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Minaraja

 
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Kenneth Johnson



Joined: 12 Aug 2012
Posts: 132
Location: San Luis Obispo, CA

Posted: Mon Aug 05, 2013 7:15 pm    Post subject: Minaraja Reply with quote

In the thread on transmission of Jyotish to the contemporary West, Martin writes:

Quote:
I also agree and sympathize with what you say about David Pingree, who was definitely a trailblazer and a great, though not infallible, scholar. I do have occasional reservations about his Sanskrit translations, which can give the impression of having been made in a hurry -- but then I may have an advantage over Pingree, as I taught myself Sanskrit at 13 rather than 15. Wink


Martin, I don't see Pingree as infallible either -- but then again, I don't perceive any single scholar as infallible. The recent article by Mak (link posted somewhere here, I think by Mark) has raised some strong objections to Pingree's dating of the Yavana Jataka, some of which seem to me to be well founded. But at least his translations are close to being literal, whereas most of the translations of Jyotish classics I have seen which were done in India are anything but that -- it seems to be normal for translators to include their own interpretive readings or "a secret Jyotish technique that Grandpa taught me." After a while, one comes to appreciate Pingree, even if he did work in haste.

I just meant to say that I think his work deserves respect (despite human fallibility) rather than the anger and rage it so often draws from the "fundamentalist" camp.

And by the way, if the Yavana Jataka is a couple of hundred years later than we thought it was (6th century rather than 269 CE), that leaves Minaraja (c. 300 to 325 CE) as the earliest writer who claims to be working in the Yavana tradition. There is a critical edition by Pingree, with that absolutely daunting handwriting of his in Vol. I, so much thanks to Micah Ross for the I-trans version on jyotiwiki. Pingree never got around to translating it, which is not surprising as it is just enormous, about the same length as Guido Bonatti. I hope that someday we will see this important text in English. Right now we have Valerie Roebuck's translation of his chapter on birth in the naksatras, and Ronnie Dreyer just devoted her M.A. thesis at Columbia to the chapters on Strijataka or women's horoscopy, but we are still a long way from fully exploring this important work -- even more important now if it predates the YJ by a couple of centuries.
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Therese Hamilton



Joined: 22 Feb 2011
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Posted: Tue Aug 06, 2013 6:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kenneth Johnson wrote:
Quote:
I hope that someday we will see this important text i[Minaraja] n English. Right now we have Valerie Roebuck's translation of his chapter on birth in the naksatras, and Ronnie Dreyer just devoted her M.A. thesis at Columbia to the chapters on Strijataka or women's horoscopy...

One reason I've always liked Valerie Roebuck's The Circle of Stars (Vega 2002) is that she quotes passages from Minaraja in the text. This helps to make her book more authentic than other modern introductory Jyotish texts, and we have at least a small sense of Minaraja as an author. And, yes, as a Sanskrit scholar, she uses all the proper pronunciation marks that we see in Martin's posts.
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Bill M. Mak



Joined: 22 Jul 2014
Posts: 21
Location: Kyoto

Posted: Sat Feb 21, 2015 8:47 am    Post subject: Re: Minaraja Reply with quote

[quote="Kenneth Johnson"]In the thread on transmission of Jyotish to the contemporary West, Martin writes:

Quote:
And by the way, if the Yavana Jataka is a couple of hundred years later than we thought it was (6th century rather than 269 CE), that leaves Minaraja (c. 300 to 325 CE) as the earliest writer who claims to be working in the Yavana tradition. There is a critical edition by Pingree, with that absolutely daunting handwriting of his in Vol. I, so much thanks to Micah Ross for the I-trans version on jyotiwiki. Pingree never got around to translating it, which is not surprising as it is just enormous, about the same length as Guido Bonatti. I hope that someday we will see this important text in English. Right now we have Valerie Roebuck's translation of his chapter on birth in the naksatras, and Ronnie Dreyer just devoted her M.A. thesis at Columbia to the chapters on Strijataka or women's horoscopy, but we are still a long way from fully exploring this important work -- even more important now if it predates the YJ by a couple of centuries.


I would like to revive this discussion on Mīnarāja. I have done some comparison between the YJ and the VYJ. The way the two works share some overlapping verses is rather curious. I have reported some of my findings in one of my articles on the YJ last year: (http://www.billmak.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Mak-2014.pdf) The comparison is not exhaustive, so I cannot reach a definite conclusion yet. But for me vṛddha means just old. Given the connection between the two works, the vṛddha could well be in reference to the YJ.

