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Shridhar Venkatesh Ketkar

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Shri Venkatesh Bapuji Ketkar
Born(1854-01-18)18 January 1854
Nargund, Maratha Region, British India
Died3 August 1930(1930-08-03) (aged 76)
Spouse(s)Lakshmibai and Rambai

Shri Venkatesh Bapuji Ketkar (18 January 1854 – 3 August 1930) was a scholar, astronomist and astrologist from Maharashtra, India. This forgotten star from the field of Indian astronomy, the legendary 'Jyotirvid' born in 1854, dedicated his life for the research and purification of Indian almanac system (Pañcānga) of timekeeping. It is a lesser known fact that he predicted the existence of 'Pluto' in 1911; even before its discovery in 1930. He authored a number of books on astronomy, Pañcānga and literature and also published many research papers in European science journals.

The Family Legacy

Ketkar family inherited an ancestral legacy that would make one feel proud. The family of Venkatesh Bapuji Ketkar originated from a small village called "Ketaki Bivali", near Chiplun, situated in the Konkan belt of Maharashtra. Its history dates back to the period of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. After the assassination of Sambhaji Maharaj, Mughals established their stronghold in maharashtra. Many Maratha chiefs and soldiers took military action against the Mughal stronghold. Among these was a chieftain named Bhālerāo, who led raids called Bhalerāī. The Bhalerāī raids caused chaos, resulting in the migration of many families, including the Ketkar family. Ketkar's ancestors settled in Paithan (Pratishthan) on the banks of Godavari river. Paithan was famous in eighteenth-century Maharashtra for education, moneylending and textile. Paithan was also the ancient capital of king Śālivāhana, initiator of the famous shalivahan Śaka. The ancestral business of the Ketkar family was of the apparels of zari work. (a weave of golden or silver threads) The business suffered many ups and downs over the time. During the time of Sakharam Ketkar (grandfather of Vekatesh Ketkar), the business suffered big losses, and had to be closed down eventually. On January 15, 1815, Ramkrishna alias Bapuji Ketkar was born to Sakharam Ketkar on the next day of Makar Sankraman. Bapu Shastri Ketkar was born with innate intelligence. At an early age, he mastered grammar, Vedānta and astronomy. He had tremendous expertise over astronomy. Bapu Shastri realised that after Ganesha Daivajna (born 1507 AD), there was no remarkable progress in Indian astronomy. During this period many important changes took place in astronomical sciences in the west. Newton proposed the law of gravity. Galileo invented the telescope. But in India, the progress was not as profound and remarkable as it should be. The astronomical calculations of events like eclipses,evolved from the book 'Suryasiddha Grahalaghav' did not match with the calculations of Western texts. After observing this, Bapu Shastri Ketkar wrote a book called 'Jyotishashastra Subodhini', in Sanskrit. Bapushastri was also a music lover. After acquiring proficiency in academics at the age of 27, he decided to study Rudraveena, an instrument of Indian classical music. In order to master the instrument, he prepared to move to Thanjavur, the stronghold of Rudraveena. But on the way, he met Pandit Vaikobuwa Mhaisksr, a master of Rudraveena. During this visit, Panditji urged him to settle in Nargund near Gadag in Karnataka (which was a marathi province) and learn Rudraveena from him. Bapu Shastri accepted this offer and in a short interval of time his fame spread far and wide among many scholars there. The court of Nargund Sansthan recognized his merits in a very short time. In the changing circumstances that followed the War of Independence of 1857, the Maharaja of Nargund handed over this gem to the Ramdurg Sanatan. He acquired royal patronage and great honor there. At the request of the King of Ramdurg, he translated Professor Kero Laxman Chhatre's Marathi treatise 'Grahasādhana' into Sanskrit.

