My book “Myth of The Epoch of Arundhati of Nilesh Nilkanth Oak” is published in Kindle


For long I didn’t take seriously the book on Mahabharata dating by Nilesh Nilkanth Oak, precisely because I thought no one would take him seriously, particularly his proposition that Arundhati, the icon of pativratātva, transgressed her limits and went ahead of her husband Vasishtha in their celestially representative stardom in the constellation of Big Dipper. But times are such that not many know the value system epitomized by Arundhati and the various other concepts ingrained in our scriptures. It appears that not many don’t even know that we do keep following a scientific calendar system that is computed right from the beginning of Kali Yuga that started 5120 years ago. Thirty five years before that Mahabharata war had happened.

In an atmosphere of absence of knowledge of even the basic features of our culture, I find the youth of today getting excited over the thought of long past for Vedic India and modern software being put into use to establish the past. But they should not be fed with faulty understanding of texts and concepts and mindless use of simulation for establishing the meaning of even scriptural concepts. Motivated by this factor I ventured into exposing the numerous errors and mistakes in Nilesh Oak’s understanding of Mahabharata and his notion of the NON-EXISTENT Epoch of Arundhati.

This venture taken with the aim of transference from Tamas to Jyoti, seeks to achieve three-in-one over all – (1) busting the myth of Epoch of Arundhati, (2) establishing the traditional date of Mahabharata corroborated in a scientific and logical way and (3) establishing the fact that Skanda was the initiator of the first ever Vedic Homa heralding the Vedic culture thereby making irrelevant both the AIT and Tamil separatism.

Of these the busting of the Epoch of Arundhati achieves twin objectives of demolishing both Mahabharata and Ramayana dates of Nilesh Oak. Oak has made this ‘Epoch’ fundamental to his ‘research’ saying that the ‘Epoch’ forms the limits of the dates of these two Epics. According to him this ‘Epoch’ had run for more than 6000 years, from 11091 BCE to 4508 BCE. He has placed the date of Mahabharata war within this period, in 5561 BCE and Ramayana before this period. He claims that Ramayana did not take place any time after 10,000 BCE and Mahabharata did not take place anytime after 4,500 BCE.

By demolishing the very concept of the “Epoch” which I have done in this book, both the dates of Nilesh Oak stands demolished. This is a must-read book for everyone, for I have shown why Oak is wrong for placing Mahabharata in this Epoch and thereby pulling the start of Kaliyuga also to 2000 years before the established date.

This book titled “Myth of The Epoch of Arundhati of Nilesh Nilkanth Oak” can be read here:

https://www.amazon.in/dp/B07YVFNQLD/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_U_x_unuNDbFWYGMVS%20via%20@amazonIN (India)

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07YVFNQLD/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_U_x_DnuNDbBRDTFVM%20via%20@amazon (US)

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07YVFNQLD/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_U_x_MnuNDbKKE32J0%20via%20@AmazonUK (UK)

The cover illustration and the date of Kali Yuga (Gregorian) by deriving the correct ayanamsa and by aligning the Year, month, tithi, star and week day are also given below. Following that, the complete list of contents of this book is furnished.

Book Cover

Kali Yuga Start date

 

Contents

Introduction

  • The knotty issue of Arundhati observation
  1. No test of elimination of other descriptions of Arundhati
  2. Nimitta (Omen) nature of Arundhati observation
  3. Not testing traditional Nimitta concepts.
  4. Personal bias coming in the way of research
  5. Non-acceptance of astrology amounts to rejection of Vedanga.
  • Astronomy simulator, the only methodology of research
  • Circumpolarity of Arundhati-Vasishtha
  • Voyager- Simulation Nyaya
  • Analogies as astronomy positions
  • Analogy Nyaya
  • Manipulations and lack of fundamental knowledge
  • Plan of the critique
  1. Symbolism of Arundhati
  • Arundhati – an icon of third Purushartha.
  1. Marriage vow of firmness in the name of Arundhati
  2. The established position of Arundhati as follower of Vasishtha.
  • Meaning of the word Arundhati
  1. Earliest reference to unwavering Arundhati.
  2. Arundhati in marriage mantra.
  • Vyasa’s nuanced reference to Arundhati
  • Did Kunti wish her sons to tow behind Draupadi?
  • History of Arundhati within the history of Mahabharata.

Purva Paksha

  1. Nilesh Nilkanth Oak’s Theory of Arundhati Epoch
  • His assumptions.
  • His theory.
  • Astronomy Basics.
  • Mahabharata astronomy.
  • Methodology
  • Rejects traditional Kaliyuga date
  • The Epoch of Arundhati
  • On Omens.
  • Mystery of Arundhati explained.
  • Causes for Arundhati walking ahead of Vasishtha.

Uttara Paksha

  1. Evaluation of Assumptions of Nilesh Oak.
  • Mis-interpretation of the term ‘assumption’
  1. Accuracy of simulations.
  2. Faulty ideas of Nakshatra system of time reckoning.
  3. Reliability of the Mahabharata text.
  • Contradictory theses.
  • Purpose of astronomy references.
  1. Flawed views on Mahabharata Astronomy.
  • Mahabharata calendar.
  • Funny concept of “Insertion” of Adhika Masa.

(1)  Why Adhika masa is calculated?

  • Oak clueless on year- beginning in Mahabharata times.
  • Astronomy observations not always visual.
  • Fundamental concept of Muhurta not understood.
  • Oak’s revolutionary discovery of the meaning of ‘Vakri’ motion

(1)  What is Vakri motion?

  • Faulty notion about Seasons.
  • Vyasa had knowledge of newly discovered outer-most planets?
  • Traditional view on the Sun’s journey in 8 directions in a solar day.
  • Nilesh Oak sees Pluto in Tivro nakshatra.
  1. Faulty concept of equinoxes and solstices.
  • Seasons never changed over millennia.
  • Understanding Precession of Equinoxes.
  • The Pendulum movement of the equinox.
  • Evidence of Precession concept of Surya Siddhanta in other texts.
  • Time factor deduced from Surya Siddhanta concept of equinoxes.
  • Deducing the equinoctial position during Mahabharata.
  1. Methodology: Flaws in application of Popper’s Falsification.
  • Nilesh Oak’s research justifies Kuhn’s criticism of Popper’s methodology that result is what one wants to see.
  • A-V observation is not a Basic Sentence in Popper’s criterion.
  • A-V observation is a subjective observation and not inter-subjective observation mandated by the theory of falsifiability.
  • Inappropriateness of Popper’s falsifiability as a methodology for proving A-V observation.
  • Criticism of adhocism leading to manipulation.
  • Falsification does not apply to astrological concepts.
  • The Mother of Ironies.
  1. Methodology: Faulty concept of Pramāna.
  • Is A-V observation a valid Shabda Pramāna?
  • Nilesh Nilkanth Oak Sutra of Pramānas.
  • A model jingled with jargons.
  • Pramāna is source of Knowledge.
  • Did Arundhati walk ahead of Vasishtha? – Mimamsa explanation
  • Did Arundhati walk ahead of Vasishtha? – Pramāna based interpretation.
  • Vyasa reports deviation in the Pole star too.
  1. Nilesh Oak’s Faulty Understanding of Prishṭha.
  • Meaning of “prishṭha” (पृष्ठ) in the A-V observation not established.
  1. Nimitta is non-falsifiable.
  • Nilesh Oak’s Nimitta concepts.
  1. The A-V observation is not a unique nimitta and it is just one among many.
  2. Nimitta is a non-regular, non-ordinary phenomenon, but scientifically explainable.
  3. Nimitta is a sign and must not be confused with ‘Bad omens’.
  • Evaluation of Nilesh Oak’s Nimitta concepts.
  1. Nilesh Nilkanth Oak is consistently inconsistent in his explanation for nimitta.
  2. Nilesh Oak has no respect for traditions and the “Indic minds” that stick to tradition.
  3. If omens are testable, why didn’t he test other omens?
  4. Why A-V observation was not at all mentioned by others as a nimitta if it was around for more than 6000 years?
  5. Can Nilesh Oak show any other omen that ran for 6000 years as A-V did?
  • What is a nimitta?
  • Mahabharata, peak time of Nimitta knowledge.
  • Nimitta is a concept of Astrology.
  • Non-regular appearance of Arundhati to be treated as nimitta – says Mahabharata.
  1. Nilesh Oak’s Kaliyuga-Dilemma.
  • The Vyasa factor.
  • Does Mahabharata give inconsistent views on Yugas?
  • Evidence for Yudhishthira Shaka.
  • Concept of Shaka is old.
  • Janamejaya’s grant refers to Yudhishthira Shaka
  • The Aryabhata-headache of Nilesh Oak.
  • Aryabhata on Yuga, Bharata and Kali Yuga
  • Kali Yuga Date derived from Aryabhatiya.
  • Kali Yuga did start on a Thursday
  • The Sapta Rishi Yuga puzzle.
  • Yudhishthira Shaka in Sapta Rishi cycle.
  • Deducing the beginning of Sapta Rishi Cycle.
  • Nilesh Oak’s faulty understanding of Siddhanta (Indian Astronomy)
  1. The Myth of the Epoch of Arundhati.
  • The strange scientific discoveries of Nilesh Oak.
  1. Did North Pole make peculiar orientation with A-V?
  • Not for 6000 years, but only for 16 hours a day – Arundhati walked in the front!
  • Simulator-Nyaya shows Arundhati lagging behind.
  • Right Ascension, not always a proof for movement ahead.
  1. Right Ascension not a valid test in non-circumpolarity too.
  2. Cassiopeia for comparison.
  3. Setting time decides the final forward position
  • Episodes of Arundhati matching with the A-V stars through the millennia.
  1. Arundhati stayed back when Sapta Rishis went away.
  2. Arundhati was part of a migration of Sapta Rishis.
  3. Arundhati insulted her husband and became smoke coloured.
  • The ‘Peculiar Orientation’ was due to change in ecliptic obliquity.
  • Scientific explanation for A-V verse of Vyasa.
  • Brief note on Atmospheric refraction.
  • Two nimittas on changed refractive index
  • Nimittas that suggest asteroid-hit.
  • Planetary nimittas in support of asteroid-hit:
  1. Saturn afflicting Prajapati’s star-planet
  2. Planet Mars wheeling backwards to Anuradha
  3. The star Chitra is afflicted by Gara.
  4. The sign on Moon’s disc had changed
  5. Rahu moved towards the Sun.
  • Planetary nimittas seen by Vyasa at the time of asteroid-hit.
  1. Shyama graha in Jyeshtha.
  2. Vyasa’s Pole star nimitta.
  3. Parusha planet pointing at middle of Citra and Swati.
  4. Two coppery red- topped planets at the time of rise of Saptarishi Mandala
  5. Arundhati had kept her husband at her Prishṭha
  • Vyasa’s nimittas in support of reversal of atmospheric density.
  1. At sun-rise flights of insects, by hundreds seen.
  2. At both twilights, the cardinal quarters seemed ablaze
  3. There was shower of blood and ash
  4. Frequent earthquakes and tectonic disturbances.
  5. Tsunamis reported
  6. The tectonic movement has caused the river to change direction.
  7. Release of rare gases from the surface fissures.
  8. Strange coloured halos around the Sun.
  9. Two 13-day phases (Paksha) of the Moon.
  10. Temporary phenomenon of Arundhati ‘walking ahead’ of Vasishtha.
  1. Date of Mahabharata from Internal Evidences.
  • The 5-year Yuga of Mahabharata times deciphered.
  1. The year of Mahabharata war in 5-year Yuga cycle.
  2. Accounting the extra six days in exile.
  • Reconstructing the start and end date of Pandava’s exile.
  1. Deciphering the month of the end of exile.
  • Ritu-calculation of Mahabharata Calendar.
  • Date of Krishna leaving Upaplavya on peace mission.
  • Proof against Varsha season proposed by Nilesh Oak for Krishna’s peace mission.
  • Sequence of Mahabharata events after the exile.
  1. Lunar Ashadha month: (Sun in Cancer)
  2. Lunar Shravana month: (Sun in Leo)
  3. Lunar Bhadrapada month: (Sun in Virgo)
  4. Lunar Ashvayuja month: (Sun in Libra)
  5. Lunar Kartika month: (Sun in Scorpio)
  6. Lunar Margashirsha month: (Sun in Scorpio / Sagittarius)
  • A brief on Balarama’s pilgrimage
  1. Lunar Margashirsha month Continued:
  2. Lunar Pushya Month (Sun in Sagittarius)
  • Lunar eclipse after the war began
  • Did Bhishma fail to judge the arrival of Uttarayana?
  • Nilesh Oak’s views on Bhishma Nirvana.
  • Three verses on Bhishma’s waiting period.
  1. Krishna assigned “remaining 56 days” for Bhishma.
  2. Yudhishthira found very ‘few days remaining’ for Bhishma.
  3. Bhishma declared that he waited for ‘58 nights’
  • Month- Tithi-Nakshatra alignment for 58 days.
  1. Points of synchronisation:
  2. Points of non-synchronisation.
  • Counting Tithi-star-month from lunar Kartika month.
  1. Krishna’s 56 days
  2. Bhishma’s 58 days
  • Sequencing the days since Bhishma started imparting knowledge to Pandavas.
  1. Day 1 of conversation with Bhishma.
  2. Day 2 of conversation with Bhishma (Bodhayana Amawasya?)
  3. Day 3 of conversation with Bhishma.
  4. Day 4 of conversation with Bhishma.
  • Did Bhishma live for 50 more nights after the conversation?
  • Sequencing the dates from end of conversation to Bhishma Nirvana.
  • Defects in Nilesh Oak’s Bhishma Nirvana research
  • Mahabharata Time-line.
  • Corroborating left-out planetary features given by Vyasa.
  • Of Sequence (Anukrama) and scientific acumen of Nilesh Oak.
  1. The ‘Fall’ of Abhijit and the Rise of Vedic culture.
  • Nilesh Oak’s explanation in his book.
  • Problems with Nilesh Oak’s theory of Fall of Abhijit.
  • Contextual analysis of the Fall of Abhijit.
  • Birth of Vishakha
  • Abhijit, wives of six rishis and marriage of Svaha with Agni.
  • Catastrophe from the sky.
  • Decoding Markandeya’s narration.
  • Marriage of Svaha with Agni conducted by Skanda signals the start of Vedic Homa
  • Vedic Homa: Initiated by Skanda and carried over by Vivasvan and Manu
  • Date of Skanda from Tamil literature
  • Skanda’s location at Tiruchendur.
  • Fall of Abhijit noticed from Tiruchendur
  • Fall of Abhijit impossible for latitudes above 15 degree N until 9000 BCE
  • Early evidence of rice in Tiruchendur supports genesis of Vedic Homa around that region.
  • Abhijit was the younger sister of Rohini.
  • Dhanishtha and Rohini were foremost
  • Abhijit Muhurtha.
  • Ramayana references on Abhijit
  • 10,800 BCE witnessed ‘Fall’ of Abhijit and a comet-hit too.
  1. Krittika in, Rohini away, Abhijit out and Vishakha split!
  2. Krittika seemed to have fulfilled some important requirements.
  3. Krittika offered new identity for the spouses of six of the sapta rishis.
  4. Krittika ruled high in the Heavens when Abhijit ‘fell’ behind the forests.
  5. Krittika’s inclusion to match with the shower of fire from comet-hit.
  • 10,800 BCE Comet-hit impacted India too.

