Varahamihira's Brihat Samhita
translated by M. Ramakrishna Bhat
Synopsis: The Brihat Samhita of Varahamihira is an encyclopaedia of astrology and most all other subjects of human interest. Whatever the subject, be it eclipses, planetary movements, rainfall, clouds, water-divination, or any other topic, the author treats them with thoroughness and a mastery based on knowledge of the ancient sastras. Wherever he differs from the ancients, he gives reason for it.
Motilal Banarsidass, 2 hardcover volumes. Continued below.
Contents of volume 1:
Introduction; 1. Introductory; 2. Canons for astrologer; 3. The sun's transit; 4. The moon's transit; 5. Rahu's course; 6. Transit of Mars; 7. Mercury's transit; 8. Jupiter's course; 9. Course of Venus; 10. Saturn's transit;
11. On comets; 12. Canopus; 13. Course of the Seven Sages; 14. Divisions of globe; 15. Stellar rulership; 16. Planetary rulership; 17. Planetary wars; 18. Conjunction of the moon with planets or stars; 19. Planetary years & effects; 20. The planetary triangle;
21. Pregnancy of clouds; 22. Retention of embryo; 23. Rainfall; 24. The moon's conjunction with Rohini; 25. The moon's conjunction with Svati; 26. The moon's conjunction with Asadha; 27. The wind circle; 28. Signs of immediate rain; 29. Prognostics from flowers & creepers; 30. Indications at dawn & twilight;
31. Glow at the horizon; 32. Signs of earthquake; 33. Signs of meteors; 34. Characteristics of halos; 35. Signs of rainbows; 36. Signs of aerial city; 37. Mock suns; 38. Indications of haze; 39. Symptoms of hurricane; 40. Growth of crops;
41. Classification of substances; 42. Fluctuations of prices; 43. Glory of Indra's banner; 44. Lustration ceremony; 45. The Wagtail; 46. Portentous phenomena; 47. Motley miscellany; 48. Royal ablution; 49. Signs of crowns; 50. Signs of swords;
51. Science of limbs; 52. Characteristics of pimples; 53. Architecture; 54. Exploration of water springs; 55. Treatment of trees; 56. Description of temples; 57. Preparation of Adamantine glue. 561 pages.
Contents of volume 2:
Preface to the 2nd edition; 58. Description of idols; 59. Entering forest; 60. Installation of images;
61. Features of cows; 62. Characteristics of dogs; 63. Signs of cocks; 64. Characteristics of tortoises; 65. Signs of goats; 66. Characteristics of horses; 67. Signs of elephants; 68. Signs of men; 69. Signs of the five great men; 70. Characteristics of maidens;
71. Omens from slits of garments; 72. Signs of chowries; 73. Signs of umbrellas; 74. Praise of women; 75. Winning of affection; 76. Erotic recipes; 77. Preparation of perfumes; 78. Union of man & woman; 79. Signs of couches & seats; 80. Examination of gems;
81. Signs of pearls; 82. Signs of Rubies; 83. Signs of emeralds; 84. Signs of lamps; 85. Token of tooth sticks; 86. Omens through birds & beasts; 87. The circle of quarters; 88. Cries of birds & beasts; 89. The circle of dogs; 90. The cries of jackals;
91. Behavior of wild animals; 92. Intentions of cows; 93. Intention of horses; 94. Attitude of elephants; 95. Cries of crows; 96. Further omens; 97. Time of fruition of effects; 98. Functions & properties of asterisms; 99. Functions & properties of lunar days; Table of asterisms, lunar days & muhurtas;
100. Qualities of the Karanas; 101. Effects of birth in the asterisms; 102. Division of the zodiac; 102. Planetary combinations at marriage; 103. Transits of planets; 105. Worship of the stellar deity; 106. Conclusion; 107. Table of contents of the work.
Appendices: 1a. Indian planets mentioned in the Brhat Samhita; 1b. Fauna mentioned in the text; 2. Alberuni's [Al Biruni] treatment of the laghujataka & comets - a critique; 3. Fertilizers in ancient India. Index of verses & prose passages; Alphabetical index of important words occurring in the text (Sanskrit only); Index. 556 pages.
Comment: Ancient guide to ancient India, still relevant to modern life. From this book, B.V. Raman learned to forecast weather & earthquakes, for which he was renown. More than one student has found the secrets to market forecasting here, to say nothing of animal husbandry & marital relations.
In the introduction, Bhat says, Varahamihira (505 AD) was a scientist of rare merits, who in spite of his regard for ancient traditions & Sages, followed always the scientific method. His scientific thinking is illustrated by what he says in connection with the commencement of the solstices in III 1-3 as well as with Rahu & eclipse. In view of his extraordinary & masterly treatment of the subjects of astronomy & astrology in all their ramifications, he was held in high esteem by scholars of ancient & medieval India. About his greatness, Al-Biruni, the Arab scholar & traveler, says, "Varahamihira has already revealed himself to us as a man who accurately knows the shape of the world.... On the whole his foot stands firmly on the basis of truth, and he clearly speaks out the truth."
A complete treatise on life in ancient India & essential to fully comprehend
the concepts behind Vedic astrology. With exhaustive notes & literary commentary.
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