A reader critiques, Author responds – Part 3

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

A reader critiques, Author responds – Part 1

“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.”

Summary of questions raised by Shri Phadnis is 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 ‘?

I responded to questions 1 through 4 in the previous part of this series, here

https://nileshoak.wordpress.com/2016/03/27/a-reader-critiques-author-responds-part-2/

I will respond to questions (5) and (6) in this part.

Question (5) 

‘Who’ said ‘What’ to ‘Whom’?

Shri Phadnis writes..

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).

My response…

Theses verses are indeed confusing, specifically, when it comes to determining who said what to whom.

To understand and maneuver through such narration, reader may find it useful to understand styles of narration employed by Mahabharata author.

(1) Sage Markendeya narrating to Yudhishthir (while Panadava brothers were in exile)

Sage Markendeya narrated to Yudhishthir, numerous topics.  He refers to numerous dialogues between two parties, and tell them to Yudhishthir as third person narrating them.

(2) At times, sage Marakendeya (as written by Mahabharata author) let original characters of his story say what they want to say, as first person accounts (narration).

This is all common in ancient Indian narratives and Mahabharata is not an exception. Of course, precisely for this reason, one needs to be careful in ‘interpreting’ who said what to whom.  This is never easy.  Luckily, in this case, context of the narration allows us to decipher ‘who said what to whom’.

Let’s follow the narration of Vana Parva, chapter 230:

(First the original in Sanskrit from Mahabharata text) Vana 230:1-11

Fall of Abhjit -part 1

Fall of Abhjit -part 2

Vana 230:1-5

Markenday Uvacha:

Sage Markendeya continued his narration to Yudhishthir, where he refers to Skandha becoming commander general of Devas and Skandha was approached by six Krittikas with the request that they (six Krittikas) wanted Skandha to treat them as his mothers.

At this point, the narration switches to first person account (by Skandha)

Vana 230:6

Skandha Uvacha:

Skandha told them (Six Krittikas) that he indeed considers them his mothers and he as their son and further requested if they had any other wishes.

At this point, the narration switches back to third person account (Markendaya continues to Yudhishthir)

Vana 230:7-11

Markendaya Uvacha:

This part of narration includes our critical verses of ‘Fall of Abhijit’ and thus we will take each verse at a time.  All are narrated by Markendeya to Yudhishthir

Vana 230:7

Markendaya told Yudhshthir…

“After this (after this conversation between Skandha and six Krittikas), Skandha noticed that Shakra was eager to say something and thus asked Shakra, “Tell me, what do you want to say.” upon which Shakra said the following…”

Vana 230:8

Markendeya to Yudhishthir….

(Shakra is saying this to Skandha)

“Daughter like (younger) sister of Rohini, i. e. DEVI, contesting with Abhijit for seniority has gone to water heated by hot season.” ”

Vana 230:9

Markendeya to Yudhishthir….

(Shakra is saying this to Skandha)

“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)” ”

Vana 230:10

Markendaya to Yudhishthir…

“Bhrahma had then created time beginning from Dhanishtha. Earlier, beginning from Rohini also happened. This is the available information.”

Vana 230:11

Markendaya to Yudhishthir…

“On Shakra (Indra) saying this, Krittikas came to heaven (आगताः) The nakshatra having Agni as devata and of chariot shape shines.”

It is at this point, specifically Vana 230:10 and 11, where disagreement of ‘who said what to whom’ begins.

While Shri Phadnis claims that Vana 230:8-10 are statements of Shakra, I assert that only Vana 230:8-9 are statements of Shakra and Vana 230:10-11 are statements of Markendeya.

In support of his claim, Shri Phadnis, justifiably, quotes the beginning of Vana 230:11,

‘एवमुक्ते तु शक्रेण’  (after Shakra said this….)

Without objecting to this quote (‘एवमुक्ते तु शक्रेण’ ) at the beginning of Vana 230:11, I assert that it is possible to show that statement of Vana 230:10 is that of sage Markendaya and not that of Shakra!

And to show why this is so, let’s go to the last and final question of Shri Phadnis,

And now my response to question # 6

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

Shri Phadnis writes..

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

I agree with ‘past tense’ emphasis of Shri Phadnis, as shown by ‘परिनिर्मित’ (created), however, I want to highlight another critical word ‘तदा’:

तदा = Then, At that time.

Notice that Shri Phadnis has interpreted ‘तदा’ as ‘earlier‘ and NOT as ‘THEN‘ or ‘AT THAT TIME’.

On the other hand, during the translation of it (above), he translates the word ‘तदा’, correctly, as ‘THEN’.

This verse (Vana 230:10) does have a reference to ‘Earlier‘ (पूर्वम्) and also referring to ‘past tense; (अभवत्), but then these references are specifically referring to time of nakshatra Rohini in first place and NOT that of nakshtra Dhanistha in first place.