Appendix I:  List of Manipulations done by Nilesh Oak to ‘corroborate’ his date of Mahabharata.

Appendix II: Mathematical calculation of relative rise and set time of stars with particular reference to Alcor (Arundhati) and Mizar (Vasishtha) in the period of Nilesh Oak’s ‘Epoch of Arundhati’ done by Harish Saranathan, PhD (Aerospace, Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering)

Vedic view of Uttarayana (winter solstice), equinox (Vishu) and ‘fall’ of star Abhijit (Vega)- a critique of Dr Raj Vedam’s article.


The most vexatious and the least understood idea of ‘precession’ of equinoxes had a re-run of the same kind in an article (reproduced below)## that I recently read. Behind the attractive title of when Makar Sankaranti was first celebrated, the reader is offered  three synchronies, (1) coincidence of Uttarayana (winter solstice) with Makar Sankaranti, (2) Makar Sankaranti coinciding with Til harvest and (3) the current date of Makar Sankaranti coinciding with the date of Uttarayana during the period of Nilaknatha Somayaji in 1500s.

With due respects to the author of these synchronies, let me state that none of these do matter in understanding Uttarayana or Makar Sankaranti and the article offers no justification to the question in the title, “When did we first celebrate Makar Sankaranti?”Without attempting to answer this question which is historical in nature, attempts of the author to find its synchronies using modern software could only confound mis-information. The answers do not lie in the astronomy software but in understanding the domain knowledge of what our ancient rishis watched in the sky and for what they used that knowledge.

To give a sample idea of what this domain knowledge was like, a verse in Brihad Samhita says (Ch 3- 4) that if the sun commences its northward movement (Uttarayana) before reaching Makara (Capricorn) it would bring evil on the west and south. Similarly if it turns towards south (Dakshinayana) before it reaches Kataka (Cancer), it would cause harm to east and north. What this conveys is that it was well within the knowledge of the rishis that the movement (ayana) is not constant and cannot synchronise with Makara or Kataka at all times. It must have taken not just a few hundred but thousands of years of observation of the movement of the Ayanas (of the sun) and the terrestrial events related to the movement.

Today Uttarayana starts before the sun reaches Makara – the same condition mentioned in Brihad samhita. Interestingly no text speaks about Uttarayana after it slipped south of Makara that is in Dhanus (Sagittarius) which had happened more than 1500 years ago. The last time we hear about the conjunction of Makar Sankaranti and Uttarayana is from Varahamihira. After that the next reference – plenty of them are there – comes in the inscriptions of1000 years before present. Interestingly they refer to “Uttarayana Sankaranti” and the dates concur with Makara Sankaranti only and not the actual date of Uttarayana (sun turning towards north after it reaches the southernmost point). Thatmeans Uttarayana to the south of Makara was never recognised for rituals and instead it was combined with Makara Sankaranti – on the date the sun enters Makara.

It is here the problem of non-synchronous synchrony between the two has been taken up by modern researchers who think that we are wrong in having “Uttarayana Sankaranti”. They insist that Uttarayana must be recognised at the current location of northward movement and adjust the dates of the festivals accordingly.

But the fact is that Uttarayana or Vishu (Equinox) does not determine the festivals or rituals of the Vedic society. Only the sun and moon as Panchānga factors are reckoned for fixing the dates of festivals. Today vernal equinox starts at 6 degrees of Pisces and modern reformers want us to start Aries at that point. This is nothing but lack of domain knowledge of Vedic astronomy – for, the month of Chaitra (Aries)  is determined by the full moon happening in Chitra star, but it does not happen so when the sign of Aries starts with the Sun in 6th degree of Pisces. Vedic astronomy synchronises stars, sun and the moon for identifying “time” for any ritual. In the very beginning of Rig Jyothisha, it is said that knowledge of all these is to know the effect of Time. This part –that is, effect-related- to- celestial entities – is what makes Vedic astronomy different from modern astronomy.

Another pet theory of modernists is that seasons will change with precession, whereas ground reality is that the rainy season of Ramayana had not changed even now. The reason is that sidereal position of the sun is always kept intact whatever the precession may be. The purpose of Vedic astronomy being identification of Time for rituals, constant course correction is being done with stars as reference points. Due to this reason, rainy season always starts in Ashada month and summer always peaks when the sun passes through Krittika.

Fall of Abhijit (Vega in the constellation of Lyra).

While on the topic of Krittika, a major mis-conception must be exposed on the so-called‘fall’ of the star Abhijit. The article under discussion refers to Abhijit as a pole star and a fallen star quoting secondary sources. If only the primary source was analysed, the author would have known that the ‘fall’ of Abhijit is not actually a fall in the literary sense of the term but removal from the zodiac – in which case, the vacancy was filled by Krittika!

This means that the star Krittika (Pleiades) was not at all considered as part of the 27 stars of the zodiac at one time. From the events described in Vana Parva of Mahabharata (ch 227 to 229), it is known that Rohini was in the lead (equinox) once when Vishaka was a full star and not divided between two signs as it is now between Libra and Scorpio. At that time a huge fire (called Adbhuda) had ravaged the lands and some re-design or re-organisation of the zodiac was done as a result. Since events were connected with the transit of sun, the fire at Rohini was a mismatch. So Krittika, a star group very much close-by (for naked eye observation) was included with its deity identified as Agni.

Around the same time, it was noticed that Abhijit which was reckoned at a place where Makara begins today (90 degrees to the left of Rohini – with Rohini as the point of Vishu or equinox) had slipped southward. That being the point of Uttarayana, and with Uttarayana no longer happening in Abhijit, it was thought fit to revamp the zodiac with Abhijit expunged from the star-group and substituted by Krittika in between Bharani and Rohini. In naked eye observation they are seen to be cramped within a short span of space – giving credence to the story that Krittika was added afterwards. That was the time Skanda alias Muruga was around according to the version in Mahabharata.  He was very valorous and so was deified with a mythological spin of six women, who happened to be the wives of six of the seven rishis of the Sapta rishi Mandala (Ursa Major).

Here also an interesting astronomical truth is encapsulated in Mahabharata. They ancient rishis had identified a companion for each of the seven stars of the Sapta rishi mandala but had found that six of them had changed position with only Arundhati retaining the same location with reference to the star identified as her husband, Vashishta. To give a mythological tinge to the deification of Skanda, the rishis had framed a story that the six wives have turned into the six Krittika women who nursed Skanda. All these events – the Adbhuda fire, regress of sun to the south of Abhijit, replacement of Abhijit with Krittika and change in the position of six companion stars – had been noticed during the same period leading to a re-vamp of the zodiac.

Skanda was repeatedly referred to as having taken up the face of the goat in the narration in Mahabharata – a reference to Mesha becoming the first sign of the zodiac. In this set- up the maximum precession or progression had happened within 27 degrees on either side of the zero degree Aries which we celebrate as New Year or Vishu. This Vishu regressed upto 24 degrees as of today, but it doesn’t matter, it is going to swing back in forward motion soon – that is the Vedic wisdom we gather from the ancient texts.

To quote a source, Vayu Purana speaks about a ‘veethi’ (street) concept (Ch 50- 130). It tells about a northern street called Naga veethi and a southern street called Ajaveethi. It says

when the sun rises in the constellations Mula, Purvashada and Uttrashada it is called Ajaveethi. When the sun rises during the rise of the three stars after Abhijit, it is called Nagaveethi.”

After Abhijit, comes Shravana, Dhanishta and Satabhishak. The verse is a clear indication of northern movement (Uttarayana ) of sun limited to the extent of Mula only. The three stars from Mula occurring south of Makara, it was given the name, Southern street (where Uttarayana happens as it is happening today). After crossing Makara – where Abhijit was once located, the northern movement of the ayana could go only upto Satabhishak after which the movement would be reversed. This part of the movement was known as Northern street.

This is something unthinkable for the modern researchers who are pushing the ayana and equinox relentlessly around the zodiac. In reality the axial precession to the extent of less than 3 degrees (between 22.1 to 24.5 degrees as per current research) can have the effect of a rocking chair or a Tanjore doll, yes, the famous swaying doll of Tanjore!

pic 1

The Tanjore doll (above) can sway back and forth but would never topple. A society that sees everything from a cosmic and spiritual perspective can be expected to have devised a play thing in a concept which is very easy to understand. If we go with the modern researchers in accepting a complete revolution of the equinoxes around the zodiac, then it means the earth would have to roll or topple down.

The simple proof of how precession works is in the latitudinal angle of tropic of cancer and Capricorn. It will always be the same as the degree of tilt of the axis. Presently the axial tilt is 23.44 degrees. That is the maximum limit of both the tropics. The sun reaches only upto the extent of 23.44 degrees in the north and in the south of equator. With the tilt changing from 22.1 to 24.5 degrees, that is the range within which the two ayanas can travel. This view is expressed in terms Veethi concept with sidereal reference in Vayu Purana.

The maximum extent that the sun can travel on both sides of the equator can be upto Mula 3 degrees in the south and Satabhishak in the north. Accordingly tropic of Sagittarius will mark the northern turn of the sun from southern hemisphere (Uttarayana).  It will be tropic of Gemini in the northern hemisphere marking the southward turn in Dakshinayana. Beyond these two limits the sun can never be seen in the backdrop of the stars of other signs. This oscillation is comparable to the swaying motion of the Tanjore doll.

pic 2

But why the researchers had thought that equinox and ayanas would do a full round? Perhaps they are inspired by the lunar orbit with reference to earth’s orbit in which case, the point of intersection of the two keeps moving around the zodiac (known as nodes or Rahu and Ketu). That is for an observer on the earth. But earth’s relationship with the sun is not the same. The earth is orbiting the sun – and is not at the centre of the orbit. To put it in simpler terms, in the case of moon orbiting the earth, the moon’s orbit intersects the earth’s orbit. The gradual movement of the point of intersection is noticeable from the earth which makes a full round in 18.5 years.

This is not the same with reference to the sun that is being orbited by the earth. Suppose we are in the location of the sun, and watch the earth move around us, in the same way we watch the moon move around the earth, we can observe the orbit of the earth (ecliptic) cutting the path of the sun at gradually moving different points. But we are circling the sun like how moon is circling the earth. Our observation is not like how we see the moon from the earth. But it is like how a being on moon will be seeing the earth while moon is making circles around the earth. With less than 3 degree variation in the wobble of the tilted earth, the sun will be seen moving across the sky, with the far away stars in the back drop, within a limited span of space. The following diagram shows how it would look.

pic 3

(For illustrative purpose only, not true to angles)

The above picture shows the maximum shift of the spring equinox caused by the maximum oscillation of the axial tilt of the earth. The shift is between Pisces and Aries only. Beyond this the equinox cannot move. In the past it went upto Rohini, a star in Taurus in the current design of the zodiac. The ‘fall of Abhijit’ and the substitution of Krittika to complete the zodiac had caused the equinoctial shift to move upto Krittika, that has taken the original span of the star Rohini (each star span is 13 degrees and 20 minutes where 60 minutes make one degree)

In the opposite of the ecliptic, the way the autumnal equinox shifts between Libra and Virgo with the median at zero degree Libra is shown in the diagram below. For those in the southern hemisphere, the equinox will be seen to move within 27 degrees on either side of zero degree of Libra.

pic 4

In these two diagrams, two extreme positions of the wobble are shown as two earths. The location of the sun in the back drop of stars perceived as Equinox, cannot go beyond a certain limit – here shown as 27 degrees on either side of beginning point of Aries and of Libra – which is as per Vedic Thought. While the poles make a full circle, the equinoctial movement is much restricted. The pole- inscribed circle might solve the mystery of Sapta rishi’s stay for 100 years in each star of the zodiac, but for the present topic the revelation is such that Uttarayana (Dakshinayana too) is an oscillating phenomenon and cannot be synchronised with Makar Sankaranti. Nor can it be stretched across the zodiac with claims that months and seasons will change with that movement.

Before ending, let me respond to the three synchronies mentioned in the article under critique.

(1) Coincidence of Uttarayana with Makar Sankaranti:

This can happen only when Uttarayana is crossing zero degree Capricorn or the 270thdegree of the zodiac that starts with Aries at zero degrees. Whenever Uttarayana started before the sun reached Makara, Vedic society had not recognised it as the starting point. It had always maintained Makara Sankramana (entry) as Uttarayana. When Uttarayana had occurred after the sun reached Makara, then only Uttarayana was recognised, whatever be its position. That is what we are seeing in Rig Jyothisha. One should remember that Makara Sankaranti was conspicuously absent in those times. That is because Makara Sankaranti was happening in Dakshinayana at those times. With importance given to the 270th degree (which is 90 degree to the left of Equinox in fixed zodiac) when Abhijit was seen not to be the star of Uttarayana, a re-design of the zodiac was done, after expunging Abhijit from the zodiac. Detailed explanation will be given in another article.

(2) Makar Sankaranti coinciding with Til harvest:

There is no proof for this whereas the available inscriptional evidence shows that harvest was over in Aippasi- Karthigai and in Panguni- Chitthirai. There is evidence of payment of “Karthigau Kaasu” at the end of rainy season and “Chitthirai Kaasu” after the end of winter crops. Read my earlier article on how Pongal was a recent development and not a replacement for Makar Sankaranti in Tamil lands.

(3) The current date of Makar Sankaranti coinciding with the date of Uttarayana during the period of Nilaknatha Somayaji in 1500s:

The author had written,

“The final synchrony we examine is to ask the question, when did Makar Sankranti last coincide with Jan 13th/14th? By direct simulation on planetarium software, we find this date to be around 1500s CE. This period is startlingly, the exact period of the famous Kerala astronomer, Nilakantha Somayaji (1444-1544), author of Tantrasangrama, who would have been aware of the length of the tropical year and the effect of Precession from works of Aryabhata, Bhaskara II as well as Surya Siddhanta, and might have computed the date accordingly. This date was probably left untouched since.”

The author first tries to match the Gregorian date of present day Makar Sankaranti with the date of Uttarayana when it last coincided with the same Gregorian date. This is nothing but absurd as Gregorian calendar does not track the star path as Vedic astronomy (it is astrology only but modernists refuse to use that term). As explained earlier, Uttarayana and Makar Sankaranti are not the same and our sages did not bother to synchronise them. The synchronisation is done like a play by modernists with the help of astronomy software.

Next the author says that Uttarayana was kept track of until then (Nilakantha’s time) but not corrected thereafter. I wish he along with all those modern chronologists of his ilk understand the fact that Uttaryana and every other time keeping was done with reference to the stars in the backdrop of the sun and not in a fixed position in the zodiac when the earth comes to the same point in its orbit around the sun. Therefore it is irrational to synchronise the current date of Makar Sankaranti with Uttarayana in the past.

