28

/

VEDIC VENUES

Chronology of Vedic §R¶is: An Archaeoastronomical Approach
B. N. Narahari Achar Professor of Physics University of Memphis, Memphis TN 38152 USA I. Introduction The historical study of Vedic literature and of ægveda in particular originated with Western scholars, evolved with western thought and research. The date of ∼1500 BCE proposed for ægveda, a date favored by most western scholars is the direct outcome of the so called Aryan Invasion Theory (see comprehensive discussion in Bryant & Patton 2005), now discredited (Singh 2010. See also Kazanas 2009). This chronology is in direct conflict with the traditional Indic chronology on one hand and with the chronology based on astronomical data derived by Tilak (1893), and Jacobi (1894) and their modern counterparts, Elst (2007), Frawley (1991), Rajaram (1997), and Kak (1994), among others, to be discussed later. The high chronology based on astronomical data was denied by the esteemed scholars of the day such as Winternitz (1927) with concomitant misrepresentation of the astronomical knowledge of the Vedic times and was never recognized by the scholarship. This paper was prompted by a recent work by Talageri (2008) which gives a relatively low chronology for ægveda. It is the purpose of this paper to reexamine the astronomical data in ægveda using the planetarium software and to present the chronology based on the astronomical references. Astronomy is considered to be the foremost of sciences, and

CHRONOLOGY OF VEDIC §R¶IS : AN ARCHAEOASTRONOMICAL APPROACH

/ 29

has played an important role in India since the Vedic times. Astronomy was essential in determining the proper times for performing the ritual yaj¤a. It is generally accepted that the ægjyoti¶a (RJ) recension of VedåΔgajyoti¶a (VJ) is the earliest codified text of astronomy of India. Western scholars (Pingree 1973) have assigned a date of ~ 400 BCE for this text, in addition to attributing a Babylonian origin for it. It is an understatement to say that there is bias among the Western scholars in describing the state of science in ancient India and that there is misrepresentation in accounting the chronology of India. The accounts of history of astronomy in ancient India that are currently available have to be revised in view of the developments discussed here. Another aspect of the paper is to demonstrate how the dates of certain texts, such as ‹atapatha bråhmaƒa, and VedåΔgajyoti¶a and the date of the event of the Mahabharata war can be determined with the help of Planetarium Software. There are several other Vedic texts whose dates can be determined by using astronomical methods. The paper concludes by showing that a consistent chronology for Vedic India based on astronomical methods can be given. The plan of the paper is as follows. Since the paper is based on astronomical methods and the earliest known text of astronomy is the vedåΔgajyoti¶a, about which there exist a lot of misconceptions and misrepresentations, the first section is devoted to a study of vedåΔgajyoti¶a. This section will dispel any doubts about its Vedic origin and throw some light about its date. This is followed by a discussion of a number of misrepresentations about the concepts of astronomy in ægveda. After presenting a new list of identification of Vedic nak¶atras with modern names of asterisms using simulations with planetarium software, the dates of satapatha bråhmaƒa and the mahåbhårata war are discussed. Finally the dates associated with astronomical references in ægveda are discussed. This is followed by a discussion of several other Vedic texts whose dates can be determined using the

30

/

VEDIC VENUES

astronomical method and simulations with the planetarium software and a consistent chronology for Vedic literature is presented. II. VedåΔgajyoti¶a It is universally accepted that of the three recensions of vedåΔgajyoti¶a (VJ), ægjyoti¶a (RJ) is the earliest text of astronomy in Ancient India. In this paper terms VJ and RJ are used inter changeably and refer to RJ only. The knowledge codified in this text is attributed to sage Lagadha, but the composition of the text which has preserved this knowledge is attributed to ›uci, a disciple of Lagadga. RJ is more like a pocket reference rather than a detailed treatise of astronomy and gives the essential knowledge of astronomy needed for the performance of Vedic rituals, codified in a form akin to the style of sutras in 36 ‹lokas, easy for memorization, but sometimes difficult for understanding. VedåΔgajyoti¶a is declared to be the science of time, as its primary purpose is to determine the proper time for the performance of Vedic rituals. Some of the important concepts of RJ include tithi, nak¶atra (defined as a division of the Ecliptic), a≈‹å, kalå, a¶¢aka and parvan. Units of time, and measurement of time, ætu, ayana, and adhimåsa and a five year period called Yuga are all described in RJ. Pingree(1973), in his eagerness to show that VJ was derived from Mesopotamian origin, assigned a date of ~400 BCE for it, while Sastry (1985) and others had assigned a date of ~1200 BCE , based on the reference in RJ that the winter solstice occurred at Dhani¶¢ha, and on the identification of Dhani¶¢ha with β-Delphini. II.a. Inappropriateness of the assumption of Babylonian Origin for RJ The author has argued (Achar, 1998a) that it is inappropriate to assume a Babylonian origin for RJ in view of the intimate connection of astronomy with the Vedic ritual yaj¤a. In fact, every astronomical concept in RJ can be traced

CHRONOLOGY OF VEDIC §R¶IS : AN ARCHAEOASTRONOMICAL APPROACH

/ 31

to ægveda and other Vedic texts. For the concept of tithi, for example, there are several well known quotations from ægveda which show that the year nominally of 360 days is divided into 12 months of 30 days each, thus alluding to tithi, the 30th part of a lunar month:
dvådΩa‹åra≈ na hi tajjaråíya varvΩarti cakra≈ paridyåmætasyΩa | åputrå Ω a gne mithunåso atrΩ a sapta‹atån· vim‹at·scΩ a tasthu¨ | | RV I.164.11 | |

ìFormed with twelve spokes, by the length of time, un weakened, rolls round the heaven this wheel of during order. Herein established, joined in pairs together, seven hundred sons and twenty stand, O Agniî1
samåínå≈ måsa åkæíti¨ || RV X. 85.5 | |

ìThe moon is the one who shapes the yearî Aitareya Bråhmaƒa (32.10) defines the tithi and the Taittir∂ya Bråhmaƒa gives the names of the fifteen tithes of the waxing phase:
etåvΩ a nuvåkau pμ u írvapak¶asyåíhoråtråƒåí≈ nåmadheyåíni || TB 3.10.10. 2 ||

ìThese are the names of days of the first side (of the month)îand the names of the fifteen tithes of the waning phase:
etåvΩ a nuvåkåvΩa parapak¶asyåíhoråtråƒåí≈ nåmadheyåíni || TB 3.10.10.2 ||

ìThese are the names of days of the other side (of the month)î The concepts of equinoxes and solstices, the scheme of adhimåsa, (the intercalary month), the five year Yuga system can all be traced to Vedic sources (Achar 1998a). For example, Aitareya Bråhmaƒa (18.22) shows the knowledge of the equinox and the period between two solstices:
yathå vai puru¶a eva≈ vi¶uvåí≈stasya yathå dak¶iƒordhΩa eva≈ pμ u rvordho vi¶uvat˙ yathottarordhΩ a evamuttarθ rdho vi¶uvatΩastasmåduttara ityåcak¶até ||
1

The translations of verses from ægveda are mostly taken from Griffith (1973).

