उपमा (Analogy) & निमित्त (Omens)

Shri Phadnis writes..

“Shri. Oak has also commented on Ref. 50. I agree that I had made a ‘back of envelope’ calculation of moon position, not having any software. I had counted 12 days, i. e. one more day so landed in Mruga. I should have landed in Rohini and then probably would not question Krittika. Since Shri. Oak has given data to show moon in Krittika no doubt remains. It was of course no Full Moon.

My main point is that for Using an Upama, Vyasa doen not need to have moon in the sky. If some other year or date is under consideration, and on 12th day of war, there is only a crescent in the sky, it cant be considered as falsification. The reference has no ‘proving’ or ‘disproving’ value, like all other Upamas.”

My Response…

Now that Shri Phadnis and I are on the same page with respect to position of the moon near nakshatra krittika on the 12th day of the war, I will focus on his (Shri Phadnis) comments in bold.

(Note: Mahabharata text does not explicitly use the word उपमा for analogy. The text uses the word निमित्त to indicate ‘Omens’.)

Shri Phadnis objects to use of ‘उपमा (analogies)’ from the Mahabharata text, as evidence.  I may remind Shri Phadnis that there are others (e.g. Shri Koenraad Elst, Shri Shrikant Talageri) who object to use of ‘निमित्त (omens)’ from the Mahabharata text, as evidence.

While Shri Phadnis wants me to treat ‘astronomy उपमा’ as only ‘उपमा’; likes of Shri Koenraad Elst or Shri Shrikant Talageri want me to treat ‘astronomy निमित्त’ as only ‘निमित्त’.

Either of these wants are misplaced and are based on faulty understanding of scientific theory and its role in understanding/explaining the world.

A new theory or an innovative approach always questions the existing assumptions including background assumptions.  How a new theory was developed may be of historical (and biographical) importance to us, however, this has nothing to do with the efficacy of a theory.

Efficacy of a theory depends on its consequences (predictions) and agreement of the evidence (observations/outcome of an experiments) with the consequences of this theory.  Efficacy depends on consistency, non-contradictions, testability and simplicity.

One does not (should not) argue with the premise of a scientific theory, but rather the agreement (or lack there of) of its consequences with the evidence.

Thus there is no point questioning a premise of ‘attraction aka gravitational pull’ at a distance (Newton’s theory) or ‘bending of a space time’ (Einstein), or ‘imperfect’ aka ‘elliptical  orbits of the planets (Kepler).

For this very same reason, one should not (and they did not) question the premise of  even Ptolemic model (equant, deferant and epicycles), but rather the consequences and especially the ongoing/perpetual need to add additional epicycles (ad hoc hypotheses).

And now a comment on Falsification.

Shri Phadnis writes..

“If some other year or date is under consideration, and on 12th day of war, there is only a crescent in the sky, it cant be considered as falsification.”

What Shri Phadnis is saying is valid, but this is because a corroboration of a specific evidence (e.g. full moon like moon near nakshatra Krittika on 12th day of the War) is in the context of a specifc theory of visual astronomy observations, but even more critical, its value in corroboration is limited.

The corroborative value is limited because all this evidence can define is a certain lunar month (and bright half of the lunar month) as the timing of Mahabharata war, but not the year of Mahabharata war. Thus the extent of corroboration is limited to the timing of specific lunar month, and has nothing to say about the year of the War.

Further, readers may remember that ‘full moon like moon near nakshatra Krittika’ can be corroborated for up to ~2-3 lunar months of the year.  This means the above observation can be corroborated for few lunar months (note: one can always propose different ‘Tithi’ for the first day of Mahabharata  war in order to match ‘full moon like moon on the 12th day of the War) and to that extent the observation loses its ability to falsify alternate claims.

However, if some other year or date is under consideration that also employs astronomy evidence including say positions and phases of the moon for the 18 days of the war, then evidence such as ‘full moon like moon near nakshatra Krittka’ would indeed be a consideration.

So far so good.

Then, Shri Phadnis states..

“The reference has no ‘proving’ or ‘disproving’ value, like all other Upamas.”

The reference has no ‘proving’ or ‘disproving’ value because:

(1) this reference can corroborate only lunar month of the war

and

(2) Ability to corroborate has nothing to do with ‘proving’ or ‘disproving’.

and

(3) Opposite of ‘corroboration’ is ‘non-corroboration’ as much as opposite of ‘falsification’ is ‘non-falsification’.

On the other hand, this has nothing to do with the fact that astronomy references were embedded in the text (of Mahabharata) in the form of ‘Upamas’.  The same faulty argument can be easily extended to astronomy references embedded in the text (of Mahabharata) in the form of ‘Omens’ (e.g. AV observation and all planetary observations). The same faulty argument can be easily extended to astronomy references embedded in the text (of Mahabharata) in the form of ‘What was seen in the dream’ (e.g. Krishna-Karna dialogue of Udyoga Parva).

If Shri Phadnis desires to propose a new theory where only specific form of astronomy evidence is (or is not) acceptable, that may be his choice, but then he must realize that that itself is another ad hoc hypothesis (which by itself is not an issue), and thus will be (and should be) tested against the criteria of consistency, non-contradictions, testability, etc.

(Against this background, consider the statement of my theory: All astronomy observations of Mahabharata text are visual astronomy observations. (amounting to 200+ by my conservative count))

Shri Phadnis has unknowingly (or knowingly) introduced such ad hoc propositions while critiquing my work (e.g., “the statement is made by Krishna and not Bhishma’, or ‘This is the statement made by Drona during the fight and during day time’ etc. All such ad hoc hypotheses may have value and may shed light on intricacies of Mahabharata evidence, astronomy or otherwise, but then this is very involved exercise.  These arguments (ad hoc hypotheses) are not to be employed in arbitrary fashion.

If a set of astronomy evidence is to be eliminated because it occurs in the form of उपमा (analogies), and another set of astronomy evidence is to be eliminated because it occurs in the form of निमित्त (omens), and still another set of astronomy evidence is to be eliminated because it occurs in someone’s स्वप्न (dream), then let’s admit that there is no astronomy evidence in Mahabharata.

Numerous Indologists from Harvard, UC- Berekley, U Chicago, U Michigan, Columbia and such, along with their lackeys in India, would lovingly perform a cheerleading routine, with Romila Thapar at the center!

Now that is one उपमा, one may ignore safely.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s