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Nilesh Oak developed his version of dating the
Mahabharata by looking at the astronomy references in Mahabharata. For this he
picked up a huge canvass of time based on a reference to Arundhati in the words
of sage Vyasa at the beginning of Mahabharata war.
As the two warring sides assembled in the battle
field, Vyasa talked in private to Dhritarashtra. In the course of this
narration Vyasa says (in Nilesh Oak’s translation)
“My dear King, Arundhati
(saintly wife of Vasishtha) who is revered by the righteous all over the three
worlds, has left her husband Vasishtha behind.” (P 53)
Oak was fascinated by this when he read this for the
first time in the Rutherford library of University of Alberta. He treated this
as an astronomy event and as “Shabda Pramāna”. Using the astronomy
software he found that Arundhati was seen moving in front of Vasishtha at the
meridian (perhaps at Hastinapur) for more than 6000 years, from 11091 BCE to 4508
BCE. He called this period as “The Arundhati Epoch”. By this he deduced that
Mahabharata must have happened only within this period and not later than 4508
Earlier I proved through the following video why he
is wrong on treating the Vyasa’s verse as an astronomy observation based on the
fact that the star couple were in circumpolar movement in his date of Mahabharata
In my 2nd video, I proved why the A-V observation
fails to be a ‘falsifier’ by refuting his claim from Popper’s theory.
Since he used to quote (just quote not apply them in
his research; he only mutilated the original quote of sage Patanjali and
Gautama to suit his version, but that was done later in his blogs and social media, not in
his book) Astika Darshanas, I am giving here my arguments based on the concepts
of the Darshanas to establish that Arundhati did not walk in front of Vasishtha
and that the observation by Vyasa was only about a temporary aberration in the
position of the two stars with reference to each other.
Before proceeding further, let me briefly state why
Arundhati could not have walked in front of Vasishtha anytime in the past. Arundhati
symbolised Pativratātva, by following her husband always. In the celestial
sphere the star Alcor follows Mizar and therefore was identified with Arundhati
and Vasistha respectively. If at all
she has deviated from her path, the Vedic sages could have spotted some other
star as Arundhati – like they picked out Krittika stars – for stability and unwavering
position as a star signifying a rishi-patni. The fact that it did not
happen goes to show that Arundhati was never found to have gone ahead of
Vasishtha. Till date she is continued to be invoked in Vedic marriage mantras
for taking the vow of pativratātva.
However for the first time we come across a
reference to a revolting position of Arundhati by putting Vasishtha at her back
in the words of sage Vyasa while describing the bad omens to King Dhritarashtra
just before the Mahabharata War commenced.
“She, O king, who is
celebrated over the three worlds and is applauded by the righteous, even that
(constellation) Arundhati keepeth (her lord) Vasistha on her
This verse is the only source
or the only reference that Nilesh Oak has taken as pivotal to ascertaining the
date of Mahabharata war. This appearance of Arundhati has been mentioned by
Vyasa as one among several nimittas (omens) seen all around at three levels,
namely terrestrial, atmospheric and celestial.
One can find a definite plan in
this particular verse on Arundhati. Vyasa has employed a clever trick(yukti) to
help decipher what he is coming to say in this verse. This kind of trick is
totally absent in his description of other omens.
In the first line of this verse he makes a statement that describes a universal truth about Arundhati accepted by one and all
across all ages. It says that she is being praised in all the three worlds,
obviously for not obstructing the path of Vasishtha by keeping him at her back.
second line says that she had kept Vasishtha at her back – which is not
what the very name Arundhati stands for.
Of these two statements, if
we take the first one as true then the second statement is absolutely false.
That means the sighting of keeping Vasishtha at her back was a temporary
If we accept the
second statement as true, then the first statement must be false for, the one who had kept Vasishtha at her back could
not have been praised as Arundhati in all the three worlds by righteous people.
By keeping the inherent incompatibility
and contradiction between the two statements within the same verse and
by relating one with the other, Vyasa had delivered the judgement at that time
itself – on which of the two statements is eternally true.
