Shri Prabhakar Phadnis sent me the summary of his critique of my work and I am posting it as is.
I have responded to many, but not all, of the issues raised by him, previously, via numerous blog articles.
I request readers to read blog articles written by both Shri Prabhakar Phadnis and by me.
I thank Shri Prabhakar Phadnis, for his deep efforts in critiquing my work. I am confident that it will go a long way in contributing to the progress of knowledge about Mahabharata, and thus ancient Indian history.
His critique is below….
I am going to write some comments on a book by Shri. Nilesh Oak. Timing of the Mahabharat war is the main topic of the book. My attention was drawn to Shri. Oak’s book by one of the readers of my own Blog on Mahabharata, about 2 years back (or more) and I immediately contacted Shri. Oak. Most generously he made his book and other material available to me on my computer in PDF format. We have had many discussions and exchange of e-mails on various topics from his book and despite a big age-difference, have developed a great relationship of mutual respect. We have great differences in our views on some points! His book has received wide-spread attention. Many people have commented for and against but not with careful study in my view.
When did the Mahabharata War Happen
The Title of his book is actually ‘When did the Mahabharata War Happen’ The sub-title is ‘The Mystery of Arundhati’ The earlier part of the book is about ‘Arundhati’. Shri. Oak has written a large no. of pages to begin with, about Astronomical concepts which I found very interesting. Although I had studied a little Astronomy as a part of my Civil Engineering course my information had gone rusty and I had several dialogues with Shri. Oak on some of the concepts. He was very patient! Slowly I started getting a grasp, at least sufficiently, to start understanding the arguments in the book. A common reader of his book will have to make quite some effort to grasp the concepts without which the subject matter of the book on ‘Arundhati’ cannot be appreciated. I will assume that the readers have made that effort.
Fall of Abhijit
After explaining the Astronomical concepts etc. Shri. Oak has written a whole chapter on Abhijit (Vega) with reference to a small quotation from Mahabharat before going on to write about Arundhati. I found several things wrong about what he has written and had exchange of e-mails with him. The subject is interesting and Shri. Oak’s comparison of the event with Roger Bacon writing to Pope asking for a calendar correction is novel and appropriate. My comments are as follows.
1. Abhijit and Nakshatras.-The Nakshatras identified by our ancestors, are all, more or less, strung along the Ecliptic, more or less equidistant. This is consistent with their purpose of serving as a reference frame for marking the position of Sun, Moon and Planets from time to time, as they move along the ecliptic. There are 27 of them because moon completes a round in 27 days. So they are 27 houses of Moon. Now the question is, where does Abhijit come in? It is a very prominent bright star but is nowhere near the ecliptic. It is in fact almost 60 degrees away and has always been so. How could it ever have been counted as a nakshatra? It is definitely not a 28th Nakshatra!
2. I conjecture that in the days when the Nakshatras were identified by our ancestors, the Celestial North pole was fairly close to Abhijit and hence, along with the Nakshatras, Abhijit was an excellent reference point in the sky for mapping. That is why, probably, it was counted by our ancestors along with (but not among) the 27 Nakshatras, as a मेरुमणि.
3. The quotation from Mahabharat , ‘अभिजित्स्पर्धमाना ..etc.’ has not been translated by Shri. Oak correctly at all. It actually talks about Devi, younger sister of Rohini, competing with Abhijit and going to Vana for Tapa. (अभिजित्स्पर्धमाना, कन्यसी स्वसा, ज्येष्ठतां इच्छती, are all adjectives of देवी. The words कन्यसी स्वसा seem to suggest Krittika, being the nakshatra adjecant to Rohini.) Dr. P. V. Vartak whom Shri. Oak refers to, has in fact given a correct translation (in स्वयम्भु) and a fairly correct interpretation also. On the other hand, Shri. Oak has wrongly presumed the quotation to mean Abhijit, younger sister of Rohini, competing for seniority and going to Vana for Tapa. He ignores that Abhijit is a masculine name and can be Rohini’s brother but not sister! He interprets Abhijit moving very close to North Pole as going to Vana and performing Tapa! His whole explanation and effort to fix a time frame for the Event on this basis is therefore meaningless. Abhijit is not doing any Spardha or going to Vana for Tapa. It has in fact fallen from the sky.
4. ‘नक्षत्रं गगनात् च्युतं’ has been explained by him as ‘Abhijit moving towards North Pole.’ Abhijit getting close to North Pole or remaining close to North Pole cannot be interpreted as its FALL (च्युतम्) from the sky by any stretch of imagination as, near the North Pole, it would be prominently visible and ‘steady’ too. The picture shown below will clarify the point.
5. Shri. Oak also talks about Abhijit moving towards and away from the ecliptic, which is of course meaningless. What he obviously means is moving towards or away from the Equator. When I pointed this out, he admitted the error, very gracefully. But the paragraphs where this occurs need rewriting.
6. The reason for dropping Abhijit from list of nakshatras needs explanation based on interpretation of ‘च्युतम्’.
7. Krittika must have, necessarily, always been included in list of nakshatras because if you leave out Krittika, a big gaping gap along the ecliptic will remain between Bharani and Rohini. Why those wise men, who built the reference frame of Nakshatras, would leave such a gap? Abhijit is nowhere near this gap, by the way. To say, as Shri. Oak says, that Abhijit was dropped and Krittika was included in its place in list of Nakshatras is meaningless.
As stated earlier, while the translation of the Mahabharat Shlokas by Shri. Oak is incorrect and the time frame for the event proposed by him therefore becomes baseless, the translation by Dr. P. V. Vartak is correct. Problem is how to interpret ‘Krittika going to Vana for Tapa?’ Does it mean that Summer solstice had moved near Krittika? Shri. Oak says, correctly, that Summer Solstice was near Krittika long back in antiquity, in 22000BC. It would happen again in AD 4000. So Krittika moving near Summer Solstice cannot be the meaning of Krittika going to Vana for Tapa (unless we say that the dialogue between Indra and Skanda took place in 22000 BC).
Other observation noted by Indra and mentioned to Skanda as causing him worry is the fall of a Nakshatra from the sky. Which one? The choice of Abhijit for this role seems unanimous. What is meant by fall from the sky? It should literally mean disappearing from the sky. This cannot happen to Abhijit for an observer in northern hemisphere, (in northern India in particular, with Latitudes around 25-30 degrees), in those ancient days, when Abhijit was not very far from the Celestial north pole. It would always remain visible. At best, the words can mean Abhijit disappearing below the horizon during a part of its journey around the north pole, every day-night. I therefore conjecture that Indra meant exactly that! He just means, ‘The star Abhijit which was once close to north pole and was therefore always above the horizon has now moved so far away from the pole that now, for a part of its path, it actually goes below the horizon, it has fallen from the sky!’
Abhijit was closest to north pole around 12000BC, about 5 degrees away. Earlier and also later, for about 2000 years it was close enough to the North Pole. By about 6000-6500BC, north pole had moved sufficiently away from Abhijit to make Abhijit dip below horizon. Timing of Indra-Skanda dialogue therefore can be considered to be around 6000-6500 BC, in my opinion.
