Isolating problem of ‘eclipse evidence’ from the problem of ‘present tense’

Shri Phadnis wrote (below) in response to my blog article

https://nileshoak.wordpress.com/2015/08/26/timing-of-astronomy-observations/#comment-475

The emphasis of my blog article (above) was on the insistence of Shri Phadnis to interpret all astronomy observations of Mahabharata occurring at the time of the their mention (e.g. time of Krishna-Karna dialogue, or Bhishma-Dhritarashtra dialogue, and such).

Shri Phadnis had insisted that this should be so because the ‘tense‘ used in the description of astronomy evidence is ‘present tense’.

Fortunately he himself has recognized the untenability of his insistence on such a proposal as majority of astronomy evidence, so stated (present tense) can be shown to be physically impossible to attain…all in ‘present tense’ (i.e. given instance of time…e.g. a day, week etc. being treated as present).

This is because, a given planet is described in the context of multiple naksthras and such is not possible unless there is either alternate explanation or significant lapse of time.

So far so good.

However, since I had quoted his statements related to ‘eclipses’, Shri Phadnis has taken this to be emphasis on eclipse observations and thus, he wrote the following…

“About the eclipses, there are many discrepancies. 1. Were there two eclipses or three? Karna and Vyasa both mention 1st lunar and Vyasa gives a clear description (अलक्ष्यः, प्रभयाहीनः) so it is to be accepted. 2. Solar eclipse is suggested but not emphatically. It does not matter whether there was any eclipse on that day.The fortnight between these two? Normal or Very short? 3. Vyasa mentions a very short fortnight of 13 (not 14) days. Shri. Oak’s dates of Lunar and Solar eclipses are NOT 13 days apart. 3. Was the short fortnight ending on Amavasya or from Amavasya to next Purnima? 4.Vyasa definitely describes the short fortnight as an event which has already occurred. So if we take it to have ended on Amavasya, the short fornight mismatches with Shri. Oak’s dates of Purnima and Amavasya. 5. If the short fortnight started on Amavasya and ended on the next purnima, we have to accept that the war started ‘after the Purnima’ because Vyasa mentions the short fortnight as an event already occurred, on the day before the war. 6. Shri. Oak’s dates do NOT show even this fortnight as of 13 days. 6.It is for Shri. Oak to sort out this muddle. As I am not proposing any year or date for the war it is NOT my duty to clarify the muddle! It is for him to set down his time line and reconcile it with the references.”

It is critical for reader to understand the nature of discrepancies, viz. those from the Mahabharata text itself and those in the context of my (Shri Oak) proposal and its corroboration with Mahabharata evidence.

Let’s look at Mahabharata evidence.

Shri Phadnis writes..

1. Were there two eclipses or three? Karna and Vyasa both mention 1st lunar and Vyasa gives a clear description (अलक्ष्यः, प्रभयाहीनः) so it is to be accepted.

Karna has not said a word about lunar eclipse!

Vyasa does mention (possibly most explicit evidence of specific eclipse…if there is one, in the Mahabharata text) full moon of Kartika appearing as coppery red (agni-varna).  This can be taken as a description of lunar eclipse on the day of full moon of Kartika. (Bhishma (CE 2:23, GP 2:23))

(Although, reader may keep in mind that there is no explicit use of the word ‘eclipse’ and a researcher (not me) may simply claim this to be description of the moon near the node. Numerous Mahabharata researchers have been vague about this ‘full moon of Kartika-eclipse’ and also nature of eclipse)

Next, Shri Phadnis writes…

2. Solar eclipse is suggested but not emphatically.

Shri Phadnis is correct in this assertion.  Vyasa does mention lunar and solar eclipses (Bhishma (CE 3:28-29, GP 3:32-33)) however whether this refers to the first day of war is not clear.

Shri Phadnis writes..

