Ancient Indian Heritage: Varahamihira's India (2 Vols) Reprint
Though the great worth of old texts as a source of cultural history is widely acknowledged, astrological writings are generally supposed to be deficient in this respect. The erroneousness of the notion will be best illustrated by a glance at the present work dwelling from this angle upon the priceless historical data enshrined in the treatises of Varahamihira, one of the most celebrated astronomers-astrologers that India is justly proud of. His writings afford precious information on practically every aspect of life one can think of and happen to contain the earliest extant datable treatment of several topics in the absence of earlier texts dealing with them which were eclipsed by the comprehensiveness of his works. The present book takes a critical view of all the information afforded by them objectively in a historical perspective, checking, corroborating and supplementing it from contemporary literary and archaeological sources and highlighting the antecedents and subsequent ramifications in many a case where found imperative. The topics dealt with include, inter alia, historical geography, iconography, idol worship. Indra’s festival and other religious rituals and practices, varieties of necklaces, perfumery and other items of toilet and personal adornment comprehending hair-dyes, tooth-sticks, umbrellas, chowries and betel-chewing, agricultural and horticultural practices, gem industry and trade, role of astrology in everyday life, civil and religious architecture, plasters, sculpture, iconometry, earlier literature on a variety of topics much of which is now known only from Varahamihira’s works, genesis of the name Varahamihira, jovian cycles of twelve and sixty years, meteorology and rainfall, and location of sub-soil water-resources. Thus, this happens to be perhaps the only work presenting critically at one place so much information on so many diverse topics of interest to students of geography, religious history, cosmetics, jewel industry and trade, agriculture and horticulture, civil and religious architecture, meteorology and hydrology. About the Author: Prof. Ajay Mitra Shastri (1934-2002), a reputed historian, epigraphist, numismatist and Indologist, retired as Professor of Ancient Indian History, Culture and Archaeology from Nagpur University. A former Editor of the Journal of the Numismatic Society of India, he had also been the Editor of the Numismatic Digest. He had been the Chairman of the Indian Coin Society, Vice-Chairman of the Epigraphical Society of India, Convener of the Inscriptions of lndia Programme of the Indian Council of Historical Research, New Delhi, and Chairman of the Advisory Board (Ancient Period) and as such a member of the National Commission for History of Science, Indian National Science Academy, New Delhi. Prof. Shastri had been honoured with a couple of festschrifts: one published from Indore (1988) and the other in two tomes from Delhi (1989). He had also delivered numerous prestigious endowment lectures.