Saturday, May 11, 2013
The Veethi concept described in Part -5 contains in itself the rashi divisions. Without the prior division of the zodiac into 12 Rashis, this Veethi concept could not have been formed. The 3 Veethis are named by the first 3 rashis of the Zodiac but had different rashis in them. That is, Mesha Veethi started in Rishabha. Rishabha Veethi did not have Rishabha but had the rashis in which the spring and autumn equinoxes keep shifting. Similarly the Mithuna Veethi did not contain in itself Mithuna but had different rashis. This goes to show that the naming was that of the order of the zodiacal names, like counting one, two, three etc or 1st street, 2nd street and 3rd street.
Going by the description of Ram Setu as Swati Padam, it is seen that the Veethi concept had existed during Ramayana times itself. The Tamil translation and commentary to Valmiki Ramayana by A.V. Narasimhachari (1935 publication) quotes earlier commentaries on Swathi padam as part of the Madhya Veethi that consisted of Hastha, Chitra and Swathi. The commentary also says that Vayu Purana mentions three Veethis as Arshabha, Madhyai and Ajagava where Swathi nakshatra is located in Madhya Veethi. Skeptics would easily "date" Vayu Purana to a much recent times, but what it contains is something that belonged to an olden period.
In olden times it was a practice to see anything with some connection with God. For example they just did not want to say Mithuna Veethi but wanted to express it with some memory of God. Arudra came in handy though it had nothing to do with Dakshina Veethi. The Tamils remembered Shiva as one with Jata mudi (sadai in Tamil) for Arudra whereas in Sanskrit it was related to Ajagava (bow of Shiva). The Gods were remembered foremost wherever possible. Where they had to mention a star's name, they mentioned the deity of the star to denote the star. This practice must be remembered in analysing whether the names of stars and planets are found mentioned in the sruti texts.
Before going further, I want to say a word on another issue that I came across in the sidelines of this mail- chain. It is about the date of Ramayana and its occurrence in Tretha Yuga over lakhs of years ago. One who knows the Epics well would know what they tell about Yugas. The Yugas are many – one of which is explained by Rig Jyothisha which is no longer in vogue today. The Chathur Maha yuga comes into the picture as a Galactic Time scale which is used in sankalpa mantras to locate the ritual that we are going to do in the space and time scheme of Parardha. At human level, it is the proportion of Dharma that defines a Yuga which is symbolised by the 4 feet of a cow. When the Galactic Kali Maha yuga started, Pareekshit stalled the entry of kali into his country, which is not possible if it is only about the exact counting of numbers. The count applies to Maha yuga – consisting of roughly 20 rounds of the sun around the Milky Way in one Kalpa.
In human reckoning, dharma decides the Yuga. There are various explanations for this given by Hanuman, Kunthi, Markandeya, Sanjaya, Bheehsma etc in Mahabharata – a text supposedly written by Vyasa "if he existed"(!). As the 5th Veda, both Ramayana and Mahabharata give us all the knowledge of Vedanta as well as world issues in their entirety as applicable for tri-kala – past – present and future. It is upto us seek this knowledge.
The identification of time as a particular yuga on the basis of Dharma had continued until 1000 years ago which we see in the date of some Vaishnavite Alwars in the Guru Parampara records as being born in Krita Yuga or Threta Yuga. The names of Kings in their periods are also known who come in the recent history. This shows that mention of Krita yuga or Threta Yuga as the yugas of birth of these Alwars do not refer to the Chathur Maha yugas. The reference is apparently to the Dharma yuga classification, which is mentioned in Mahabharata. The period of a Dharmic king was called as Krita Yuga. Kunthi says this in Mahabharata that a King makes the Yuga and not the other way round.
Yet another confusion is with reference to the thousands of years associated with Rama, Dasaratha etc. Rama was supposed to have ruled for 11,000 years. This idea itself is enough for the Westerner to call Ramayana as a myth. But they must know that there are no myths or beliefs in our system. Behind everything, there is some symbolism or metaphorical or allegorical explanation. It calls for deeper analysis which one cannot master in a single life time. That is why we sound skeptical when a foreigner passes a judgment on Vedic issues as though he or she had mastered them.
Coming to the unbelievable long years for Rama, let me quote a similar description for the Pandyan King Maakeerthi, under whose president ship Tholkappiyam was inaugurated. In his commentary to this book written in the 9th century, the commentator (by name Nacchinaarkkiniyar) had written that the King ruled for 24,000 years!
