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English Translations of the Brihat Parasara Hora Sastra

 
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Mark
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Posted: Wed Feb 10, 2021 4:07 am    Post subject: English Translations of the Brihat Parasara Hora Sastra Reply with quote

There seem to be several English translations of the BPHS around today. I am planning to study the text as part of a Jyotish course and wondered if anyone could recommend their favoured translation?

Thanks

Mark
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Martin Gansten
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Posted: Wed Feb 10, 2021 6:56 am    Post subject: Re: English Translations of the Brihat Parasara Hora Sastra Reply with quote

I have only seen two English translations (R. Santhanam and G.C. Sharma), but there may be more out there today. Both are very free and occasionally less than correct, but more importantly, the Sharma one contains material not present in the Santhanam one. If memory serves, Sharma has at least one additional chapter, and there may be differences within chapters (I haven't compared them verse by verse).

Another cause for concern is that when you compare the Santhanam/Sharma Sanskrit text(s) with that used for the Hindi translation by Devachandra Jha as vol. 220 in the Kashi Sanskrit Series, the text itself is often completely different, which makes you wonder how many Sanskrit versions there really are, lying around in manuscript libraries in India. My guess is that Sharma may have used Santhanam's text as a basis for his own translation, adding some material that he had found elsewhere, so that the overall agreement of those two editions could be misleading.

So more of a caveat than a recommendation; sorry about that. Smile
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james_m



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Posted: Wed Feb 10, 2021 5:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

hi mark,

good question.. i have stayed away from BPHS because it sounds like it has been corrupted along the way...i recall a conversation you and therese had about this.... it seems parashara and jaimini concepts have all been rolled into one in many of the versions of BPHS today... i am curious to hear others feedback on your question... martins comment basically is more of the same impression i have gotten to date.. cheers james


-----------------------------------
here is aj's take on this when i asked him about it - take it fwiw...

"Yes Martin is mostly correct, there are three editions of this book in English but only two are currently in that print that I know of. Perhaps there is a more recent one but I doubt it. Ranjan and Sagar have both an available edition each by the mentioned authors.
It's with having both editions as they do vary slightly and both have different notes.

Better to start with Brihat Jataka IMO rather than BPHS for reasons we have talked about, the best available edition is by B. Suryanarayana Rao."
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pankajdubey



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Posted: Thu Feb 11, 2021 5:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

https://jyotish-blog.blogspot.com/2005/02/bphs-various-editions-by-dr-satya.html?m=1
If you want to read the predictive astrology of dasha- bhukti version then BPHS is the way to go.
The principles of interpreting the dasha bhukti of vimshottari system is in laghu- parashari.
Another book on vimshottari system would be the -Phaladeepika.
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Therese Hamilton



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Posted: Fri Feb 12, 2021 6:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

On Indian classics I have a printout of an article by Dr. Satya Prakash Choudhary titled "Jyotisha Through the Ages." From the historical point of view, I found this paragraph interesting:

Quote:
Kalyana Varma (6th century AD), Vaidyanatha (13th century AD) and Mantreswara [Phaladeepika] (16th century AD) are some other important names. Kalyana Varma [Saravali] crystalises very comprehensively Varahamihira's works as well as those of others like Yavana while Vaidyanatha models his wonderful work Jataka Parijata after Varahamihira and Kalyana Varma. His work is widely acclaimed, and is also among the prescribed list of texts for any serious student.

To summarize:
Brihat Jataka (earliest)
Saravali (6th century)
Jataka Parijata (13th century)
Phaladeepika (16th century)

I am interested in opinions comparing these texts with Brihat Jataka for accuracy and study purposes. As these were all standard recognized classics before BPHS emerged from the shadows in the last century, what does BPHS contain that isn't in these classics?