As I have mentioned above, Abhijit has always been way far too distant from the ecliptic to have a place in the list of 27 nakshatras, which are strung along the ecliptic, more or less. It was simply the most important star in the sky besides the nakshatras, while it was pretty close to the north pole. My conjecture therefore, is that the Nakshatras themselves were probably identified and named, at some time in the past, when Abhijit was fairly close to north pole, say between 14000BC to 12000BC.
How to interpret the reference to Dhanishtha in Indra’s statement that Brahma had set up time from Dhanishtha? Was one of the Cardinal points of Sun at Dhanishtha then? Shri. Oak has examined four cases of a particular cardinal point of Sun near Dhanishtha, looking for movement of that cardinal point from Dhanishtha to Rohini. In fact, from his data it is seen that, due to precision phenomena, every cardinal point would be first near Rohini and after abt. 7000 years, move near Dhanishtha! If start of the year was from any particular CP at Dhanishtha, it will take 19000 years for that CP to move from Dhanishtha to Rohini!
If Nakshatras were first identified and system of counting time got a frame of reference, around 13000BC ( when Abhijit was close to North Pole) as I conjecture, Summer Solstice was at that time occurring with Sun in Dhanishtha. Rains in India start around Summer Solstice and it was appropriate to count year start from Dhanishtha as arranged by Brahma! Around 6000-6500BC, when Indra finds Abhijit fallen from sky, Summer Solstice had moved well away from Dhanishtha and also no other CP was near it! On the other hand, Winter Solstice was close to Krittika – Rohini.
This is Indra’s problem. 1. Should the beginning of the year be shifted from Dhanishtha to Rohini i. e. from Summer Solstice to Winter Solstice? and 2. What should be done with Abhijit? He asks Skanda to discuss this with Brahma, as Brahma’s system of starting year from Dhanishtha had now lost relevance. It looks like Brahma decided to give the honour of First Nakshatra to Krittika rather than Rohini as Winter Solstice was closer to Krittika rather than Rohini, by 6000BC! Krittika was competing with Abhijit for prominence! No wonder Krittika was pleased and brightened up! Poor Abhijit got dropped from Nakshatras. This is my interpretation of the Shlokas.
I have said above that the translation of the 4 shlokas by Shri. Oak is wrong, I give the correct translation according to me.
1. अभिजित्स्पर्धमाना तु रोहिण्याः कन्यसी स्वसा इच्छती ज्येष्ठतां देवी तपस्तप्तं वनं गता.
Dr. Vartak has translated this correctly. I would say, ‘Daughter like (younger) sister of Rohini, i. e. DEVI, contesting with Abhijit for seniority has gone to water heated by hot season.’
Tapas also means hot season and that is appropriate here instead of penance. Vana = water is very rarely used but fits nicely here.
2. तत्र मूढोस्मि भद्रं ते नक्षत्रं गगनाच्च्युतम् कालंत्विमं परं स्कंद ब्रह्मणासह चिन्तय
‘Here I am confused, bless you, (also) Nakshatra has fallen (or moved) from sky. Skanda, please think of this time (event) along with Brahma (discuss with him)’
3. धनिष्ठादिस्तदा कालो ब्रह्मणा परिनिर्मितः रोहिण्याद्यः अभवत्पूर्वम् एवम् संख्या समाभवत्
‘Bhrahma had then created time beginning from Dhanishtha. Earlier, beginning from Rohini also happened. This is the available information.’
(I am not able to give any meaning other than what Dr. Vartak has given for the phrase – एवम् संख्या समाभवत् – It appears appropriate)
4. एवमुक्ते तु शक्रेण त्रिदिवं कृत्तिकागताः नक्षत्रं शकटाकारं भाति तद्वन्हिदैवतम्
‘On Shakra (Indra) saying this, Krittikas came to heaven (आगताः) The nakshatra having Agni as devata and of chariot shape shines.’
It would be necessary to check how the last word in first line is written in the original text. कृत्तिका गताः (two words) does not make sense. Is it a single word कृत्तिकागताः ? I have read it as कृत्तिकाः आगताः with sandhi and therefore preferred ‘came’ rather than ‘went’ used by Dr. Vartak.
The meaning of Krittika going to Vana for Tapa is not clear as Summer Solstice had not moved near Krittika. It was near Rohini/Krittika in 22000BC and would not be anywhere near them until 4000 AD.
Now I will give my own, alternative interpretation of the events. Before that, however, I must acknowledge my debt to Dr. Vartak and Sri. Oak, as my interest in this matter is entirely on account of Shri. Oak’s book. I had not noticed these shlokas, leave aside trying to interpret them, when I read Mahabharat.
Which is अभिजित्स्पर्धमाना, रोहिण्या कन्यसी स्वसा? Because of mention of Krittika in the last shloka, Dr. Vartak, and myself also, have been treating Krittika as the one who went to tapastapta vana. The first shloka actually mentions the name Devi. Dr. Vartak and Shri. Oak look for Krittika going to Summer Solstice. S.S. was near Dhanishtha around 14500BC. It was near Krittika-Rohini way back in 22500 BC and will be again so in future, in AD 3500. So Krittika did not go to Summer Solstice! So which nakshatra is Devi?
1. I noticed something from Mr. Iyengar’s writing quoted by Mr. Oak. Iyengar has mentioned that both Rohini and Jyeshtha were once called Rohini. If this is correct, does Devi stand for younger sister of Jyeshtha and not of Rohini? i. e. Vishakha or Anuradha? Summer Solstice would be near them around about 9500BC. Based on this possibility, I offer an alternative interpretation that Vishakha (or Anuradha), not Krittika, was competing for recognition as No.1, because start of year fixed earlier from Dhanishtha had lost relevance. Indra says, ‘Bhrahma had created time beginning from Dhanishtha and beginning from Rohini also happened’ Did he refer to Rohini or to Jyeshtha,- alternate Rohini?
2. Indra also is worried or confused that Nakshatra has dropped or moved from sky. ‘च्युत’ can literally be translated as ‘moved’ also. (One of the adjectives of Lord Vishnu is ‘अच्युत’! ) If recognition of 27 Nakshatras along the ecliptic and time keeping with their help was set up by Brahma and Dhanishtha was given first place, Summer Solstice being then near Dhanishtha, this can be considered to have occurred sometime around 14,500BC. At that time Abhijit was the only prominent star close enough to CNP to help in mapping the sky and time keeping. Although it was not anywhere near the ecliptic and was not part of the chain of 27, it was then given a pride of place along with the 27 nakshatras. However, the picture had changed over the centuries. Abhijit had initially moved closer to CNP for some millennia and came within 5 degrees of CNP around 12000 BC and although it started moving away from CNP thereafter, it still remained close enough to be relevant, for some further centuries, but by around 9500BC it has moved away from CNP considerably, now daily drops down close to the horizon (as seen at places in North India) and as time passes it will surely start actually dipping below the horizon every day! So what to do with it? Indra is naturally worried. The picture below shows the position.
3. Around 9500 BC therefore, (a)Summer Solstice has moved from Dhanishtha close to Vishakha-Anuradha, (b)Winter Solstice, alternative starting point for year, is near Krittika-Rohini and (c)Abhijit has moved a long way away from CNP! Brahma’s system is in a crisis! Indra sends him an SOS with Skanda. I suggest that the event in the shlokas occurred around 9,500 BC.
