Get the PDF version of this article in German. Ever since with the publication of the first volume of Brhat Parasara Hora Sastra Parasara, with translation and commentary by R.
This reputation was further cemented when Sagar published their superior edition of the same work with translation and commentary by Sriman Girish Chand Sharma Parasara, The idea that one gets, especially for followers of Lord Krsna's Vedic culture, is that the modern edition of BPHS is a very ancient text dating back to the beginning of Kali-yuga B.
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Hence, the views set forth in the BPHS are seen by many as sacrosanct, infallible and on par with sacred scriptures like the Vedas or Srimad Bhagavatam. And, hence BPHS is often quoted as pramana -- authoritative evidence -- in Vedic astrological discourse. When I first started studying jyotish in India in there were very few classic texts easily available in English.
The main authors to have translated texts were V. Subrahmanya Sastri to whom we owe translations of:. Most of which have been pirated and republished after his demise by others claiming to be the authors. Raman though a prolific author did not translate many books but the ones he did were important in particular Prasna Marga.
His grandfather B. Suryanarayana Rao translated and commented on several important classics including Brhat Jataka, Jaimini Sutras and Sarvartha Cintamani. This is not a complete list of translators and titles. I remember from my early days of study that the " big five " main classical texts that the scholars in The Astrological Magazine eulogized and encouraged one to read and study were:.
Brhat Jataka was considered to be the jewel among astrological literatures and indeed in my early days of study there were many translations and commentaries on Varaha Mihira's Brhat Jataka. I have already mentioned the translations of V. Subrahmanya Sastri and B.
Suryanarayana Rao, another excellent translation was by Swami Vijnananda. A less valuable translation in my opinion was that of N.
Iyer which was later pirated and repackaged as authoured by Usha and Shashi. Much later P. Sastri also did a translation of Brhat Jataka. Raman he was honored by calling him the modern Varaha Mihira.
BPHS as one can see from my narrative so far was hardly mentioned or popular. Whereas today BPHS would be one of the first books a new student would be recommended to purchase I had barely heard of it what to speak of seen it.
I came across it by accident when I spotted it in the card catalogs. When the clerk returned with the book I was enthralled and spent a long time looking through it and taking notes. The book was a translation of some important chapters not a complete translation by N.
Krishna Rau and V. Choudhuri, published in It was not well printed but the content mattered more to me than the form it was in. I recall I was especially happy because for the first time I could read an explanation of how the shodasavargas were to be used. I had been trying to use shodasavargas since and had even written a computer program to calculate them but was not really sure how to use them as no texts up to that time gave instructions on how to use them.
I was also intrigued by the idea that the author, Parasara Muni, had indicated that each of the planets was an expansion of a different incarnation of Lord Krsna. I was determined to get a copy of this book.
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Unfortunately only about a thousand had been made by mimeograph copying almost 20 years earlier so it would be very hard to come by and no book sellers had heard of it. By my good fortune I was introduced by a friend to an old brahmana, Pandit Dvivedi, from Varanasi who said he had a copy of the same book and would give it to me.
I made arrangements to stop in Varanasi on my way to Vrndavana in August and acquired the book which I still have to this day. I studied the book diligently especially the use of the different vargas. I asked him what his opinion was of BPHS , I remember that he startled me by saying that unlike other well known texts BPHS started appearing only recently in the s and that there was no standard version in Bengali.
It was not till much later that I understood the significance of his statement. In I was living and studying jyotish in Bangalore and Thiruvanantampuram. I recall having a discussion with my astrology teacher Sriman B. The thing that I remember was that I was wondering how these two texts could give different views.
Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra
Later in I was discussing with my jyotish guru, Sriman B. Sashikanta Jain, about the lack of classical works translated into English. We made up a list of desired texts including BPHS.
I then wrote a letter to Mr. Goel one of the owners of Ranjan Publications in Delhi submitting my desideratum. I never got a reply but I was more than pleasantly surprised when Santanam's translation and commentary on Hora Sara came out later that year and 2 years later they came out with Santanam's translation of the first volume of BPHS. And, later Santanam translated and published a steady stream of texts, many of which had been on my list.
I also followed this trend. However I was somehow disturbed by what I perceived to be a focus only on BPHS and the demise of the tradition of studying other classics especially Brhat Jataka among the younger astrologers especially those who got into astrology via the internet and had never visited India. In the summer of while reading B.