32

/

VEDIC VENUES

ìThe vi¶uvant (equinox) is like a man. The first half of the vi¶uvant is like the right half of a man. The second half of the vi¶uvant is like the left half. Therefore they call it the latterî2 The practice of inserting an intercalary month is adduced to in veda måso dhætavrΩ a to dvådΩ a ‹a prajåvΩ a ta¨ | vedå ya upajåyate || RV I. 25.8 || ìhe knows the twelve moons with their progeny (the twelve months with the days which are their offspring). He knows the moon of later birth (the thirteenth intercalary month)î II.b. Nak¶atra system is known in ægveda Nak¶atras, variously translated as asterisms or lunar mansions with an enduring list of 27 (sometimes 28) in number have been the hallmark of Indian astronomy. They refer to stars, which lie near the path of the sun or the moon as markers, while in RJ they refer to the divisions of the ecliptic. Explicit mention of the names of only a few of the 27 nak¶atras is found in ægveda although complete list of 27 (or 28) nak¶atras can be found in other sa≈hita and bråhmaƒa texts. This has led scholars, both Western and Indian, to believe that not all the nak¶atras were known at the time of ægveda and the development of the full list occurred later. The author has shown (Achar 2002a) that the entire list of nak¶atras can be found in ægveda, contrary to the scholarly pronouncements that such an entire list came to be recognized only at the time of taittir∂ya sa≈hita. The clue is that there is a presiding deity for each nak¶atra and the nak¶atra can be denoted either by its own name or by the deity representing it. Such use was common is demonstrated by a verse from ægjyoti¶a (RJ 14), which lists the nak¶atras at the end of parvas.

2

The translation of the Aitareya Bråhmaƒa is from Keith(1919)

CHRONOLOGY OF VEDIC §R¶IS : AN ARCHAEOASTRONOMICAL APPROACH

/ 33

jau dra gha¨ khe ‹ve ah∂ ro ¶å cin mμu ¶a ƒya¨ sμu må dhå ƒa¨ re mæ ghå¨ svå apo aja¨ kæ ¶yo ha jye ¶¢håiti æk¶å liΔgai¨ (RJ 14) Each nak¶atra is indicated by a single letter, either the first letter or the last letter of its own name, (jau for å‹vayujau, dra for årdra, ro for rohiƒi, etc.). It can also be denoted by the first letter or the last letter of the deity representing it (deity apa¨ for pμ u rvå¶ådhå, or må for åryamå representing uttaraphålguƒ∂). There is another place in RJ where there is a list of nak¶atras at the beginning of ayanas, given entirely in terms of the names of deities: vasus två¶tå bhavo aja‹ca mitra¨ sarpo a‹vinau jalam dhåtå ka‹ca ayanådyå‹ca artha pa¤cama bhastu ætu¨ (RJ 9) ìvasu, tvashta, bhava, and aja; mitra, sarpa, ashvinis, jala; dhata and ka, are at the beginning of ayana. Four and a half segments of nakshtra constitute one rtu.î 3 Here for example the deity vasu stands for ‹ravi¶¢hå, and the deity tva¶¢å for citrå etc. Nobody can question the authenticity of vedåΔga jyoti¶a as an astronomical work. Therefore the list of deities can only represent the list of nak¶atras. Now the deities for kættikå, årdrå, pro¶¢hapada, uttaraphålguƒ∂, mrga‹iras and punarvasu are, respectively, agni, rudra, ajeakapat, bhaga, soma and aditi. These are listed in ægveda (V. 51. 13-14): agni¨ svastayé | ..svasti n˙ rudra¨... svasti na indrΩa‹cågni‹cΩa svasti n˙ adite kædhi | etc... ìMay Agni be beneficent....may Rudra bless... May Indra and Agni prosper us. Prosper. Os, O thou Aditi....î It is made abundantly clear that it is the nak¶atras that are being referred to here, by svasti panthå≈ anúsa≈carema sμ u ryåcandramasåíviva,
3

Translation from Sastry (1985).

34

/

VEDIC VENUES

ìMay we pursue in full prosperity our path like the Sun and the Moon in theirsî referring to the path of the sun and the moon, the ecliptic. One nak¶atra is explicitly mentioned: svati pΩathye revat∂. ìMay Revati in the path proper us.î In fact, as discussed in the authorís papers referred to, the deities of all the nak¶atras and more occur in this single sμukta. This destroys the myth that the entire list of nak¶atra s are not known in ægveda and the lists suddenly appear in taittir∂ya sa≈hita. Authors of history of ancient astronomy of India should note that the knowledge of all nak¶atra s is derived from ægveda. II.c. Names of the months caitra etc. already known in ægveda One of the characteristic features of the Hindu calendar is the naming of the month on the basis of the nak¶atra near which a full moon may be taken to have occurred. These are the well known caitra, vai‹åkha, jye¶¢ha etc. for the months with full moons near citra (Spica), vi‹åkha (Zubenelgenubi), jye¶¢ha (Antares) etc. The names of the months in the Vedic texts, however, are madhu, mådhava, ‹ukra, ‹uci, nabhas, nabhasya, i¶a μurjå, sahas, sahasya, tapas and tapasya. Some scholars have conjectured that the names of the months based on the nak¶atras was not known during the sa≈hita times, but came into vogue much later. In fact Dixit (1969) surmises that this scheme came into vogue when the vernal equinox actually took place in caitra. Using the Planetarium software, the author has shown that there is no basis for this argument to establish a chronology. The scheme of naming the months called the caitrådi system has also been traced (Achar 2000c) to ægveda on the basis of the connection between yaj¤a and the important role of agni in it. III. Time and its measurement Astronomy is an observational science. RJ propounds

CHRONOLOGY OF VEDIC §R¶IS : AN ARCHAEOASTRONOMICAL APPROACH

/ 35

a five year luni-solar year called the Yuga, comprising of ten ayanas, subdivided into ætu (two month season), måsa(month), ardhamåsa(half-month), ahoråtra (day and night), kalå, muhμurta (48 minutes), and k嶢å. These concepts can be traced to Vedic sources, for instance, as listed in Mahånåråyaƒopani¶at, (MNU) kalåmúhμurtå¨ k嶢åí‹cåhoråtrå‹cΩa sarva‹a¨ ardhamåså måsåí ætΩavassa≈vatsara‹cΩa kalpantå≈ || MNU 1.2.3-4) || The author has shown that the method of measuring time with a water clock can be traced to atharvaveda (Achar 1998b), and the method of Gnomon can also be traced to Vedic sources. In short, the entire astronomical knowledge of vedåΔga jyoti¶a is traceable to ægveda. IV. Identification of the Vedic nak¶atra-s Although in RJ the nak¶atras refer to divisions of the ecliptic, and the names of the divisions correspond to bright asterisms also known by the same names, there must have been a time when only the asterisms and not the divisions of the ecliptic were used as the markers for the observation of movements of the sun and the moon. It is essential to identify the Vedic nak¶atras (the bright stars) with their modern names, for the lists that are available in the literature are not satisfactory, some of the asterisms being more than 30° away from the ecliptic and could not have been used as markers for the motion of the sun and the moon. The author has used the simulations using the planetarium software, SkyMap Pro, of nearly 900 new moons and full moons occurring around 2297 BCE, when kættikås (identified with Pleiades) were on the celestial equator and around 2220 BCE, when the vernal equinox occurred at kættikås and has produced (Achar 2002b) a table for identification of the nak¶atras, which is reproduced below. This identification is based on the view of the sky as the Vedic people themselves would have seen as simulated by

36

/

VEDIC VENUES

the planetarium software. On the new moon days and full moon days, there is absolutely no question about the relative positions of the sun and the moon, and hence of the nak¶atra, which describes the moonís position. The details of the identification procedure can be obtained from the reference cited above. The planetarium software produces the view of the sky by an extrapolation of the positions of the stars in a modern catalogue. The stars identified as a particular nak¶atra will therefore retain the identity. This is in contrast to the procedure adopted by Pingree (1989), where the polar coordinates of stars given in a siddhånta text is first converted to equatorial coordinates, then extrapolated to modern epochs to compare with the coordinates of stars in a modern catalogue and then make the identification.

