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

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



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  Page 245  

CHAPTER LXXX.                           245

This is the  doctrine of the Hindus regarding the P^igesis.
comets and their presages.

Only few Hindus occupy themselves in the same Onmetcoro-
way as physical scholars among the ancient Greeks
did, with exact scientific researches on the comets and
on the nature of the other phenomena of heaven
(to, fj.ereo)pa), for also in these things they are not able
to rid themselves of the doctrines of their theologians.
Thus the Matsya-Purana says :—

"There are four rains and four mountains, and
their basis is the water. The earth is placed on four
elephants, standing in the four cardinal directions,
which raise the water by their trunks to make the
seeds grow. They sprinkle water in summer and
snow in winter. The fog is the servant of the rain,
raising itself up to it, and adorning the clouds with
the black colour."

With regard to these four elephants the dJook of the
Medicine of Elephants says :—

" Some male elephants excel man in cunning. There¬
fore it is considered a bad omen if they stand at the
head of a herd of them. They are called manguniha (?).
Some of them develop only one tooth, others three and
four; those whicli belong to the race of the elephants
bearing the earth. Men do not oppose them; and if
they fall into a trap, they are left to their fate."

The Yayu-Purana says :—

"The Avind and the sun's ray raise the water from
the ocean to the sun. If the water were to drop down
from the sun, rain would be hot. Therefore the sun
hands the water over to the moon, that it should drop
down from it as cold water and refresh the world."

As regards the phenomena of the sky, they say, for
instance, that the thunder is the roaring of Airdvata,
i.e., the riding-elephant of Indra the ruler, when it
drinks from the pond Manasa, rutting and roaring with
a hoarse voice.
  Page 245