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

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



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CHAPTER LIX.                             113

theory regarding the moon's eclipsing the sun, as they,
in their Puranas, place the moon above the sun, and
that which is higher cannot cover that which is lower
in the sight of those who stand lower than both.
Therefore they required some being which devours
moon and sun, as the fish devours the bait, and causes
them to appear in those shapes in which the eclipsed
parts of them in reality appear. However, in each
nation there are ignorant people, and leaders still more
ignorant than they themselves, who (as the Koran,
Sura xxix. 12, says) "bear their own burdens and other
burdens besides them," and who think they can increase
the light of their minds ; the fact being that the masters
are as ignorant as the pupils.

Very odd is that which Varahamihira relates of certain Quotations
ancient writers, to whom we must pay no attention if hamihira's
we do not want to oppose them, viz. that they tried to chap' y.' ly,
prognosticate the occurrence of an eclipse by pouring a    ' ^'
small amount of water together with the same amount
of oil into a large vase with a flat bottom on the eighth
of the lunar days.    Then  they   examined  the   spots
where the oil was united and dispersed.    The united
portion they considered as a prognostication for the be¬
ginning of the eclipse, the dispersed portion as a prog¬
nostication for its end.

Further, Varahamihira says that somebody used to
think that the conjunction of the planets is the cause
of the eclipse (V. 16), whilst others tried to prognosticate
an eclipse from unlucky phenomena, as, e.g. the falling
of stars, comets, halo, darkness, hurricane, landslip, and
earthquake. " These things," so he says, " are not always
contemporary with an eclipse, nor are they its cause ;
the nature of an unlucky event is the only thing which
these occurrences have in common with an eclipse. A
reasonable explanation is totally different from such

The same man, knowing only too well the character

VOL. II.                                                                       H
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