Bīrūnī, Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad, Alberuni's India (v. 1)

(London :  Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co.,  1910.)



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CHAPTER XXVI.                           265

scientific truth as known to their astronomers. By
these books people are guided in fulfilling the rites of
their religion, and by means of them the great mass of
the nation have been wheedled into a predilection for
astronomical calculation aud astrological predictions
and warnings. The consequence is, that they show much
affection to their astronomers, declaring that they are
excellent men, that it is a good omen to meet them, and
firmly believing that all of them come into Paradise and
none into hell.    For this the astronomers requite them Astrono-

...                -,               .                          .      -,                  mers admit

by accepting their popular notions as truth, by con- popular

notions into

forming themselves to them, however far from truth their

.             ,  ,                      .         ,              ...     doctrines.

most ot them may be, and by presenting them with such
spiritual stuff' as they stand in need of. This is the
reason why the two theories, the vulgar and the
scientific, have become intermingled in the course of
time, why the doctrines of the astronomers have been
disturbed and confused, in particular the doctrines of
those authors—and they are the majority—who simply
copy their predecessors, who take the bases of their
science from tradition and do not make them the objects
of independent scientific research.

We shall now explain the views of Hindu astrono- General

-,.           ,T                         ,          i-,-,i          1                 ,. observations

mers regarding the present subject, viz. the shape of ontiie
heaven and earth.    According to them, heaven as well of thlJarth,
as  the  whole world is   round,  and the  earth has   a andVada-
globular shape, the northern half being dry land, the ^'*™"
southern half being covered with water.    The dimen- Page 133.
sion of the earth is larger according to them than it is
according to the Greeks and modern observations, and
in their calculations to find this dimension they have
entirely given up any mention of the traditional seas
and Dvipas, and of the enormous sums of yojana attri¬
buted to each of them.    The astronomers follow the
theologians in everything which does not encroach upon
their science, e.g. they adopt the theory of Mount Meru
being under  the north pole,  and  that  of the island
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