Hindu astronomy and its allied branch, astrology, are as old as the Vedas. Called ‘Vedāṅga-jyautiṣa’ or simply ‘Jyautiṣa’ it deals with the appropriate periods and timings for conducting the Vedic sacrifices.

Astrology deals more specifically with the influence of the stars and planets on human life, both at the individual and at the collective level.

Of the several ancient works (in Sanskrit) on astrology, the Bṛhajjātaka of Varāhamihira (A.D. 600) is generally consi-dered as the best and the most authoritative. It has 28 adhyāyas or chapters and 409 ślokas or verses in different metres. As the very name suggests, it deals mainly with jātakas or horoscopes of human beings. Of the four commentaries available now, that of Bhaṭṭa Utpala is considered the best.

The topics dealt with in the work are: the twelve rāśis or the zodiacal signs, the nine planets, effects of the planets at the time of conception on the person to be born, indications of early death, longe-vity of a child, lunar combinations, avocations as indicated by the planets, miscellaneous planetary combinations, on evils, on female horoscopes, on death and on lost horoscopes.

In the last chapter the author apo-logises for any mistakes that may have crept in and also gives some information about himself. He was the son of a brāhmaṇa, Ādityadāsa by name, hailing from the village Kapittha. He got his education and knowledge from Savitṛ (the Sun-god). He lived in the court of Ujjayinī in the province of Avantī.