Behind this exaggeration, there is an explanation which I heard from Prof Vartak quoting Mahabharata and which I noticed in a Tamil Sangam text too (PathiRRup patthu - verse 90) . As per this, a day is equal to a year for the person who lives in accordance with Vedic Dharma. (Mahabharata – 3-49, verse 21 "ahorātraṃ mahārāja tulyaṃ saṃvatsareṇa hi" ). By this Rama ruled for 30 years and 6 months and Maakeerthi ruled for 66 years and 8 months. Like this there are many meanings and applications. People who have just sighted the tip of the iceberg like this, know that much more remains to be explored.
Coming to the issue to be discussed in this article, the Veethi concept pre-supposes the knowledge of rashi. If skeptics refuse to accept the historicity of Rama –which has so much internal consistency in terms of places and in whose time Pandyans ruled form Kavaatam (कवाटम् पाण्ड्यानाम् – Valmiki Ramayana, chapter 41 -19) (the Pandyan Kingdom with capital in Kavatam lasted between 1850 BC and 5550 BC if we go by literary evidence from two different sources in Tamil), let me start from the basic logic of what is a rashi.
How do you define Rashi?
Members of this mail- chain provided the meaning of Rashi from Sanskrit sources. Let me provide from the old Tamil Thesaurus (9th century book - equivalent of Amarakosha) called Choodamani NigaNdu (chapter 8 – verse 4). It gives 15 words including Rashi as having the same meaning "Koottam" – which means crowd or group. Of the 14 other words, 2 words can be easily understood by non-Tamils too. They are "sangam' and 'samudAyam'. Both mean a group or collection or association or a gathering etc. A common feature is that the units of this group can be counted and the size of the group can be expressed as a number.
1. தொழுதி = கூட்டம், திரட்சி
(thozuthi = crowd, accumulated)
2. குவவு = திரட்சி, குவியல், கூட்டம், ஒன்றோடு ஒன்று பிணைகை. (kuvavu = accumulated, heap, crowd, joining with one another)
3. தோடு = தொகுதி
(thOdu = group )
4. தொகை = கூட்டம், சேர்க்கை
(thogai = crowd, joining or assembled)
5. குழு = மக்கள் கூட்டம், தொகுதி
(kuzhu = crowd of people, group)
6. கோட்டி = சபை, கூட்டம், கூடியிருக்கை.
(kOtti = sabha, crowd, gathered together)
7. சமவாயம் = கூட்டம்
(samavAyam = crowd)
8. நிகாயம் = கூட்டம்
(NigAyam = crowd)
9. குப்பை =' குவியல், கூட்டம்
(kuppai = heaped together, crowd)
10. குழுமல்= கூடுகை, கூட்டம்
(kuzhumal = gathered together, crowd)
11. குவால் = குவியல், கூட்டம்
(kuvAl = heap, crowd)
12. குவிதல் = பொருந்துதல், குவியலாதல், ஒருமுகப்படுதல்
(kuvithal = fitting together, gathering together, singularly concentrated)
13. சங்கம் = கூட்டம், சபை
(sangam = assembly, sabha)
14. சமுதாயம் = மக்களின் திரள், பொதுவானது
(samudAyam = gathering of people, common)
15. ராசி= கூட்டம், பொருத்தம், வரிசை.
(rAsi (in Tamil 'shi' is written as 'si' – rAsi) = crowd or assembly, fitting, in line)
A common feature in all these words is that it is about a group or gathering where the constituents fit together and can also be counted.
In this connection, let me draw the attention of readers to an inscription found in Arulalap PerumaL temple in Kancheepuram, Tamilnadu.
It tells about a donation of "Nellur mAdai" (gold coins used in Nellur of today's Andhra Pradesh) with its equivalent denomination used in that temple as "PerumaL Rasi"! (please note rAshi is pronounced and written as 'rAsi' in Tamil).
(A. R. No. 356 of 1919).
Little Conjeeveram, Conjeeveram Taluk, Chingleput District.
On the east side of the 'rock' in the Arulala-Perumal temple.
This inscription refers to the provision made for a lamp in the 20th year of the chief. It records the agreement made by the trustees of the temple of Arulalap-Perumal to burn a perpetual lamp before the god for 15 Nellur-madai received by them from Sevvakkan, sister-in-law of Annaladevan of Nellur.
This record gives 15 Nellur-madai as equivalent to 331 Perumal-rasi[panam].
