On sites like Quora and in many of the whatsapp forwards in Indian communities, it is frequently claimed that Tulsi Das mentioned the distance between the sun and the earth in the Hanuman chalisa, a devotional poem. Many a times, this particular “fact” is touted as a proof that India had this particular “ancient wisdom” in 15th Century.
So, let us look at the actual verse.
जुग सहस्र जोजन पर भानू।
लील्यो ताहि मधुर फल जानू॥ १८ ॥
(The Sun that is at a distance of Juga (Yuga) Sahsra Yojana
You thought it to be a Sweet Fruit.)
And based on above verse, this is the calculation
1 Juga/Yuga = 12000 years
1 Sahasra = 1000
1 Yojana = 8 Miles
Juga x Sahasra x Yojana = 12000 x 1000 x 8 miles = 96 000 000 miles (96 million miles) and claim is that he knew of this fact in 15th century ahead of astronomers like Cassini who only attempted such calculation in 17th century.
- Assuming maths is correct, then at first glance, this is impressive claim. 96 million miles is quite close to 92 million miles as is known at this time. Cassini et. al approximated it at 87 million miles which was also considered excellent measure with knowledge & instruments available at the time.
- One could easily dispute this by citing that 1 Juga = 12000 years is incorrect. As per Puranas, 1 Mahayuga = 12000 divine years and 1 divine year = 360 human years as chalisa doesn’t mention Mahayuga but just yuga.
- It is not stated how the author would have arrived at such calculation. For example, Aristarchus, a Greek mathematician & astronomer, who is credited with the authorship of heliocentric model, is also credited with first known attempt to calculate this distance in 300 B.C using naked eye observations & geometry which was known to Greeks at the time. in 17th century, Cassini & Flamsteed is said to have used parallax and got a value of 87 million miles. There is nothing in the works of Tulsidas that suggests any scientific methods he is alleged to have adopted to arrive at such calculation.
- Tulsidas was a very learned person who is also considered a renowned poet. He is known to have studied vedas and other facets of Hindu philosophy. He was also a multilingual with several acclaimed compositions in sanskrit and awadhi languages. However, there is no evidence that suggests that he was a scientist or an astronomer. Tulsidas himself has never claimed to have any scientific knowledge.
- Why would author cite one scientific fact in just one verse when none of the other 39 verses suggest any other scientific facts ? No one has claimed any other scientific claim in his other literature either.
- Hanuman chalisa is a devotional poem addressed to “lord Hanuman”. While this particular verse has reference to a story in Valmiki Ramayana where Hanuman tried to jump at sun thinking it was a fruit, there is nothing to suggest that this is anything other than a poetic construct inspired by author’s own devotion to the deity.
- Let us assume that there is some science inside this poem even if we can’t explain how. This is perfectly plausible as we keep on discovering new facts unknown to earlier generation. But then are we to believe that ghosts & evil spirits exist ? Because 24th verse of this poem says that “Ghosts and evil Spirits will not come near, when one listens/says the name of Hanuman (Mahavir)”
- This poem is fairly popular in many households and considering the Indian oral tradition of transferring such poems to next generation, it is possible that this was well known to many households in northern India since 15th century. So, why did no scientists/astronomer those days make use of such information so easily available in a poem? Why didn’t they put this verse and their knowledge together to get ahead of Cassini et. al ?
My opinion. This claim is fairly new, made within last 10-15 years and getting more aggressively visible (especially in whatsapp forwards) within last 5 years. This coincides with the growth of smartphone market in India. There is no documentation as to the origin of this particular claim.
A quick google search points to same set of “scholars” that seem to be interested in pushing forward a religious superiority narrative. By instilling a false sense of pride in some “ancient wisdom”, propagating such claims must make them popular within their own communities. And it conveniently supports their political affiliations.
For the real science, please go to