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Time as a Metaphor of History: Early IndiaThe Krishna Bharadwaj Memorial Lecture$
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Romila Thapar

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780195637984

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195637984.001.0001

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Time as a Metaphor of History: Early India

Romila Thapar

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on disagreements between astronomers regarding time calculations. One astronomer rejected the unequal length of the four yugas; Āryabhaṭa in the fifth century AD was singled out even in later times as having argued in favour of four ages of equal length of 1,080,000 years. A subsequent astronomer, Brahmagupta, disagreed with this and endorsed the alternative figures closer to the cosmological scheme. The cosmography of a flat earth was also rejected in favour of a sphere. In the mid-eighth century, the astronomer Lalla refuted what he found unacceptable in Purāṇic texts. Still later, Vaṭeśvara disagreed with Brahmagupta and supported Āryabhaṭa. There appears to have been some divergence among astronomers as also between them and the authors of the Purāṇas.

Keywords:   time measurement, time calculations, astronomers, yuga, Āryabhaṭa, Brahmagupta, Purāṇas

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