In fact the Gregorian calendar came into use after the time of Nilakantha. It is on record of Madras Journal of Literature and Science (1833-34) that Makar Sankaranti occurredon 11th January in sync with the equinoctial position in fixed zodiac on 11th April in the year 1834. (This is the Tamil New Year or Vishu). Around the time the Gregorian calendar was introduced, the sidereal New Year (zero degree Aries) started on 11th April and Makar Sankaranti on 11th January. The years before that would see the backward movement of the calendar date with reference to Vishu and Makar Sankaranti. 100 years from now Vishu will occur on 15th / 16th April and Makar Sankaranti on 15th / 16thJanuary. It makes no sense to synchronise Gregorian date with sidereal date.

Finally let me attempt to answer the question raised by the author in the title “When did we first celebrate Makar sankaranti?” That goes to the time before the ‘fall’ of Abhijit – a time when Skanda, a hero of Tamil texts lived. Until then Uttarayana and Makar Sankaranti had coincided. Once they started noticing the ‘fall’ of Abhijit and Uttarayana happening after 270th degree of the zodiac, they had thought of making corrections. It was then a massive fire had occurred when the equinox was in Rohini. This was unacceptable as Rohini was thought to be ruled by creator Brahma. Therefore Krittika was introduced in the place of Rohini and Rohini’s span was pushed forward. By how many degrees this could have happened would be discussed in another article.

By excluding Abhijit from the zodiac (but retained in polar circle), the rishis had revealed their mind – that the sun going south of Makara is inauspicious but they can wait for its return to Naga Veethi. The same could not be told for Abhijit which they wanted to keep high in reverence and hence kept it in the celestial sphere of Devas (polar sphere is thought to be so). In fact Abhijit is closer to northern latitudes than the zodiacal path. It is not lying in the path of the zodiac.

Abhijit in its avatar as a pole star is also an amazing proof of observational astronomy of our ancient rishis – originally known as “Nakshatra Darshana” – based on stars. It would do well to the retention of ancient wisdom of Vedic rishis, if modern astronomy software based researchers stop spreading their mis-construed ideas as truth to gullible yet eager readers.

Related article: Zodiac is like a Balance with Chithira Vishu on top of the central beam

                           ******************* END********************

## From

https://swarajyamag.com/science/when-did-we-first-celebrate-makar-sankranti

When Did We First Celebrate Makar Sankranti?

by Raj Vedam

 – Jan 13, 2017, 3:20 pm

The widespread celebration of the Makar Sankranti festival and its many regional variations hint at great antiquity. In this article, we will take a journey through time, weaving together history, astronomy, calendars, seasons, agriculture and common customs, to find connections and understand the antiquity of the festival, and as an outcome, we will examine three different synchronisms for Makar Sankranti.

We first discuss points of astronomical significance, to appreciate the antiquity of the festival.

1. As the Earth rotates on its 23.5 degree tilted axis from west to east, it would appear that celestial bodies that rise in the eastern horizon set in the western horizon, except for the stars closer to the celestial North (South) Pole that would appear to circle it.

  1. Earth’s annual revolution around the Sun while tilted at 23.5 degrees gives the phenomenon of seasons, due to the changing amounts of sunlight in each hemisphere, in each quarter segment of the revolution.
  1. The visible stars are so distant from our solar system that they appear to be fixed with respect to the Earth’s revolution. As the Earth makes progress in its revolution each day, it would appear that the familiar constellations also change in the sky. Thus the constellations that appear in the night sky in a given month will repeat in a year’s time (ignoring the slow effect of precession, discussed in point 7). The situation is analogous to looking outside a train window on a circular track – the same scenery will appear at the same point on the circular track.
  1. Due to the Earth’s tilt at 23.5 degrees, from an Earth-bound observation point, it would appear that the sunrise is offset by a small amount daily, and reaches a southernmost point – the Winter Solstice, and reverses course, and reaches a northernmost point, the Summer Solstice. Ancient Indians recognized the six-month southern journey of the Sun as Dakshinayana, and the 6-month northern journey as the auspicious Uttarayana. The epic Mahabharata, recounts Bhishma who could control the time of his death, and lay on a bed of arrows, waiting for the start of Uttarayana, for more than 92 days (Nilesh Nilakanth Oak, When Did the Mahabharata War Happen?), hinting ancient observance of the Winter solstice occurrence.
  1. Indian astronomical work divided the sky into twenty-seven Nakshatras that each occupies 13 and 1/3 degree segments, approximately the distance traveled by the Moon in a 24 hour period against the fixed stars. Each Nakshatra was identified by the principal stars in that segment of the sky. The Nakshatra model forms part of the earliest corpus of Indian works on astronomy, dating to the Vedic era.
  1. In addition to the twenty-seven Nakshatras, ancient Indians also divided the sky into 12 equal parts of thirty degrees each, called the Rashis. While there have been some Western assertions that ancient Indians borrowed the Rashi model from Babylon, Subhash Kak shows otherwise in his book, Astronomical Code of the Rgveda, about the Vedic origin of the Rashis, evolving from the twelve Adityas. See fig.1.

pic 5

The twelve Rashis shown on the ceiling of the 12th century Airavatesvara temple in Darasuram, Tamil Nadu.

  1. Due to the gravitational effects of Sun and Moon (and to a lesser extent, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn), the Earth wobbles on its axis, and completes a non-uniform cycle in about 25,771 years, referred to as Precession of Equinox. Due to this wobble, the celestial North Pole (and South Pole) appears to change over time, and the Rashis appear to drift slowly over the years. More than 2500 years ago, ancient Indians had observed and measured the wobble at a degree for every 100 years.

This translates to a measure of 36,000 years, a figure repeated by Hipparchus around 150 BCE. One of the best estimates of Precession was made by Bhaskara II of Ujjain in the 12th century, to 25,461 years, and not improved upon till modern times. It is very interesting that ancient Indians had noted a time when Abhijit (the star Vega) was once the pole-star, and also a time when it was no longer the pole-star. Abhijit was at the Celestial North Pole approximately 14,000 years ago. Around 7000 years ago, it would have appeared to have “fallen” in the sky, as noted by Dr. P.V.Vartak (in Scientific Dating of Ramayana and the Vedas), calling out a reference to a passage in the Mahabharata.

We now define Makar Sankranti as the date when from an Earth-bound observation point, the Sun enters the Makar Rashi, also called Capricorn.

Ancient Indians noted the Winter Solstice as the start of the auspicious Uttarayana. At some point in the past, Uttarayana coincided with Makar Sankranti, and constitutes our first point of synchrony. We can determine the time period when the two coincided by considering the effects of Precession. Prior to that, it is instructive to note how ancient Indians and Europeans recorded the passage of time.

Subhash Kak notes that even before Vedanga Jyotish, ancient Indians’ 27-Nakshatra and 12 Rashi system used a luni-solar calendar where every 5 years, an additional month called Adhika Masa was added, synchronizing the lunar and solar years. Ancient Indians also estimated the tropical year, defined as the period when the Sun enters the same seasonal point – say, a solstice point.

Aryabhata and Bhaskara II had estimated the tropical year at 365 days, 6 hours, 12 minutes, and 30 seconds, the same figure as estimated in the ancient Indian text, Surya Siddhanta. The modern figure for the tropical year is approximately 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 45 seconds.

In the Western system, Julius Caesar instituted the Julian calendar in 46 BCE, dividing the year of 365 days to 12 months, and adding a day every 4th year, thus averaging to 365 days, 6 hours – a figure less accurate than the Surya Siddhanta. Due to this approximation, this calendar accumulated errors over the years, causing a “slip” in the dates of the equinoxes and solstices. The modern Gregorian calendar introduced in 1582, introduced a correction, where if a year is integer-divisible by 4, it is considered a leap year, except for those centurial years that are integer-divisible by 100, and with further overruling exception to those centurial years that are integer-divisible by 400, which were considered as leap years. With the modern Gregorian calendar, the equinoxes and solstices occur on approximately the same date each year, and considering Precession, has an error of about 1 day every 7700 years.

Considering the first synchrony, the Winter solstice today coincides with the Dhanus Sankranti – one Rashi away from Makar. This slip has happened due to the Precession noted earlier.

pic 6

Position of the Sun in relation to the Rashis on Winter solstice, Dec 21st, 2016. Because of Precession, it is a Dhanus Sankranti, rather than a Makar Sankranti.

Assuming a uniform Precession rate of 25,771 years for a full circle of 360 degrees, each degree is about 71.5861 years. Rounding the figures and noting that each Rashi occupies 30 degrees, we multiply 72 by 30 to get 2160 – the approximate number of years in the past, when due to Precession, Makar Sankranti would have coincided with the Winter Solstice, approximately in 143 BCE. By simulation in planetarium software, we find that anywhere from 400 BCE to the opening centuries of the Common Era, the Winter solstice date would have coincided with the Sun rising approximately in Makar Rashi. Based on synchrony of the solstice with Makar Sankranti, we propose the festival to have been celebrated since 400 BCE. See figs. 3 and 4.

pic 7

Position of the Sun in relation to the Rashis on Winter solstice, Dec 25th, 400 BCE. Notice that the Sun rise is in Makar Rashi, making it a Makar Sankranti.

pic 8

Notice the position of the Sun at 7AM on Jan 14th, 2017, and how 7 days later, it is at the Makar Rashi. Considering Precession, 505 years ago, Makar Sankranti would have been on Jan 14th – exactly the time of Kerala Astronomer, Nilakantha Somayaji, 1512 CE.

Our second dating of the antiquity of the Makar Sankranti festival is by considering the synchrony of Makar Sankranti with the Til/Sesame/Gingelly crop harvest. We notice an India-wide common aspect of celebrating Makar Sankranti – the widespread use of til in traditional sweet preparation. Til is a drought-resistant rabi crop in India, planted currently around mid-November and harvested in April, before the monsoons, taking about 90 to 120 days to grow. Paleo-botanical records suggest an antiquity of at least 3000 BCE for the multi-crop cultivation of til in Rakhigarhi sites and a few centuries later for domestic rice, and trade with Mesopotamia and Egypt in til in 2000 BCE. Up to the medieval period, Indian farmers encoded agricultural wisdom with references to nakshatras to help time their planting and reaping activities. It is fascinating to investigate a period of time when Makar Sankranti coincided with the harvest of the til crop, say in southern India, and was therefore used in celebratory sweet preparation.

Contrary to popular thought, the seasons do not change with Precession. The Milankovitch cycles predict long-term climate changes due to Precession, Obliquity and Tilt cycles of the Earth, but these do not impact the periodical seasons (might make seasons more or less severe, though!). However, if we peg our measurement of time to a Nakshatra/Rashi, that observation can change over time due to Precession. Thus an observation that “rainy season starts in Ashada Masa” can change over time due to Precession.

Our clue is that traditionally, Makar Sankranti is considered as a harvest festival. In Tamil Nadu, there are two planting seasons for Til – Thai Pattam (Jan/Feb) and Adi Pattam (July/August). Considering a 4-month growing period, the Adi Pattam crop harvest would coincide with December. Thus again, the date of about 400 BCE synchronizing the Winter solstice, Til harvest, and Makar Sankranti makes sense.

The final synchrony we examine is to ask the question, when did Makar Sankranti last coincide with Jan 13th/14th? By direct simulation on planetarium software, we find this date to be around 1500s CE. This period is startlingly, the exact period of the famous Kerala astronomer, Nilakantha Somayaji (1444-1544), author of Tantrasangrama, who would have been aware of the length of the tropical year and the effect of Precession from works of Aryabhata, Bhaskara II as well as Surya Siddhanta, and might have computed the date accordingly. This date was probably left untouched since. See figure 4.

We have examined three synchronies regarding Makar Sankranti. The first, based on synchrony with the Winter Solstice gives a date of about 400 BCE. The second, based on a synchrony of til harvest in Tamil Nadu with Makar Sankranti also suggests 400 BCE. The third, based on a synchrony with the tropical calendar, gives a date of 1500s CE.

As we celebrate Makar Sankranti, we should also celebrate the strong traditions of astronomy and mathematics, indelibly tied with the shared experience of the nation, over thousands of years.

Unknown Rig Vedic hymn on Aśvins in Mahabharata & the purpose of Rig Veda


Vedas are many and only some of them have been compiled by Vyasa (Krishna Dwaipayana), so goes the tradition. Even this compilation was very huge but what we have today is just 99.1% of what Vyasa had compiled. Of them Rig Vedic hymns in the form of 1028 sūktas are available now. At times we do hear about discovery of some Rig Vedic sūktas with someone, but the authenticity of those hymns cannot be known. In this backdrop, it makes exciting reading to come across an unknown Rig Vedic sūkta onAśvins in Mahabharata.

Exciting because,

(1) It was recited in a time frame that can be deciphered. This brings in newer insight in ‘dating’ efforts of Rig Veda.

(2) It gives references to the zodiac, much the same as what is found in RV 1-164 authored by Rishi Dirghatamas.

(3) The references reveal the purpose of Rig Veda with Sūktas which are nothing but mantras that bring out designated results.

Background of the Sūkta found in Mahabharata.

This Rig Vedic hymn (Sūkta) was recited by Upamanyu, the son of Vyāghrapāda. Upamanyu also happened to be a preceptor for Krishna (MB: 13-17). In his youth while he was serving as a student in the Gurukul of Ayoda-Dhaumya an incident happened by which he lost his vision and fell into a pit. On the advice of his preceptor to glorify Aśvins to regain eye sight, Upamanyu began reciting the Rig Vedic hymn of Aśvins! It is not known whether this sūkta was created by Upamanyu then and there or it existed earlier.

The sūkta begins as follows:

“sa evam ukta upādhyāyena stotuṃ pracakrame devāv aśvinau vāgbhir ṛgbhiḥ”

(स एवम उक्त उपाध्यायेन सतॊतुं परचक्रमे देवाव अश्विनौ वाग्भिर ऋग्भिः) Mahabharata (1:3-59)

(Meaning: “Upamanyu thus directed by his preceptor began to glorify the twin Aśvins, in the following words of the Rig Veda”)

This is followed by 11 riks that praise Aśvins as the Supreme Being that set the Wheel of Time to roll eternally causing the fruits of action manifested for all beings. (Text and meaning at the end of this article)

Pic

Aśvins given supreme position.

A chronology of ideas exist in Rig Vedic sūktas, of which the foremost one is in offering soma to Indra and other deities and not offering the same to Aśvins. But then came a time when Aśvins were also offered Soma. It was Rishi Chyavana, son of Bhrigu who started offering Soma to Aśvins (MB- 3:124-125). Generally Kaṇvas were associated with offering oblations to Aśvins. An Atharvan verse (2:141-04) says that the soma offered by Kaṇvas to Aśvins helped Yadu and Turvasu of whom Yadu was the progenitor of Krishna’s race. And Krishna himself had opted for Aśvins in the place of Indra after he stopped the Indra festival. A couple of verses in Rig Veda refer to Krishna invoking Aśvins to accept Soma (RV 8:74.3 &4).

