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Reorinted from Currpnt .f;riPl'wP HISTORICAL COMMENTARY AND NOTF.

The article published below draws attention to the work of the Kerala school of astronomers, particularly Nilakanta
(/500 AD) in modelling planetary motion. In the exchanges between authors and referee, it became clear that this
school did not stop with :opying their predecessors but attempted to wrestle with the problems of the old
(geocentric) system. Whether their work constituted a clean break towards a true heliocentric system. as proposed
by Srinivas and colleagues. appears to hinge upon some subtle points of interpretation of the original texts. For
example, did the Kerala astronomers maintain the distinction between the mean and the centre of the epicycle of an
interior planet. even though both move together in the sky? They could be at different distances, as a referee
suggests. In any case. one cannot but note the vitality of this tradition of mathematics and astronomy which even
studied infinite series some years later. while the rest of the cOl/ntry was going through an academic dark age.

- Editor

Modification of the earlier Indian planetary theory by the


Kerala astronomers (c. 1500 AD) and the implied heliocentric
picture of planetary motion

K. Ramasubramanian, M D. Srinivas w:d M. S. Sriram

We report vn a significant contribution made by the Kerala School of Indian astronomers to


planetary theory in thefifteenth century. Nilakantha Somasutvan, the renowned astronomer of the
Kerala School, carried out a major revision of the older Indian planetary model for the interior
planets, Mercury and Venus, in his treatise Tantrasangraha (1500 AD),' and for the first time in
the history of astronomy, he arrived at an accurate formulation of the equati°1!.of centre for these
planets. He also described the implied geometrical picture of planetary motIon, where the five
planets - Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn - move in ecceniric orbits around the Sun,
which in turn goes around the Earth. The later astronomers of the Kerala School seem to have by
and large adopted the planetary model developed by Nilakantha.

It is now widely recognized that the formulation of the equation of centre for The conventional planetary
Kerala school of Indian astronomy'. these planets than was available either model of Indian astronomy
starting with Madhava of Sangama- in the ~lier Indian works or in the Islamic
grama in the fourteenth century. made or European traditions. of astronomy
important contributions to mathematical till the work of Kepler. which was to In the Indian astronomical tradition, at
analysis much before this subjoct deve- come more than a hundred years later. least from the time of Aryabhata (499
loped in Europe. The Kerala astrono- We also note that Nilakantha in his AD), the procedure for calculating the
mers obtained the infinite series for ~ later works. Golasara. Siddhanta- geocentric longitudes of the five planets,
sine and cosine functions and also deve- Mercury, Venus, Mars. Jupiter and
darpana and more importantly the
Saturn involves essentially the follow-
loped fast convergent approximations to celebrated Aryabhaliyabhashya. ex-
ing steps'. First, the mean longitude
them'. Here we report that the Kerala plains that the computational scheme (called the madhyamagraha) is calcu-
school also made equally significant developed by him implies a geometrical lated for the desired day by computing
discoveries in astronomy. in particular. picture of planetary motion. where the the number of mean civil days elapsed
planetary theory. five planets Mercury. Venus. Mars, since the epoch (this number is called
We show that Nilakantha Somasutvan Jupiter and Saturn move in eccentric ahargana) and multiplying it by the
of Trkkantiyur (1444-1550 AD) carried orbits around the mean Sun. which in mean daily motion of the planet. Then
out, in his treatise Tantrasangraha turn goes around the Earth. Most of the two correctionsnamely manda samskara
(1500 AD). a major revision of the Kerata astronomers who succeeded and sighra samskara are applied to the
earlier Indian planeta,y model for the Nilakantha. such as Jycsthadcva. Acyuta mean planet to obtain the true longitude.
i'nterior planets Mercury and Venus. Pisarati. PutumanaSomayaji. etc. seem Themandasamskara is equivalentto
This led Nilakantha to a much betler to have adopted this planetary model. taking into account tbe eccentricity

784 CURRENT SCIENCE,VOL. 66, NO. 10.25 MAY 1994


HISTORICAL COMMENTARY AND NOTES

LGEP = 8- 8.s = Sigilra correction.

The ditTerencc between the longitudes


of the siglrracca and the mandasplruta,
namely.