And a related question: What is earliest text that mentions Jaimini Sutram? Can this text be dated?
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Mark
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Posted: Sat Feb 13, 2021 2:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Martin wrote:
Quote:
I have only seen two English translations (R. Santhanam and G.C. Sharma), but there may be more out there today. Both are very free and occasionally less than correct, but more importantly, the Sharma one contains material not present in the Santhanam one. If memory serves, Sharma has at least one additional chapter, and there may be differences within chapters (I haven't compared them verse by verse).

Another cause for concern is that when you compare the Santhanam/Sharma Sanskrit text(s) with that used for the Hindi translation by Devachandra Jha as vol. 220 in the Kashi Sanskrit Series, the text itself is often completely different, which makes you wonder how many Sanskrit versions there really are, lying around in manuscript libraries in India. My guess is that Sharma may have used Santhanam's text as a basis for his own translation, adding some material that he had found elsewhere, so that the overall agreement of those two editions could be misleading.

So more of a caveat than a recommendation; sorry about that.


Thank you Martin. I was aware the historical authenticity of the version of the text passed down to us is a matter of considerable uncertainty. It doesn't really surprise me to hear their are quite different renditions of parts of the text in Hindi and English translations.

Regarding history of the translations of the text up to 1984 according to Santhanam and J. Gonda, the following are the modern translations (and manuscripts) of the Bṛhat Parāśara Horā Śāstra (BPHS)

Giridhara Lala Sarma and Govinda Sarma (Sri Venkateswata Press, Bombay). First published 1905. First printed version of the BPHS. Partial Hindi, mostly Sanskrit commentary. reprinted by Khemraj Press in 1961.

Thakuradasa Cudamana (Calcutta) First published 1926. Bengali translation Sitram Jha. Known as Varanasi edition. First published 1944. translated to Hindi. Apparently he admitted tampering with his published version of the BPHS manuscript.

Ganesa Datta Pathak (Chaukhambha Publications) translated to Hindi; similar to the Varanasi edition.

N.N.K. Rao and V.B. Choudhari. First published 1963. English translation (2 volumes); without Sanskrit slokas

Thakur Prasad. First published 1972. translated to Hindi

C.G. Rajan. Tamil translation; without Sanskrit verses. 1984

R. Santhanam (Ranjan Publications, New Delhi). First published 1984. English translation. 97 chapters with Sanskrit slokas.

So there appear to be only three English translations at this point:

N.N.K. Rao (1963) First editiion
R. Santhanam (1984) First edition
Girish Chand Sharma (19??) First Edition

I had thought Ernst Wilhem had brought out another full translation in English but it appears his book (2006) seems restricted to a translation and comparative commentary on the chapters covering the Grahas. Although, it was apparently intended as the first part of a wider series that has yet to appear. But after 15 years that looks less than likely now.

Wilhelm's book Graha Sutras (2016) is clearly narrower in focus and more eclectic rather than an attempt to translate the full text of the Bṛhat Parāśara Horā Śāstra (BPHS). As the book description states:

Quote:
Graha Sutras is the first Volume of a series of Jyoitsh texts dealing with the predictive methods and principles found in Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra. 384 pages of Grahas, Planets and more Grahas make Graha Sutras the most thorough text available on the Planets. Contains Sanskrit Astrological Sutras with original and precise translations that will bring the planets to life in a profound manner. Original artwork portrays the images of the planets in accordance with the precise descriptions found in Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra. There is even a chapter devoted to Graha Shanti - pacifying the planets. This Vedic Astrology text is largely a commentary of Brihat Parashara Hora Shastras Sutras on the Grahas. The translation will often be found to be slightly different than what is in the available translations as I have striven to give a more precise and literal and, as mentioned, more accurate translation than most. Where my translations differ on significant points I have explained my reasoning as to the correctness of my translation. In addition to the Sutras provided by Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra, I have found it worthwhile to add a few Sutras from other important texts such as Jataka Parijata and Yavana Jataka. Lastly I have included two chapters entirely my own: one on Grahas and numbers and the other on the myths surrounding the Grahas. My intention is thus to present an entirely complete manual for the study of the Grahas, after which you will only be in need of deepening your contemplations on this vast subject.