4. The shlokas dont explicitly state what Brahma decided but apparently, Abhijit was ‘dismissed’, and year start shifted to Winter Solstice so, naturally, Krittikas ‘went to heaven’ and are shining brightly! (Vishakha-Anuradha lost their claim)
I add a schematic picture to explain what I mean by Relevance of Abhijit when it was near CNP, which it lost when it moved away.
At one stage of my discussions with Shri. Oak on this subject he had said that his main purpose of elaborating on this topic was to show that there was a long tradition of visual astronomy in India stretching far back of Mahabharat time. I would say that the quotation fulfills that purpose admirably.
1. Brahma set up the system of marking time and gave first place to Dhanishtha. Dr. Vartak and Shri. Oak have interpreted this to be in 14500 BC as Summer Solstice was near Dhanishtha at that time and it would be an appropriate start for the year. I agree.
2. The event, about which Markandeya talks to Yudhishthira, (Indra’s SOS), is itself in sufficient antiquity – around 9500 BC according to me – and Brahma setting up start of year from Dhanishtha at Summer Solstice is much more so.
I wonder though whether the world-at-large will ever admit that Indians’ use of Visual Astronomy stretched that far back.
Epoch of Arundhati.
I will now move on to the next chapter of Shri. Oak’s book.
I must say that I found this chapter most fascinating. The way Shri. Oak relentlessly followed up his idea that Arundhati may possibly have been actually ‘ahead’ of Vasishtha at some time in the past, since Vyasa says so, is most commendable. He has the advantage over the old scholars, of access to modern technical tools. I am sure if Dr. Vartak had the same, he would not have left it to Shri. Oak to solve the puzzle. He did the next best thing. He invited new young scholars to unravel it and Shri. Oak has done the rest.
When I first came to know that someone has used computer and software for research in Mahabharat, I was amazed. I had been taking keen interest in Mahabharat since we purchased the Marathi translation volumes and I retired and had time on my hand. My own interest was in many new aspects of all old and familiar stories, which I started to notice. I made notes, gave lectures and ran a blog but I had taken no interest in the astronomical references.
Mr. Oak’s identification of the time-span when Arundhati was actually ahead of Vasishtha is convincing. Whether the world of Mahabharat Researchers will accept his conclusion and the insistence that the war must have taken place only within that time –span or Epoch as Shri. Oak calls it -, is another matter.
I have no access to elaborate software like Shri. Oak. Once I became aware of the fact that the Celestial North Pole moves in a circular path in the sky, completing a round in 26000 years, I looked at the issue graphically in my own way. I also had occasion to give couple of lectures on this subject. I felt that most of the listeners may not quickly grasp the mathematical approach of Shri. Oak (Investigating deltaRA between Arundhata and vasishtha) if I try to explain it in the short time of a lecture and may lose interest. I prepared a few slides to present the issue pictorially. I found that many listeners got the essence of the problem and the solution and some said so at the end of the lecture. I was happy.
I show below a few of the slides. The pictures are of course not to scale or accurate but give a fair idea to viewer. I hope readers would like them.
This picture shows the view of saptarshi as we see today. They help us to locate the polestar. Arundhati is very close to Vasishtha and is not very bright and cannot be seen easily by naked eye.
When Arundhati was maximum ahead of Vasishtha, that was only about 40% of what it is behind today as per Mr. Oak’s data. One can imagine the difficulty of noticing it with naked eye in those days.
I later sent my many slides and also the text of my lecture to Shri. Oak to ask whether I had distorted the issues. His response was quite positive. I developed two pictorial views as below.
The picture shows the position as we see today, when Saptarshis go across the meridian line. Vasishtha is on the meridian, Arundhati is a little behind.
This second picture shows the position as was seen in 5561 BCE, at Mahabharata time as per Mr. Oak. Arundhati has gone beyond meridian and Vashishtha is on meridian.
These two pictures are of course not to scale or accurate. They are just schematic pictures to explain the change to a layman.
In my view, since the time people started taking note of Saptarshis (and Arundhati), Vasishtha-Arundhati were far too close together to conclude who was ahead. Saptarshis got their names, probably some time after Rama era. (Vasishtha, Atri, Arundhati were on earth at Rama times). When, slowly but surely, Arundhati moved ahead sufficiently, people may have started speculating who is ahead. Vyasa or someone else, a keen observer, became convinced that she was definitely ahead, and Vyasa recorded that conclusion. This has to be somewhere around the time of maximum aheadness. Measure of aheadness was just about half minute. What Vyasa recorded was the observation, ‘no longer together, but now, definitely ahead’.
Year and Date of War.
Shri. Oak’s book has dealt extensively with the main topic of timing of Mahabharat War – Year and then Date of commencement. I intend to deal with both aspects together as many of my comments and observations will be common for both aspects.
A large number of scholars have made their own assessments of the timing and Shri. Oak, instead of making his own selection of the Year of War, has examined the years proposed by other researchers. He has straightaway rejected all proposed dates outside of ‘Epoch of Arundhati’. Shri. Oak has examined only two proposed years, both within the ‘Epoch’, rejecting one by Mr. Lele for reason not specifically stated. He has accepted the year, 5561BCE, proposed by Dr. P. V. Vartak. The book deals extensively with examining and verifying a large no. of astronomical quotes from Mahabharat for that specific year.
As far as the year 5561 BCE is concerned, although Shri. Oak’s interpretations and arguments are not acceptable in
many cases, on the whole, the year 5561BC can be considered carefully.
In any case I don’t propose any other particular year of my own! I will deal with specific references where I have questions about 5561 BCE!
I am of the view that ‘Epoch’ established by Mr. Oak’s computer technique stands to reason and after examining it in my own way I whole-heartedly accept it.
Any proposed year outside the ‘Epoch’ however, should be assessed and accepted/rejected on the merit of the case made out, if it is based on aspects other than astronomical observations from Mahabharat. Rejecting all such claims, only because they fall outside the ‘Epoch’, without assessment is questionable. However knowing my limitations I don’t hold a brief for any particular year/date claimed by any other researcher. I have no comments of my own, on the merit of such claims rejected wholesale by Shri. Oak.
Shri. Oak has, in essence, accepted the year 5561 BC, proposed by Dr. Vartak and examined the various astronomical references for that year. He has also fixed 16th Oct. as the Julian date for the first day of the war, same as what Dr. Vartak had proposed. Let us examine the references and the verifications by Shri. Oak.
1. I begin with the Ref. 6, exp. No. 10. – ‘Jupiter and Saturn Near Vishakha on first day of War’. Shri. Oak says, one year prior to 16th Oct. 5561BC, Jupiter was in Mool and Saturn in Hasta, i. e. 3 and 3 nakshatras away from Vishakha on either side. On 16th Oct. 5561 however, Jupiter had moved to Uttarashadha, 2 nakshatra farther away from Vishakha and Saturn was still at Chitra – Uttara F., which really means ‘stayed in Hasta’. Gap between the two planets has opened out to 8 nakshatras! Satisfactory corroboration of ‘both near Vishakha’? Hardly so!
Dr. Vartak had taken this reference as a starting point for his search of Year of War. By his manual calculation he had identified several different years to meet this condition and concluded that in 5561 BCE Saturn and Jupiter must have been near Vishakha. He did not have access to Software to verify this. If he had, I am sure he would not have claimed corroboration as Shri. Oak has claimed!
