The name of Varaha-mihira must be familiar to every Sanskrit scholar from the writings of Colebrooke, Davis, Sir William Jones, Weber, Lassen, and, not least, from the writings of Albïrünl, brought to public notice by Reinaud. But, however well known the name of the Hindu astronomer and astrologer may be, his works are disproportionally less generally known, because with one exception they existed only in Manuscripts and were consequently accessible to comparatively few. It is with the desire of extending that knowledge that I have undertaken the editing of the most. celebrated of Varaha-mihira's works, the Brhat-Samhita.
Varaha-mihira, or, as the name is also written, Varaha-mihara, was a native of Avanti and the son and pupil of Adityadasa, likewise an astronomer. 1 The statement of Utpala that he was a Magadha Brahman 2 must most likely be understood in this sense, that his family derived its origin from Magadha; up to the present day it is a common practice in India, for Brahmans to be distinguished by the name of the country whence they themselves or their forefathers have come; so that, in Benares for instance, there are Kanyakubja Brahmans, Mahratta Brahmans, Dravida Brahmans &c., many of whom have never seen the country of their forefathers. As Utpala repeats his statement, I think itimprobable that the words Magadha Brahman are an error of the MSS. for Maga Brahman, the name given to the sun-worshippers, although this would not unnaturally suggest itself at first sight.
No information is to be found in the works of our author which have come to us, about the year of his birth, nor could we expect to find it but
1 We have for this his own testimony in the Brhaj-jataka, Ch. 26, 5: Adityadasatanayas tadavaptabodhah Kapitthake Sa vitrlabdhavaraprasadalx |
Avantiko munimatany avalokya samyag ghoram Varahamihiro ruciram cakara||
«Varaha-mihira, a native of Avanti, the son of Adityadasa and instruoted by him, having obtained the graoious favour of the sun, at Kapitthaka, composed this elegant work on Horoseopy, after making himself duly aequainted with the doctrines of the aneient sages.» It may be also that Kapitthaka is the place where he received his education; it is the name of a village, according to Bhafcta Utpala, the excellent commentator of Varaha-mihira's works.
' Cf. Colebrooke, Algebra (1817), p. XLV, note (or Miscell. Essays, 1837, II, p. 477).