Chronology of Mahabharata – Conversation with Dr. Koenraad Elst


Shri Raj Vedam wrote, after watching the above debate….

Just finished watching the entire video. Nilesh ji, congratulations on the very expert handling of all the objections. I am delighted at the skepticism shown by the esteemed Dr. Koenraad Elst, bringing the familiar set of “old-school” arguments based on PGW by B.B. Lal, local Dwarka flooding by S.R. Rao, the Chariot-burial data-point, and so many other pieces of true, but inconsequential (to the topic) data that cannot logically be connected with the dating of the epics. Skepticism is good because it tests how strong your hypothesis and thesis is. Nilesh ji, I am absolutely delighted at your strong, logical answers that completely invalidate the counter-arguments, showing the strength of your thesis. Also, very glad that Dr. Koenraad Elst’s skepticism gave an opportunity to address such data points. If I was not familiar with Dr. Koenraad Elst’s earlier works (much of which I greatly admire for his strong opinions), I would think that he has bought the arguments of the discredited John Bentley – which I dearly hope he has not – and in his recent writings (on Rajiv Malhotra’s Yahoo mailing list) and discussion here, knowingly or unknowingly, is leading up to such conclusions. For the benefit of readers, John Bentley was a foremost exponent of the Young Earth idea of the Anglican church and worked furiously to invalidate the ancient astronomical observations contained in Indian texts as “modern forgeries”, a position strongly refuted by Colebrooke and a select few Western Indologists of the period. Bentley’s work was gleefully picked up by missionaries to invalidate Hindu narratives. And combined with the potent Max Muller linguistic dating of Indian texts, formed a powerful tool of colonial disinformation. (so important that Cambridge University Press re-publishes this faulty work to the current date!). Dr. Koenraad Elst must state what he thinks of the many consistent astronomical observations contained in various Indian texts. Are they “modern forgeries” as stated by Bentley, or are they valid observations which can be scientifically verified to certain periods of time? When debating any one person’s work, it will be good to separate out the facts from opinions that cannot stand scrutiny (or we have no means to evaluate). In this respect, Dr. P.V.Vartak (a lightning rod for much criticism based on some of his claims), has done much to isolate astronomical phenomena and events from Indian texts, that can be dated to a full cycle of Precession. How should we approach this? Ignore the evidence presented, or dismiss out of hand? At the very least, people who dismiss astronomical observations as a valid means of reconstructing a story of the past, should state the grounds on which they reject such data. As I state after all my talks, (a) Is there a criticism of the data? (b) Is there a criticism of the methods applied on such data? (c) is there a criticism of the conclusions drawn after applying said methods on the said data? The opinions of the esteemed researchers who negate such data/methods/conclusions can then be evaluated accordingly on the merits of their arguments. I thank Srijan Foundation and Pragyata for making this conversation possible, and publishing this video.


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