CHRONOLOGY OF VEDIC §R¶IS : AN ARCHAEOASTRONOMICAL APPROACH

/ 37

Table 1. Identification of Vedic nak¶atras Nak¶atras No. of stars 6 1 3 1 2 1 6 6 2 2 5 1 1 2 4 1 7 4 4 3 5 1 2 2 1 2 3 Identification of the Principal star RCRC Present η-Tau α-Tau λ-Ori α-Ori β-Gem δ-Cnc ζ-Hya α-Leo δ-Leo β-Leo δ-Crv α-Vir α-Boo α-Lib δ-Sco α-Sco λ-Sco δ-Sgr σ-Sgr α-Aql β-Del λ-Aqr β-Peg γ-Peg η-Tau α-Tau β-Tau* γ-Gem* β-Gem δ-Cnc ζ-Hya α-Leo δ-Leo β-Leo γ-Vir* α-Vir π-Hya* α2-Lib δ-Sco α-Sco λ-Sco δ-Sgr σ-Sgr β-Cap* δ-Cap4* λ-Aqr α-Peg γ-Peg Presiding Deity Agni prajåpati Soma Rudra Aditi Bæhaspati Sarpa Pitæ aryamå Bhaga savitå Indra våyu indråƒi Mitra Indra Pitæ åpa¨ Vi‹vedevå¨ Vi¶ƒu Vasu Indra ajaekapåt

kættika rohiƒi mæga‹ira årdrå punarvasu pu¶ya å‹le¶a makhå pμurvaphålguƒi uttaraphålguƒi hasta citrå svåti vi‹åkha anμurådhå jye¶¢hå mμula pμurvå¶åŒha uttarå¶åŒha ‹ravaƒa dhani¶¢ha ‹atabhi¶a pμurvåbhådra uttaråbhådra Ahirbudhnya revati a‹vini bharaƒi

ζ-Pis β-Ari 41-Ari

ζ-Pis β-Ari δ-Ari

Pμu¶å A‹vin yama

* These identifications differ from the usual list. These stars are brighter and closer to the ecliptic and are natural choice as markers of the motion of the son and the moon. 4 The list of identification is taken from Achar (2002b) The identifications marked with * differ from the usual list for example from the Calendar Reform . . .

38

/

VEDIC VENUES

The present list is believed to be the correct one as it is based on the view of the sky the Vedic people themselves would have observed. It agrees with most of the stars in the list given in the Report of the Calendar Reform Committee (Saha and Lahiri 1955), but there are six cases, where there is disagreement. The new identification is based on stars, which are very close to the ecliptic and hence better suited as markers for the motion of the sun and the moon. Besides, the new identification easily explains a controversy (Achar 2002b) that had plagued the nak¶atra system, namely classification into deva and yama nak¶atras. V. Date of VedåΔga Jyoti¶a The author has shown (2000a) that the date for the Lagadha recension of vedåΔga jyoti¶a must be revised to about 1800 BCE, rather than the previously accepted date of 1200 BCE. The date of vedåΔga jyoti¶a, as discussed by Sastry (1985), is based on the calculation of the time when winter solstice occurred at dhani¶¢ha. The date of 1200 BCE is based on the identification of dhani¶¢ha with β-Delphini according to the old identification scheme derived from the yogatåras of the siddhåntas, and may not correspond to what the Vedic people themselves had observed. Based on the identification scheme proposed by the author in Table 1, dhani¶¢ha corresponds to δ-Capricorni. Figure 1 shows the star map for Delhi on January 3, 1752 BCE, the day of winter solstice. It is clearly seen to be the month of mågha in figure 2, as per the description in RJ verses 5 and 6. It can be noted that β-Delphini is more than 30° away from the Ecliptic and could not be a marker star, whereas δ-Capricorni is right close to the Ecliptic and would be suitable as a marker star. Thus it follows that the date of lagadha recension of vedåΔga jyoti¶a is to be dated around 1800 BCE. That there must have been versions of vedåΔga jyoti¶a much older than the Lagadha recension, as for example that followed at the time of the Mahåbhårata war.
. . . Committee. The stars are closer to the ecliptic and are brighter and hence are better markers of the motion of the Sun and the Moon.

CHRONOLOGY OF VEDIC §R¶IS : AN ARCHAEOASTRONOMICAL APPROACH

/ 39

Figure 1.Winter Solstice in 1752 BCE Note: Del-Cap is very near the Ecliptic, but Bet-Del is quite far away.

Figure 2. Full Moon after the Winter Solstice in 1752 BCE

40

/

VEDIC VENUES

VI. Date of ‹atapatha bråhmaƒa It is a well known fact that there are many references to astronomical phenomena contained in the bråhmaƒa texts and in fact these references have been used in the past by scholars such as Tilak (1893) and Dikshit (1895) to determine the dates of the events mentioned in these texts. A prime example of such investigations is the dating of the ‹atapatha bråhmaƒa by Dikshit on the basis of the following lines referring to kættikås
etå ha vai pråcyai di‹o na cyavante... SB (II.1.2.3) ìand again they do not move away from the eastern quarterî 5 am∂ hy uttarå hi saptar¶aya¨ udyanti purå etå¨...... SB (II.1.2.4) ìThese latter, the seven æ¶is rise in the north and they (the kættikås) in the eastî

These lines occur in the second bråhmaƒa of the first adhyåya of the second kånŒa of SB, in connection with choosing a suitable time for agnyådhåna, the establishment of the ritual fires for the first time by a householder. It is suggested that the new householder should establish the traditional gårhapatya and the åhava∂ya fires on the day of kættikå na¶atra, for their presiding deity is agni. The kættikås never swerve from the east and they alone consist of many stars. He who performs agnyådhåna on the day of kættikå is blessed with ëabundanceí and a ësteadfast familyí. But, the second line quoted above argues against this proposition; for, saptar¶is, who were married to kættikås are constantly separated from the latter as they rise only in the east, while the saptar¶is stay in the north, implying a similar fate befalling the new householder. However, counter arguments are presented and finally, it is argued that kættikås are the most auspicious, but some other nak¶atras are also suggested as equally auspicious for the purpose of agnyådhåna.
5

Translation of ‹atapatha bråhmaƒa by Eggeling (1963)

CHRONOLOGY OF VEDIC §R¶IS : AN ARCHAEOASTRONOMICAL APPROACH

/ 41

The astronomical importance of these lines was recognized by Dikshit, who interpreted ìthey do not move away from the eastern quarterî to mean that the ëkættikås rise exactly at the east pointí and used this fact to determine the date of SB as ~ 3000 BCE. With the advent of the so called planetarium software, the author (2000a) reinvestigated this particular issue by simulations of the view of the sky and confirmed that Dikshit was essentially correct in his dating of SB. One interesting thing came out of the simulations. The simulations showed that all the members of the saptar¶i maƒŒala were circumpolar in 3000 BCE. The translation given above for SB (II.1.2.4) cannot be correct. Being circumpolar, the seven æ¶i s do not rise or set. The padavibhåga of this verse should be am∂ hi uttaråhi (santi) saptar¶aya¨| udyanti purå etå¨|| and udyanti cannot go with saptar¶aya¨. This mistake was traced to the commentary by Såyaƒa who could not have known from his latitude in the 14th century that the saptar¶i were circumpolar in kuruk¶etra in 3000 BCE. All scholars have simply followed Såyaƒa. VII. Date of the Mahabharata War The importance of the date of the mahåbhårata war as the sheet-anchor (Venkatachelam 1954) for the chronology of bhårata is too well known to be stated again. According to tradition, the war between the kauravas and pandavas took place at the transition between dvåpara and kali yugas, around 3000 BCE: antare caiva sa≈pråpte kalidvåparayorabhμut samantapa¤cake yuddha≈ kurup僌ava senayo¨ || MB.I.2.9 || ìAnd when the juncture of Kali and Dvapara occurred, the war between the armies of Kurus and Pandavas took place at Samantapanchaka.î

