499-587 AD or 505-587 AD
See also Varaah Mihir-2
Not much is known about the life of Varaah Mihir. Varaah Mihir (499-587 AD) or
(505-587 AD), was an eminent astrologer and astronomer who was honored with a
special decoration and status as one of the nine gems in the court of
King Vikramaaditya in Avantee (Ujjain). Although
very little is known about his life, but he is believed from South Bangaal.
There is a mound called "Mound of Khaanaa and Mihir". Khaanaa was
the daughter-in-law of Varaah Mihir. Khaanaa herself was a great astrologer.
His son Prithuyash was also a great astrologer. His book "Horaa Saar"
is also very famous in the field of astrology.
Suryanarain Rao has written his biography "Life of Varaha Mihir", which
says - that he was a Braahman, a son of Aaditya Daas, from the region of Avantee.
He was taught astrology by his father who was a great worshipper of Krishn. By
performing severe austerities to please Soorya Naaraayan, Mihir got blessed with
the knowledge of Ganit (mathematics), Horaa, and Sanhitaa. He was one of the nine
Gems in Vikramaaditya's court.
In one of his works he mentions that he was educated in Kapitthakaa, but the
location of that place, if it existed, is not known. However, it is established
that he worked in Ujjain, a centre of Hindu mathematics since about 400 AD and
the place where
Brahmagupt worked a generation later. Varaah Mihir's real name was Mihir,
after Sun God. But How he got the name as Varaah
Mihir is an interesting story,
Varaah Mihir is in many ways even more important than
(another astrologer) for the reason that while there are several ancient commentaries
on the work of Varaah Mihir, none exists for those of Paraashar Muni.
Varaah Mihir's mathematical work included the discovery of the trigonometric
formulas. Varaah Mihir improved the accuracy of the sine tables of
and calculated the binomial coefficients, known in the European civilization
as Pascal's triangle.
Among Varaah Mihir's contribution to physics is his statement that reflection
is caused by the back-scattering of particles and refraction (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.
Varaah Mihir's Life in Magadh
After his education, Mihir is believed to have relocated to Magadh kingdom.
The legend says that while he was in Magadh, he received an invitation from
king of Avantee to settle in Ujjain. He accepted that invitation and moved
to Ujjain and thereafter lived there. Nothing much is known about his life
in Magadh. If he lived during the 6th century AD, then at that time Magadh
was under the rule of Narasinh Gupt, Kumaar Gupt and Vishnu Gupt of the Gupt
dynasty. In the Avantee kingdom, Mahaaraaj Dravya Vardhan was ruling over
Ujjayinee at that time, but Mihir makes no mention of these kings in his
On the other hand if he lived during 1st century BC, then it was after the
end of regime of Shung Dynasty, and during that time it was the period of
Kanva Dynasty in Magadh (73-26 BC). In Avantee kingdom, King Vikramaaditya
is believed to have been ruling at that time. Mihir makes no mention of
these kings too in his texts. The website
provides some unique information about Varaah Mihirís connection with Magadh
and replaces the words "Kapitthak Savitru Labdh Var Prasaad" (born
in the city of Kapitthak, and attained the boon from Sun God) by the words
"Kapillako Savitru Labdh Var Prasaad" (one who is blessed by the
Sun god of Kapillakaa).
In his Brihat Jaatak in the 26th chapter, he says that he was the son of
Aaditya Daas, that he was an Avantak, that he received his knowledge from
his father and that he obtained a book from the Sun-God at Kampillak or
Kapitthak. Bhattotpal tells us that he was a Magadh Dwij. Some say that
he was a Magadwij, ie, one of the Magii long settled in India. From all
this the late Pandit Sudhakar Dwivedi in his Ganak Taranginee infers that
it is not impossible that Varaah was a Magadh Braahman. He might have gone
to Ujjain for livelihood. He studied with his father at his own house in
Magadh and also studied the works of Aaryabhat there. He traveled to make
himself known, he worshipped Sun-god at Kampillak (Kalpi) and obtained a
book from him. I acquired a manuscript of his son's work Prithuyash Shaastra
at Shanku the Northernmost part of the Nepal valley, the opening verse of
which says that the son Varaah Mihir asked his father some questions while
he was residing at the beautiful city of Kaanyakubj on the Ganges. Varaah
might have retired to Kaanyakubj in his old age to be on the Ganges and
there imparted his knowledge to his son Prithuyash.
Varaah Mihir's Works
He has written a few books.
