Sawai Jai Singh’s Efforts to Revive Astronomy in His Country

Abstract

This paper reviews Sawai Jai Singh’s (1688-1743) efforts to revive astronomy in his country. For this reviving, he erected observatories, designed instruments of masonry and stone, assembled a team of astronomers of different schools of astronomy such as the Hindu, Islamic and European, and finally sent a fact finding scientific delegation to Europe. Jai Singh did not succeed in his efforts. The paper explains that poor communications of his times and a complex interaction of intellectual stagnation, religious taboos, theological beliefs, national rivalries and simple human failings were responsible for his failure.

Keywords: Sawai Jai Singh, jai Singh, Astronomy, Indian Astronomy, History of Astronomy, Observatories in India, Masonry Instruments, Astronomical instruments, Jantar Mantar, Virendra Sharma.

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THE DATE OF MAHĀBHĀRATA WAR

ON ASTRONOMICAL REFERENCES IN THE MAHĀBHĀRATA AN EXERCISE IN ARCHAEOASTRONOMY*

Abstract

Mahābhārata, the great epic of India describes a legendary war which is believed to be based on actual events that took place anytime between 3500 and 500 B.C.

A number of astronomical references, portents of calamitous events, are reported in the epic around the time of the war. In the archaeoastronomical exercise undertaken for this paper, these astronomical references are critically examined. The exercise is based on a number of assumptions. One, the astronomical reports in the epic belong to the earliest version of the epic; and two, that they are based on visual observations and not on astronomical computations. Three, that the domain distributions of the lunar mansions of the Hindu astronomy, the nakatras, were different in the ancient times than they are today. With these assumptions,the paper reports that most of the planetary conditions described in the epic are satisfied around the date -3021 A.D.

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