I don't think the N.N.K. Rao translation is in print so as you suggest whatever, their flaws it appears the Santhanam & Sharma editions are the only readily available English translations in print at present.

Mark
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Martin Gansten
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Posted: Sat Feb 13, 2021 7:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mark: I would be very surprised if Jan Gonda had written on the history of astrological Sanskrit texts. You're not by any chance referring to Pingree's Jyotiḥśāstra: Astral and Mathematical Literature (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1981), which belongs to a series edited by Gonda (A History of Indian Literature)?

The editions you mention agree more or less with Pingree's entry in CESS A4 (p. 202), available here (though for how long is an open question, so save it if you want it), with some minor mistakes. Sitaram Jha's Sanskrit-Hindi version is not a translation of Thakurdas Chudamani's Sanskrit-Bengali version, though I can understand how Pingree's phrasing in CESS might give someone that impression.

I hadn't read that particular entry before and wasn't aware of the Rao/Choudhari translation and related books. It seems there was some interesting work going on in the Bombay area in the 1950s and '60s; around the same time you have erudite astrologers like C.S. Patel and C.A.S. Aiyar publishing on aṣṭakavarga and so forth.

As a general tip, specialized Indian booksellers can often be very helpful in locating out-of-print books and procuring photocopies (or perhaps scans these days?) if you make it worth their while. Although I haven't seen this book, earlier English translations tend to be better and more carefully produced than what you typically encounter today. This includes Ernst Wilhelm's efforts: he clearly knows some Sanskrit, but not enough, and is unfamiliar with its literary genres: the Bṛhatpārāśarahorā[śāstra] is not a sūtra work.
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Mark
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Posted: Sat Feb 13, 2021 11:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Martin wrote:
Quote:
Mark: I would be very surprised if Jan Gonda had written on the history of astrological Sanskrit texts. You're not by any chance referring to Pingree's Jyotiḥśāstra: Astral and Mathematical Literature (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1981), which belongs to a series edited by Gonda (A History of Indian Literature)?

The editions you mention agree more or less with Pingree's entry in CESS A4 (p. 202), available here (though for how long is an open question, so save it if you want it), with some minor mistakes. Sitaram Jha's Sanskrit-Hindi version is not a translation of Thakurdas Chudamani's Sanskrit-Bengali version, though I can understand how Pingree's phrasing in CESS might give someone that impression.


Ok. I am sure youir right and the source is no doubt Pingree. Probably time to fess up less on my less than academically authorative source:
Wikipedia! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brihat_Parashara_Hora_Shastra.

I lost most of the academic articles I had saved on Jyotisha (such as Pingree) a few years ago after a laptop packed in without adequate back up. I am in the process of assiduously trying to accumulate information again now (with adequate IT back up!).


Quote:
As a general tip, specialized Indian booksellers can often be very helpful in locating out-of-print books and procuring photocopies (or perhaps scans these days?) if you make it worth their while. Although I haven't seen this book, earlier English translations tend to be better and more carefully produced than what you typically encounter today. This includes Ernst Wilhelm's efforts: he clearly knows some Sanskrit, but not enough, and is unfamiliar with its literary genres: the Bṛhatpārāśarahorā[śāstra] is not a sūtra work.


I believe Wilhelm is sincere but as for the quality of sanskrit skills or textual awareness I leave it to scholars like yourself to judge. The bigger question is surely why are we having to rely on the efforts of well meaning amateur enthusiasts like Wilhelm rather than academics from India? Considering the status of astrology in India one would assume there would be major academic activity there to unravel the Jyotisha texts. So why is Pingree still our core source on all these texts all these decades later? All the pioneering scholarship I read about today e.g. Bill Mak, Yano Michi or Jeffrey Kotyk is by academics located outside India. I admit I don't read Hindi so perhaps I am being thoroughly unfair to contemporary academics in India. Still, I cant help thinking the strong Hindutva climate isn't helping objective scholarship.

