Surya Siddanta – Part 1
The Surya Siddanta is considered to be a book of ancient astronomy. Yet, a translation of this book gives us a totally different view of what is presented in the translations. But, it cannot be ignored that what is calculated using the translations from this book turn out to be accurate. I believe the reason for this is very simple. I will give a simple example to show why. If you have a cube in the 3-dimension and draw it on a 2-dimensional paper, the ratios of length and width will be equal in both. The dimension of depth will be missing in the 2-dimension and what we get is a square, but will have the correct quantity and ratios. The same way, if we took something that is described in higher dimensions and projected it into our single dimension, we should get the correct quantity, behaviour and calculations, because it is due to the higher dimensions we have what we have in our dimensions.
The Surya Siddanta is pretty long book to be translated in a single blog. The translations I present here are a sample to show that the Surya Siddanta really talks about something, surprisingly different. But, what is more important to understand is that, it brings out a very important difference in the way we learn about our environment as compared to how the ancients saw and learnt about the environment. We study the environment assuming it to be the reality presented to us as observable parameters, whereas the ancients have seen the environment devoid of observations, but as that underlying environment which has created this reality around us. They have studied that environment independently devoid of the perception. When we study topics such as astronomy as just the observable environment, what we end up with is the projected version of that environment such as the light emitted from stars, the red-shift of light, the time taken to traverse and hence the distance between earth and the star and so on which is very much limited to the visible spectrum. In comparison to what is presented in the Surya Siddanta, what we are studying feels as if it were a 2D image of the cube and claiming the cube to be just the same as a square.
While I have presented only the translations here, I will be releasing a book “A study of Surya Siddanta: Ancient Astronomy” which presents my conclusions from the book and what these translations possibly could imply. The Surya Siddanta definitely brings out the fact that astronomy is one of the many topics which we cannot be studied the way we study it in modern science. I will start the translations from Verse 11.
prANAdiH kathito mUrtastruTayAdyomUrtasMjnakaH ShaDibhaH prANairvinADI syAt tatShaShTayA nADikA smRtA prANAdi + kathito + mUrta + atra + aTa + AdyA + mUrta + saMjnakaH = via praNa + is related + form + herein + going + first + image + which is named ShaDi + bhaH + prAna + viNaDi + syAt + tat + ShaShTaya + nADikA + smRtA = a sixth + to exist + prAnA + viNADi + perhaps + that + sixty + a nADi + is recollectable
Here, I have left vINADi and nADi without translation, since they are just names given to the quantity. But, prANa as I have said in the blog on Prashna Upanishad, truly seems to indicate a change detectable by us. Thus this the translation of this verse becomes:
Related through prana is form herein which is named as first form. Perhaps a sixth part of prana is vinADI, sixty of that is nADi, that can be recollected.
It is interesting to note here that it very specifically tells me that this form is related to the environment via prana or change. Hence “that change” is the first form I have to start off with to start learning and relate everything to that change. Now, it has split this change further and said a sixth of the observable change is vINADI and 60 of those is nADi. Which tells me that 10 prANas form a nADi. Now, it should be noted that we have a number of sciences based on nADi. In our current translations nADi seems to take on a number of translations. The pulse seems to be the most common and hence prANA becoming the breath. But, if the Surya Siddanta is to be considered, nADi has nothing to do with pulse or form. Because as we go further in the translation, we will find that this leads to thought and then matter then form. So, prANa and nADi are much more basic concepts related to change detection.
nADIShaShTayA tu nAkShatramahorAtraM prakIrtitam tattriMshatA bhavenmAsaH sAvanoarkodayaistathA nADi + ShaShTayA + tu + nAkShat + tra + maha + ara + atraM + prakIrtitaM = nADi + of sixty + consisting + approaching + three + great + radius of orbit + in this manner + revealed tat + triM + shatA + bhavan + mAsAH + sAvana + arka + udai + astaThA = that + three + hundred + has become + mASa + natural + twelve + rising + setting + exists
Here, standard translations take nakshatra as a star, but that is because the Surya Siddanta is supposed to be astronomy and hence a lot of words seems to be translated to match what we know of astronomy in our modern world. But, I think that is a wrong way of going about it. We need to translate it for what it really means and check if another meaning comes out of it which makes sense to the context of the verses. The various words in this verse also belong to that category. This word has been written as nAkshatra, so I have split it as nAksha + tra which is “approaching three”. mahorAtram is split as maha + rAtram which becomes “great night”. Again night is something which comes because we have assumed the context of astronomy as we know it. It can also be split as maha + ara + atram which is great + radius of orbit + in this manner. The problem with using it as rAtram is a definition of night has not yet been given until now. An orbit for the object is something which is assumed to exist. Hence this translation.