(\)
A
is called the sigilrakendra (anomaly of
conjunction) in Indian astronomy. Draw
A
P F perpendicular to the extension of the
line EG. From the triangle EPF we can
easily obtain the result

sin(8 - 9m.d
Figure 1. Sighra samskara for an exterior planet. rsina
(2)
- [(R+rcosa)' +r' sin' aJ'"
/", , which is the siglrra correction formula
,/ ,
/ , given by Indianastronomersto calculate
I ,,- \ the geocentric longitude of an exterior
/ / \ planet.
t , \ From the figure it is clear that the
, t I A
~
\ G \
l I
I
sighra samskara transforms the true
heliocentric longitudes into true geo.
, I \ I centric longitudes: for. LASP = LAEG
\ I I
\ I I is thc true heliocentriclongitude and
\ I I
\ ~ / A one has to add LGEI' to it to get the
" -'
"""
true geoeen"ic longitude. This is Irue
only if rlR is equal to the ratio of the
Earth-Sun and Planet-Sun distances
and is indeed very nearly so in the
Figure 2. S'ghra samskara for an interior planet.
Indian lexls. But equation (2) is still an
approximation as it is based upon the
of the planet's orbit. DitTerent compu- sidereal period is identical with the .identification of the mean Sun with the
tational schemes for .the manda
true Sun.
mean geocentric sidereal period. Thus,
samsknra arc discussed in Indian the mean longitude calculated prior to
astronomical literature. Howcvcr~ the the manda samskara is the same as the Interior planets
manda correction in all these schcmes mean heliocentric longitude of the
coincides. to tirst order in eccentricity. planel as we undcrstand loday. As the For the interior planets Mercury and
with the equation of centre currently manda sams/cara is applied 10 this Venus.ancientIndianastronomers~at
calculated in astronomy. The manda. longitude to obtain the mandasplrula- least from the tim. of Aryabhata. took
corrected mean longitude is call~d graila. Ihe laller will be the true helio- the mean Sun as the madilyamagralraor
mandasphulagraha. As we explain centric longitude of the planet. the mean planet. For these planets. the
below- for exterior plancts. the The sighra samskara for the exterior mean heliocentric period is the period of
mandasphulagraha is the same as the planets can be explained with reference revolution of the planet around the Sun.
true heliocentric longitude. to Figure I. Longitudes are always mea- while the mean geocentric period is the
The sighra sanrskarais applied to this sured in Indian astronomy with respect same as that of the Sun. The ancient
mandosphutagraha to obtain the true to a fixed poinl in the Zodiac known as astronomersprescribedapplication of
longitude known as splrutagralra. The the Nirayana Meslradi denoted by A in themandacorrectionorthe equationof
sighra correction. as we explain below. the figure. E is the Earth and G is the centre characteristic of the planet. to the
is equivalent to convening the hclio. mandoJ'plllllagraha at n distance R. S is mean Sun. instead of the mean helio-
centric longitude into the geoccntric the mean Sun referred to as the centric planet as is done in the currently
longitude. The exterior and interior sighrocca for an exterior planet. Draw accepled model of the solar system.
planets are treated differently in GP = r parallel to ES. Then P corres- However.the ancient Indian astrono.
applying this correction. and wc take ponds to the true planet. We havc~ mersintroduceda sighroccafor these
Ibem up one aller the olher. planetswhoseperiodis thesame as the
LI/EG = 9.s= Mandasplrula mean heliocentric period of Ihese
LilES = 9s = Longitude of siglrrocca planets. Thus the longitude of this
Exterior planets
(mean Sun) sighri>ccawill be the same as the mean
For the exterior planets Mars. Jupiter LAEP = 9 = True geocentric longitude heliocentric longitude of the interior
and Saturn~ the mCiln heliocentric of the planet planet.
CURRENT SCIENCE. VOL. 66. NO. I U. 25 MAY 1994 785
HISTORICAL COMMENTARY AND NOTES

Table 1. Comparison of r IR (variable) in Aryabhatiya with modern


values (ratio of the mean values of Earth -Sun and Planet-Sun
distances for exterior planets and the inverse ratio for interior planets) PLANETARY
ORBIT
Planet Aryabhaliya Modern value

Mercury 0.361 to 0.387 0.387


N ECLIPTIC
Venus 0.712 to 0.737 0.723
Mars 0.637 to 0.662 0.656 Figure 3. Latitude of a planet.

