Hindu Astronomy - Global Discourse - Indian Astronomy and Europe

Indian Astronomy and Europe

Some scholars have suggested that knowledge of the results of the Kerala school of astronomy and mathematics may have been transmitted to Europe through the trade route from Kerala by traders and Jesuit missionaries. Kerala was in continuous contact with China and Arabia, and Europe. The existence of circumstantial evidence such as communication routes and a suitable chronology certainly make such a transmission a possibility. However, there is no direct evidence by way of relevant manuscripts that such a transmission took place.

In the early 18th century, Jai Singh II of Amber invited European Jesuit astronomers to one of his Yantra Mandir observatories, who had bought back the astronomical tables compiled by Philippe de La Hire in 1702. After examining La Hire's work, Jai Singh concluded that the observational techniques and instruments used in European astronomy were inferior to those used in India at the time. It is uncertain whether he was aware of the Copernican Revolution via the Jesuits. He did, however, employ the use of telescopes. In his Zij-i Muhammad Shahi, he states: "telescopes were constructed in my kingdom and using them a number of observations were carried out."

Following the arrival of the British East India Company in the 18th century, the Hindu and Islamic traditions were slowly displaced by European astronomy, though there were attempts at harmonizing these traditions. The Indian scholar Mir Muhammad Hussain had travelled to England in 1774 to study Western science and, on his return to India in 1777, he wrote a Persian treatise on astronomy. He wrote about the heliocentric model, and argued that there exists an infinite number of universes (awalim), each with their own planets and stars, and that this demonstrates the omnipotence of God, who is not confined to a single universe. Hussain's idea of a universe resembles the modern concept of a galaxy, thus his view corresponds to the modern view that the universe consists of billions of galaxies, each one consisting of billions of stars. The last known Zij treatise was the Zij-i Bahadurkhani, written in 1838 by the Indian astronomer Ghulam Hussain Jaunpuri (1760–1862) and printed in 1855, dedicated to Bahadur Khan. The treatise incorporated the heliocentric system into the Zij tradition.

Read more about this topic:  Hindu Astronomy, Global Discourse

Famous quotes containing the words europe, indian and/or astronomy:

    The Afrocentric exploration of the black past only scratches the surface. A full examination of the ancestry of those who are referred to in the newspapers as blacks and African Americans must include Europe and Native America.
    Ishmael Reed (b. 1938)

    Our Indian said that he was a doctor, and could tell me some medicinal use for every plant I could show him ... proving himself as good as his word. According to his account, he had acquired such knowledge in his youth from a wise old Indian with whom he associated, and he lamented that the present generation of Indians “had lost a great deal.”
    Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)

    Awareness of the stars and their light pervades the Koran, which reflects the brightness of the heavenly bodies in many verses. The blossoming of mathematics and astronomy was a natural consequence of this awareness. Understanding the cosmos and the movements of the stars means understanding the marvels created by Allah. There would be no persecuted Galileo in Islam, because Islam, unlike Christianity, did not force people to believe in a “fixed” heaven.
    Fatima Mernissi, Moroccan sociologist. Islam and Democracy, ch. 9, Addison-Wesley Publishing Co. (Trans. 1992)