The Universe has always fascinated many a scientists and astronomers to know its secrets. In today’s modern world, science makes it possible for man to not only reach the skies, but also study many facts about it. However, it is a great factor of pride that our ancient science was the foundation for these studies carried out in modern techniques, and there were many great minds who gave many of the true facts of the Universe to begin with the unending exploration of its secrets. One such genius was Varahamihir, Indian astronomer, astrologer, scientist and mathematician.
Varahamihir was born in Ujjain around 505 – 587 A.D. which was under the rule of the Malwa kings. His father Adityadas, a Brahmin settled the Kapittha village, was an astrologer and a great devotee of Surya Bhagwan. He initiated his son into science and astrology at a very small age, and made him adept in the subjects. Varahamihir developed great affinity towards the stars, planets and he studied astronomy in depth and became a master of it. He was also well versed in the languages of Greek, Egyptian and Roman too.
Initially, He was called by only Mihir, but there is an interesting story as to how the name of Varaha got attached to his name. Mihir was an astrologer in the court of Yashodharman Vikramaditya II of Malwa kingdom. Mihir predicted that the king’s son would pass away at the age of 18 killed by a boar (Varaha). The king wanted to save his son at any cost. He put his son on the top floor of a building erected with no windows and saw that no person could enter it, leave alone any animal.
In spite of all the arrangements, Mihir did not go back on his prediction. Meanwhile, the predicted day came. The young prince was playing in his room with the flag staff of the kingdom, which accidentally slipped falling on his chest, which killed him. The great irony was that the flagstaff was a statue of a boar (Varaha) which was a national insignia of the kingdom. The king came to know about this and was shocked that Mihir’s prediction came true. Although in sorrow, the king praised the knowledge of Mihir and titled him with Varaha to be attached to his original name and since then Mihir came to be called as Varahamihir.
Varahamihir was not only a renowned astrologer, but a genius astronomer and a mathematician. He was the author of the Brihat Samhita, where in many theories regarding planets, their momentary positions, eclipses, rainfall and how it affects agriculture and many more were mentioned. Another famous work was the Pancha Siddhantika in which he calculated the diameters of Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter. His greatest discovery was that of the presence of water and iron on Mars, the facts on which presently the renowned space research agencies NASA and ISRO are working on.
In Mathematics, he improved the accuracy of sine theories propagated by his mentor Aryabhatta. He also discovered the Pascal’s Triangle and the 4*4 square which is famous as the magic square in Maths. It is because of his many genius discoveries and propagations that today, the secrets of the Universe are being understood by man. It is the inspiration of this humble man, which inspires many of the minds to explore galaxies of the Universe and know about them.