Full moon(like) Moon near nakshatra Krittika – 12th day of Mahabharata War

Shri Prabhakar Phadnis writes…

“Ref. No 50. Translation of this reference is as follows –

‘Decked, O monarch, in garlands of flower, and with a white umbrella held over his head, he looked like the full moon when in conjunction with the constellation Krittika.’

This is a description of Bhagadatta on the 12th day of war. Shri. Oak says this corroborates with the first day being an amavasya. Question is witch one. According to him war did not begin on Jyeshthaa Amavasya, but the next one, after a month of preparations. So sun and moon on first day should be in Purvashadha or beyond. In 12 days, moon will move on to Mrug, 2 nakshatras beyond Krittika! Also it was not a full moon night, Dvadashi only. But Bhagadatta is compared to full moon!

So, this is nothing but an Upama. For using it Vyasa does not require to see a full moon in Krittika on that day. In fact it was not so, but it has not stopped Vyasa from using the Upama. One cannot read anything more in it. Corroboration? Neither yes, nor no. Not a relevant issue.”

My Response…

I have referred to recurring confusion regarding concept of ‘Corroboration’ that Shri Phadnis runs into in my last few blogs and thus I will skip that part of the discussion here and also in future blogs. If required, I will simply refer to my previous relevant blogs where I have described what ‘corroboration’ is and what it is NOT.

Now the administrative stuff….

(1) Shri Phadnis is correct in stating that this is the observation on the 12th day of the War

(2) Shri Phadnis correctly states that – according to me – the war did not begin on Jyestha Amawasya.

(3) Shri Phadnis correctly states that – thus according to my proposal – Sun and moon should be near nakshatra Purva-Ashadha on the first day of the War.

In fact Sun/moon were between nakshatras Purva-Ashadha & Mula, on the first day of War (16 October 5561 BCE).

RA coordinates were as follows (16 October 5561 BCE, 12 PM,  Delhi (proxy for Kurukshetra)

Sun : 11 hr 1 min

Moon:10 hr 57 min

Purva-Ashadha: 11 hr 11 min

Mula : 10 hr 29 min

On the 12th day of the War (27 October 5561 BCE, 12 PM, Delhi (proxy for Kurukshetra)

RA coordinates were as follows

Moon: 21 hr 17 min

Krittika: 21 hr 10 min

Excellent corroboration indeed!  Of course, Shri Phadnis is within his rights to make a back of envelope prediction for the position of the moon (He states that moon should/would be near nakhastra Mrigashirsha), however, he (and readers) should also remember two critical points, especially when it comes to the position of the moon

(1) Moon is the fastest moving celestial body and thus positions change within a short period of time.

(3) Depending on the time of actual observation (and that would be at night…especially when mentioned in the context of a nakshatra) the description of the position of moon can easily enter an error of +/- 1-2 nakshatras, especially when observed visually (as opposed to defined/inferred mathematically).

While neither of these points have posed problem for this observation, it would be very pertinent to internalize these two points as one researches or critiques archeo-astronomy.

Finally, Shri Phadnis raises another objection…

“Also it was not a full moon night, Dvadashi only. But Bhagadatta is compared to full moon!”

Instead of writing another explanation, let me copy a passage from chapter 4 of my book regarding phases of the moon, that would answer the above objection of Shri Phadnis.

(When did the Mahabharata War Happen? The Mystery of Arundhati, Chapter 4, section on ‘Chandra-Kala (phases of the moon)’ pages 33-34

“Although full moon occurs each month at a specific date and time, the moon’s disk may appear to be full for several nights in a row.  This is because the percentage of the moon’s disk that appears illuminated changes very slowly around the time of the full moon (also around new moon, but the moon is not visible at all then).  The moon may appear 100% illuminated only on the night closest to the time of exact full moon, but on the night before and night after will appear 97-99% illuminated; most people would not notice the difference.  Even two days from full moon the moon’s disk is 93-97% illuminated.”

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