But unfortunately the second
statement was picked up by Nilesh Oak as “Shabda Pramāna”
(p 70) with utter disregard to what constitutes a Shabda Pramāna and how it cannot
be a Shabda Pramāna. Treating the Arundhati observation as Shabda Pramāna, he
seeks to falsify another Shabda Pramāna in the same verse on the symbolism of
This question arises after reading the views of
Nilesh Oak on Shabda Pramāna in different platforms between 2011 and 2019. In
his book he treats A-V observation as a Shabda pramāna. Writing on A-V
observation in the chapter on “The Epoch of Arundhati” he says,
is an illustration of the validity of ‘Shabda Pramāna – Verbal
Testimony’ corroborated by ‘Pratyaksha Pramāna –
Empirical Proof.” (p 70)
Here he treats the sighting of Arundhati – Vasishtha
by Vyasa as Shabda pramāna, and his own verification of the same in the simulator as Pratyaksha Pramāna!
pramana is accepted only if it is about A-V observation. Otherwise he scorns
Shabda and Agama and has even dropped them from Patanjali’s Pramanas for he
thinks that “anytime
‘Agama’ was misunderstood and was interpreted as ‘knowledge beyond doubt, scepticism
or criticism’, humanity has landed in big trouble.” (His blog “Tri-Murti of Scientific Method” https://nileshoak.wordpress.com/2014/10/07/tri-murti-of-scientific-method/)
He accords prime importance to Pratyaksha (he
continues to do this till date) and claims his viewing of the A-V in his
simulator as Pratyaksha pramana. The whole lot of fun that follows this
kind of claim is analysed in my book.
Here let me reproduce from my book the relevant
parts of establishing the true import of A-V observation based on Pramāna literature.
The A-V observation verse by Vyasa is a two-liner
incorporating two ideas of conflicting nature. The first line praises Arundhati
as one ‘who is celebrated over the three worlds and is applauded by the righteous’
(Ganguli translation). The cause for this reverence, though unstated in the
verse is obviously for her status as one who never obstructed the path of her
husband. Only when this is taken as the cause for this statement, the reference
in the second line of keeping her husband in her prishṭha makes
Thus we have two
contradictory statements given by no less a person than Vyasa in the
context of an important observation of the surroundings around him. The entire verse can be taken as Shabda pramāna or Apta
vacana, as the deliverer of the verse is a person of high stature. Of
these two statements, Nilesh Oak has concentrated only on the second one and
failed to consider the relevance of the Shabda nature of the first statement.
Among the different Darshanas, the Purva Mimamsa is
known for advanced thought processes in solving paradoxical and contradictory
passages. When two Pramānas with contradictory connotations are observed for
the same frame of inference, the logical way to solve it is to apply Mimamsa
axiom of Gunapradhanawherein Guna means subordinate and Pradhana
means principal. This axiom has been used by the Indian judiciary in
interpreting contentious clauses.
states that “if a word or sentence purporting to express a subordinate idea
clashes with the principal idea, the former must be adjusted to the latter, or
must be disregarded altogether.”
In the verse by Vyasa, Arundhati praised in all the
three worlds by the righteous people is the Pradhana
statement. The applause was for not obstructing the path of her husband
by crossing his way or moving in front of him. The same Arundhati perceived as
having put her husband at her back is Guna statement
as that was reported only at that time or seen only at that time. Never before
or never after anywhere in the text or by Vyasa himself, the second feature of
Arundhati had ever been reported or recorded.
So the second statement
being Guna in nature has to be read as not disrupting the former (Pradhana)–
meaning to say that Arundhati was not seen putting her husband at her prishṭha
by others, but only by Vyasa – which is possible if it happened for a short period of time –
not long enough to get to be noticed by others.
Secondly, when Guna does not match with Pradhana, such
an observation (Guna) is fit to be discarded as an aberration. It can be said, that as per the logic of Purva Mimamsa,
the reference to Arundhati keeping her husband at her Prishṭha is not factual.
The fundamental pramānas are three – Pratyaksha,
Anumana and Shabda. Nilesh Oak’s contention that Shabda Pramāna has been
internalised and Pratyaksha Pramāna is forgotten, is not correct because the
state of inquiry is such that it is a three-some process starting from
Pratyaksha, and passing through Anumana, finally getting ascertained by Shabda.
