VEDIC, BUDDHIST AND JAIN TRADITIONS
in JyotiÀa á¡stra
sages had insight into the cosmogonical and cosmological aspects of the
universe. Through the advanced stages of thought experimentations (Yogic
pratyakÀa as you may call these) they inferred the existence of
subtle stages of matter in the evolution process and correlated the same
with the gross elements. They had a constant dialogue with nature and in
this process they correlated the microcosm with the macrocosm.
Interestingly, their inferences have many fundamental affinities with the
insights of modern Astrophysicists.
the cosmogonical evolution process from subtle stages of matter, the
ancients arrived at the notion of paµcamah¡bh£tas the gross elements, considered to be the building
blocks of the macroworld around us. It may be pointed out that this
categorization should not be confused with the present-day periodic table
classification of elements. The former is the categorisation based on indriyagr¡hyat¡
(faculty perceptibility) of materials in the world. Sir John Ballantyne in
his Ny¡ya Kaumud¢
(Litho print 1885 ad)
has confused the two categorisations and states:
there are bh£tas
about 60 in number. He is referring to Hydrogen, Helium, Oxygen,
iron and other elements as mah¡bh£tas. Note that at the time of Prof. Ballantyne, there were
only sixty elements known to scientists.
Needless to say, this statement is erroneous, for mah¡bh£tas are not the same as basic elements of physics. It may
be noted that paµcamah¡bh£tas of
S¡Ækhya philosophy result as a
consequence of paµc¢kara¸a
process on paµcatanm¡tras,
which are subtle stages in the evolution process and on the other hand are
connected with the senses of perception. The concepts based on mah¡bh£ta
classification prevail all the branches of philosophy and religion, but Ëyurveda
has used these concepts for practical applications. JyotiÀa
á¡stra too being a discipline of experimental verifications must
have used these concepts for developing the laws of nature and in
understanding the cosmic genesis. JyotiÀa
á¡stra and Ëyurveda have put the philosophical concepts on
experimental verification tests. Here the attempt of this paper is to
study the concept of
paµcamah¡bh£tas in relation to JyotiÀa
á¡stra. What ideas were developed by ancient JyotiÀ¡c¡ryas regarding cosmogonical evolution? How far did
their findings tally with those of philosophers, and to what extent they
had advanced further through their observational verifications? This paper
seeks to address these questions and explore possible answers.
deals mainly with time and space. The former is not in the list of paµcamah¡bh£tas.
But space is the ¡k¡¿a of the
mah¡bh£tas. In fact in modern
philosophy, time and space are so correlated that their unison is referred
to as "space-time continuum". JyotiÀa
á¡stra takes into account p¤thiv¢
(earth) and other elements. The P¤thiv¢
of Jyotisa á¡stra should not
be confused with the p¤thiv¢ mah¡bh£ta,
as the latter is the most generalised term to represent anything
perceptible. Similar are the cases with other mah¡bh£tas.
JyotiÀa áastra talks of mah¡bhautika
entities in the cosmos and these terms should not be confused with the
general terms of mah¡bh£tas philosophy.
The bhautika entities as
individual units are studied in JyotiÀa
á¡stra. This ¿¡stra
discusses the properties of the bhautika
entities like earth, planets, water, tejas
bodies, stars, suns, etc. and goes to the maximum extent to explore the
very nature of space. Some aspects are dealt within siddh¡nta
JyotiÀa and some of them are
studied under the heading of Ëstrology'. Any way in this exposition we
should like to explore the references to the concepts of mah¡bh£tas
in JyotiÀa through the studies
of bhautika entities without
confusing the terminologies of the two disciplines. Here we have tried to
survey the literature as far as possible in a chronological fashion,
starting from Ved¡´ga JyotiÀam and up
to the Saiddh¡ntika JyotiÀa traditions. As such in Ved¡´ga
JyotiÀam of Lagadha, which is
exclusively a text of JyotiÀa,
we do not find reference to mah¡bh£tas
but earlier and later Vedic v¡´gmaya
has important notions which paved the basis for cosmogony. So here we will
deal first with the cosmogony and then having discussed the genesis and
the evolution, will go over to the properties of mah¡bh£tas as inferred in JyotiÀa
á¡stra and then see if some universal laws have been formulated in
JyotiÀa tradition on the basis of philosophical grounds.
