|Occupation||astronomer, mathematician, and astrologer|
|Subject||Astronomy, Astrology, Mathematics|
|Notable works||Pancha-Siddh?ntik?, Brihat-Samhita, Brihat Jataka|
V?r?hamihira pronunciation (help·info) (505-587 CE), also called V?r?ha or Mihira, was an Indian astronomer, mathematician, and astrologer who lived in Ujjain. He was born in the Avanti region, roughly corresponding to modern-day Malwa, to Adityadasa, who was himself an astronomer. According to one of his own works, he was educated at Kapitthaka. He is considered to be one of the "Nine Jewels" (Navaratnas) of the court of legendary ruler Yashodharman Vikramaditya of Malwa.
Varahamihira's main work is the book Pañcasiddh?ntik? (or Pancha-Siddhantika, "[Treatise] on the Five [Astronomical] Canons") dated ca. 575 CE gives us information about older Indian texts which are now lost. The work is a treatise on mathematical astronomy and it summarises five earlier astronomical treatises, namely the Surya Siddhanta, Romaka Siddhanta, Paulisa Siddhanta, Vasishtha Siddhanta and Paitamaha Siddhanta. It is a compendium of Vedanga Jyotisha as well as Hellenistic astronomy (including Greek, Egyptian and Roman elements).[a] Varahamihira was the first one to mention that the ayanamsa, or the shifting of the equinox is 50.32 seconds.[clarification needed]
Another important contribution of Varahamihira is the encyclopedic Brihat-Samhita. Although the book is mostly about divination, it also includes a wide range of subjects other than divination. It covers wide ranging subjects of human interest, including astronomy, planetary movements, eclipses, rainfall, clouds, architecture, growth of crops, manufacture of perfume, matrimony, domestic relations, gems, pearls, and rituals. 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".
He was also an astrologer.
His son Prithuyasas also contributed to Hindu astrology; his book Hora Sara is a famous book on horoscopy. Khana (also named Lilavati elsewhere), the medieval Bengali poet astrologer, is believed to be the daughter-in-law of Varahamihira.
The Romaka Siddhanta ("Doctrine of the Romans") and the Paulisa Siddhanta were two works of Western origin which influenced Varahamihira's thought, though this view is controversial as there is much evidence to suggest that it was actually Vedic thought indigenous to India which first influenced Western astrologers and subsequently came back to India reformulated.Paulisa Siddhanta is often mistakenly thought to be a single work and attributed to Paul of Alexandria (c. 378 CE). However, this notion has been rejected by other scholars in the field, notably by David Pingree who stated that "...the identification of Paulus Alexandrinus with the author of the Pauli?a Siddh?nta is totally false". Number of his writings share similarities with the earlier texts like Vedanga Jyotisha.
A comment in the Brihat-Samhita by Varahamihira says: "The Greeks, though impure., must be honored since they have shown tremendous interest in our science....." ("mleccha hi yavanah tesu samyak shastram kdamsthitam/ rsivat te 'p i pujyante kim punar daivavid dvijah" (Brihat-Samhita 2.15)).
Varahamihira improved the accuracy of the sine tables of Aryabhata .
He was 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. He also 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 (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.
1. ^ "the Pañca-siddh?ntik? ("Five Treatises"), a compendium of Greek, Egyptian, Roman and Indian astronomy. Var?hamihira's knowledge of Western astronomy was thorough. In 5 sections, his monumental work progresses through native Indian astronomy and culminates in 2 treatises on Western astronomy, showing calculations based on Greek and Alexandrian reckoning and even giving complete Ptolemaic mathematical charts and tables. Encyclopædia Britannica (2007) s.v.Varahamihira ^
2. E. C. Sachau, Alberuni's India (1910), vol. I, p. 153