आपणास माझे लेखन आवडते आहे असे ब्लॉगला भेट देणारांच्या वाढत्या संख्येवरून वाटते. विषेशकरून कर्णकथेला वाचक पुष्कळ मिळाले. आपल्या प्रतिक्रिया जरूर मिळावयास हव्यात! त्याशिवाय लिहीत राहण्याचा उत्साह कसा टिकून रहाणार?
I changed over from Marathi to English for my comments on Shri. Oak's book recently. I continue to get readers but there are no comments! Wonder whether I am boring!

Last Seven Days

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San Ramon and Mumbai, California and Maharashtra, United States
ज्येष्ठ नागरिक. साहित्य व संगीत प्रेमी. Senior Citizen

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Puzzle of Eclipses.

Researchers of Mahabharat Year attach a lot of importance to the solar/lunar eclipses which are claimed to have occurred prior to start of war.
1. A lunar Eclipse is supposed to have occurred at the time of Krishna Shishtai.
Krishna is claimed to have started on Revati and reached Hastinapur on Bharani. Next day he visited the Kourava Rajashabha which was thus Krittika day. Since this was supposed to be Kartika Masa this was Purnima day. The first Lunar Eclipse must have therefore occurred on this day. Krishna spent this night with Vidura and Kunti. They had a long heart-to-heart talk. There is no mention of an eclipse in this part of the text. When Krishna left Hastinapur he took Karna with him and at the end of their dialogue Karna talks about some Astronomical happenings which he said indicated adverse days for Kauravas. One of the things he mentions is ‘व्यावृत्तं लक्ष्म सोमस्य’. This is hardly a description of a Lunar Eclipse. Literally translated, it means ‘The spot or Mark on the moon has turned’. Nothing like that happens during an eclipse. Also whatever happens during an eclipse, leaves no lasting effect. So why ‘has turned’?
However, the same event has been described by Vyasa far more clearly (though he also mentions turning of moon-spot). The words ‘अलक्ष्यः, प्रभयाहीनः, रक्तवर्णः’ are specific. So we have to accept a lunar eclipse on Purnima preceding the start of war. Shri. Oak claims 16th Oct. as first day of war, an Amavasya and has found a lunar eclipse on 30th Sept. and solar eclipse on 16th Oct. There is a Gap of 15 days between the two, or an extra-long lunar fortnight of 16 days in other words.
2. Now about the Solar eclipse on first day of war. Karna merely said ‘Rahu is approaching the Sun’. So he indicates a possibility of Eclipse on the coming amavasya (seven days later). (Did the war begin on that day or only war rituals? Both claims are made! I take it that Shri. Oak claims it as first day of war.) Vyasa in his dialogue with Dhritarashtra on the night ‘prior to first day of war’ mentions a large number of planetary observations. Regarding a Solar Eclipse, there is a shloka here which talks about an unusually short Lunar Paksha of only 13 days, as against a 14 or 15 (standard) or even 16 days and both moon and sun suffering eclipses (चन्द्रसूर्यावुभौ ग्रस्तौ एकमासे त्रयोदशीम्) separated by the very short Paksha of 13 days.
There is a problem here. Amavasya was to come on the next day so Solar Eclipse could occur only next day. Vyasa is saying it has already happened. Also the Paksha was not short at all. Purnima on 30th Sept. and Amavasya on 16th October.
3. Was there a Solar Eclipse next day? When the description of events on the first day of war by Sanjaya commences, there is a mention of ‘sun appearing split in two’ and ‘sun blazing in flames’. Do these two point to a Solar Eclipse? Not really. Sun’s flames are seen only when it is a Total Eclipse. The description of morning Sun when it rose does not say it was a total eclipse. In the afternoon description, there is a mention of lot of dust rising and causing darkness. This is also hardly a description of solar eclipse, total or partial. As against these vague indications of an eclipse, what Shri. Oak has found is an eclipse at kurukshetra at noon. He is not sure of it. There is thus no convincing conclusion that there was a Solar Eclipse on the first day of war. Also, if there was, it was not with a gap of 12 days from the earlier Lunar Eclipse but an extra long fortnight of 16 days from 30th Sept. to 16th Oct.
4. Is Vyasa then talking of a Lunar Eclipse on Next Purnima, occurring after 12 days’ gap? If war began on Amavasya this would be the 13th day of war when Abhimanyu died after breaking up Chakravyuha. There no mention or even a hint of a lunar eclipse in the description of events after end of fighting on that day. This was the evening when Arjuna took the vow of killing Jayadratha before end of next day. Even next day’s description of war is devoid of any reference to Lunar Eclipse previous night. Was that even a Purnima day? Shri. Oak claims the Next night as full-moon night!
Shri. Oak has found a Lunar Eclipse on 30th Oct. There is however a gap of 13 days between amavasya and purnima here so it is a (not unusual) 14 day lunar fortnight.
Actually Vyasa is saying ‘इमां तु नाभिजानामि अमावास्याम् त्रयोदशीम्’ An amavasya on 13th day, not a Purnima on 13th day! So where is the question of a third eclipse on Margashirsha Purnima?
If we have to somehow hypothecate that Vyasa is talking of a Lunar Eclipse on 13th day, there is another serious problem. Since Vyasa talks about it on the day before war, as an event which has already occurred, war must be taken to have started after the third eclipse!
5. My own surmise from all this is that (a) A lunar Eclipse occured prior to Krishna-Karna dialogue. (b) On 13th day after that, Amavasya occurred and Vyasa notes this very unusual event. (c) In the morning of the first day of war, moon was still in ‘Amavasya phase’ (d) There was, in all probability, no Solar Eclipse on the first day or a very nominal one, though moon was still in Amavasya phase. (e) The poetic description of sun when it rose may be due to the very nominal Solar Eclipse of short duration which soon ended.
For this sequence of events, Shri. Oak finding a lunar and a possible solar eclipse on 30th Sept and 16th Oct. of 5561 BCE does not help because they are 16 days apart, not 13days. Any proposed year of war must have a SHORT krishnapaksha of Kartika.
6. Alternative is – (a) Two lunar eclipses. (b) normal Krishnapaksha after first eclipse (c)followed by a 13 Day, short, Shuklapaksha noted by Vyasa (d) war starting after the second lunar eclipse.
Actually this may be a better alternative as it means first 13-14 days of war were Krishnapaksha. That takes care of 1)Pitch darkness after sunset on 7th and 8th day. 2) Drona referring to moon with pointed end at or before noon on 10th day and 3) Darkness throughout the night on 14th day!
Take your pick!

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