By Joydeep Sen
Masking the interval from the basis of the Asiatick Society in 1784 to the institution of the Indian organization for the Cultivation of technology in 1876, Sen explores the connection among Indian astronomers and the colonial British.
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Additional resources for Astronomy in India, 1784-1876
Burrow claimed that the method British astronomers used to calculate the nonagesimal degree (the point of the ecliptic 90° from its intersection by the horizon) was erroneous, in particular for southern latitudes and between the tropics. 12 Burrow explained that Indians were in possession of rules for calculating celestial positions, and in turn, it was incumbent on Europeans to learn from them. In another article, Burrow also sought to prove that the Hindus had knowledge of the binomial theorem.
In describing Indian divisions of time, Gilchrist noted that sixty ‘til’ or ‘unoopul’ were equal to one ‘bipul’, sixty ‘bipul’ were equal to one ‘pul’, sixty ‘pul’ were equal to one ‘g,huree’, and there were sixty ‘g,huree’ in the day. Hence one g,huree was equal to twenty-four minutes, and there was also exposition of how sixty g,huree were reconciled with the twenty-four hours of one day. The day was split into eight ‘puhars’, while the four puhars of the day and four puhurs of the night were of different lengths in summer and winter.
400–c. 15 Yet without the aid of such resources, the Orientalists in the late eighteenth century speculated upon a plethora of philosophical and practical possibilities in relation to knowledge about astronomy. It was possible, they thought, that Europeans still had much to learn about India’s scientific heritage and that Indians still had something exceptional to offer Europeans. 17 However, this was not true of all the Orientalists. For Burrow in particular, India was the source of a considerable proportion of the knowledge in Europe, including that of mathematical and astronomical substance.