42

/

VEDIC VENUES

However, ever since Western scholars showed interest some hundred years ago in the epic and began to discuss its ëhistoricityí, a lively debate (or rather a war of dates!) has been going on. While some scholars (Sircar 1969) declare that the whole epic is a myth denying any historical truth to the story of the epic, many (Gupta & Ramachandran 1976; Sathe 1983) do believe that the war actually took place, but are divided as to the magnitude of the event and as to the date when it took place. Some scholars portray the epic as an exaggerated account of a family feud. A plethora of dates ranging from before 5000 BCE to around 1000 BCE have been proposed (Vedavyas 1986) on the basis of estimates arrived at by using diverse methodologies and there appears to be no consensus for the date. Among the diverse methodologies used, one methodology that is of special interest here is the one based on astronomical references (of which there are more than one hundred and fifty in number, and occur scattered throughout the epic). More than 40% of all the articles (totaling more than 120 in number) dedicated to determining the date of the war, are based on the astronomical references (Sathe 1983). Although the astronomical references are scattered throughout the epic, most of them pertaining to the war occur in udyogaparvan and bhishmaparvan of the epic Books V and VI).. Practically all scholars have characterized the references in bhishmaparvan (Book VI) as astrological omens (Sengupta 1947) and inconsistent and not suitable for a ëscientificí analysis. The earlier works using the astronomical references were tedious and calculations were done manually and hence chose to use only a couple of the astronomical events out of the many available in the epic. More recent studies have used the computer software ëplanetarium softwareí and consequently have considered a much larger number sample of astronomical references in the epic. Still, until recently, there appeared to be no convergence of the dates (Kamath 2004).

CHRONOLOGY OF VEDIC §R¶IS : AN ARCHAEOASTRONOMICAL APPROACH
6

/ 43

Some scholars have introduced ad hoc hypotheses in attempting to find some degree of coherence among the apparently ëinconsistentí astronomical references. It is clearly shown that the astronomical references are quite consistent and that such ad hoc hypotheses are totally unnecessary. The present article summarizes the results of a research conducted by the author for several years in the past using planetarium software and the results have been published in several research publications. The research has shown conclusively that (i) the astronomical references in the bhishmaparvan are not merely ëastrological effusions fit for mother gooseís talesí (as once characterized by Professor Sengupta), but follow a Vedic tradition of omens and describe mostly comets and not planets as generally assumed, (ii) the few true planetary references in this parvan are identical to those in udyogaparvan, (iii) These common references lead to a unique date for the war, 3067 BCE. (iv) all other astronomical references in the epic are consistent with the date (v) The date agrees with the date given earlier by Professor Raghavan and is consistent with the traditional date ~3000 BCE. (vi) Using the planetarium software, it can be easily demonstrated that all other dates proposed by different authors are inconsistent with the planetary configurations referred to in (ii) above.
It has been common to make adhoc assumptions to fit whatever model one is proposing and to bring some degree of consistency in the astronomical references in the Epic. For example, Sengupta (1947) assumed that a pair of eclipses had occurred two yeats before the war and later inserted into the text. Sharma (1986, 2004) assumed that vyåsa met dhætarå¶tra not just once on the eve of the war, but several times; the planetary positions refer to different times. Iyengar (2004) assumes that part of the text in bh∂¶maparvan, if taken over to sabhåparvan would yield a better consistency to the planetary positions.
6

44

/

VEDIC VENUES

VII.a. Astronomical References in udyogaparvan K涃aís mission for peace is so important that astronomical events in reference to that mission are recorded. (i) k涃a leaves for hastinåpura in the maitr∂ muhμurta in the month of kårtika on the day of revat∂ nak¶atra. (ii) On the way he halts at a place called vækasthala and reaches hastinåpura on the day of bharaƒ∂ nak¶atra. (iii) The meetings and discussions for peace go on till the day of pu¶ya nak¶atra, when duryodhana rejects all offers of peace. War becomes imminent. (iv) k涃a leaves hastinåpura on the day of uttara phålgun∂. karƒa accompanies him in his chariot and has a long conversation with him. (v) During the conversation karƒa describes some omens he has seen that indicate a great harm to the kuru family which include the following: ‹ani is afflicting rohiƒ∂, aΔgåraka has performed a retrograde motion before reaching jye¶¢hå and is prograde again having past anμurådhå, the moon had lost all its luster on the full moon of kårtika and a solar eclipse would appear to take place next new moon day. (vi) At the end of the conversation, k涃a sends a message to bh∂¶ma and droƒa through karƒa that seven days from that day there is going to be an amåvåsya at jye¶tha and that war rituals be started on that day. Except for Professor Sengupta (1947), these astronomical references are generally agreed to be genuine and pertinent by most scholars. Professor Sengupta does not have ìfaith in the astrological omensî described by karƒa in (v) above. However, he does believe that the reference to ëjye¶tha amåvåsyaí is extremely important, but considers the reference to two eclipses occurring within thirteen days eclipses as interpolation.

CHRONOLOGY OF VEDIC §R¶IS : AN ARCHAEOASTRONOMICAL APPROACH

/ 45

VII.b. Astronomical References in bh∂¶maparvan Sage vyåsa meets with dhætarå¶tra just prior to the war and describes the omens he has seen. Among these omens described in 76 verses in two chapters are some 40 astronomical references given in four different segments. These are some of the most misunderstood astronomical references. On a superficial reading, and assuming that the astrological references to graha pertain to planets as most scholars have done, the references appear to be confusing and contradictory. Since they also occur in four different segments, scholars have characterized them as unreliable and even as interpolations. But, by a careful analysis the author has shown that vyåsa is very systematic in his description and follows a very genuine vedic tradition of omens. The omens occur in four segments because, they pertain to four different aspects of the impending disaster: (a) an imminent war, (b) great harm to the kuru family, (c) destruction of both armies and (d) disaster to the entire population. Most of the omens pertain to comets and not planets. The only true planetary positions are described in segment (b) as the omens describing harm to the kuru family, they are identical to those described by karƒa earlier in udyogaparvan. This is easily demonstrated, for example, by comparing the first segment of astronomical references in bh∂¶ma parvan: Chapter 2. verses 20-23 with some selected mantra-s from atharvaveda pari‹i¶¢ha.

46

/

VEDIC VENUES

References in (MB VI.2. 20-23) vyåsa tells dhætarå¶tra: ìI observe the sun every day both at sunrise and sunset and have seen him as if encircled by long arms.î ìI see the sun surrounded by halos on all sides, halos which are tri-colored, dark in the middle and white and red towards the edge and accompanied by lightning.î ìI have been watching days and nights, the fierce sun, the moon and the stars shining incessantly and have been unable to distinguish between day and night. Surely this forebodes utter destruction.î ìOn the full moon night of kættika, the moon with a fiery tinge was hardly visible, devoid of glory and the horizons were also of the same hue.î

ëyuddhalak¶aƒaíin atharvaveda par‹i¶¢ha.

