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

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



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Praise of

on Brahma¬
gupta's want
of sincerity.

from the

Page 256.

of the eclipse, although he has nothing whatsoever to
do with it; for the eclipse depends entirely upon the
uniformity and the declination of the orbit of the

The latter words of Varahamihira, who, in passages
quoted previously, has already revealed himself to us
as a man who accurately knows the shape of the world,
are odd and surprising. However, he seems sometimes
to side with the Brahmans, to whom he belonged, and
from whom he could not separate himself. Still he
does not deserve to be blamed, as, on the whole, his
foot stands firmly on the basis of the truth, and he
clearly speaks out the truth. Compare, e.g. his state¬
ment regarding the Samdhi, which we have mentioned
above (v. i. 366).

Would to God that all distinguished men followed
his example ! But look, for instance, at Brahmagupta,
who is certainly the most distinguished of their astro¬
nomers. For as he was one of the Brahmans who read
in their Puranas that the sun is lower than the moon,
and who therefore require a head biting the sun in
order that he should be eclipsed, he shirks the truth
and lends his support to imposture, if he did not—and
this we think by no means impossible—from intense
disgust at them, speak as he spoke simply in order to
mock them, or under the compulsion of some mental
derangement, like a man whom death is about to rob of
his consciousness. The words in question are found in
the first chapter of his Brahmasiddhdnta:—

" Some people think that the eclipse is not caused by
the Head. This, however, is a foolish idea, for it is he
in fact who eclipses, and the generality of the inhabi¬
tants of the world say that it is the Head who eclipses.
The Veda, which is the word of God from the mouth of
Brahman, says that the Head eclipses, likewise the book
Smriti, composed by Manu, and the Samhitd, composed
by Garga the son of Brahman.    On the contrary, Vara-
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