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5-Varaah Mihir

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5-Varaah Mihir: a great astrologer and astronomer

Varaah Mihir (499-587 AD) or (505-587 AD), 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). 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. According to one of his works he was educated in Kapitthakaa.

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.

Varaah Mihir's book "Panch Siddhaantikaa" (dated 575 AD) holds a prominent place in the realm of mathematical astronomy and it summarizes five earlier treatises on mathematical astronomy -
(1) Soorya Siddhaant - principles of Soorya (Sun), composed by Laatdev
(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 Vishnu chandra
(5) Pitaamaha 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.

He notes that the Moon and planets are lustrous not because of their own light but due to sunlight.

His another important contribution is Brihad Sanhitaa. In the "Brihad Sanhitaa", he has revealed his discoveries in the domains of geography, constellation, science, botany and animal science. In his treatise on botanical science, Varaah Mihir presents cures for various diseases afflicting plants and trees. The Rishi-scientist survives through his unique contributions to the science of astrology and astronomy.

He has written "Brihad Jaatak" also. Brihad Jaatak 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.

Varaah Mihir is in many ways even more important than Paraashar Muni (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.

His son Prithuyaas was also a great astrologer. His book "Horaa Saar" is also very famous in the field of astrology.

Varaah Mihir's mathematical work included the discovery of the trigonometric formulas. Varaah Mihir improved the accuracy of the sine tables of Aaryabhatt I 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.



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Created by Sushma Gupta on January 15, 2002
Modified on 05/05/13