may be remarked that in addition to cosmogony etc., JyotiÀa
á¡stra deals also with cosmography and cosmology, the
sciences of form and age of the universe. Hindu, Jaina and Buddhist
traditions discuss the geometrical models of the universe and the
terrestrial earth, (ref. Cosmography
of Hindus, Buddhists and Jainas by Nerifil). All these models are
indicative of their philosophical notions. Even modern
astrophysicists talk of cosmology models which are based on highly complex
mathematical exercises. Concerning the age of universe, Jainas talk of
very big cycles like utsarpi¸i,
apasarpi¸i, k¡la etc. The Siddh¡nta JyotiÀa texts
talk of big life spans of Brahm¡,ViÀ¸u, Mahe¿a and Yuga systems which are of much importance for astronomical
computations. Here we do not discuss these in detail but will elaborate
the more interesting philosophical ideas of the ancients
regarding the cosmogonical process.
concepts about creation of the world, consisting of all stars, sun,
planets and the animate and inanimate world, are found in the Vedic and
later Sanskrit literature. The oldest strata of Vedas
and allied literature have deep philosophical notions about cosmogony. In
these very notions we find astronomical and astrophysical concepts of
ancient sages. We discuss here few references from Vedic literature and
then will come to JyotiÀa texts
Îgveda we find Bh¡vita
S£kta describing all void in the world and darkness engulfing all
around. The cosmos came into existence through k¡ma
(desire) which was the primal seed or germ of the spirit. We will not give
all details of the text material of the S£kta
but may point out that the notions as expounded in this S£kta
are quite similar to the ones put forward in modern cosmogonical
hypotheses. An Astrophysicist from U.S.A compared the Bh¡vita
S£kta notions with the origin of world out of the Black Hole state of
the matter. The ancients seem to have arrived at these notions through
yogic pratyakÀa which is just
an advanced stage of thought experimentations, while the modern
astrophysicists inferred somewhat similar, through analyses of observable
ÎV, 10.190.1.3 we have the
ca satyam c¡bh¢ddh¡t tapaso'dhyaj¡yata
r¡tryaj¡yata tataÅ samudro ar¸avaÅ. (1)
vidadh¡t vi¿vasya miÀato va¿¢.(2)
dh¡t¡ yath¡ p£rvamakalpayat
p¤thiv¢µ c¡ntarikÀamatho svaÅ. (3)
and truthfulness were born from intense penance. Hence was darkness born
hence the watery ocean. (1)
the watery ocean was born the year ordaining days and nights the
controller of every living moment. (2)
creator then created in due order Sun, the Moon, the sky, the earth and
the regions of the air and light. (3)
tasm¡dv¡ etasm¡d¡tmana ¡k¡¿aÅ
sa=mbh£taÅ, ¡k¡¿¡dv¡yuÅ v¡yoragniÅ
agner¡paÅ, adbhyaÅ p¤thiv¢, p¤thivy¡ oÀadhayaÅ. oÀadh¢bhyo'nnaÆ, ann¡t puruÀah. (Tait.
Up. Brahmavall¢). (1)
from this soul, space arose; from space arose air; from air fire; from
fire, the waters; from waters, the earth; from earth vegetation; from
vegetation, the food; and from food, the man.
is one more from ÎV, describing
creation of the Sun, Moon, mah¡bh£tas
manaso j¡tas'cakÀoÅ s£ryo'j¡yata.
mukh¡dindra¿ c¡gni¿ca pr¡¸¡d
¡s¢dantarikÀam ¿irÀ¸o dyauÅsamavartata
padbhy¡=m bh£mir di¿aÅ ¿rotr¡t
tath¡ lokamakalpayat. (14)
moon was gendered from his mind and from his eyes the sun had birth; Indra
and agni from his mouth were
born and V¡yu from his breath.
from his navel came mid air, the Sky was
fashioned from his
feet and from his ear the regions. Thus they formed the worlds. (14)
we come to jyotiÀa texts and
see what the later astronomers contemplated about cosmogony. The Bh£gol¡dhy¡ya
of S£ryasiddh¡nta discusses the creation of the universe, including
the earth, and the evolution of paµcamah¡bh£tas.
