Purva Paksha – ‘Saturn’ observations of Mahabharata

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26 thoughts on “Purva Paksha – ‘Saturn’ observations of Mahabharata

  1. After all is said and done the facts which remain are – 1. At start of war, Saturn was in end part of Hasta. 2. As it was 3 Nakshatras away from Vishakha and Jupiter (in Shravan) was 6 nakshatras away from Vishakha they cannot be considered as ‘near vishakha’ 3. Saturn was in Bhaga (U. phalguni) two years prior to war and had moved to end part of hasta at start of war, it cannot be cannot be described as ‘attacking’ Bhaga. 4. Saturn at Hasta was 9 nakshatras away from Rohini so it cannot be considered as afflicting Rohini. It is clear that Saturn at Hasta does not meet any of the three descriptions in the text. It is clear that at any Nakshatra it cannot meet all three conditions. It does not mean that an Unsatisfactory ‘via-media’ Position should be accepted as a ‘solution’

    • It might help to ponder on the following factual and historical narrative of cosmology

      (1) Was Ptolemy’s model an acceptable solution for predicting positions of planets?

      (2) Irrespective of the answer to (1) (yes/no)….What made it survive in the Europe for some 1400+ years?

      (3) Was Copernicus model a better solution than Ptolemy?

      (4) Irrespective of the answer to (3) (Yes/no), what made it NOT survive for long in Europe?

      (5) Was Kepler model a better solution than Copernicus?

      (6) Irrespective of the answer to (5) (yes/no)….what made it NOT survive as the best in Europe for long?

      (7) Was Newton’s model a better solution than Kepler?

      (8) Irrespective of the answer to (7) (yes/no) Why was this seen as the better and usable model, in spite of its severe weaknesses?

      (9) Was Einstein model a better solution than Newton?

      (10) Irrespetive of the answer to (9) (yes/no), why Newton’s model is still employed for all practical purposes?

      I did NOT understand what Shri Phadnis means by ‘VIA MEDIA”.

      In any case, what Shri Phadnis appears to be saying is that he considers no scenario as acceptable for 3 descriptions of Saturn. Well, that remains his opinion. He has also provided his reasons. And fortunately, he has not quoted any authority. Many readers/laypeople tend to quote authorities of some professors, great astronomers, Gurus, etc.

      So far so good.

      One aspect Shri Phadnis struggles (IMHO) is to recognize that journey of science is not about finding ultimate well established facts which no longer will be challenged. Rather the journey of science is all about a desire to move closer to the truth, knowing well that one may never reach the truth, and even if one reaches it, one will never know and never know for sure.

      “Iti Lekhan-seema” 🙂

    • When Mahabharata text is stating about the position (and shining and retrograde motions) of Jupiter and Saturn for up to (or more than a year’s time), what is the point of sticking to exact positions of Jupiter or Saturn for the first day of war, especially Jupiter and Saturn, since they won’t move much anyways over a short period of time.

      Reg. ‘Near Vishakha issue’, consider for example

      30 May 5562 BCE (about 1 year and 4 months before the Mahabharata war)

      RA for Saturn 4 hr 37 min
      RA for U Phalguni (Denebola) 4 hr 15 min

      RA for VISHAKHA 8 hr 42 min

      RA for Jupiter 9 hr 33 min
      RA for Anuradha (Dschubba) 9 hr 23 min

      Thus , on this day delta between Saturn & Vishakha of about 4 hours of RA (3 nakshatra space), and between Jupiter & Vishakha of about 1 hour of RA (1 Nakshatra space)

      Or exactly one year before the war (i.e. on 16 October 5562 BCE)

      RA for Saturn 5 hr 39 min (Saturn between Hasta and U. Phalguni)
      RA for Swati 7 hr 4 min
      RA for Chitra 6 hr 42 min
      RA for Hasta 5 hr 59 min
      RA for U Phalguni (Denebola) 4 hr 15 min

      RA for VISHAKHA 8 hr 42 min

      RA for Jupiter 10 hr 55 min
      RA for Mula 10 hr 29 min
      RA for Jyeshtha 9 hr 47 min
      RA for Anuradha (Dschubba) 9 hr 23 min

      Thus , on this day delta between Saturn & Vishakha of about 3 hours of RA (3 nakshatra space), and between Jupiter & Vishakha of about 2 hours of RA (again, 3 nakshatra space)

