*The Great Surya Siddanta……
The Surya Siddhanta is one of the earliest doctrine or tradition (siddhanta) in archeo-astronomy of the Hindus. Its original version is by an unknown author. It describes the archeo-astronomy theories, principles and methods of the ancient Hindus. This Siddhanta is supposed to be the knowledge that the Sun god gave to an Asura called Maya. Asuras were enemies of the Deva, the Gods of Hindus. Asuras were believed to residents of the nether worlds.
Significant coverage is on kinds of time, length of the year of gods and demons, day and night of god Brahma, the elapsed period since creation, how planets move eastwards and sidereal revolution. The lengths of the Earth’s diameter, circumference are also given. Eclipses and color of the eclipsed portion of the moon is mentioned. This explains the archeo-astronomical basis for the sequence of days of the week named after the Sun, Moon, etc. Musings that there is no above and below and that movement of the starry sphere is left to right for Asuras makes interesting reading.
Somethings that this text tell us:_
i)The average length of the tropical year as 365.2421756 days, which is only 1.4 seconds shorter than the modern value of 365.2421904 days (J2000).
ii)The average length of the sidereal year, the actual length of the Earth’s revolution around the Sun, as 365.2563627 days, which is virtually the same as the modern value of 365.25636305 days (J2000). This remained the most accurate estimate for the length of the sidereal year anywhere in the world for over a thousand years
iii)The Surya Siddhanta also estimates the diameters of the planets. The estimate for the diameter of Mercury is 3,008 miles, an error of less than 1% from the currently accepted diameter of 3,032 miles. It also estimates the diameter of Saturn as 73,882 miles, which again has an error of less than 1% from the currently accepted diameter of 74,580. Its estimate for the diameter of Mars is 3,772 miles, which has an error within 11% of the currently accepted diameter of 4,218 miles. It also estimated the diameter of Venus as 4,011 miles and Jupiter as 41,624 miles, which are roughly half the currently accepted values, 7,523 miles and 88,748 miles, respectively.
iv)The Surya Siddhanta contains the roots of modern trigonometry. It uses sine (jya), cosine (kojya or “perpendicular sine”) and inverse sine (otkram jya) for the first time, and also contains the earliest use of the tangent and secant when discussing the shadow cast by a gnomon in verses 21–22 of Chapter 3:
Of [the sun’s meridian zenith distance] find the jya (“base sine”) and kojya (cosine or “perpendicular sine”). If then the jya and radius be multiplied respectively by the measure of the gnomon in digits, and divided by the kojya, the results are the shadow and hypotenuse at mid-day.
v)Conservative “panchang” (almanac) makers still use the formulae and equations found in the Surya Siddhanta to compile and compute their panchangs. The panchang is an annual publication published in all regions and languages in India containing all calendrical information on religious, cultural and astronomical events. It exerts great influence on the religious and social life of the people in India and is found in most Hindu households.