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(b Benares, India, ca. 1610)


Kamalākara was a scion of a family of astronomers whose origin is traced back to a Mahārāṣṭra Brāhmaṇa, Rāma of the Bhāradvājagotra, who lived in Gologrāma on the west bank of the Godāvarī River (near Pathri, Mahārāṣṭra). Rāma’s son was Bhaṭṭācārya, and Bhaṭṭācārya’s son was Divākara of Golagrāma, a pupil of Gaṇeśa of Nandod (b. 1507). Divākara moved to Benares, where his five sons were born between about 1560 and 1570. Viṣṇu, Mallāri, and Viśvanātha were the main commentators on Gaṇeśaʾs principal astronomical works. The eldest, Kṛṣṇa, had two sons, of whom Nṛsiṃha (b. 1586) continued the family tradition of commenting on Gaṇeśa; the other was Śiva, Nṛsiṃha had four sons: of these Divākara (b. 1606), Kamalākara, and Ran̄ganātha were all noted astronomers in Benares between 1625 and 1675.

Kamalākara, who studied under his elder brother Divākara (himself a pupil of his uncle Śiva), was the leading rival of Munīśvara Viśvarūpa among Benares astronomers. He combined traditional Indian astronomy with Aristotelian physics and Ptolemaic astronomy as presented by Islamic scientists (especially Ulugh Bēg). Following his family’s tradition he wrote a commentary, Manoramā, on Gaṇeśa’s Grahalāghava and, like his father, Nṛsiṃha, another commentary on the Sūryasiddhānta, called the Vāsanābhāşya, both of which are still unpublished. His chief claims to fame are his Siddhāntatattvaviveka (see essay in supplement), written in Benares in 1658, and the later supplement, Śeşavāsanā.

The Siddhāntatattvaviveka contains fifteen chapters:

1. On the units of time measurement.

2. On the mean motions of the planets.

3. On the true longitudes of the planets.

4. On the three problems related to diurnal motion.

5. On the diameters and distances of the planets.

6. On the earth’s shadow.

7. On the lunar crescent.

8. On the heliacal risings and settings.

9. On the syzygies.

10. On the lunar eclipses.

11. On the solar eclipses.

12. On the planetary transits.

13. On the pātas of the sun and moon.

14. On the “great problems.’

15. Conclusion.

The Siddhāntatattvaviveka has been edited with his own notes by Sudhākara Dube (Dvivedin) (5 vols., Benares Sanskrit Series 1, 2, 3, 6, and 14 [Benares, 1880–1885]; 2nd ed. revised by Muralīdhara Jhā [Benares, 1924–1935]). It was also published with his own commentary by Gangādhara Misra (Lucknow, 1929). The Śeşavāsanā is a collection of additional discussions of various topics in the siddhāntatattvaviveka, and is published as an appendix to volume 5 of the Benares Sanskrit Series edition of that work.


Articles on Kamalākara are Sudhāakara Dube (Dvivedin), Gaṇakataran̄gini (Benares, 1933), pp. 98–99, repr. from The Pandit, n.s. 14 (1892); Ś. B. Dikṣita, Bhāratiya Jyotiḥśāstra (Poona, 1896; repr. Poona, 1931), pp. 287–288; Padmākara Dvivedin, “Kamalākarabhaṭṭa,” in Proceedings of the Benares Mathematical Society, 2 (1920), 67–80; and D. Pingree, Census of the Exact Sciences in Sanskrit, ser. A, II (Philadelphia, 1971), pp. 21–23.

David Pingree