A reader wrote….
I very much enjoyed reading your books. Heavy reading thought. huff! Hushh!.
I am writing to ask you (I also read your blogs) what criteria do you use to distinguish good research from bad research, emotional appeal by Indologists for their work vs. genuine research, or to differentiate between those who repeat the same old crap (as you wrote somewhere recently — chewing the chewed) vs. original and groundbreaking research.
The reader wrote about many other issues, but I have removed it in order to focus on the problem/issue he has raised above..
While there are numerous criterion – consistency, non-contradictions, refutability, falsifiability, simplicity, implausibility, improbability, etc.to distinguish good from bad, genuine research from emotional appeals to authority/experts or original groundbreaking research from tired old dogmas; there is a simple ‘Triangulation’ formula one may use in learning a lot more about any work and in determining the worth of it.
The formula is after Popper.
Formula: Predictions or Facts-Testing-Explanation
Imagine these three (Prediction or fact, Testing and Explanation) as three corners of an equilateral triangle. The metaphor of equilateral triangle is to emphasize equal weight attributed to each corner point.
Any good, original, groundbreaking research will show perfect balance between these three and contribution to each of these three corners. For these very reasons, any imbalance is an indication of inferior or dogmatic elements being present.
To illustrate, let’s look at work of Kepler and his discovery of elliptical orbits.
(1) Kepler began with existing theory of his time:
Explanation– planets revolve in circular orbits
Prediction – Positions of planets could be predicted (were predicted) per this theory of circular orbits
Testing – Kepler noted discrepancies between predicted and actual positions of Mars
This led him to propose multiple solutions for the orbits of planets. One of them were successful, namely- elliptical orbits.
Explanation – Planets revolved in elliptical orbits
Prediction – Predictions were made (can be made) based on this theory of elliptical orbits
Testing – Predictions and actual positions of planets were corroborated.
One should begin with one corner point (where one feels one is on a solid- solider footing) and then with the help of second corner point, come up with newer contribution for the third point.
Again, few illustrations may make this clear….
(1) Let’s look at AV observation…
Explanation – Arundhati was walking ahead of Vasistha, at the time of Mahabharata War
Testing – Since Arundhati is walking behind Vasistha in our times, one needs to go back to find out if and when Arundhati walked ahead of Vasistha.
Prediction – Mahabharata war occurred sometime before 4508 BCE and after 11091 BCE, i.e. during the Epoch of Arundhati (EOA).
(2) Meaning of ‘Vakri’ motion of Planets during Mahabharata times
Explanation – While ‘Vakri’ is understood to mean ‘retrograde’ motion of planets in our times, the same interpretation of the word posed problems for understanding two references to ‘Vakri’ motion of Mars from the Mahabharata Text – Mars going ‘Vakri’ near Magha, and again going ‘Vakri’ near Jyeshtha/Anuradha
Prediction -Based on rotations of Mars, we know that Mars can not (will not) go retrograde within an interval of only 7 nakshatras.. as it goes retrograde approximately every 2 years and it travels through all 27 nakshatras twice during this 2 year period.
Testing – of course anyone can test this fact (prediction) above for Mars.
Conclusion: One must look for alternate explanation…
Solution provided by yours truly…
Testing – Meticulous study of movment/motions of Mars around the year 5561 BCE +/- 3 years.
I was specifically looking for motion of Mars around nakshtras Magha, Jyeshtha and Anuradha.
What did I observe?
Mars had crossed the ecliptic (oblique path across the ecliptic) before reaching Magha and also Jyeshtha/Anuradha.
Proposed explanation – Mahabharata text referred to this oblique motion of planets across the ecliptic as ‘Vakri’.
But this is insufficient since data points due to Mars were employed in developing the explanation. Third corner point of Prediction is still unexplored.
How does one do it?
Answer: Only if one is lucky and if one has some ingenuity.
Fortunately, Mahabharata text had one more reference to ‘Vakri’. This time ‘Vakri’ motion of Jupiter near nakshatra Shravana.
Explanation – When Mahabharata text refers to ‘Vakri’ motion of planets, it is referring to ‘oblique’ motion of planets across the ecliptic and not the ‘retrograde’ motion of planets.
Prediction – Since Jupiter is described as going ‘Vakri’ near nakshatra Shravana, one should observe Jupiter traveling obliquely across the ecliptic near nakshatra Shravana around the time of 5561 BCE
Testing – Jupiter does travel obliquely across the ecliptic near nakshatra Sharvana, around 5561 BCE.
Of course, one should also ask the obvious question…
If ‘Vakri’ means oblique motion across the ecliptic, how did Mahabharata text describe the ‘retrograde’ motions of planets?
This would then become the next interesting problem to solve, a problem of higher complexity, due to groundbreaking work on the ‘Vakri’ motions of Mars and Jupiter (as described in the Mahabharata text)
Whether one ever solves this next problem or not, one must recognize that with above research (using Tri-Murti formula) a progress has been made and our knowledge of Mahabharata astronomy has grown.
Of course I was lucky to come up with explanation for ‘retrograde’ motions of planets as described in Mahabharata text. I will write about them (using this Tri-Murti formula) another time..
Or better yet… (Commercial Alert!!!!), read my book. It is all there. That is why I wrote the book.