=Venkatesh Ketkar : Early Life and Career= Shastri Ketkar was blessed with a son on January 18, 1854 during his stay in Nargund. He named the son 'Venkatesh'. After losing his father at the age of 16, Venkatesh Ketkar had to face dire financial difficulties. He was studying English in a school called 'Sardar' in Belgaum. He used to get a scholarship of three rupees per month. Two rupees had to be spent for food, hence he had to fulfill other expenses in remaining one rupee. He never had money to buy books, so he used to study with his school friends. Since there was no place with that of the to stay, he had to spend nights in the verandah of someone's house. Eventually, when he got a chance to teach mathematics to a boy named Bhadbhade, he got a place to sleep there. Coping with the adverse financial condition, Venkatesh Ketkar passed the matriculation examination in 1874 and secured third place. For this achievement, he was felicitated with the 'Bai Manik Bairamji Jijibhoy Award'. But the deteriorating financial condition made it impossible for him to continue his education. He had to skip further education and accept a job as a school teacher at the age of 21. After accepting the teaching profession, he continued his service for 25 years at school in Bagalkot. Venkatesh Ketkar worked in various other schools till he retired in 1911. But the retirement was only from the job. He never retired from actual research work. After facing hardships of life, Ketkar's nature became very assertive with a sense of pride. He was adamant about his own point of view. Basically, he was highly self-esteemed with a strong determination. He never asked favours from anybody to get his books published. Calm and serious, he was very straightforward and fair witted. He always adhered to the principles of moral duty taught by his father. Vedānta should not be a mere subject of giving speeches. The principals in Vedānta are the principles of good conduct as stated in Vedās and it is the duty of man to follow them. He was of the opinion that the knowledge of Vedānta should be practiced and not merely parroted. His attire consisted of a white dhoti, a white shirt, a black coat with a closed neck, a large Pāgote (a kind of headgear), scarf, spectacles and a tilak on his forehead. Due to simple living and high thinking, brilliance of erudition, he possessed a respectable personality. The serious expression on his face and penetrating gaze indicated his impressive disposition. Venkatesh Ketkar married Lakshmibai in 1872. In 1881, he got married to Ramabai. They had thirteen children in total. He fulfilled the educational needs of his children and inculcated values in them. Ketkar's love for his subject, conscientious thinking and self esteem were undisputed qualities. He was fluent in many languages including English, French, Sanskrit and Hindi. Intense intelligence was his gift, and most importantly, the scientific approach.

Venkatesh Ketkar and Ramabai Ketkar
Venkatesh Ketkar and Ramabai Ketkar

Ketkar and his Amanac Research

Ketkar was in Kolhapur at the time of the Total solar eclipse in 1868. At the time of eclipse, suddenly it all went dark and some stars started to twinkle in the sky. After observing this, his mind was filled with immense curiosity about space and astronomy. He studied higher mathematics on his own as no means of studying it were available at University of Mumbai and University of Madras. He sought guidance from the famous American mathematician and astronomer Simon Newcomb and added his own hard work.

He acquired knowledge in the fields of spherical geometry, algebraic geometry, trigonometry statistics and other complex mathematics and Newton's 'Principia Mathematica'. Combining hard work and keen intelligence, he became so proficient in mathematics that at the age of thirty-one he wrote a separate treatise on astronomy. Simon Newcomb himself and Kero Laxman Chhatre had freely praised his knowledge, in their letters in 1879. The extensive study of all of the above texts made it easy for Ketkar to understand why the occurrence of actual events does not correspond to the solar and lunar eclipses, planetary alliances, rise and falls of planets etc., predicted from earlier texts like 'Suryasiddha Grahalaghav'. Keeping this in mind, he made the necessary corrections and published his new almanac, called 'The Ketaki Pañcānga'. The Pañcānga is a Hindu calendar and almanac, which follows traditional units of Hindu timekeeping, and presents important dates and their calculations in a tabulated form. Although different Pañcāngas are used in different states of India, they consist of some common factors. These factors i.e. Tithi (lunar day), Vāra (week day), Nakṣatra (asterism), Yoga (sum of solar and lunar longitudes) and Karaṇa (half lunar day) are the five attributes of daily timekeeping.The almanac consisting of these five attributes is known as a 'Pañcānga'. Other than the above five attributes, Pañcānga consists of useful religious, astronomical, and astrologically useful information.