https://clarionindia.net/audrey-truschke-scholarship-that-debunks-hindutva-myths/

Mark
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Martin Gansten
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Posted: Sat Feb 13, 2021 12:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mark wrote:
Considering the status of astrology in India one might assume there would be major academic activity there to unravel the Jyotisha texts. I mean why is Pingree still our core source on all these texts all these decades later? All the pioneering scholarship I read about today e.g. Bill Mak, Yano Michi or Jeffrey Kotyk is by academics located outside India. I admit I don't read Hindi so perhaps I am being thoroughly unfair to contemporary academics in India. Still, I cant help thinking the strong Hindutva climate isn't helping objective scholarship.


No, the politicized climate doesn't help. (I would argue that that is equally, or at least nearly equally and increasingly, true of much scholarship in the western world, although the ideological directions differ.) But there are other factors too, one, as you say, being language.

I don't read Hindi or any other Indian vernacular either (more's the pity, but we all have to make priorities), but I did recently come across a very solid-looking 900-page PhD thesis in Sanskrit (!), comprising a critical edition of the astrological Kaśyapasaṃhitā and submitted to the University of Baroda in 2011. In one sense, I admire that commitment to a cultural and scholarly heritage; but at the same time, it is hard to think of a more effective way of ensuring that your work never reaches even the very modest international audience that might have been interested in the topic, had it been at least partly written in English (obviously the edition itself would necessarily be in Sanskrit). In any case, there clearly are things going on that you will miss if you don't read Indian languages.

Another very major factor is the lamentable fact that humanities all over the world are in terrible shape compared to the situation just 40-50 years ago. (This ties in with the matter of ideologization, but I won't go there, as it would just put me in a rage to no good purpose.) But however bad things are in Europe and North America, they are worse in India, where very few can afford the attempt to pursue an academic career in a field so unlikely to land them a secure job. Parents who send their children to university are making an investment on which they need a safe return, which is at least part of the reason why so many become doctors, lawyers, or computer engineers, rather than historians of astrology.
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Mark
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Posted: Sun Feb 14, 2021 9:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

James wrote:
Quote:
hi mark,

good question.. i have stayed away from BPHS because it sounds like it has been corrupted along the way...i recall a conversation you and therese had about this.... it seems parashara and jaimini concepts have all been rolled into one in many of the versions of BPHS today... i am curious to hear others feedback on your question... martins comment basically is more of the same impression i have gotten to date.. cheers james


Yes I am entering into this with open and critical eyes. I posted this link about the historical authenticity of the BPHS on this very forum page several years ago:

http://skyscript.co.uk/forums/viewtopic.php?t=7678

However, the year long jyotish course is being offered free by the Astrological Lodge of London. The teacher is a pupil of Sanjay Rath so yes the focus is coloured by a Jaimini outlook. However, to be fair several classical jyotish texts are actually discussed. Whatever, its historical credentials Jaimini seems to be one of the major if not dominant stream in contemporaty Jyotish. I see myself as more of an astrological tourist gaining a deeper appreciation a different astrological outlook than a blind follower.


James wrote:

Quote:
here is aj's take on this when i asked him about it - take it fwiw...

"Yes Martin is mostly correct, there are three editions of this book in English but only two are currently in that print that I know of. Perhaps there is a more recent one but I doubt it. Ranjan and Sagar have both an available edition each by the mentioned authors.
It's with having both editions as they do vary slightly and both have different notes.

Better to start with Brihat Jataka IMO rather than BPHS for reasons we have talked about, the best available edition is by B. Suryanarayana Rao."


