Role & rationale of ‘Rational criticism’

Shri Prabhakar Phadnis writes…

“Ref. 17 Exp.21 Without exact translation of the second line of the reference in full, it is not possible to say whether Shri. Oak’s interpretation that Mars, Venus and Mercury were behind Pandavas is correct or not. Does पुरस्तात् mean ‘behind’? I doubt. (Refer अव पुरस्तात् from Atharvasheersha where it means ‘protect me from East’). It actually means ‘From East’. If Pandavas were facing east, it seems to mean ‘from the front’. ( Actually plantes were in the western sky!) Position in the field was different. The three planets could be seen only some time after Sunset as mercury is also mentioned. At the end of 18th day, all Kourava army was already destroyed and what little of Pandava (essentially Panchala) army remained was also no longer in any particular formation. Pandavas and their supporters were wandering in search of Duryodhana. They were not formally facing eastwards as on first few days.

What remains is that there were three planets in the western sky on evening of 18th day. Two of them, Mars and Jupiter are slow moving and Mercury is always close to Sun. After two months, position could be same or similar. The quote does not prove or disprove 16th Oct. in my view.”

My Response…

I will focus on the ‘bold’ portion of the comment. My sincere thanks to Shri Phadnis for going down into such intricate details to identify ‘errors’.

I have/had accepted translations of either previous researchers and/or Gita Press publishers, in testing them for validation for my proposed timing, with the help of astronomy software.

What led me to my explanation in corroborating Shalya 11:17?

I began with GP edition translation which states that Pandava army was facing east (not necessarily on a specific day..but rather that they had camped in the west) and Kauravas had camped in the east and that both were facing each other during the fight (Bhishma 1:5 and Bhishma 20:5).

In addition, since the planets(Mars, Mercury, Venus) were to the east of the sun (on 2 November 5561 BCE, my/Vartak proposed day for the 18th and the last day of the war), the only time they could be literally ‘SEEN‘ would have to be in the evening, after the sunset.

I realize, based on input of Shri Phadnis, above, that GP translation of (Shalya 11:17) is erroneous.

The GP translation states that these three planets (Mars, Venus & Mercury) rose ‘BEHIND‘ (and thus in the western sky) Pandavas.

The correct translation is rather that the three planets (Mars, Venus, Mercury)were in the east, as suggested by Shri Phadnis.

What happens to the corroboration NOW?

I re-read these portions of Shalya Parva, and realized that the descriptions are of the morning and at the beginning of the War of that (18th and the last) day, and sun is also up in the sky.

This observation (GP Shalya Parva 11:17) is corroborated well for the morning of 2 November 5561 BCE, however, this would mean, the presence of these three planets in the eastern sky (behind rising and visible Sun) was inferred (and NOT literally SEEN) by the observer who made this observation.

These three planets were indeed in the eastern sky, however they could not have been visible in the morning, since sun was already up in the sky, before all three of them.

The additional insights (‘inferred’ vs. ‘literally seen’) gained from this corroboration has potential implications for corroboration of various ‘allluded’ eclipses and occurrences of eclipses separated by only 13 days.


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