What constitutes a satisfactory corroboration?

Shri Prabhakar Phadnis writes…

“Ref 23 Exp 23 … How Shri. Oak can assert that it is an observation on the 14th night? According to him 14th day of war was a Chaturdashi, so no question of moon ‘rising’. At sunset it would be already above the Eastern horizon. If the seven planets were ranging from East to West, not around the moon how were they attacking the moon?

In my view, Vyasa here is alluding to some anecdote by the word ‘प्रजासंहरणे’. Question also remains that as per Mahabharata, there was no moon in the sky for a very long time after sunset, on the 14th day of war! So Vyasa has given a UPAMA to the attack on Bheema by seven Kouravas, of some anecdote of moon fighting with seven planets and not because he saw seven planets in the sky that night (no moon!)”

My Response…

Shri Phadnis asks… How Shri. Oak can assert that it is an observation on the 14th night?”

I assert that this observation is of 14th day of the War, because that is where it appears in the text.  Abhimanyu was killed on the 13th day of the War, Arjuna killed Jayadratha around the time of sunset on the 14th day of the War.  Even after sunset, war continued into the night on this day and that is when this reference appears.

Shri Phadnis states… According to him 14th day of war was a Chaturdashi, so no question of moon ‘rising’. At sunset it would be already above the Eastern horizon.”

The term ‘rising’ of a ‘planet’ or a ‘star/nakshatra’ is employed in at least two ways.

(1) A planet or a star/nakshatra  ‘rises’ when it comes up from the horizon at a given location.

(2) A planet or a star/nakshatra ‘rises’ when it becomes visible in the sky (brightness of the sun can prevent visibility of planets and stars/nakshatra).

(for example – उदित  – risen, elevated risen, apparent, visible, augmented, ascended)

Shri Phadnis may interpret my analogy in this second sense (if that makes him more comfortable) my analogy/comparison of ‘seven kaurava brothers attacking Bhima’ with that of ‘seven planets attacking the (rising) moon’.

I assert that the day was that of ‘chaturdashi’ of Shukla Paksha (bright half). Yes, it would be above the horizon and very close to the eastern horizon at the time of sunset, on this day.

Shri Phadnis wonders…If the seven planets were ranging from East to West, not around the moon how were they attacking the moon?”

Mahabharata is filled with poetic analogies and metaphor around astronomy observations.  Vyasa states that “seven kaurava brothers attacked Bhima, similar to seven planets attacking the moon”.  What I have shown is that indeed there were seven planets and the moon in the sky at this time.  This is an excellent corroboration – Shabda pramana (of Vyasa) corroborating sky scene (Pratyaksha Pramana) of 29 October 5561 BCE evening via Voyager simulation.

Nothing more and nothing less is implied by this assertion.

However, Shri Phadnis has brought up a crucial point of ‘what constitutes valid or satisfactory corroboration’.  Admittedly, there is no ‘full proof’ definition of what constitutes a satisfactory corroboration and analogies may be interpreted subjectively.  However this is precisely the reason why ‘rational criticism’ of any theory/proposal must be always done in comparison to another theory/proposal that claims to solve the same problem.

Further, when someone claims his/her theory to be the best/better among available theories/proposals (as I indeed am!), it is imperative that a critique should select another theory/proposal that s/he considers best/better (or have chance of providing a good run for the money to a theory/proposal that boasts being one!) and should try to disprove, at a minimum, claim for best/better proposal.

Method of science (which is essentially that of rational criticism of a best/better theory) demands it.

Thus  comparison of cosmological theories in combinations such as Einstein vs. Newton, Newton vs. Kepler, Kepler vs. Tycho Brahe or vs. Coprnicus, Copernicus vs. Ptolemy, Ptolemy vs. early Greek theories, are desired combinations if one wants appreciate the improvement/progress made by newer/better theory of cosmology.

Dating of Mahabharata War is not any different.

Shri Phadnis argues… “Question also remains that as per Mahabharata, there was no moon in the sky for a very long time after sunset, on the 14th day of war! So Vyasa has given a UPAMA to the attack on Bheema by seven Kouravas, of some anecdote of moon fighting with seven planets and not because he saw seven planets in the sky that night (no moon!)” 

I presume he is referring to alternate proposals (based on one so called observation of ‘late moonrise’) for the timing of Mahabharata War, where 14th day of the War is claimed to be a day close to but before Amawasya.

If true, in fact there would be ‘NO MOON’ in the sky at all ‘after sunset’—never mind even ‘for a short period of time!’, after sunset!

Shri Phadnis is simply‘explaining away’ this observation by suggesting that this comparison of seven planets attacking the moon with that of seven kaurava brothers attacking Bhima’ may refer to some other anecdote.

Of course it may refer to some anecdote and if one such is presented with its relevance from the ancient Indian literature, it would still be ONLY an alternate explanation.  This is because a straightforward corroboration exists for 29 October 5561 BCE.

Again, this emphasizes the importance of providing criticism in the context of at least two theories/proposals that claim to solve the identical problem.  Only then the beauty of the better theory/proposal becomes apparent.

Shri Phadnis has stated elsewhere that he has no proposal (or intention to propose) of his own.  Fair.  Even then, he may consider a single proposal (or multiple proposals)  that claim to have 14th day of War close to Amawasya day and compare such proposal against mine in order to determine the superiority  and thus best/better status of my theory/proposal.

Shri Phadnis is singularly qualified to undertake such a comparison and I request him to consider such a study.

(Proposals of Holay (3143 BCE) or of Raghavan (3067 BCE) claim the 14th day of War near Amawasya day.  Details of additional proposals exsit in Table 1 of my book.)

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