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

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



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  Page 269  

CHAPTER XXVI.                           269

Lata says : " On each place of the earth only one-half
of the globe of heaven is seen. The more northern our
latitude is, the more Meru and the pole rise above the
horizon ; as they sink down below the horizon, the more
southern is our latitude. The equator sinks down from
the zenith of places, the greater their latitude is both in
north and south. A man who is north of the equator
only sees the north pole, whilst the south pole is invi¬
sible to him, and vice versd."

These are the words of Hindu astronomers regarding considera-
the globular shape of heaven and earth, and what is gardingthe
between them, and regarding the fact that the earth, the earth,
situated in the centre of the globe, is only of a small of gravity

• ji      .1          ••11             ,        c   ^                  between the

Size m comparison with the visible part  ot  heaven, northern
These thoughts are the elements of astronomy as con- ernimrve.s
tained in the first chapter of Ptolemy's Almagest, and traction^of
of similar books, though they are not worked out in S'^*^^*'^*i°"-
that scientific form in which we are accustomed to give

for the earth is more heavy than the water, and the
water is fluid like the air. The globular form must be
to the earth a physical necessity, as long as it does not,
by the order of God, take another form. Therefore the
earth could not move towards the north, nor the water Page 135.
move towards the south, and in consequence one whole
half is not terra fir ma, nor the other half water, unless
we suppose that the terra, fir ma half be hollow. As far
as our observation, based on induction, goes, the terra
firma must be in one of the two northern quarters, and
therefore we guess that the same is the case on the
adjacent quarter. We admit the possibility of the
existence of the island Vadavamukha, but we do not
maintain it, since all we know of it and of Meru is
exclusively based on tradition.

The equatorial line does not, in the quarter of the
earth known to us, represent a boundary between terra
  Page 269