Varaha Mihira’s Birhat Jataka from time immemorial has been considered as the standard textbook on Astrology. The commentaries by Bhattotpala have made Brihat Jataka immortal and a standard work. The English translation of Varahamihira’s Brihat Jataka, by Suryanarayana Rao is a monumental work in completing which the difficulties in translating a beautiful, technical and suggestive work in Sanskrit had to surmounted by hard labour, profound research and want of adequate expressions. It is not mere a translation work; the ripe experience of Mr. Rao for over 60 years in the field of Astrology and his sound judgment on doubtful points have substantiated its value further.
‘Brihat Jataka’ or ‘Brihat Jatakam’ or ‘Brihajjatakam’ (Sanskrit: ‘बृहज्जातकम’), is one of the five principal texts written by Varāhamihira.. Varahamihira was one of the greatest astronomers, astrologers and mathematicians of ancient India. The other four works of Varahamihira being ‘Panchasiddhantika‘, ‘Brihat Samhita‘, ‘Laghu Jataka’ and ‘Yogayatra’.
‘Brihat Jataka’ is also one of India’s five major treatises on ‘Hindu Predictive Astrology’.
‘Brihat Jataka’ is considered to be a standard textbook on Vedic Astrology, and is sometimes described as “India’s foremost astrological text”. The work covers a wide and complex range of predictive astrology. The brevity employed in its composition is noteworthy.
Book Description : The above book on ‘The Brihat Jataka’ of Varaha Mihira is considered to be one of the best treatises on astrology. The subjects dealt in the book are Zodiacal signs, the Planets, the manifold births, Impregnation, Birth matters, Early death, the Length of Life of a Child, Dasas and Antardasa, Astaka Varga, Avocation, Raja Yoga, Nabhasa Yogas, Lunar Combinations, Any two Planets in any one Sign, Ascetic Yogas, the Moon and the Zodiac, the Planets in the Twelve Houses or Bhavas, Asraya Yoga, Miscellaneous Planetary Combinations, Evils, Female Horoscopes, Death, Lost Horoscopes, the Decanates, and Conclusion.
One is not considered a scholar of Jyotisha unless he had memorized ‘Brihat Jataka‘ and ‘Prashna Marga‘. Brihat Jataka was considered to be a jewel among India’s astrological literature. In South India Brihat Jataka and commentaries on it are held in the highest esteem, as the text had several commentaries written by noted astrologers of India.
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Chapters of Brihat Jataka :
The original text, written in chaste Sanskrit, consists of more than 407 Shlokas (verses) and has a total of 28 chapters.
- Chapter I : Begins with a prayer and then proceeds to give explanation of various technical terms and concepts used in respect of planets and zodiacal signs.
- Chapter II : This chapter is on planetary natures; explains the characteristics, qualities, natures, positions, significance and relations of planets, their aspects, sources of strength, etc.,.
- Chapter III : This chapter is on manifold births; deals with births of birds, animals and trees.
- Chapter IV : Deals with marriage, conception, sex of the newborn, effect of birth-time, birth of twins, triplets etc.;
- Chapter V : Discusses peculiarities of birth, normal and abnormal births, fate of newborns, deformities etc.;
- Chapter VI : This chapter is on planetary combinations indicating early death, death of mother or father before birth or soon after birth, time of death, planetary combinations nullifying early deaths;
- Chapter VII : Determines of longevity; explains methods to determine span of life of humans and also animals, grant of life-years by various planets, etc.;
- Chapter VIII : Discusses periods and sub-periods of planets, directional effects of planets etc.
For brief descriptions of other Chapters of Brihat Jataka, and for other details, readers may kindly have a look at the Wikipedia page of Brihat Jataka here