The relevant text stanzas are the following:
v¡sudevaÅ param brahma, tanm£rtiÅ
avyakto nirgunaÅ ¿¡ntah paµcaviÆ¿¡t
devo bahirantas'ca sarvagaÅ.
t¡su v¢ryamav¡s]¤jat. (2)
vyakt¢bh£taÅ san¡tanaÅ. (3)
hy¡dibh£tatv¡t pras£ty¡ s£rya ucyate. (4)
jyotistamaÅ, p¡re s£ryo'ya=m saviteti ca.
paryeti bhuvan¡nyeÀa bh¡vayan
tamohant¡ mah¡nityeÀa vi¿rutaÅ.
ma¸·alam s¡m¡nyusr¡ m£rtiryaj£´Ài ca. (6)
bhagav¡n k¡l¡tm¡ k¡lak¤d-vibhuÅ.
sarv¡tm¡ sarvagaÅ s£kÀmaÅ
sarvamasmin pratiÀ¶hitam. (7)
visvamaye cakra=m k¤tv¡ sa=mvatsar¡tmaka=m.
parya¶atyeÀa sarvad¡. (8)
guhyam p¡do'ya=m praka¶o'bhavat.
so 'hank¡ram jagats¤À¶yai
brahm¡¸amas]]¤jat prabhuÅ. (9)
swaya=m paryeti bh¡vayan. (10)
s¤À¶y¡m manascakre brahm¡hank¡ra-m£rtibh¤t.
manasascandram¡ jajµe suryo'kÀ¸ostejas¡=m
tato v¡yuragnir¡po dhar¡ kram¡t.
gunaika-v¤ddhy¡ paµcaiva mah¡bh£tani
krama¿aÅ paµca jajµire. (13)
is V¡sudeva. His form is parama puruÀa who is avyakta
(unmanifested), nirgu¸a (devoid
of sattva, rajas and tamas),
¿¡nta (undisturbed), avyaya
(non-changing) and is beyond the twenty-five tattvas of S¡Ækhya
internally and externally omnipresent Deva
having entered the Prak¤ti in
the form of Sa´karÀa¸a
created waters and saw the
seed (of the universe). (2)
became a golden egg which was surrounded by darkness all around, out of
the same, first appeared san¡tana
(everlasting) aniruddha. (3)
is referred to as hira¸yagarbha
in Vedas. Having appeared first,
it is called ¡ditya which
because of having created all the animate and inanimate world is referred
to as s£rya. (4)
in the form of most intense light and because of having dispersed all the
darkness it is referred to as savit¡.
This bh£tabh¡vana, i.e., the
creator, preserver and destroyer of the whole world traverses the worlds
dispersing the darkness. (5)
same in the form of light, disperser of all darkness is known as mahattattva.
His ma¸·ala is Îgveda, kar¸a
is S¡maveda and m£rti is Yajurveda.
this is tray¢maya, i.e., in the
form of three Vedas and this is
also in the form of 'Time' as this is the one who creates time and is
omnipotent. He is the soul of all and is omnipresent. He is subtle and
whole of the world rests in him. (7)
always travels in the world-cart with the year wheel having saptac
chandas as seven horses. (8)
three cara¸as being immortal
are obscure, i.e., they are beyond comprehension, only the fourth cara¸a
is manifested. The same Prabhu,
the omnipotent, created Brahm¡ in the form of ahaÆk¡ra,
i.e., the ahaÆtattva of S¡Ækhya philosophy. (9)
handed over the desired Vedas to
the Grand father of the world (the Brahm¡) and having made him sit in the
egg aniruddha travels
illuminating the whole world. (10)
in the form of ahaÆtattva first
created manas and from manas;
the moon appeared and from the eyes appeared the ocean of tejas,
the 'Sun'. (11)
manas appeared "¡k¡¿a , from ¡k¡¿a
came v¡yu (the air), from air, agni;
from agni, the water; and from
waters appeared p¤thiv¢. Thus
five mah¡bh£tas appeared with
the increase of each gu¸a
(qualities, sound, r£pa (form),
rasa (taste), touch and smell at each step of manifestation. (12)
the creation of fiery Sun and Soma Moon, Mars was created from tejas,
Mercury from p¤thiv¢, Jupiter, from ¡k¡¿a,
Venus, from water, Saturn from air. (13)
may be remarked that the above stanzas are the replies to the questions of
May¡sura, by the S£ry¡´¿a puruÀa.