If this reference is to be met satisfactorily, the year should be such that Saturn was actually at least very near Vishakha and the date or month of the war such that Jupiter was also at or near Vishakha. Surely, software can locate many such years within the Epoch, particularly when Arundhati was also near-maximum ahead of Vasishtha.
2. Ref 10 Exp 11.—Saturn attacking Bhaga (Uttara Falguni). What Shri. Oak finds is that Saturn was in Bhaga 2 years prior to the war date but had already begun ‘approaching Chitra’ which means it had left Bhaga (and Hasta), thus stopped troubling it and at war time was at end of Hasta. So, no corroboration at all!
3. Ref 11, 13 and 14 talk about movement of Mars from Magha to Shravan, mentioning two Vakra motions. Exp. 13 describes all these movements as correct. I must congratulate Shri. Oak on his novel interpretation of Vakra motion. Astrologers or Astronomers may not accept it. I am neither so am free to accept. He has subsequently published videos made from his software to show Mars’ movement from Magha to Shravan. Some questions however remain. 1. Mars is not seen crossing the Ecliptic at Magha, it does so near Rohini, 5 nakshatra earlier. At Magha it does nothing! ‘मघास्वंगारको वक्रः? No. 2. The other Vakra motion of Mars also does not match the location. 3. Can a visual observer really identify with any certainty a crossing of Ecliptic by a Planet like Mars or Jupiter? On the whole, no corroboration.
4. Ref 11 Exp 14 – Shri. Oak finds Jupiter showing Vakra motion, as per his definition, ‘crossing ecliptic’. It supports his idea. Fine. Vyasa says in second line of Ref 11, ‘श्रवणे च बृहस्पतिः’ – present tense. (He also used present tense for describing Mars’ vakra motion at Magha, one year back!) Actually, Jupiter crosses ecliptic much later, on 6th April 5560 BC and re-crosses on 13th Sept 5560 BCE, well after the War! How is Vyasa talking about it and that too in present tense?
Maybe, ‘Sharavane cha bruhaspatih’ simply means what others say, ‘Jupiter in Shravan’.
I was also waiting for a Video of Jupiter’s Vakra motion at Shravan to see whether it matches what Shri. Oak says. In any case, by April 5560 BCE, Jupiter should be quite beyond Shravan so even if it then crosses Ecliptic it will be not at or in Shravan!
5. Ref 18, Exp. 15. Shri. Oak says Venus was between Shravan and Dhanishtha on 16th Oct., first day of the war. Subsequent motion of Venus was thus thereafter, during the war. Total period of the motion described is not stated but may have covered over the 18 days of war and beyond. On the other hand, Bhishma, before war began, is describing it in past tense, ending with ‘प्रत्युदीक्षते’ (present tense), as if all that motion had already taken place! There is a mismatch here.
6. About Shweta, Tivra and Tikhshna referring to Urenus, Neptune and Pluto. I find it difficult to accept the tall claims, especially about Pluto, unless any independent evidence is available to establish there were telescopes in use at that time. Even today, Pluto cannot be seen with ordinary telescopes. Are there references to Pluto in any other ancient texts?
7. Ref 26 – Exp.17. – This Ref is from GP only, not from BORI. Is it authentic? Assuming it is, the quotation with pre, post ref. needs to be looked into. As given in the book, रोहिणी पीडयत्येवं(पीडयति एवं) उभौ च शशिभास्करौ does not mean ‘Sun/Moon are troubling Rohini.’ (It means Rohini is troubling Sun and Moon!) If Sun and Moon are troubling Rohini, the quotation should be रोहिणीं पीड्यतः एवं उभौ च शशिभास्करौ. If, as observed by Shri. Oak, Sun and Moon, in Jyeshtha, were setting when Rohini was rising, (Jyeshtha and Rohini are in fact opp. each other), they were directly opposing each other. Stretching a point, the reference can be considered corroborated.
8. Ref. 12. Exp. 18. – I assume, Shri. Oak verified by his software that Jupiter was actually on or above western horizon when Rohini was rising in the east. How far above? Probably about 30 degrees. The last two words of the quote, ‘ बभूव चन्द्रार्कसमानवर्णः’ simply mean, ‘became of the same colour (not position) as sun and moon’, i. e. white and bright. After Sunset, Jupiter, 30 deg. above horizon, can become bright enough to justify this description. The quote does not at all mean ‘in same position as sun and moon’ as Shri. Oak says. Another instance of Shri. Oak’s disregard for Sanskrit!
9. Ref. 21 Exp.16. The reference talks about a planet at Krittika. (कृत्तिकासु ग्रहः तीव्रः) Dr. Vartak and Shri. Oak claim it to be Pluto. Shri. Oak actually finds Pluto ‘rather closer to Rohini’, not near or at Krittika. I presume Pluto is very slow-moving. It would have been at Rohini only,for some more years and then move forward to Mrug. It could have been at krittika several years back! I also do not find the same object called ‘a nakshatra’ anywhere in the quotation! नक्षत्रे प्रथमे ज्वलन् does not mean that at all! I am not sure of the meaning but it seems to say ‘having burned in the nakshatra earlier’. No translation or interpretation of the second line is given. I am also not sure about what it says. Use of word धूमकेतुरिवस्थितः has some significance. All this rigmarole is supposed to prove it to be Pluto and Shri. Oak calls it ‘sufficient corroboration’! No comment is needed.
10. Ref. 8 and 9 Exp. 19. Both references are about Saturn troubling Rohini. Shri. Oak finds that as Rohini was setting, Saturn was the only planet, ‘somewhere in the eastern sky’, i. e. quite away from Rohini. Being the only available planet, the duty of troubling Rohini seems to have fallen to Saturn! Saturn also is a slow moving planet and the relative position would be unaffected over a large time span on both sides of the proposed war date. As the position of Saturn vis-à-vis Rohini is so vague, similar situation could occur in many other years. Saturn affecting Rohini should actually mean Saturn should be AT Rohini. Both Karna and Vyasa have mentioned this as a particularly bad omen for the Rulers i. e. Kauravas. Saturn troubling the setting Rohini from ‘somewhere in the eastern sky’ can hardly be considered as a corroboration of the bad omen. Ref 8 says ‘(प्राजापत्यं) ग्रहः तीक्ष्णः महाद्युतिः शनैश्चरः (पीडयति)’. Second and third word are clearly adjectives of शनैश्चरः. It is clear therefore, that ‘tikshna’ is not another planet but refers to Saturn only!
Problem is that Saturn (with Jupiter) can be either at Vishakha or at Rohini. For the proposed year and date it is at neither of the places! No corroboration I am afraid.
11. 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 protecting Pandavas from behind is correct or not. Does पुरस्तात् mean ‘behind’?. No. (Refer अव पुरस्तात् from Atharvasheersha where it means ‘protect me from East’). It actually means ‘From East’. If Pandavas were facing east, purastat should mean ‘from the front’. Actually the plantes were in the western sky! The three planets could be seen only some time after Sunset as mercury is also mentioned. Venus is also never far away from Sun. So if pandavas were still facing east, they would be behind Pandavas but then how could they protect them from the front? Further, 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. Of them, Mars is slow moving and Mercury and Venus are always close to Sun. Even after some months, position could be same or similar. The quote does not prove or disprove proposed war date.
