An informative public lecture on “Astronomical instruments used in India before Sawai Jai Singh” will be delivered by astronomy expert Sreeramula Rajeswara Sarma at Nehru Planetarium in the Capital this Wednesday.

According to Nehru Planetarium director N. Rathnasree, the lecture assumes special significance because historically Indian astronomical endeavours have been more on the theoretical side while actual instrumentation and observation had taken a backseat until the efforts of medieval Indian ruler Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh.

“However, intricate astronomical instrumentation existed in the last millennium in various corners of the country whose evidence has been lying forgotten in dusty museums. Through painstaking work Prof. Sarma has put together a comprehensive view of astronomical instruments used in India before the times of Sawai Jai Singh,” adds Dr. Rathnasree.

“One generally gets to hear a lot about astronomical observatories of Sawai Jai Singh, about the beginnings of modern astronomy in the country and the theoretical contributions by Indian astronomers from Aryabhata to Bhaskara,” she says. “Rarely is there any easily accessible material about astronomical instruments and their usage from early times to the beginnings of modern astronomy in India. The work of Prof. Sarma, in fact, is the one oasis in this desert.”

The lecture will dwell on archaic as well as the exotic astronomy instruments made and used in the country since the times of Brahmagupta and Feroz Shah Tughlaq, instruments in Mughal miniatures, exquisite astrolabes and celestial globes.

Organised by the Nehru Planetarium and the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, the lecture will begin at 5 p.m..

Prof. Sarma taught Sanskrit at Aligarh Muslim University and served as the editor of the Indian Journal of History of Science. He is also a visiting professor at Kyoto University, University of British Columbia, Vancouver and Harvard.

Madhur Tankha