“Do the right thing. It will gratify some people and astonish the rest.”
– Mark Twain
Shri Prabhakar Phadnis wrote, in response to my blog post, here….
“Your problem Shri. Oak is that you insist on being right!”
I admit that being introspective and being critical of oneself is not easy at all, and thus I will leave it to the readers to decide for themselves.
I insist on being meticulous simply because it is the right thing to do and the scientific attitude demands it. I remain meticulous in my criticism because again rational discussion demands it.
Of course whether someone can be meticulous or not in critiquing someone’s work depends on the quality of the work that is being critiqued. I find it easy to critique works of Dr. P V Vartak because they are of a high quality and thus enable criticism. This can also be said to be true, for most part, of write ups/critique by Shri. Phadnis. Seen objectively, this is the highest praise one may offer, i.e. by providing rational criticism of that individual’s works or viewpoints.
On the other hand, I find it extremely hard to provide rational criticism of the works of many researchers, specifically in the area of ancient Indian history, because many of their works are written with ‘polemic’ or ‘apologist’ mindset, and if there is any semblance of evidence, usually the choice is made in a selective or arbitrary manner, in order to propel the argument being proposed, while, deliberately, ignoring all other evidence that would have decisively falsified the very argument.
In spite of this stark reality, I remain careful to acknowledge my sincere appreciation of their desire and efforts and not doubting their intentions while at the same time pointing out the irrationality of their methods and problematic nature of the outcomes of their works.
I have few quotes in my study and one below by Shri Johannes Kepler is my favorite and I think it describes my insistence well.
“I have always adhered to the habit of praising what in my opinion others have done well, of rejecting what they have done badly. Never do I scorn or conceal other people’s knowledge when I lack my own. Never do I feel servile to others or forget myself when I have done something better or discovered it sooner with my own power.”
– Johannes Kepler
But then talk is cheap.
The other day, I responded to Shri Phadnis when he thought that “my problem was that I insist on being right”.
I reproduce it below.
Regarding your other charge… “Your problem Shri. Oak is that you insist on being right”
If true, I would consider my behavior extremely reprehensible.
What specific act of mine made you state such a thing?
I have admitted my errors, mistakes and much more on numerous occasions. I have made many mistakes in the past, and will make many more in future.
Specifically, based on our interaction, I can point out few…
My claim for corroboration of Mars, Venus, Mercury together on the last day of the war. I had claimed based on they being seen on the western horizon.
You pointed the error in translation (west vs. east) and I wrote a note stating it and its implications.
I had claimed evidence for each of the 6 days (again my claim based on other Mahahbharata evidence for Bhishma-Yudhi samvad length of 6 days).
You pointed out that while you are not necessarily objecting to my claim of duration of 6 days, I can not truly claim specific evidence for each of the 6 days. This was based on specifics of Nakul asking question to Bhishma on one of these days.
This meant I could not claim specific evidence for all 6 days but only 5. I admitted to it and wrote a blog note about it (October 6, 2015), here..
‘Fall of Abhijit’ – I had interpreted it to mean ‘Abhijit’ went to the vana (in my book). Based on extensive discussions with you and very much as a result of that discussion, I realized that the Devi’ identification is better suited with that of nakshatra Dhanishtha (rather than Abhijit).
I tested my ‘Fall of Abhijit’ based on this modified assumptions and posted my outcome on my blog via multiple blog articles. I acknowledged your contribution. I have done objective comparison of interpretations of 3 researchers – Oak, Vartak and Phadnis.
This can be seen in ‘updated table 2’ in the following blog article…
In fact, when I revise my book and mention my improved contribution (with Devi= Dhanishtha), I still plan on retaining my original, albeit inferior (Devi = Abhijit) interpretation.
Because I see the value for readers in seeing how I went from one interpretation to another. This is all consistent with the method of scientific growth and growth of knowledge. There is nothing to be ashamed of in being wrong. In fact I insist on preserving such efforts (at least mine) for the benefit of future researchers.
And I truly look forward to the day when another researcher will propose a day/year for the timing of either Mahabharata or Ramayana, that would make it a better proposal than 5561 BCE.
Where comes the question of me insisting on being right!