  2. RA difference shows the projected distance between Vishakha and Saturn or Vishakha and Jupiter. What is the separation measured along the ecliptic? Why should we accept that separation of 3 Nakshatra spaces can be interpreted as ‘Nearness?’ If this was the absolute minimum possible nearness, then it would be another matter. I hope you are not postulating that both will never be ‘nearer’ than this (3 nakshatras away) to Vishakha. As I remember reading in Swayambhu, Dr. Vartak started with several (recent) years when the two were much closer to Vishakha and started working backwards from those years to find suitable years in the past when the two will be at Vishakha together. 5561 BCE does not pass the test. The reference in Mahabharata clearly says ‘विशाखयोः समीपस्थौ’. If they were close to Vishakha a few months prior to the war, they would continue to remain so for several months. In 5561 BCE, they are never ‘समीपस्थौ’ prior to or after the war. Talk of Ptolemy to Einstein is not really relevant.

    • What is relevant is that there are 3 references to Saturn and anyone claiming a timeline of Mahabharata war must acknowledge them and clearly state if (and how) they are corroborated for their timeline.

      This also applies to all other (planets, comets, eclipses, phases and positions of the moon, descriptions of the seasons, chronological narrations of events and such) astronomy references.

      Then one has to take two or multiple theories and decide which one is a better theory/proposal based on scientific principles (that is where Ptolemy and Einstein are relevant).

      My claim is for a better theory and better proposal. Nothing more. Nothing less.

      • The Real Significance of a Test

        If theory comparison and acceptance are a matter of striking a balance between competing desiderata, we should expect a procedure designed to elicit simultaneously the strengths of the theory on several different counts.

        To pass a well-designed test provides confirmation and evidential support for a theory, but to admit such a test in the first place the theory must be sufficiently informative. Hence to say of a theory that it has passed well-designed tests speaks simultaneously to the two competing criteria of confirmation and information, and the support testing provides is not to be equated with simple confirmation

  3. RA difference shows the projected distance between Vishakha and Saturn or Vishakha and Jupiter. What is the separation measured along the ecliptic? Why should we accept that separation of 3 Nakshatra spaces can be interpreted as ‘Nearness?’ If this was the absolute minimum possible nearness, then it would be another matter. I hope you are not postulating that both will never be ‘nearer’ than this (3 nakshatras away) to Vishakha. As I remember reading in Swayambhu, Dr. Vartak started with several (recent) years when the two were much closer to Vishakha and started working backwards from those years to find suitable years in the past when the two will be at Vishakha together. 5561 BCE does not pass the test. The reference in Mahabharata clearly says ‘विशाखयोः समीपस्थौ’. If they were close to Vishakha a few months prior to the war, they would continue to remain so for several months. In 5561 BCE, they are never ‘समीपस्थौ’ prior to or after the war. Talk of Ptolemy to Einstein is not really relevant.

  4. I have changed my views about ‘Saturn and Jupiter near Vishakha’. Because of Vakri (Retrograde) motion of both in the period prior to war, they can be considered as having stayed in place (संवत्सरस्थायिनौ उभौ). Also, for the same reason the description ‘प्रज्वलित’ would be justified. They were not ‘close to Vishakha’ by start of war but being on either side of Vishakha they could be called near any of the intermediate nakshatras, as compared to those beyond either, why not ‘विशाखयोः समीपस्थौ?’ So on the whole, the observed position can be considered matching the description in the quotation. ( In many other years they could be closer to Vishakha but both may not have gone retrograde prior to that)
    Same however is not the case about 1. Either Saturn or Jupiter afflicting Rohini 2. Saturn afflicting Bhaga 3.Jupiter going Vakra at Shravan. (It crossed the ecliptic much after leaving Shravan behind).

    • Am glad that you agree with corroboration of Jupiter and Saturn, near Vishakha, for 5561 BCE.

      I should mention that, no matter where Jupiter and Saturn are, they could be always seen as going retrograde….near any Nakshatra. This is because both of them go retrograde every year for about 4 plus months, (120 and 140 , days, respectively).

      • You are correct when you say that other years can be found when they can be shown closer and together near Vishakha. The problem with such scenario is to explain other observations of Jupiter and Saturn. See my Parva paksha videos on Jupiter and Saturn , on YouTube.

      • Good to know. Both going retrograde, more or less concurrently and close enough to Vishakha, that too a little before Autumnal Equinox may be rare, I dont know. If all this happens in any specific year, then that will be a ‘Candidate’ year.