ì(In predicting war) one should always consider the line of clouds and halos around the sun and the moon and observe whether they appear red in color or not.î(64.5.7)î Which are blue and red towards the edges and dark in the middle and accompanied by lightning.î(61.1.4)î Whenever the sun is surrounded at sunrise and sunset by tricolored clouds, it indicates a great calamity to the earth and royal families.î(61.1.15)î The color of the moon at the time of an eclipse indicates a battle if it is red and disaster to cities and villages if it smoky or fiery.î(53.5.1-2)

It is clear that these are omens for an imminent war according to a Vedic tradition. In the second segment, vyåsa describes some omens, which forecast a great destruction, especially to the kuru family:
rohiƒ∂≈ p∂Œayanne¶a stitho råjan ‹anai‹cara¨/ vyåvætta≈ lak¶ma somasya bhavi¶yati mahadbhaya≈// MB(VI. 2. 32)

CHRONOLOGY OF VEDIC §R¶IS : AN ARCHAEOASTRONOMICAL APPROACH

/ 47

ìOh King, Saturn is harassing Aldebaran and the spot on the Moon has shifted from its position. Something terrible will happen.î abh∂k¶ƒå≈ kampate bhμumirarka≈ råhustathågrasat/ ‹veto grahastathå citrå≈ samatikramya ti¶¢ati// MB(VI. 3. 11) ìThe Earth is experiencing tremors intermittently and Rahu (Moonís Node) has seized the Sun. ‹vetagraha has transgressed Spica.î

These are identical to the omens described by karƒa to k涃a in udyogaparvan. vyåsa describes in the third segment further indicators, in the form of comets, of the calamity to the entire army (senayora‹iva≈ ghora≈...). He names specifically a number of comets, ‹veta, dhμ u maketu, mahågraha, paru¶a, påvaka, dhμ u ma, lohitåΔga, t∂vra, påvakaprabha, ‹yåma, ghora, and dhruvaketu, as can be seen from the original Sanskrit verses. All these names can be found in the list of comets given by Varåhamihira (Bhat 1981) The word graha (from the root grah=to grasp or to seize) refers to any heavenly object, which can move and hence can ëgraspí or ëseizeí a star. Thus, it can refer to a planet or to a comet. It is true that nowadays in Indian astronomy, the word graha denotes only a planet. But, vyåsa leaves no doubt to the fact that in bh∂¶maparvan, the word graha refers to a comet: ìgrahau tåmråruƒa‹ikhau prajvalitåvubhauî MB (VI. 3. 24) ëthe two grahås blazing with coppery red hairí. The heavenly object graha blazing with red hair in the context here can only refer to a comet. It may be noted that the word comet itself derives from the Greek word for hair. vyåsa refers to son of Sun, sμuryaputra, explicitly, but he also refers to the comets by the name of the parent planets, i.e., Jupiter to indicate the comet son of Jupiter. While this is quite according to the Sanskrit grammar, it is this notation that has caused so much confusion and most scholars have interpreted them literally as referring to planets alone (instead

48

/

VEDIC VENUES

of the comets which must have been meant). This has resulted in inferring conflicting planetary positions, when in actuality no planetary position is indicated. In the final segment, vyåsa describes the omens, which indicate the destruction of the entire population:
caturda‹∂≈ pa¤cada‹∂≈ bhμutapurvå≈ ca ¶oŒa‹∂≈/ imå≈tu nåbhijånåmi amåvåsyå≈ trayoŒa‹∂≈ // MB(VI. 3. 28) candrasμuryåvubhau graståvekamåse trayoŒa‹∂≈/ aparvaƒi grahåvetau prajå¨ sa≈k¶apayi¶yata¨// MB(VI. 3. 29)

ìI know New Moon coinciding with fourteenth, fifteenth and also on the sixteenth day, but I have never known it coinciding with the thirteenth day. In one and the same month, both the Sun and the Moon are eclipsed on the thirteenth. These ill-timed eclipses indicate destruction of the people.î This segment contains the famous reference to sequence of two eclipses within an interval of thirteen days and in fact, almost identical to the omens described in atharvaveda pari‹i¶¢ha : yadi tu råhurubhau ‹a‹ibhåskarau grasati pak¶amanantaramantata¨ | puru¶a‹oƒitakardamavåhin∂ bhavati bhμur naca var¶ati mådhava¨ | | (AP 53.3.5) ìIf Rahu eclipses both the sun and the moon within a paksha interval, men are blood stained, the earth with mud flow, and it does not rain in the springî7 VII.c. The important planetary configurations The important references to planets consist of those that are common to both udyoga and bh∂¶maparvan-s and include the following (i) conjunction of ‹ani with rohiƒ∂
7

This is a free flowing translation by the author.

CHRONOLOGY OF VEDIC §R¶IS : AN ARCHAEOASTRONOMICAL APPROACH

/ 49

(ii) retrograde motion of aΔgåraka just before reaching jye¶¢hå (iii) a lunar eclipse on the kårtika pμurƒima, followed by (iv) a solar eclipse at jye¶¢ha. These events lead to a unique year for the war. All other references in the epic are consistent with this date. VIII. Simulations using Planetarium Software and the date of the war A search is made for the years in which there is a conjunction of Saturn (‹ani) with Aldebaran (rohiƒ∂) between 3500 BCE and 500 CE. As Saturn takes an average of 29.5 years to go around the sun once, the event also repeats with the same period. There are 137 such conjunctions during the interval specified above. A search is then made for those years from among these 137 dates when Mars (aΔgåraka) is retrograde before reaching Antares (jye¶¢hå). Since the retrograde motion of Mars repeats with the same period as its synodic period, a spread of two years on either side of each of the dates was considered in the search. The search reduced the set to just seventeen: 3271 BCE, 3067 BCE, 2830 BCE, 2625 BCE, 2388 BCE, 2183 BCE, 1946 BCE, 1741 BCE, 1503 BCE, 1299 BCE, 1061 BCE, 857 BCE, 620 BCE, 415 BCE, 28 CE, 233 CE and 470 CE, when Saturn was near Aldebaran and Mars executed a retrograde motion before reaching Antares. A search is then made for those years in which there is a lunar eclipse near Pleiades (i.e., on the kårtikakμurƒima). This reduces the set to just two, 3067 BCE and 2183 BCE. It turns out that in both of these years the lunar eclipse is followed by a solar eclipse at jye¶¢ha. A sequence of ëtwo eclipses within a period of 13 daysí also occurs in the two eclipse seasons. When one considers the fact that bh∂¶ma passed away on the mågha ‹ukla a¶¢am∂, after the occurrence of winter solstice, a unique date results, for the winter solstice in January 13, 3066 BCE occurred on ‹uklapa¤cam∂,

50

/

VEDIC VENUES

where as the winter solstice in 2182 BCE occurred on kæ¶nacaturthi. Thus a unique date of 3067 BCE for the date of the war emerges. The author has shown that this date is consistent with all the other astronomical references in the epic in several publications with the help of copious illustrations of star maps generated by Planetarium software. Some of them will be included as part of this essay by way of illustration VIII.a. Illustrations The star maps in figures 3-6 show that the astronomical events are reproduced. In figure 3, the day K涃a starts on his diplomatic mission, it is clearly seen that moon is near revati, and ‹ani is at rohiƒ∂. Figure 4 shows the star map for the jye¶¢ha amvsya day, which is also a solar eclipse day. The retrograde loop of Mars in that year is also shown superposed in the figure. The retrograde motion of Mars before reaching jye¶¢ha had occurred several months earlier. Figure 5 shows the day the war starts: moon is at bharaƒ∂. Figure 6 shows the day of Bh∂¶maís expiry: ‹ukla a¶¢am∂, rohiƒ∂ nak¶atra. The authorís papers may be consulted for more details. The sheer volume of astronomical data and the consistency of the astronomical references reinforce conclusively the traditional belief that the war took place about five thousand years ago, and that the astronomical references are not interpolations of some latter day astronomer.

CHRONOLOGY OF VEDIC §R¶IS : AN ARCHAEOASTRONOMICAL APPROACH

/ 51

Figure 3. k涃aís Mission for Peace: Departure on September 26, 3067 BCE.