This cosmogonic descritpion is an admixture of s¤À¶ikramas from S¡Ækhya
Ved¡nta and ár¢madbhagavatam.
The parable of Sa´karÀa¸a and Aniruddha is somewhat different from the
one in Bh¡gava-tadharma.
According to the latter, from V¡sudeva Parame¿vara, manifested the J¢va
Sa´karÀa¸a; from Sa´karÀa¸a, Pradyumna was born and from Pradyumna,
Aniruddha (i.e., the ahaÆtattva).
Some schools do not mention Pradyumna in the sequence. Note that in the
above stanzas paµcatanm¡tras are not categorically mentioned but these are
automatically understood in right order in the sequence because the text
refers to the V¡sudeva to be beyond twenty-five tattvas
of S¡Ækhya philosophy.
we come to other texts which exclusively deal with JyotiÀa
á¡stra. In JyotiÀa Ved¡´gam of
ÎÀi Lagadha we do not find as such any reference to any of the paµca- mah¡bh£tas except to the Sun and Moon which are tejas
bhautika bodies. In Pur¡¸as,
(like M¡rka¸·eya Pur¡¸a) we do have exclusive sections dealing with jyotiÀa,
but these have mostly the same contents as the proper
JyotiÀa á¡stra texts like JyotiÀa
Ved¡´gam, S£rya Prajµapti,
Candra Prajµapti, Jamb£dv¢pa Prajµapti
and JyotiÀa-Kara¸·aka in Pr¡k¤ta
(of Jaina Tradition), á¡rd£la
Karn¡vadana of Buddhist tradition. So it is worthwhile to discuss
here only the references to mah¡bh£tas
or bhautika entities as found in proper JyotiÀa texts.
of Var¡hamihira (6th century ad)
has many chapters exclusively on various aspects of astronomy. It talks of
cosmic evolution as follows:
kiledaÆ tatr¡p¡m taijasebhavaddhaime.
svarbh£¿akale brahm¡ vi¿vak¤da¸·¡rka-¿a¿inayanaÅ.
(Var¡ha B¤S. 1.6)
creation, there was nothing but darkness everywhere. Then water came into
being, wherefrom sprang a golden egg consisting of two parts of the shell,
i.e., the earth and the heavens. There arose the creator of the universe
Brahm¡ with Sun and Moon as his eyes. (6)
that here Sun and Moon are said to have born simultaneously with Brahm¡
(in a lyrical simile in the language) while S£rya
Siddh¡nta talks of creation of Sun and Moon after Brahm¡'s
appearance in the genesis sequence.
Concepts About Bhautika Entities
in JyotiÀa Texts
(one entity in the big assembly of paµcamah¡bhautika world in infinite space) is described in detail
by Indian astronomers in their respective treatises. Var¡hamihira in Paµca-siddh¡ntik¡
describes the earth as a paµcamah¡bhautika
body standing in space without support, like an iron ball in a cage of
magnets. See diagram 8.1.
Notions predecessor of law of gravitation on the basis of
property of space (¡k¡¿a)
khe'yask¡ntastho loha iv¡vasthito
B¤. S. 13.1)
may be noted that in JyotiÀa
mostly Sop¡dh¢k¤ta mah¡bh£tas are
gives the simile with the iron ball held at the centre of a magnetic cage,
while some thought of the supporting power of Brahman
responsible for the Earth's held up
position in space.
the rotation of earth was not conceived, the revolutions of heavens during
day and night were considered to be caused due to Prav¡ha V¡yu. Since very old days of the saiddh¡ntika astronomy, Lalla's SiÀyadh¢
v¤ddhida tantra discusses the
seven types of air in seven shells around the earth. The atmospheric air
enveloped around the earth is known as ¡vaha.
