Were Uranus, Neptune and Pluto known to ancient Indians?

Is Astrology a science? Part 4



Vedic Astrology has been an integral part of the Indian Vedic culture and practiced since times immemorial.


Discovery of three new planets
Uranus was discovered by William Herschel in 1791 with the use of the telescope.  Neptune was discovered by Johann Galle and Le Vernier in 1846 and in fact, its existence was predicted by John Couch Adams much earlier.   Pluto was a discovery in 1930 by astronomer Tombaugh.  It is the general belief that these distant planets were discoveries made for the first time in the history of mankind thanks to the invention of the telescope. 


Planets mentioned in Mahabharata
However, Indian scholars claim that there is evidence that the planets not visible to the naked eye were known to ancient Indian astronomers and that the planets mentioned in the epic poem Mahabharata (3100 BCE) as Sumeta, Syamet and Teekshana could be a reference to the three distant planets Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. 

The planet Sweta in the Citta Nakshatra (constellation) has been described by Mahabharata author Vyasa as being Greenish White and it has now been discovered to be the colour of Uranus; the Bluish White of the planet Syamat is found to be the colour of Neptune. Scholars also believe that the planet that Vyasa has referred to as Teekshana ‘troubling’ the Krittika constellation as Pluto discovered in 1930. 


Great revival in Astrology in India
The knowledge and practice of Vedic Astrology, targeted to only royalty and aristocracy in India had been the prerogative of the Brahmin scholars and sages until about the 2nd millennium BC and the subject had begun developing into a compact body of knowledge following the spread of Babylonian system of Astrology to the Indian sub-continent. The first centuries in the Christian era had witnessed a number of classical works like Jataka Parijata, Saravali, Sarvata Chintamani etc. written by sages like Parasara, Varahamihira, Garga, Jaimini and their followers which led to a great revival in Astrology in India. In fact, these sages had been great astronomers as well. 


Impact on body and mind
It is an irrefutable fact that the wise men in the ancient civilizations were led to the search for heavenly bodies and to the study of these bodies by a great desire to uncover their influence on man and his environment. In fact, sages like Parasara and Varahamihira had been great astronomers. The discovery of planets and stars led them to discover their effect on man - life on earth. These wise men  unraveled through long years of observation and research that there is an intelligent design encompassing the entire universe and that the heavenly bodies could exert an effect on both body and mind of an individual which could go so far as to make an impact on personality traits. 


Astronomical and Predictive components of Astrology
True, that the scientists like archeologists and anthropologists have already uncovered many secrets about our ancient civilizations. But they all agree that what they have unraveled so far about great achievements of our great ancestors is only the tip of the iceberg. The subject of Astrology is clearly made up of two main integral parts: Astronomical part and the Predictive part. We now know that the Astronomical part of Astrology is quite compatible with modern Astronomy. It is the Predictive part of Astrology or Predictive Astrology that is yet to earn the status of a science through empirical research. 
(To be continued)                    


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