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!
Thursday, July 30, 2015
14. Ref. 24 Exp 22. --- This occurs at the start of BhishmaParva, so it can be taken as referring to first day. Night prior to 1st day or night of first day? The quotation simply says ‘there were seven planets shining in the sky. Nothing is mentioned about where, wrt Sun. If Saturn was to the west of Sun and other to east, all could not have been seen after sunset. When the occurrence of Solar Eclipse itself is not established beyond doubt, the assertion that all seven were seen ‘during the eclipse’ cannot be made with any certitude. The eclipse was not total so there was no question of seeing the planets, during the battle. The quotation in any case does not say so. It proves or disproves nothing about the year or date of war.
15. Ref 23 Exp 23 … Shri. Oak asserts that it is an observation on the 14th night. According to him 14th day of war was a Chaturdashi, so no question of moon ‘rising’. At sunset it would be already above the Eastern horizon. If the seven planets were ranging from East to West, not around the moon how were they attacking the moon?
In my view, Vyasa here is alluding to some anecdote by the word ‘प्रजासंहरणे’.
The actual translation of the reference by Ganguli is 'Excited with wrath,those seven great car-warriors began to afflict Bhimasena, O king, like the seven planets afflicting the moon at the hour of the universal dissolution.'. So Vyasa here is giving a दृष्टान्त. There is no question of there being seven Planets actually attacking the moon on that night, in any case well after the event! For giving the दृष्टान्त, Vyasa didnt need it!
16. Ref. 25 Exp 24. This quotation occurs in the text, well before Karna’s death. What is the context? Is the translation of the quotation correctly rendered? निश्चरन्तो व्यदृश्यन्त does not translate as ‘appeared moving away from’. Both seem to refer to ‘sapta-mahagrahah’. These are two separate words, Since चर means move, निश्चर should mean ‘not moving’ . If sandhi is removed, the word appears to be निश्चरन्ताः व्यदृश्यन्त सूर्यात् which seems to mean ‘appeared not moving from Sun’. Only reading the quotation in its proper context can clarify the meaning and why Vyasa has considered it worthwhile to point it out.
The translation by Ganguli is ... The seven great planets including the Sun seemed to proceed against one another (for combat).. This does not appear correct to me as सूर्यात् cannot mean 'including the Sun'
I note however, that Shri. Oak did see seven planets in the sky after sunset on 17th day. He says he sees them moving to East. How is it possible? Planets cant be seen moving at any given time. Their eastward movements are very slow and can be noticed only after several days, except maybe mercury. So what does Shri. Oak mean when he says the simulation showed them moving east?
I also say that it is only an Upama by Vyasa for which there is no need for seven planets to be actually seen after sunset. No adverse inference could be drawn if they were seen or not.
17. Ref. 19 and 20 . Exp. 26. As Shri. Oak has finally concluded that Shweta and Shyama cannot be positively identified, they can be left out. About Shyama, the description, प्रज्वलितः, सधूमः, सहपावकः though, appear to point to a comet or Ulkaa to me. If it was an Ulkaa, it wont be seen in the simulation I presume.
18. Ref. 21 and 22. Shri. Oak says both these quotes refer to Comet at Pushya. While ref 22 second line clearly says that a महाघोरः धूमकेतुः has settled at Pushya, Ref 21 does not say so at all. It simply says the planet Teevra is at Krittika and is – धूमकेतुरिव – like a comet because ‘नक्षत्रे प्रथमे ज्वलन्’! Second line, first word, वपूंष्यपहरन्भासा does not at all mean 'at Pushya'! वपुंसि अपहरन् भासा may mean ‘as if abducting bodies’. I am not sure of this and an authentic translation must be referred. Where does Shri.Oak see ‘Pushya’ here?
If he sees in his software something at Pushya and says it was Haley’s Comet, so be it.
19. At the end of chapter 7 Shri. Oak says that he checked 38 specific years, within 6500 BCE and 3500 BCE, for a combination of Saturn near Bhaga (UttaraFalguni) and Jupiter near Shravan. Does 5561 BCE qualify for this position? He does not say so specifically. What he actually found for 16th Oct 5561 BCE is - On 16th Oct. 5561, Jupiter was in Uttarashadha, and Saturn in Hasta. They are one nakshatra away from the desired positions and both being slow-moving, would remain so for maybe some months either side. After 5561 BCE Saturn will go further away from Hasta to Chitra although Jupiter will move towards Shravan. So does 5561BCE pass the condition? Not really. Did any other of the 38 do any better?