Sixty nADi approaches a third of the great orbit, in this manner is revealed, that three hundred is mAsa natural twelve rising and setting exists
What is important to note here is the 12 rising and setting of mASa. The common misconception is that mASa is equivalent to a “month” as we know in our current timeline. But, as I have talked about in the book “A Research of Shiva: The Enigma“, the concept of time as we know it, is not what is called kAla in these literatures. The perspective of time is shifted from past/present/future to really void/becoming/become. Seeing the environment in this manner gives us a lot of advantages. This verse brings out the correct advantage. While I can see the passage of time ignoring the various changes that connect this “I” to the environment, it only gives me an abstract concept which gives no way of studying things correctly. But, relating time also to the changes I have detected gives us a concrete translation. Here, mASa rather than being a month, is the changed detected in one of the 12 dimensions that is present in the environment.
So, if I have 12 dimensions (4 major dimensions with 3 sub-dimensions for each), and as the previous verse states 6 viNADis makes a change or prANA, 60 of those viNADis is a nADi and 60 of that nADi is equivalent to a 3rd of the full circle. Now, we have 60*60 = 3600 viNADis in that 3rd of orbit. This spans all the 12 dimensions, hence in each dimension we have detected 3600/12 viNADi of change which is 300. Hence this says a 300 of that is a mASA and has 12 natural rising and setting, which means that 3600 changes is traversing via the 12 dimensions. I will address the 4X3 dimensions in the book “A study of Surya Siddanta: Ancient Astronomy”. But on an high level, the 4 dimensions are uncertainty (Tejas), capability (Shakti), force (Balam) and storage (AakASha). These are projected onto the cross-section that we live in and call as space-time continuum.
aindavastithibhistadvat saMkrAntyA saura ucyate mAsaidvArdashabhirvarShaM divyaM tadaha ucyate aindavat + stithi + abhi + as + tadvat + saMkrAntayA + saura + ucyate = reflection of that + state + go towards + take place + containing that + when come together + saura + is said mAsai + dvArdasha + abhi + varShaM + divyaM + tadaha + ucyate = with mAsa + 12 + into + varShaM + illusionary + is that + is said
Here, ainda is translated as “relating to moon”, again because it supposedly is astronomy. But, when we look at what we are looking at, we seem to be defining everything related to change. Hence, we translate it as “reflection”. So, we are looking at each dimension having a reflection of the change detected, which can be considered similar to the positive and negative changes. I have left saura as is, because it is a name given. This translates to:
Reflection of that (mAsa) state go towards taking place, having come together is said to be saura, 12 of the mAsa goes towards varSham, that is said to be illusionary.
So, now if we see the translations, the mASa and varSham that we have translated as “month” and “year” really is not just that. It is related to something in the underlying 12 dimensional environment. If this got projected into our space, then it feels as if they are months and years.
surAsurANAmanyonyamahorrAtraM viparyayAt tat ShaShTiH ShaDguNA divyaM varShamAsurameva ca sur + asurANAm + anya + ananya + maha + ara + atraM + viparyaya + yat = active + in-active + other + not other + great + radius of orbit + in this manner + inverted / reverse + which tat + ShaShTiH + ShaDi + guNa + divyaM + varSham + asuram + eva + ca = that + sixtieth + a sixth + quality + to become + varSham + of inertia + and also taddvAdashasahastraNi caturyugamudAhRutam sUryAbdasantvyayA dvitrisAgarairayutAhataiH tad + dvadasha + sahas + trANi + catur + yuga + muda + ahRutam = that + 12 + force + 3 times + 4 + united + blend + is said sUrya + abda + sant + avyayA + dvitri + sAgara + aira + yuta + ahataiH = pattern + cloud + existing + imperishable + twice or thrice + collection of / inexhaustible mass + plenty / a heap + joined + pure
The standard translation of asura is demon. But, as always this is a very humanised version of the translation. To understand what it possibly could mean, we need to look at sura, which is the word used in the same verse. sura, means to possess power, which is actually active, so the opposite of that is inactive or inertia which is a-sura. So, asura must mean inactive. Also, when we apply this translation to the verse, we find it makes more meaning than translating it as demon.
Also to note is the first reference to sURya. This is translated to “sun”, but here I have it as “pattern”. As I translate further, I will explain why sURya is a “recognisable pattern” in my subsequent blogs. This translates to:
Active – inactive, in this manner, the great orbit inverse of one another, that sixtieth, sixth quality is inertia and also is inertial varSham . That 12, 3 force, 4 joint mix holds, pattern cloud, existing imperishable, two or three pure collection joined
In these verse it brings out the fact that if there is a positive, there is also a negative and hence has given a name to both. Both these together now forms what we need to study and we cannot just study one side of it. This we are looking at two part in that 1/3rd orbit, an active 12 and an inactive 12. The active 12 is the daiva varSham and the inactive is called the asura varSham.
Here, the split of 12 dimensions into 4X3 is also brought out. Also, what this brings out is the existence of some recognisable pattern in that series of detected changes, which gets addressed more and more as this literature progresses. As is aptly said, to make multitude what is needed is a 2 or greater collection. Here it is specified that 2 or 3 when joined is what forms the pattern.
sandhyAsandhyAMshadahitaM vijneyaM taccaturyugam kRtAdInAM vyavastheyaM dharmapAdavyavasthayA sandhya + asandhya + amsha + sahitaM + vigneyam + tat + catur + yugam = transition + non-transition + portion + along with + coherent + that + four + joined kRta + adInAM + vyavas + astheyaM + dharma + pAda + vyavas + thayA = made + without stress + being bound + loosely + affinity + a quarter + is bound to + to go towards yugasya dashamo bhAgashrcatustridvayekasangunAH kramAt kRutayugAdInAM ShaShTAMshaH sandhyayoH svakaH yugasya + dashamo + bhAgashra + catur + tri + dva + eka + sanguNAH = joining + of 10 + parts + 4, 3, 2, 1 + multiples kramAt + kRuta + yuga + adInAM + ShaShTa + amshaH + sandhyayo + svakaH = series + made + joined + without stress + 60 + parts + with points of transition + one's own
This translates to:
Coherence of the transition and non-transition between united four, made without stress being bound by affinity goes towards binding to a quarter. Joining the 10 partitioned as multiples of 4, 3, 2, 1, series made by joining without stress 60 parts transition within one’s own part
Here, it brings out the fact that the transition between the various mASa is without stress and also splits the 60 or the 10 prANa that form the 1/3rd of the great orbit into a series of 4, 3, 2, 1 which is how the transition occurs.
yugAnAM saptatiH saikA manvantaramihocyate kRtAbtasaMtvayA tasyAnte sandhiH prokto jalaplavaH yugAnAM + saptatiH (sapta + iha) + saikA + manva + antaram + iha + ucyate = due to joining + seven of this + also one + becomes one thought + within + this + it is said kRta + abda + sant (saM) + avyaya + tasya + ante + sandhiH + prokto + jala + plavAH = made + indistinct + existing + imperishable + at the end of which + transitioning to + is said to be + cold + floating towards
This translates to:
Joining 7 of these as one becomes one thought it is said, made indistinct existing imperishable, that by the end of that transitioning is said to be floating towards cold.
I will end this blog with this translation. Here is where the formation of thought has been talked about. While the standard translations don’t translate “manu” and leave it as a period of time, I find it is very important to understand that this is what is considered a thought, from which what we consider as thoughts of a single person emerges. So, we are looking at 7 1/3rd of great orbits joined together to form a thought. This is 70 prANAs or changes or 420 nADi. While this is considered to be a thought, as we move further we find that this has to undergo even more consolidation and flow to become the “I”.
Now, to look at this from the astronomy perspective. While we consider thought to be just a part of the living organism such as a highly intelligent human being, it should be recognised that this is not so. Defined in the manner that it is here, a series of changes becoming a thought implies that the stars as we know it is also just a series of changes in the underlying environment, that we have detected. When we study the stars in just the visible spectrum, we have ignored the fact that it is what we have perceived of it. But studying it as a recognisable pattern of change, we can really study it for its impact on the environment on which the change we are detecting, which is more instantaneous than the visible spectrum, which has to depend on speed of light before being detected.
Why study the stars rather than us? This my guess is because the pattern followed by the changes in the stars are more uniform than the change pattern that is in us, even though the thought construction is the same. Studying the stars gives us a more stable ground to understand changes.