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Varahamihira’s Brihat Samhita: Unraveling Ancient Indian Meteorology

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Meteorology, the science of studying the Earth’s atmosphere and weather patterns, has ancient roots that extend to civilizations around the world. One such remarkable contribution to this field comes from the Indian polymath Varahamihira, who penned the “Brihat Samhita” in the 6th century CE. This encyclopedic work not only showcased Varahamihira’s multifaceted genius but also offered valuable insights into the science of meteorology in ancient India.

Ancient India’s Approach to Meteorology

The science of meteorology in ancient India was a comprehensive and systematic discipline. Varahamihira’s “Brihat Samhita” stands as a testament to this, addressing various meteorological aspects with remarkable precision and detail.

  1. Atmospheric Phenomena: Varahamihira observed and documented a wide range of atmospheric phenomena. His work discusses the behavior of winds, the formation of clouds, the occurrence of rainbows, and even the appearance of meteors. He was keenly aware of the interconnectedness of these elements in shaping weather patterns.
  2. Seasonal Changes: The “Brihat Samhita” delves into the intricacies of seasonal changes, emphasizing the importance of the monsoon for agriculture. Varahamihira provided guidance on predicting the onset of the monsoon and the characteristics of different seasons.
  3. Weather Forecasting: Varahamihira’s approach to weather forecasting was both empirical and astrological. He considered a variety of natural signs and celestial events to make predictions about weather conditions. His system incorporated aspects of astrology and astronomy, demonstrating the interdisciplinary nature of ancient Indian meteorology.
  4. Climatology: The work includes discussions on climate zones and their impact on the environment. It recognized that different regions had varying climates and weather patterns, a concept central to modern climatology.

Legacy and Influence

The “Brihat Samhita” served as a foundation for meteorological knowledge in ancient India. Its insights into weather patterns and forecasting were invaluable for agriculture, navigation, and daily life. Although the methods of forecasting were based on ancient Indian cosmology and astrology, they revealed a deep understanding of the interconnectedness of natural phenomena.

Ancient Indian meteorology, as evidenced by Varahamihira’s work, was remarkably advanced for its time. It integrated empirical observations with astrological insights, and its practical applications were significant for agricultural planning, especially in an agrarian society.


Varahamihira’s “Brihat Samhita” provides a fascinating window into the science of meteorology in ancient India. It demonstrates the depth of knowledge and observation that ancient Indian scholars possessed regarding atmospheric phenomena and seasonal changes. While the methods may differ from contemporary meteorology, the foundational principles of understanding and predicting weather were well-established.

The legacy of Varahamihira’s work endures as a testament to the ancient Indian scientific tradition. It reminds us that meteorology, like many other scientific disciplines, has a rich history that spans cultures and centuries, each contributing to our evolving understanding of the natural world.

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By Mala Chandrashekhar

Introducing Blogger Mala Chandrashekhar - a specialist academically trained in modern Western sciences, yet deeply enamored with India's timeless ethnic arts, crafts, and textiles. Her heart beats for the rich and glorious cultural and spiritual heritage of India, and she has dedicated her entire blog to spreading the immortal glories of ancient India worldwide. Through her simple yet impactful blog posts, Mala aims to reach every nook and corner of the globe, sharing India's beauty and wisdom with the world.

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