20. That brings us to end of chapter 7 which claims 5561 BCE as the year of war. Have all the references and EE experiments passed scrutiny? Not entirely in some cases according to me. Readers can decide. As I have stated earlier I am not proposing any alternative year as a candidate. I do not have resources to verify any other year. I would only say that none of the references examined by Shri Oak in this chapter have unequivocally disqualified the proposed year. Some other years however may also pass the tests.
I will take up next chapter from next post.
9. Ref 18 Exp 15. Here again is a timing mismatch. Venus was between Shravan and Dhanishtha on first day of war. Its motion described in Ref 18 right upto Shatataraka is thus subsequent. Over how many days is not stated but could be well beyond end of war. How Vyasa is describing it in present tense before beginning of the war? ‘प्रत्युदीक्षते’ clearly signifies present tense. It would actually be appropriate if the start of war was some weeks later than proposed date.
10. Ref. 21 Exp.16. The reference talks about a planet at Krittika. (कृत्तिकासु ग्रहः तीव्रः) Dr. vartak and Shri. Oak claim it to be Pluto. Shri. Oak actually finds Pluto ‘rather closer to Rohini’, not near or at Krittika. I presume Pluto is very slow-moving. It would have been at Rohini only,for some more years and them move forward to Mrug. It could have been at krittika several years back! I also do not find the same object called ‘a nakshatra’ anywhere in the quotation! नक्षत्रे प्रथमे ज्वलन् does not mean that at all! I am not sure of the meaning but it seems to say ‘having burned in the nakshatra earlier’. No translation or interpretation of the second line is given. I am also not sure about what it says. Use of word धूमकेतुरिवस्थितः has some significance. All this rigmarole is supposed to prove it to be Pluto and Shri. Oak calls it ‘sufficient corroboration’! No comment is needed.
11. Ref. 8 and 9 Exp. 19. Both references are about Saturn troubling Rohini. Shri. Oak finds that as Rohini was setting, Saturn was the only planet, ‘somewhere in the eastern sky’, i. e. quite away from Rohini. Being the only available planet, the duty seems to have fallen to Saturn! Saturn also is a slow moving planet and the relative position would be unaffected over a large time span on both sides of the proposed war date. As the position of Saturn vis-à-vis Rohini is so vague, similar situation could occur even one year prior to or after the proposed war year. So the references have no positive worth for validating the war year and/or date.
Ref 8 says ‘(प्राजापत्यं) ग्रहः तीक्ष्णः महाद्युतिः शनैश्चरः (पीडयति)’. second and third word are clearly adjectives of शनैश्चरः. It appears therefore, that ‘tikshna’ is not another planet but refers to Saturn only!
Shri. Oak's contention that Saturn from 'somewhere in the western sky' was troubling Rohini is quite lame! It can be compared with a timid college student making a pass at the college queen, but from a Safe Distance! One would expect that Saturn should be AT or very close to Rohini to trouble her! At this rate, any Planet can be considered troubling any nakshatra from anywhere! These references must be considered as against the claim of year 5561 BCE.
12. Ref. 16 Exp 20. There are two questions on the explanation given by Shri. Oak. Mercury has 88 days’cycle of going around Sun. If it was ‘due East’of Sun on 1st day,agreed that it could have become visible that day, some time after sunset. During 17 days of war the separation increased (rapidly?). Did Mercury still remain ‘Due east of Sun’?. If it did, then it would become visible, after sunset, at a somewhat higher elevation. If it moved around the Sun, it may not be at higher elevation. Shri. Oak describes this ‘becoming visible at a higher point’ as ‘as if rising from the west’. Fanciful but could be allowed. It still does not clarify what is ‘tiryak’ about it. Perhaps, Shri. Oak can provide a graph of daily observed position of Mercury wrt to a horizon line.
If the start of war was, say, 2 months later than 16th Oct. where was mercury w.r.t. Sun on 16th Dec.? Still due East? What separation angle? 17 days thereafter, what was the position? I invite Shri. Oak to check this. It may well be, that for 16th Dec., Mercury’s position vis-à-vis Sun would be similar as for 16th Oct.
