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time is dated from an eclipse of the moon, which appears to have happened then, and that the conjunction of the planets is only incidentally mentioned. We are told by some writers, that the circumstance which marked that epoch, was the death of their hero Krishen; who, as we have already observed, was supposed to be the god Vishnu in one of his incarnations; by others, that it was the death of a famous and beloved sovereign, named Yudhishthira; but, whichever of the two it may be, the Hindus considering the event as a great calamity, distinguished it by beginning a new age, and expressed their feelings by naming it the Kaly-Yug, the age of unhappiness or misfor
From the tables brought home by M. de la Loubiere, in 1687, it appears that the Indians knew some particulars in the science of astronomy, which were at that time unknown in Europe. Certain motions of the moon contained in them, and which essentially serve to explain her movements, had indeed, been discovered by Tycho Brahe,
who was born in 1546, and died in 1601: but it cannot be supposed that what had been discovered by Brahe, could have been transmitted to Benares, there introduced into the tables, and from thence brought to Siam, during the time that elapsed between the discovery in Europe and the date when M. de la Loubiere procured those tables. Whoever may be acquainted with the state and nature of the communications at that time between India and Europe, and between the interior parts of Hindustan and Siam, together with the depressed state of the Hindūs under their Mohammedan rulers, and their neglect of science and learning since the conquest of their country by strangers, will instantly reject such an idea. If, therefore, it appear that the Hindūs had a knowledge of certain things in astronomy earlier than the Europeans, that they knew and practised what the Alexandrian and Arabian schools were ignorant of,* it may be asked
* Bailly, Professor Playfair, &c. &c.
from what source did they derive their knowledge of them. We can assign no other but that of their own discoveries and observations.
It has been said that the Indian and Arabian divisions of the zodiac were the same. It may very possibly be so: and many who have considered the subject and admit this, are disposed to think, that the Arabians took their divisions from the Hindus. The learned orientalist, Mr. Colebrooke, who has examined the subject, finds, however, that in some respects they differ from each other; but he is nevertheless of opinion that they must have had one common origin. He says: The coincidence appears to me too exact, in most instances, to be the effect of chance: in others, the differences are only such, as to authorize the remark, that the nation, which borrowed from the other, has not copied with servility. I apprehend that it must have been the Arabs who adopted (with slight variations) a division of the zodiac familiar to the Hindus. This, at
least, seems to be more probable than the supposition, that the Indians received their system from the Arabians: we know, that the Hindus have preserved the memory of a former situation of the Colures, compared to constellations, which mark divisions of their zodiac in their astronomy; but no similar trace remains of the use of the lunar mansions, as divisions of the zodiac, among the Arabs, in so very remote times.”*
And again, some pages after, he observes:-" The result of the comparison shews, I hope satisfactorily, that the Indian asterisms, which mark the divisions of the ecliptic, generally consist of nearly the same stars, which constitute the lunar mansions of the Arabians: but, in a few instances, they essentially differ. The Hindus have likewise adopted the division of the ecliptic and zodiac into twelve signs, or constellations, agreeing in figure and designation with those of the Greeks; and differing
*Asiat. Res. 8vo. vol. ix. p. 324.
merely in the place of the constellations, which are carried, on the Indian sphere, a few degrees further west than on the Grecian. That the Hindus took the hint of this mode of dividing the ecliptic from the Greeks, is not perhaps altogether improbable: but, if such be the origin of it, they have not implicitly received the arrangement suggested to them, but have reconciled and adapted it to their own ancient distribution of the ecliptic into twentyseven parts."
In like manner, they may have either received or given the hint of an armillary sphere as an instrument for astronomical observation; but certainly they have not copied the instrument which was described by Ptolemy; for the construction differs considerably."
Astrologers also reckon twenty-eight yogas, which correspond to the twenty-eight Nacshatras, or divisions of the moon's path; varying, however, according to the day of the week. As the Indian almanacks some