« PreviousContinue »
tions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, will materially illustrate the astronomy of the Hindus.
on leaves of the Talu and Plantain trees, and on paper. After making certain progress in reading and writing, or rather writing and reading, he proceeds to cyphering. In doing this, besides the pen, the Hindus sometimes calculate, as has been mentioned, with small shells, named Cowries. The school begins early in the morning; at about ten the boys go home to eat; return at the appointed hour, and stay till the evening. The allowance to such masters as are here referred to, when children first go to school, is about a penny, and one day's provisions per month, which, if for the master only, may, probably, be calculated at two-pence. As the boys advance in learning, the wages to the master are increased to four-pence, and as far as eight-pence.*
The pen employed by the Hindus for writing on paper, is a small reed; on leaves, a pointed iron instrument, or bodkin, with which they may, probably, be said to engrave. The leaves are generally of the palm-tree, and sufficiently thick to receive and preserve the incisure for any length of time, without the risk of its being effaced by usage. Their books consist of a number of those leaves; which, being tied loosely together by a hole pierced at one end, are turned over
* See Ward, on the Religion, Manners, &c. of the Hindus, vol. iv. p. 224.-The Author's Sketches of the Hindus, vol. ii. pp. 12, 13.
"The moon's mean place, for the beginning of the Kaly-Yug (that is, for midnight between the 17th and 18th of February, 3102, A. C. at Benares,) calculated from Mayer's tables, on the supposition that her motion has always been at the same rate as at the beginning of the present century, is 10° 0° 51′ 16′′. But, according to the same astronomer, the moon is subject to a small, but uniform acceleration, such, that her angular motion, in any one age, is 9′′ greater than in the preceding, which, in an interval of 4801 years, must have amounted to 5° 45′ 44′′. This must be added, to give the real mean place of the moon at the astronomical epoch of the Kaly-Yug, which is, therefore, 10° 6° 37′. Now, the same, by the tables of Tirvalore, is 10° 6° 0′; the difference is less than two
with facility. Many of those books have been brought to Europe. Epistolary correspondence is maintained on paper. In some parts of India, writings in ink on leaves also, are to be met with.*
* See Sketches of the Hindus, vol. i. p. 175.
thirds of a degree, which, for so remote a period, and considering the acceleration of the moon's motion, for which no allowance could be made in an Indian calculation, is a degree of accuracy that nothing but actual observation could have produced.
"To confirm this conclusion, Mr. Bailly computes the place of the moon for the same epoch, by all the tables to which the Indian astronomers can be supposed to have ever had access. He begins with the tables of Ptolemy; and if, by help of them, we go back from the æra of Nabonassar to the epoch of the Kaly-Yug, taking into account the comparative length of the Egyptian and Indian years, together with the difference of meridians between Alexandria and Tirvalore, we shall find the longitude of the sun, 10° 21′ 15′′ greater, and that of the moon 11° 52′ 7′′ greater, than has just been found from the Indian tables. At the same time that this shews how difficult it is to go back, even for a less period than that of 3000 years, in an astronomical computation, it affords a
proof altogether demonstrative, that the Indian astronomy is not derived from that of Ptolemy.
"The tables of Ulugh Beig are more accurate than those of the Egyptian astronomer. They were constructed in a country not far from India, and but a few years earlier than 1491, the epoch of the tables at Krishnapouram. Their date is July the 4th, at noon, 1437, at Samarcand; and yet they do not agree with the Indian tables, even at the above-mentioned epoch of 1491. But for the year 3102 before Christ, their difference from them in the place of the sun, is 1° 30′, and in that of the moon 6; which, though much less than the former differences, are sufficient to prove, that the tables of India are not borrowed from those of Tartary.
The Arabians employed in their tables the mean motions of Ptolemy; the Persians did the same, both in the more ancient tables of Chrysococca, and the later ones of Nassireddin. It is therefore certain, that the astronomy of the Brahmins is neither
derived from that of the Greeks, the Arabians, the Persians, or the Tartars. This appeared so clear to Cassini, though he had only examined the tables of Siam, and knew nothing of many of the great points which distinguish the Indian astronomy from that of all other nations, that he gives it as his opinion, that these tables are neither derived from the Persian astronomy of Chrysococca, nor from the Greek astronomy of Ptolemy; the places they give at their epoch to the apogee of the sun and of the moon, and their equation for the sun's centre, being very different from both.*
“A formula + for computing this inequality” (in the moon's motion) “has been given by M. de la Place, which though only an approximation, being derived from theory, is more accurate than that which Mayer deduced entirely from observation ; and if it be taken instead of Mayer's, which
* See Trans. of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, vol. ii. p. 155, &c.
+ Ibid. p. 160.