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

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



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  Page 273  

CHAPTER XXVI.                           273

Hindus are based on the correct knowledge of the laws
of nature, but, at the same time, they practise a little
deceit upon their traditionalists and theologians.    So
Balabhadra  the commentator says : " It is the most Quotations
correct of the opinions of people, many and different as bhadra,' and
they are, that the earth and Meru and the zodiacal criticisms
sphere are round.    And the Apta (?)-purana-kara, i.e.
the faithful followers of the Purana, say : ' The earth
is like the back  of a tortoise ; it is not round from
below.'    They are perfectly right, because the earth is
in  the  midst of  the  water, and that  which  appears
above the water has the shape of a tortoise-back ; and Page 137.
the sea around the earth is not navigable.    The fact
of the earth being round is proved by eyesight."

Here the reader must notice how Balabhadra declares
the theory of the theologians as to the rotundity of the
back to be true. He gives himself the air of not
knowing that they deny that the womb, i.e. the other
half of the globe, is round, and he busies himself with a
traditional element (as to the earth being like the back
of a tortoise), which, in reality, has no connection with
the subject.

Further, Balabhadra says : " Human eyesight reaches
to a point distant from the earth and its rotundity the
96th part of 5000 yojana, i.e. 52 yojana (exactly 52^^).
Therefore man does not observe its rotundity, and hence
the discrepancy of opinions on the subject."

Those pious men (the Apta (?)-purana-kara) do not
deny the rotundity of the back of the earth ; nay, they
maintain it by comparing the earth to the back of a
tortoise. Only Balabhadra makes them deny it (by
the words, " the earth is not round from below," supra),
since he understood their words as meaning that the
water surrounds the earth. That which rises above the
water may either be globular or a plain rising above
the water like an inverted drum, i.e. like a segment of
a round pilaster.

VOL. I.                                                                          S
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