The word "madai" in Nellur Madai must be read as "mAdai", which is the name for gold coins that were used as money. Nellur mAdai is the gold coins used in Nellur. I located this word in the book of compilation of terms used in inscriptions ("kalvettugaL kAttum kalaich choRkaL" – by Dr R.K. Alagesan, and edited by Dr V. Vedachalam, of Tamilnadu archeological department, Madurai)
This word "mAdai" appears in several inscriptions to denote the gold coins as legal tender released by the kings. What was released by one king, did not continue in another king's reign. That is why we find a variety of mAdai such as 'Rajarajan mAdai', 'BhujapAlan mAdai', 'MadhurAnthaka dEvan mAdai' and so on. Nellur mAdai came from Nellur. These coins were not always identical nor were they of same and standardized weight. So when donations were made in mAdai to a temple, it became necessary to convert them in to a standardized denomination. In the above inscription we find such a standardized denomination which went by the name "Rasi"!
Like mAdai which were released in the king's name, the collection of mAdai (gold coins) that had gone to the God's account in a temple has been called by the name of God. In the above inscription it has been called as "Arulalap perumaL – Rasi". Going by the meanings given above, it becomes clear that the term rasi signifies a collection of countable numbers. In this case (of gold coins), it is called as Rasi. The exchange rate is also given in the inscription as 15 Nellur mAdai = 331 Arulalap-perumaL Rasi. This shows the use of the word 'Rashi'in different contexts.
Rasi appears as names of Pundits or Gurus too. Names such as "Naga- rAsi Pundit" and "Amirtha-rAsi Pundit" are seen in temple inscriptions in Kongu region. There is even a place called "RAsi-puram" near Salem in Tamilnadu. Inscriptions on names such as Naga-rAsi pundits appear near this place making archeologists think that it is perhaps due to their presence (some Pundits collectively known as Rasi) this place got this name as "Rasi puram". All this goes to show that the word Rasi has a particular meaning and was used where that meaning was applicable.
With this revelation, if we look at the ChandOgya Upanishad verse on rashi, the meaning as given in Shankara Bhashyam gives us a better insight. In page 164 of this book, the meaning of Rashi is given as "the science of numbers; mathematics"
This shows that Adi Shankara defines Rashi as something that involves numbers and mathematics.
Now applying this meaning to the texts we have, let me begin from the Tamil verse I quoted in the last article.
தெருவிடைப் படுத்த மூன்று ஒன்பதின் இருக்கையுள்
" Theruvidaip paduttha mUnRu onpathin irukkaiyuL.."
theruvidaip paduththa – classified as streets
mUnRu = three
onpathithin = of nine
irukkaiyuL = in the rashi (literal meaning seat, place of stay)
Here we can understand 3 streets. And then comes the expression "of nine in the seat (irukkai)" which the commentator has written as "Rashi"
This refers to 9 star-padas that are found together – which makes it or which gives the name 'rashi'. The Thesaurus meaning of countable entities gathering together fits here; the shankara bhashya definition of number science also fits here.
We can see the same expression in Brihad Jataka too, where in verse 4 of Chapter 1, he says
"Meshaha Ashvi prathama Nava Riksha charana chakraha stitha Rashayaha"
"commencing with Mesha and ashwini, formed by nine padas of stars in a circle in rashi"
Here we see that the countable numbers are gathered together. The word used here is Rashi and not the other words which he lists down in the next line. A word is used in a specific context, only on the basis of the taatparya or a specific meaning in the context. In the above line, Varahamihira used the word Rashi because he was referring to a grouping of 9 charanas of the stars.
Immediately after this line, Varahamihira gives the synonyms of the zodiacal sign (not Rashi) as Rashi, kshetra, Gruha, Ruksha, Bha and Bhavana.
When the zodiacal sign is signified as a collection of countable numbers (of stars or star padas), it is called as Rashi.
When the zodiacal sign is signified as a region or place (where planets reside), it is called as Kshetra.
When the zodiacal sign is signified as a house (for a planet) it is called as Gruha.
When the zodiacal sign is signified as a star (which serves as mansion for moon), it is called as Ruksha.
When the zodiacal sign is signified as light (illumined by Sun and the stars), it is called as Bha.
When the zodiacal sign is signified as a dwelling (for planets and stars), it is called as Bhavanam.
Thus we see a clear definition for each word used for the signs such as Mesha, Rishabha etc. By this and the earlier example of rashi in temple inscription, it is known that it is a fallacy to define Rashi as just the zodiacal sign. It is a zodiacal sign because of such and such a reason. It has a specific contextual application and can be used as such.