I think the way to proceed is indeed as you suggested, to produce an annotated English translation of VYJ. Micah has done a great service by producing an e-text of the VYJ, upon the recommendation of Prof. Yano Michio. Unfortunately, the e-text contains quite a lot of typos. I have started correcting the text and I hope to start working on this text once I have completed editing the YJ this year.

Does anyone have a copy of Valerie Roebuck's translation of the naksatra chapter of VYJ to share?
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Therese Hamilton



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Posted: Tue Feb 24, 2015 9:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bill Mak wrote:
Quote:
Does anyone have a copy of Valerie Roebuck's translation of the naksatra chapter of VYJ to share?

The translation is a chapter in Richard Houck's Hindu Astrology Lessons (Groundswell Press, 1997). I have the book. Should I try to scan and post the chapter?
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Bill M. Mak



Joined: 22 Jul 2014
Posts: 21
Location: Kyoto

Posted: Fri Mar 06, 2015 3:03 am    Post subject: Translation of Mīnarāja Reply with quote

Therese Hamilton wrote:
Bill Mak wrote:
Quote:
Does anyone have a copy of Valerie Roebuck's translation of the naksatra chapter of VYJ to share?

The translation is a chapter in Richard Houck's Hindu Astrology Lessons (Groundswell Press, 1997). I have the book. Should I try to scan and post the chapter?


Thanks, Therese. That would be very helpful. Or perhaps you can let me know the page numbers and I may ask my librarian just to copy the pages.
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Therese Hamilton



Joined: 22 Feb 2011
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Posted: Fri Mar 06, 2015 5:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bill Mak wrote:
Quote:
Thanks, Therese. That would be very helpful. Or perhaps you can let me know the page numbers and I may ask my librarian just to copy the pages.

That is the best way to obtain a copy of the pages as it's probably not a good idea to post copyrighted material on the Internet. The pages are 205-212 plus the copyright/title page. I believe that Richard Houck stated that he did not want any of his books re-published after his death, so the existing copies are all that we have. No doubt his estate went to his wife.

"The Lunar Mansions in Natal Astrology"
(An Original Translation for This Anthology)
Valerie J. Roebuck, MA, Ph.D.

Book 60: Lunar Mansions in the Charts of Women
Book 63: Lunar Mansions in the Charts of Men
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Bill M. Mak



Joined: 22 Jul 2014
Posts: 21
Location: Kyoto

Posted: Wed Mar 11, 2015 2:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It turns out that no university library in Japan carries this book. But I think I will order it as it contains a few other articles which I want to read, judging from the Amazon preview.

Thanks.
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Kenneth Johnson



Joined: 12 Aug 2012
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Posted: Thu Mar 12, 2015 6:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with Bill Mak that it is no longer possible to see the Yavanajataka as “an original source” for natal astrology in India. In addition to the mistaken dating, Bill also points to Indian cultural references such as caste, Hindu deities, and Ayurveda, as well as the word kapalika, a rather specific Tantric term which places the cultural context in the 6th rather than the 3rd century CE. I feel that the same issue could be raised regarding the chapter on the hora divisions; the images for each hora are (as Pingree himself asserts) drawn from the cult of Bhairava and Bhairavi, another indicator that we are in the 6th century rather than the 3rd century.

Bill draws attention to a statement I made that a 6th century date for the YJ adds great importance to the Vrddhayavanajataka of Minaraja, dated by Pingree to c. 325. Setting aside the early date for the YJ, this leaves Minaraja’s text as the earliest to claim specifically that it is based on a Greek or Yavana model. Pingree took the word vrddha to mean “expanded,” as if the VYJ were to be translated as “An Expanded Version of the Yavana Jataka.” But I agree with Bill that the title of the work more likely means simply “Ancient Greek Astrology.”

All the same, Minaraja’s text is also highly syncretistic and by no means a precise rendering of a Greek source. Here are a few examples of topics covered by Minaraja which, to the best of my knowledge, have no parallel in Hellenistic astrology:

Chapter 8: Astakavarga. This system allots a number of points or bindus to each house based on its relationship to the various planets, and thereby arrives at a judgment as to whether the house is particularly powerful or not; the power of the house has a special relationship to transits. As far as I know, the astakavarga system has no correspondence in Greek astrology.