Its radius is said to be 537 yojanas.
But it is interesting to note that Ëryabha¶a about five hundred years
earlier than Lalla, claimed the rotation of earth about its own axis, but
the hypothesis was not accepted and was much criticised by Lalla.
It may be remarked that the basic unit of time is defined using the
rotation of earth as standard. This definition stands even now when atomic
watches are invented for use in scientific works. The other units of time
are defined on the bases of motion of the sun and the moon. The time so
defined is sop¡dhika while in Ny¡ya
philosophy this is absolute but gets into use when defined in relation to
the motion of a body in space (¡k¡¿a).
This way it is rendered sop¡dhika.
Time and space are one and the same in Eiensteinian frame-work of the
theory of relativity. But astronomers like Newton took space and time as
absolute and considered these to be different pad¡rthas.
We discuss the implication of these concepts as used by our exponents of JyotiÀa.
of Space and Law of Gravitation
may be noted that JyotiÀa á¡stra is
a discipline, where the theories are evolved and hypotheses are supported
or rejected through the mathematical arguments based on observations. JyotiÀa
á¡stra texts describe the methods of determining the direction(s) in
space. The directions (dik) are nothing but sop¡dhika
space. The directions are always relative to a particular point in space
and thus will have no meaning in absolute sense. Thus dik is just the sop¡dhik¢kara¸a
of space. Although JyotiÀ¡c¡ryas
developed mathematical techniques to determine Directions/Subdirections or
any relative orientation of a system, yet they were aware of the absolute
nature of space. Using this concept they arrived at the concept of law of
gravitation qualitatively (of course Newton treated the problem
mathematically.) Before we discuss the notion about force of attraction of
earth and planets in ancient or medieval Indian traditions, it is
desirable to point out how the ancient seers thought of causes of
is interesting to note that in ancient JyotiÀa
á¡stra tradition, the notions on causes of planetary motions were
based on the philosophical concepts regarding time and space. S£rya
Siddh¡nta talks of the agents of planetary motion as the invisible
personified Time Gods standing
at the cardinal points (Apogee, perigee and the nodes) on the orbit. These
Gods were indentified mathematically with manda
kendra (anomaly) ¿¢ghra kendra
(the elongation argument) and p¡ta
(the orbital nodes). It was conjectured that these Gods stand at their
specific positions and drag the planets by their left and right hands on
both the sides.
notions predecessor of law of gravitation based on the symmetry property
of space (¡k¡¿a).
¡k¡¿a is all around symmetric
or directionless, how the planets can move? There must be some force?
arrowheads show the direction of the force due to the divine agent at
ucca (Full arrowheads
show the direction of velocity vector of the planet) S£ryasiddh¡nta
(SS) talks of Divine agents of force (Representative of Compelling
Time harmonicities) which are responsible for changes in velocity through
invisible air ropes (The action at a distance).
arrowheads indicate just the directions of action of force agent, located
at ucca. The velocity increases
on one side and decreases on
the other side of ucca.
the diagrams 8.2, 8.3 which show the details of this model of
drag-hypothesis). On the basis of this model they explained the variations
in speeds of planets (and even argued to have proper signs for their
accelerations). Even comparing the velocities of Moon and Mars etc., they
attributed their relative velocity magnitudes to their sizes and masses
while under the force of drag by the invisible Time Gods. Motion towards
the north and south of ecliptic were explained on the basis of the
dragging force due to Gods at the p¡tas.
Mercury and Venus are said to be under the faster attractive drag force
due to the God at ¿¢ghra kendra.
It may be remarked that on the basis of this model they could not explain
the vakra gati (Retrograde motions)of planets. Note that they did study
the different types of possible velocities but just reported these types
without explaining. These are the earliest notions about force of
attraction and it may be pointed out that in these notions time is
considered to be the compelling force, which causes changes in velocitites
and keeps planets moving along the curved space but no force of attraction
responsible for keeping the planets in orbits could be assigned.
