Samanta Chandrasekhar, of Orissa, is a poignant figure of a classical Siddhantic Astronomer of India, who survived into the 20th century (he died in 1904).
The year 2004 was a very appropriate year to remember his work and, in particular, to put together
his observations of the 1874 Transit of Venus. Not just observations –
predictions too, as he was a Siddhantic Astronomer, completely un-influenced by
the western schools of Astronomy, and to some extent – unaware of it, during
the early phases of his Astronomical efforts.
Samanta Chandrasekhar was born on the 13th of December 1835, at Khandapara,
in Orissa. His full name was Mahamahopadhaya Chandrasekhar Singh Harichandan
Mohapatra Samant, but he was better known as Pathani Samanta. His lifetime
Astronomy efforts were summarized by him in ‘Sidhanta Darpana’, which was
published in 1899, by Calcutta University. The original manuscript of 2500
Sanskrit shlokas was written in Oriya script, on palm leaves, by Samanta
Samanta Chandrasekhar did not have a formal University education and his interest and
efforts in Astronomy were completely self taught, from manuscripts of Siddhantic
Astronomical treatises, that he had access to. It is very evident that he had no
exposure to the revolutionary advances in Astronomy between the 17thand
19th centuries, until rather late in his Astronomical career, and
very little, even towards the end of that. He remained a complete Siddhantic
Astronomer in the classical mould, uninfluenced by more recent developments.