Two separate interpretations below may clarify differences between my interpretation and that of Shri Phadnis.

My interpretation (Vana 230:8-11)

(Shakra to Skandha)

Daughter like (younger) sister of Rohini, i. e. DEVI, contesting with Abhijit for seniority has gone to  the point of summer solstice (water heated by hot season).

‘Here I  (I=Shakra) am confused, bless you (you= Skandha), (also) Nakshatra has fallen (or moved) from sky. Skanda, please think of this time (event) along with Brahma (discuss with him)’

(Markendeya to Yudhishthir)

‘Bhrahma had then created time beginning from Dhanishtha. Earlier, beginning from Rohini also happened. This is the available information.’

As soon as Shakra said this (referring to Vana 120:8-9), Krittka went to the third heaven.

In summary, key point I want to make is that all the instances mentioned in Vana 230:8-11 occurred at the same time

Devi going to the point of summer solstice (in competing with Abhijit) – 14602 BCE

Nakshatra falling  (moving) from the sky – 14602 BCE

Brahma creating time beginning from Dhanistha – 14602 BCE

Krittika going to the third heaven – 14963 BCE

And that Devi= Dhanishtha and falling Nakshatra is Abhijit.

Interpretation of Shri Phadnis, goes something like this (he may correct me if he thinks I have misrepresented him)

Shri Phadnis interpretation (Vana 230:8-11)

(Shakra to Skandha)

Daughter like (younger) sister of Rohini, i. e. DEVI, contesting with Abhijit for seniority has gone to  the point of summer solstice (water heated by hot season).

‘Here I  (I=Shakra) am confused, bless you (you= Skandha), (also) Nakshatra has fallen (or moved) from sky. Skanda, please think of this time (event) along with Brahma (discuss with him)’

‘Bhrahma had earlier created time beginning from Dhanishtha. Earlier, beginning from Rohini also happened. This is the available information.’

(Markendeya to Yudhishthir)

As soon as Shakra said this (referring to Vana 120:8-9), Krittka went to the third heaven.

In summary, per Shri Phadnis, the instances mentioned in Vana 230:8-11 occurred at various times...

Per Shri Phadnis interpretation, Devi = Anuradha

Devi going to the point of summer solstice (in competing with Abhijit) – ~9000 BCE

Nakshatra falling  (moving) from the sky – ~7000-6000 BCE

Brahma creating time beginning from Dhanistha – ~14500 BCE

Krittika going to the third heaven – ~9000 BCE

This interpretation of Shri Phadnis creates more problem than it solves.

His interpretation of ‘तदा’ as ‘earlier‘ is different from his translation where he translated ‘तदा’ as ‘then’.

Thus, if he considers Vana 230:10 as words of Shakra (and not of sage Markendaya), then…

(1) what is meant by ‘तदा’ (Brahma creating time ‘THEN’ or ‘AT THAT TIME’ remains unanswered.

(2) Mention of Dhanishta becoming #1 is  without any context and superfluous (for his interpretation)

This is because…

What is the point of Shakra referring to Skandha of an event of ~ 14500 BCE that has, per Phadnis interpretation, nothing to do with his other interpretations for this reference…

(1) Fall of Abhijit (~ 7000-6000 BCE)
(2) Anuradha becoming First Nakshatra ( ~9000 BCE)
(3) Krittika at winter solstice (~9000 BCE)

And problem(s) do not end here.  A long list begins..

(1)   Anuradha is not mentioned (even indirectly)
(2)   No direct or indirect mention of first nakshatra designation shifting from summer solstice to winter solstice.
(3)  Fall of abhijit in 6000-7000 BCE interpretation has its own problems (I will elaborate on this some other time, using very definition of Meridian position of Shri Phadnis.)
(4)   Shakra talking of events of ~9000 BCE through 6000 BCE in first two verses (vana 230:8-9),and then suddenly jumping to instance of 14500 BCE (Vana 230:10) does not makes sense.
(5)   What is the relevance of mentioning of Dhanistha at summer solstice (in 14500 BCE) when Anuradha (per Phadnis interpretation) is at summer solstice in ~9000 BCE.
(6)   Each nakshtra would attain this status of first Nakshatra, about every 1000 years. So what is the rationale for bringing up subject of Dhanistha being #1 (in 14500 BCE), if that has nothing to do with some other dramatic event (e.g. Falling of Abhijit, per Oak interpretation of ~ 14500 BCE)? …especially if it (Dhanistha) has no context whatsoever for remaining 3 verses (230:8-9 and 11).
(7)   While presumed connection between next action of Skandha to talk to Brahma is alluded to in Vana 230:9 and that is why Markandeya refers to action of Brahma in the very next verse (vana 230:10), Shri Phadnis denies it.

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