Jupiter 0.187 to 0.200 0.192


Saturn 0.105 explained above. is equal to the rnt.'an
0.114 to 0.162
heliocentric longitude of the planet.
equation (7) leads to the correc<
identification. that even for an intcriN
T.he sighra samskara for the interior Computation of the planetary' planet. 8/1 in equation (5) has to be the
planets can be explained with reference latitudes true heliocentric longitude.
to Figure 2. Here E is the Earth and S is
Thus. we see that the earlier Ind'ar,
the mandasphutagraha. Draw SP = r
Planetary latitudes (called vikshepa in
.i parallel to EG. Then P corresponds to
the true planet. We have.
Indian astronomy) play an important
role in the prediction of planetary
astronomical texts did provide a fain;-
accurate theory for the planeta"
latitudes. But they had to live with two
LA£S - 8ms = Mandasphwa conjunctions, occultation of stars by entirely different rules for calculatilW
LAEG = 8.. = Longitude of sighrocca planets. etc. [n Figure 3. P denotes the latitudes. one for the exterior plancls
planet moving in an orbit inclioed at (equation (6». where the mandasphula-
LAEP = 8 = True geocentric longitude
angle i to the ecliptic. intersecting the graha appeared and an entirely differer,t
of the planet
LSEP = 8 - 8ms -Sighra correction.
ecliptic at the point N, the node (called
pala in Indian astronomy). If f3 is the
one for the interior planets (equatior..
(7)). which involved the sighrocca of
the planet. with the mauda correcUUH
Again. the sighrakendra (T is defined latitude of the planet. 8" its heliocentric
included.
as the difference between the sighrocca longitude, and 8.. the heliocentric
This peculiarity of the rule for
and the mandasphutagraha. Thus. longitude of the node, then for small i
we hav~ cakulating the, latitude of an intcriN
(3) planet was repeatedly noticed by variou,
Indian astronomers. at least trom thl'
Let PF be perpendicular to the line £S. siD f3 = sini sin(8/1 - 8.) =d sin (8/1 - 8.). time of Bhaskaracharya I (629 AD),
From the triangle EP F we get the same (5) who in his Aryabhatiyabhashya drew
formu la
attention to the fact that the procedure
This is also essentially the rule for
sin(8 - 8mS) calculatir.g the latitude. as given in
for calculating the latitude of an interior
planet is indeed very differeot from thaI
Indian texts, at least from the time of
-- rsinc
2. ., 2. II'" (4 ) Aryabhata. For the exterior planets, it
adopted for the exterior pla~ots"'.
(R +rcosO") +r'sin 0"1- Bhaskaracharya II in his own com;a~!"';
was stipulated that
tary Vasanabhashya on Siddhanta.':{r(;--
mani (1150 AD) quotes the statement 01
which is the sighra correction .given in (6) Chaturveda Prithudakaswamin (860
the earlici Indian texts to calculate the
the mandasphlllagraha. which as we AD) that this peculiar procedure fa, the
geocentric longitude of an interior interior planets can be justified only on
planet. Both for Mercury and Venus. the saw earlier. coincides with the helio-
the ground that this is what has been
value specified for rlR is very nearly. centric longitude of the exterior planet.
found to lead to drigganilai~ya, G' pre.
equal to the ratio of the Planet-Sun and The same :ule applied for interior
dictions which are in conformity \','i!~
Earth-Sun distances. In Tahle I. we planets would not have worked, because observationss. ~
give Aryabhata's values for hoth the according to the earlier Indian planetary
exterior and interior planets along model, the manda.corrected mean
with the modern values based on the longitude for the interior planet has
Planetary model of Nilakanth..
mean Earth-SW1 and 'Sun-Planet nothing to do with its true heliocentric
distances. longitude. Somasutvan (c 1500 AD)
Since the manda correction or However, all the older Indian tcxts on
astronomy stipulated that for interior Nilakantha Somasutvan (1444-1550).
equation of centre for an interior planet
planets. the latitude is to be calculated the renowned Kcrala astronomc{
was applied to the longitude or the mean
Sun instead of the mean heliocentric from equation (5) with appears to have been led to his impo;.
tant reformulation of the older Indian
longitude of the planet. the accuracy of
the computed longitudes of the interior OH = Os+ manda correction, (7) planetary model. mainly by the t~ct In.:i
planets according to the old~r Indian there obtained two entirely diffcrcn\
planetary models would not have heen the manda-corrected longitude of the rules for the calculation of plancmry
as good as that achieved for the exterior sighrocca. Since the longitude of the lalitudes. As he explains in hi,
planets. sighrocca for an interior planet. as we Aryabhatiyabhashya6. the latitude Rrjs~s

