How to detect a plausible interpolation? Part – 2 of 5

In part 1, I described the process. The process is directionally correct, but is open to criticism and further refinement.

Now, let’s look at some of the methods along with illustration(s).

(1). Inconsistent use of language/designation/knowledge in a specific reference of a specific ancient document where it is least expected and/or inconsistent the theme/usage in the rest of the document.

e.g., Astronomy references related to Rama-Janma of Valmiki Ramayana refers to modern zodiac (area of Zodiac Cancer (Karka) as being ascendant (on the eastern horizon).

This specific observation has two clues for its being plausibly interpolated. For now, we will only refer to one of the two clues, viz. that entire Valmiki Ramayana (with the exception of this mention of Zodiac Cancer) employs nakshatra system and not modern Zodiac system.

(2).The specific reference or chapter/Adhyaya/sarga appears to be out of place, i.e. this segment of ancient document does not appear to be related to chapters/verses prior and after their appearance. In addition, their insertion appears to add no value whatsoever to the narration. On the other hand, one may observe obvious contradiction for its presence.

e.g., Valmiki Ramayana, Aryanya kanda has entire Sarga (recognized by Gita Press as ‘Prakshipta’ (Interpolated), that occurs between Sarga 56 and 57) where creator Brahma offers delicious food to Sita, in Lanka).

(3). An observation that conflicts with numerous other observations spread throughout a given ancient document.

e.g.,
– Four months of rainy season being lunar months of Shravana through Kartika. This observation contradicts numerous other observations (and their consequences) of Valmiki Ramayana

(4). A set of observations contradict another set of observations of the same ancient text. In this case, one should look for additional references that are relevant to these contradictory observations and by luck may able to determine one of the two sets of observations to be either interpolated or inconsistent. By luck, one may able to determine the cause for insertion of such observations, although such is not a requirement in order to suggest a specific reference as being plausibly interpolated.

e.g.,
– A set of observations of Valmiki Ramayana asserts that Rama was ~13 years old and Sita was ~6 years old at the time of their wedding and that they lived for ~12 years in Ayodhya, together, before they had to leave for Vanavas (forest stay of 14 years).

– Another set of observations of Valmiki Ramyana asserts that Rama was ~16 years old and Sita was about the same age as that of Rama at the time of their wedding and that they lived in Ayodhya for about a year before they had to leave for Vanavas (forest stay of 14 years).
Numerous other specific observations and also additional references that demand narrative consistency suggest that second set of observations of Valmiki Ramayana (Rama and Sita of around 16 years old at the time of their wedding and that they lived in Ayodhya for about a year before leaving for Vanavas) is consistent with rest of Valmiki Ramayana observations.

It is important to recognize that no matter how convinced one feels about certain set of observations as being interpolated (or certain chapter), one should simply note it down. One should never eliminate such (plausibly) interpolated references. These references are to be treasured and must be maintained for researchers of posterity. As our knowledge expands and our ability to test observations of ancient literature grows, we may able to test some of these ‘crazy’ or ‘impossible’ sounding observations.

To be continued….

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