Varahamihira(505-587 CE): Astrologer & astronomer

“Varahamihira wrote the Brihat samhita, an influential encyclopedic text in Sanskrit. This text exists in many Indian scripts, and was copied, preserved in Hindu, Jain and Buddhist temples and monasteries.”

Varahamihira was a renowned astrologer, who was honored with the special accolade and status as one of the ‘nine gems’ at the court of King Vikramaditya in Avanti (Ujjain). Born to a prominent astrologer himself, he introduced many Astrological granthas which elevated astrology to the level of a science. Varahamihira introduced four typeof months which include the Solar Month, Lunar Month, Yearly Month, and Fortnightly Month. It is said that he had the benefit of the mathematician Aryabhatta as a teacher, and proved himself to be a worthy student.

Varahamihira divided astral science or jyotisha shastra into three main branches:

(1) mathematics (ganita), including mathematical astronomy (ganita antariksha vzjnana)

(2) horoscopic astrology (hora)

(3) natural astrology or divination (jyotisha vijnana) in general He wrote several books on the second and third branches. His only work on the first branch, Panchasiddhantika, is a compendium of the texts of the earlier astronomical schools or systems.” They were: Paitdmaba, Vasishtha, Romaka, Paulisha and Surya Siddhanta.

Of the five only a full text of the Surya Siddhanta is available today. It mainly deals with the mean diameters of the sun and moon, mean revolutions of the planets, intercalary months, true longitudes of planets, and calculation of lunar and solar eclipses.

Varahamihira’s other most important contribution is the encyclopedic Brihat-Samhita. It covers wide ranging subjects of human interest, including astrology, planetary movements, eclipses, rainfall, clouds, architecture, growth of crops, manufacture of perfume, matrimony, domestic relations, gems, pearls, and rituals. The volume expounds on gemstone evaluation criterion found in the Garuda Purana, and elaborates on the sacred Nine Pearls from the same text. It contains 106 chapters and is known as the “great compilation”.