786 CURRENT SCIENCE. VOL. 66. NO. 10.25 MAY 199.'


HISTORICAL COMMENTARY AND NOTES
from the deflection of the planet (from
the ecliptic) and not from that of a
sighrocca, which is different from the
planet. Therefore. he argues that what
was thought of as being the sighrocca of
an interior planet should be identified
with the mean planet itself and the
manda correction is to be applied to this
mean planet, and not to the mean Sun.
This, Nilakantha argues. renders the rule
for calculation of latitudes the same for
all planets. exterior or interior.
Nilakantha has presented his improved
planetary model for the interior planets
in an earHer treatise Tanlrosangraha
which, according to Nilakantha's pupil
Sankara Variar, was composed in 1500 Figure 4. True longitude of an interior planet according to Nilakantha.
AD'. We shall describe here. the main
features of Nilakantha's model in so far
as they differ from the earlier Indian
planetary model for the interior planets.
LAES - 8.,= Sighroeea (mean Sun). Nilakantha, by his modification of tradi-
tional Indian planetary theory, solved
LASP = 8ms= Mandasphu/a,
In the first chapler of Ton/ra- the long-standing problem in Indian
sangraha, while presenting the mean LAEP = 8 = True geocentric longitude
.of the planet, astronomy, of there being two different
sidereal periods of planets. Nilakantha rules for calculating the planetary lati-
gives the usual values of 87.966 days LSEP = 8 - 8s ~ Sighra correction. tudes.
and 224.702 days (which are tradi-
The sighrakendra is defined in the Nilakantha, by 1500 AD, had thus
tionally ascribed to the sighraccas of arrived at a consistent formulation of
Mercury and Venus). but asserts that
usual way by
the equation of centre and a reasonable
these are' svaparyayas'. Le. the mean
(8) planetary model which is applicable
.evolution pori ods of the planets
themselves'. As these are the mean as the difference between the sigh- also to the interior planets, perhaps for
heliocentric periods of these planets. the roeca and the mandasphutagraha. Then the first time in the history of astro-
madhyamagraha as calcu Imed in from triangle ESP. we get the relation: nomy. Just as was the case with the
Nilahntha's model will be equal 10 the earlier Indian planetary model, the
mean heliocentric longitude of the planet, sin(8 -8s) ancient Greek planetary model of
for the case of interior planets also. Ptolemy and t~ planetary models deve>-
I'sincr loped in the Islamic tradition during the
In lhe second chapter of Tanlra- (9)
sangraha. Nilakamha discusses the = - [(R +r~os(1)' +r2sin'(1]"2 8th-15th centuries postulated that the
manda correction or the equation of equation of centre for an interior planet
centre and states. that this should be which is the sighra correction given by should be appiied to the mean Sun
applied to the madhyamagraha as Nilakantha for calculating the geo- rather than to the mean heliocentric
described above to obtain the mallda- centric longitude 8 of the planet. Com- longitude of the planet, as we under.
sphutagraha. Thus. in Nilakantha's paring equations (8) and (9) with stand today". In fact. Ptolemy seems to
model, the ffl,mdasphutagl'oha will equations (3) and (4), and Figure 4 with have ""mpounded the confusion by
be equal to the true heliocentric longi- Figure 2. we notice that they are the clubbing together Venus along with the
tude for both the interior anti exterior same except for the interchange of the exterior planets and singling out Mer-
planets. sighrocca and the mandasphutagraha. cury as following a slightly deviant
Subsequently. the sp/III/agraha or the The manda correction or the equation of geometricalmodelof motion12.
geocentric longitude is to be obtained centre is now associated with P whereas Even the celebrated Copernican re-
by applying the sighra correction. it was associated with S earlier. volution brought about no improvement
While Nilakanthn's formulation of the In the seventh chapter of Tan/ra- in the planetary theory for the interior
sighra correction is the same nsin the sangraha. Nilakantha gives formula (5) planets. As is widely known now", the
earlier planetary theory for the exterior for calculating the latitudes ofplanets'., Copernican model was only a refor-
planets. his formulation of the: .righra and prescribes that for all planets, both mulation of the Ptolemaic model (with
correction for the inlerior planets is exterior and interior. 8H in equation (5) sonie modifications borrowed from the
differentandisexplainedbdo\\.
According to Nilnkantha the moan Sun
should be the mandasphutagraha. This Maragha School of Astronomy of Nasir
is as it should be. for in Nilakantha's ad-Din at-Tusi (1201-74 AD), Ibn ash.
should be taken as the siglwocca for
interior planets also. just as in the case model even for an interior planet. the Shatir (1304-75) and others) for a
of exterior planets. In Figur~ 4. P is the mandasphulagraha (the manda.corrcc. heliocentric frame of reference, without
manda.corrccted planet. E is lhe Earth ted mean longitude) coincides with the altering his computational scheme in
andS the sighroc'xa or the m~an Sun. true heliocentric longitude, just as in the any substantial way for the interior
We have. case of the exterior planets. Thus planets. The same holds true. for the