All this goes to show that by Krishna’s times Aśvins had replaced Indra in receiving soma. Upamanya of the same period of Krishna had praised Aśvins as the Supreme Being who facilitated creation and manifestation of karmic results through the wheel of Time.

The Sūkta recited by Upamanyu containing 11 verses (mantras / riks) extols Aśvins as the first –born and who set in motion the wheel of time that had 360 days and 720 days and nights. There is a reference to 12 spokes of the wheel referring to 12 months and the zodiac. Though by themselves are free from fruits of action, the Aśvins cause the fruits of action to all beings.

This sūkta is comparable to another Rig Vedic sūkta (RV 1:164) having the same notions on Wheel of Time but it has in addition two popular ideas of Vedic Thought. One is about the 2-bird analogy found in the Upanishads of the Atman and Paramatman sitting on a tree as birds, with Atman eating the fruit of karma while the other not eating any but shining well. The other view is the now famous but also mis-interpreted verse “ekaṃ sad viprā bahudhā vadanti” – which has the meaning as follows:

They call him Indra, Mitra, Varuna, Agni, and he is heavenly noblywinged- Garutman. 


To what is One, sages give many a title they call it Agni, Yama, Mātariśvan
.” (RV 1:164.46)

This conveys that the Supreme Being is known by different names such as Indra, Mitra, Varuna, Agni, Garutman (Garuda), Yama and Mātariśvan. In other words the deities we know as Indra, Varuna etc are none other than the Supreme Being Itself. This verse by Rishi Dirghatamas does not attest the same status to Aśvins though it does say that Aśvins are endowed with helping mankind. But Aśvins are given the Supreme status in Upmanayu’s sūkta.

Part of the compilation by Vyasa.

Now the question comes whether this hymn was part of the Rig Vedic corpus that is now lost or it was newly composed by Upamanyu. Looking at the contemporariness of Upamanyu and Vyasa, and the age of Upamanyu at the time of reciting it – as a young student serving his master – it appears that this verse could have been part of the pre-existing compilation. Upamanyu had recited it for regaining eye-sight

Contextually similar event appears in RV 1:112.6 in a verse in praise of Aśvins that says,

Wherewith ye rescued Antaka when languishing deep in the pit, and Bhujyu with unfailing help.”

Yet another one (1:116.11) says  that Aśvins “delivered Vandana from the pit like hidden treasure”.

Restoration of eye sight is also attributed to Aśvins in a couple of Rig Vedic verses (1:112.8 & 1:116.16). Though Upamanyu’s sūkta does not refer to his sufferings (falling into the pit and losing eye sight), the purpose of the sūkta was to get relief from his suffering. As such this sūkta must have been a popular one in those days when there was a high probability of losing way in the forests and falling into pits and losing eyesight. Upamanyu suffered blindness upon eating a poisonous herb and falling into a pit thereafter. After reciting this sūkta, the Aśvins appeared and got him cured.

Coming to the issues raised earlier,

(1) As Upamanyu was a contemporary of Krishna, this sūkta can be dated to anytime before 5000 years from now. This hymn, found missing from the presently available śāka of Rig Veda but well entrenched in Mahabharata is proof that many Vedic hymns had existed in the past.

(2) The reference to the 12-part zodiac in this sūkta makes it known that the knowledge of the zodiac had existed in India 5000 years ago. The hymn of Dirghatamas being more ancient, it can be said that the original concept had evolved much earlier.  (The reference to 5000 years as the date of Krishna is based on the Mahabharata war-date evidenced inAihole inscription).

Purpose of Rig Veda

(3) Coming to the purpose of the Rig Veda, all riks are mantras and the compilation of the riks is a sūkta . Every sūkta or a mantra (rik) is capable of invoking the concerned deity, which is the very purpose of the Rig Veda. The basis is śabda that is understood as word or sound. When Śabda is arranged in specific order known as ‘Ānupūrvi’, the deity is invoked.

This is comparable to the sub-atomic particles of the Universe which combine in various ways – but in specific order- to create composite particles and atoms. That order is the Ānupūrvi of the sub-atomic particles.  Every time creation starts after a deluge, the Ānupūrvi of those particles are manifest in the same way – this is expressed as the Supreme Being remembering the Ānupūrvi of śabda that form the Vedas. Science is yet to recognise and be receptive to śabda – the sounds and vibrations of the sub atomic syllables.

The amazing part of the Ānupūrvi is that no mortal except the rishis have understood which śabda goes to make a specific order of Ānupūrvi so that a specific deity can be invoked and through Him, a specific result.  For example, in the sūkta of Upamanyu the meaning of the verses look like some description of the zodiac, but that is the Ānupūrvi that makes the śabda eternal by which the Supreme Being in the name Aśvins can be invoked to balance the elements present in Its co-bird on the tree (RV 1:164) – here, Upamanyu.

Thinking in these lines, one cannot miss out the co-existence of three concepts in the hymn of Dirghatamas (RV 1:164) –

(1) Wheel of Time causing things to happen and fruits of action,

(2) Atman co-existing with Paramatman but getting impacted by the Wheel of Time and

(3) Realisation of the Paramatman as the one and only Supreme Being but recognised by different names.

When all these are understood and felt by the Atman, the Atman gets relieved from the influence of Wheel of Time. That is the ultimate result of the hymn by Dirghatamas. But Upamanyu’s hymn invokes Asvins as Paramatman without reference to the last two but with only the first idea of Wheel of Time. His hymn gave him back eye-sight but not ultimate Release. But Dirghatamas was not known to have regained his eye-sight though he invoked Aśvins in that hymn and referred to the Wheel of Time in similar description. The difference in result was obviously related to the Ānupūrvi of the śabda of the riks he conceived. But lesser mortals that we are, we can only see the ‘meanings’ and the differences in them and not the śabda!

The same hymn by Dirghatamas speaks about the purpose of Vedas.

The 39th rik says,

ṛco akṣare parame vyoman yasmin devā adhi viśve niṣeduḥ |
yastan na veda kiṃ ṛcā kariṣyati ya it tad vidusta ime samāsate
 ||

रचो अक्षरे परमे वयोमन यस्मिन देवा अधि विश्वे निषेदुः |
यस्तन न वेद किं रचा करिष्यति य इत तद विदुस्त इमे समासते ||

Meaning by David Frawley:

“The supreme syllable of the chant in the supreme ether, in which all the Gods reside, those who do not know this, what can they do with the Veda? Those who know it alone are gathered here.”

Meaning by Griffith:

“Upon what syllable of holy praisesong-, as twere their highest heaven, the Gods repose them,
Who knows not this, what will he do with praisesong-? But they who know it well sit here assembled.”

Gods reside in śabda, the basic syllable. Those who know this, sing the riks to get what the Gods give them.  But those who don’t know, treat the Vedas as a literary work – the world knows the worst outcome of that – it was the invention of Aryan Invasion!

Here is a small solace for those yearning to see historic inputs in the Rig Veda: one can see a historic development in the concept of Aśvins from Dirghatamas to Upamanyu. Dirghatamas was born blind and remained so throughout his life. Though he praised Aśvins in his hymns, he didn’t see Aśvins as the Supreme Being. In contrast Upamanyu lost his eyesight accidentally and regained it by praying to Aśvins as the Supreme Being. The change of status to Aśvins had happened from Dirghatamas to Upamanyu.

What happened in between cannot be traced in Rig Veda as it is not a historic document. We have to turn to the Itihāsa which are the historical documents. One is expected to refer to the Itihāsa to understand what the Vedas say. This can be authenticated from a verse in Vālmiki Ramayana that Vālmiki composed Ramayana to reinforce the import of the Vedas. (“vedopabrimhaṇārthāya” VR: 1:4-6). The scope of the Itihāsas is such that they help us to weave the chronology of men and events in addition to understanding the Vedic Thought.  

The gap between Dirghatamas and Upamanyu can be filled by inputs from Mahabharata with a combined understanding of the Vedic seers mentioned in Rig Veda. Dirghatamas recognised Aśvins only as a benefactor of the Supreme Being and not as the Supreme Being Itself. Aśvins were elevated to the status of the Supreme Being as those who take soma-oblations by Rishi Chyavana (Mahabharata: 3-123). Since invoking Aśvins to partake the soma is found to be associated with the Kaṇvas, Kaṇvas can be positioned after Chyavana and not before him. In a surprising connection to Tamil language, Kaṇ, a Tamil word means eye! This takes us to a different discourse on whether Tamil was theManuśya bhaṣa of those times, which we are not probing here. Finally we find Upamanyu invoking Aśvins as the Supreme Being but he gained eye-sight and not Release from the Wheel of Time.

With just one hymn of riks found in Mahabharata, we are able to construct a fairly reasonable history of the development of Aśvins from a subordinate deity to the main Supreme Deity. And we could identify the persons involved in this development using the Itihāsas.

This runs counter to what persons like Witzel had said that Vedas “represent the only contemporary literary sources for most of early Indian history” and his claim that “everything from known history up to the Mahabharata war is filled in from Vedic sources. ….. One can easily show that groups of 2-3 kings were lifted intact from the Rigveda, the Brahmanas, and so on, and inserted wherever they were thought to fit.” (1995, “Early Indian history: Linguistic and textual parameters”)

For him Rig Veda is “a notoriously difficult text” and “the immigration of Indo-Aryans is a fact that can frequently be noticed in the Rig Veda”. He and those of his ilk certainly do not belong to the gathering that Dirghatamas referred to in his verse as those who knew what Vedic śabda are meant for!

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Text of the Rig Vedic Hymn recited by Upamanyu:

And Upamanyu thus directed by his preceptor began to glorify the twin Aswins, in the following words of the Rig Veda:

“Ye have existed before the creation! Ye first-born beings, ye are displayed in this wondrous universe of five elements! I desire to obtain you by the help of the knowledge derived from hearing, and of meditation, for ye are Infinite! Ye are the course itself of Nature and intelligent Soul that pervades that course! Ye are birds of beauteous feathers perched on the body that is like to a tree! Ye are without the three common attributes of every soul! Ye are incomparable! Ye, through your spirit in every created thing, pervade the Universe! Ye are golden Eagles! Ye are the essence into which all things disappear! Ye are free from error and know no deterioration!

Ye are of beauteous beaks that would not unjustly strike and are victorious in every encounter! Ye certainly prevail over time! Having created the sun, ye weave the wondrous cloth of the year by means of the white thread of the day and the black thread of the night! And with the cloth so woven, ye have established two courses of action appertaining respectively to the Devas and the Pitris. The bird of Life seized by Time which represents the strength of the Infinite soul, ye set free for delivering her unto great happiness! They that are in deep ignorance, as long as they are under delusions of their senses, suppose you, who are independent of the attributes of matter, to be gifted with form! Three hundred and sixty cows represented by three hundred and sixty days produce one calf between them which is the year. That calf is the creator and destroyer of all. Seekers of truth following different routes, draw the milk of true knowledge with its help. Ye Aswins, ye are the creators of that calf!

The year is but the nave of a wheel to which is attached seven hundred and twenty spokes representing as many days and nights. The circumference of this wheel represented by twelve months is without end. This wheel is full of delusions and knows no deterioration. It affects all creatures whether to this or of the other worlds. Ye Aswins, this wheel of time is set in motion by you! The wheel of Time as represented by the year has a nave represented by the six seasons. The number of spokes attached to that nave is twelve as represented by the twelve signs of the Zodiac. This wheel of Time manifests the fruits of the acts of all things. The presiding deities of Time abide in that wheel. Subject as I am to its distressful influence, ye Aswins, liberate me from that wheel of Time.

Ye Aswins, ye are this universe of five elements! Ye are the objects that are enjoyed in this and in the other world! Make me independent of the five elements! And though ye are the Supreme Brahma, yet ye move over the Earth in forms enjoying the delights that the senses afford. In the beginning, ye created the ten points of the universe! Then have ye placed the Sun and the Sky above! The Rishis, according to the course of the same Sun, perform their sacrifices, and the gods and men, according to what hath been appointed for them, perform their sacrifices also enjoying the fruits of those acts! Mixing the three colours, ye have produced all the objects of sight! It is from these objects that the Universe hath sprung whereon the gods and men are engaged in their respective occupations, and, indeed, all creatures endued with life! Ye Aswins, I adore you!

I also adore the Sky which is your handiwork! Ye are the ordainers of the fruits of all acts from which even the gods are not free! Ye are yourselves free from the fruits of your acts! Ye are the parents of all! As males and females it is ye that swallow the food which subsequently develops into the life creating fluid and blood! The new-born infant sucks the teat of its mother. Indeed it is ye that take the shape of the infant! Ye Aswins, grant me my sight to protect my life.”

Mahabharata 1-3

59 sa evam ukta upādhyāyena stotuṃ pracakrame devāv aśvinau vāgbhir ṛgbhiḥ

 60 prapūrvagau pūrvajau citrabhānū; girā vā śaṃsāmi tapanāv anantau
divyau suparṇau virajau vimānāv; adhikṣiyantau bhuvanāni viśvā
61 hiraṇmayau śakunī sāmparāyau; nāsatya dasrau sunasau vaijayantau
śukraṃ vayantau tarasā suvemāv; abhi vyayantāv asitaṃ vivasvat
62 grastāṃ suparṇasya balena vartikām; amuñcatām aśvinau saubhagāya
tāvat suvṛttāv anamanta māyayā; sattamā gā aruṇā udāvahan
63 ṣaṣṭiś ca gāvas triśatāś ca dhenava; ekaṃ vatsaṃ suvate taṃ duhanti
nānā goṣṭhā vihitā ekadohanās; tāv aśvinau duhato gharmam ukthyam
64 ekāṃ nābhiṃ saptaśatā arāḥ śritāḥ; pradhiṣv anyā viṃśatir arpitā arāḥ
anemi cakraṃ parivartate ‘jaraṃ; māyāśvinau samanakti carṣaṇī
65 ekaṃ cakraṃ vartate dvādaśāraṃ; pradhi ṣaṇ ṇābhim ekākṣam amṛtasya dhāraṇam
yasmin devā adhi viśve viṣaktās; tāv aśvinau muñcato mā viṣīdatam
66 aśvināv indram amṛtaṃ vṛttabhūyau; tirodhattām aśvinau dāsapatnī
bhittvā girim aśvinau gām udācarantau; tad vṛṣṭam ahnā prathitā valasya
67 yuvāṃ diśo janayatho daśāgre; samānaṃ mūrdhni rathayā viyanti
tāsāṃ yātam ṛṣayo ‘nuprayānti; devā manuṣyāḥ kṣitim ācaranti
68 yuvāṃ varṇān vikurutho viśvarūpāṃs; te ‘dhikṣiyanti bhuvanāni viśvā
te bhānavo ‘py anusṛtāś caranti; devā manuṣyāḥ kṣitim ācaranti
69 tau nāsatyāv aśvināv āmahe vāṃ; srajaṃ ca yāṃ bibhṛthaḥ puṣkarasya
tau nāsatyāv amṛtāvṛtāvṛdhāv; ṛte devās tat prapadena sūte
70 mukhena garbhaṃ labhatāṃ yuvānau; gatāsur etat prapadena sūte
sadyo jāto mātaram atti garbhas tāv; aśvinau muñcatho jīvase gāḥ

