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Indian Astrology

Indian Astrology. There is a perpetual debate concerning the antiquity of Indian astrology between those who claim that it evolved several thousand years B.C. and those who claim that all astronomy and astrology was imported into India as a result of contact with the Greeks after the invasions of Alexander (4th c B.C.). This is not an easy issue to resolve for, not only is Indian civilisation very ancient, at least as old as Mesopotamian, but the Indians never kept recorded histories. However, at present the balance of evidence stands with those who say that the Greeks were responsible for Indian astrology.

As far as we know, from the earliest times Indian mathematics was very sophisticated, on a level with the Sumerian civilisation with whom the northern Indian cultures were probably in contact before 2,000 B.C. The Indians also kept sufficient astronomical data to be able to regulate their religious calendar, but their astronomical measurement never seems to have been particularly precise. It is certain that before they received Greek influence they did not make the connection between astronomy, mathematics and mythology necessary for the development of astrology.

It is likely that the main part of Indian astronomy and astrology was received from the Greeks after the time of Hipparchus, but before Ptolemy. Their astrology is essentially pre-Ptolemaic in a number of ways, not least of which is their use of the Sidereal zodiac. Having accepted Greek astrology, the Indians integrated it into their own culture and gave it their own flavour by making innovations. For example the importance of the Moon and the Moon’s nodes are particularly marked in Indian astrology. The Indians also made some advances in Aristotelian and Platonic astronomy, and their first major astronomer, Aryabadha (born 476 A.D.) taught that the Earth was not still but that it moved daily on its axis.

Indian astrologers in their turn influenced their colleagues to the west, as Arab and Persian astrologers looked to India for inspiration. A number of Indian texts were considered to be very important in the Arab world, and the first major astronomical text to be translated into Arabic was Indian. This was the Siddhanda, known to Arabs as the Sindhind, which was brought to Baghdad between 770 and 773 A.D. It has also been suggested that Indian astrologers influenced their counterparts in China, mainly on the grounds that the 28 hsui, or houses, of Chinese astrology, correspond to the 28 lunar mansions of Indian astrology.

In general there was little astronomical advance in India after this time, the preoccupation of Indians being far more with mythology, mysticism and the development of astrology.

         

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