Saturday, May 9, 2020
Indic Past Series 3: Time period of Skanda deduced from climatic descriptions.
The 3rd part of the Indic Past Series moves on to the next step of deducing the time period of Skanda based on the climatic references found in the birth legends of Skanda gleaned from Valmiki Ramayana and Kalidasa’s Kumara Sambhava. The video can be watched here:
The birth legends of Skanda are many but all of them have a common thread of events. The events are found repeated but the deductions had been different, perhaps changing with time. The events are mostly metaphorical of natural or geological happenings but cited with some hints of cosmic or climatic nature giving scope to deduce the time period of the events, thereby of Skanda. Ultimately all the events and the hints are associated with a real character, Skanda who lived at that time. The reality of Skanda as a human being who walked on this earth will be discussed in the course of this series.
In Markandeya’s narration in Mahabharata, Skanda’s birth is infused with a mythical element as one born from the union of Svaha with Adbhuta the Agni. One of Skanda’s works was to redesign the zodiac by adding Krittika in the 27-star count. This event gets mythical in Valmiki Ramayana and Kumara Sambhava besides adding newer elements in the birth legend with climatic hints to decipher the time period of Skanda and the events associated with him. The Krtttika star group that was promoted by Skanda as part of the zodiac was made the foster mother of Skanda in these texts. The bottom line is that Krittika stars had some connection with Skanda’s times.
The climatic events match with ‘Younger Dryas’ when a sudden drop in temperature followed the rising temperature at the end of Ice Age. This raises the scope to interpret that Skanda had lived at the junction of two epochs – the end of the Last Glacial Maxima and the beginning of Holocene. The change over from glaciation to de-glaciation marks the change of the epoch perhaps caused by the change in eccentricity of earth’s orbit that is documented in one of the astrological Siddhantas, to be discussed later, sounds more perfect compared to Milankovitch theory. The epoch change that matches with Indic perception of precession (not with western perception) had come up with newer revelations with reference to certain stars such as Arundhati, Vasishtha, Abhijit and Krittika in the narration of Markandeya. It is a sad state of events that Indians themselves are not at all aware of these.
The basis of this hypothesis of the hint at climatic change lays in the marriage legend of Uma, the younger sister of Ganga with Shiva not really producing an offspring, given in some detail in Ramayana and Kumara Sambhava. On the insistence of Agni Deva, Shiva transfers to him whatever “tejas” he could produce. Tejas means light or glow or fiery energy. That was carried by Agni but deposited by him on the slopes of the snowy Himalayas, unable to bear it any longer. This caused reed-growth on the slopes from which Skanda was born, says Ramayana.
The same narration is altered in the very next chapter of Ramayana where it is said that Agni Deva transferred the Tejas to Ganga in the hope that she would grow the embryo to the full form as a child. But Ganga too found it difficult to bear the embryo / Tejas and slid it on the slopes. This resulted in reed- growth from which Kumara was born. Since he was born from that which is shed or fallen or cast off, he came to be known as Skanda (from Skanna). The same narration is repeated in Kumara Sambhava.
The transference of Tejas, whatever of it was available from Shiva, the significator for sun or fire, that was further let off by Agni and the glaciated Ganga on the slopes of the Himalayas sounds metaphorical of the first spread of solar radiation or heat on the Himalayan slopes at the end of Ice age. Initially it started impacting the region of Uma, in the north west of Ganga (Gangotri) but got aborted. That is now the famous Amarnath Snow Linga – the peak known as Paruppadam (Barbara) in Tamil texts where the kings of the three Tamil dynasties engraved their emblems long ago. A serious exploration of the Amarnath peak might get us to see those engravings.
The advent of Younger Dryas caused by a comet hit brought out an abrupt end to the spread of heat in the Himalayas. This was described as loss of heat radiation from north to south with only a shred of it falling on the southern slopes of the Himalayas. By bringing Ganga into the picture, the myth making sages has indicated the location of the solar glow on the slopes south of Gangotri. Ramayana further states that minerals are also available in that region. This corresponds to the southern slopes of the Himalayas in the state of Uttarakhand where reed-growth and mineral presence are noticeable.
This birth legend of Skanda ends up with Skanda being made the commander in chief of the Devas. To know what he did as the commander in chief, we get continuity in Kumara Sambhava where it is stated that Skanda was made the commander in chief to destroy Tarakasura! The fight with Taraka brings us back to the old and original story of natural burst of volcanoes witnessed in Skanda’s times. Traraka was the brother of Shura killed by Skanda. Kumara Sambhava picks out only the fight with Taraka whereas Adi Shankara hints at the fight with three that include Taraka. The fight with all the three and others continue in Tamil literature and in the temple tradition of Tiruchendur.
A special addition in Kumara Sambhava is the sorry fate of Kama deva. A closer analysis of the passages reveals that his inclusion also is part of the clever strategy to hint at the climatic change impacting the spread of insolation in the Himalayan region. Kama emerges in the scene to facilitate the marriage of Uma with Shiva. To seduce Shiva, Kamadeva induces an untimely spring (akAla vasanata) of sprouts and flowers in the Himalayan slopes, but he was burnt by Shiva. With that the short spring was gone. The import of this is that whatever sprouted withered away.
Initially the increasing insolation from south to north towards the end of the Ice age caused the first sprout of vegetation in the Himalayas. The sad story of Kamadeva hints at the abrupt end of it caused by Younger Dryas. Further loss of heat is hinted by the story of transfer of available Tejas sliding down the slopes south of Gangotri facilitating the growth of reeds. The clump of reeds is known as ‘SharavaNa’. By having said that was Skanda born from Sharavana, the sages had hinted at the time of Skanda’s birth. He was born after the comet-hit that caused Younger Dryas. We will be discussing all that in future episodes.
For now we are able to get a clear upper limit of the Indic chronology that started with Skanda. It was between 12,900 to 11,700 BP.
Vaivasvata Manu, Rama and Rig Veda had appeared after this date only. Any research claiming the date of Ramayana during or before this date is therefore untenable.