Response to Shri Shrikant Talageri – Part 8 of 8

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.

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5 thoughts on “Response to Shri Shrikant Talageri – Part 8 of 8

  1. Please can I have the email address of Srikanth Talageri. I would like to contact him on something about the Rig Veda

  2. But the question remains; “why would Vyasa have considered Arundhati walking before Vasistha a big deal”? If as you say in the post previous to this, that it had been noticeable to the naked eye for a few hundred years before 5561BCE? As per your mayflies example, a “few hundred years” is many human lifetimes, an event would not be considered nonordinary if it was the norm for that long.

    Per my understanding you seem to be saying that since Vyasa was aware of a time when Arundhati did not precede Vasistha, that is why he considered the current situation, of the last few hundred years to be unusual. If thats what you are saying, I don’t find it very convincing.

    It seems to me that the simplest explanation is the plain one: Arundhati had “just” began to (noticeably) precede Vasishta. “Just” meaning within a time period that would be commonly considered recent by a human of typical lifespan. Presumably (given textual evidence in MB) one can objectively test the length of this time period for people in the Mahabharata. But I would guess no more than 5-10years. I could be very wrong of course.

    This would mean that:
    1. Arundhati preceding Vasistha had only just become noticeable within a few years of MB war (not hundreds but less than 10 yrs perhaps). In which case this accords with the 5561 date for the war but does not accord with the 1 deg of arc visual acuity you postulated earlier. I find this a much more satisfying explanation for 5561BCE. Or
    2. The visual acuity is as you stated and A preceding B was noticed hundreds of years before 5561BCE. So the war actually took place hundreds of years before 5561BCE.

    So just some thoughts on a most fascinating and amazing subject that I’m just beginning to get into. I will get your book and read it as well. Congratulations on the kind of Purva Paksh you are doing on western indology. As an African I wish we Africans would do this kind of talking back to western schorlarship, I’m thinking of the activities of people like Rajiv Malhotra, yourself and others.

    • Dear Edward Kamau,

      First, I want to thank you for going through the 8 parts of my series -‘Response to Shri Shrikant Talageri’.

      I wrote this more than two years ago and not a single Mahabharata researcher has either dared or bothered to respond to the arguments made in it.

      This is partly because while many Indians would raise arguments (and many times –good to excellent ones) they are not willing or capable to comprehend implications of the rational responses to their arguments. While their inability to comprehend can be pardoned, their unwillingness to understand the implications is due to the fact that ‘their very arguments’ have originated, in most cases at least, from an erroneous thesis they are convinced about. Many of them are happy that they have overcome/defeated AIT (Aryan invasion theory) nonsense and their lazy minds have now settled on conclusion of some superficial effort made by someone from their (or what they think) own side. And that is that. Nothing more needs to be done. If at all anything, all they have to do is defend that superficial conclusion without ever bothering to truly find out how ridiculous and fraudulent are such claims and conclusions. Even more critical is the lack of realization that all claims, no matter how assured one may feel about them in their subjective judgements, are tentative.

      So it is indeed a breath of fresh air and even better, that is it is coming from someone who is not immediately connected to Indic traditions in general, or Mahabharata in particular.

      Now I will get to answer your question (that I was hoping someone would ask in last 2.5 years). [As a matter of fact I post and re-post these blog articles on my FB wall and many who see them wonder what could be my objective in posting and re-posting them! 🙂

      You asked, after reading 8 part series – ‘Response to Shri Shrikant Talageri’

      “But the question remains; “why would Vyasa have considered Arundhati walking before Vasistha a big deal?”

      And the answer is, Vyasa has NOT considered mention of ‘Arundhati walking before Vasistha’ as a BIG DEAL.

      It is important to pause and re-read my answer above …before moving on to further explanation…

      All that Vyasa is doing is mentioning ‘Nimmitta’ (signs) at the time of war.

      Vyasa has mentioned numerous other astronomy observations (let’s stick to ‘theory of astronomy observations’….otherwise Indic minds can go downhill in a min). Vyasa has mentioned position of the Saturn in the context of 3 specific nakshatras, position of Jupiter also, in the context of 3 nakshatras, position of Mars and its specific movements through 5+ nakshatras, position of Venus around a nakshatra and its specific motion, few conjunctions of planets in the context of the moon or the sun.

      None of this could be considered a big deal. The fact that this is a big deal is the confusion of those who can not pull themselves out of their confusion of ‘Nimitta (signs)’ with that of ‘BAD OMENS’.

      Signs are what they are. Depending on one’s mental and emotional state, one may perceive them as BAD or GOOD. The same astronomy signs were in the sky (whatever they were) ..but were perceived by one party as GOOD and another party as BAD. This can be seen, read and understood from multiple instances of Mahabharata and even from similar instances in Ramayana.

      And these instances are not difficult to detect and study. Unfortunately for many Indian researchers, efforts stop at defending their prior conclusions. Fortunately there are few good researchers who are open to question their own conclusions and many new are emerging.

      Thus the confusion of AV observation as a big deal is due to those who try to understand it from the lens of ‘BAD OMENS’. It is their lens, not that of Vyasa.

      Vyasa has listed numerous astronomy observations, more likely, with the simple aim of noting down the time of Mahabharata war. This is a common practice and can be observed,as done by Pandits performing a Hindu ritual, where the location and time (in terms of Yuga, kala, year, month, Nakshatra, Tithi, muhurta,,etc.) are recited.

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