Dr. Elst’s theory of ‘The Arudhati Omen’: Part 1 of 8

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.


4 thoughts on “Dr. Elst’s theory of ‘The Arudhati Omen’: Part 1 of 8

  1. I think Nilesh Oak misses the central point of Koenraad Elst’s rejection of his “Arundhati phenomenon” argument. The very fact that Vyasa “saw Arundhati rise before her twin star Vasishtha”, and mentions it as one of the evil omens seen by him, proves that this could definitely not have been “between the 12th and the 5th millennia BCE”. In that period, Arundhati always rose before her twin star Vasishtha, and so no-one seeing it rise thus would have treated it as an “omen” of anything, good or evil. For example, the sun always rises in the east, and no-one would treat an observation that the sun rose in the east as an “omen” of anything.

    Therefore, the observation pertains to a period long after 4508 BCE, when Arundhati never rose before her twin star Vasishtha, and anyone making an observation that it rose before Vasishtha would naturally treat it as an “omen”, as for example it would definitely be if the sun was suddenly observed rising from the west. This is simple logic.

    Nilesh would then argue that the sun can never rise from the west, and Arundhati, after 4508 BCE, could never be seen rising before Vasishtha, and that this statement represents a “visual observation of the sky”, and therefore must pertain to a period before 4508 BCE. But then why would Vyasa describe a perfectly normal daily phenomenon of that period as an “omen”? We can not, just for our own wishful purposes, ignore the fact that the observation is made only from the point of view of an “omen”, and we can not treat it as a “visual observation” and ignore the “omen” part of it.

    Then what kind of an observation is it? Obviously, omens are not reported by every Tom, Dick and Harry; they are only reported by people who are supposed to have special psychic or visionary powers that allow them to see things that others can not see, and therefore Vyasa’s vision of Arundhati rising before Vasishtha was not supposed to be a “visual observation of the sky” but a “psychic observation” not visible to others of a non-normal phenomenon. This is the only logical meaning of Vyasa’s observed omen: before 4508 BCE, it would not have been an “omen”, and after 4508 BCE, it could not have been an “observation”.

    Could we write a scholarly thesis proving that air-borne vehicles were present in India in the 13th century AD (CE) on the basis of “visual observations” recorded by people who saw Sant Dnyaneshwar of Maharashtra riding on a wall to meet Changdev?

  2. Greetings,

    Why this role reversal was not a usual daily phenomenon has been covered before, so I’ll leave it to that.
    What I don’t get is, why are only the psychic observations considered to be Omens and not the visual/physical ones?
    At present and in near past Omens have been something that many common people (specially the informed senior citizens in villages) observed with naked eyes; so obsiously the ‘sage with psychic power’ part doesn’t hinder them. Though it may have been different in ancient times, which brings me to my question.
    Is there a definition somewhere in our scriptures that clarifies the whats and hows of something qualifying as an Omen?


  3. I wonder why people keep on harping on the ‘omen’ aspect of Vyasa’s observation. My view is that he has noted down this observation just to draw attention of readers to the fact that Arundhati, which was very close to Vasishtha ‘since the time saptarshis got their names sometime after the ramayana period till recently, and no one was sure whether she was along or ahead of Vasishtha, had now started being seen noticeably ahead of Vasishtha. All the long period prior to the Saptarshis and Arundhati got their names, when anyway for any visual observer thee two stars were extremely close, is irrelevant!. Vasishtha-Arundhati were probably the last of the seven rishis to go to heaven (die in plain words) and the Saptarshis got their names thereafter. When? I wonder whether any date could be stated. The separation between them at that time would be only mathematical, not visually noticeable. Vyasa has simple noted down that it is now clear that Arundhati is ahead. Bad Omen? Maybe, as per traditions of those days, a wife leading a husband was the bad omen!

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