Shankar Balkrishna Dixit
Shankar Balkrishna Dixit

Many Indian festivals are based on the position of the moon in the sky. For example, the festival of Rakśābandhana is observed on 'Śrāvana poornima' (the full moon day of the 5th month of Hindu calendar), when the moon is in Srawan Nakṣatra (asterism). A common Indian can easily retrieve this information from 'Pañcānga'. In India, three distinct seasons viz. the summer, the rainy season and the winter are recognised. The rainy season is typically the 'summer monsoon' of India. The position of the Sun and the Moon in the sky has a direct correlation with the rainfall. Traditional Indian farmers and fishermen make use of Pañcānga to get or calculate the precipitation, tides, seasonal changes etc. Pañcānga provides us information about the position of planets in the sky, information of eclipses and religious rituals. Pañcānga also consists of information about daily timekeeping of other religions in India. The Indonesian Hindus of Java and Bali also use this almanac. The Indian national calendar is the official calendar of India approved by the government of India. It is used for the Gazette of India, All India Radio, Doordarshan and parliamentary affairs. Indian national calendar is different from the traditional Hindu Pañcānga in some aspects. It is a solar calendar. As per this calendar, the beginning of new year i.e. 'Caitra shukla Pratipadā' corresponds to the spring equinox which falls on 22 March as per the Gregorian calendar. In the leap year of the Gregorian calendar, it is on 21 March. [Spring equinox: The time when the sun crosses the plane of the earth's equator, making night and day of approximately equal length all over the earth] In India, the seasonal cycle is considered very important. It depends on the movement of the sun and not the moon. With the initiative of India's first prime minister Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, a calendar reform committee was formed. This committee designed Indian national calendar under the chairmanship of renowned scientist Dr. Meghnad Saha along with secretary Shri N. C. Lahiri and brought it in use from 1957. The Gregorian calendar (English or Christian calendar) is also a solar calendar, but it doesn't coincide with all natural events. But Indian National calendar does coincide with all celestial events. Thus, this calendar has global utility beyond the Indian cultural ethos. According to Shankar Balkrishna Dixit, three out of five aspects of Pañcānga viz. Tithi (lunar day), Nakṣatra (asterism) and Karaṇa (half lunar day) have been in use since 1500 BC. Vāra (week day) came into existence from 1000 BC and Yoga (sum of solar and lunar longitudes) came into circulation only after the year 700 BC. As we have seen in the history of Indian astronomy, the importance of the book 'Surya Siddhānta', which was written and published at the beginning of the 'Siddhānta Jyotish period', is indisputable. It is noteworthy that this book had been in use for about 1000 years. It has 14 chapters and 500 verses. All modern topics including the Planetary motion, directions, location, time of celestial events, eclipses, sun-moon rise, have been covered in this book. As mathematics began to gain importance in ancient astronomy, planetary mathematics was introduced in real sense . Ketkar has shared some of his views on the history of Indian astronomy. According to Ketkar, the Chaldeans should be given the credit of being the first to observe planetary motion. In ancient Assyria, there was an intelligent tribe called the Chaldea. So was the influence of their intelligence on the royal court, that the name of this country changed to 'Chaldea'. According to Ketkar, After Alexander conquered this kingdom in 323 AD, Seleucus Nicator became king of the Graeco- Bactrian empire (today's Afghanistan). This kingdom shared the border with the Magadha empire ruled by emperor Chandragupta. There was good communication between these two states as well as blood relation. The creator of 'Surya Siddhānta' may be an Assyrian or (Asura) named Maya. The original text was brought to Kusumpuri (Patna) in the Magadha Empire and a second copy was sent to the city of Alexandria. This manuscript later came to the aid of Hipparchus and Ptolemy, who afterwards wrote a popular astronomical treatise called the 'Almagest'. Thus an inevitable relationship of the 'Surya Siddhānta' with the Greek text, 'Almagest', can be estimated as stated by Ketkar. Around 500 A.D., Aryabhata wrote a 'Siddhāntagrantha' or a treatise based on 'Surya Siddhānta'. At the beginning of the text, the 'Aryabhatiya', he has mentioned that he got this knowledge at Kusumpuri. After this, Varahmihir from Ujjain (500-588 AD), Brahmagupta from Bhinmal (598-668 AD), Bhāskarācāryā second from Beed-Maharashtra (1114-1185 AD), and Ganesh Daivajna from Nandgaon, Konkan (16th century) were some of the prominent astronomers in India.

