Vedanga Jyotisha

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The Vedāṅga Jyotiṣa, or Jyotiṣavedāṅga (Devanagari: वेदाङ्ग ज्योतिष) (VJ), is one of earliest known Indian texts on astronomy and astrology (Jyotisha).[1] The present form of the text is dated to the 700 BCE to final centuries BCE, but it is based on a tradition reaching back to about 1400 BCE.[2][3][4]

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


According to Subhash Kak, the astronomy of the Vedāṅga Jyotiṣa is based on the use of mean motions of the sun and the moon. VJ's internal date of c. 1400 BCE is obtained from its assertion that the winter solstice was at the asterism Sravishtha (Delphini) also known as Dhanishta.[12] It has intercalation rules for computation of tithis and nakshatras. It divides the day into 603 parts and the ecliptic into 27 equal nakshatra segments.

Textual history[edit]

The dating of the Vedanga Jyotisha is relevant for the dating of the Vedic texts.[13][14] The Vedanga Jyotisha describes the winter solstice for the period of ca. 1400 BCE. This description has been used to date the Vedanga Jyotisha.[13] 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.It is written in two recensions-Rigveda recensions and Yajurveda recensions.Rigveda recensions and Yajurveda recensions have same verses except for eight additional verses in the Yajurveda's one."[13] T. K. S. Sastry and R. Kochhar suppose that the Vedanga Jyotisha was written in the period that it describes, and therefore propose an early date, between 1370 and 1150 BCE.[13] David Pingree dates the described solstice as about 1180 BCE, but notes that the relevance of this computation to the date of the Vedanga Jyotisha "is not evident."[15] The estimation of 1400-1200 BCE has been followed by others,[16][17] with Subbarayappa adding that the extant form can be possibly from 700-600 BCE.[17]

Other authors propose a later composition. Santanu Chakraverti writes that it has been composed after 700 BCE,[4] while Michael Witzel dates it to the last centuries BCE, based on the style of composing.[13] According to Chakraverti, its description of the winter solstice is correct for ca. 1400 BCE, but not for the time of its composition after 700 BCE.[4] This may be due to the incorporation of late Harappan astronomical knowledge into the Vedic fold,[4] an idea which is also proposed by Subbarayappa.[18] 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.[13]

Subhash Kak disputes the late chronology for the text and argues that it belongs to the second millennium BCE, which is consistent with its internal date. He argues that astronomy in India goes back to an earlier time than is taken by the votaries of the later date[19] and, therefore, the internal date should not be set aside.


  • 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. With appendies including Vedic calendar as described by Lagadha for his time. By Lagadha, Ācārya-Śivarāja Kauṇḍinnyāyana,Pramodavardhana Kaundinnyayana, Sammodavardhana Kauṇḍinnyāyana, Somākara[20]


  1. ^ N. P. Subramania Iyer (1991). Kalaprakasika. Asian Educational Services. p. 3.
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ Michael Witzel, "Autochthonous Aryans? The Evidence from Old Indian and Iranian Texts"
  4. ^ a b c d e Chakraverti 2007, p. 33.
  5. ^ Hart Defouw. Light on Life: An Introduction to the Astrology of India. Penguin.
  6. ^ Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya, History of Science and Technology in Ancient India, Firma K.L Mukhopadhyaya (1986), pp. 486-494
  7. ^ Satya Prakash, Founders of Sciences in Ancient India (part II), Vijay Kumar (1989), p.471
  8. ^ B.S. Yadav & Man Mohan, Ancient Indian Leaps into Mathematics, Birkhäuser (2011), p.78
  9. ^ M. I. Mikhailov & N. S. Mikhailov, Key to the Vedas, Minsk-Vilnius (2005), p.105
  10. ^ Sures Chandra Banerji, A Companion to Sanskrit Literature, Motilal Banarsidass (1989), p. 59
  11. ^ Helaine Selin, Encyclopaedia of the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine in Non-Western Cultures, Kluwer Academic Publishers (1997), p.977
  12. ^ Subhash Kak, Astronomy of the age of geometric altars. " Quarterly Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society, vol. 36, 1995.|[1]
  13. ^ a b c d e f Witzel 2001.
  14. ^ "Contribution Of Hindu Scriptures To Archaeoastronomy".
  15. ^ Pingree, David (1973), "The Mesopotamian Origin of Early Indian Mathematical Astronomy", Journal for the History of Astronomy, 4, Bibcode:1973JHA.....4....1P
  16. ^ Klostermaier 2010, p. 977.
  17. ^ a b Subbarayappa 1989, p. 29.
  18. ^ Subbarayappa 1989, p. 47-48.
  19. ^ S. Kak, Knowledge of Planets in the Third Millennium BC." Quarterly Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol. 37, 1996|[2]
  20. ^


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