A reader critiques, Author responds – Part 2

I promised, at the end of my previous blog article in this series, to describe the significance of competition between Dhanishtha & Abhijit.

Readers can access it here


Shri Phadnis writes, after reading ‘Part-1’ of this series, here


“What is your justification to call Dhanishtha as younger syster of Rohini? and also to be called Devi?

Why do you claim that Bhrahma created time ‘after discussing with Skanda? In fact the first three shlokas are what Indra said to Skanda, because the fourth shloka begins with the words ‘एवमुक्ते तु शक्रेण’ .

So Indra says to Skanda that Brahma HAD (Earlier) CREATED time frame starting from Dhanishtha. (तदा कालो ब्रह्मणा परिनिर्मितः -Note past tense).

We have to take what is written as it is written there is no scope for ‘Interpretation’.

I suggest you get the four shlokas translated from someone whom you trust as one having good knowledge of Sanscrit. though I am fairly sure of my translation.”

I will summarize multiple questions of Shri Phadnis below:

(1) What makes me think of Dhanishtha (nakshatra) as ‘younger sister of Rohini’?

(2) Why is she (Dhanishtha) called Devi?

(3) Are multiple interpretations possible? or necessary? And how to decide between multiple interpretations.

(4) What is the correct translation of ‘Fall of Abhijit’ reference verses?

(5) Who said what to whom?

(6) What is the meaning and significance of ‘तदा कालो ब्रह्मणा परिनिर्मितः ‘?

My response…

Answers to question (1) 

Dhanishtha is one of the 27 (or 28) Nakshatras enlisted in ancient Indian texts.  Numerous (and repetitive) canonical stories exists where all 27 (or 28) of them are considered ‘houses of the moon’ or ‘wives of the moon’ and that the Moon was biased towards nakshtra Rohini which made others (remaining 26/27 nakshatra ) to go back to their father (Daksha or Kashyapa), etc.

For example, a random google search produced the following:


This makes Dhanishtha sister of Rohini.

Answer to question (2)

‘Devi’ is feminine honorific.

Answer to question (3)

Shri Phadnis writes…

We have to take what is written as it is written there is no scope for ‘Interpretation’.

I am sure Shri Phadnis realizes that we are having this discussion because each of us (Vartak, Oak, Phadnis, Iyengar or other researchers) are interpreting the same references in various ways.

This is healthy and leads to growth of knowledge.  In fact ‘rational criticism’ and ‘critical discussion’ is our only tools to higher knowledge and wisdom.

In fact, there can be various views on ‘translation’ also and that is a common occurrence too.

Fortunately, in this case, Oak and Phadnis are in agreement on ‘translation‘.

Of course they differ on interpretation and thus, subsequent consequences (timing of this incident, who said what to whom and why, etc.)

Answer to question (4)

I am ok with the translation provided by Shri Phadnis.

I reproduce his translation as we would be referring to it multiple times.

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.’

 I will respond to his questions (5) and (6) in the next part.













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