Tilak, Ketkar and Pañcānga

Lokmanya Tilak wrote three books viz., 'Orion', 'Arctic Home in Vedās' and 'Vedic Chronology and Vedānga Jyotish' in English, to make the vedic knowledge accessible to the westerners. He wanted the Indian almanac to become useful for navigation like the English nautical almanacs. He tried to establish an astronomical observatory in India. He was of the strong opinion that there should be a four-pillar system of Astronomical studies, based on the Observational science, observatories, Indian astronomers and the micro-almanacs issued by those observatories. Lokmanya Tilak gave impetus to the Pañcānga movement and encouraged astronomical scholars all over the country. Among them, Venkatesh Ketkar was at the forefront. Tilak had written letters to him several times, urging him to write a book on the almanac. This shows the greatness of Ketkar. Almanac includes three factors, astronomy, muhurtashastra and dharmashastra. But there were differences of opinion about these three factors. Due to this, different types of almanacs were formed. Tilak and Ketkar, both sacrificed their lives for the purification or betterment of the almanac. In 1917, an almanac convention was held under the leadership of Lokmanya Tilak, in which the rate of precession of equinoxes was considered as 50.2 arcminutes. Raghunath Shastri Patwardhan, a famous astronomer from Pune, started 'Shuddha Tilak Pañcānga'. Ancient astronomers have designed the system of zodiacs and constellations to indicate the positions of the sun, moon and different planets on the celestial sphere. Two systems to mark the start of the zodiac and constellations are in practice. They are called 'Sayan' and 'Nirayan' systems. The system used to calculate the position of zodiacs and constellations from a moving point in the sky is called the 'Sayan' system. The system used to calculate the position of zodiacs and constellations from a fixed point in the sky is called the 'Nirayana' system.

Citrā Nakṣatra Paksha and Ketaki Pañcānga

Lokmanya Tilak belonged to Revathi paksha, which considered the star named Zeta Piscium (Jayanti) as the fixed starting point. Venkatesh Ketkar supported the Citrā paksha, which considered the fixed point 180° away from the star 'Spica' in Citrā constellation. Both parties were adamant on their opinion, leading to many disputes between Tilak and Ketkar. Today, Indian government endorsed Ayanamśa, Lahiri Pañcānga of north India and Date Pañcānga as per Citrā Paksha. Ketkar named his Pañcānga adapted from Citrā paksha as 'Ketaki Pañcānga'. Ketkar conveyed the importance of his almanac to scholars from Burma, Bengal, Darbhanga, Ayodhya, Rajahmundry, Madras, Thanjavur, Trivandrum, Mangalore and Mysore. His book 'Jyotirganit' was approved by the Government of India. Many Almanacs were prepared using the Ketki method in different parts of India. Here is the list:

•Vaijayanti Pañcānga - Shankarshastri Joshi (Southern Canara)

• Tulunadu Almanac - Narayan Shastri (Udupi)

• Buggon Almanac - Rama Timanna Pandit (North Canada)

• Gokarna Almanac - Venkat Ram Pandit (North Canara)

• Urveri Almanac

• Citraśālā Pañcānga - G. B. Joshi (Pune)

• Aundh Princely state Pañcānga

• Shastrasuddha Vaijayanti Pañcānga - Bijapur

• Ketaki Pañcānga (Bagalkot)

• Mangalore Pañcānga (Mysore)

• Prabhakar Pañcānga (Elichpur)

• Vishwahitak Pañcānga (Ayodhya)

• Manipuri Ketaki Pañcānga - Atom Bapu Sharma (Imphal, Manipur)

• Sinhalese Almanac - (Sri Subramanian Iyer)

• Gosevak Pañcānga - B. R. Joshi (Belgaum)

• Ketki Pañcānga - M. M. Padam Godrej (Mumbai)

• Jeevan Vijay Pañcānga - Nainital

Ketkar's Prediction about Existence of Pluto

Venkatesh Ketkar was born in 1854, after the discovery of Neptune in 1846. In 1909, William Pickering and in 1915, Percival Lowell had predicted about the existence of the ninth planet. After many years, working through sleepless nights, on February 18, 1930, a young American astronomer, Clyde Tombaugh discovered the ninth planet, Pluto." "Before Tombaugh, Venkatesh Ketkar had written a scholarly article in the scientific research journal of Société astronomique de France astronomique de France' in 1911, stating that there should be two planets revolving outside the orbit of Neptune. He also predicted the figures depicting the position of the orbit of the ninth planet, which were again closer to those discovered afterwards. He also suggested names for these two planets. The Ninth Planet was named as 'Brahma' and the Tenth as 'Vishnu' by him. The period of revolution of Brahma was 242 years as predicted by him. After the discovery of Pluto, scientists have estimated the period of revolution of Pluto as 247.7 years. He had also predicted the distance of the ninth planet from the sun, which was 38.95 Astronomical Units, which matched with the distance of 39.5 AU, found out afterwards. Sadly, Ketkar could not get the appropriate recognition and fame for this discovery. The calculations of this discovery are available today with his descendants. Renowned scientist Dr. Jayant Naralikar has mentioned the important contribution of Ketkar from time to time in his speeches and writings.

