Dr. Elst writes…
A fan of Nilesh Oak’s date for the Mahabharata war at the mid-6th millennium BC asks me what I think of his crucial argument for this very high chronology, viz. the observation that Arundhati/Alcor rose before its twin star, Vasishtha/Mizar in the Saptarishi/Great Bear. Here is a first attempt.
Vyasa tells Dhrtarashtra that he has seen a number of evil omens in the sky, presaging the fratricidal war between the Kauravas (Dhrtarashtra’s sons) and the Pandavas (his brother Pandu’s sons) with a terrible outcome. Among these evil omens is that he saw Arundhati rise before her twin star Vasishtha. Between the 12th and 5th millennia BCE, this was normal. Ever since, it was abnormal, as Vasistha would rise ahead of Arundhati. Therefrom, NN Oak deduces that the Mahabharata war must date back to the time when Arundhati was ahead, for instance in the mid-6th millennium.
This is a good and succinct description of my key argument for AV observation.
I will only emphasize that the time interval (12th and 5th Millennia BCE.. or precisely from 11091 BCE through 4508 BCE) was the only time interval, what I termed ‘The Epoch of Arundhati’ when Arundhati was walking behind Vasistha, as far as past is concerned.
After this initial summary, Dr. Elst’s analysis goes downhill, with no recourse from its eventual fall. We will discuss it in 3 parts.
Dr. Elst writes…
For two reasons, this conclusion is incorrect.
Firstly, an evil omen is normally either a case of muddled visibility (e.g. in Babylonian astrology Algol, in Arabic “the Demon”, counts as a negative influence because, as modern astronomy has found out, it is a double star of which the darker member periodically obscures the brighter member; and this temporary lack of visibility is deemed a bad omen;
Dr. Elst’s informs us how Babylonian astrology interprets certain stars as having negative influence. It is informative alright, except it has no relevance whatsoever eiher for the AV observation or my theory of ‘visual observations of the sky’ in determining timing of the Mahabharata War.
Dr Elst continues..
or the constellation of Cancer is deemed inauspicious because it has no bright stars and is thus a dark pit in the starry sky)
Again the point is irrelevant, but I may mention while passing, that nakshatra Pushya (in constellation Cancer) is considered extremely auspicious – at least was considered extremely auspicious – during Mahabharata (5561 BCE) and also Ramayana (12220 BCE) times.
Dr. Elst continues….
or because it is an abnormality, e.g., in all astrologies the world over, an unforeseen eclipse, or the unexpected appearance of a comet.
Unexpected or not, both eclipses and comets were seen as bad omens. Fair point, except we are discussing an observation of very stable star pair : Arundhti-Vasistha (especially with respect to the Earth).
Dr. Elst concludes…
Now, between the 12th and 5th millennia BCE it would be normal to see Arundhati rise first, and thus not fit to serve as an evil omen.
First and foremost he missed the mark. My theory is that of ‘visual observations of the sky’ and NOT that of ‘evil omens’. It is true that AV observation (besides 30+ other astronomy observations) is an astronomy observation that appears among the list of ‘evil and good omens’ listed by Vyasa (or Karna) in the context of the Mahabharata War.
To understand why AV observation is not to be discarded with some random comments on ‘evil observations’, readers may want to read this: https://nileshoak.wordpress.com/2014/02/10/testable-non-testable-observations/
But back to AV observation.
It seems Dr. Elst is not aware of the ‘enigma’ associated with this AV observation of Mahabharata text.
Many western Indologist argued for imaginary nature of the Mahabharata War, by referring to astronomy observations such as AV observations, which they treated as ‘impossible’, ‘improbable’ and ‘absurd’.
Indian Mahabharata researchers (Bharatacharya C V Vaidya or BharatRatna and Mahamahopadhyaya P V Kane) also considered it as ‘absurd’ or ‘impossible in the very order of nature’. Prof. R N Iyengar went to the extent of borrowing a line from AV observation and then combining it another line from another chapter of Bhishma Parva to make some sense of this AV observation. Dr. P V Vartak was convinced, in his subjective faith, that AV observation was a factual observation however he could not test his conviction, with the help of tools he has access to.
And what about those 60+ researchers who proposed 60+ different dates for the timing of Mahabharata War, based on their own version of astronomy theory? Well, it appears they were so scared of this AV observation, they simply acted as if this observation did not exist.
No wonder, Dr. Elst dismisses AV observation in one line by stating that ‘it does not fit to serve as evil omen’.
However, I want readers to understand that…
The AV observation and its decipherment is revolutionary and not to be dismissed so easily.
Of course I agree wholeheartedly with Dr. Elst’s disengaging of AV observation from its interpretation of ‘evil omen’.
Many readers of my first book are struggling (unnecessarily) in trying to understand AV observation in the context of ‘evil omen’. I don’t mean to limit my readers from developing their own theories of ‘evil omens’. All I have done is tested and interpreted AV observation in the context of my theory of ‘visual observations of the sky’.
I will deal with rest of Dr. Elst’s criticism of AV observation in next two posts.