to make suppositions in order to arrivé at any conclusion at all. For a discussion of these data I refer the reader to Colebrooke's Algebra.1
Although not able, as yet, to fix the date of Varaha-mihira's birth with precision, we know with certainty that the most flourishing period of his life falls in the first half of the 6th century of our era. This point, important in itself, has the additional value that it serves to determine the age of other Hindu celebrities whom tradition represents as his contemporaries. The trustworthiness of the tradition will form matter for discussion afterwards; let us assume at the outset that the tradition is right, then it will follow that his contemporaries were Vikramaditya, the poets and literati at the court of this king, especially Kalidasa and Amara-simha, and it may be added from another source, the author of the Pancatantra. We shall begin with Vikramaditya, and since there are more princes than one who bore that name, or title, we shall have to enquire, which of them may have a claim to be considered the contemporary of Varaha-mihira.
It is generally assumed that the first Vikramaditya known in the history of India, was a king reigning in the century before the Christian era, and that he was the founder of the Indian era, generally denoted by Samvat. The objections that may be raised against this opinion are so many and formidable, that no critical man can adopt the fact without submitting the varying testimonies of Hindu authors to a severe scrutiny. This has been done by Prof. Lassen, more fully, so far as I know, than by any other. But notwithstanding the care bestowed by that distinguished scholar on the subject, his conclusions seem to me utterly inadmissible; it is therefore my duty to state the reasons why I cannot adopt the received opinion.
i The trustworthiness of the scientific Hindu astronomers may now-a-days be considered to be above suspicion. Not so in the days of Colebrooke and Bentley, and we are largely indebted to the former for his indefatigable researches in the history of Hindu astronomy. The worth of Bentley's results in determining the age of Varaha-mihira is perspicuous from the fact that he places this author in the 16th century of our era, that is, 500 years after Albïrünï. The main argument of Bentley, wholly worthless in itself, may serve as a curious specimen of his method. Colebrooke having tried to deduce some data from the time of the heliacal rising of Canopus, as stated in Ch. 12, vs. 14, of the Brliat-Samhita, is literally abused by Bentley, because he, Colebrooke, holds the heliacal rising to imply the star being visible. Bentley argues that the Sanskrit word for heliacal rising always means cosmical rising and never implies the star being visible, that Colebrooke therefore had wilfully misrepresented the passage of the Brhat-Samhita. Now be it assumed for a moment that Bentley was right in his opinion about the meaning of the Sanskrit word for heliacal rising, although he is wholly wrong, even then the passage, mistranslated and misrepresented by Colebrooke according to him, is in itself sufficiënt to give him the lie. The word namely, translated rightly by Colebrooke with heliacal rising, is fortuitously sandarfanam. Thus then Bentley heaps abuse upon a man who takes the unwarrantablo liberty of taking for granted that «being visible» means «being visible».