12. Ref. 24 Exp 22. — This occurs at the start of BhishmaParva, so it can be taken as referring to first day. Night prior to 1st day or night of first day? The quotation simply says ‘there were seven planets shining in the sky. Nothing is mentioned about where, with ref. to Sun. If Saturn was to the west of Sun and others to east, all could not have been seen after sunset. When the occurrence of Solar Eclipse itself is not established beyond doubt, the assertion that all seven were seen ‘during the eclipse’ cannot be made with any certitude. The eclipse was not total so there was no question of seeing the planets, during the battle. The quotation in any case does not say so. It proves or disproves nothing about the year or date of war.
13. Ref 23 Exp 23 … Shri. Oak asserts 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’.
The actual translation of the reference by Ganguli is ‘Excited with wrath, those seven great car-warriors began to afflict Bhimasena, O king, like the seven planets afflicting the moon at the hour of the universal dissolution.’ So Vyasa here is giving a दृष्टान्त. There is no question of there being seven Planets actually attacking the moon on that night, in any case well after the event! For giving the दृष्टान्त, Vyasa didnt need it!
14. Ref. 25 Exp 24. This quotation occurs in the text, well before Karna’s death. What is the context? Is the translation of the quotation correctly rendered? निश्चरन्तो व्यदृश्यन्त does not translate as ‘appeared moving away from’. Both seem to refer to ‘sapta-mahagrahah’. These are two separate words, Since चर means move, निश्चर should mean ‘not moving’ . If sandhi is removed, the word appears to be निश्चरन्ताः व्यदृश्यन्त सूर्यात् which seems to mean ‘appeared not moving from Sun’. The translation by Ganguli is … The seven great planets including the Sun seemed to proceed against one another (for combat).. This does not appear correct to me as सूर्यात् cannot mean ‘including the Sun’
15. Ref. 19 and 20 . Exp. 26. As Shri. Oak has finally concluded that Shweta and Shyama cannot be positively identified, they can be left out. About Shyama, the adjectives, प्रज्वलितः, सधूमः, सहपावकः though, appear to point to a comet or Meteor. If it was a Meteor, it wont be seen in the simulations I presume.
16. Ref. 21 and 22. Shri. Oak says both these quotes refer to a Comet at Pushya. While ref 22 second line clearly says that a महाघोरः धूमकेतुः has settled at Pushya, Ref 21 does not say so at all. It simply says the planet Teevra is at Krittika and is – धूमकेतुरिव – like a comet. वपूंष्यपहरन्भासा does not at all mean ‘at Pushya’! वपुंसि अपहरन् भासा may mean ‘as if abducting bodies’. I am not sure of this and an authentic translation must be referred. Where does Shri.Oak see ‘Pushya’ here? He sees whatever he wants anywhere with complete disregard for Sanskrit language.
17. At the end of chapter 7 Shri. Oak says that he checked 38 specific years, within 6500 BCE and 3500 BCE, for a combination of Saturn near Bhaga (UttaraFalguni) and Jupiter near Shravan. Does 5561 BCE qualify for this position? He does not say so specifically. What he actually found for 16th Oct 5561 BCE is – On 16th Oct. 5561, Jupiter was in Uttarashadha, and Saturn in Hasta. They are one nakshatra away from the desired positions and both being slow-moving, would remain so for maybe some months either side. After 5561 BCE Saturn will go further away from Hasta to Chitra although Jupiter will move towards Shravan. So does 5561BCE pass the condition? Not really. Did any other of the 38 do any better?
That brings us to end of chapter 7 which claims 5561 BCE as the year of war. Have all the references and EE experiments passed scrutiny? Not so in many cases as pointed out above. I have left out other minor discrepancies.
I am not proposing any alternative year as a candidate. I do not have resources to verify any other year. Shri. Oak has inherited a particular year from Dr. Vartak. I would only say that many of the references examined by Shri Oak in this chapter do not pass muster.
With multiple positional references for Saturn and Jupiter I wonder whether any year will fit better. If Saturn is to meet one position, other two will need to be ignored. Shri. Oak’s choice of a via-media position for Saturn does not satisfy any of the three!
First day of war.
After giving his reasons for claiming 5561 BCE as the year of the Mahabharat war, Shri. Oak goes on in the next chapter to claim 16th Oct as the first day of the war. In essence he has accepted the date proposed by Dr. Vartak in Svayambhu and he claims that all astronomical references prove true for that date. I propose to examine some of the claims. Both Dr. Vartak and Shri. Oak claim the date to correspond to an Amavasya. So I will take it from there.
Shri. Oak had clarified in our e-mail exchanges that the date 16th Oct. is a date by Julian calendar projected backwards from CE 1580 as per standard practice. He further said that Dr. Vartak also meant it to be so. I will take 16th Oct. 5561BCE – Julian and an Amavasya, as Shri. Oak’s claims for ‘first day of war’. I propose to examine Shri. Oak’s findings on various astronomical references as I did for the War Year in the previous chapter.
1. Exp 28, Ref. Nos. 9, 27, 28, 29 and 64
Ref 9 and 27 are identical. व्यावृत्तं लक्ष्म सोमस्य is the wording in both cases. This has been translated by K. M. Ganguli slightly differently for the two shlokas.
(A)The sign of the deer in the Moon hath deviated from its usual position and (B)The spot on the lunar disc hath changed its position.
Both these description are rather obscure in meaning. What can cause the spot on moon’s surface to deviate? These two translations are literal. In any case, the translations do not describe the event as a Lunar Eclipse. Also no tithi is mentioned in the two references. In my opinion these references do not necessarily describe a lunar eclipse, but some persisting change in the appearance of the moon, whatever the cause.
On the other hand, Ref. 28 which quotes Vyasa talking to Dhritarashtra, is far more explicit. Ganguly translates it as –
‘On (even) the fifteenth night of the lighted-fortnight in (the month of) Kartika, the moon, divested of splendor, became invisible, or of the hue of fire, the firmament being of the hue of the lotus.’ I don’t see where-from the word lotus comes. Fire and lotus are not really समवर्ण ‘ the word used in the ref. for the sky, meaning ‘of the same colour as moon’. Moon is called अग्निवर्ण. So both moon and sky were reddish, moon had lost its प्रभा and was अलक्ष्य or invisible. This seems to say that on Kartik Purnima a total lunar eclipse had occurred. When was Kartik purnima? 1st Oct.? Or 30th Sept? Shri. Oak says he found a ‘doubtful’ eclipse on 30th Sept. not a Total one as Vyasa describes.
There is another problem here. From 30th Sept the first day of war proposed, 16th Oct., is 16 days away! Was 16th Oct. then an Amavasya? 16 days after Purnima? Vyasa has not made any comment on this unusually long Paksha. On the contrary! More about this later.
Ref 29 talks about the Lunar Eclipse on the next Purnima, on 30th Oct. Shri. Oak has validated this with his software. So we can accept it. However Shri. Oak himself has pointed out that the eclipse in question occurred during the day and was barely visible at kurukshetra for only a short time, in the final stages, after sunset.
