets, Constellations

Five planets are mentioned, but only Brhaspati by name, and Venus as Vena rather than Shukra.

The most famous constellation was Sapta Rishi, (a section of Ursa Minor), stars in the polar regions, which revolved around Dhruva, the Pole star. There is a beautiful poem, comparing stars rising after Vrkam (Sirius), as birds of heaven chasing the wolf.

The brightest star of the southern hemisphere suddenly became visible during this era. This star was called Agastya (Canopus) and linked with the story of the rishi who headed south, requesting the growing Vindhyas to stop until he returned.

Perhaps, the legend captures the period of a tilt in the earths axis, when the night sky at that latitude became on Aryavrata. Another southern star is called Vishvamitra, and three surrounding stars, Trishanku.

Comets, Meteors, Eclipses

A prayer in Atharva Veda mentions comets (ulkaani) and meteors (dhoomaketu). Strangely, except for Varahamihira, no classical astronomer mentioned these objects.

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How The Vedas Influenced Indian Astronomy Through The Ages - Swarajya

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