Maya's Theory of Sun

Share:- Facebook

This article is a part of a series of articles on individuals described in the Vedas, Epics and Puranas, with the name 'Maya' and related concepts like 'Maaya'. Their connection with the Meso American Mayans too is explored in detail. Read the main article:- Danava Maya and Mayans of America

Maya's theory of Sun (Surya Siddhanta)

With the extensive architectural background, the individuals belonging to the Maya tribe were well versed in astronomy and mathematics (including trigonometry). One such Maya (variably dated from 500 BCE to 500 CE) has done several astronomical calculations, arriving at the orbital periods of visible planets, their distance from Earth and their diameters. He is credited with the Surya Siddhanta, a work dealing with astronomy where he had described about the results of his analysis. 'Surya' means 'Sun' and 'Siddhanta' means 'theory'. Thus Surya Siddhanta could mean the Theory of Sun or the Theory of Solar System.

Astronomical Calculations

Some of the interesting conclusions of Surya Siddhanta, whose original author was Maya but which was subsequently updated by later astronomers of India are the following:-

  1. The average length of the tropical year as 365.2421756 days, which is only 1.4 seconds shorter than the modern scientific value of 365.2421904 days but more accurate than the value given by the Gregorian calendar (which gives the average length of the year as 365.2425 days)
  2. The average length of the sidereal year, the actual length of the Earth's revolution around the Sun, as 365.2563627 days, which is virtually the same as the modern scientific value of 365.25636305 days
  3. Estimate for the diameter of Mercury is 3,008 miles, an error of less than 1% from the currently accepted diameter of 3,032 miles.
  4. Estimate for the diameter of Saturn as 73,882 miles, which again has an error of less than 1% from the currently accepted diameter of 74,580
  5. Estimate for the diameter of Mars is 3,772 miles, which has an error within 11% of the currently accepted diameter of 4,218 miles.
  6. Estimate of the diameter of Venus as 4,011 miles and Jupiter as 41,624 miles, which are roughly half the currently accepted values, 7,523 miles and 88,748 miles, respectively went wrong

Probably he could not correctly gauge the relatively high brightness of planet Venus and Jupiter, affecting their diameter estimates; similarly Mars is a dull red planet affecting its diameter estimate.

Spherical Shape of Earth

It is learned that the original Surya Siddhanta contained the description of the spherical shape of Earth (that the Earth is not flat but a sphere), the rotation of Earth on its own axis as well as its revolution around Sun. If proved right this will be first recorded instance of Helio-Centric theory in human history. What makes things difficult is that most of the verses of the Surya Siddhanta is lost (only half available now) and that the older versions of the Siddhanta too is lost or modified. Most of the information that we have about this text and its contents is from secondary sources like the works of Aryabhata and Varahamihira who were inspired by this text and its findings.

Construction of Wooden Globe of Earth

Surya Siddhanta speaks about construction of wooden globe of earth and marking of horizontal circles, equatorial circles and further divisions. Some Puranas say that the map making had great practical value for the administrative, navigational and military purposes. Hence the method of making them would not be explained in general texts accessible to the public and were ever kept secret. Surya Siddhanta says that the art of cartography is the secret of gods.

References to South America as Patala

It will be evident from a close study of the texts of Indian Astronomy that Latin America was known to ancient Indians, who called it Patala Desa. Surya Siddhanta states that the ocean which surrounds the poles of the earth has divided the planet into two great continents, viz. the continent of the Devas and the continent of the Asuras. When the Sun is on the Equator both the Devas and the Asuras find the Sun in the middle and the days and nights are equal. As the Sun proceeds to the northern hemisphere, the Devas experience summer because of the directness and intensity of the solar rays, the Asuras do not get the rays so directly then and its intensity is also less, the sun being in the northern hemisphere. Hence they experience winter during this time. This obviously indicates that Pataldesa was South America.

The Surya Siddhanta explains how the people living on opposite ends of the globe consider themselves, wrongly, as living on the upper and lower part of the globe, though there cannot really be an upper or lower part, of the globe, which moves in vaccuum.

Time variation across the globe

Maya, the author of Surya Siddhanta, also mentions the four great cities situated on the opposite ends of the world, equidistant from one another. 1. Yamakotipura in Bhadrasva-varsa (Indonesia?) in the east, Lanka in Bharatvarsa (India) in the south and 3. Rome in Ketumalavarsa (Europe) in the west and Siddhapura in Kuruvarsa (America?) in the north. "When the sun rises at Lanka, the time as at Yakakotipura to the east of Lanka, will be midday. Below the earth at Siddhapura, it will be twilight then, and at Romakadesa in Europe, the time will be midnight."


  1. Mayabheda- Maya in Rigveda
  2. Maya in Atharva Veda
  3. Maya in Ramayana
  4. Maya in Mahabharata
  5. Maya in Vishnu Purana
  6. Maya in Silappatikaram
  7. Iliad: Danava-Danaan connection
  8. Ancient Indians in Sea

Created by Jijith Nadumuri at 05 Jan 2012 18:27 and updated at 08 Jan 2012 05:15

Share:- Facebook

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License