There is no doubt that the notion similar to the above one is quite
natural because Time binding on the motion is likely to be taken as a
compulsion on the moving body and the cardinal points are the points from
where the change in velocity starts developing.
Even in the frame-work of the law of gravitation, the motion is
represented by Sin(nt), (where nt = anomaly), the acceleration starts
developing from the cardinal point (velocity = n radians per unit of
Notions Predecessor of law of Gravitation, based on the symmetry property
of space (Ëk¡¿a)
S.S. talks of divine agents of
force also at the nodes which drag the planets towards northern or
studying the motion of Mars, Jupiter etc. found that in case these are
behind the Sun, they get accelerated and when Sun is behind any planet the
latter is retarded. In fact Bh¡skar¡c¡rya had almost arrived at the
conclusion that Sun attracts the planets but he missed the point without
the necessary elaborations. On the other hand, he could arrive at the most
important conclusion about earth's gravity using absoluteness (leading to
the all round symmetry) of space. How was the concept of the absolute or
relative nature of space used in arguments by Bh¡skar¡c¡rya in arriving
at the hypothesis about the law of gravitation in case of earth? This
would be clear from the following paragraph.
of Space (¡k¡¿a) is a
property which could be easily inferred. In fact Newton's first law of
motion, that nothing can move unless some force is applied, is a notion
conceived by man since the beginning of creation. Newton just postulated
the same in categoric statements and developed the laws of motion
mathematically. Note that this law is just a mathematical translation of
the fact that space is all around symmetric. It has no direction downward,
upward or north, east, south or west. All the directions in space lack any
preference for any directivity if there is no object at a point (which is
negation of space at that point). If you suppose that the body will move
in a particular direction defined with respect to a point in open space
(without any other body) one can counter-argue, "what is space with
that direction?" "Why should the body not move in another
direction?" Thus on simple logical grounds even the primitive man
might have had familiarity with the first law of motion
qualitatively. In addition to this, so naturally accepted
inference, the spherical shape of the earth helped a lot in arriving at
the notion of the force of gravitation. This fact will be clear in the
it was clear to man that the earth is a figure like a ball and he knew
that there are habitants all over the earth, it helped to conclude about
gravitation due to the earth. S£rya Siddh¡nta describes the symmetry of space in a good
philosophical way as follows:
sarvatraiva mah¢gol«e svasth¡namupari
manyante khe yato gol¡stasya
kvordhvam kva v¡pyadhaÅ.
Bh£gol¡dhy¡ya, Stanza 53)
Everywhere on the spherical earth, the observer's place is above (i.e.,
his head points towards upward direction), because this sphere (earth) is
(held) in space. So which direction is upward and which direction is
downwards? The directions have no meaning in space. Bh¡skar¡c¡rya
advanced further to infer about gravitation of the earth. His statement is
mah¢ tay¡ yat
guru sv¡bhimukhaÆ sv¡sakty¡
tat patat¢va bh¡ti
samant¡t kva patatviyam khe?
earth has capability to attract and due to this very property, in fact,
this attracts any heavy object in space and the latter appears as if
'falling'. In the space which is symmetric all around, where it can fall?
is clear that Bh¡skar¡c¡rya arrived at the notion about gravitational
force on the very basis of the principle of the 'Falling apple' about five
hundred years earlier that Newton. There is no doubt that the credit to
Newton is for all mathematical developments regarding motion which led
kinematical studies to dynamical treatments, but Bh¡skar¡c¡rya was the
first to state categorically about existence of gravitational force of
earth and argued more beautifully on the basis of symmetry of space and
the spherical figure of the earth. As the earth is populated all around,
for a man at a certain place (say Ë', see diagram 8.4) on the globe there
is one 'B' just below on the other side of the earth, like a shadow in
water. There are other people too whose positions are along directions
inclined with respect to the p[osition of the first one. There are also
along 900 away (i.e., along
perpendicular directioon (S)), but none falls away from earth's surface.
Everyone thinks of himself standing above or towards-upwards direction. In
this diagram are shown stones thrown by men at A and B falling to the
earth from opposite directions. Thus one concludes that there exists force
of attraction which is responsible for the "fall of bodies in
space". So in fact the 'falling apple' theory is explained by Bh¡skar¡c¡rya.