Following the advice of Martin on Skyscript I bought a copy of Brihat Jataka about a decade ago as a good starting point for early Jyotish. So I am more advanced in my studies than where you or your friend seems to think I am. Financial strictures and time constraints prohibited me extending my library beyond downloads. However, I am now intending to purchase copies of all the Jyotish classics. I think Hellenistic , Perso-Arabic and renaissance astrology is still my main interest as its techniques seem more logically stated. At least that is my perception. Others may well disagree! I find some Jyotish rules quite arbitrary and the faith based focus at times off putting. I am not a Hindu so chanting for the assistance of deities like Ganesha or Vishnu does not feel comfortable for me. Still, Jyotish is very interesting in comparative terms with Hellenistic and Perso-Arabic astrology. Especially, as I am researching topics like the lunar nodes, fixed stars and the different approach to retrograde planets. The vargas are interesting too but I prefer working with the lots. Ultimately, when delineating a chart you cannot have your cake and eat it. For example I understand in Shad Bala (specifically Kala bala) Saturn is seen as better in a night chart and at its strongest at midnight. In contrast, in hellenistic planetary sect theory Saturn is regarded as diurnal and therefore best placed in a day chart above the horizon. Similarly, in Shad Bala (Kala Bala) Venus is seen as at its strongest at midday and powerless in a midnight chart. This totally contradicts the Hellenistic planetary sect theory where Venus is seen as better placed in a night chart. By definition delineation requires selectivity.

Mark
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james_m



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Posted: Mon Feb 15, 2021 2:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

very well mark!

you're more of an astrological tourist then an astrological chanter then! i have no idea where you are in your astrological studies.. i am not keeping tabs on you! perhaps it's time i did! i want to catch a few crumbs off any enlightened mind and you show more promise!

i agree with what you say about present day astrology in india... it is hard to distinguish any particular focus and from what i see, indian astrology is now a mismash between jaimini and parashara, with more of an automatic assumption it is all one and the same and if anything - jaimini is becoming more prominent as i see it.. sanjay rath - i have read one of his books and have his upadesa sutras interpretation, but have yet to actually read it.. that is jaimini maharishis upadesa sutras.. it seems all the popular proponents of indian astrology are coming out of jaimini, or a mix of what i was told were 2 separate and distinct systems... from what i have read, they are indeed distinct and different, but there is a lot of blending going on..

i wish you well on your journey and hope you keep us posted on what you discover..
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Therese Hamilton



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Posted: Sat Feb 20, 2021 7:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Martin Gansten wrote:
Quote:
Another very major factor is the lamentable fact that humanities all over the world are in terrible shape compared to the situation just 40-50 years ago. (...)
But however bad things are in Europe and North America, they are worse in India, where very few can afford the attempt to pursue an academic career in a field so unlikely to land them a secure job. Parents who send their children to university are making an investment on which they need a safe return, which is at least part of the reason why so many become doctors, lawyers, or computer engineers, rather than historians of astrology.


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Mark
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Posted: Sat Feb 27, 2021 3:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Therese wrote:
Quote:
On Indian classics I have a printout of an article by Dr. Satya Prakash Choudhary titled "Jyotisha Through the Ages." From the historical point of view, I found this paragraph interesting:

Quote:
Kalyana Varma (6th century AD), Vaidyanatha (13th century AD) and Mantreswara [Phaladeepika] (16th century AD) are some other important names. Kalyana Varma [Saravali] crystalises very comprehensively Varahamihira's works as well as those of others like Yavana while Vaidyanatha models his wonderful work Jataka Parijata after Varahamihira and Kalyana Varma. His work is widely acclaimed, and is also among the prescribed list of texts for any serious student.

To summarize:
Brihat Jataka (earliest)
Saravali (6th century)
Jataka Parijata (13th century)
Phaladeepika (16th century)

I am interested in opinions comparing these texts with Brihat Jataka for accuracy and study purposes. As these were all standard recognized classics before BPHS emerged from the shadows in the last century, what does BPHS contain that isn't in these classics?