Other Research by Ketkar

Ketkar made his other important research public, from time to time. Some of his research papers include, 'importance of the year 432', 'How should the 'varshmaan' be calculated from 'Suryasiddhanta'?' 'The time of creation of the text 'Taittiriya Brahmana', 'The theory of precession of earth's axis in 4600 BC', 'The times of Mahakavi Kalidas' , 'Kannada words in Dnyaneshwari' A few of his other important research papers were 'Bhagavad Gita', 'Kalnirnay', 'Chronology of aryans', 'Estimation of Shivaji Maharaj's Birth date', 'Āryabhata and Kuttaka Mathematics'. After going through the string of research articles published by Ketkar, some of his scholar friends requested him to apply for the Springer scholarship of the University of Mumbai. Only due to the insistence of his friends, Ketkar submitted the application for the scholarship to the University of Mumbai. After going through his application, Mr. Dastur, the registrar of Mumbai University, replied to him without giving any valid reason, "I have the honour by direction of Syndicate to inform you that your request cannot be granted." Though Ketkar's research papers were published in the Société astronomique de France astronomique de France' in Paris, and he was congratulated for it, University of Mumbai did not consider him worthy of the scholarship nor did they appreciate his qualities. As many educational and research institutes in India including University of Mumbai were under the control of British government, many Indian scientists like Ketkar might have been neglected. Due to this reason, Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya along with the like minded people, founded Central Hindu College (Banaras Hindu University) in 1916 inviting the researchers and educationists of nationalist ideology. In 1918, Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya, Vice Chancellor of Banaras Hindu University, met Ketkar in the city of Pune. This was followed by the correspondence revealing Ketkar's intelligence and his work which resulted in offering the letter of appointment as the professor of astronomy in Banaras Hindu University. But due to his mother's sad demise, Ketkar could not accept the post.

Multi-talented Ketkar

Very few people know that Venkatesh Ketkar was an ideal scholar and also a voracious reader. Ketkar's favorite English authors were Gibbon, Edmund Work, Goldsmith, and Shakespeare. He used to spend time reading their literary works. He was fluent in Sanskrit and thus used to give discourses on the books written by Shrimat Shankaracharya, Mahakavi Kalidas and poet Jaydev. He loved literature. Greek and Roman history were on the tip of his tongue. Ketkar was fluent in Sanskrit, Marathi, Kannada and English. He also had mastery over French language. Perhaps that is why he could send his own research papers to astronomers in France and also continued correspondence with them in French. Ketkar had great respect for Napoleon Bonaparte. He had not only read many English and French biographies of Napoleon but knew them by heart. It is also mentioned in his biography that Ketkar had spent the two years, 1926 and 1927, learning Bengali. He always wanted to learn new languages. Drawing maps and sketching were also his favorite hobbies. He had learnt to repair watches. It is said that Ketkar taught the art of making clay idols of Ganesha to the sculptors of Bagalkot. He loved music. He would get absorbed in the devotional songs of Sant Tukaram, Saint Purandaradasa, and Saint Kabir.

Review of Ketkar's Literature

In addition to his research, Ketkar had also written several books. Some of his books are 'Jyotirganita' in Sanskrit, 'Ketki Grahaganita Parishisht', 'Bhumandaliya Suryagrahan', 'Saurarya Brahmatithi Ganita', 'Marathi Grahaganit', 'Nakshatra Vidnyan', 'Goladvaya Prashnavimarsh', 'Indian and Foreign Chronology' etc. Three of his books are :-