CURRENT SCIENCE. VOL. 66. NO. 10. 25 MAY 1994 787


HISTORICAL COMMENTARY AND NOTES

geocentric reformulation of the


Copernican system due to Tycho Brahe.
Indeed, it appears that the correct rule
for applying the equalion of centre for
an interior planet, to the mean a
heliocentric planel (as opposed to the - Groha-bhromono -vrtta
mean Sun) was first enunciated in $'Io-"r"o
European astronomical tradilion only by
Kepler in the early 17th century. Moftdo - wtto

Geometrical model of
planetary motion
It is well known Ihat the 1nd ian astro-
nomers were mainly interestcd in the
successful computalions of the
longitudes and latitudes of the Sun. b
Moon and the planets. and were not
much worried about proposing models
of the univers". Detailed observations -r- Groho-bhromono...vrtta

and the following sophistication of th"ir


computations of course suggested some
geometrical models. and once in a while
the Indian astronomers did discuss the
geometrical model implied by their
computations.
The renowned Kerala astronomer
Paramesvara of Vatasseri (I3KO-1460)
has discussed in detail the geometrical
model implied in the earlier Indian
planet8r'J theory. In the Kerala tradition.
Paramesvara has alsn a greai reputation
as an observational astronomer.
Darnodara the son and di<ciple of
P8l'3mesvara was the teilcher of
Nilakantha. Nilakantha otien refers to
Paramesvara as Paramaguru. Figure 5. B. Geometrical model of planetary motions according to SiddhantadBrpsna
In his commentary on ArYClbhatiya. of Nilakantha. illustrated for interior planets. b. Geometrical model 01 planetary motions
according to Siddhantadarpsna ot Nilakantha. illustrated for exterior planets.
Paramesvara briefly discusses in 12
verses". the geometrical model of
motion as implied by the conventional
planetary model of Indian astronomy. In by Nilakantha in formulating his new presented by him in verses 19-21 of
his super-commentary Siddh"nIadipika model were already present in the work Chapter I of Siddhantadarpanal7 is as
(on Govindasvamin's commentary on of Paramesvara. follows:
Mahabhaskariya of Bhaskaracharya-I Nilakantha describes the geometrical
(629 AD). Paramesvara gives a more picture associated with his model ot
detailed exposition of the geometrical pla~etary mOlion in his works Go/asara. ~.At~M<'I~7t.A oI'"C.'t''b''''4
..,.fI ~,
model of plan clary motion. He notices Siddhamadarpana (with his own comm- ~ "..;~~Cct>1..."'UIo"lfi'''I.tl. II~.."'I
that for an interior planet. the final entary), and in much greater detail in his ~ rsf. """" .~,
longitude thai is calculated (LA£P in Aryabhaliyabhashya. There is also a .nrT ¥" :"1&.1,,11'\ ~ ~V~ol'
Figure 2) is the geocentric longitude of Iract of his. on planetary latitudes. ~ ,ri;Tt, ~ ,..,.,m; ~,I
what is called the sighron'u of the Grahasphulanayane Vikshepavasanals. ~'i~"- ""'" rfi'I'ft.r ~ "\'
planel (in the conventional planelary which deals wilh Ihis topic.
model). Paramesvara th"refore suggesls .In his Aryabhaliyabhashya, Nila-
at the end. that what has been called as kantha explains that the orbits of the "The [eccentric) oroits on which planels
the sighrocca of an interior planet in planets. i.e. the geometrical model of move (graha-bhramanavrlla) them-
convenlional plan"tary model should be planetary motion is to be inferred from selves move at the same rate as the
identified as the' planet ilself and the Ihe computational scheme for calculat- apsides (ucca-gali) on manda-vrlla, [or
mean Sun should be taken as Ihe ing the sphulagraha (geocentric the manda epicycle drawn with its
sighrocca for all the planets. while longitude) and vilcshepa (latitude of the centre coinciding with the centre of the
computing the sighra correction. Thus planels)'.. The geometrical model valid manda concentric). In the case of the
manyof the basic ideas which wcre used for both exterior and interior planets as Sun and the Moon. the centre of the

