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A jyotiśhāstra is a text from a classical body of literature on the topic of Hindu astrology, known as Jyotiṣha, dating to the medieval period of Classical Sanskrit literature (roughly the 3rd to 9th centuries CE) Only the most important ones exist in scholarly editions or translations, such as the Yavanajataka (3rd century), Brihat Samhitā (6th century), Brihat Parāśara Horāśāstra (7th century) or Sārāvalī (8th century), while many remain unedited in Sanskrit or vernacular manuscripts.
Such classical texts should be distinguished from modern works. There are a great number of contemporary publications, reflecting the persisting importance of astrology in Hindu culture, and the corresponding economical attractivity of the market in India. Notable modern authors include Sri Yukteswar Giri (1855–1936), Bangalore Venkata Raman (1912–1998), and Sanjay Rath (b. 1963).
Pingree classifies as jyotihshastra (treatises on jyotisha) manuscripts on astronomy, mathematics, astrology and divination, and estimates that about 10% of surviving Sanskrit manuscripts belong to the category. He cites the Brihat Samhita (1.9) for a traditional tripartite division of subject matter which, in his view, does not cover the field adequately:
This classification is also found as follows:
- Siddhanta: Mathematical astronomy
- samhitā: Collective astrology (Mundane Astrology, Omens etc.)
- horā: astrology (Natal Horoscopy - i.e. Jataka, Interrogative astrology - i.e. Prashna etc.)
Types of texts
Classical texts
Treatises on nativity
Treatises on Hindu electional astrology
Samhitas – treatises on mundane, portents, omens, meteorology, etc.
- Pingree (1981) p.1