My question is – If war began on 16th Oct., how can Vyasa, on the previous day, in his talk with Dhritarashtra, talk about the Lunar Eclipse of 30st Oct. as if the event had already occurred?
Shri. Oak has simply ignored this glaring discrepancy. An interpretation can be made from Vyasa referring to the second lunar eclipse in past tense, that the war may have actually started not on 16th Oct. but some day after 30th Oct. If the first day is to be claimed as an Amavasya, then it would be next amavasya, 30 days later!
Shri. Oak mentions that Ref. 64 points to lunar eclipse on 30th Oct (or Margashirsha Purnima). He has given no translation of the reference. 30th October was 14th day from start of war or 15th day of war when Drona died. The reference is from Karnaparva near end of the battle between Arjuna and Karna on 17th day. One translation I could get is as follows.
‘Beholding king Yudhishthira the just, arrived there like the resplendent full Moon freed from the jaws of Rahu and risen in the firmament, all creatures became filled with delight.’ This is just an UPAMA in my view. Mahabharat is full of such upamas. It does not follow that there was a lunar eclipse on that day.
References 34, 35 and 36, Exp. 30 to 34. –
The references are related to Solar Eclipse on 16th Oct., the first day of war. Translations of the references by Ganguli are as below.
Translation of Ref 34 – The Sun, when he rose, seemed to be divided in twain. Besides, that luminary, as it appeared in the firmament, seemed to blaze forth in flames.
Translation of Ref 35 – And as (both) the armies stood at dawn of day waiting for sunrise, a wind began to blow with drops of water (falling), and although there were no clouds, the roll of thunder was heard. And dry winds began to blow all around, bearing a shower of pointed pebbles along the ground. And as thick dust arose, covering the world with darkness. And large meteors began to fall east-wards, O bull of Bharata’s race, and striking against the rising Sun, broke in fragments with loud noise. When the troops stood arrayed, O bull of Bharata’s race, the Sun rose divested of splendor, and the Earth trembled with a loud sound, and cracked in many places, O chief of the Bharatas, with loud noise.
Translation of Ref 36 – And the Sun himself was shrouded by the dust raised by the combatants.
From the translations it is clear that Ref. 34 alone can be considered as talking about a solar eclipse in that it describes Sun as seeming to blaze in flames. Ref. 35 and 36 talk about dust raised by the combatants causing darkness, hardly a description of solar eclipse. Ref. 35 talks about events at Sunrise. The only words here, somewhat relevant to an eclipse, are ‘Sun rose divested of splendor’. Vyasa has laid more emphasis on heavy dust causing darkness.
Thus in all three references there is no direct mention of a solar eclipse. If there was an eclipse what was preventing Vyasa to be specific and call it a solar eclipse? Why leave it to inferences?
The Experiment no. 30 talks about a solar eclipse actually occurring on 16th Oct. but the timing is well after noon. Was it a total eclipse? Shri. Oak is not sure. What was the duration? Normally Solar Eclipses, partials or even totals don’t run into several hours. It is therefore most unlikely that in the morning there was any effect on the Sun. Fanciful events mentioned in Ref 35, all at sunrise, before the skirmishes began, cannot be attributed to the eclipse, if any, which occurred only around noon.
The description of Ref. 34, ‘Sun seemed to blaze forth in flames’ seems to suggest the flares which are seen when a ‘Total Eclipse’ occurs. Well, there was obviously no total eclipse at sunrise.
The only reference, which somewhat points at a possible solar eclipse, is what Karna said to Krishna, viz. Rahu approaching Sun. That can only refer to the immediately following Amavasya within 7 days after the dialogue. Shri. Oak found only a partial eclipse on 16th Oct, that too in the afternoon.
In conclusion I would say that there was no solar eclipse on the first day of war,
Ref 38 Exp.35
Translation of the reference by Ganguli is as follows.
And Sini’s grandson and that bull of Kuru’s race looked resplendent like the sun and the moon when together in the firmament after the last lunation of the dark fortnight has passed away.
On any Shukla Pratipada at the time of sunset, the Sun and a small crescent of Moon are seen close together. The reference simply compares Satyaki and Abhimanyu on same Ratha to Sun and Moon Crescent setting close together on the western horizon. (सोमसूर्यौ गतौ नभस्तले). Wherefrom does Shri. Oak conclude that it refers to the Amavasya three days back? The words गतौ नभस्तले refer to Sun and Moon (सोमसूर्यौ) and by no means to past Amavasya.
It is an instance of Shri. Oak’s motivated, freewheeling translation with no cognizance of grammar rules!
Exp 36, Ref – Various. Shri. Oak claims that the description of war for first 11 days is consistent with amavasya being the first day. I find nothing serious to contradict the claim. The skirmishes go on whole day and extend a little beyond sunset occasionally. Bhishma was keeping some control on the conduct of war so after sunset the skirmishes ended. Amavasya as first day is, maybe, OK. Some few doubts persist though.
The 7th day and 8th day descriptions of war at the end of the day, mention ‘pitch darkness’.
7th Day – ‘thy troops and the Pandavas, ceased to fight when darkness came.’
8th Day – ‘Kurus and the Pandavas withdrew their armies, when that awful night of pitchy darkness came.
As these are days of Shukla Paksha, on progressive days, moon would be higher up and larger at the sunset and time for ‘pitch darkness’ to set in would be some hours after sunset. There is an inconsistency here.
Ref. 48 Exp. 37.
Ganguly translates the reference as …
(Drona says to Ashvatthama describing his unease at the impending final skirmish between Arjun and Bhishma pointing out bad omens …)
‘Large meteors seem to fall from the center of the solar disc. The constellation called Parigha, with a trunkless form, appears around the Sun. The solar and the lunar discs have become awful, foreboding great danger to Kshatriyas about the mangling of their bodies. The idols of the Kuru king in his temples tremble and laugh and dance and weep. The illustrious Moon riseth with his horns downward.’
This translation matches the reference in respect of the moon rising with ends pointing downwards.
Actually the day had by no means even half finished. It was most probably still some time before noon, because here onwards, there occurred many skirmishes, repeated attacks on Bhishma and vigorous and desperate efforts by all Kaurava warriors to push the Pandava warrior back and protect Bhishma. When much later Bhishma fell down, it was a little before sunset.
How Drona is talking of moon? This was 10th day of war, so it was a Shukla Navami. Moon would become visible, just over eastern horizon, only quite some time after noon, being more than 90 degrees behind Sun. Further, being Navami, the moon would be slightly more than half and cannot have pointed ends! It wont be a crescent! I am not sure whether one can see a crescent moon with pointed end downwards at any time. In Shuklapaksha, upto say 4th day, it would be a crescent, but it would set a little after Sunset, and the lower side of moon being towards sun would be lighted and upper side dark, i. e. pointed ends will be upwards! In Krishnapaksh on the other hand, 12th day onwards it will be a crescent but will rise in the east, sometime before sunrise and again, lower side being towards Sun will be bright, so pointed ends will be upwards! So Shri. Oak should produce a photo of a Shukla Navami moon with POINTED ENDS, pointing DOWNWARDS, taken before noon.