788 CURRENT SCIENCE. VOL. 66. NO.1 0, 2S MAY 1994


HISTORICAL COMMENTARY AND NOTES
Earth is the centre of this manda-vrlla: outside their orbit. Since their orbit is the signal achievements of Ihe scientific
(Verse 19) always confined to one side of the geo- renaissance in Europe during the 16th
'For the others [namely the planets centric celestial sphere, in completing and 17th centuries. Only more detailed
Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and one revolution they do not go around investigations can lead to a correct
Saturn] the centre of the manda-vrtta the twelve signs (rasis). For them olso appreciation and assessment of the work
moves at the same rate as the mean Sun really the mean Sun is Ihe sighrocca. It of the Kerala astronomers during the
(madhyarkagati) on the sighra-vrlla [or is only their own revolutions which are 14-16th centuries and their consequent
the sighra epicycle drawn with its stated to be the revolutions of the
developments" .
centre coinciding with the centre of ihe sighrocca [in ancient texts such as the
sighra concentric]. The sighra-vrlla for Aryabhaliya]. It is only due to the
these planets is not inclined with respect revolution of the Sun [around the Earth] I. See for instance (a) Indian Astronomy:
to the ecliptic and has the centre of the. that they' [i.e. the interior planets. A Source Book, (eds. Subbarayappa.
Mercury and Venus] complete their B. V. and Sanna. K. V.), Bombay, 1985:
celestial sphere as its centre.' (Verse 20) (b) A Bibliography of Kerala and
'In the case of Mercury and Venlls, the movement around the twelve rasis [and KeTola-based Astronomy and ASlrology.
dimension of the sighra-vrlla is taken to complete their revolution of the Earth)'. Sanna. K. V., Hoshiarpur, 1966.
be that of the concentric and the Thus, in Nilakantha's planetary 2. See for example (a) Whish, C. M.,
dimensions [of the epicycles] mentioned model, Mercury, Venus. Mars. Jupiter Trans. R. Asiatic Soc., 1830,3,509: (b)
are of their own orbits. Further, here the and Saturn. are assumed to move in Mukunda Marar, K. and Rajagopal,
manda-vrlla [and hence 'the manila eccentric orbits around the sighrocca. C. T.. J. Bombay Br. R. Assoc. Soc.
epicycle of all the planets] undergoes which is the mean Sun going around the (NS), 1944, 20, 65: (c) Rajagopal. C.
increase and decrease in size in the Earlh. The planetary orbits are tilted T.. Stud. Math.. 1949, IS, 201: (d)
Rajagopal. C. T. and Rangachari. M. S..
s:une way as the kama [or the with respect to the orbit of the Sun or Archiv Hist. Ex. Sc.. 1976, 18, 89: (e)
hypotenuse or the distance of the planet the ecliptic and hence cause the motion Takao Hayashi, Centauras. 1990, 33,
from the centre of the. manda in latitude. 149: (f) Balagangadharan. K., in
concentric]": (Verse 21) Nilakantha's modification of the Scientific Heritage of India: Malhe-
conventional planetary model of Indian maUes (cd. Poulosc. K. G. Tripunithura)
The geometrical picture described. by astronomy seems to have been adopted 1991, p. 29; We may note that C. M.
Nilakantha is shown in Figures.s a and by must of the laler astronomers of the Whish's paper which appeared in 1835
b. Like the above verses of Siddhanta- Kerala schouI. This is not only true of is not the first dicussion on the
darpana, there are several other graphic Nilakantha's pupils and contemporaries discovery of infinite series by the Kcrala
astronomers. That there was quite some