5. Ref 18, Exp. 15. Shri. Oak says Venus was bet. Shravan and Dhanishtha on 16th Oct., first day of the war. Subsequent motion of Venus was thus thereafter, during the war. Total period of the motion described is not stated but may have covered the 18 days of war and beyond. On the other hand, Bhishma, before war began, is describing it in past tense, ending with ‘प्रत्युदीक्षते’ (present tense), as if all that motion has already taken place! It points to the possibility that the War began much later than 16th Oct.
The second line of the quote needs further study, especially ‘ज्वलितार्कवर्णः which is an adjective of Graha. It seems to describe Mercury as ज्वलित अर्क वर्णः, ‘of the colour of Burnt Sun’ ! I found the translation of this reference by Ganguli as -- When Karna fell, the rivers stood still. The Sun set with a pale hue. The planet Mercury, the son of Soma, assuming the hue of fire or the Sun, appeared to course through the firmament in a slanting direction.
This is a translation of the alternative rendering 16b of the quote from GP edition. The rendering in GP is hackneyed to say the least, with break in meter, consecutive use of two names of Sun (Savita and Divakar), and repetition of word ‘tiryak’. The first rendering from CE is free from such blemishes and is obviously the correct one.
13. Ref. 17 Exp.21 Without exact translation of the second line of the reference in full, it is not possible to say whether Shri. Oak’s interpretation that Mars, Venus and Mercury were protecting Pandavas from behind is correct or not. Does पुरस्तात् mean ‘behind’? I doubt. (Refer अव पुरस्तात् from Atharvasheersha where it means ‘protect me from East’). It actually means ‘From East’. If Pandavas were facing east, purastat seems to mean ‘from the front’. Actually the plantes were in the western sky! The three planets could be seen only some time after Sunset as mercury is also mentioned. Venus is also never far away from Sun. So if pandavas were still facing East, they would be behind Pandavas but then how could they protect them from the front? Further, at the end of 18th day, all Kourava army was already destroyed and what little of Pandava (essentially Panchala), army remained was also no longer in any particular formation. Pandavas and their supporters were wandering in search of Duryodhana. They were not formally facing eastwards as on first few days.
What remains is that there were three planets in the western sky on evening of 18th day. Of them, Mars is slow moving and Mercury and Venus are always close to Sun. After two months, position could be same or similar. The quote does not prove or disprove 16th Oct. in my view.
6. About Shweta, Tivra and Tikhshna referring to Urenus, Neptune and Pluto. I find it difficult to accept the tall claim about Pluto unless any independent evidence is available to establish there were telescopes in use at that time. Even today, Pluto cannot be seen with ordinary telescopes. Are there references to Pluto in any other ancient texts?
7. Ref 26 - Exp.17. - This Ref is from GP only, not from BORI. Is it authentic? Assuming it is, the quotation with pre, post ref. needs to be looked into. As given in the book, रोहिणी पीडयत्येवं(पीडयति एवं) उभौ च शशिभास्करौ does not mean ‘Sun/Moon are troubling Rohini.’ (It means Rohini is troubling Sun and Moon!) If Sun and Moon are troubling Rohini, the quotation should be रोहिणीं पीड्यतः एवं उभौ च शशिभास्करौ. Ref. needs checking. If, as observed by Shri. Oak, Sun and Moon, in Jyeshtha, were setting when Rohini was rising, (Jyeshtha and Rohini are in fact opp. each other), they were directly opposing each other. Sun can thus trouble Rohini OK, but it being Amavasya, moon had no rays to trouble Rohini! So who is troubling whom? Maybe, Rohini is ‘rising’ while moon is not seen and sun is ‘setting’ so Rohini is ‘troubling’ sun and moon!
Translation by Ganguli, however, is unambiguous. 'Both the Moon and the Sun are afflicting Rohini'
8. Ref. 12. Exp. 18. – I assume, Shri. Oak verified by his software that Jupiter was actually on or above western horizon when Rohini was rising in the east. How far above? Probably about 30 degrees. The last two words of the quote, ‘ बभूव चन्द्रार्कसमानवर्णः’ simply mean, ‘became of the same colour as sun and moon’, i. e. bright. After Sunset, Jupiter, 30 deg. above horizon, can become bright enough to justify this description. The quote does not mean ‘in same position as sun and moon’. So comparison with relative position of sun/moon wrt Rohini on first day has no relevance. A question. Jupiter is a slow moving planet. Relative position of Jupiter and Rohini, not strictly opp., is not specific to proposed 17th day. It would be so, over several days on either side. Jupiter was in fact, in Uttarashadha (quite away from Jyeshtha,) on 1st day and would be around there only, on 17th day, even 2 or 3 months thereafter. This quote would be true for a war date 2 months after 16th Oct. also!
