Astronomy

公開講座 2015年6月18日(木)

IWTSA2

公開講座

日時:17:00-18:30
会場:京都大学人文科学研究所東アジア人文情報学研究センター (分館)2階大会議室 アクセス
講演:海部宣男(国立天文台名誉教授,国際天文学連合会長)「宇宙にまつわるアジアの神話・伝説と宇宙観」
矢野道雄(京都産業大学 名誉教授)「宿曜道にみられるインドの天文学と占星術」
主催:京都大学人文科学研究所,京都大学白眉センター,京都大学宇宙総合学研究ユニット
参加:完全予約制です.以下の参加申し込みフォームに記入し usss-event@kwasan.kyoto-u.ac.jp までメールでお送り下さい。 その際、件名は「6/18公開講座申し込み」として下さい。 折り返し確認のメールを送ります。 定員(50名)に達した場合は それ以上の参加をお断りせざるを得ないこともありますので、 あらかじめご了解下さい。

An exciting evening lecture on astral science by two eminent Japanese scholars (18 Jun, 2015, Kyoto).
- Prof. Kaifu Norio (President of International Astronomical Union / Professor Emeritus of National Astronomical Observatory of Japan): “Myths and Legends on Stars, and Universe of Ancient Asia”
- Prof. Yano Michio (Professor Emeritus of Kyoto Sangyo University): “Indian astronomy and astrology as seen from the tradition of Sino-Japanese Esoteric Buddhist astral science”

*** Registration required. See (Japanese only): https://iwtsa.wordpress.com/日本語/

2015 New Year in South and Southeast Asia – Mar 21 or Apr 14/15?

2015.4 Indian New Year

In India, the Hindus celebrate the New Year from the month of Caitra which begins from the New Moon, and in which the Sun enters “Aries” (Sanskrit: meṣa). Whereas, in Southeast Asia and certain parts of India such as Bengal, the New Year starts directly from “the moment the Sun enters Aries” (Sanskrit: meṣasaṃkrānti = Thai: songkran). Since the Gregorian calendar is solar, the latter Indian (solar) New Year is more or less fixed at around Apr 14/15. The former (luni-solar) Indian New Year is always close to the latter, but moves around depending when the New Moon is.

 

But what is the true significance behind either of these New Years?

 

Just like all the calendars, Gregorian, Chinese, etc., they preserve a distant memory of the past. The latter Indian New Year was originally associated with spring, when the vernal equinox was located in Aries at around 400 CE. (Due to precession, the equinoctial point has now moved to Pisces). This coordinate system was originally developed by the Greco-Babylonian astronomers a few centuries before the common era and was adopted by the Indian some centuries after the common era. Prior to that, the Indians used only a luni-solar calendar like the Chinese.

 

The concept behind the former luni-solar Indian New Year beginning with Caitra is therefore much older. In the Vedas, Caitra is associated with spring (vasanta) as well, but was associated with the vernal equinox at a much earlier date at least a thousand years earlier, located in the nakṣatra Kṛttikā (close to Taurus).

 

Although both the contemporary Indian New Years are completely arbitrary, tied to Aries which carries greater meaning in astrology than in astronomy, we can nonetheless see beautifully how precession brought us from Taurus (former luni-solar India New Year), to Aries (latter solar Indian New Year), and to finally Pisces (where vernal equinox is currently located).

 

While on the topic of astral science, I should point out that today we have the Sun, Mercury, Mars in Aries and the Moon in Taurus.

 

A belated happy new year to all my friends who celebrate the Indian New Year(s)!

Frontier research in Sanskrit genethliacal astrology (jātaka)

Among the earliest philological research done on the Greco-Indian astral science was undertaken by the Dutch orientalist Henrik Kern, who was known mostly for his works in Buddhist and Austronesian studies. Kern studied Utpala’s commentaries of the Bṛhatsaṃhitā and Bṛhajjātaka in the late 19th century and most of the jyotiṣa entries from the Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English dictionary are based on Kern’s notes (not entirely reliable as Kern was only in his twenties then!) Subsequently, a number of important historical studies on the jātaka was published by P.V. Kane around the 1950s, followed by David Pingree from the 1960s onward. The Indian and Western scholars followed largely Kane and Pingree’s footsteps, with notably Indo-centric vs. Greco-centric bias. A much more balanced approach was undertaken by the Japanese scholars, most notably Yano Michio and his student Sugita Mizue, who jointly published an annotated Japanese translation of the Bṛhatsaṃhitā in 1995 . In addition, Sugita produced the e-texts of a number of key jyotiṣa work such as the Bṛhatsaṃhitā and the Bṛhajjātaka.

The next step of jātaka studies would be a comprehensive comparative study of the major Greco-Indian Jātakas, namely Sphujidhvaja’s Yavanajātaka, Mīnarāja’s Vṛddhayavanajātaka and Varāhamihira’s Bṛhajjātaka. At the moment, the e-texts of all the texts together with key passages and citations in Utpala’s commentaries have been prepared. For the past three years, Yano and myself have read and analyzed Utpala’s commentary on the Bṛhajjātaka (80% complete as of today). This summer at the World Sanskrit Conference, I will present my new edition of the Yavanajātaka. Today at a drinking party, Yano and myself have decided to begin our reading of the Vṛddhayavanajātaka once our reading of the Bṛhajjātaka is finished, probably some time before the end of the year.

The comparative study of the three jātakas will reveal most likely the historical relation of the three texts and to point us to the right direction in terms of what kind of Greek astrology it was supposedly based on. Since the origin and the earliest form of Greek astrology are rather sketchy, perhaps some important clues may be gleaned from the Sanskrit sources.