With this insight let us take a look at Rig and Yajur Vedanga Jyothisha.
The word "rashi" is indeed present in them.
Yes, the word "rashi" is there in Rig Jyothisha which gets repeated in Yajusha Jyothisha.
Verse 4 in Rig Jyothisha and 13 in Yajusha Jyothisha do mention rashi in the context of Parva- Rashi.
The number of parvas for any given time period in the 5 year yuga was calculated as ParvaNam Rashi - the Rashi of the Parvas. If someone says that this is not the 'Rashi' they meant, then it is ridiculous. For, this verse shows that the word "rashi" was there in use at the time of Rig Jyothisha itself. If the opponents claim that Rashi as zodiacal sign was a Greek invention, this verse proves that the word Rashi was present with a specific meaning which is applicable to rashi as a zodiacal sign as well. This idea is indigenous to Vedic society and we would say that it had been lifted by the Greeks.
Moreover the meaning and application of the word Rashi shows that it is used wherever a group of countable entities are present. The concept is in Vedic society and in Vedanga Jyothisha. As a zodiacal sign, the word rashi has the meaning as a collection of star padas. Such a word signifying Mina Rashi is there in a verse of Yajusha Jyothisha, but it is dismissed as an interpolation – because rashi was Greek creation!! See how people make easy judgments under the influence of the propaganda!
A mind untainted by the propaganda would accept this verse as original, because this says how to identify the year of Jupiter in a round of 12 years starting from Vishnu onwards (Brihad samhitha - chapter 8 on Jupiter). The entire Rig and Yajusha Jyothisha shows that they are meant for identifying the nAdika, muhurtha, thithi, nakshatra, parva, mAsa, rithu, ayana and year in the 5 year yugas of Jupiter that had 5 rounds of 12 around the zodiac. In the available slokas of Vedanga Jyothisha, we have methods of computation for everything except the Year!
There must be also present verses on how to determine the year of Jupiter in the 5 year Yuga cycle and the 12 year cycle of Jupiter that starts with Vishnu and ends with Bhaga and in the 60 year grand cycle of Jupiter (if it was present at that time). But the first two or atleast the first one regarding the 5 year yuga must have been there in Rig and Yajusha Jyothisha. Viewed from that logic, it perfectly makes sense that there must have been some verses on the identification of Jupiter year in the scheme.
The Yuga begins with the heliacal rising of Jupiter in Dhanishta (in Kumbha) after combustion with Sun in its sign of debilitation. Dhanishta 2nd pada in Capricorn is the maximum extent the solstice can go in Capricorn (the explanations in the previous part - on 27 degree sway of the equinox on either side of Chitrai Vishu means that there will be 27 degree sway on either side of the two solstices also with the beginning of Capricorn and cancer as the centre.). The reappearance after combustion or conjunction with sun is an important occasion in Vedic astrology. The re-emergence of moon after conjunction with sun heralds the beginning of a new month. The re-appearance of Mars and Venus also are explained in Brihad Samhita. In the case of Jupiter the reappearance heralds a new 12 year cycle for Jupiter. The re-appearance of Jupiter in Dhanishta after the Sun crossed Dhanishta happens in Aquarius. The completion of the first year for Jupiter from then onwards happens in Pisces. That is why the calculation of the year of Jupiter is counted from Mina Rashi in the above verse.
This calculation is perfectly logical as it makes sense and completes the missing parts related to the 5 year yuga explained in Vedanga Jyothisha. The Parva Rashi is present in Vedanga Jyothisha. The 9 star-pada rashi must also have been there, as the basic purpose of the vedic society was to worship star lords – something we find in the JAvAdi series given in verse 14. Such being the import of the word Rashi, to say that rashi is a zodiacal 'sign' invented by the Greeks is baseless.
With this I am moving on to the next topic Hora, as the indigenous concept of the Vedic society in my next article.
(to be continued)
The simple explanation to understand Yugas is by food production. In Krita Yuga, people ate what was naturally available. In Tretha Yuga (when Rama lived), food was cultivated which involved some disturbance to the earth. In Dwapara yuga earth was tilled (Balarama with the plough symbolizes this Yuga) by breaking the ground and causing harm to many organisms in the ground. In Kali yuga food is not available by natural means and got through lot of harm to many organisms. The food production history of India can be ascertained from the archeological history of Indian sub continent that goes upto 12,000 years before present