Stars as Recorded in Indian Texts
Based on their listed coordinates, we have compiled a catalogue of more than 100 bright stars included in various texts from the Surya Siddhanta to the Siddhanta Darpana by Chandrashekhara Samanta in the nineteenth century. Using the 27 nakshatras on the ecliptic, which fix the position of the Solar System bodies, the coordinates were matched for the epochs of the catalogues. This resolved some ambiguity in respect of the identification of faint stars and provided a means to extend the method to other stars outside the zodiac. We have specifically chosen those lists that are characterized by observations, which are highlighted in the discussion. Our study reveals that a scale similar to the magnitude scale of brightness (currently in use) was in vogue in ancient Indian astronomy. Stars used by navigators, not listed with coordinates but as practical tools, are also included. The origin of the names are described—some were indigenous, and some were borrowed from the Arabs and later from the Europeans. In this preliminary study we provide an overview of the positions of the stars.
We express our gratitude to Professors K. Ramasubramanian, M.S. Sriram and M.D. Srinivas who guided one of the authors (RVP) to an understanding of the Karanapaddhathi and to Professor S. Balachandra Rao and Dr. Yukio Ohashi for helpful suggestions. Acknowledgements also are due to Dr. Chandra Hari for providing his compilations.
The authors acknowledge Dr. Srinandan Bapat from the Bhandarkar Oriental Library in Pune for providing access to the manuscript of the Siddhanta Raja, and Professor Kim Plofker for providing the tables of Malayendu and the papers of Professor Pingree. Dr. Das and Smt Mamta Das from the Sri K.V. Sarma Research Foundation are acknowledged for helping us access the Journal of the Asiatic Society. Thanks also are due to Dr. Veena A Bhat for offering help in deciphering the text.
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