descriptions of this geometrical picture such as Sankara Variyar (1500-1560). discussion on the subject in the decades
in Nilakantha's works. For the exterior Chitrabhanu (1530). Jyeshtadeva prior to 1835 is indicatedby J. Warren
planets, he explains in his tract on (1500), who is the author of the cele- in his book Kala Sanlcalita (Madras.
planetary latitudes tl.at": brated Yuktibhasha. but also of later 1825, pp. 93, 309-3iO). Curiously, the
astronomers such as Acyuta Pisarati whole issue gOt' totally ignored after
(1550-1621). Putumana Somayaji 1835 till Prof. C. T. Raj3j;opal and his
(1660-1740) and others. They not only colieagues resurrected the subject
around 1945.
adopt Nilakantha's planetary model. but
also seem 10 discuss further improve- 3. For a general review of Indian astro-
nomy, see (a) A Critical Study of
ments. For instance, Acyuta Pisarati 10 Anc;em Hindu Astronomy. Somayaji.
.For Mars and other exterior planets his Sphutanirnayatantra and Rasigola. D. A.. Kamatak University. Dharwar,
(Kujadi). the centre of their manda- sphulanilpi discusses in detail the 1972: (b) A History of Indian
kakshya [which is also the centre of coricction to planetary longitudesdueto Astronomy (eds. Shukla, K. S. and Sen,
their manda deferent circle], is the mean latitudinal effects by the method of S. N.) INSA. New Delhi, 1985.
Sun (madhyarka) which lies on the orbit reduction to the ecliptic - a point which 4. Aryabhatiya With the Commentary of
of the Sun on the ecliptic'. has been earlier briefly noted by Bhas/cara I and Somesvara (cd. Shukla.
Nilakantha in his Aryabhaliya- K. S.), INSA. New Delhi. 1976, pp. 32.
247.
For the case of interior planets. the bhashya22 .
5. MuraJidhara Chaturveda (ed.), SidJhanta-
following is a graphic descriptio~ of In conclusion it may be noted that siromani. Varanasi. 1981. p. 402.
their motion given by Nilakantha in his there is 8 vast literature on astronomy 6. Aryabhatiyam with the Bhashya of Nild-
Aryabhaliyabhashya2.: ; (including mathematics) both in kantha Somasutvan:. Golapada (cd.
Sanskrit and Malayalam, produced by Pillai, S. K.), Trivandrum Sanskrit
the Kerala school. during the period Series, No. 185, 1957, p. 8.
;nrt: ~ ,"::.. ;-f: ~,..~ 14th-19th century. Only a small fraction 7. Tanlrasangrahaof Nilakantha Soma-
sutvan with the commentary
~oi":I"~;>:I~~~ of it has been published and so far only Laghuvivritli of Sankara Variar (cd.
...~ -, """ ,...,1,Q"""'.mr... a few studies of these texts have Pillai. S. K.). Trivandrum Sanskrit
J<~'f1IN'" "':',':~,,<oj"'"
~~~ &a t'7 appeared. Whal seems to emerge clearly Series. No. 188,1958, p. 2.
n.Pt"im:f r..zA ~ ~ ~ from the source-works already publi- 8. Ref. 7. p. 8. Nilakantha's modification
.wTX; T'III'XI
shed is Ihat by the later part of the 15th of traditional planetary model by
century, if not earlier. Kerala astrono- identifying what were referredto as the
sighroccas of Mercury and Venus with
~The eanh is not circumscribed by their mers had arrived at many of the
the planetS themselves, seems to have
[i.e. the interior planets, Mercury and discoveries in mathematical analysis and gone unnoticed so far. even in those
Venus] orbits. The Earth is always astronomy which are generally hailed as studies where allusions arc made to

CURRENT SCIENCE, VOL. 66, NO. 10, 25 MAY 1994 789


HISTORICAL COMMENTARY AND NOTES
Nilakaotha's work. For instance. Ptolemaic model is totally off the mark Ras;golasphutaniti of Acyuta Pisarati.
Pingree. in his review anicle on Indian when it comes to the question of cd. and translated by Sarma. K. V..
