# "Exact Science in the Srimad-Bhagavatam"

"Turning to India, we find a unit of distance – called the *yojana* – that at first glance seems as ill defined as the medieval English furlong or foot. The *yojana* is defined to be either 16,000 or 32,000 hastas, where a *hasta*, or cubit, is 24 anulas, or fingers. That there were at least two sizes for the *yojana* is upheld by the writings of classical Indian astronomers. The fifth-century astronomer Aryabhata used a *yojana* of about 8 miles, and the astronomy text *Surya-siddhanta* a *yogana* of roughly 5 miles. ...

"[T]here is reason to think that these two *yojanas* use different standards for the *hasta*. Hiuen Thsang, a Buddhist pilgrim who visited India in the seventh century, wrote of yojanas in terms of a Chinese unit of measure called the *li*. He reported that a *yojana* consisted of 40 *li* according to Indian tradition but the measure in customary use equaled 30 *li* and the measure given in sacred texts was only 16. ... [By] using values for the Thang dynasty, when Hiuen Thsang lived, we can compute that the yojana of 16 *li* matches the small *yojana* of 4.6 miles. Could the *yojana* of 30 *li* match the larger *yojana* of 32,000 *hastas*? If it does ... the larger *yojana* of 32,000 *hastas* then comes to 8.59 miles. At the equator, that is 1/8 of a degree of latitude. ...

"In summary, simple arguments from the testimony of Megasthenes and Hiuen Thsang enable us to reconstruct two closely related *yojana* values. Both are precisely defined as fractions of a degree of latitude at the equator. Both relate to the earth by multiples of 108 (namely 432 and 1728), and this relationship gives us a very accurate estimate of the polar flattening of the earth. Also, the length of the larger *yojana* is confirmed independently by an investigation comparing modern astronomy with the cosmology of the *Bhagavatam*."

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