Rao's annotated translation of Brhat Jataka with commentary of Bhattotpala Mihira, I came across an interesting point in his commentary to the 7th chapter. In Brhat Jataka 7.
Later in Brhat Jataka 7. Rao mentions that the learned commentator Bhattotpala laments that while he has a copy of Parasara Samhita he was unable to acquire a copy of Parasara Hora which Mihira refers to in Brhat Jataka 7. This struck Rao as significant because it now made him doubt the authenticity of Jataka Candrika which is supposedly an abstract of Parasara Hora but much later than the time of Bhattotpala.
On this basis Ajay Mitra Sastri Shastri, , p. In order to discredit the antiquity of the BPHS some persons have commented that there were many Parasaras in antiquity and that Varaha Mihira didn't mean Parasara Rishi, father of Vyasadeva, it was some other Parasara.
Varaha Mihira in Brhat Jataka 7. William's Sanskrit-English dictionary. So there is no doubt who Varaha Mihira thought he was quoting. Modern western-centric scholars years later with no access to his material are doing a disservice by such neo-colonial etic approach to the study of the history of Vedic astrology. Bhattotpala lived in North India on the same latitude as Ujjain Mihira, , p.
This was before the Islamic invasion of India with attendant destruction of libraries, places of learning, decline of scholarship and general decline of Krsna's Vedic civilization in North India.
His writings indicate that he had at his access many ancient works of jyotish, many of which we only know about because he quotes them in his commentaries Mihira, , pp.
It seems that he had access to various royal libraries in North India particularly Ujjain which was the native place of Varaha Mihira. Yet despite his living before the general destruction in the wake of the Islamic invasion and having access to a vast quantity of jyotish literature he was unable to see let alone acquire Parasara Hora quoted by Varaha Mihira.
How then is it that we are able to get it years later with all the difficulties and loss associated with the passage of so much time? Therefore there is great doubt as to the authenticity of the modern BPHS. Because of its many ancient commentaries by Bhattopala and others especially the Dasadhyayi of Talakkulathur Govindam Bhattathiri. Visnu Nambudiri fl. Raman note the complete absence of any mention of BPHS :.
Stanza Though difficult to be comprehended by even intelligent persons, yet with the aid of the commentaries of Bhattotpala and others, it is possible to understand the book. One well acquainted with these two books can, according to the author, safely claim good scholarship.
So say the learned. Prasna Marga 1. Another reason that casts doubt on the veracity of the modern BPHS is the complete lack of any ancient commentary on the text. The oldest commentary known to me is that of Devacandra Jha's Hindi commentary from the first half of the 20th century, that is, less than years old.
More recently are the previously mentioned English translations and commentaries of Santanam and Sharma. In the preface of the first volume of his translation Santanam mentions that he had access to the following published texts:. N Krishna Rau in the preface of his translation of BPHS only mentions the Sri Venkateswata Press edition that he says was published 35 years earlier and seems to be the basis of his translation as no other source is mentioned.
Commentaries ensure that the corpus of the material in the text stays intact and allows us to track changes in the text.
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For example we know that the Bhagavad Gita has 18 chapters and verses because all the commentaries from ancient to modern have the same number. If someone were to publish an edition of more or less than verses it would be immediately detected as spurious.
But if a work has no commentaries then we can not know if there have been any changes to the text unless there is some other system such as ghanapata of keeping the text from changing. We can have reasonable faith and trust in the authenticity of the present version of Brhat Jataka because there are a number of commentaries on this text some of them very ancient. These commentaries preserve the text and its structure in a way that is hard to do without commentaries.
Shastri Shastri, , p. Dasadhyayi is one of such commentaries in Sanskrit, by Talakkulathur Govindam Bhattathiri. Perhaps next prominent one is Vivaranam of Rudra. Srinivasaraghava Aiyangar, published by Adyar Library, Chennai, in How to tell what is authentic in BPHS and what has been interpolated by later authors? The first thing to consider is that Varaha Mihira refers to many previous and contemporary authors :.
His equally learned scholiast Bhattotpala persistently styled him as 'the redactor of the entire Jyotihsastra,' and the author himself makes his position clear in [Brhat Samhita] 9.