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KHONA (6th CENTURY)


Khona, or the woman whose story is obscured by the legend of Khona, was a horologist and astronomer. In Bengal there is a popular legend of a female mathematician-astrologer named Khona or Kshanavati who is credited with a large number of popular sayings (Khonar Bachan) in old Bengali, relating to astronomy, agriculture, timekeeping and the seasons. She is also traditionally believed to have been the wife of an astronomer called Mihira, whose father was called Varaha, but this appears to be an appropriation of the name of Varahamihira, the famous sixth century astronomer of Ujjain. One of the legends states that she travelled to Ujjain and confounded Varahamihira with her learning and acuity. It is possible that the legend of Khona is based on a real person, but no concrete historical evidence has yet been found to substantiate the story. The name Khona or Kshana means ‘moment’ or ‘point in time’.
 
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