  5. No need to bring in timing of ‘autumnal equinox’ (before or after) into the discussion of positions of Jupiter and Saturn (or for that matter other planets and such).

    Autumnal equinox is indeed of huge significance, but in the context of duration of Bhishma, or references of Sharad rutu during the 18 days of the War or in determining/asserting lunar month for the timing of Mahabharata war.

  6. When we are talking about any ‘candidate’ year, and check whether Jupiter and Saturn went vakri prior to war on either side of Vishakha, fairly close, all this should also happen somewhere around Autumnal Equinox. If it happens near summer solstice for example, the year cannot qualify.as war was a little this or that side of Autumnal Equinox. Dont you agree?

    • I do not understand your emphasize for Jupiter/Saturn/Vishakha observation coinciding with the timing of Autumnal equinox.

      The observation is made over a long period of time (they being steady over a period of year, shining brightly, near Vishakha) and thus sun would have traveled through all the cardinal points (equinoxes and solstices) during this time.

      It is fair that one may begin testing them for the 1st day of the war, or even during 18 days of the war. However, since it is clear from the references themselves that the observations were made over an extended period of time (1-2 years),….that is the wide interval one should look for corroboration of these observations.

    • Also, I prefer to call Jupiter/Saturn being ‘Sthayi’ (as employed in MBH text) as referring to their ‘Retrograde’ motion.. and not confuse it with ‘Vakri’. This is because it appears, MBH text tend to reserve the word ‘vakri’ for something else. (Mars going vakri near Magha and also near Jyeshtha/Anuradha and then Jupiter going vakri near Sharvana

  7. MBH uses words वक्र अनुवक्र . In fact the quotations say मघास्वंगारको ‘वक्रः’ (Not वक्री), कृत्वाचांगारको वक्रम्, वक्रानुवक्रं कृत्वा च श्रवणे पावकप्रभः Do you find word ‘वक्री’ anywhere? वक्री is a favorite of Astrologers I believe. Because the word used is वक्र I suggested that. maybe it indicates ‘marked change of direction’ rather than ‘Crossing of Ecliptic’ proposed by you. A change of direction, if sharp enough, may be noticed by a visual observer. How will he notice a planet ‘crossing’ the ecliptic?
    Because of the retrograde motion, the planets Saturn and Jupiter may have appeared as स्थायिनौ – प्रज्वलितौ .I wonder whether स्थायी has been used anywhere else by Vyasa to indicate retrograde motion.
    I am talking about the event’s link with Autumnal Equinox because, after all Vyasa is describing the motion of Saturn-Jupiter, both ending on either side of Vishakha (though not at Vishakha) on the eve of the war in present tense, not far from AE,(After AE according to me and before AE according to you).

  8. I suggest you produce a graph (or video) of movement of Mars and Jupiter on the backdrop of Nakshatras but with horizon as a horizontal line. A visual observer will see the planets and nakshatras in the sky in that manner. It would be interesting to see whether saturn-Jupiter show a noticeable change in the direction of motion at Magha and Shravan respectively. They do not show crossing of ecliptic anywhere near Magha (in your video for example) and Sharavan. Your tabulated data also does not show crossing of ecliptic at Magha/Shravan.

    • Shri Phadnis writes….

      “I suggest you produce a graph (or video) of movement of Mars and Jupiter on the backdrop of Nakshatras but with horizon as a horizontal line. A visual observer will see the planets and nakshatras in the sky in that manner. It would be interesting to see whether saturn-Jupiter show a noticeable change in the direction of motion at Magha and Shravan respectively. They do not show crossing of ecliptic anywhere near Magha (in your video for example) and Sharavan. Your tabulated data also does not show crossing of ecliptic at Magha/Shravan.”


      For year 5561 BCE (+/-1 year), Mars or Jupiter do NOT show any change of direction of motion (as envisioned by you) near Magha or Jyestha/Anuradha or Shravan.

      However, I want to be careful so that we don’t get into tautological error.

      Just because these planets don’t do what you are envisioning, in 5561 BCE, does not mean that, they may not do such thing. The point I am making is that what you are suggesting may have merit, but someone who strongly believes in your proposal (either yourself or someone else who also passionately believes in the merit of your suggestion) need to carry out this arduous task.

      I do not see your suggestion solving the problems of ‘Vakra’. But, I could be wrong.

      Regarding your comment….