Year and date of War.
Shri. Oak has, in essence, accepted the year 5561 BC, proposed by Dr. Vartak and examined the various astronomical references for that year. He has also fixed 16th Oct. as the date for the first day of the war.
1.I begin with the Ref. 6, exp. No. 10. – 'Jupiter and Saturn NEAR Vishakha on first day'. Shri. Oak says one year prior to 16th Oct. 5561BC, Jupiter was in Mool and Saturn in Hasta, i. e. 3 and 3 nakshatras away from Vishakha on either side. On 16th Oct. 5561, Jupiter had moved to Uttarashadha, 2 nakshatra farther away from Vishakha and Saturn was still at Chitra – Uttara F., which really means ‘stayed in Hasta’. Gap between the two has opened out to 8 nakshatras! Satisfactory corroboration of ‘ both in Vishakha’? Hardly so. Maybe in 5563 or 5564 BC at least Jupiter would have been much closer to Vishakha though Saturn still far away. This reference does not corroborate the year 5561 BCE.
If this reference is to be met satisfactorily, the year should be such that Saturn was actually at Vishakha and the date or month of the year such that Jupiter was also at or near Vishakha. However it is to be noted that if Saturn was at Vishakha it would neither attack Bhaga (Uttara Falguni) nor give Peeda to Rohini. All three conditions can never be met.
2. Ref 10 Exp 11.—Saturn attacking Bhaga (Uttara Falguni). What Shri. Oak finds is that Saturn was in Bhaga 2 years prior to the war date but had begun ‘approaching Chitra’ which means it had left Bhaga, thus stopped troubling it and was at Hasta. Again, 5563 BC fits the ref. better! (I am of course not proposing 5563 BC as year of war)
3.Ref 11, 13 and 14 talk about movement of Mars from Magha to Shravan, mentioning two Vakri motions. Exp. 13 describes all these movements as correct. I must congratulate Shri. Oak on his novel interpretation of Vakri motion. Astrologers/Astronomers may not accept it. I am neither so am free to accept. Some questions however remain. In Ref. 11 Vyasa talks about Mars moving Vakra in Magha as though it is a current event, but actually, it was so one year back! In the first line of the Fef. 11 he says ‘ सेनयोः अशिवम् घोरं करिष्यति महाग्रहः’ By ‘mahagraha’ does he mean Mars or Jupiter (both in Shravan) or some other planet? Why Mars, one year back going Vakra in Magha, now in Shravan, was harmful to the armies?
Mars is described as ब्रह्मराशिं समावृत्य. It is actually equidistant from Shravan and Dhanishtha, RA wise. Abhijit is far away, declinationwise, about 54 degrees whereas both Shravan and Dhanishtha are at about 20 and 17 degrees decl. What was Mars' declination? Was it very high to call it near Abhijit?
4. Ref 11 Exp 14 – Shri. Oak finds Jupiter showing Vakri motion as per his definition, ‘crossing ecliptic'. It supports his idea. Fine. Vyasa says in second line of Ref 11, ‘श्रवणे च बृहस्पतिः’ – present tense. ( He also used present tense for describing Mars' vakra motion at Magha, one year back.) Actually, Jupiter crossed ecliptic much later, on 6th April 5560 BC and 13th Sept 5560 BC! How is Vyasa talking about them? That too in present tense? It happened way in future! Maybe, ‘Sharavane cha bruhaspatih’ simply means what others say, 'Jupiter in Shravan'
Shri. Oak’s book has dealt extensively with the main topic of timing of Mahabharat War – Year and then Date of commencement. I intend to deal with both aspects together as many of my comments and observations will be common for both aspects.
A large number of scholars have made their own assessments of the timing and Shri. Oak has noted the number. He has straightaway rejected all proposed dates outside of ‘Epoch of Arundhati’. I am of the view that ‘Epoch’ established by his computer technique stands to reason and after examining it in my own way I must accept it.
Shri. Oak has examined only two proposed years, both within the ‘Epoch’, rejecting one by Mr. Lele for reason not specifically stated. He has accepted the year, 5561BC, proposed by Dr. P. V. Vartak. The book deals extensively with examining and verifying a large no. of astronomical quotes from Mahabharat for that specific year.
