Bīrūnī, Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad, Alberuni's India (v. 2)

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



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  Page 88  


from Vara¬
ch. ill. 1-3.

Page 246.

The author
on the pre¬
cession of
the equi¬

student in my above-mentioned special treatise on the
lunar stations (v. p. 83).

The scantiness of the knowledge of the Hindus re¬
garding the motion of the fixed stars is sufficiently
illustrated by the following passage from the Sctmhitd
of Varahamihira :—" It has been mentioned in the books
of the ancients that the summer solstice took place in
the midst of Aslesha, and the winter solstice in Dha¬
nishtha. And this is correct for that time. Nowadays
the summer solstice takes place in the beginning of
Cancer, and the winter solstice in the beginning of Oap-
ricornus. If any one doubts this, and maintains that it
is as the ancients have said and not as we say, let him
go out to some level country when he thinks that the
summer solstice is near. Let him there draw a circle,
and place in its centre some body which stands perpen¬
dicular on the plain. Let him mark the end of its
shadow by some sign, and continue the line till it
reaches the circumference of the circle either in east or
west. Let him repeat the same at the same moment
of the following day, and make the same observation.
When he then finds that the end of the shadow deviates
from the first sign towards the south, he must know
that the sun has moved towards the north and has not
yet reached its solstice. But if he finds that the end
of the shadow deviates towards the north, he knows
that the sun has already commenced to move south¬
ward and has already passed its solstice. If a man
continues this kind of observations, and thereby finds
the day of the solstice, he will find that our words are

This passage shows that Varahamihira had no know¬
ledge of the motion of the fixed stars towards the east.
He considers them, in agreement with the name, as
fixed, immovable stars, and represents the solstice as
moving towards the west. In consequence of this fancy,
he has, in the matter of the lunar stations, confounded
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