59 स एवम उक्त उपाध्यायेन सतॊतुं परचक्रमे देवाव अश्विनौ वाग्भिर ऋग्भिः

60 परपूर्वगौ पूर्वजौ चित्रभानू; गिरा वा शंसामि तपनाव अनन्तौ
दिव्यौ सुपर्णौ विरजौ विमानाव; अधिक्षियन्तौ भुवनानि विश्वा
61 हिरण्मयौ शकुनी साम्परायौ; नासत्य दस्रौ सुनसौ वैजयन्तौ
शुक्रं वयन्तौ तरसा सुवेमाव; अभि वययन्ताव असितं विवस्वत
62 गरस्तां सुपर्णस्य बलेन वर्तिकाम; अमुञ्चताम अश्विनौ सौभगाय
तावत सुवृत्ताव अनमन्त मायया; सत्तमा गा अरुणा उदावहन
63 षष्टिश च गावस तरिशताश च धेनव; एकं वत्सं सुवते तं दुहन्ति
नाना गॊष्ठा विहिता एकदॊहनास; ताव अश्विनौ दुहतॊ घर्मम उक्थ्यम
64 एकां नाभिं सप्तशता अराः शरिताः; परधिष्व अन्या विंशतिर अर्पिता अराः
अनेमि चक्रं परिवर्तते ऽजरं; मायाश्विनौ समनक्ति चर्षणी
65 एकं चक्रं वर्तते दवादशारं; परधि षण णाभिम एकाक्षम अमृतस्य धारणम
यस्मिन देवा अधि विश्वे विषक्तास; ताव अश्विनौ मुञ्चतॊ मा विषीदतम
66 अश्विनाव इन्द्रम अमृतं वृत्तभूयौ; तिरॊधत्ताम अश्विनौ दासपत्नी
भित्त्वा गिरिम अश्विनौ गाम उदाचरन्तौ; तद वृष्टम अह्ना परथिता वलस्य
67 युवां दिशॊ जनयथॊ दशाग्रे; समानं मूर्ध्नि रथया वियन्ति
तासां यातम ऋषयॊ ऽनुप्रयान्ति; देवा मनुष्याः कषितिम आचरन्ति
68 युवां वर्णान विकुरुथॊ विश्वरूपांस; ते ऽधिक्षियन्ति भुवनानि विश्वा
ते भानवॊ ऽपय अनुसृताश चरन्ति; देवा मनुष्याः कषितिम आचरन्ति
69 तौ नासत्याव अश्विनाव आमहे वां; सरजं च यां बिभृथः पुष्करस्य
तौ नासत्याव अमृतावृतावृधाव; ऋते देवास तत परपदेन सूते
70 मुखेन गर्भं लभतां युवानौ; गतासुर एतत परपदेन सूते
सद्यॊ जातॊ मातरम अत्ति गर्भस ताव; अश्विनौ मुञ्चथॊ जीवसे गाः

Vālakhilyas: Were they the descendants of “Hobbits” of Indonesia?


The name Vālakhilya evokes excitement and interest besides puzzlement for two main reasons. One is that it refers to a group of eleven hymns generally counted as an appendage to the 8th Mandala of Rig Veda. Opinions vary on why they are there and whether they are later additions. Another reason is that sages by a generic name Vālakhilya have existed in a remote past amply referenced in Mahabharata, with a couple of references appearing in Vālmiki Ramayana also. Mahabharata often refers to their height of unbelievable proportions – as ‘thumb’ size. Yet another often mentioned feature describes them as doing penance by hanging upside-down in the branches of the trees. A penance of this kind done by Vālakhilya rishis finds mention in Bhrṅgīśa samhita and also practiced as yogic posture by the name Vālakhilyāsana even today.

With enough source materials to decode the myths around Vālakhilyas, what is left improbable is their thumb sized height.  Even that can be interpreted as a symbolic reference to their short stature compared to normal human beings. Interestingly support comes from archaeological findings on very small beings, hardly of three feet height who walked on the earth along with normal human beings (Homo erectus) as recently until 13,000 years ago if we go by fossil records and until the 16th century CE as per many first person accounts. They were the “Hobbits” who had lived in Indonesia! The information we gather from the three texts (Rig Veda, Ramayana and Mahabharata) gives us ample leads to connect Vālakhilyas with Hobbits.

Such information includes the origins of Vālakhilyas, their olden location, their later location, their characteristics and their contribution. Of these let us first proceed from the information on their olden location to establish their origins in Indonesia!

Oldest story of Vālakhilyas.

Both Mahabharata and Vālmiki Ramayana repeat a similar incident involving Vālakhilyas in which the Garuda came to be identified as the king of birds for the first ever time. Interestingly enough, the name Garuda came into being for the first time only after that incident, coined by the none other than Vālakhilyas. This means that the concept of Garuda as the carrier of Vishnu and later as the insignia of Viṣṇu / Kṛṣṇamust have come up after this incident. This places Vālakhilyas much before the origin of the concept of Garuda and its status as the carrier bird for Viṣṇu!

This incident is recalled by Rāvana (VR: 3-35) on his way to meet Mārīca to seek his help to abduct Sīta. While passing through the sea coast he saw a huge banyan tree that reminded him of an incident of the old in which the mighty Garuda plunged from the sky to perch on a huge banyan tree with an elephant and a mammoth tortoise clutched in his paws. By the weight his plunge, the branch where he landed started breaking off. It was then he noticed that sages such as Vālakhilyas were doing penance by hanging upside down on that branch. Anxious that they should not fall down, Garuda immediately picked up the broken branch with his beak and soared high with the sages still hanging in the tree-branch.

It was an awe-inspiring to see the huge bird flying in the sky with an elephant and a huge tortoise in firm grip of its two claws and a huge branch of a tree in its beak with many Vālakhilyas hanging down from that. Rāvana recounts that the bird safely landed the Vālakhilyas in a site after which it unleashed the branch on a habitat of Nishādas (fishermen or boatmen implying coastal or riverside people) destroying them. The sight of the huge banyan tree brought out the memory of this old tale of Garuda and Vālakhilyas to Rāvana. This incident appearing in Vālmiki Ramayana goes without saying that Vālakhilyas existed even before Rama’s times!

Now coming to the chronologically later history of Mahabharata, the same incident is narrated by Ugrasrava Sauti in the story of Garuda. (MB: 1-29 & 30). Here he gives some more information. Garuda, the son of Vinata was keen on increasing his strength to fetch amrita in order to free his mother from the bondage of Kadru, the mother of snakes. He did this by eating the Nishādas and the creatures of the forest. Once he spotted an elephant and a huge tortoise fighting with each other in a lake. He swooped on them and caught them with his claws. He soared high with the two huge animals in the grip of his claws looking for a place to perch and saw a group of banyan trees near ‘Ālamba tīrtha’ (MB: 1-25-27). There the Vālakhilya rishis were engaged in penance while clinging on to the tree-branches with their body and the head downwards.

Unaware of their presence, Garuda landed on a branch but the branch started breaking. Only then Garuda noticed the presence of Vālakhilyas in that branch and wishing to save them from getting crushed, he picked up the branch with his beak and started flying again. The rishis, still hanging from the branch were amazed to see the huge bird carrying two huge animals in its claws and a huge branch in its beak as surpassing the might of the Gods and hence called the bird, ‘Garuda’ meaning ‘the bearer of heavy weight’. The very formation of the name “Garuda” has thus been attributed to Vālakhilyas!

After they were left to safety, the Vālakhilyas were guided by sage Kaśyapa to leave forHimavat to continue with their penance without any disturbance.  Sauti continues the narration on how Garuda managed to get amrita and met Viṣṇu on his way who on seeing him not drinking amrita, granted him two boons by which Garuda became immortal and came to be the carrier of Viṣṇu and found a place in his flag. This narrative from Mahabharata places the identification of Garuda as the carrier of Viṣṇu at a time when Vālakhilyas were already advanced beings proficient in ascetic practices.

This incident involving Garuda and Vālakhilyas cannot be brushed aside as a figment of imagination for the reason it is repeated in both the Itihāsas. The incident is filled with ample clues to the location where this had happened. It also tells about a time when raptors (Garuda) were ruling the skies and almost threatened all forms of terrestrial life including human beings. The Nishādas living on sea shores and river-side were forced to move out for fear for life from the bird. The Vālakhilyas also were forced to take refuge in the Himavat. Piecing the clues together it is possible to identify the place where this incident had taken place.

Location of Garuda, Giant tortoise, Banyan and Vālakhilyas.

The incident has three creatures, a mighty Garuda (let’s call it eagle), an elephant and a giant tortoise. The location was teeming with water bodies or it could have been near the coast if we go by Ramayana narration – where elephants and giant tortoises were co-habiting. This location must also have plenty of banyan trees.

Banyan trees

The mention of Ālamba tīrtha’ where the Vālakhilyas were engaged in penance by hanging upside down on the tree branches unfolds the mystery, as one of the meanings of Ālamba is ‘hanging down’ and another is ‘support’. Banyan trees have their branches (roots) hanging down which form their own support. ‘Ālam’ in Ālamba has a curious connection with the Tamil word ‘Ālam’ (ஆலம்) which is how banyan tree is called in Tamil! True to its meaning, the Vālakhilyas also had practiced the upside down posture from the tree-branch during meditation.

Banyan trees are endemic to South Asia and South East Asia. Giant banyan trees are found in Angkor Wat temple complex. Banyan tree has a place in the Coat of Arms of Indonesia inscribed within the giant image of ‘Garuda’!

Pic 3

Coat of Arms of Indonesia

Though this was recently adopted by Indonesia, the design reflects native elements specific to the country and its traditions. Banyan found a place in this design not just for the symbolism but also because it is native to Indonesia.

The spread of banyans can be seen as far as the Pacific island of Vanuatu where the tree has the same utility as in India – i.e., a meeting place or for public congregations.

Certain species of banyan do appear in Central and South America. But those places do not qualify to be the venue of the above mentioned incident of Garuda and Vālakhilyas. The fact that Vālakhilyas had moved from Ālamba to Himavat points to the region of South or South East Asia. The movement to Himavat could not have happened fromEurope or Siberia for the very reason that banyans are not native to those regions. So our search gets narrowed down to South East Asia as a probable region. India is excluded from this reckoning for other reasons, one of it being the absence of giant tortoises.

Giant Tortoise.

Giant tortoise found in coastal regions or inland lakes is an important test feature for this incident. The following map published by a Checklist and Review of extinct species of turtles and tortoises shows that South East Asia had harboured many such species until 12,000 years ago.

Pic 4

Srilanka is the only region in South Asia to have been home for these species until 12,000 years ago. But some species have lived until 450 years ago in the east of Australia and in the regions where Vanuatu is located. Indonesia (Java) was home for some extinct species.

When we look for the probable species of giant tortoises in South East Asia, we do come across Asian Giant Tortoises  (Manouria emys) as the most primitive but still living in wet lands and waterways in South East Asia and South Asia.

Pic 5

Manouria emys phayrei in Kaeng Krachan National Park, Thailand

Source: HERE

This species is found from ‘Assam in India and eastern Bangladesh in the west, through Myanmar and western Thailand, and south through peninsular Malaysia to Sumatra and Borneo in the east’ (Here). To narrow down the search further, we must look for giant eagle population in these regions.

Giant eagles

The narration tells about the size of Garuda and not his colour. He was a man-eater initially and had devoured huge animals including elephants. He was not snake-eater, as Garuda had not troubled the snakes born to Kadru. Not all eagles eat snakes. After he got the boon of immortality from Viṣṇu, Garuda came to be known as ‘Suparṇa’, a bird with ‘beautiful wing’. With these clues we have to locate the eagle in a region which was a habitat for giant tortoises and elephants too.

The most widespread eagle family in the northern hemisphere is the Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos). But they are found in regions to the north of India and in Europe and not in South East Asia. Since our search is narrowing down to South and South East Asia, we have to look for the species found here. The most common one is white-bellied sea eagle (H. leucogaster) seen from India to Indonesia to Australia.

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White-bellied Sea eagle.

The characteristic white coloured belly of this eagle can be expected to be found in the narration if this is the bird that came to be called as Garuda. But the absence of this reference rules out this to be Garuda.

But far from Indonesia, an extinct eagle of huge size has been found in New Zealand (closer to Vanuatu where extinct tortoises have been found and where banyans abound). A study published in PLOS Biology had identified an extinct giant eagle called  Haast’s eagle. “With  a 2.5-3m wingspan weighing in at between 10 and 14 kg, Haast’s eagle was about 30-40% heavier than the largest living bird of prey (the harpy eagle of Central and South America) and was approaching the upper weight limit of powered flight”. The absence of terrestrial mammals except a few species of bats in New Zealand about 700 years ago when human settlement began was attributed to the presence of this giant eagle in the past.

It had no predators, but plenty of food in the form of terrestrial animals that resulted in gaining weight to the maximum possible limit to enable it to fly. This is the same description we find in Mahabharata on Garuda, as having no enemy but only food everywhere, and thereby becoming ‘immortal’ though it had not drunk amrita it carried!

Drinking Amrita is figurative expression for immortality of a race. The Garuda had its genesis after the birth of snakes, as per the story of Garuda. It did not live on snakes which is normally believed to be the food for eagles, but on other animals. It had preyed on human beings too. With these insights if we probe into the origins of Haast’s eagle, we find a genetic study on a 2000 year old bone of this eagle mentioned in the same article as saying that it is closely related to the world’s smallest eagle –“the “Little Eagle” from Australia and New Guinea, which typically weighs under 1 kg”. They had a common ancestor who lived a million years ago, but the giant eagle had grown in size 10-15 times over a period just by eating unabatedly with none to threaten its survival.

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The giant Haast’s eagle attacking the extinct New Zealand moa.

Source: HERE

An interesting correlation is that the region where the fossil of this eagle is discovered is close to Vanuatu, the region of banyan trees and tortoises. Generally eagles are territorial. The Haast’s eagle had held its hold on New Zealand. It is not known whether Garuda belongs to this genus or is different from it but there can be no doubt that it had a similar life style as that of Haast’s eagle.

Its immortality was threatened by Indra in the same story on Garuda wherein it is stated that Indra discharged his weapon on Garuda. But Garuda managed to survive after losing a few feathers. This sounds symbolic of a reduced form of Garuda in due course while continuing to exist as a species as a mark of immortality. We may not get to identify the exact species of Garuda unless and until we find fossil remains of the bird. However the very fact about the way of life of Haast’s eagle raises the probability of an ancestral or a sub-species of that bird ruling the skies and the land long ago anywhere from Indonesia to New Zealand.

Fortunately our search is further fine-tuned by an account on Garuda’s territory atŚālmali Dwīpa described in Vālmiki Ramayana.

Garuda, the native of Śālmali Dwīpa.