Figure 4. jye¶¢ha amåvåsya solar eclipse day. October 14, 3067 BCE.; Retroloop of Mars

52

/

VEDIC VENUES

Figure 5. War begins November 22, 3067 BCE. It is bharaƒi day

Figure 6. bh∂¶maís expiry. mågha ‹ukla a¶¢ami rohiƒi nak¶atra. January 16, 3066 BCE

CHRONOLOGY OF VEDIC §R¶IS : AN ARCHAEOASTRONOMICAL APPROACH

/ 53

At first sight, the date of 3067 BCE appears unbelievable. For, tradition has it that the war took place at the end of dvåpara yuga, and that kaliyuga started in 3102 BCE. How can the war have taken place in 3067 BCE, which is 36 years after the start of the kaliyuga? The author has discussed this and other issues that appear to conflict with different traditions regarding the date of the war, such as the åryabhata, varåhamihira, and the bhågavata traditions. He has shown that when examined closely, there is no conflict because the epic says only that the war took place during the transition of dvåpara and kali yuga-s. The transition itself is not sharp, but diffused. In fact, there is some evidence in the epic that kali may have already started before the war, and that as long as k涃a was on this earth, kali could not have an influence. IX. Astronomy based Chronolgy of ægveda. It has been well known that more than a hundred years ago Jacobi and Tilak independently arrived at the conclusion that astronomical references in ægveda can lead to a determination of the chronology of ægveda. Although most scholars have ignored the high chronology for ægveda arrived at by astronomical methods, interest has been revived by recent scholars such as Frawley, Elst, Rajaram and Kak among others. It will be interesting to examine using Planetarium software this chronology of ægveda based on astronomical methods in relation to the date of 3067 BCE for the mahåbhårata war. X. Key References for the astronomy based chronology of ægveda Although there are a large number of references on the astronomical method, we restrict our consideration to the works of Tilak (1893), Jacobi (1894), Dixit (1896), Sengupta (1947) and Frawley (1991) as being the most pertinent for purposes of this work: The astronomical references considered most pertinent are the legends of æbhu-s, legend of

54

/

VEDIC VENUES

væ¶åkapi, the legend of maƒŒμuka-s, the legend of yama and his two dogs, the solar eclipse attributed to sage atri, and finally the occurrence of Vernal equinox in kættikå, rohiƒ∂, mæga‹irå, årdrå and punarvasu. X.1. The legend of æbhu-s æbhu-s occur in eleven sμuktas in RgVeda, I. 20, I. 110, I. 161, I. 164, IV. 33- IV.-37. æbhu-s are three in number, æbhu, vibhvan and våj and are the sons of Sudhanvan. They learnt many crafts under Tva¶tra, and constructed rathas and other equipment for the devas. By their hard work the devas were pleased and they were granted immortality. saudhanvanå æbhava¨ sμ u rΩ a cak¶asa¨ sa≈vatsare samΩapæcyanta dh∂tibh·¨ RV (I. 110.4) ìThe Rbhus, children of Sudhanvan, bright as suns, were in a yearís course made associate with prayersî (ëconnected with the ceremonies appropriated to the different seasons of the year-Wilson) The æbhus represent the three seasons of the year (lunar year of 354 days) at the end of which they take rest for 12 days in the house of aghohya (the unconcealable, the sun) before they start their work again in the New Year. They are awakened from their sleep and vasta gives the information that they were awakened by the hound. su¶upvåmsΩ a æbhavastadΩ a pæcchat åg˙hya ka idam n˙ abμubudhat | ‹vånΩ a m bastob˙dhayitårΩ a m abrav∂t sa≈vatsara idamadyå vyΩakhyata | | RV(I. 161. 13) ìRbhus, reposing in the solar orb, you inquire, ëwho awakens us, unconcealable sun to this office of sending rain?í Sun replies ëthe awakener is the Dog and in the year you again today light up this worldí.î This legend can be taken as referring to the time of commencement of the year with vernal equinox. The ‹våna obviously refers to the Dog star. Tilak(1893) regards this as

CHRONOLOGY OF VEDIC §R¶IS : AN ARCHAEOASTRONOMICAL APPROACH

/ 55

referring to the equinox in mæga‹iras (identified by him with the constellation Orion, which according to him also includes the Dog-star). He supported his interpretation with a large number of quotations from ægveda and other Vedic texts. The date corresponding to the occurrence of vernal equinox at the Orion can be simulated assuming that the Orion is represented by its brightest star, α-Ori, also known as Betelguese. The vernal equinox occurring at α-Ori is shown in Figure 7.

Figure 7. Vernal Equinox at α-Ori. 5000 BCE. Note the passing of zero hour line of the coordinate Right Ascension (RA) through Betelguese.

56

/

VEDIC VENUES

Tilak(1893) in his book The Orion first proposed the date of 4500 BCE, and then later on proposed the date of 5000BCE. However, Sengupta interprets the æbhu legend as referring to the heliacal rising of Canis Major after the summer solstice. But this is not the correct interpretation either, as the beginning of the New Year was most likely at the vernal equinox. Our interpretation is that the legend refers to the vernal equinox, with the Dog star (Sirius) at the vernal equinox and is illustrated in Figure 8.

Figure 8. Vernal Equinox at Canis Major. 7100 BCE

CHRONOLOGY OF VEDIC §R¶IS : AN ARCHAEOASTRONOMICAL APPROACH

/ 57

X.2. The legend of væ¶åkapi The legend appears in RgVeda X.86 which is not an easy hymn to understand. Tilak (1893) gives a long verse by verse discussion of this hymn and concludes that the import of the legend can be understood by taking væ¶åkapi to represent the sun at vernal equinox when the dog star started the equinoctial year. Again Tilak interpreted this to mean vernal equinox occurring at Orion. However, it is our opinion that this legend also refers to the same event namely the equinoctical year with the Dog star and is illustrated by the figure 8, displayed just above . X.3. The legend of maƒŒμuka-s The so called ëFrog Songí, is the famous maƒŒμuka sμukta in RgVeda, VII.103. Jacobi finds in this sμukta a reference to the beginning of the year in the rainy season, which occurs after the summer solstice. According to Jacobi, the first rainy month was bhådrapada, the full moon near the nak¶atra pro¶¢hapada with the summer solstice occurring in the uttaraphålguƒ∂ nak¶atra. Jacobi finds support for his argument from the ritual of upåkaraƒa mentioned in the dharma and gæhya sμutra-s. As Law (1965) has pointed out, this hymn VII.103 (considered a late hymn by some scholars) should not be considered in isolation, but along with two previous hymns, VII.101 and 102. These three are prayers addressed to the deity parjanya for rain. Nirukta also indicates that this hymn is an invocation by vasi¶¢ha to parjanya for rainfall. Law indicates that summer solstice in uttaraphålguƒ∂ also corresponds to vernal equinox in mæga‹iras. Figures 9 and 10 show the vernal equinox in mæga‹iras. This is based on the new identification of mæga‹iras with BetaTau rather than Lambda-Ori, as the former is closer to the Ecliptic and brighter. Zeta-Tau is the partner and the range of

58

/

VEDIC VENUES

dates 4240-3820 BCE gives the time of the occurrence of equinox in mæga‹ira. This is consistent with what Jacobi had proposed.

Figure 9. Vernal Equinox at Mrgashira β-Tau ∼ 3820 BCE

CHRONOLOGY OF VEDIC §R¶IS : AN ARCHAEOASTRONOMICAL APPROACH

/ 59

Figure 10. Vernal Equinox at Mrgashira ζ-Tau , companion star ∼ 4240 BCE

X.4. The legend of yama and his two dogs This legend is alluded to in RgVeda (X.14 ), in the following two verses : ìpass by a secure path beyond the two spotted four-eyed dogs, the progeny of saramå, and join the wise pitæ-s who rejoice fully with yama.

60

/

VEDIC VENUES

Entrust him, o king, to thy two dogs which are thy protectors, yama, the four-eyed guardians of the road, renowned by man, and grant him prosperity and health.î (Wilsonís translation) The astronomical interpretation according to Sengupta, is that the two stars, α-Canis Minoris and α-Canis Majoris pointed to the south celestial pole. Astronomically, this referred to a time when the two stars crossed the meridian at the same time or, the two had the same right ascension. This event is represented in Figure 11. The date of 4350 BCE is again consistent with the range of dates given earlier.