To give an example,
I see smoke at a faraway place. This is Pratyaksha.
I guess that there is a fire there. This is Anumana.
But I cannot know anything more than the fact that there is fire - whether it
is accidental or deliberately made for disposing junk. Only Shabda will let me
know what kind of fire it is.
I read the news next day that an accidental fire had
happened. This news report is the Shabda.
So, Pratyaksha may be dubious (the smoke may be from
a kiln or a homa); Anumana can be many; but only Shabda is factual.
Only by referring to Shabda can we know
the right status of knowledge even though the Pratyaksha may have been done by
Therefore his criticism that the academics do not go
beyond the Shabda Pramāna is ill-founded, for, no one can go against the
Shabda Pramāna, not because someone said so but because the basis of Shabda
In the case of Arundhati, all the features of the
symbolism of Arundhati given in the 1st chapter (of my book and in the
1st video) form the solid base for Shabda Pramāna for her stature. When
a reference is made that Vyasa had sighted a deviation in her position, no
academic in the know of ancient wisdom would take it as a permanent or a
prolonged (certainly not for 6000 + years as Nilesh Oak claims) appearance,
for, in such case the deviation would have been recorded in some text and a
prolonged deviation would have dislocated the symbolism of Arundhati and
dislodged her by now from the marriage ritual. When none of them have happened,
the claim that the deviation was tested or corroborated by ‘Pratyaksha
Pramāna’ by a present day researcher is ridiculous, for, the deviation was
the Pratyaksha – or direct perception of Vyasa, not the present day researcher,
in this case, Nilesh Nilkanth Oak.
A perception is a psychological interpretation of
the rupa (form) and jati (structure or generic character) that
could be determinate (nirvikalpa) or indeterminate (vikalpa). The
three-some inquiry then demands the inquirer to go through the process after
having perceived a form. Vyasa had done that and given his final understanding
in that verse itself.
In his verse, Pratyaksha and
Anumana are merged together – that is, on seeing some deviation
(indeterminate perception) in the position of Arundhati, Vyasa inferred
(Anumana) that Arundhati had kept her husband at her prishṭha. That is in the
This is followed by Upamana –
comparing what he saw with her generic position which blends with Shabda that
she is a praiseworthy person for never deviating from her path. The Upamana blended with Shabda was
remembered by him in the first line followed by what he saw and inferred
(Pratyaksha and Anumana). The sequence of
the ideas in the verse – of Shabda coming ahead of his Pratyaksha -Anumana
statement conveys that a quick analysis was done in his
mind by thinking of Shabda vacana or else he would not have
brought first, her unwavering position for which she is praised, before
expressing what he inferred from seeing.
This can happen, i.e. cross checking with the Shabda
vacana and invoking the same to clear his mind of what he perceived - if what he saw lasted for a short duration.
On the contrary
if it is true that Arundhati had been going ahead of Vasishtha for thousands of
years before Vyasa’s times as claimed by Nilesh Oak, there is no in logic in recalling her generic
position which Vyasa had never seen in his life time. A configuration
that had been in existence for more than 5000 years before Vyasa’s times would
have come to be accepted as a regular position and there is no place for
comparative (first) statement in that verse. Vyasa should have just said
that Arundhati in front position is bad.
NILESH OAK's take on ‘What if Arundhati is not
an astronomy observation’
there is no response or refutation from him for any of my rebuttals of A-V as a
falsifier – given in my book and in my videos,I
am constrained to post here his words on what he would do if A-V observation is
found not to be an astronomy event.
He declared at the beginning of the 6th
chapter on ‘The Epoch of Arundhati’ (p53),
‘Arundhati’ does not qualify as the most unambiguous astronomical evidence in
determining the date of Mahabharata War, let’s stop talking about astronomical
evidence in Mahabharata.”
Arundhati does not qualify as astronomy evidence. And no response means accepting my rebuttal. Shall I ask,
Would Nilesh Oak stop
talking about all the astronomy evidences in Mahabharata and close shop?