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

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



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  Page 285  

CHAPTER XXVII.                          285

Now we ask the reader to consider how confused criticisms

T                                       p                  r                 of the

these expressions are.    If the author of the Matsya- author on

^                                                                                                             "^        the theory of

Purdna says " the stars pass as rapidly as an arrow,    the Matsya-

1               •     p               1                ^     ^      '                -I    -t    0                      -[        Purdna.

&c., we take this for a hyperbole intended for unedu¬
cated people; but we must state that the arrow-like
motion of the stars is not peculiar to the south to the
exclusion of the north. There are limits both in the
north and south whence the sun returns, and the time
of the sun's passing from the southern limit to the
northern is equal to the time of his passing from the
northern limit to the southern. Therefore his motion Page 143.
northiuard has the same right of being described as as
rapid as an arroiv. Herein, however, lies a hint of the
theological opinion of the author regarding the north
pole, for he thinks the north is the above and the south
the below. Hence the stars glide down to the south
like children on a see-saw plank.

If, however, the author hereby means the second
motion, whilst in reality it is the first, we must state
that the stars in the second motion do not revolve round
Meru, and that the plane of this motion is inclined
towards the horizon of Meru by one-twelfth of the circle.

Further, how far-fetched is this simile in which he
connects the motion of the sun with a burning beam !
If we held the opinion that the sun moves as an un¬
interrupted round collar, his simile would be useful
in so far as it refutes such an opinion. But as we
consider the sun as a body, as it were, standing in
heaven, his simile is meaningless. And if he simply
means to say that the sun describes a round circle, his
comparing the sun to a burning beam is quite super¬
fluous, because a stone tied to the end of a cord describes
a similar circle if it is made to revolve round the head
(there being no necessity for describing it as burning).

That the sun rises over some people and sets over
others, as he describes it, is true ; but here, too, he is
not free from his theological opinions.    This is shown
  Page 285