Garuda and Vālakhilyas appear in regions far-east of India (Bharat) in the narration of Sugrīva of a route until a point in the globe where sun rise is witnessed (VR: 4-40). The route passes through Yava Dwīpa, the olden name for Java. From there after crossing Mt Shishira (Mt Semeru) and River Shona (R.Solo) the route passes through a series of islands leading to Śālmali Dwīpa. Even today many islands are seen to the east of Java. Sugrīva specifically mentions that Śālmali Dwīpa was the home of Garuda, Vinata’s son(VR:4-40-4)

In Sugrīva’s narration, the next region to the east of Śālmali Dwīpa is described as having horrifying demons of the shapes and size of mountains, dangling upside down from the mountain peaks and surrounded by oceans. Day after day they fall into water and also freshly arise from mountaintops (VR 4-40.41-43). This is a reference to lava spiting volcanoes of this region. The ocean of this region was described as Red sea (VR 4.40. 39) precisely because the hot and molten lava running down the volcanoes into the seas had given red hue to the sea. This description fits with Mt Puncak Jaya in Papua province.

This limits the region of Śālmali Dwīpa (Garuda’s home) to the parts to the east of Yava Dwīpa and west of Papua New Guinea. The probable location of Śālmali Dwīpa deduced from this description is shown in the picture below:

Pic 8

 

The currently available archaeological findings in the region that we identified as Śālmali Dwīpa are known for ‘Lapita pottery’. Interestingly a bowl of this culture exhibits the image of Garuda! (Illustration below)

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Lapita Bowl/Face – Tarawa Atoll / Kiribati Photo – John Terrell / Lapita Gallery

Garuda images have been found in different parts of the world. But no other region in the world has all the three, namely, banyan trees, giant tortoises and giant eagles at one place as in Śālmali Dwīpa, which is part of Indonesia today.

There are other two entities, the elephant and the Vālakhilyas of short stature that we have to find in this region. The elephant also must be of the size that a giant eagle (Garuda) is capable of holding with one of its claws. That means they must be of smaller than normal size of elephants. Incidentally Insular Dwarfism is common in islands and Indonesia, an archipelago fits the bill very well.

Dwarf elephants of Indonesia.

An extinct species of dwarf elephant known as Stegodon florensis insularis is found to have lived in Indonesia, Philippines, Taiwan and Japan. The ancestral species of these elephants were found to be huge in size, but dwarfism occurred as an evolutionary development for those species that were confined within islands where the food supply was limited. Interestingly the birds of Indonesia have shown gigantism while the elephants have shown dwarfism.

For example Giant storks of size 6 feet high and weight 16 Kg had lived in Indonesia until 11,000 years ago. Similarly giant rats and giant tortoises had lived in the same region while the elephants were of dwarf kind. This disparity is attributed to the availability of food. The species dependant on food available in water had grown big in Indonesian islands while a species like an elephant had struggled to get its food. The story of Garuda lifting the elephant and the tortoise actually narrates the scenario of the two fighting with each other in a water body when Garuda picked them up. That fight must have been for food and territory that each of them wanted for itself. The amazing correlation of the story with the discovery of the presence of these two species in Indonesian islands further reiterates the fact that the elephant could have been of a dwarf kind that the huge Garuda (a case of island gigantism of birds of prey) was able to lift with ease.

Adding credence to this supposition, Indonesia was home for dwarf people who lived along with dwarf elephants. Dwarf people named as Homo floresiensis after the name of the place Flores  – an island in Indonesia where their fossils have been found in the caveLiang Bua had lived at a time the dwarf elephants were roaming in Indonesia. Fossil remains of the dwarf elephant Stegodon are found in the same stratigraphic layer associated with the fossils of Homo floresiensis who have been nick-named as Hobbits! A comparative size of a Hobbit and the dwarf elephant are shown below with the model of a giant stork and a giant rat of the same place that lived until 11,000 years ago.

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Source: Here

research article presumes that Stegodon elephants were eaten by the still extantKomodo Dragon, a species of lizards. It is no wonder that they were also falling prey to the giant raptor, Garuda. The extinction of Stegodon can also be attributed to the giant eagle, Garuda – whose liking for the elephant can be made out from the incident narrated in both the Itihāsas.

Flores where the fossil remains of Hobbits have been found is well within Śālmali Dwīpa where Garuda had lived, and where elephants (dwarf variety) and giant tortoises also had co-existed. This region is also known for banyan growth.

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Researchers have established Hobbits as hominins, a short race of humans whose ancestral species had lived 700,000 years ago. They had evolved from homo erectus and lived along with us (homo sapiens) in Indonesia. Starting from this piece of information let us see what Indic scriptures have to say about the short species, the Vālakhilyas.

Vālakhilyas: early and distinct human species.  

A narration in Mahabharata describes “Brahma darśana” on creation of life forms (MB:13-85) including human beings. Decoding of the metaphorical verses of this description shows that the earliest life was formed from heat in water, then from heat on land and then from the latent heat of the previous one. They have been named as Bhrigu, Angiras and Kavi. All the life forms including human beings have sprung from one of these elementary three forms only. Creation of this kind is described as a yajna. Then comes the reference to the blades of Kuśa grass spread out for the yajna. It is further said (in the words of sage Vasishtha) that Vālakhilyas sprang from the blades of Kuśa grass. It further adds that from the same blades of Kuśa, sprang Atri – a famous Rig Vedic sage!

The narration puts Vālakhilyas and Atri on the same state of origin! It must be noted that they were not put on par with numerous offsprings that emerged from the yajna or the fire of the yajna. Instead they were traced to the Kuśa blades that would be discarded once the yajna is over!  Does this convey that these two species of human race originating from the same source would cease to exist at some point of Time?

Vālakhilyas and Atri-s

The most common feature between Vālakhilyas and Atri was their affinity to the Sun! In as many as 3 places Mahabharata describes Vālakhilyas as subsisting on sun rays (MB 3.125, 9.43 & 13.115). Sugrīva in his description of ‘Udaya Paravata’ in far-east refers to Vālakhilyas coming into sight at the region of sunrise shining with the resplendence of the Sun. (प्रकाशमाना दृश्यन्ते सूर्य वर्णाः VR: 4-40-60).[i] Sugrīva also refers to that location as the place of sunrise where Viṣṇu makes his first foothold. The reference to difference in time between that place and Jambhu Dwīpa shows that it is near Fiji islands and there is a 6-hour gap between the two places. (VR:4-40-59). Obviously that was considered to be the region of sun rise for the globe and Vālakhilyas, who subsist on sun rays had preferred to live at that location sometime in the past.

Sage Atri is also associated with observing the Sun. The Rig Vedic hymn attributed to him refers to eclipse of the sun (RV: 5-40). It is believed that Atri or the family of Atri were the first ones to have understood the occurrence of solar eclipse. With Atri-s sharing a common origin with Vālakhilyas, were they similar in traits with Vālakhilyas – one of which being observing the sun relentlessly as though they were subsisting on the sun?

Though born of the same Kuśa grass, Atri was classified along with Sapta rishis while Vālakhilyas were not. From the insights gained from the names of the rishis mentioned in the narration of Brahma darśana, it looks as though each rishi signified a separate human race with Atri also signifying a separate race of human beings. The sapta rishis being present always, it implies that Atri race still continues in existence.  The exclusion of Vālakhilyas in the group shows that they were not ever lasting.

Atri-s, sharing the same origin with Vālakhilyas could mean that they were also short in stature but not as short as Vālakhilyas. The absence of any specific mention about their height is taken to mean this. But they had some affinity with sun like Vālakhilyas.

Thinking about height, sage Agastya also is said to be short. He was also associated with Sun, in the metaphorical narration of subduing Vindhya Mountain to make way for the Sun to move beyond that. Did he also belong to an olden human race that was short and spend more time under the sun, watching the movement sun – a habit that was common between Vālakhilyas and Atri-s?

Of all the three, the incident involving Garuda offers better clues to link Vālakhilyas with Hobbits of Indonesia.

Hobbits and Valakhilyas.

The olden location of Vālakhilyas occurring in Śālmali Dwīpa, they make better candidate to have had genetic connection with the short Hobbits. Science says that Hobbits, though shorter in stature were in no way inferior to homo sapiens in intellect.Falk et al observed that the area of the brain associated with higher cognition (Brodmann area 10) in Hobbits is of the same size as in humans even though the overall brain size is small. This means the Hobbits were as intelligent as human beings and were capable of all the executive functions like humans.

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Comparative skull size of Hobbit (left) and modern human (right)

Source: HERE

Hobbits were living in the cave of Flores of Indonesia until the 16th century as per the report of the Portuguese in 1511 CE (Details here). This is confirmed by an article in Science Daily saying, “There are lots of local folk tales in Flores about these people, which are consistent and incredibly detailed. The stories suggest there may be more than a grain of truth to the idea that they were still living on Flores up until the Dutch arrived in the 1500s.”

Pic 13

Source: Sciencedaily.com

For generations, the Nagekeo tribes living near the Flores cave have told about Hobbits as small people, but very much like humans, walking erect and the body covered with hair. They were not known to have used fire but gobbled up any food whole and raw. On rare occasions they were invited by the villagers and given food. But they were found to eat indiscriminately anything they found around, that they had to be stopped from gulping sharp instruments.

This feature has a striking resemblance to Atri as Atri means ‘devourer’! That is the best word to describe the eating habit of Hobbits! This eating habit earned them a name Ebu Gogo by the surrounding villagers, which means “Grandmother who eats everything”.

Whatever they ate was not cooked with fire but they seemed to have survived well with whatever they ate raw. Was this taken to mean that the sunrays entering their body provided the heat to soften the food within their body? One cannot help thinking like this, for the very fact that Vālakhilyas were repeatedly described in Indic texts as those subsisting on sun rays.

The 20th century text titled ‘Gaudiya-Kanthahara’ gives the meaning of the name Vālakhilya somewhat closer to the habit of devouring food. It says that ‘Vālakhilya is one who discards the stock of food he has with him (purva ancita anna tyagah) the moment he gets a fresh stock of food (nave pane labdhya)’ (refer here). This meaning could not have been written without a source text describing so.

This meaning looks suitable to Hobbits who never used fire and therefore never devised cooking methods and therefore never indulged in saving anything for the next meal. By not having used fire and cooking methods, the Hobbits must have lived on whatever they got new while discarding what they already they had.

The comparison of Vālakhilyas with Hobbits does not end here. An interpretation of Vālakhilyas appears in Taittrīya Āranyaka (I-23) in the context of creation of world by Prajāpati. It says that Vālakhilyas were the ‘hair’ of Prajapati. ‘Vāla’ means hair and Khila refers to appendage. Vālakhilya could just be a reference to their hairy appearance. It must be noted that Hobbits too were hairy-bodied.

Another interpretation could be that hair can be completely discarded. By referring to them as the hair of Prajapati, did the rishis mean that Vālakhilyas would cease to exist sometime?  Were they already extinct during the time of Vyāsa whose references to them were only quotational and not contemporaneous?

Whatever be the original import, one cannot deny the fact that some beings by name Vālakhilyas had existed in the past and moved to Himavat.

Vālakhilyas in Himavat.

After the incident involving Garuda, the Vālakhilyas had moved to Himavat (MB:13-10). If they were part of Hobbits, it can be presumed that a section of them living within the territory of Garuda had moved to Himavat for doing peaceful penance. Others outside the territory of predating Garuda had continued their life in Indonesia.

Yet another reference from Mahabharata (3-141) says that Vālakhilyas lived nearAlakananda.  The book ‘Wandering Himalayas’ published by Chinmaya Trust refers to ‘Vālakhilya’ mountain to the south of Uttarkashi. Nachiketa Tal is located near this mountain. Why should a mountain get this name unless this was connected with (occupied by) Vālakhilyas in the past?

Reiterating the view that Vālakhilyas did reside in that part of the Himalayas, there is a description of ‘Khilyāyana tīrtha’ in the 3rd chapter of Bhrṅgīśa Samhita.  It says that rishis by name Vālakhilyas were doing penance by standing on their toe with a posture of ‘Urdhva retas’. When Viṣṇu appeared, they ‘jumped down’ and offered their obeisance.

Though not explicit, the minimal description of the posture of penance shows that they were hanging down from the branch of a tree with the toe of one leg supporting their posture. A yogic posture known as Vālakhilyāsana can be re-positioned to a hanging position from a tree with a toe pressing the ground.

Pic

Vālakhilyāsana

Picture credit: Here

The re-positioned posture of Vālakhilyāsana as hanging from a tree would look as follows:

Pic 1

It is amazing that this posture by name Vālakhilyāsana replicates a possibility of hanging upside-down from a tree – that Vālakhilyas were known for.

Valakhilyas’ devotion for Visnu.

Vālakhilyas were associated with the worship of Viṣṇu in Rig Vedic hymn, Bhrṅgīśa samhita and Vālmiki Ramayana. Bhrṅgīśa samhita says Viṣṇu appeared before Vālakhilyas and granted boons. That location is known as Narayana tīrtha  and the place where the Vālakhilyas did the penance is called as Vālakhilya Grāma.

In Sugrīva’s narration of route to Udaya parvata (Mountain of sunrise) Sun is personified as Trivikrama (Viṣṇu) making the first step at Udaya parvata and the second step on top of Meru in Jambhu Dwīpa. (VR: 4-40-58). And Vālakhilyas were to be seen at the region of sunrise shining with the luminosity of the Sun. They have worshiped Viṣṇu in the form of the sun.

In the narration of Garuda’s story in Mahabharata (written in the beginning) Viṣṇu was supposed to have met Garuda in the sky during his global trot. This could once again refer to the trot of the Sun. From this it is deduced that personification of Sun as Viṣṇu had existed before the identification of Garuda.

For all their obsession to be present at the region of first sunrise and drink the sunrays as much as possible, can the Vālakhilyas be credited with having ‘discovered’ the Vedic truth of Viṣṇu as Sun making three steps? Looks plausible as we come across a reference to Viṣṇu’s three steps in the 4th Vālakhilya hymn of Rig Veda.  It says

“यस्मै विष्णुस्त्रीणि पदा विचक्रम” (yasmai viṣṇustrīṇi padā vicakrama)

“He to whom Viṣṇu came striding his three wide steps”.

Isn’t this proof enough that a people by name Vālakhilyas who were fond of watching the Sun rise from the eastern most part of the globe beyond which the world is impassable (to quote Sugrīva) were the same ones who had written the quoted Rig Vedic verse.

Their origins go very much back in time, even before Rama’s birth and in a location which was outside India. Every reference to ‘Garutman’ in Rig Veda must have been uttered after the incident involving Garuda and Vālakhilyas.  The verse of Dirghatamas(RV:1-164) equating Garutman (Garuda) with the Supreme Being has its origins in the glorification of Garuda by Vālakhilyas at a location in Indonesia!!

The antiquity of the existence of Vālakhilyas even before many hymns of Rig Veda were composed goes to show that the Vālakhilya hymns were not later additions but olden hymns which were added as an after-thought. Some of the verses of Vālakhilyas appearing in other Vedas disprove them to be of later origin. Vālakhilya hymns must have existed before Vyasa’s times when Vedas were classified into four.

The Garuda angle reveals some un-thought-of events. It was much after the experience of the Vālakhilyas with Garuda, the bird had been caught and trained as a carrier. Krishna travelling on this bird does not seem to be fictional when we think about this massive bird capable of carrying any heavy weight.

Finally Garuda and Vālakhilyas appearing in the same episode is a strong proof of from where the early Vedic sages emerged. Certainly Vālakhilyas and Atri-s did not come from West Asia or central Europe. The glorification of Viṣṇu, Trivikrama, the sun and Garuda / Garutman had emerged from regions far-east of India and not in North West India or further North West.

A long route found in the narration of Sugrīva shows it was possible to walk, hop and swim across the long stretch starting from Ganga or Sarayu or Vanga or Himavat to Yava Dwipa and winding through Śālmali Dwipa up until Fiji Islands (Udaya Parvata) and even New Zealand!  This entire stretch has been highly supportive of life-thriving conditions and therefore lasting growth of human population and civilization and movement of people within this route. This was also the path of global trot of Viṣṇufrom his first to the second step. The highest point of this step did not go beyond or north of Jambhu Dwīpa. This is the single most proof of the unlikelihood of the beginnings of Vedic culture as having sprung from anywhere other than the route that passes through South East Asia and South Asia just south of the Himalayas.

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[i] Devi Bhagavata Purana refers to Vālakhilyas as numbering 60,000 going in front of the Sun from its rise till it sets. This doesn’t concur with any of the description of Vālakhilyas in the Itihāsas except a symbolism that Vālakhilyas had subsisted on sun rays. Some writers had attempted to link the 60,000 number going in front of the Sun with certain verses of Tamil Sangam texts (Puranānuru 43, Tirumurugārrup padai- 107 and Silappadhikāram 12). What is referred to in those texts is the company of Mitra, Varuna and Aryaman along with the sun who take the oblations of water – of whom Aryaman accepts for Pitrus while the other two accept from any water source (evaporation). This is spelt out clearly in Silappadhikāram verse as “avippali” – ‘havis’. The accompanying sages accept Havis, is what is conveyed in the Tamil sources. This can be illustrated in the Vāstu mandala distribution of the deities as below:

Pic 14

Nowhere Vālakhilyas were mentioned as travelling along with the Sun or accepting havis.

Tracing Diwali legends to Mahabali and Mt Popa in Myanmar as the location of Narakasura.


Published in Ind Samachar

In the wake of cracker ban by the Supreme Court on the entire country, Diwali this year (2018) has evoked great interest among people comparing the variants of this festival in different parts of the country spanning over a period of not just one day, but five days, making people wonder which day was referred to by the Supreme Court in its stricture on fire-crackers. With most of South India celebrating Diwali as Naraka Chaturdasi, there is another dissenting voice heard from the fringe political elements in Tamilnadu condemning the festival as glorification of murder, as the story goes that Diwali was the celebration of elimination of Narakasura by Krishna. Those fringe elements had gone to the extent of glorifying Narakasura – without even knowing who he is – in their urge to sully Krishna, the Hindu deity. Analysis of these two issues, the variants in Diwali and the truth about the death of Narakasura brings us to a pleasant conclusion on the very long history and spread of Hinduism across Asia.

Basis of Diwali legends.

Starting of a new life after destruction is the basic theme in the different legends of Diwali celebrated throughout India. A popular version in North India is that Diwali marks the return of Rama to Ayodhya after the destruction of Ravana, while the fact remains that Rama returned on a Pushyami day and not on the day of Chitra or Swati when Diwali occurs. The only justification for this deviation from the original fact could have been the tradition that Diwali marks the ushering in of Light after a period of gloom! So there is something special about the day that even if Krishna’s legend is forgotten, people had felt it necessary to replace it with an olden legend of Rama without checking the veracity of it, only to be in consonance with the importance of the day. This goes to show that there is something cosmologically important for the day of Diwali. The following illustration shows the cosmic position of the day.

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The illustration shows two signs in opposite ends, namely Aries and Libra. Aries marks the coming of the New Year in the northern hemisphere of the globe. The opposite holds good for the southern hemisphere, that is, Libra heralds the arrival of the New Year in the southern hemisphere. It is in the month of Libra around the time of the new Moon, Diwali is celebrated throughout India. It is a 5-day festival in its entirety starting from the 13th tithi before the New Moon and ending on the 2nd tithi after the new Moon. Within this period comes the New Year of the southern hemisphere– on the day after New Moon. Wonder of wonders, this is the New Year for only one people of India (northern hemisphere) – that is the people of Gujarat, the land ruled by Krishna!

Doesn’t it sound puzzling that what is rationally the New Year in the southern hemisphere happens to be the New Year for the land of Krishna?

If we probe deeper, we would see that the now discarded Vikrama Era started on the same day as in the southern hemisphere. Its original name was ‘Krita’ or ‘Purva’ Era indicating its origin in antiquity. It was followed by the Mālava gaṇa, whose origins can be traced to the paternal home of Savitri, famous for getting back to life her husband Satyavan from the noose of Yama. Malavi was the name of Savitri’s mother and by the boon extracted by Savitri from Yama, the sons of Malavi came to be known as Mālavas whose location came to be named after them as Malwa. That Mālavas had followed the tradition of the southern hemisphere could only mean their ancestors had their origin somewhere in the southern hemisphere.

The Vikrama Era followed by them can be related to Trivikrama in the legend of Bali, an Asura whose location can be traced to the southern hemisphere. (Usually the inhabitants of the southern parts were known as Asuras while those of the north were known as Devas. Another definition of an Asura is that he is a tormenter). The dominance of Mahabali, the Asura tells of a time when the Southern hemisphere was brimming with life. With movement of Time, the location of life shifts places. This happened when the Northern hemisphere started becoming habitable and the southern hemisphere went under water. This is made out in the story of Mahabali.

Mahabali initiated Diwali.

The narration of Vamana Purana on Mahabali sounds metaphorical of geological events of land forms experiencing tremors and going under water. Wherever Vamana went –even when he was in his mother’s womb – the land lowered. The lowered land got easily inundated with sea water. After Vamana was born and went on to meet Bali, the same thing happened. When Vamana placed his foot on Bali’s head, Bali sank into Pātāla which is the lowermost layer of the earth’s crust and the covering over the mantle. This is an allegorical description of loss of land into deep sea. The lands were lost to the seas in sudden and violent tremors causing many to lose their lives. The survivors had started a new life with new hope of a bright future.

In the legend of Bali comes the reference to Diwali!  Mahabali asked for a boon from Trivikrama that people make Deepa-dāna for three days in his memory for getting vanquished by three feet measures of Trivikrama. The three feet measures in fact refer to the tremors in the land and in the sky and then again on the land making it sink forever – the last one referring to the loss of habitat for people represented by Mahabali. Trivikrama’s boon that Mahabali would once again come back in a future Manvantra is allegorical of a future probability of the sunken lands rising up again which would then be recognised as Varaha lifting up the lands.  Vamana and Varaha avataras are thus alternating recurrences of two geological phenomena.

The three days starting from the day before the New Moon in Libra till the day after that are supposed to be the time of a massive destruction of a former civilization in the southern hemisphere. That also happens to be the New Year time in the southern hemisphere. The survivors have remembered it in two ways, as destruction of Asuras (of the southern hemisphere) and a beginning of new life and marked it with lighting lamps.

The continuity of New Year Era of the south in India by Mālavas and the people of Krishna’s country is in effect proof of migration of an olden civilization from South and South East Asia and not from Europe or West Asia, as western Indologists want us to believe. Migrations could have happened from Europe at later dates but the original customs and culture had come from the south along with the people who survived destruction. Or else kings from Manu’s times could not be expected to have celebrated the day with Lamps.

In support of this claim, there is an inscription (E.I. Vol 4, No 18) found in the northern wall of the 2nd prakara of the temple of Lord Ranganatha at Srirangam attributed to king Ravivarman of Kerala saying that the auspicious festival of ‘Deepotsava’ aimed at dispersing darkness was celebrated in olden days by kings Ila, Kartavirya and Sagara. Of them Ila was the son of Vaivasvata Manu, the progenitor of the current population of India as per Hindu texts whose name is associated with Matsya avatara. But celebration of Deepotsava by his son is proof of a further past with a connection to southern hemisphere (Mahabali) and subsequent migration to Indian mainland. He had carried the memory of Trivikrama.  One must remember that until 12,000 years ago, India, particularly north India was not habitable due to Ice Age and glaciations of the Himalayas while southern hemisphere was more hospitable for human life.

Newer legends of Diwali from Krishna’s times

As time passed by, newer episodes added fresh impetus to the old concept of Deepa-dāna. All the concepts around the 5-day Diwali except Bali Pratipada (in memory of Mahabali) can be related to a single event in Krishna’s life that happened in a place called Prāgjyothisha, which was originally located in today’s Myanmar and Thailand – known as Indra Dweepa in olden days! That event was the slaying of Narakasura!

This event recounted in Mahabharata and Vishnu Purana sounds more like a geological happening, similar to the destruction of Mahabali by Trivikrama. The etymological understanding of the names further reinforces the geological secret embedded in the event. The story is this:

The city of Prāgjyothisha was held by Naraka, the son of earth (hence he was known as Bhauma). He was fierce and tormented the people killing them often. He kept the two ear rings of Aditi under him, and made it inaccessible to the Devas. Many were imprisoned by him. His deputy, another asura by name Muru defended his city be a series of nooses around that were difficult to cross.

Then came Krishna from Dwaraka along with his wife Satyabhama, mounted on his carrier, Garuda. He entered Prāgjyothisha by clearing the way and making a road. He cut the nooses laid by Muru by his Chakrayudha (discus) and killed many asuras in a place called Nirmochana (meaning Liberation). Finally he killed Naraka and freed the people trapped by him. Then Aditi, the mother of Devas and also of Naraka appeared before Krishna. What she told to Krishna unravels the true purport of the slaying of Narakasura.

Aditi told that when she was held high by Krishna in his Varaha avatar, Naraka was born to her by rising from her. Naraka was given by Krishna and was also killed by him. Her two jewelled ear studs had been restored from Naraka and she was happy to offer them to Krishna to keep for progeny.  What does this all convey? Basically it conveys that Naraka was not a human being! There was some geological trouble happening for a long time which Krishna had stopped.

Deciphering Narakasura story

Aditi was mother earth that had risen from waters (attributed to Varaha avatara). The one who rises from her and torments people must have been a volcano. That was Narakasura. Naraka means tormenter. Because he was a tormenter he was identified as Naraka! The location name Prāgjyothisha also has a relevance to volcano. Prāg means summit and the Prāgjyothisha refers to a light at summit, which is but a reference to volcano. (The same name appears in Valmiki Ramayana as a product of Varaha, but in the western side of India. It could refer to Mount Vesuvius)

The continuous flowing down of the lava had caused series of rings (nooses) in the surroundings that looked like the handiwork of Muru (Muru means kind of dance). The spreading lava started blocking access to the surrounding regions. Krishna broke off the lava sediments and paved a way. He had even caused the volcano to crumble or implode and become extinguished. This resulted in access to two jewelled items held by the earth. Further decipherment of these ideas and the location of Narakasura can be made from two clues given in the narration itself.

  1. Krishna brought the tree of Parijata after this episode from the land of Indra.
  2. Indra’s elephant Iravata was saved from Narakasura who was threatening to take it away.

First clue shows that the land of Indra was Indra Dweepa, a name for the combined lands of Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. The flower Parijata (Nyctanthes arbor-tristis ) is native to these regions (South East Asia) and the Indian sub continent also. But it was not growing in India until this episode means that it was originally found in South East Asia (Indra Dweepa) from where it was brought to India. Krishna had brought it to India (Dwaraka) at the insistence of Satyabhama. From this we can locate Prāgjyothisha of Narakasura in Indra Dweepa.

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Parijata flower

The second clue shows that the volcanic flow of Naraka had gone closer to river Iravati of Indra Dweepa.

We can locate a volcano named Mt Popa (Pali equivalent of Pushpa) in the region of Mynamar 60 km away from river Iravati! Interestingly this volcano had collapsed in its north and North West side – in the direction of anyone coming from India. One can see a deep caldera in that part signalling the death of the volcano. By not growing further, the lava had not reached the river Iravati.

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Mount Popa in Mynamar with fissures in the North-western slope

Once this volcano had stopped tormenting the people, the road to further south became clear where two gem mines are located. In places like Chanthaburi and Kanchanaburi in today’s Thailand are located the famous mines of two gems namely sapphire and ruby. The path taken by Krishna to these mines after crossing (slaying) Naraka (Mt Popa) looks as follows:

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The recovery of the two jewelled ear studs of Aditi could mean access to these mines and starting the work of mining those gems. This could also mean that Krishna and his clan had access to the wealth of Kubera or Lakshmi! Krishna’s visit to this place could have had the motive of gaining control over the mines. Or why else should he take his wife on this journey if it was meant only for destroying Narakasura?

The ultimate success of the trip by gaining wealth for his clan was celebrated as Dhanteras (Dhana- Trayodasi). Further variation as Dhanvantari Trayodasi must have been added later for the fact that health is the greatest wealth.

The collapse of the volcano must have happened on Chaturdasi day. For the faithfuls, Krishna had caused the collapse by his discus, for others it was a natural phenomenon that could have coincided with Krishna’s arrival. The event happening in the traditional Trivikrama New Year day coinciding with the end of Mahabali must have made it a new repetition of the olden belief. But the event occurring in Krishna’s presence or by the grace of Krishna, the people would have started glorifying it as Deepa Dāna day that removes darkness from the lives of people – of that region and also of Dvārakā as new wealth had started pouring into Dvārakā.

The next day, that is., the Amavasya day was therefore a thanksgiving day to Lakshmi. As an extension, the wealth of cow is recognised after that – on the day that was originally the beginning of the New Year in Mahabali’s location. And the day after that was celebration time among the siblings. Thus we find the 5-day celebration of Diwali of current times having evolved from Krishna’s times with different regions focusing on one or more of them as time went by. Any different version in a region, say of Kali worship in Bengal is aligned with the basic concept of destruction followed by Light.

Further support to the supposition from Krishna’s life comes from the archaeological findings in Myanmar and Thailand. A vast region covering places like Kanchanaburi where the gem-mines are located was known as DVARAVATI since ancient times.

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Dvaravati was originally the name of Dvārakā of Krishna. This name appearing in regions as far as Laos could only reiterate the Krishna-legend of visit to Prāgjyothisha. It also raises the possibility of movement of people between Indra Dweepa and India (Dvaraka in particular). One cannot dismiss the fact that both Gujarat and Bangkok (along with Kanchanaburi) are well known for gem cutting and polishing even today – an occupation that could have evolved at the time of Krishna whose primary objective of the trip to Prāgjyothisha could have been to gain control over the gem producing mines. Or why else he should lay the road to Prāgjyothisha?

