Contributed Talk - Splinter Culture

Wednesday, 15 September 2021, 14:05   (virtual Cult)

Star Names in Sanskrit Astronomical literature

Venketeswara Pai R. and B S Shylaja
Associate Professor, IISER Pune and Visiting Scientist, Jawaharlal Nehru Planetarium Bangalore

The star names have been recorded in the text Sarvasiddhāntarāja written by Nityānanda, in the 16th century. The purpose of the text is to enable a person use the astrolabe which was called Yantrarāja, the King of instruments. The text provides the names of the stars in the form of verses. They have been divided in to tweleve groups based on the longitude. Therefore Meṣa (Aries) will cover from 0 to 30 degrees, Vṛṣabha (Taurus) will cover from 30 to 60 degrees and so on. Here is a sample text and its translation. The coordinates are provided not only as numerals but in words also. This method is called Bhūtasaṅkhyā, whill be described in detail. This method helps us to remove any ambiguity . There is another way of crosschecking the errors by the scribe. The poetry follows specific rules as per the metres and so any missing or extra syllable can be traced. We give examples of this also. We also give examples of some puzzling names and descriptions which can be called adjectives rather than names. The names of the 27 stars are very popular and found in old texts of literary value which are demonstrated by examples.