Astronomy and dating of Indian texts
A new 2ndlooker …
Ganesh Arnaal, a web pioneer, the brain behind mdspeak.com, and a recent 2ndlooker, took the trouble of sending over two books to me. The first book was Dating the Era of Lord Ram by Pushkar Bhatnagar.
Sixty seconds’ worth of distance run
A few years ago, using Valmiki Ramayan and the Planetarium software, the late Pushkar Bhatnagar was able to verify the dates in Valmiki Ramayan – which are presumably that of the real Raghu Ramchandra’s life also. Results were further tested on two other astronomy software platforms by Pushkar Bhatnagar, suffering from cancer of the kidney.
Valmiki Ramayan provides some 50 astronomical descriptions – a combination of planets, stars, sun, moon, solar and lunar eclipses, seasons, months, weather and climate. All allusions do not give all details, but lesser descriptions fit the geater matrix.
Some of the planetary and star positions, given in Valmiki Ramayan, visible to the naked eye, occur once in 25,920 years, explains Pushkar Bhatnagar. For instance, 2 solar eclipses and 1 lunar eclipse in a short span of 11 months are described in Valmiki Ramayan.
Assuming that Raghu Ramchandra was born in the last 30,000 years, Pushkar Bhatnagar has worked out the birthdate of Raghu Ramchandra – 10th January, 5114 BC, 7000 years ago. This inner consistency in Valmiki Ramayan is remarkable – considering that we are talking about a 7000 years old text.
The one apparent drawback in Pushkar Bhatnagar’s book is the lack of an index. Surprising omission. Apart from technical errors like English calendar. What he calls the English calendar is actually the Gregorian calendar – a recent invention, which is a simple solar calendar.
The Indian calendar system is more comprehensive – synchronizing the lunar, solar, planetary and constellation movements. The only one of its kind in history. To add to this complexity, throw in a competing system. The Shaka Samvat calendar, used in Western and South India. The Indian calendar system requires fabulous mathematical skills, tools and techniques. These were skills that thousands of Indians students of jyotish gyan mastered and transmitted across centuries.
Cynics is what cynic does
There has been speculation that these astronomical observations in ancient Indian texts were ‘recent’ insertions or simply a ‘mythological’ technique. Pushkar Bhatnagar claims that some unnamed Western historians have alleged that these astronomical observations were mala fide insertions to ‘back-date’ Indian history.
Pushkar Bhatnagar depends on modern mathematics to certify that such mathematical calculations were not possible in ancient or even during colonial periods – but only after the advent of computers and modern astronomical softwares. Hence, Pushkar Bhatnagar claims, these astronomical observations in Valmiki Ramayan are not subsequent insertions.
He is wrong. Shakuntala Devi Paranjpe, an Indian mathematical wizard, could do huge calculations in milliseconds to seconds. In some cases, faster than computers, is something, she says, she learnt from her father.
Unlike many other calculating prodigies, for example Truman Henry Safford, her abilities did not wane in adulthood. In 1977 she extracted the 23rd root of a 201-digit number mentally. On June 18, 1980 she demonstrated the multiplication of two 13-digit numbers 7,686,369,774,870 x 2,465,099,745,779 picked at random by the Computer Department of Imperial College, London. She answered the question in 28 seconds. However, this time is more likely the time for dictating the answer (a 26-digit number) than the time for the mental calculation (the time of 28 seconds was quoted on her own website). Her correct answer was 18,947,668,177,995,426,462,773,730. This event is mentioned on page 26 of the 1995 Guinness Book of Records ISBN 0-553-56942-2.
Shakuntala Devi Paranjpe’s father was adept at jyotish gyan – apart from acrobatics, card tricks, etc. Jyotish gyan, one of the six vedangs, necessary to understand the vedas. Hence, these calculations were possible in ancient (and modern times) using Indian mathematical tools. But not by using modern mathematical tools.
The answer lies in exposing the cynicism – and not by giving answers or convincing them. Remember – what Peter says about Paul, says more about Peter than about Paul.
- Advent of astronomy (blogs.discovermagazine.com)
- The origin of Christmas – When did it begin? (redantliberationarmy.wordpress.com)
- Ancient astronomy: Mechanical inspiration (nature.com)