CARMI proposes to study the friction between two cosmologies found in India in medieval times: the cosmological model used by the astronomical tradition of India, and the cosmology found in the Purāṇas, a group of texts sacred in Hinduism.
In the Indian tradition, cosmology falls within the branch of knowledge known as jyotiḥśāstra, which has three divisions: saṃhitā (omens); horā (astrology); and gaṇita (the astral sciences, including astronomy and cosmology).
With CARMI present, the Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies will have experts in all three divisions, creating a unique research environment for the study of all aspects of jyotiḥśāstra. This will be particularly valuable for CARMI.
Historically, the Indian astronomers rejected elements from the Purāṇas contradicting their model, but also incorporated compatible elements. With the astronomer Jñānarāja (1500 CE), this changed; he sought to create a synthesis between the two incompatible cosmologies. He maintained that the sacred Purāṇas could not be contradicted. At the same time, he needed a working science. So he re-interpreted passages from the Purāṇas. This approach had a significant impact on Indian astronomy.
What were the dynamics that led to this approach? Why was it felt necessary to assert the authority of the Purāṇas within the Indian astronomical tradition?
Through a careful investigation of Jñānarāja's sources, CARMI will have an interdisciplinary approach to the understanding of issues arising from the interaction of cosmology, on the one hand, and religion, on the other (that is, two separate subfields of Indology), in medieval India (ca. 1200 to 1500 CE) based on the analysis of primary Sanskrit sources.
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