Figure 11. Two Dog stars point to south pole 4350 BCE

CHRONOLOGY OF VEDIC §R¶IS : AN ARCHAEOASTRONOMICAL APPROACH

/ 61

X.5. The solar eclipse observed by atri A solar eclipse observed by atri is described in ægveda (V.40 ), and the first attempt to date it was made by Ludwig. Sengupta determines the date of this eclipse to be July 26, 3928 BCE and regards this as also the date of atri. Figure 12 shows a sky map corresponding to this event. It may be noted that there are many places in ægveda where reference is made to atri, including the following: I.51.3, I.112.7, I.116.8, I.119.6, I.139.9, I.180.4, I.183.5, V. 73.6-7, VII. 68.5, VII.71.5, VIII.35.19, VIII.36.7, VIII.42.5, VIII.62.3-8, X.39.9,X.143.1-3,X.150.5. However, some caution must be exercised in using the data for eclipses for purposes of determining the dates. As has been discussed in detail by the author, in the planetarium software, the positions of the planets and the stars are computed using the latest astronomical theories and information available and they are highly reliable. However, there are uncertainties when it comes to determining eclipses on dates extrapolated to 4000 BCE. These uncertainties which may amount to about 15 minutes when extrapolated to dates around 1000 CE, jump to more than 12 hours for the time of the occurrence of the eclipse when extrapolated to 3000 BCE, and even more when taken to 4000 BCE. The exact location of the eclipse and the exact time of visibility are uncertain, but the occurrence of the eclipse itself is certain. As a consequence, determining the date on the basis of eclipse data alone is risky. However, the eclipse data can be used as secondary information to confirm that it occurred on a particular date.

62

/

VEDIC VENUES

Figure 12. Solar eclipse at Uttaraphalguni July 26, 3928 BCE

X.6. Equinoxes at other nak¶atras. Frawley has also drawn attention to the fact that there are references in ægveda to astronomical events of equinoxes occurring at different nak¶atras such as punarvasu and årdrå. Thus there is an indication of the knowledge of vernal equinox occurring in various nak¶atras, starting from punarvasu downwards all the way to kættika. This indicates an awareness of the phenomenon of precession and gives a chronology based on this from ~ 6000 BCE to ~ 3000 BCE. Figures 13 through 17 show the occurrence of equinoxes at punarvasu, årdrå, mæg‹iras, rohiƒ∂, and kættika respectively.

CHRONOLOGY OF VEDIC §R¶IS : AN ARCHAEOASTRONOMICAL APPROACH

/ 63

Figure 13. Vernal equinox at punarvasu. Pollux ~ 6120 BCE

64

/

VEDIC VENUES

Figure 14. Equinox at mæga‹iras. Castor ~ 5740 BCE

CHRONOLOGY OF VEDIC §R¶IS : AN ARCHAEOASTRONOMICAL APPROACH

/ 65

Figure 15. Vernal equinox at årdrå γ-Gem. ~ 5440 BCE

66

/

VEDIC VENUES

Figure 16. Vernal equinox at rohiƒ∂ α-Tau ~ 3220 BCE

CHRONOLOGY OF VEDIC §R¶IS : AN ARCHAEOASTRONOMICAL APPROACH

/ 67

Figure 17. Equinox at Krittika 2220 BCE

XI. Astronomical references in other Vedic texts There are other astronomical data available in the bråhmaƒa texts. For example, ‹atapatha bråhmaƒa refers to kættikå- s rising exactly in the east. As already mentioned, the date of the event referred to has been shown to be 2925 +/- 100 BCE, quite in agreement with Dikshit. Considering that this text is attributed to yåj¤avalka, a disciple of vai‹a≈påyana, who is an important narrator of the epic, the date of 3067 BCE for the war is consistent with the date of ‹atapatha bråhmaƒa. As already discussed, the author has shown (also on the basis of simulations using the planetarium software) that lagadhaís vedåΔga jyoti¶a should be dated to be about ~ 1800 BCE. The astronomy followed at the time of the mahåbhårata war is vedåΔga jyoti¶a, but is very much pre-lagadha. The date of lagadhaí s vedåΔga jyoti¶a is also consistent with the date of the war. It may be noted in passing that ‹atapatha bråhmaƒa mentions both parik¶it and janamejaya. This is an independent check on the date of the war.

68

/

VEDIC VENUES

A passage in the pa¤cavi≈‹a bråhmaƒa (XXV. 15.3) connects janamejaya with the sarpayåga and has been referred to by Raychaudhuri(1923). A solar eclipse mentioned in this bråhmaƒa text has been dated by Sengupta (1947) as occurring on September 14, 2451 BCE. Figure 18 shows the star map for this day confirming the calculations of Sengupta. Winter solstice has been stated to occur at pμ u rvaphålguƒ∂ in the t僌ya bråhmaƒa text and Sengupta (1947) has calculated this date to be 3521 BCE. This is illustrated in Figure 19.

Figure 18. Solar Eclipse on September 14, 2451 BCE

CHRONOLOGY OF VEDIC §R¶IS : AN ARCHAEOASTRONOMICAL APPROACH

/ 69

Figure 19. Winter solstice in 3521 BCE occurs on full moon at pμurvaphålguƒ∂

XII. Summary and conclusions References to astronomical events in the Vedic texts as well as in the epic mahåbhårata have been reexamined with the help of Planetarium Software, which can project the view of the sky at any time and at any place. In this connection many of the misconceptions and misrepresentations regarding the state of astronomy at Vedic times have been corrected. The simulations provide a reasonably consistent chronology of ægveda, other Vedic texts and the epic war mahåbhårata. The dates derived from astronomical references span a range possibly from ~ 6000 BCE to about 2200 BCE. The references are derived from almost all the books of ægveda. The dates for ægveda are consistent with the date of Mahabharata war based on astronomical references and verified by planetarium software. While some of the legends discussed may be understood in terms of non astronomical interpretations as well, the astronomical ones can be considered plausible and serve as the basis for the high chronology. The author believes that the high chronology will bear the test of time.

70

/

VEDIC VENUES

Acknowledgements The research reported here is supported in part by a Professional Development Assignment Award from the University of Memphis. The sky maps in figures 1 -6 and figures 17-19 were produced using the software SkymapPRO10 (www.skymap.com) and the remaining figures 7-16 were produced using the software Cybersky 4 (www.cybersky.com). List of Abbreviations AP MB MNU RJ SB VJ Atharvaveda Pari‹i¶¢ha Mahabharata Critical Edition Mahånåråyaƒopani¶at ægjyoti¶a ‹atapatha bråhmaƒa vedåΔgajyoti¶a

List of illustrations Figure 1. Winter Solstice in 1752 BCE Figure 2. Full Moon after the Winter Solstice in 1752 BCE Figure 3. k涃aís Mission for Peace: Departure on September 26, 3067 BCE. Figure 4. jye¶¢ha amåvåsya solar eclipse day.October 14, 3067 BCE.; Retroloop of Mars Figure 5.. War begins November 22, 3067 BCE. It is bharaƒi day Figure 6. bh∂¶maís Expiry. mågha ‹ukla a¶¢ami rohiƒi nak¶atra. Jan 16, 3066 BCE Figure 7. Vernal Equinox at α-Ori. 5000BCE. (0h RA passes through Betelguese) Figure 8. Vernal Equinox at Canis Major ~ 7240 BCE Figure 9. Equinox at Mrgasiras (beta-Tau) 3820 BCE Figure 10. Equinox at Mrgasiras (zeta Tau) 4240 BCE Figure 11. Two Dog stars point to South Pole 4350 BCE