Though Dvaravati culture started appearing from 4th to 5th century onwards, researchers are of the opinion that a proto-Dvaravati culture must have existed much before that as it would have taken a long time for the sophisticated culture to have come into place in the 4th century. There are Chinese and Buddhist sources to attest to the presence of this culture, but this culture was not Buddhist, but pre-Buddhist according to researchers.

Another interesting confirmation of Krishna’s connection to this place comes from a Khmer inscription dated at 937 CE that gives a list of princes of Chanasapura starting from one Bhagadatta. Bhagadatta is the name of the king of Prāgjyothisha in Krishna’s times. Even before Krishna went to Prāgjyothisha to ‘slay’ Naraka, Bhagadatta had left for the western frontiers of India for fear of Jarāsandha. But his name had remained, perhaps along with his descendants in Mynamar and someone with that name had started a new dynasty.

All this goes to show that the stories on Krishna’s life are not myths; that evidence of Hindu culture, names and temples in Myanmar and Thailad are not of recent origin but as old as Krishna’s times; that Diwali contains in itself more secrets than what we can imagine. All talk of diversity and variation in Diwali are of recent origin perhaps due to disconnect with our past caused by continuous onslaught of invaders. The celebration of Diwali in any part of India bears some connection with Krishna’s journey to Prāgjyothisha while the core concept remains the same ever since Mahabali was lost to the seas!

 

 

 

Challenging Nilesh Oak’s dates of Mahabharata and Ramayana.


Many have attempted to date the Mahabharata war and Ramayana taking inputs from the two Epics. Mr Nilesh Oak (https://nileshoak.wordpress.com/ ) is one among them who has dated Mahabharata war at 5561 BCE and Rama- Ravana war at 12,209 BCE. In an exchange with him on Twitter for open debate I sent to him the following transcripts in a series of tweets on January 8th and 9th of 2018.

Till now he has not replied to my arguments.

– Jayasree

***************

Date of MB is non-negotiable as it is connected with Kali yuga that started 36 yrs after MB war. Traditional date of K.Yuga is 3102 BC, so that of MB is 3138 BC. 3102 BC is the basis of time frame all these 5000 yrs used by rishis & ancestors in Sankalpa for yajnas, puja and lakhs of times everyday even today.

Tamil Siddha hymns also give a formula to deduce the day, star etc of any day, anytime of this time frame of K.Yuga which is perfectly working. To deny this date is Videshi Indology. Our attempt should be to locate this date matching with hints given by Vyasa in MB. If we don’t get this date, it means we haven’t understood the hints correctly.

Hints in MB: Planetary position, Upagrahas, Gara Karana (one of Pancha angas) and terrestrial sightings.

1.Planets:-The reference to planets and their motion at the start of MB war pertains to Nimittha (निमित्त ) and the results/ predictions connected with planetary motions pertain to astrology, and not exactly about the position of those planets as per astronomy. Therefore one must not take the reference to planets at face value.

  1. Upagrahas:- Syama, Dhuma and Ketu mentioned are Upagrahas of planets and located in relation to the respective planet on a particular day. They must support planetary position.
  2. Panchanga factor:– Gara karana appearing in Chitra (5-141-9)

नूनं मह भयं कृष्ण कुरूणां समुपस्थितम
विशेषेण हि वार्ष्णेय चित्रां पीडयते गरहः

Based on all these I derived 3 water-tight  features – Mars in Sravana, Saturn in Purva phalguni and an eclipsed Amavasya in Jyeshta with no eclipses in the preceding and successive pakshas and asked Dr N.Achar in Aug 2013 to check for the date in his astronomy software. He got two dates 3178 BCE and 3030 BCE, of which 3178 BCE is within 40 yrs of traditional date of MB. Details of this decipherment here: http://jayasreesaranathan.blogspot.in/2013/10/is-vedic-astrology-derived-from-greek_5.html

Anyone showing a date less than this is welcome.

Why another year also appeared for the given inputs? Because we took only 3 factors that we are so sure about and they had existed at another date also. But the date closer to traditional date is taken, as the traditional date forms the basis of this research.

 

  1. Terrestrial sightings:- Fierce winds, colour of the sky & of sun, showers of dust, trembling of earth, roaring noises, high waves at the seas, strange behaviour of animals etc narrated by Vyasa as terrestrial happenings fit in with after-effects of a meteor or asteroid hit somewhere on earth. In this context he speaks about Arundhati ahead of Vasistha. Immediately after that he notes that the deer image on the moon had deviated from original position.

Movement of Arundhati and deer image on moon are reported (seen) at the same moment. This is possible due to some atmospheric refraction. (Today both are all right). A meteor/ comet hit somewhere in the globe can cause this making the above mentioned sightings possible.

Around the same time of these sightings, a comet had hit Austria. A Cuneiform tablet prepared in 700 BC explains a meteor-fall 5000 years ago in Austria. Read https://phys.org/news/2008-03-cuneiform-clay-tablet.html#jCp

The date is deciphered as 29th June, 3123 BC! This is 15 yrs after MB war. A dating error could have caused this deviation. But description including the deviation of Arundhati and deer image of the moon is possible due change in the refractive index of the atmosphere caused to particles thrown in the air by meteor-hit.

Next catastrophe happened 36 years after Mahabharata war when Krishna left the world. Massive waves that hit Dwaraka could have been caused by an asteroid hit off the coast of Madagascar 5000 yrs ago. http://discovermagazine.com/2007/nov/did-a-comet-cause-the-great-flood#.UT23fVfsgZI The chevrons around Madagascar testify this. My article here http://jayasreesaranathan.blogspot.in/2013/03/meteor-hit-in-russia-some-thoughts.html

Now taking up Oak’s theory of shift in the position of Arundhati, it can happen only under 2 circumstances. 1. If the earth reverses its direction of rotation, the stars in the circumpolar constellation (Ursa Major) will reverse the direction in which Arundhati will move in front of Vasistha. This reversal is impossible.

  1. When Arundhati (Alcor) comes in front of Vashishta (Mizar) which can happen only after 375,000 yrs! Read http://stars.astro.illinois.edu/sow/mizar.html This cannot happen in a measurable span of human civilization.

What Oak says is with reference to change in equinoctial position or change in poles over 26000 years. The change in equinox – showing a shift in poles can be in understood by this figure.

In the hour-glass like span, earth’s axis draws an arc to and fro. Points A,B,C,D are four pole stars seen aligned with earth’s axis once in 6500 years. Shown in the figure.

For a terrestrial observer on the earth, this to-and fro movement will be 2-dimentional.  See the figure below where points B & D will be noticed at the same point in space. After all within 6500 x 4 yrs shift, the background cosmos does not shift much for observer.

The same is what our ancients had noticed which I showed in another article in another thread. With axis falling in Aries- Libra, the motion goes upto 27 degrees to and fro.

 

Within this the poles shift. For the naked eye observer, Ursa Major does not undergo any change. Take a look at the figure. To and fro oscillation for poles and Ursa Major does not cause change in position of Arundhati for an observer. She will be seen following Vashishta due to the same directional rotation of the earth.

Even across time of 1000s of years, Vashishtha- Arundhati orientation to each does not change due to the gravitational coupling between them. Ursa major may change its shape, but Mizar- Alcor orientation and location  as seen from the earth won’t change. See this video

So what Vyasa noticed was an optical illusion caused by change in the refractive index of the atmosphere, which in turn was caused by a catastrophic meteor hit which is what his observations are about.

That Arundhati would not change position was noticed as early as Skanda’s times. MB 3-229 is about how the wives of 6 out 7 sapta rishis were disowned by their respective husbands and allotted motherhood of Skanda. The import is Arundhati alone stayed put without changing position. That is why she is made an icon of chastity. Such an Arundhati could have never changed position in the past or future. That is why she is exceptional. To say she changed position in the near past was poor understanding of why and how our ancients created certain icons like Arundhati.

Talking on Skanda we move to Ramayana date as Skanda is worshiped in the Mantra of Indra dvaja by Manu (Brihad Samhita 43:54-55) Means Skanda aka Muruga existed before Manu’s times. He was born in Pandyan dynasty as ‘Ugra kumara’ or Muruga and hosted the 1st Sangam age. The dates of 3 sangams deduced after research:

9990 BCE is the date after which Manu must have given the Indradvaja mantra. Only after that the  Ikshvaku dynasty was formed in which Rama was born much later.  Southern Madurai was capital of 1st Sangam age (5550 BC – 9990 BC). After it submerged, Kavaatam became the capital of 2nd Sangam age (5550 BC – 1850 BC). This capital is mentioned in V.Ramayana.

Internal evidence of Ramayana is “Kavatam of Pandyas!” कवाटम् पाण्ड्यानाम् – Valmiki Ramayana, chapter 41 -19). Sugreeva asked vanaras to search there. Date is anywhere between 5550 BC – 1850 BC

That Pandyans were contemporaries of Ravana is known from  Sinnamanur copper plates http://www.whatisindia.com/inscriptions/south_indian_inscriptions/volume_3/copper_plates_at_tirukkalar.html

In Sanskrit it is written “Dasaanan sandheepa rakshakaara”. In Tamil the same is written as “dasavathanan saarbaaka sandhu seithum” Ravana bought peace with Pandyans – same thing told in Raghu Vamsam of Kalidasa 6-62

The location of Pandya is mentioned as “Aalavai” – another name for Kavaatam of the 2nd Sangam age. Read my article. http://jayasreesaranathan.blogspot.in/2017/05/4-early-pandyan-history-found-in-raghu.html  So Rama lived during 2nd Sangam age of Pandyas. Definitely not before 5550 BCE.

Another internal reference: From my ppt presentation in SI3 conference

Now coming to Oak’s date, his date of Ramayana even pre-dates the beginning of Holocene which started around 11,500 yrs before present (BP). It marked the end of Ice age when Himalayas was heavily snow clad. Warmth flowed from south to north starting from 11,000 yrs to 7000 yrs. Only gradually Himalayans glaciers started breaking. So Ganga was not yet born in the time period he has given.

The Indian monsoon had not started at that time – a fact confirmed in Hancock’s vegetation map of India at 10,600 BC. Look at interior Deccan – no Dandakaranya forest. Description of rainy season of V.Ramayana is invalid in this period.

In Oak’s scheme, Vedic civilization goes beyond 15,000 yrs ago. Look at Hancock’s map prepared based on climate, rainfall etc of those times. Only habitable place was west coast, extended beyond present limits and in SE Tamilnadu.

If Oak still thinks that is date is right, let him challenge Hancock who prepared these maps.

Now coming to sea level, a bridge (Setu) could be built only if there is water between India and Srilanka. In the beginning of Holocene Lanka was landlocked like a peninsula – similar to Kathiawar Peninsula. Check out these maps of Hancock based on sea-level maps of Glen Milne. There was no need to build Setu in Oak’s date of Rama!

Till 8,900 BP there was land connection between India and lanka.

By 7000 BP sea level almost reached the current level. Between 7700 BP to 6900 BP, sea waters completely separated Lanka from India for the first time. Only in this period Setu could have been built.

Note this period concurs with Bhatnagar’s date, 2nd Sangam date, and science channel date of boulders and geological studies done there. My article http://jayasreesaranathan.blogspot.in/2017/12/science-channel-on-ram-setu-as-man-made.html

Nutshell: Absence of Ganga and land-locked Lanka in Oak’s date demolish his date of Ramayana. Plus Indian monsoons not yet started and absence of forest formation in Deccan makes his date unrealistic. If he wants to challenge these, let him first disprove Hancock’s maps and the sea-level data.

 

St Thomas myth or Cheran king’s conquest of Yavanas?


St Thomas myth or Cheran king’s conquest of Yavanas?

The falsity of the claim that St Thomas came to India and that Tamils were originally Christians has been exposed variously by Sri Ishwar Sharan.
On the issue of a group of Christians landing in the Malabar coast, let me bring to the notice of the readers some information from Silappadhikaram, written in the 2nd century AD. This book tells about the presence of ‘Yavanas’ in the Kingdoms of all the 3 Tamil kings. The usual refrain is to consider them as Greeks or Romans. There are some who think that they are Muslims (thulukkar). But Islam came into existence much later than Silappadhikaram period. This restricts the religious identity of the Yavanas to Christianity only.

There is a mention of a separate dormitory for Yavanas (yavanar irukkai) in Pumpukar, the Chozhan Capital while explaining the presence of traders at the time of Festival for Indra (Indra viza)
There is a mention of Yavanas as security guards around the fort of Madurai, the Pandyan Capital.
In the case of Cheran kingdom, the mention of Yavanas comes twice in Silapapdhikaram. At both places it is said that Senkuttuvan, the Cheran king conquered the land of Yavanas, the Himalayas and the Southern Kuamri lands.
The yavana land is mentioned as “van sol yavanar vaLanaadu” .
Where was this place?
Was it near the Himalayas from where he procured the stone for building the image of Kannagi?
Or was it a small location of yavanas who settled on the west coast  near his kingdom?
From the description of Yavanas guarding Madurai, it is understood that they were hired by the Tamil kings. They did not mingle with locals but were allotted separate locations as we find in the description in Pumpukar. This shows that yavanas were more or less settled in parts of Tamil nadu even as early as the beginning of the Common Era. The victory of the Cheran king over Yavana nadu could mean his control over the Yavana – locations in Chera nadu which would have become their first landing parts in their journey to Tamilnadu.
The Tamil kings known for their ceaseless warring tendencies could have started the habit of hiring or engaging Yavanas in security posts. The yavanas could have first got introduced to Tamil kings as horse sellers. Horses had an important place in the army of Tamil kings as we find a sutra in Tolkappiyam on the valour of horses used in wars. The Tamil kings must have been on the lookout for the best breed of horses for use as Royal horses and in wars. The horse trading Yavanas in course of time could have found favor with the Tamil kings as experts in war and fighting.
Thus their presence pre dated Silappadhikaram times or even Pre Christian times. But at no time, they were absorbed into local culture by the Tamils. They were considered as Mlecchas and were allowed to follow their life in outskirts.
That is how the settlement in the Malabar coast could have come up, which however came under the jurisdiction of the Cheran King.
The praise on Cheran king in the last chapter of Silappadhikaram, again repeats his victory over ‘Yavana vala naadu’ (யவன வள நாடு).
This is followed by his victory in the Himalayas. So this could also mean his victory over Yavanas in a place west or North west of Himalayas when the Cheran king went on his expedition to the Himalayas. This victory gives rise to a possibility that the conquered yavanas were brought to his land and settled them in the coastal area. The proud Cheran king who did not lose any opportunity to show up his superiority (expressed in Silappadhikaram) could have brought the Yavanas to his kingdom as a rightful conqueror in contrast to other two Tamil kings who hired the Yavanas.
These inputs from Silapapdhikaram show the presence of people of Roman or Greek or Mediterranean origin having permanent settlements in west coast of Cheran kingdom before the 2nd century AD.
The fabrication of St Thomas myth could have been centered around these people.
But it must be noted that the presence of any such groups did not and could not influence the religion that Tamils followed.
The same Cheran king was described by Silapapdhikaram as having conducted Soma yaga in his land.
This must put at rest what religion the Tamils followed in those days.