(Last Updated on : 01-01-2019)
Born around 500 CE in the Avanti
region to an astronomer called Adityadasa, Varahamihira is a Hindu
polymath. He was known to be one of the 9
jewels in the court of Yashodharam Vikramaditya
of Malwa, who was famous in central India during the 6th century. Varahamihira belonged from Ujjain
, which during the Gupta Period
(320 to 550 AD), was a flourishing centre of knowledge with several schools of science, culture and art.
Also known as Varaha and Mihira, the brilliance of Varahamihira was even more popular than his other contemporaries such as Aryabhata
, the first of the major mathematician
-astronomers from the classical age of Indian mathematics and astronomers
Works of Varahamihira
Varahamihira made great contributions not only in the field of mathematics; he was also an astrologer and is considered among the greatest Acharyas of modern astrology
. Varahamihiras son Prithuyasas also contributed to Hindu astrology and his book Hora Sora is a famous book on horoscopy. Listed below are some of the important works of Varahamihira.
Also known as the Treatise on the Five Astronomical Canons dated 575 AD that now give us information about older lost Indian texts. The book of Pancha- Siddhantika is one of the main works by Varahamihira. The work is a treatise on mathematical astronomy and it summarises 5 earlier astronomical treatises, namely the Surya
, Romaka, Paulisa, Vasishtha and Paitamaha Siddhantas. It is a compendium of Vedanga Jyotisha as well as Hellenistic astronomy including Greek and Roman elements. The five siddhantas are elaborated below-
Surya Siddhanta, which is the Siddhantika of the Sun was actually composed by the ancient asura
king Mayasura, who was also known as Mamuni Mayan as stated in the text by Varahamihira.
Vasishtha Siddhanta, which is so called from one of the stars of the Great Bear, was composed by Vishnucandra.
Paulisa Siddhanta was taken from Pulisa which is supposed to be from Alexandria and was composed by Pulisa.
Romaka Siddhanta was the Doctrine of the Romans, which is the subjects of the Roman Empire and was composed by Srishena.
And lastly there is the Patiamaha Siddhanta.
Varahamihira's most notable work, the Brihat- Samhita is an encyclopaedic work, mostly about divination but also includes work on architecture
, planetary motions, eclipses, timekeeping, astrology, seasons, cloud formation, rainfall, agriculture, mathematics, gemology, perfumes and many other topics. The volume expounds on gemstone evaluation criterion found in the Garuda Purana
, and elaborates on the sacred nine Pearls from the same text. It contains 106 chapters and is known as the "great compilation".
Contributions of Varahamihira
Varahamihira contributed in trigonometry and improved the accuracy of the sine tables of Aryabhata. Varahamihira was also among the first mathematicians to discover a version of what is now known as the Pascal's triangle. He used it to calculate the binomial coefficients and records the first known 4*4 magic square. Among Varahamihira's contribution to physics is his statement that reflection is caused by the back-scattering of particles and refraction (which is the change of direction of a light ray as it moves from one medium into another) by the ability of the particles to penetrate inner spaces of the material, much like fluids that move through porous objects.
Varahamihiras compositions give a complete picture of the 6th century India. He continually emphasized the importance of astrology and wrote many theses on omens, great birth which is the Brihaj Jataka and the short birth which is the Laghu Jataka. These two are the well-known works of Varahamihira on the casting of horoscopes.