CHRONOLOGY OF VEDIC §R¶IS : AN ARCHAEOASTRONOMICAL APPROACH

/ 71

Figure Figure Figure Figure Figure Figure Figure Figure

12. Solar eclipse at Uttaraphalguni July 26, 3928 BCE 13. Equinox at Punarvasu Pollux ~ 6120 BCE 14. Equinox at Punarvasu Castor ~ 5740 BCE 15. Equinox at ardra May 4, 5440 BCE 16. Equinox at Rohini Aldebaran ~ 3220 BCE 17. Equinox at Krittika 2220 BCE 18. Solar Eclipse on September 14, 2451 BCE 19. Winter solstice in 3521 BCE occurs on full moon at pμurvaphålguƒ∂

Bibliography Achar, Narahari B.N. 1998a ëOn the Vedic Origin of the Ancient Mathematical Astronomy of Indiaí, Journal of Studies on Ancient India, 1-2 Achar, Narahari B.N. 1998b (2000) ìMeasurement of Time Using a Water Clock: An Interpretation of the Third Mantra of the Kala sukta of Atharvaveda (XIX.53.3), in Bhu Dev Sharma (ed) New Perspectives on Vedic and Ancient Indian Civilization, New York, World Association for Vedic Studies, pp 157-165 Achar, Narahari B.N. 2000a ìOn the Astronomical Basis of the Date of Satapatha Brahmana: A reexamination of Dikshitís Theoryî, Indian Journal of History of Science, 35(1), pp. 1-19. Achar, Narahari B.N. 2000b ìA case for Revising the Date of Vedanga Jyotisa,î Indian Journal of History of Science, 35.3, pp 173-183 Achar, Narahari B.N. 2000c ìOn the Caitradi Schemeî, Indian Journal of History of Science, 35, 4 pp 295-310

72

/

VEDIC VENUES

Achar, Narahari B.N. 2002a ëIn Search of Nak¶atras in ægVedaí in Bhu Dev Sharma (ed), Contemporary Views on Indian Civilization, New Delhi, World Association for Vedic Studies, pp 361-370 Achar, Narahari B.N. 2002b ëOn the identification of Vedic Nak¶atrasí in: Bhu Dev Sharma (ed), Contemporary Views on Indian Civilization, New Delhi, World Association for Vedic Studies, New, pp 371-387 Achar, Narahari B.N. 2004 ìDate of the Mahabharata war based on simulations using Planetarium softwareî in Kamath, (ed) The Date of the Mahabharata War Based on Astronomical Data Bangalore, Mythic Society, pp. 65-115 Achar, Narahari B.N. 2010 ìThe Mahabharata war: its Date on the basis of Astronomical Referencesî in Singh (ed) Origin of Indian Civilization, New Delhi, DK Print World Basham, A.l 1953 The Wonder that was India, Grove Press Inc., New York Bhat, Ramakrishna M. 1981 Varåhamihiraís Bæhatsa≈hitå, Part I. Edited with English Translation. Delhi, Motilal Banarsidass Bose, D.M., Sen, S.N., Subbarayappa, B.V., (1971) (eds.) A Concise History of Science In India, New Delhi Dikshit, S.B. 1895 ìThe age of ›atapatha Bråhmaƒaî Indian Antiquary, 24, pp 245-246

CHRONOLOGY OF VEDIC §R¶IS : AN ARCHAEOASTRONOMICAL APPROACH

/ 73

1969 Bhårat∂ya jyoti¶a ‹åstra, Government of India Press, Calcutta Eggeling, J. 1963 The ›atapatha Bråhmaƒa According to the Madhyandina School, Delhi, Motilal Banarsidass, Part I, pp 282-283 Elst, Koenraad 2007 Asterisk in Bharopiyasthan, New Delhi, Voice of India Frawley, David 1991 Gods, Sages and Kings, Salt Lake City, Passage Press Gupta S.P. & Ramachandran, K.S. 1976 (eds) Mahabharata, Myth and Reality-Differing Views, Delhi, Agam Prakashan Griffith, R.T.H. 1973 (New & Revised from the original 1889 edition) The Hymns of The Rgveda, Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, Delhi. Iyengar, R.N. 2004 ìHistoricity of Celestial Observations of Mahabharataî in Kamath, (ed) The Date of the Mahabharata War Based on Astronomical Data Bangalore, Mythic Society, pp. 150-186 Jacobi, H.G. 1894 ëOn the Date of Rig-Vedaí, Indian Antiquary, 23, pp 154-159 (translated from the German by J. Morrison). Kak, Subhash 1994 The Astronomical Code of the Rgveda, New Delhi, Aditya Prakashan Kamath, S.U. 2004 (ed) The Date of the Mahabharata War Based on Astronomical Data, Bangalore, Mythic Society Kazanas, N. 2009 Indo-Aryan origins and other Vedic Issues, New Delhi, Aditya Prakashan

Dikshit, S.B.

74

/

VEDIC VENUES

1919 Rigveda Brahmanas: The Aitareya and the Kuu¶∂tak∂ bråhmaƒas of the Rigveda, Delhi, Motilal Banarsidass Kielhorn, F. 1969 Kleine Schriften, Wiesbaden, Franz Steiner Verlag, GmbH Law, N.N. 1965 Age of the RgVeda, Calcutta, Firma K.L. Mukhyopadhyay Majumdar, R.C., Raychaudhuri, H. C., Kalikinkar Datta, 1978 An Advanced History Of India, Madras, Macmillan India Pvt. Ltd. Pingree, D. 1973 ëThe Mesopotamian origin of early Indian mathematical Astronomy,í Journal for the History of Astronomy, 4 (1) pp 1-12 Pingree, D. & Morissey, P. 1989 ìOn the Identification of the yogatåras of the Indian Nak¶atrasî, Journal for the History of Astronomy, 20, Pp.99-119. Rajaram, N.S. & Frawley, D 1997 Vedic Aryans and the Origins of Civilization: A Literary and Scientific Perspective, New Delhi, Voice of India Ramachandran, V.G. 1998 ëDate of Adi Sankaraí in Mahalingam, N., (ed), Ancient India, Chennai, International Society for the Investigation Of Ancient Civilization pp. 261-304 Raychaudhuri, H.C. 1923 Political History of Ancient India, Calcutta, University of Calcutta, p. 10 Saha, M.N. & Lahiri, A.C. 1955 Report of the Calendar Reform Committee, New Delhi, CSIR Sastry, Kuppanna, T.S. 1985 Vedå¤ga Jyoti¶a of Lagadha, New Delhi, Indian National Science Academy

Keith, A.B.

CHRONOLOGY OF VEDIC §R¶IS : AN ARCHAEOASTRONOMICAL APPROACH

/ 75

1983 Search for thr Year of the Bharata War, Hyderabad, Navabharati Publications Sengupta, P.C. 1947 Ancient Indian Chronology, Calcutta, University of Calcutta Sen, S.N. 1971 ìAstronomyî in: Bose, D.M., Sen, S. N. & Subbarayappa, B.V., (eds) A Concise History of Science in India, New Delhi, Indian National Science Academy, Pp 58-135 Singh, Bal Ram 2010 Origin of Indian Civilization, New Delhi, DK Print World Sircar, D.C. 1969 ìThe Myth of the Great Bharata Warî, in The Bharata War And the Puranic Genealogies, University of Calcutta, pp.11-27 Talageri. S.G. 2008 The Rigveda and The Avesta The final Evidence, New Delhi, Aditya Prakashan Tilak, B.G. 1893, (1984) The Orion New Delhi, Cosmo Publications Vaidya, C.V. 1983 The Mahabharata A criticism, New Delhi, Cosmo Publications, p. 80. Vedavyas, E. 1986 Astronomical Dating of the Mahabharata War, Delhi, Agam Kala Prakashan, Venkatachelam, Kota 1954 The Plot in Indian Chronology, Vijayawada, Arya vijnana Wilson, H. H 1850 (1977) Rigveda samhita New Delhi, Cosmo Winternitz, M. 1927 A History of Indian Literature (English translation, 1983-85), New Delhi, Motilaldass Banarsidass

Sathe, S.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful