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and whether any subsequent experiments have thrown light on a subject fo abstruse and obfcure: that the fublime astronomy and exquifitely beautiful geometry, with which that work is illumined, should in any degree be approached by the Mathematicians of Asia, while of all Europeans, who ever lived, ARCHIMEDES alone was capable of emulating them, would be a vain expectation; but we must fufpend our opinion of Indian astronomical knowledge, till the Súrya siddhanta shall appear in our own language, and even then (to adopt a phrase of Cicero) our greedy and capacious ears will by no means be satisfied; for in order to complete an historical account of genuine Hindu astronomy, we require verbal translations of at least three other Sanferit books ; of the treatise by PARASARA, for the first age
of Indian science, of that by VARA'HA, with the copious comment of his very
learned son, for the middle age, and of those written by BHASCARA, for times comparatively modern. The valuable and now accessible works of the last mentioned philosopher, contain also an universal, or specious, arithmetick, with one chapter at least on geometry; nor would it, surely, be difficult to procure, through our several residents with the Pishwa and with SCINDHYA, the older books on algebra, which BHASCARA mentions, and on which Mr. Davis would juftly set a
very high value ; but the Sanscrit work, from which we might expect the most ample and important information, is entitled Chétrádersa, or a View of Geometrical Knowledge, and was compiled in a very large volume by order of the illustrious JAYASINHA, comprising all that remains on that science in the facred language of India : it was inspected in the west by a Pandit now in the service of Lieutenant WILFORD, and might, I am persuaded, be purchased at Jayanagar, where Colonel Polier had permission from the Rájá to buy the four Védas themselves. Thus have I anfwered, to the best of my power, the three first questions obligingly transmitted to us by professor PLAYFAIR ; whether the Hindus have books in Sanscrit expressly on geometry, whether they have fuch
any on arithmetick, and whether a translation of the Surya siddhánta be not the great defideratum on the subject of Indian astronomy: to his three last questions, whether an accurate summary account of all the Sanscrit works on that subject, a delineation of the Indian celestial sphere, with correct remarks on it, and a description of the astronomical instruments used by the ancient Hindus, would not severally be of great utility, we cannot but answer in the affirmative, provided that the utmost critical fagacity were applied in distinguishing such works, constellations,
and instruments, as are clearly of Indian origin; from such as were introduced into this country by Mufelman astronomers from Tartary and Persia, or in later days by Mathematicians from Europe.
V. From all the properties of man and of nature, from all the various branches of science, from all the deductions of human reason, the general corollary, admitted by Hindus, Arabs, and Tartars, by Persians, and by Chinese, is the supremacy of an all-creating and all-preserving fpirit, infinitely wise, good, and powerful, but infinitely removed from the comprehension of his most exalted creatures; nor are there in any language (the ancient Hebrew always excepted) more pious and sublime addresses to the being of beings, more splendid enumerations of his attributes, or more beautiful descriptions of his visible works, than in Arabick, Persian and Sanfcrit, especially in the Koran, the introductions to the poems of SADI, Nıza'm'i, and FIRDAUS'I, the four Védas and many parts of the numerous Puránas : but fupplication and praise would not satisfy the boundless imagination of the Vedántè and Sufi theologists, who blending uncertain metaphyficks with undoubted principles of religion, have presumed to reason confidently on the very pature and essence of the divine fpirit, and afserted in a very remote age, what multitudes of Hindus and Muselmans affert at this hour, that all spirit is homogéneous, that the spirit of God is in kind the same with that of man, though differing from it infinitely in degree, and that, as material substance is mere illusion, there exists in this universe only one generick spiritual fubstance, the sole primary cause, efficient, fubstantial and formal of all fecondary causes and of all appearances whatever, but endued in its highest degree, with a fublimé providentiał wisdom, and proceeding by ways incomprehensible to the fpirits which emane from it; an opinion, which GO'TAMA never taught, and which we have no authority to believe, but which, as it is grounded on the doctrine of an immaterial creator fupremely wise, and a constant preserver supremely benevolent, differs as widely from the pantheism of SPINOZA and TOLAND, as the affirmation of a proposition differs from the negation of it; though the last named professor of that insane philosophy had the baseness to conceal his meaning under the very words of Saint Paul, which are cited by Newron for a purpose totally different, and has even used a phrase, which occurs, indeed, in the Véda, but in a sense diametrically opposite to that, which he would have given it. The passage, to which I allude, is in a speech of VARUNA to his son, where he says: “ That spirit, from which these created
“ beings proceed; through which having pro“ ceeded from it, they live ; toward which they “ tend and in which they are ultimately absorbę “ed, that spirit study to know; that fpirit is the " Great One.'
The subject of this discourse, gentlemen, is-inexhaustible: it has been my endeavour to say as much on it as possible in the fewest words; and, at the beginning of next year, I hope to close these general disquisitions with topicks measureless įn extent, but less abstruse than that, which has this day been discussed, and better adapted to the gaiety, which seems to have prevailed in the learned banquets of the Greeks, and which ought, surely, to prepail in every symposiack assembly.