Here is a photo of moon on Shukla Navami of Shravan, at 6-30 PM (On Aug. 24, 2015 in San Ramon CA), showing moon, at some height above Eastern horizon. It could have been seen rising on Eastern horizon only at about 3 PM, not before noon as Drona said to Ashvatthama. It is more than half, not a crescent and has no pointed ends.
Under Exp. 38, Shri. Oak has listed a large number of references where many warriors killed or lying on the ground are compared to moon. All these are mere Upamas and nothing else. Vyasa or Sanjaya had no need to see full or nearly full moon in the sky in the night following these events for using the Upamas. Moon is routinely used as a ‘Upamana’ by Sanskrit poets and they don’t need to have moon in the sky in front of them for that. These references prove or disprove nothing regarding the tithi of the day or year and deserve no verification or further consideration.
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. How? It was not a full moon night, Dvadashi only. But Bhagadatta is compared to full moon!
This again is nothing but an Upama. For using it Vyasa does not require to see a full moon in Krittika on that day or night. Even assuming full moon of that month would be in Krittika, it was three nights away. One cannot read anything more in it. Corroboration? Neither yes, nor no. Not a relevant issue.
Ref. 57- compares Raja Paandya’s fallen head with full moon in Vishakha. This is 16th day of the war. Translation of reference is as follows – ‘That head also, graced with a face bright as the full Moon, having a prominent nose and a pair of large eyes, red as copper with rage, adorned with earrings, falling on the ground, looked resplendent like the Moon himself between two bright constellations. Shri. Oak finds moon on that night to be at Punarvasu, nowhere near Krittika or Vishakha. Finding moon between the four stars of Punarvasu, Shri. Oak makes a nice attempt to call these as two branches (Vi-shakhas! unfortunately, word used is not ‘dvi-shakhas’!) of Punarvasu. It is ingenious but not correct and proves or disproves nothing. Once again it is nothing but just an Upama. Shri. Oak accepts that it is only an Upama here. Suits him!
Ref. No. 58 Translation —
The sons of Draupadi, desirous of battle, stood by the side of the son of Prushata. They were clad in excellent coats of mail, and armed with excellent weapons, and all of them were endowed with the prowess of tigers. Possessed of effulgent bodies, they followed their maternal uncle like the stars appearing with the Moon.
Once again, this is just an Upama. Nothing more should be read in it.
Ref. 59. Translation — Each of those heroes, standing by the side of Yudhishthira’s car, looked resplendent like the constellation Punarvasu by the side of the moon.
Again I treat it as just an Upama and don’t read anything more in it.
I have dealt with the various references in this chapter covered by Shri. Oak. All are strictly not astronomical like those from Karna-Krishna dialogue or from Vyasa-Dhritarashtra dialogue. Most of them are just Upamas. Some match some don’t. Makes no difference really. Situation will be equally inconclusive for some other year.
Did the war start on Jyeshth Amavasya? Shri. Oak himself suggests that, maybe, it started on next Amavasya to give sufficient time for war preparations or war rituals! If that is so, then all moon positions in these various references will change!
Considering only those references verified by Mr. Oak in these two chapters,I would say that there are many problems with both the year viz. 5561 BCE and the Date viz. 16th October (Julian). Mr. Oak’s claim that the verifications done by him corroborate the year and date cannot be accepted.
There are many other problems with matters covered in subsequent chapters. Instead of commenting on each chapter I will write about the individual issues.
The text of Mahabharata is very clear and unambiguous about the timing and duration of the event. Also it has the merit of being natural.
1. Krishna left Upaplavya for his visit only after end of Sharad Rutu. There was no reason to do so much before the end of monsoon. No one was going to start the war until the climate was suitable. It was not as though Pandavas had encircled Hastinapur and war was imminent.
2. The text clearly describes daily events. Krishna spent two days in travel, rested at Vidura’s place and attended at Kuru Darbar on third day. All the protracted arguments ending with Krishna provoking the Kuru elders to overrule Duryodhan, the attempt by Duryodhan to capture Krishna himself in retaliation but wisely giving it up and ultimately, Krishna realizing that nothing can be achieved by further talks and finally telling the Darbar that he will go back and report to Pandavas, happened on the third day. Krishna went to Vidura’s place talked to Kunti on the same evening and left Hastinapur same day or at the most, next morning.
3. When returning he invited Karna on his ratha and had a dialogue with him when he told Karna that he was Kunti’s son and should leave Duryodhan’s side and come over to Pandavas’ side. Karna refused and then Krishna told him to report to Kauravas that we should meet at Kurukshetra in a week’s time and commence the battle as the ground conditions and climate are now suitable for it.
There is no scope or justification to conclude that the event occurred before end of monsoon or that war itself actually began before monsoon. Simply because the proposed war date, viz. 16th Oct, falls well before Autumnal Equinox, Mr. Oak has ignored or twisted the text, and given all unacceptable explanations. The hostilities simply could not have commenced before end of monsoon. A large number of noted Maharathis, right from Bhishma, Drona, Krupa, Shalya, Bhagadatta, Drupad, Virat, down to Kauravas’ and Pandavas’ sons, were involved and they all would have laughed at the idea! If battle began before ground was dry, not only Karna’s but everyone’s Ratha would have stuck in mud! One cannot wish away realities to suit astronomical references.
14th Day of the War.
There is a puzzle associated with the events on the 14th day of the war. On all earlier days, fighting used to end with sunset or some time after sunset. On 14th day, Arjuna killed Jayadratha late in the evening but before sunset. Kouravas were frustrated that in spite of all efforts throughout the day, they could not stop Arjuna from fulfilling his vow. Maybe out of this frustration, the fighting continued after sunset and carried on almost throughout the night. The night is described in the text as completely dark. When both sides were totally exhausted and could not even see with whom one was fighting, Arjuna suggested that fighting should cease for some time and all should take a little rest on the battlefield and resume fighting after the moon comes out. Suggestion was accepted by all. Then the text describes that moonrise occurred and after all freshened up, fighting resumed. After a little time, first Arunodaya and then sunrise occurred and fighting continued with full vigor. It carried on till late in the afternoon till Drona was killed.
Krishna had suggested to Karna that both sides should meet at Kurukshetra and battle should begin from Amavasya after 8 days. It is presumed generally that the war began on an Amavasya. Mr. Oak has made the same assumption or claim. A big question arises that on 14th day, there should be strong moonlight right after sunset, for almost the whole night! This totally contradicts with the description in the text.
The subject really is not central to deciding the year or date of war. If other references and descriptions do not contradict a proposed date, this particular puzzle could be left unsolved. Mr. Oak wants to leave no issue unresolved! He has explained the total darkness throughout the night as ‘due to dust flying in the air’. According to him there was moon in the sky all the night but dust stopped the light. After fighting stopped temporarily at Arjuna’s suggestion, the dust settled down and moon could be seen again. (ऊदिते पुनः). This is an imaginative explanation but does not hold water. No amount of dust can cause the total darkness described in the text. Also, the description of moonrise in the text is very unambiguous. It says that the moon was of a crescent shape, and arose on the Eastern horizon. On the other hand, on 13th or 14th tithi of ShuklaPaksha, the moon would be nearly full and would set near the morning on the western horizon. The two remain irreconcilable. Mr. Oak has ignored the contradiction.
He should have left this issue unresolved.
This is one more subject which Mr. Oak could have left unresolved.