astronomy presents the mean rates of latitudes of these planets. This difficulty Hoshiarpur. 1977.
motion of Mercury and Venus given in with the computation of latitudes 22. Ref. 6, p. 6.
Tantrosongraha as the rates of motion persisted till around the time of Kepler. 23. The well known Orissa astronomer of
of their sighroccas (Pingree, D.. History 13. Kern. B. (ed.). Aryabhatiyam with last century. Chandrasekhara Samanta.
of Mathematical Astronomy in India. in Vyakhya of Paramesvara. Leyden. 1885. who was trained solely in traditional
Dictionary of Scientific Biography. New pp. 68-69. Indian astronomy. seems to have also
York. 1978. vol. XV. p. 622). 14. Kuppanna Sastri. T. S. (ed.). Mahabhas. discussed a model of planetary motion
9. Ref. 7. pp. 44-46. kari)'am with Govindasvamin's Vyakh,.o where the five planets go around the
10. Ref. 7. p. 139.- and Siddhanladipiko of Paramesvara. Sun. in his work Siddhantadarpana.
II. See for example (a) A History oj Madras Govt. Oriental Series. No. 130. (Siddhanladarpana of Mahamaho.
Astronomy from Tholes 10 Kepler. 1957. pp. 233-238. padhyaya Samanta Sri Chandrasekhara
Dreyer. J. L. E.. Dover. New York. 15. Sarma. K. V. (ed.). Grohasphulonayane Simha. Calcutta 1897. V. 36. See also
1953: (b) Mathematical Astronomy in Vilcslrepovasana of Nilakantha Soma- the review by W.E.P. in Nature, 1532.
Copernicus' De Revolut;onibus. sutvan in GoniloYlIlcloyah. Hoshiarpur. 59.437. 1899). We are grateful to Dr P.
Swerdlow, N. M- and Neugebauer. 0.. 1979. pp. 61-64. Nayak for bringing this important fact
Springer. New York. 1984.2 vols. 16. Sambasiva Sastri. K. (ed.). to our attention.
12. See for example The Almagest by Aryobhaliyam with the Bhashya of
Plolemy. Tr. by Taliaferro R. C.. in Nilakantha Somasutvan: Kalakriya-
Great Boaks oj the Western World (ed. pada. Trivandrum Sanskrit Series. No. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS. We thank Prof.
Hutchins, R. M.). Chicago. vol. 16. 110.1931. p. 53. K. V. Sarma. Dr S. Balachandra Rao. and Dr
1952. For the exterior planclS. the 17. Sarma. K. V. (editor and translator) J. K. 8ajaj for many helpful discussions. We
ancient Indian planetary model and the Siddhontadarpana. Hoshiarpur. 1976. also gratefully acknowledge financial
model described by Plolemy are very pp. 18-19. support provided by the Department of
similar except that. white the Indilm 18. This reflects the feature of Indian Science and Technology. New Delhi. under
astronomers use a vuiable radius planetary models. that the manda the Nationally Coordinated Project on
epicycle. Ptolemy introduces the notion correction or the equation of centre is Foundations and Methodology of Theoretical
of an equant. Ptolemy adopts the same calculated from a variable radius Sciences in the Indian Tradition.
model for Venus also. and presents a epicycle model. See for instance Maha-
slightly different model for Mercury. In bhaskoriyo of Bhaskaracharya. I.. cd.
both cases the equation of centre is and translated by Shukla. K. S.,
applied to the mean Sun. While the Lucknow. 1960. pp. 136-146.
ancient Indian astronomers successfully 19. Ref. 15. p. 63. The authors are in the Department of
used the notion of the siglrrocca to 20. Ref. 6. p. 9. Theoretical Physics, University of
arrive at a satisfactory theory of the 21. Sarma. K. V. (cd.) Sphwanirnayufanlro Madras, Guindy Campus, Madras
latitudes of the interior planets. the of Acyuta Pisarati. Hoshiarpur. 1974: 600 025. India