I gave a talk on this subject to a group of friends in Vile Parle in May. Though most were unfamiliar with Astronomy, I could convey the gist of the matter to them with the pictures and some more. See below. (I could not arrange for projecting PPT slides so used large size prints).
As far as the year 5561 BCE is concerned, although Shri. Oak's interpretations and arguments are not acceptable in some cases, on the whole, the year 5561BC can be considered acceptable. I have not come across any astronomical reference violently contradicting the year among the various he has examined, except perhaps, Ref 6, second sholka. In any case I don’t propose any other particular year of my own! In the following posts I will deal with specific cases where I have questions!
Any proposed year outside the ‘Epoch’ however, should be assessed and accepted/rejected on the merit of the case made out, based on aspects other than astronomical observations from Mahabharat. Rejecting all such claims, only because they fall outside the ‘Epoch’, without assessment is questionable. However knowing my limitations I don’t hold a brief for any particular year/date claimed by any researcher. I have no comments of my own, on the merit of such claims rejected wholesale by Shri. Oak.
From next post I will examine some of the ‘astronomical quotes’ and Shri. Oak’s comments.
The picture shows the position as we see today, when Saptarshis go accross the meridian line. Vasishtha is on the meridian, Arundhati is a little behind.
The picture shows the position as was seen at Mahabharata time. Arundhati has gone beyond meridian and Vashishtha is on meridian.
After the talk, one friend raised a question whether the time of the war could be stretched far back, at the start of the Epoch of Arundhati. I e-mailed him later giving my view that it should be somewhere near the time when Arundhati was maximum ahead of Vasishtha.
In my view, since the time people started taking note of Saptarshis (and Arundhati), Vasishtha-Arundhati were far too close together to conclude who was ahead. Saptarshis got their names, probably some time after Rama era. (Vasishtha, Atri, Arundhati were on earth at Rama times). When slowly but surely, Arundhati moved ahead sufficiently, people may have started questioning who is ahead. Vyasa or someone else, a keen observer, became convinced that she was definitely ahead, by the time of Mahabharata war and Vyasa recorded that conclusion. This has to be somewhere around the time of maximum aheadness, which is just about half minute. What Vyasa recorded was the observation, ‘no longer together, but now, definitely ahead’. Mahabharat war cant be stretched back to the beginning of the Epoch of Arundhati on the basis of what he has said.
I end my comments on this topic with this post and will take up the next one.
I have no access to elaborate software like Shri. Oak. Once I became aware of the fact that the Celestial North Pole moves in a circular path in the sky, completing a round in 26000 years, I looked at the issue graphically in my own way. I also had occasion to give couple of lectures on this subject. I felt that most of the listeners may not quickly grasp the mathematical approach of Shri. Oak (Investigating deltaRA between Arundhata and vasishtha) if I try to explain it in the short time of a lecture and may lose interest. I prepared a few slides to present the issue pictorially. I found that many listeners got the essence of the problem and the solution and some said so at the end of the lecture. I was happy.
I show below a few of the slides. The pictures are of course not to scale or accurate but give a fair idea to viewer. I hope readers would like them.
This picture shows the view of saptarshi as we see today. They help us to locate the polestar. Arundhati is very close to Vasishtha and is not very bright and cant be seen easily. We can see it only in a blown up view below.
This picture gives an idea of how close the two are today for a naked-eye viewer and how Arundhati is very faint. When Arundhati was maximum ahead of Vasishtha, that was only about 40% of what it is behind today. One can imagin the difficulty of noticing it with naked eye in those days.
I will now move on to the next chapter of Shri. Oak’s book.
After having stated my detailed interpretation of the quotation from Mahabharat, it is time to move on. I will end my writing on this topic with this post.
I must say that I found this chapter most fascinating. The way Shri. Oak relentlessly followed up his idea that Arundhati may possibly have been actually ‘ahead’ of Vasishtha at some time in the past, since Vyasa says so is most commendable. He has the advantage over the old scholars of access to modern technical tools. I am sure if Dr. Vartak had the same, he would not have left it to Shri. Oak to solve the puzzle. He did the next best thing. He invited new young scholars to unravel it and Shri. Oak has done the rest.
