Page:A Brief History of the Indian Peoples.djvu/68

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64 THE ARYANS IN INDIA. verse; and prose-writing was for long almost a lost art in India. Brahman Astronomy.— The Br&hmans studied the move- ments of the heavenly bodies, so as to fix the proper dates for the annual sacrifices. More than 3000 years ago, the Vedic poets had worked out a fairly correct calculation of the solar year, which they divided into 360 days, with an extra month every five years to make up for the odd 5^ days per annum. They were also acquainted with the phases of the moon, the motions of the planets, and the signs of the zodiac. The Brdhmans had advanced far in astronomy before the Greeks arrived in India in 327 b. c. They were not, however, ashamed to learn from the new-comers ; and one of the five systems of Br&hman astronomy is called the Romaka or Greek science. But in time the Hindus surpassed the Greeks in this matter. The fame of the Brahman astronomers spread westward, and their works were translated by the Arabs about 800 a. d., and so reached Europe. After the Muhammadans began to ravage India in 1000 a. d., Brahman science declined. But Hindu astronomers arose from time to time, and their observatories may still be seen at Benares and elsewhere. An Indian astronomer, the Raja Jai Singh, was abie to correct the list of stars published by the celebrated French astronomer De la Hire, in 1702. Brahman Medicine. — The Brahmans also worked out a system of medicine for themselves. As they had to study the heavenly bodies in order to fix the dates of their yearly festivals, so they made their first steps in anatomy, by cutting up the animals at the sacrifice, with a view to offering the different parts to the proper gods. They ranked medical science as an Upa-Veda, or later revelation from heaven. The ancient Brahmans did not shrink from dissecting the dead bodies of animals. They also trained their students by means of operations performed on wax spread over a board, instead of flesh, and on the stems of plants. The hospitals which the Buddhist princes set up throughout India for man and beast, gave great opportunities for the study and treatment of disease.