This exact dating of all these texts is of course necessarily debatable. Ronnie Dreyer in her interview with his Chris Brennan on his podcast ( The early History of the Lunar Nodes in Astrology) seems to place the Kalyana Varma (Saravali) to the 8th century or earlier and Phaladeepika as somewhat older than your source to the 13th or 14th century CE.

https://theastrologypodcast.com/2021/02/05/the-early-history-and-meanings-of-the-nodes-in-astrology/

If we are looking at the earliest Jyotish astrological texts (still extant) I think the contenders probably include the following:

The Gārgīyajyotiṣa
The Yavana Jataka of Sphujidhvaj
The Vrddhayavanajataka by Minaraja
Bhrigu Samhita by Maharishi Bhrigu
Brihat Jataka by Varahamihira
Brihat Samhita By Varahmihira
Daivajnavallabha by Varahamihira or Śrīpati
Jyotisaratnamala by Śrīpati
Jatakapaddhati or Śrīpatipaddhatiḥ by Śrīpati
Saravali by Kalyana Varma, aka Kamadeva
Phaldeepika by Shri Mantreswara
Jatak Parijaat by Sri Vaidyanatba Dikshita
Sarvatha Chintamani by Venkatesa Sarma
Ashtak Varga Nibandh
Bhavartha Ratnakar by Ramanuja
Uttara Kalamrita By Khalidasa
Jathakabharanam-by Shree Saraswati Prakashan
Prasna Marga by Narayanan Nambutiri

Therese wrote:
Quote:
And a related question: What is earliest text that mentions Jaimini Sutram? Can this text be dated?



We are back in the deep, dark , jungle of dating Indian astrological texts!

David Pingree is his dating of Jaimini’s ‘Upadesa Sutras’ asserted that because of ‘the lack of earlier citations and internal evidence’, one cannot date the text of Jaimini (and his teachings) before c. 1700

However, many Indian's disagree with Pingree's conclusion. Its rather a circular debate as it brings up the question of whether the BPHS is essentially a Jaimini text or a separate development. There is no denying Parasara’s text deals with parts of Jaimini. But the definitive and more authoritative text for Jaimini methodology is the Jaimini Sutras and the commentaries on it. Whether Parasara’s text was earlier or later than Jaimini is debatable. One theory is that the BPHS passed down to us was a late product of an indigenous astrological movement originating in medieval Jaimini teachings.

Sri Madhura Krishnasmurty Sastry has suggested that even ‘Kalpalata’ the commentary of Somanatha on Jaimini astrology is much older than than Pingree's suggested date. He believes that text dated back as far as the the 11th century CE. However, the text of ‘Kalpalata’ contains certain areas of Jaimini methodology that had already become obscure during Somanatha’s times. So Sastry has inferred that the original teachings of Jaimini must have preceded Somanatha’s times by several centuries at the least

Some of he major Jaimini texts I have seen listed:

Krishna Misra’s ‘Jyotisha Phala Ratnamala’,
Raghava Bhatta’s ‘Jataka Saara Sangraha’,
Narasimha Suri’s ‘Jaimini Sutrartha Prakasika’,
Somanatha’s ‘Kalpalata’,
Nrisimha Daivagna’s ‘Jaimini Sutra Vyakhya’,
Singayarya’s ‘Jataka Rajeeya’.

Mark
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Martin Gansten
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Posted: Sat Feb 27, 2021 8:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, trying to date Sanskrit texts can be a real pain. Ronnie Dreyer probably relied on Pingree's Jyotiḥśāstra volume (which I see is available on archive.org, at least for now), and I don't know of any better single resource.

The list you give, Mark, is a very mixed bag, with only the first three texts being early (pre-Varāhamihira, who can be dated to the 6th century). Some of the authors are mythical (Bhṛgu) or pseudepigraphic (Kālidāsa, Rāmānuja), and Śrīpati is 11th century. All the texts listed after Śrīpati are late medieval to early modern (I never heard of Aṣṭakavarganibandha, but the title shows it to be a compendium). The author of Jātakābharaṇa is Ḍhuṇḍhirāja; 'Shree Saraswati Prakashan' seems to be a publishing house.
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