When I first came to know that someone has used computer and software for research in Mahabharat, I was amazed. I had been taking keen interest in Mahabharat since we purchased the Marathi translation volumes and I retired and had time on my hand. My own interest was in many new aspects of all old and familiar stories, which I started to notice. I made notes, gave lectures and ran a blog (this same one, earlier in Marathi), but I had taken no interest in the astronomical references. My blog proved quite of interest for readers, especially younger ones, and I was happy. Then one reader drew my attention to Shri. Oak’s book. My own old acquaintance with astronomy had gone quite rusty which Shri. Oak helped me brush up. I could then understand his unraveling of the ‘Mystery of Arundhati.’ His identification of the time-span when Arundhati was actually ahead of Vasishtha is convincing. Whether the world of Mahabharat Researchers will accept his conclusion and the insistence that the war must have taken place only within that time –span or Epoch as Shri. Oak calls it, is another matter.
More about this later.
At one stage of my discussions with Shri. Oak on this subject he had said that his main purpose of elaborating on this topic was to show that there was a long tradition of visual astronomy in India stretching far back of Mahabharat time. I would say that the quotation fulfills that purpose. Although my conclusion on the timing of the Indra – Skanda dialogue is different from Shri. Oak and Dr. Vartak too, one or two things emerge.
1. Brahma set up the system of marking time and gave first place to Dhanishtha. Dr. Vartak and Shri. Oak have interpreted this to be in 14500 BC as Summer Solstice was near Dhanishtha at that time and it would be an appropriate start for the year. I agree.
2. If one considers a later date around 8500 BC when Autumnal Equinox was at Dhanishtha, for Brahma’s action, it is still far back enough, but the quotation (Devi going to Tapastapta Vana) cannot be properly interpreted for any time after 8500BC as Summer Solstice will be nowhere near either Krittika –Rohini or Vishakha-Anuradha (My alternative candidate for Devi). So we have to stick to ‘Summer Solstice at Dhanishtha’
3. So the event, about which Markandeya talks to Yudhishthira, (Indra’s SOS), is itself in sufficient antiquity – around 9500 BC - and Brahma setting up start of year from Dhanishtha at Summer Solstice is much more so.
I wonder though whether the world-at-large will ever admit that Indians’ use of Visual Astronomy stretched that far back.
I just noticed from Kalanirnay hanging on the kitchen wall that on 22nd June, Sun entered the Ardra Nakshatra. Should we say that Ardras have gone to TapastaptaVana? After about 3000 years Sun will enter Krittika on 22nd June.
I have already written about my interpretation of the quotation. I will elaborate it further. 1. Who is अभिजित्स्पर्धमाना, रोहिण्या कन्यसी स्वसा? Because of mention of Krittika in the last shloka, Dr. Vartak, Shri. Oak and myself also, have been treating Krittika as the one who went to tapastapta vana. The first shloka actually mentions the name Devi. Taking Dr. Vartak’s interpretation as correct, we look for Krittika going to Summer Solstice. S.S. was near Dhanishtha around 14500BC. It was near Krittika-Rohini way back in 22500 BC and will be again so in future, in AD 3500. That is obviously not relevant. Iyengar has mentioned that both Rohini and Jyeshtha were once called Rohini. If this is correct, does Devi stand for younger sister of Jyeshtha and not of Rohini? i. e. Vishakha or Anuradha? Summer Solstice would be near them around about 9500BC. Based on this possibility, I offer an alternative interpretation that Vishakha (or Anuradha), not Krittika, was competing for recognition as No.1, because start of year fixed earlier from Dhanishtha had lost relevance. Indra says, ‘Bhrahma had created time beginning from Dhanishtha and beginning from Rohini also happened’ Did he refer to Rohini or to Jyeshtha,- alternate Rohini? He probably means that the alternative of starting year from Winter Solstice,( near Rohini around 9500BC,) was also ‘proposed’ or ‘considered’ or ‘being observed by some’.
2. Indra also is worried or confused that Nakshatra has dropped or moved from sky. ‘च्युत’ can literally be translated as ‘moved’ also. (One of the adjectives of Lord Vishnu is ‘अच्युत’! ) If recognition of 27 Nakshatras along the ecliptic and time keeping with their help was set up by Brahma and Dhanishtha was given first place, Summer Solstice being then near Dhanishtha, this can be considered to have occurred sometime around 14,500BC. At that time Abhijit was the only prominent star close enough to CNP to help in mapping the sky and time keeping. Although it was not anywhere near the ecliptic and was not part of the chain of 27, it was then given a pride of place along with the 27 nakshatras. However, the picture had changed over the centuries. Abhijit had initially moved closer to CNP for some milenia and came within 5 degrees of CNP around 12000 BC and although it started moving away from CNP thereafter, it still remained close enough to be relevant, for some further centuries, but by around 9500BC it has moved away from CNP considerably, now daily drops down close to the horizon (as seen at places in North India) and as time passes it will surely start actually dipping below the horizon every day! So what to do with it? Indra is naturally worried.
