Kamalākara was one of the most erudite and forward‐looking Indian astronomers who flourished in Varanasi during the seventeenth century. Belonging to Maharashtrian stock, and born in about 1610, Kamalākara came from a long unbroken line of astronomers, originally settled at the village of Godā on the northern banks of the river Godāvarī. Towards AD 1500, the family migrated to Varanasi and came to be regarded as reputed astronomers and astrologers. Kamalākara studied traditional Hindu astronomy under his elder brother Divākara, but extended the range of his studies to Islamic astronomy, particularly to the school of Ulugh Beg of Samarkand. He also studied Greek astronomy in Arabic and Persian translations, particularly with reference to the elements of physics from Aristotle, geometry from Euclid, and astronomy from Ptolemy. He wrote both original treatises and commentaries on his own works and those of others.

Kamalākara's most important work is the Siddhānta‐Tattvaviveka, written in AD 1658. The work which is divided into 15 chapters and contains over 3,000 verses, faithfully follows the Sūryasiddhānta in the matter of parameters, general theories, and astronomical computation. However, in certain matters Kamalākara made original contributions and offered new ideas. Though he accepted the planetary parameters of Sūryasiddhānta, he agreed with Ptolemaic notions in the matter of the planetary system. He presented geometrical optics, and was perhaps the only traditional author to do so. He described the quadrant and its application. He proposed a new Prime Meridian, which is the longitude passing through an imaginary city called Khalādātta, and provided a table of latitudes and longitudes for 20 important cities, in and outside India, on this basis. Kamalākara was an ardent advocate of the precession of the equinoxes and argued that the pole star also does not remain fixed, on account of precession. Kamalākara wrote two other works related to the Siddhānta‐Tattvaviveka, one a regular commentary on the work, called Tattvavivekodāharaṇa, and the other a supplement to that work, called Śeṣāvasanā, in which he supplied elucidations and new material for a proper understanding of his main work. He held the Sūryasiddhānta in great esteem and also wrote a commentary on that work.

Kamalākara was a critic of Bhāskara and his Siddhāntaśiromaṇi, and an arch‐rival of Munīśvara, a close follower of Bhāskara. This rivalry erupted into bitter critiques on the astronomical front. Thus Ranganātha, younger brother of Kamalākara, wrote, at the insistence of the latter, a critique on Munīśvara's Bhaṅgī method (winding method) of true planets, entitled Bhaṅgī‐vibhaṅgī (Defacement of the Bhaṅgi), to which Munīśvara replied with a Khaṅḍana (Counter). Munīśvara attacked the theory of precession advocated by Kamalākara, and Ranganātha refuted the criticisms of his brother in his Loha‐gola‐khaṇḍana (Counter to the Iron Sphere). That in turn was refuted by Munīśvara's cousin Gadādhara in his Loha‐gola‐samarthana (Justification of the Iron Sphere). These kinds of astronomical and intellectual battles were typical of the philosophical and religious disputes which were common in ancient India.

See also: Astronomy in India, Ulugh Beg, Astronomy in the Islamic World, Sūryasiddhāntha , Precession of the Equinoxes Bhāskara, Munīśvara

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