(1) Panch Sainddhaantikaa
His most famous work, the Panch Saiddhaantikaa ("Five Treatises"),
concentrate on astronomy and mathematics. It is usually dated 575 AD and
summarizes five earlier astronomical treatises,
(1) Soorya Siddhaant - principles of Soorya (Sun), composed by Laatdev. This is
the most accurate and most widely used today.
(2) Romak Siddhaant - from the Room, from Roman Empire, composed by Shreeshen.
Based on the epicycle theory of the motions of the Sun and the Moon.
(3) Paulis Siddhaant - from Paulis (the Greek) from the city of Saintraa
(Alexandria), by Paulis
(4) Vashishth Siddhaant - from one of the stars of Great Bear, composed by
(5) Paitaamaha Siddhaant or Brahm Siddhaant - from Brahmaa, composed by Brahmgupt,
the son of Jishnu, from the town of Bhillamaal, between the Multaan and
Anhilwaaraa. It is 16 Yojan from Anhilwaaraa. It appears to be ancient
Vedaang Jyotish of Lagadh - possibly of Dravid origin.
From the Translation of Laghu Vivaah Patal
Another book "Laghu Vivaah Patal" has also been found written by him.
Sreesodh and Veneet have translated it. It was written in the 1st half of
the 6th century AD. It is a small but very important work and unusable
because no translation was available for use. This book contains 19 meters
- (1) Aarya, (2) Indravajra, (3) Upajaati, (4) Upandra Vajra, (5) Totak,
(6) Pushpitaagra, (7) Rathoddhat, (8) Vanshasthvil, (9) Vasant Tilak, (10)
Viyoginee, (11) Vrishabh Charit, (12) Mandaakraantaa, (13) Maalinee, (14)
Shankhnidhi, (15) Shaalinee, (16) Shaardool Vikriditaa, (17) Shikharinee,
(18) Shlok, and (19 Shragdhar. In this book Mihir refers to 13 ancient
authors prior to his times - (1) Raibhya, (2) Garg, (3) Jeev Sharmaa, (4)
Deval, (5) Dev Keerti, (6) Paraashar, (7) Babhru, (8) Bhaguree, (9) Bhrigu,
(10) Maandavy, (11) Vatsya, (12) Satya, and (13) Harit.
Bhattotpal has written
a commentary on it in 10th century AD. He tell an interesting anecdote
about Mihir and his works. The Sun god Savitar created science book of
Heavenly bodies with three large sections. He was afraid that it might be
scattered and lost, so he came back in Kali Yug disguised as Varaah Mihir
and rewrote it in much smaller texts. Thus got created numerous texts by
Varaah Mihir such as Panch Saiddhaantikaa, Brihat Jaatak, Brihat Sanhitaa,
Brihat Vivaah Patal, Laghu Vivaah Patal, Laghu Jaatak, Brihat Yog Yaatraa
Arun Upadhyay writes
Varaah Mihir has given his date of birth as 8-3-95 BC (Shak, 3042, Chaitra
Shukla 8) in Kutoohal Manjaree.
He has indicated his birth in Kapitthak and later life at Avantikaa, then
He has indicated start of North motion of the Sun from Makar sign in Brihat
Sanhitaa and equivalent Yog calculation in Panch Saiddhaantikaa.
They begin with Indian astronomy and proceed to a review of all other known
astronomical knowledge and theories, including mathematical charts and tables
taken from the work of Ptolemy. Varaah Mihir's mathematical work included the
discovery of the trigonometric formulae.
(2) Brihad Jaatak Horaa
He has written "Brihad Jaatak Horaa" also. Brihad Jaatak Horaa is
his astrological book which is considered one of the five main books on
astrology. In this book he has covered three branches of astrology - Daivagya
Vallabh, Laghu Jaatak, Yog Yaatraa, and Vivaah Patal.
(3) Khand Khaandakya
His another book is Khand Khaandyak, written in the year 665. He was 67
years old at that time. This book contains 8 chapters. Of particular
interest to mathematicians in this second work by Brahmgupt is the
interpolation formula he uses to compute values of sine.
Spiritual Life - the Root of Accurate Predictions
This incident from the life of Varaah Mihir shows the great accuracy that
can be attained in astrology if the astrologer is properly trained and
performs his spiritual practice and gets the divine blessings. Varaah
Mihir lived to be 80 years old, there are many other histories involving
him. His son Prithuyash was also a great astrologer. His son wrote Horaa
Saar, a important classic in natal astrology, and Shat Panch Shikhaa, a
text on Prashn. Varaah Mihir was very terse in his own writings, but
Horaa Saar is meant to give more explanation of what Varaah Mihir was
Rao, Suryanarian, 1987, 3rd edition, Life of Varaha Mihira, Bangalore,
India: IBHP Astrology Series.