3. Around 9500 BC therefore, (a)Summer Solstice has moved from Dhanishtha close to Vishakha-Anuradha, (b) Winter Solstice, alternative starting point for year, is near Krittika-Rohini and (c)Abhijit has moved a long way away from CNP! Brahma’s system is in a crisis! Indra sends him an SOS with Skanda. I suggest that the event in the shlokas occurred around 9,500 BC.
4.The shlokas dont explicitly state what Brahma decided but apparently, Abhijit was ‘dismissed’, and year start shifted to Winter Solstice so, naturally, Krittikas ‘went to heaven’ and are shining brightly! (Vishakha-Anuradha lost their claim)
After stating my full interpretation of the four shlokas, I have a question. We now-a-days reckon Nakshatras from Ashvini. Since when? When was a Cardinal Point near Ashvini to cause this? Did Indra report to Brahma and year-start was shifted to Ashvini by Brahma? If so, when? Vernal Equinox was near Rohini in 3000 BC from data given by Shri. Oak in his book (29000BC + 26000 years). It would have moved backwards, near Ashvini around 500 AD. I invite Shri Oak to speculate on this.
As Shri. Oak in his various comments has suggested that I should give my translation of the four shlokas and then my interpretation I will try to do so. I lost contact with Sanskrit after SSC (1950) so what I say is based on what I remember about Sanskrit Grammar.
1. अभिजित्स्पर्धमाना तु रोहिण्याः कन्यसी स्वसा इच्छन्ती ज्येष्ठतां देवी तपस्तप्तं वनं गता.
Dr. Vartak has translated this correctly. I would say, ‘Daughterlike (younger) sister of rohini, DEVI, contesting with abhijit for seniority has gone to water heated by hot season.’
Tapas also means hot season and that is appropriate here instead of penance. Vana = water is very rarely used but fits nicely here.
2. तत्र मूढोस्मि भद्रं ते नक्षत्रं गगनाच्च्युतम् कालंत्विमं परं स्कंद ब्रह्मणासह चिन्तय
‘Here I am confused, bless you, (also) Nakshatra has fallen (or moved) from sky Skanda, please think of this time (event) along with Brahma (discuss with him)’
3. धनिष्ठादिस्तदा कालो ब्रह्मणा परिनिर्मितः रोहिण्याद्यः अभवत्पूर्वम् एवम् संख्या समाभवत्
‘Bhrahma had then created time beginning from Dhanishtha. Earlier, beginning from Rohini also happened. This is the available information.’
(I am not able to give any meaning other than what Dr. Vartak has given for the phrase – एवम् संख्या समाभवत् – It appears appropriate)
4. एवमुक्ते तु शक्रेण त्रिदिवं कृत्तिकागताः नक्षत्रं शकटाकारं भाति तद्वन्हिदैवतम्
‘ On Shakra (Indra) saying this, Krittikas came to heaven (आगताः) The nakshatra having Agni as devata and of chariot shape shines.’
It would be necessary to check how the last word in first line is written in the original text. कृत्तिका गताः (two words) does not make sense. Is it a single word कृत्तिकागताः ? I have read it as कृत्तिकाः आगताः with sandhi and therefore preferred ‘came’ rather than ‘went’ used by Dr. Vartak.
As stated earlier, while the translation of the Mahabharat Shlokas by Shri. Oak is incorrect and the time frame for the event proposed by him becomes baseless, the translation by Dr. P. V. Vartak is correct. How to interpret Krittika going to Vana for Tapa? Does it mean that Summer solstice had moved near Krittika? Oak says that was the position long back in antiquity, 22000BC. It would happen again in AD 4000. So that cannot be the meaning. I am unable to offer any alternative interpretation of Krittika going to Vana for Tapa.
The shlokas say a lot in few words as per style of Sanskrit shlokas and one has to read between words and lines. After the third shloka, nothing is said about what Brahma decided about Chyuta nakshatra or about change if any in start of year from Dhanishtha. Fourth shloka simply gives end result that krittikas came (or went) to heaven and (now) it shines. It says nothing about Abhijit’s fall or moving from sky or its being dropped from list of Nakshatras.
