Shatapatha Brahmana contains a passage:
kṛttikāsvagnī ādadhīta | etā vā agninakṣatraṃ yatkṛttikāstadvai saloma yo
‘gninakṣatre ‘gnī ādadhātai tasmātkṛttikāsvādadhīta
He may set up the two fires 1 under the Krittikâs; for they, the Krittikâs, are doubtless Agni’s asterism, so that if he sets up his fires under Agni’s asterism, (he will bring about) a correspondence (between his fires and the asterism): for this reason he may set up his fires under the Krittikâs.
ekaṃ dve trīṇi | catvārīti vā anyāni nakṣatrāṇyathaitā eva bhūyiṣṭhā
Moreover, the other lunar asterisms (consist of) one, two, three or four (stars), so that the Krittikâs are the most numerous (of asterisms) 2: hence he thereby obtains an abundance. For this reason he may set up his fires under the Krittikâs.
etā ha vai prācyai diśo na cyavante | sarvāṇi ha vā anyāni nakṣatrāṇi prācyai
diśaścyavante tatprācyāmevāsyaitaddiśyāhitau bhavatastasmātkṛttikāsvādadhīta
And again, they do not move away from the eastern quarter, whilst the other asterisms do move from the eastern quarter.
Thus his (two fires) are established in the eastern quarter: for this reason he may set up his fires -under the Krittikâs.
The section continues and refers to other Naskhatras that can also be employed to kindle the first fire and provides rationale as to why those Naksahtras are to be considered valid (along with Krittika).
The other Nakshatras mentioned as valid are: Rohini, Mrigashirsha, Purva-Phalguni, Uttara-Phalguni, Hasta and Chitra.
Indian astronomer Shankar Balakrishna Dikshit employed above reference of ‘Krittika rising due east’ to estimate the timing of Shatapatha Brahmana (either original composition, or addition/update/modification to Shatapath Brahamana) to be around 3000 BCE.
We can use one of the modern astronomy software to estimate when Declination of Krittika would have equaled to zero (i.e. position of Krittika right on the celestial equator). The most recent occurrence of Krittika on Celestial equator occurred in ~ 2926 BCE.
This corroborates finding of S B Dikshit.
This is when ‘agenda driven research objectives’ enter the picture. Agenda driven Indologists have employed a technique, frequently employed by them, of ‘hand waving’ – after all one cannot be accurate down to the year for such an observation (no evidence is ever produced why this could be a problem or why this could be impossible).
Once equipped with this erroneous but self-convincing assumption, these deluded Indologists have gone haywire! Some have assumed an error of 500 years (~2300 BCE), some have assumed an error of 1000 years (~1800 BCE), some other of 2000 years (~1000 BCE), and not be left behind still some more of 2500 years to bring the date for this observation down to 500 BCE!
Introduction of errors of such high magnitudes (even 500 years) is ridiculous and shows utter ignorance of these Indologists as it relates to their knowledge of Indian astronomy and accuracy of measurements achieved by these ancient astronomers.
Let’s us look at only those Nakshatras that were mentioned in the context of kindling the first fire.
They were: Krittika, Rohini, Mrigashirsha, Purva Phalguni, Uttara Phalguni, Hasta and Chitra.
We can estimate when Yogatara corresponding to each of these Nakshatras would have attained a position on the celestial equator (and thus would rise in the direction of the TRUE EAST).
The timing estimated (Voyager 4.5) for these are as follows:
Krittika – 2926 BCE
Rohini – 2091 BCE
MrigaShirsha – 625 BCE
P. Phalguni – 12018 BCE
U. Phalguni – 12786 BCE
Hasta – 1047 BCE
Chitra – 33 BCE
It is easy to show that estimate of error >500 years is ridiculous and these Indologists should be held accountable for generating artificial controversies for the dating of Shatapatha Brahmana.
Readers should also remember that the timing so stated (2926 BCE) is either the timing of original composition of Shatapatha Brahmana, or the timing of its later addition/update/modifications.
And why is any estimate of error> 500 years in unacceptable?
The error of >500 years is unacceptable because if that was the case, Indian astronomers would have stated Nakshatra Rohini (for example) as rising due East during 2100 BCE +/- 300 years (1800 BCE – 2500 BCE), or Nakshatra Hasta rising due East during 1100 BCE +/- 300 years (800 BCE – 1400 BCE), or Nakshatra Mrigashirsha rising due East during 600 BCE +/- 300 years (300 BCE – 900 BCE)…and NOT nakshatra KRITTIKA.
In next part, we will evaluate speculations of other researchers for this very reference of Krittika.