Vedanga Jyotisha

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The Vedāṅga Jyotiṣa, or Jyotiṣavedāṅga (Devanagari वेदाङ्ग ज्योतिष) is one of earliest known Indian text on astronomy and astrology (Jyotisha).[1] The extant text is dated to the final centuries BCE,[2] but it may be based on a tradition reaching back to about 700-600 BCE.[3]

The text is foundational to Jyotisha, one of the six Vedanga disciplines.[4] It was composed by Lagadha.[5][6][7][8][9][10][11]

Textual history[edit]

The dating of the Vedanga Jyotisha is relevant for the dating of the Vedic texts.[12] As Michael Witzel notes:

Another favorite item brought forward for an early date of the Vedic texts has been the date assigned to the jyotiSa of lagaDha, a vedAGga text attached to the Rgveda tradition (a later version exists in the yajurveda tradition as well). Since this is an appendix to the Veda, virtually all other Vedic texts must predate it. Its date, however, hinges on that assigned to the solstice as described in this text. The basic question is the same as in the case of the kRttikA equinox: whether the description as given in the jyotiSa is also the date of the text in which it is transmitted.[12]

The Vedanga Jyotisha describes the winter solstice for the period of ca. 1400 BCE. This description has been used to date the Vedanga Jyotisha.[12] According to Michael Witzel, the question is "whether the description as given in the jyotiSa is also the date of the text in which it is transmitted."[12] T. K. S. Sastry[note 1] and R. Kochhar[note 2] suppose that the Vedanga Jyotisha was written in the period that it describes, and therefor propose an early date, between 1370 and 1150 BCE, while David Pingree[note 3] propose ca. 1180 BCE.[12] The estimation of 1400-1200 BCE has been followed by others,[13][14] with Subbarayappa adding that the extant form can be possibly from 700-600 BCE.[14]

Other authors propose a later composition. Santanu Chakraverti writes that it has been composed after 700 BCE,[11] while Michael Witzel dates it to the last centuries BCE, based on the style of composing.[12] According to Chakraverti, it's description of the winter solstice is correct for ca. 1400 BCE, but not for the time of its composition after 700 BCE.[11] This may be due to the incorporation of late Harappan astronomical knowledge into the Vedic fold,[11] an idea which is also proposed by Subbarayappa.[15] Michael Witzel notes:

[O]nly if one is convinced that lagaDha intended the solstice to be exactly at alpha Delphini of dhaniSThA, one can date his observations back to the late second millennium. Since that cannot be shown beyond doubt, since the composition of the text is in Late Epic language, and since its contents have clear resemblances to Babylonian works, the text must belong to a late period, to the last centuries BCE.[12]


  • Yajus recension, Rk variants and commentary of Somākara Śeṣanāga, edited: Albrecht Weber, Über den Vedakalender Namens Jyotisham, Berlin 1862
  • Yajus recension, non-Yajus verses of Rk recension, edited: G. Thibaut, "Contributions to the Explanation of the Jyotisha-Vedánga", Journal of the Asiatic Society Bengal Vol 46 (1877), p. 411-437
  • Hindi translation: Girja Shankar Shashtri, Jyotisha Karmkanda and Adhyatma Shodh Sansthan, 455 Vasuki Khurd, Daraganj, Allahabad-6.
  • Sanskrit Commentary with Hindi Translation: Vedā̄ṅgajyotiṣam: Yajurvedināṃ paramparayāgatam vistr̥tasaṃskr̥tabhūmikayā. On Vedic astrology and astronomy; critical edited text with Hindi and Sanskrit commentaries. By Lagadha, Ācārya-Śivarāja Kauṇḍinnyāyana, SammodavardhanaKauṇḍinnyāyana, Somākara[16]


  1. ^ 1985:13
  2. ^ 1999
  3. ^ 1973: 10


  1. ^ N. P. Subramania Iyer. Kalaprakasika. Asian Educational Services. p. 3. 
  2. ^ Michael Witzel, "Autochthonous Aryans? The Evidence from Old Indian and Iranian Texts"
  3. ^ Subbarayappa, B. V. (14 September 1989). "Indian astronomy: An historical perspective". In Biswas, S. K.; Mallik, D. C. V.; Vishveshwara, C. V. Cosmic Perspectives. Cambridge University Press. pp. 25–40. ISBN 978-0-521-34354-1. 
  4. ^ Hart Defouw. Light on Life: An Introduction to the Astrology of India. Penguin. 
  5. ^ Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya, History of Science and Technology in Ancient India, Firma K.L Mukhopadhyaya (1986), pp. 486-494
  6. ^ Satya Prakash, Founders of Sciences in Ancient India (part II), Vijay Kumar (1989), p.471
  7. ^ B.S. Yadav & Man Mohan, Ancient Indian Leaps into Mathematics, Birkhäuser (2011), p.78
  8. ^ M. I. Mikhailov & N. S. Mikhailov, Key to the Vedas, Minsk-Vilnius (2005), p.105
  9. ^ Sures Chandra Banerji, A Companion to Sanskrit Literature, Motilal Banarsidass (1989), p. 59
  10. ^ Helaine Selin, Encyclopaedia of the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine in Non-Western Cultures, Kluwer Academic Publishers (1997), p.977
  11. ^ a b c d Chakraverti 2007, p. 33.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g Witzel 2001.
  13. ^ Klostermaier 2010, p. 977.
  14. ^ a b Subbarayappa 1989, p. 29.
  15. ^ Subbarayappa 1989, p. 47-48.
  16. ^


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