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(fl. India, fourth of fifth century)


Pauliśa was the author of a textbook (siddhānta) on astronomy in Sanskrit. The work was largely based on the Greek adaptations of Mesopotamian astronomy that began to be introduced into India in the third century by Sphujidhvaja (fl. 269/270) and perhaps earlier, in the second century, by Yavanesvara (fl. 149/150) (see essay in Supplement). Since the Pauliśasiddhānta was revised by Lātadeva (fl. 505), the original must have been written between ca. 300 and ca. 450; it is probably, then, to be associated with the patronage of the Guptas, of whom the one most noted for his interest in literary efforts is Candragupta II (fl. ca. 375–415). Of Pauliśa himself we can say nothing save that his name may be a transliteration of the Greek Παῦυλos. His identification with Paul of Alexandria (fl. 378)—at which al-Bīrūnī first—is certainly false, as it is based on a misreading of the place-name Tanaysar (Sthāneśvara or Sthānvīśvara) in a later Pauliśasiddhānta that was written in the eighth century and that followed the ārdaharātrikapakşa of āryabhata I (b. 476) (see D. Pingree, “The Later Pauliśasiddhānta,” in Centaurus, 14 [1969], 172–241).

The original Pauliśasiddhānta, as revised by Lātadeva, is known to us only through the Pancasiddhāntikā of Varahamihira (fl. ca.. 550). From that work we learn of Paulisa’s methof of computing the days lapsed since epoch (I, 11–13); his solar and lunar equations, the former computed from a Greek model, the latter going back to Babylonian techniques (III; 1–3, 5–8); his method of computing oblique ascensions, longitudinal differences, and the daily motion of the sun (III, 10–17); his rules relating to the Indian time-units called karanas (sixtieths of a synodic month), tithis (thirtieths of a synodic month), and rtus (seasons of two synodic months), and to the pātas of the sun and moon, the ̣ạasitimukhas (ecliptic ares of 86° beginning from Libra 0°), and the sankrāntis (entries of the sun into the several zodiacal sings) (III, 18–27); his computation of lunar latitude (III, 28–29); his theory of lunar and solar eclipses (VI, VII); and his planetary theory, based on a Greek adaptation of Babylonian astronomy in which the synodic arcs of the planets and their elongations from the sun at the occurrence of the “Greek-letter” phenomena are utilized (XVII, 64–80).


All of the material relevant to Pauliśa will be found in O. Neugebauer and D. Pingree, The Pa͂ncasiddhāntikā of Varāhamihira, 2 vols. (Copenhagen, 1970–1971).

David Pingree