1. Goladvayaprashna Vimarsh: This book has the answers to the questions regarding the law of attraction between two spheres. The concept of gravity between planets is explored in it. The book was written in 1918 and was published by his son Mr. Dattatreya Ketkar sixteen years later. There was no Indian text on gravity till then. In this book, he has discussed the concept of gravity proposed by ancient Indian astronomers. Bhāskarācāryā in his book 'Siddhantashiromani' in Goladhyaya Bhuvan sloka 6, states that the earth attracts all material things towards it due to its gravity. But, how does the force of gravity vary depending upon the distance between the objects? Newton proposed the rules. But the credit goes to Bhāskarācāryā since he had come up with the original idea 900 years ago. The attraction is inversely proportional to the square of the distance between the objects was noticed by Horex before Newton. But Newton proved the law of gravitation by mathematical calculations. The book is based on Isaac Newton's 'Principia Mathematica'. Gravity is a special force that applies to all the material things in the universe. Mass is the amount of matter in any body. It can't actually be seen, but the effect can be perceived. According to Ketkar, gravity is the collective effect of jerks. The jerk (force applied to an object) accelerates the object. This speed determines the movement of the object. Ketkar has given the example of a Kingfisher. This bird catches prey by trying to stay afloat in the air at a height of 15 to 20 feet above the water level. It looks like it constantly hits the air with its wings, but the head does not move at all. This is because the bird is constantly fluttering its wings in order to stay afloat to oppose its weight which is pulling it downward due to gravitational attraction. This neutralises the equal and opposite forces. Thus, the bird stays still in the air. Ketkar also states the two qualities found in any substance in terms of attraction. The first is to attract and the second is to get attracted. In the case of planets, Ketkar has stated two types. First is the sphere like the sun which is huge and stable, and attracts an object that can be called an 'attraction sphere'. The second one called 'attractive sphere' is relatively light in weight, like the planets orbiting the sun. In the other example, the earth is the 'attraction sphere', while the moon is the 'attractive sphere'. In this book, Ketkar also discusses the concept of weight in the context of gravity.

2.Nakshatra Vidnyan:- The science of constellations.This book gives information about various stars in the constellations, their Indian names, the Pañcānga and its misinterpretations, improvements, star maps and the achievements of ancient Indian scientists in the field of astronomy. This book was published by the financial aid of the King of Vishalgarh, Pant pratinidhi Shrimant Rajashri Abajirao Krishna Pandit. Ketkar has dedicated this book to him. He has also given tips about the exact time and place of sky observations. We will see them one by one.

1) After sunset, Go to any high hill or terrace of your house. observe how the colour of sky is changing on the west horizon. Note down the colours which are prominent in every season.

2) Observe the sunset noting down the part of the horizon in which it occurs. Simultaneously, set your clock according to the IST or international standard time.

3) Stars begin to appear in the sky, then the constellations. Nakshatras on the east horizon seem to ascend slowly and those on the west horizon seem to descend down slowly. This movement appears to be tilted towards the right of the observer.

Ketkar has also given information about the Polestar, Big dipper, the Orion, Kruttika or the Pleiades stars. The stars that rise between the north and east points are present in the sky for more than 12 hours. Therefore, it is not possible to see their rise and fall throughout the same night. Star that sets in the night rises in the day, thus we cannot observe its rise, also the star which rises in the night sets in the day, thus we cannot observe its fall. But there is no such rule for the stars which rise between the eastern and southern points, their daytime is less than 12 hours, thus the time in which the sun is absent in the sky is greater than 12 hours, from September till March. At this time, the star which rises in the southeast in the evening, sets at night. We can measure its time with the help of a clock. For this, choose the southern stars, such as Sirius or 'Lubdhak', Canopus or 'Agastya', Trishanku(collection of three crosses around Crux, also known as the Southern Cross.) The rising and setting points of various stars are different. They are at the same distance from each other, ranging from the northern to the southern point. The star which rises at east, sets at west. The star which rises at North East sets at the north west. Star which rises at the south east sets at southwest. Each star rises two hours earlier after every thirty days. In the same way, the stars visible on the eastern horizon after the sunset change over the twelve months. Thus we can observe the constellations rise in the evening, those corresponding to the names of the lunar month, Citrā in the month of Caitra, jyeshtha in the month of jyestha, mrigashira in the month of margashirsha. The ancient Indians might have assumed that the earth rotates around the sun, by observing this motion, once in 12 months. Thus they had given the names of the constellations to the corresponding months. Ancient Indians had considered the moon as their imaginary clock. Consider the path of the moon as the dial of a clock. The main stars or the constellations can be considered as the figures showing the month. And the motion of the moon can be considered as the motion of the clock hands denoting the respective dates. Thus the sky was considered as a calendar by the ancient Indians. They named the constellations. This is the best example of the fact that the common man in ancient India was being benefited by the astronomical progress, says Ketkar.