Chapters 52 and 53: Nabhasa Yogas. The nabhasa yogas also appear in Varahamihira’s Brhajjataka. They do not seem to be based on planetary combinations from any Hellenistic source, though I do not read Greek and it is possible that such combinations may eventually be found in thus far untranslated portions of the CCAG.

Chapters 58 through 62: Strijataka. This literally means “Women’s Birth Horoscopy,” and again I have never seen any chapters devoted to this topic in the Hellenistic works, though again with the proviso that they may be yet untranslated. My friend Ronnie Gale Dreyer, who studied these chapters for her MA in Eastern Studies at Columbia, tells me that they do not resemble the strijataka chapter in the BJ, which rests upon delineation of the trimsamsas (a highly Indianized version of the Greek terms or bounds). Minaraja does, however, cover the topic of women’s birth naksatras, and the naksatras are of course unknown in Hellenistic astrology.

Chapter 63: Birth in the Naksatras. Here again, in a naksatra chapter devoted to men rather than women, Minaraja is accessing specifically Indian ideas.

It is often said that Minaraja’s chapters on birth in the naksatras, whether for women or men, are the earliest example of the use of the naksatras in natal astrology (they are found in an electional context as early as the Brahamanas). But this is not strictly true. A very brief list of characteristics attributed to individuals based on the birth naksatra of their Moon can be found as early as the Sardulakarnavadana, dated by Pingree to the 1st century CE. This work has been largely ignored in India, thanks partly to the prevailing climate of Hindu nationalism; the work is Buddhist rather than Hindu. It enjoyed wide distribution throughout Asia, with two versions in Chinese and another in Tibetan. Though the bulk of the book is clearly Buddhist, I suspect that the astrological portions may be insertions from an original Hindu source, as there are several references to the duties of a purohita or “house priest,” an institution firmly rejected by the Buddhists. The delineations are very brief. For example: “One born in the Kṛttikās becomes honored and famous. One born in Rohiṇī becomes very fortunate, also a giver of pleasure. One born in Mṛgaśira becomes a seeker of battles.” But it is enough to show that Minaraja was drawing on much earlier material – even the use of the locative case, describing birth “in” a naksatra, is present in the Sardulakarnavadana as it is in Minaraja and Varahamihira. (I have a scan of the Devanagari of this passage as well as my own rudimentary translation, if anyone is interested.)

While I completely agree with Bill that a translation of Minaraja has now become imperative, I cannot help but feel that the introduction of Hellenistic astrology to India lies much farther back than 325 CE. While Minaraja may have been sufficiently inspired by Greek models to title his book “Ancient Greek Astrology,” this work, like the YJ, is deeply syncretistic and indicates that Hellenistic astrology had already been present in India long enough to become “Indianized.”
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Therese Hamilton



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Posted: Thu Mar 12, 2015 8:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This discussion of the importance of Minaraja makes Valerie J. Roebuck's The Circle of Stars: An Introduction to Indian Astrology (Vega, 1992) all the more valuable for study while we wait for a translation of the Minaraja text. Throughout sections of the book Roebuck translates from Minaraja, so this is our main easily available source in English for the text at present.

I have always recommended Reobuck's book to anyone who wants an introduction to genuine Indian astrology based on ancient texts. In our new century a certain percentage of India's astrology has become changed or corrupted by inroads from the west. Circle of Stars is out of print, but used copies are available on Amazon for mere cents. It's a good book for those who are interested in India's astrology, and who would like a taste of Minaraja. Valerie Roebuck has also translated the Upanishads.
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Radu Canahai



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Posted: Fri Feb 12, 2016 8:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Studied a bit of Pingree's translation of Yavanajataka that is available on the web, and also a bit of Pingree's edition of VriddhaYavanajataka. I have read also the Mak's material available on the web. However, I tend to think that Pingree is correct in placing Vrddhayavana later than Yavanajataka. In Vrddhayavana the order of planets - Ravi, Chandra, Kuja, Budha, Guru, Shukra, Shani - is already established, a thing we cannot say about Yavanajataka. And the Ashtakavarga in Vrddhayana is the simplified version of that from Yavanajataka, the same simplified form appearing to all later authors, beginning with Varahamihira.
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