Physical laws derived from the fact that Ëk¡¿a is all around symmetric
stone Syndrome in Bh¡skar¡c¡rya's Siddh¡nta
also talks of the directionlessness of ¡k¡¿a
as inferred from the spherical shape of the earth which is all around
populated by human beings (on the one side (above)
and on the other side in P¡t¡la
(or just below). But Bh¡skar¡c¡rya advanced further to infer that Earth
attracts the heavy things (say a stone) left in space and the latter
appears ¡s if falling". He argues, where can the stone fall? Ëk¡¿a
is all around symmetric whichever direction is above or just below (like the shadow
of a man in water)as the earth has spherical shape. This falling stone
principle of Bh¡skar¡c¡rya (1150 ad)
came about five centuries earlier than Newton (1676 ad).
is no doubt that for mathematicians space is symmetric and infinite, and
they use the former property to arrive at the law of gravitation but we
find in JyotiÀa texts like S£rya
Siddh¡nta, Bh¡skar¡c¡rya's Siddh¡nta
áiroma¸i etc., the dimensions
of ¡k¡¿a kakÀ¡ (the orbit
of space) which in fact is defined as the limit up to which point Sun's
rays reach. Thus it is limited to ¡k¡¿a.
Yet for them too, ¡k¡¿a is vibhu (all around and hence symmetric) and infinite, but unlike in
qualitative philosophy they could go ahead and conclude about the laws of
motion and universal gravitation functioning in nature by translating
symmetry of space in mathematical language.
references to JyotiÀa in Vedic v¡´gmaya
and later texts give details of cosmogonic evolution leading to the
creation of paµcamah¡bh£tas from t¡masa
bh£t¡di ahaÆk¡ra. The stars
and planets have evolved out of these mah¡bh£tas.
Astronomical and astrological texts make use of the concept of mah¡bh£tas
in their working principles. They used the sop¡dhika
¡k¡¿a in determining the
directions/subdirections in two-dimensional and three-dimensional space,
which helped in specifying the positions of terrestrial and celestial
objects. They also made use of the vibhu
absolute and infinite nature of space in inferring the existence of law of
gravitation functioning in nature and derived the laws of conservation of
momenta from its symmetry properties. The development of the laws of
motion and gravitation are the most interesting developments in the hands
of astronomers, which grew out of the philosophic concepts of mah¡bh£tas.
They attributed the reasons for the gravitational forces to the very
nature of matter, for example Bh¡skar¡c¡rya gives the simile of a
natural phenomenon like the heat in fire, hardness in stones etc. for the
gravity of the earth. These modern studies in space science and other
disciplines of study of mah¡bhautika
entities have advanced to remarkable extents, which have served the causes
of human conveniences all over the world.
may be pointed out that Hayata,
an Arabic astronomical text (translated into Sanskrit) talks of bodies (Vasita,
Falaki, Uns¡ri, etc.)
with one, two or more mah¡bh£tas
but excluding ¡k¡¿a. (The
Graeco-Arabic philosophy does not include ¡k¡¿a
in the list of mah¡bh£tas.
There are only four mah¡bh£tas
in this system of philosophy) Ny¡ya
philosophy too talks of bodies made up of specific mah¡bh£tas
taken each individually but áa´kar¡c¡rya's Paµc¢kara¸a
(a process claiming mixtures of tanm¡tras
in the gross mah¡bh£ta
elements) has no provision for pure single mah¡bh£ta
elements. S£rya siddh¡nta the astronomical text talks of five star planets out of
five mah¡bh£tas taken
individually. Thus there are differences in various schools of philosophy.
But there is no doubt that the JyotiÀ¡c¡ryas
went ahead to use the properties of the mah¡bh£tas
to arrive at laws of motion and the gravitational law working in the
universe which served the cause of scientific development.
comprehensive and scientific study of vai¿eÀika concepts applied to
Ph.D. thesis by Dr. Narmada Prasad under coguidance of the author of this
paper and Dr. Jyotirmitra of B.H.U. (1982).
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©1995 Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, New Delhi