Now I will move on to my understanding of the events. Before that, however, I must acknowledge my debt to Dr. Vartak and Sri. Oak, as my interest in this matter is entirely on account of Shri. Oak’s book. I had not noticed these shlokas, leave aside trying to interpret them, when I read Mahabharat. From Shri. Oak’s book, it is seen that eminent scholars like C. V. Vaidya were puzzled by this reference and others had ignored it. (So I may be excused!) I noticed something from Iyengar’s writing quoted by Oak which I will refer in my comments. Dr. Vartak translated the shlokas mostly correctly. His spotting the rarely used meaning ‘water’ for ‘vana’ is commendable. His interpretation of Chyuta Nakshatra, or fall of Abhijit as its progressive movement ‘towards’ CNP is not correct in my view and leads to giving excessive antiquity to the event.
Shri. Oak, in spite of having access to Dr. vartak’s correct translation, has taken liberties with the shlokas! He assumes that it was Abhijit which went to Vana for Tapa. His entire effort to build a timeframe for the event described in the shlokas is therefore vitiated and is meaningless.
I show below two pictures which demonstrate what I consider as Fall of Abhijit.
Other observation noted by Indra and mentioned to Skanda as causing him to worry is the fall of a nakshatra from the sky. The choice of Abhijit for this role seems unanimous. What is meant by fall from the sky? It should mean disappearing from the sky. This cannot happen for an observer in northern hemisphere, in northern India in particular with Latitudes around 25-30 degrees, in case of Abhijit, in those ancient days when he was not far from the north pole. At best it can mean disappearing below the horizon for a part of its journey around the north pole, every day-night. I therefore conjecture that Indra meant exactly that! ‘The star Abhijit which was once very close to north pole and was therefore always above the horizon has moved so far away from the pole that now for a part of its path, it actually goes below the horizon, it has fallen from the sky!’
Abhijit was closest to north pole around 11000BC, about 5 degrees away. By about 6000-6500BC, north pole had moved sufficiently away from Abhijit to make it dip below horizon. Timing of Indra-Skanda dialogue therefore is around then, in my opinion.
As I have mentioned in the earlier post, Abhijit has always been way far too distant from the ecliptic to have a place in the list of 27 nakshatras, which are strung along the ecliptic, more or less. It was simply the most important star in the sky besides the nakshatras, being pretty close to the north pole. My conjecture is that the Nakshatras were identified and named some time in the past when Abhijit was close to north pole, between 13000BC to 11000BC. When Indra points out that Abhijit has fallen from the sky, it was natural that it should no longer be counted along with the 27 nakshatras. At that time there appears to be no other big star close enough to the north pole. If there was one, it would have taken the place of Abhijit in the list of nakshatras! For example, around 0001AD, Indra could have proposed that Dhruva should be counted along with the Nakshatras. That did not happen but Dhruva’s status has indeed been recognized in our folklore.
About the rest of the points about Rohini and Dhanishtha in the quotation, my comments are as follows. Shri. Oak has examined four cases of a particular cardinal point near Dhanishtha and also later near Rohini, looking for movement of that cardinal point from Dhanishtha to Rohini. In fact, from his data it is seen that, due to precision phenomena, every cardinal point was first near Rohini and after abt. 7000 years, moved near Dhanishtha! If start of the year was from a particular CP to start with, it will take 19000 years for that CP to move from Dhanishtha to Rohini. That was not the problem faced by Indra. When Nakshatras were first identified and system of counting time got a frame of reference, around 13000BC ( when Abhijit was close to North Pole) as I conjecture, Summer Solstice was close to Dhanishtha and it was appropriate to count year start from Dhanishtha! Around 6000BC when Indra finds Abhijit fallen from sky, Summer Solstice had moved well away from Dhanishtha and no other CP was near it! On the other hand, Winter Solstice was still close to Rohini.
This is Indra’s problem. 1. Should the beginning of the year be shifted from Dhanishtha to Rohini i. e. from Summer Solstice to Winter Solstice and 2. What should be done with Abhijit? He asks Skanda to discuss this with Brahma. It looks like Brahma decided to give that honour to Krittika as winter solstice was closer to Krittika by 6000BC! Krittika was competing with Abhijit for this honour! No wonder Krittika was pleased and brightened up! Poor Abhijit got dropped from Nakshatras.