3.Grahnakshatra:- Ketkar has given the information about different types of telescope in this book. He insisted that every sky observer or astronomer should use a telescope compulsorily. He says, 'The best means of travel around the globe are vehicles or ships, similarly the best means of travel around the celestial spheres are the telescopes. With a telescope in hand, you can travel thousands of miles in space.' Distance of the moon from the earth is 2 lakhs 40 thousand miles. But a telescope of general optimization can make us feel this distance as less as 60 miles. Thus we can use small telescopes and observe the polestar, Big dipper, the Orion, Kruttika or the Pleiades stars. We can observe their luminous intensity and colour too. The book also provides the information about the availability of telescopes and their price range. Ketkar writes, "In France, Société Astronomique de France provides telescopes and their cost ranges from Rs. 30/-, Rs. 40/- and Rs. 60/-. Renowned marathi writer, Shripad Krishna Kolhatkar writes, "We can say that Ketkar was the 'Ganesh Daivajna' of his times. He has pursued his interest over a single subject and has made consistent efforts like a sage. He has published his book without any profit by spending his own time and money. Ketkar does not need to be encouraged by financial support but he needs to be encouraged in terms of recognition. We need to foster the supreme qualities Ketkar possesses. If his talent gets ignored, it will be an offence conducted by our society. We can benefit from his qualities to get inspiration to pursue difficult subjects. I will be privileged if my writing benefits him to encourage his research."

Final journey

After enduring a year with dementia and illness, on Wednesday, July 30, he said to his son, "Look, now only one, two and three." But no one understood what he meant. After three days, on Sunday, August 3, 1930 at 10.30 at night, Ketkar breathed his last at Bijapur. He was 77 years old at the time of death. Venkatesh Bapuji Ketkar worked tirelessly and diligently for 56 consecutive years, turning his back to all worldly pleasures. He was not fascinated by any worldly attachments and materialism. There is no doubt that Ketkar served astronomy with constant contemplation, meditation and writing on his favorite subject and enjoyed it more than poetry. He will remain in people's memories for a long time.

Ketkar's elder son Shri. Dattatreya Ketkar had composed a four-line verse in Sanskrit after his father's death.


(Oops, it is very sad that the greatest astronomer shri. Vekateshshastri breathed his last on Sunday night, the '10th tithi' of 'shukla paksha' of 'Śrāvana' month, in 'Śaka 1852' named as 'Moda Sanvatsar'; when it was 4 hours after the sunset.) It means, 'It is sad that the greatest astronomer of his time, Shri. Venkteshshastri Passed away on Sunday night, on August 3, 1930 AD. (Shak 1852 = 1930 AD) It is interesting to appreciate the strength of Sanskrit language to convey a lot of details in a terse manner. Present verse uses 'Bhootsankhya' method (भूतसंख्या पद्धती) which has been typically used by the ancient Indian mathematicians and 'jyotirvids'.


After the death of astrologer Shri Ketkar, in Kesari's condolence issue, it was written that, "V B. Ketkar's mastery of astronomy was so irreplaceable, that his death has caused irreparable damage to Aryan Astronomy." 'Venkatesh Samachar' , a Mumbai daily, stated that, "Today, the death of Jyotishacharya VB ketkar has given a great shock to the world of astronomy." In the November issue of 'Modern Review', Dr. J. C. Ray wrote, 'Mr. Ketkar was best qualified to show the way. It will be difficult to find another man who has studied the calendars of the different provinces as well as he did. His right place would have been as the head of the department of the Indian Almanac.SHRIDHAR VENKATESH KETKAR HAD DID THE BEST CONTRIBUTION TO INDIA '


1) Vidnyanyatri :- Venkatesh Bapuji Ketkar (Prabhakar Kunte) Rajhans Prakashan.

2) Biography of V.B. Ketkar :- Dattatray Venkatesh Ketkar

3) Indian and foreign chronology- Shri VB Ketkar

4) Nakshatra Vidnyan - Venkatesh Ketkar

5) Grahaganit - Venkatesh Ketkar

6) Tweets about Ketkar

7) History of Indian Astronomy 2013-01-10-07-15-06

8) Pañcānga and Astronomy %E0%A5%AB-%E0%A4%B5%E0%A4%BF%E0%A4%9C%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%9E %E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%A8%E0%A5%87%E0%A4%A4%E0%A4%BF%E0%A4%B9 %E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%B8/2012-10-01-04-26-21/4881-2012-12-28-07-35-15

This page was last edited on 29 November 2020, at 03:49
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