On Krishna returning from Hastinapur when he failed to persuade Duryodhana, Balaram came to Upaplavya, Pandavas’ camp. War was now unavoidable. Balaram said that he did not want to witness it and went for a tirthyatra around Sarasvati. This was about a week before commencement of battle. On 18th day, when as a last clash, Bheem and Duryodhan were about to start their Gada-Yuddha, Balaram arrived. He umpired the clash between his two students of Gada-Yuddha. He mentioned that his Yatra was of 42 days. He also said that he had started on Pushya nakshatra and was arriving on Shravan nakshatra. These two statements match, but he had started about a week before war started and this was the 18th day of fighting. These two add up to only 25 days and not 42 days. This is the issue. No one has been able to explain the mismatch.
Once again, whichever year or date is proposed as the war year/date, this mismatch will remain and it is thus not decisive about acceptability of the proposed year/date. It should be left unresolved.
Mr. Oak has tried to explain it, by interpreting ‘श्रवणे’ as ‘on hearing’. The explanation has no basis in the text. If Vyasa wanted to say so, the word used would be श्रुत्वा. Also, the text has no mention of anyone telling Balaram about the outcome of the battle or the impending Gada-Yuddha. Mr. Oak and Dr. Vartak have played with and twisted the words in the text which is an un-acceptable liberty.
Some day, someone will give a viable explanation of the puzzle. We must wait for that.
Bhishma on Death-bed. – How many days?
This is one more, highly controversial, issue brought up by Mr. Oak. It is directly connected with the Year and Date of war and so must be faced. As soon as any year is taken up for examining as a war year, the Julian date of the Winter Solstice gets established. It is an accepted fact that Bhishma ended his life on this day or max., next day. Mr. Oak has shown this date to be 30th January. (5560 BC) It is correct, give or take a day. He has proposed 16th October as the Julian date of the first day of the war. There are 105 +/- 1 or 2 days, between these two dates. If the 10 days for which Bhishma fought in the war are deducted, it follows that Bhishma remained on death-bed for 95 days. This violently contradicts with what Bhishma himself said at the time of ending his life that he spent 58 painful nights (57 days) on his bed of arrows.
If Bhishma’s statement is taken as correct the date proposed by Mr. Oak proves wrong by 36-37 days. That is Mr. Oak’s problem! Mr. Oak, however, claims that 95 days is correct. He has repeatedly said in his book and in subsequent articles in his blog and other places that there are a large number of references in the text which prove 95 days. This, I am afraid, is a misleading claim.
Taking his statement as true, readers may get an impression that many others, at many places in the text, have said that Bhishma spent 95 days on death-bed! Well, it is not so. There is not a single reference in Mahabharata Text, where Vyasa or anyone else has mentioned 95 days!
I examined all the Text references related to this issue in Mr. Oak’s book. All but one relate to what Pandavas did from the last day of the war, till the time they, along with Krishna visited Bhishma on his bed of arrows for the first time. Ignoring very minor discrepancies, these references establish the time line and the days gone till then, which amount to 40 days +/- 1 or 2 days. (These include the 8 days of war after Bhishma fell.) The only one, specific statement mentioning the days on death-bed, is what Krishna said to Bhishma on this day.
Krishna on this day said to Bhishma that he had a balance life of 56 days on bed of arrows. The wording in the text is open to two interpretations. 1) 56 days from that day onwards or 2) 56 days from the day Bhishma fell on the bed of arrows. With the latter meaning there is no discrepancy between what Krishna said and what, in the end, Bhishma himself said. Mr. Oak relies on first interpretation and adds 56 days to 40+ days already spent and comes to a figure of 95 + days.
This is not justified on following grounds.
1. Vyasa has recorded what Bhishma said before ending his life. It is like a dying declaration, considered reliable. There is no reason for Bhishma to make a totally wrong statement.
2. Neither Vyasa, nor anyone present when Bhishma died, nor anyone else thereafter, has ever contradicted Bhishma.
3. Commencement of war had to occur, logically and for natural reasons, only after end of rains, after Autumnal Equinox, which leaves just sufficient days up to Vernal Equinox for Bhishma to be right. In fact, the Shishtai visit of Krishna itself took place ‘शरदान्ते हिमागमे’. The text clearly says so, howsoever Dr. Vartak or Mr. Oak try to twist it.
4. Soon after this visit, Yudhishthira visited Bhishma every day for about a week to understand Rajadharma from Bhishma. Both Vyasa and Krishna had advised him to do so before Bhishma dies and Vyasa expressed a sense of urgency for it. At the end of these visits, Yudhishthira said to Bhishma that not many days remained for him to spend on the deathbed awaiting Uttarayan. Clearly, 55 days were NOT balance when Pandavas and Krishna made their first visit.
I therefore conclude that Bhisma is right and Mr. Oak is wrong. ______________
Some balance issues.
A lunar eclipse on the Purnima prior to Krishna’s departure from Upaplavya is mentioned by Karna and Vyasa. Vyasa is far more specific describes the moon as अलक्ष्यः, प्रभयाहीनः रक्तवर्णः. This strongly suggests a total eclipse. Any proposed year should have corroboration of this.
Solar eclipse on first day of war is another matter. It is not described in the text. In fact the whole description of first day skirmishes is in broad daylight. Any proposed year need have no Solar Eclipse on first day.
There is no mention of any third eclipse Lunar or Solar in the text.
Vyasa is very emphatic about a very short Krishnapaksha between the lunar eclipse and the next Amavasya. He says that he had heard of 14, 15 or even 16 days for a Paksha but never a 13 day Paksha. The Amavasya had therefore occurred on the 13th day after the Lunar eclipse. This is a unique event and any proposed year must match this. Mr. Oak has given dates for the Purnima and Amavasya which are 16 days apart!
What I expect
Researchers have proposed many different years for the war and will continue to do so.
1. For any year under consideration, the Julian dates of Winter solstice and Autumnal equinox will be automatically set. (I am avoiding Tithi or Lunar month.)
2. Unless the researcher claims, like Mr. Oak, that Bhishma spent different days on death bed than what he said, the date of his fall and thus the date of commencement of the war also get automatically fixed.
3. The Purnima just after the Autumnal Equinox should have a total lunar eclipse.
4. Krishna is said to have left Upaplavya on Revati nakshatra. If moon is in Revati soon after the eclipse, it becomes the date of his start.
5. The Krishnapaksha from the Lunar eclipse to Amavasya must be of only 13 days, 12 days between Purnima and Amavasya dates.
6. Krishna Shishtai and both Kaurava and Pandava armies reaching Kurukshetra will have to fit within that short Paksha.
7. The Amavasya should occur on the Julian Date of war already decided on the basis of the proposed year. A day + or – may be possible.
8. It is for the researcher to examine with his software whether conditions 3 to 7 above are met.
9. He can check planetary positions of Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, etc. and report his findings. 3 different positions of Saturn, 2 of Jupiter, Vakra motion of Mars etc. may not all match for any year.
10. The researcher need not solve the problem of Balaram Tirthyatra or Darkness during 14th night. These will remain for any year proposed.
11. Should the year be within the Epoch of Arundhati? I believe so. It should be at or close to the year when Arundhati was maximum ahead. Mr. Oak’s proposed year meets this requirement.