The Official Blog of The Vedic Maths Forum India

24 October, 2006

Great Indian Mathematicians 3 : Varahamihira

Varahamihira (505 – 587) was an Indian astrologer whose main work was a treatise on mathematical astronomy which summarised earlier astronomical treatises. He discovered a version of Pascal's triangle and worked on magic squares. He was aware of gravity over a millennium before Isaac Newton.

Varahamihira worked as one of the Navaratnas for Chandragupta Vikramaditya. His book Pancasiddhantika (or Pancha-Siddhantika, The Five Astronomical Canons) dated 575 AD gives us information about older Indian texts which are now lost. The work is a treatise on mathematical astronomy and it summarises five earlier astronomical treatises, namely the Surya, Romaka, Paulisa, Vasistha and Paitamaha siddhantas.

Varahamihira is said to have origins from Eastern Iran from a sect known as Maga Brahmins.(Quote: Ramesh Chitor). In more ways than one, the Surya Siddhanta or Treatise on Sun hints that Mihira was from Iran as Iran was the only South Asian country following the practice of SUN worship. Varaha was a name coined by Vikramaditya- king of Ujjain. Mihira(meaning "friend" in Persian)accurately predicted death of Vikramidtya's son during the 18th year. The entire army, intelligence and the king could not save this fatal incident. This will remain as the greatest astrological prediction ever made by Mihira. VarahaMihira's painting can be found in the Indian Parliament alongside Aryabhatta.

Varahamihira made important contributions to mathematics. He was also an astrologer & is considered among the greatest Acharyas of modern astrology. He is the only author who has written treatises on all the three main branches of Jyotisha /Hindu / Vedic astrology. He has gifted us with the following treatises on astrology :

* Brihat-Samhita
* Brihat Jaatak - is considered as one the five main treatises on Hindu astrology on horoscopy.
* Daivaigya Ballabha

* Laghu Jaatak
* Yoga Yatra
* Pancha-Siddhan
* Vivaha Patal
* His son Prithuyasas also contributed in the Hindu astrology; his book "Hora Saara" is one of the famous book on horoscopy.

Some important trigonometric results attributed to Varahamihira

The Varahamihir method of locating groundwater

When "chromic" water scarity hit rural areas of Gujarat in the mid 1980s hydrologists scrambled in search of cheaper methods of locating groundwater sources, rather the expensive hit-or-miss methods of driling borewells. It was then that scholars browsing through the Bruhatsamhita discoverd astonishingly simple, and sure-fire methods.