The evolution of the table-text genre

  • Clemency Montelle
  • Kim Plofker
Part of the Sources and Studies in the History of Mathematics and Physical Sciences book series (SHMP)


The early development of Sanskrit astronomical tables described in Section  1.5 blossomed by the mid-second millennium into the profuse variety of table-text types categorized in Section  2.3, whose typical components were analyzed in more detail in Chapter  4. As numerical tables became more central to the work of astronomers/astrologers, the mathematical ingenuity of jyotiṣa authors to some extent shifted its focus. Algorithms directing users how to compute a desired quantity were supplemented and then partly supplanted by techniques for producing and arranging pre-computed data so that users could simply look up the desired quantity. We argue that at least part of what has long been conventionally described as a “decline” in the innovative development of Sanskrit astronomy after the twelfth century might be more accurately called an “occultation” of it, as the formats of increasingly popular table texts removed a larger share of their authors’ mathematical efforts from the direct scrutiny of their readers. The following discussion explores some of the major passages in that long and vigorous growth by surveying several individual koṣṭhaka works that seem to us to highlight some of its important characteristics.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Clemency Montelle
    • 1
  • Kim Plofker
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Mathematics & StatisticsUniversity of CanterburyChristchurchNew Zealand
  2. 2.Department of MathematicsUnion CollegeSchenectadyUSA

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