My theory of ‘Visual astronomy observations’ had the following consequences:
All astronomy observations of the Mahabharata text are (were) visual observations of the sky. There are some 200+ astronomy (and chronology) observations within the Mahabharata text, and each observation, and testing against the consequence of my theory is (and was) an opportunity to falsify my theory.
One of the consequences of my theory was the explanation for, otherwise enigmatic, AV observation.
The observation was corroborated (after 15+ years of strenuous efforts) and consequence was the Epoch of Arundhati (11091 BCE – 4508 BCE)
This is all that should be implied by my theory. Those interested in knowing additional details of how a corroboration of a theory is achieved, may want to read further on ‘Correspondence theory of Truth’ by Alfred Tarski. We will leave this subject here and move on to ‘Theory of Omens’
Theory of Omens states that ‘a phenomena’ may qualify as one (omen) only and only if this is a not a regular ordinary phenomena.
This was the gist of argument (against) AV observation by Shri Shrikant Talageri. (It is not clear from write up of Dr. Elst if he comprehended actual walking of Arundhati ahead of Vasistha prior ot 4508 BCE for some 6500 years.)
So what makes AV observation a non-regular and non-ordinary phenomenon?
Let’s take a digression by evaluating astronomy phenomenon.
(1) What is non-regular/non-ordinary phenomenon depends on events (changing or otherwise) experienced by living entities over their lifetime.
(2) For example, Mayfly (a species of insects). Mayfliles belonging to the order of Ephemeroptera (short lived wing) typically live to no more than 48 hours as adults. The Dolania Americana Mayfly has the shortest lifespan of all, with female typically living no more than 5 min. These times define their entire life span.
(3) Imagine, these Mayflies could document a phase of the moon during their (individual) lifetime. If a specific Mayfly happens to notice moon of Ashtami (8th day of a given fortnight), it reading descriptions of Full moon or no-moon might be unbelievable (and or non-regular and non-ordinary phenomenon). Of course as far as we know, Mayflies have no documented (verbally transmitted or via written records) history of astronomy (e.g. phases of the moon) observations.
(4) On the other hand, human beings do. Both via verbal/oral traditions as well as via written/engravings traditions.
(5) While for a person living in one location, a phenomenon of an eclipse (lunar or solar, but especially solar) may be a non-regular and thus non-ordinary and thus possibly an omen, to an astronomer, who is aware of the phenomenon (and its root cause) would know that eclipses are dime a dozen (When all locations on earth are taken into account and when a time period of say 1000s of years in under investigation/documentation).
(6) While a person may look at appearance of comets as Omens (since this would be very rare, especially based on naked eye observations and also during a lifetime of a given individual), a modern astronomer is aware of at least 200 short and long period comets.
(7) Thus what astronomy phenomenon qualifies as an ‘omen’ depends on the context (knowledge, documentation of astronomy tradition/records, lifespan of an individual, and his/her background knowledge of the phenomenon.. based on tradition – oral or otherwise)
Theory of Omen and AV observation
The fact Vyasa treats visual observation of A walking ahead of V as an omen (and thus non-ordinary, non-regular phenomenon) also means (per definitions of Omen) that Vyasa was also aware of the times when Arundhati DID NOT walk ahead of Vasistha!
Fortunately, with modern technology at our disposal, we can (as I have already done) find out those times, beginning with the time when A was walking ahead of V, and then going back in antiquity, when Arundhati was NOT WALKING ahead of Vasistha. We know that the time period, in antiquity, beyond 11091 BCE, qualified as this time interval.
Theory of Omen has the following consequence for the AV observation:
AV observation must be a non-regular, non-ordinary observation of the sky.
Let’s test this consequence:
The outcome of our testing tells us that AV observation was indeed a non-regular and non-ordinary observation of the sky, When one takes into account, beginning with today (13 September 2014) and going back into antiquity for say 10,00,000 years. We can go back, even further, in antiquity, but million years would suffice for our subject under discussion.
What we have done is made the theory of Omen testable (and thus scientific) and a consequence of that testing is leading us to the knowledge (at least a knowledge claim) that there existed a tradition of ancient astronomy observations that spanned for thousands of years (and our testing tells us that more than 6000 years prior to the time of Vyasa, and thus Mahabharata).
Only way Vyasa would have been aware of this phenomenon (Arundhati walking BEHIND Vasistha) would be based on ancient tradition of astronomy observations (This is in keeping with the scientific character of the theory of Omen by NOT allowing it to turn metaphysical, i.e. claiming paranormal abilities for Vyasa).
In one of my article in this series, I referred to process of scientific theory and growth of knowledge as that of P1-TT-EE-P2 (formulated by Sir Karl Popper).
We began with the problem of why AV observation was considered an Omen (P1)
We proposed a theory (tentative solution) by summarizing the consequence of AV observation, in the context of theory of Omens (TT)
The consequence was the claim (need) for existence of tradition of documented (oral or otherwise) tradition of astronomy observations in India that spanned thousands of years (minimum of 13000+ years beginning with our times, and justifiably much longer). This is the step of Error Elimination (EE).
This raises the next problem (P2) – of higher dimension and complexity:
If the consequence of the theory of Omen leads to such ancient tradition of astronomy observations, do we have any corroborative evidence for such a knowledge claim?
(of course theory of Omen leads to many other problems..e.g. How did they make these measurements, how did the ancients document and transmit across generations, were there tools (language, writing skills, disciplined oral traditions) capable of doing that, etc…but we can only solve one problem at a time. This is a must and essential if we have to maintain scientific character of our problem solving).
I want readers to understand, that even if no corroboration is ever found in resolving P2, the theory of Omen has already made a significant contribution to our knowledge (Growth of Knowledge) and thus whether this theory is ultimately falsified and/or replaced by another better theory is inconsequential, for theory of Omen has made significant contribution to our understanding of ancient history, by corroborating AV observation not only per theory of ‘visual astronomy observations’ but also per the theory of ‘Omens’.
Do we have corroborative evidence for the ancient tradition of astronomy observations that spanned over thousands of years?
Now reader’s turn…
Can readers think of specific examples from our ancient literature that corroborate the claim (consequence of the theory of Omens as applied to AV observation) for a tradition (documentation – oral or otherwise) of astronomy observations.
I also request Shri Shrikant Talageri, if he kindly chooses to do so, to provide brutal (and rational) criticism of my write up in this series…the series of articles I am writing in response to his criticism of my theory of Visual astronomy observations.