      “They do not show crossing of ecliptic anywhere near Magha (in your video for example) and Sharavan. Your tabulated data also does not show crossing of ecliptic at Magha/Shravan.”

      This is not correct. Mars does show crossing ecliptic near Magha and also again near Jyeshta/Anuradha, and Jupiter near Shravan, during 5561 BCE.

      My video does show this to be the case. You are interpreting it differently, possibly too precisely and without the context. What I would encourage you is to observe the similarity of Mars position(s) at Magha and at Anuradha. One also must take into account the differences in speeds of Mars and Jupiter as they cross the ecliptic. This variation in the speed, does have significant variation on how they appear visually crossing the ecliptic. One should not forget the context of these being ‘visual observations’, either.

      And lastly, all of this is to be compared with another effort (of Who? is a big question!…since almost all (if not all) past and present Mahabharata researchers have ignored these astronomy references), if one truly wants to determine a better proposal.

      In the absence of two proposals to compare, the demand for one’s subjective definition for crossing of ecliptic is neither useful nor meaningful. What I mean by that is while my proposal may not be the ultimate solution, it can only be superseded by another better proposal. We are lacking this alternate and/or better proposal at this time.

  9. Could you tell me if all astronomy references from bhishma Parva have ‘present tense?

    (For example, you may look at all the astronomy references of Saturn, Jupiter and Mars I have enumerated in my 3 ‘Purva paksha’ you tube videos).

  10. I am afraid, your video DOES NOT show Mars CROSSING the Ecliptic anywhere near Magha. It crossed the ecliptic near Rohini, 6 Nakshatras behind Magha or more than 6 months earlier! Same is the case with Jupiter and Shravan. Your table tell the same story. How you call it a subjective comment? It is factual and clearly objective. (मघासु अंगारको वक्रः is much less true than मृगे, आर्द्रायाम्, etc.).
    If any other candidaye year is proposed, I reserve the right to check this reference for that year and then the question of comparison with position in your year will arise and one may be ‘less objectionable’ than the other (unless of course any other year is found to match the reference fully!)
    I made the alternative suggestion of ‘change of direction’ based on literal meaning of वक्र. Going वक्र through a large angle of nearly 180 degrees could also define वक्र as retrograde. If Mars, Jupiter do not change direction at Magha/Shravan, my suggestion can be happily dumped. Unfortunately your novel suggestion of ‘crossing of ecliptic’ is also not bourne out by your video. So ‘what is वक्र, if or when not retrograde’, remains an open question.
    Others may have conveniently bypassed or ignored वक्र. You have made an effort to find a meaning. I would have been very happy if it was found true. I made another guess. Again not found correct. We are in the same (leaking) boat. But we tried to cross the river!

  11. OK. Uttarapaksha however is supposed to be made by someone else, not by the person who made the Purvapaksha! It is like the prosecuting attorney and the defense attorney making their last presentations to the Judge. Also an umpire, like the Judge, is required for listening to the Purva/Uttara paksha and giving a ruling or at least, declaring the issue open for further arguments. So dont do the Uttarapaksha yourself!

    • In that case you missed the entire point.

      I was referring to me doing ‘Purva-paksha’ of Saturn and Jupiter and Mars observations in the context of interpretations of previous Mahabharata researchers (via Youtube video).

      Thus, my uttarpaksha video will consist of my theory, proposal and explanation.

      Of course, others are (such as yourself) always open (as you are or have done) to critique my explanation.

      You coming up with alternate explanation that is better than mine, would be your ‘Uttarpaksha’.

      Of course it is fair to say that

      (1) I have already put forward my theory/proposal etc. in my book

      (2) You have provided your comments (e.g. You donot agree with my explanation of Mars vakra near Magha, Jyeshtha/Anuradha and Jupiter vakra near Shravana).

      Purva paksha is truly understanding someone’s argument from that very person’s point of view.

      (Thus my videos can be seen as Purva paksha but also criticism of work of previous researchers)

      And Uttar paksha includes showing why such an argument is not feasible and then showing the correct solution from one’s (per one doing Uttar paksha) point of view.

      • The process can be described as

        (1) Purva paksha – (seeing and arguing the case from the point of view of the one who originally proposed it)
        (2) Khandan – Showing why these arguments (in support) are faulty
        (3) Uttara Paksha – Presenting alternate and original point of view and to show that why this is better/superior explanation, point of view, etc. along with the support.

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