3. Vyasa mentions a very short fortnight of 13 (not 14) days. Shri. Oak’s dates of Lunar and Solar eclipses are NOT 13 days apart.

Vyasa does mention a short fortnight of 13  (and not 14) days.  So far so good.   What is the definition Shri Phadnis has in mind for counting this time of 13 days?  He must have one because he states that “Shri Oak’s dates of Lunar and Solar eclipses are NOT 13 days apart.”

I will state my definition of 13 days.  Excluding the actual days of the eclipses (e.g. 16 October 5561 BCE and 30 October 5561 BCE) these two eclipses were separated by 13 days.

Thus, before claiming my dates to be not separated by 13 days, one (in this case Shri Phadnis) must state not only his/her definition of 13 days, but also show occurrence of such eclipse set (separated by 13 days…per his/her definition) for another proposed year of Mahabharata war (by another researcher) or for any other eclipse event (of past – recent, remote or otherwise) when such a situation (agreeing with his/her definition of 13 days) occurred.

(Shri S Balakrishna indeed went on such a mission.  His findings can be found via google search)

Next Shri Phadnis writes…

4.Vyasa definitely describes the short fortnight as an event which has already occurred. So if we take it to have ended on Amavasya, the short fornight mismatches with Shri. Oak’s dates of Purnima and Amavasya. 5. If the short fortnight started on Amavasya and ended on the next purnima, we have to accept that the war started ‘after the Purnima’ because Vyasa mentions the short fortnight as an event already occurred, on the day before the war.

Now this is the specific topic I was trying to address in my blog article https://nileshoak.wordpress.com/2015/08/26/timing-of-astronomy-observations/#comment-475.

To reiterate, the problem of ‘Sanskrit grammar – and specifically of multiple positions of planets being mentioned, all  of them, in present tense is a problem alright.  There could be multiple explanations for solving this problem, however, insisting that these all occurred either exactly at the same time or some of them occurred before a specific instance/event is not one of them.

Shri Phadnis has, fortunately, recognized this constraint.  Thus he writes, elsewhere…

“Use of present tense in all statements of Karna and Vyasa creates problems which appear irreconcilable. At the start of war, Mars can be only 1)at Magha – मघासु (or 2) at Anuradha , – प्रार्थयते मैत्रम् 3) at Chitra, – पीड्यते or )at Shravan, –श्रवणे not at all four places, obviously. The text however uses present tense for all four! Also Mars would be at first three locations long time before start of war, if it had reached Shravan-Dhanishtha by start of war. So why Karna and Vyasa use present tense for earlier three positions is a puzzle. One could treat it as poetic liberty.”

I have treated all astronomy observations, in the context of Mahabharata war, to be that of timeline, made over 2+ years. This is also consistent with very descriptions of astronomy observations (e.g. Jupiter/Saturn in the vicinity of nakshtra Vishakhar for up to a year, Mars traveling from nakshatra Magha through Abhijit/Shravana, etc.)

Thus, evaluation and criticism of my theory/proposal is encouraged and very much welcome.  Shri Phadnis has contributed, tremendously, by critiquing my proposal/theory, to the field of Mahabharata research.

What I am asserting is that some of the objections of Shri Phadnis are not valid. This is specifically because  either no other Mahabharata researcher has overcome those objections or some of these objections are untenable because sticking to ‘narrow’ interpretations (e.g. insisting that when observation is described in present tense, a proposal must show such observation to have occurred at the time of it’s mention) is inconsistent with very nature of astronomy observations set of Mahabharata text.

It is possible  (and I eagerly hope) that  a better explanation/proposal/theory may able to overcome some of these (but not all of these) limitations in future.  However, I assert that until that happens, my theory/proposal remains the better theory/proposal among all claims for the timing of Mahabharata war.

That is my modest claim and thus very reason for a reader (or critic) to recognize the  importance of a better theory!

https://nileshoak.wordpress.com/2015/12/05/failure-of-a-theory/

 

 

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