from the 13th chapter of my book
of "The Epoch of Arundhati" of Nilesh Nilkanth Oak)
Many have tried
to interpret the so-called ‘Fall of Abhijit’ in varied ways. I have also taken
up a discussion on the star Abhijit (Vega) and it’s ‘Fall’ because it is
discussed in a context where the first ever Vedic Homa was done by none other
than Skanda! This information on the Vedic past lying un-touched in the narration
of Markandeya makes a compelling and intense reading to unravel the mysteries
In the same
context the unwavering position of Arundhati (the star Alcor) is also mentioned
by Markandeya in Mahabharata. 
That was also the first time we come across a reference to the moving away of
the wives of the other six rishis of the Saptarishis (seven stars of Ursa
Major). That narration also refers to the substitution of Abhijit by the star
Krittika (Pleiades) and a re-design of the zodiac.
occurs in Vana Parva of Mahabharata when sage Markandeya met the Pāndava
brothers residing in the forest of Kāmyaka. One of the inquisitive queries
raised by the Pāndavas was about the birth of Skanda, who is also known as
Kumara. The reply by the sage covers the entire story of the birth and works of
Skanda in the course of which we come to hear about the ‘Fall’ of Abhijit star
and the start of the Vedic culture by Skanda, that pre-dated Vaivasvata Manu!
runs into many chapters and sounds allegorical of the events around Skanda’s
birth and growth. Two types of natural calamities are described in that
narration, one caused by heavy downpour and lightning strikes on mountains or
hills accompanied with a tectonic burst and another indicative of a terrible
comet or asteroid hit that caused havoc in most of the Northern hemisphere. In
between these events occurs the recognition of the “Fall of Abhijit.” Let me
briefly go through them.
The birth of
Skanda is well known from Valmiki Ramayana but this Mahabharata version is
truly a revelation on many things including the birth of Vishakha.
Skanda’s birth is described by Markandeya as having happened from the Adbhuta
Fire begotten to the wives of the Brahma-rishis who were none other than the
wives of six rishis of the Saptarishis.
As per Vayu Purana,
Adbhuta was the son of Savana, the fire used for cooking flesh. It
was not a sacred fire, nor used for sacred purposes. He (Adbhuta) had an
intense desire for the wives of the Saptarishis. (Here we are clueless about
who the wives were as we know only of Arundhati (Alcor), the wife of Vasishtha (Mizar)
in the binary system. Anyway let us move further with the story to know the
import). Unable to gratify his desire, he repaired to the forest with the
certain objective of destroying himself. (This seems to be indicative of a time
when fire was less in use or the ‘heat’ of the fire or ‘heat’ of the sun was
very less. The time was perhaps before the onset of Holocene)
There was a
woman called ‘Svaha’ who was the daughter of Daksha. (Being the daughter Daksha
Prajapati implies that she (it) has an inevitable existence in Nature). She
wanted to marry Adbhuta who was referred to as Hutasana or Agni in the text.
But Agni was not interested in her and he only longed to get the wives of the
Svaha devised a plan to lure Agni. Each day she impersonated one of the wives
of the Saptarishis and cohabited Agni. Over six days she impersonated the wives
of six rishis and collected the semen in a golden lake. She could not
impersonate Arundhati due to the ascetic merit of Arundhati, says Markandeya.
This is allegorical of the nature of Arundhati that she was not found moving
away from her position of following Vasishtha!
From the semen
of the Agni collected by Svaha, in the guise of wives of six rishis, Skanda was
born with six faces! Seated on top of a hill he broke the Krauncha hill with
his weapons and started becoming powerful. On coming to know of the complicity
of their spouses in the birth of Skanda, the six rishis abandoned their wives.
Meanwhile Skanda grew up in prowess and this made the celestials feel
threatened. They sought refuge in Indra who went on a war with Skanda. A fierce
battle ensued in which Indra threw his thunder-bolt that pierced Skanda on his
right side. This caused another being coming out of Skanda who attained the
to mean ‘born out of piercing’. On seeing the indomitable strength of Skanda,
Indra sought truce with him.
of the war by Indra in which he used the thunderbolt conveys the event of a
lightning strike that probably split a hill or a mountain or caused damage to
it. It could also mean lava burst from a fissure that occurred at the time of
lightening as the narration says that Skanda diffused the thunder showers of
Indra by blowing out fire. This is metaphorical of a simultaneous lava-burst
causing a fissure on the ground when there was a heavy rainfall. But rainfall
stopped once after the fire burst out of the fissure, and this was expressed as
Indra seeking truce with Skanda.
The splitting of
the ground came to be regarded as ‘Vishakha’ and the text describes this as
Vishakha born out of Skanda. Many people died and many were born after this
event and those born after this event identified themselves as the Children of
“A number of male children came into being when Skanda was struck
with the thunder-bolt, those terrific creatures that steal spirit away from
little children, whether born, or in the womb and a number of female children
too of great strength were born to him. Those
children adopted Visakha as their father.”
On seeing the
prowess of Skanda, Indra got Devasena, the daughter of Daksha, married to him.
Devasena has other names that we are familiar with!
skandasya mahiṣīṃ devasenāṃ vidur budhāḥ
ṣaṣṭhīṃ yāṃ brāhmaṇāḥ prāhur lakṣmīm āśāṃ sukhapradām
sinīvālīṃ kuhūṃ caiva sadvṛttim aparājitām
who is called Shashthi, Lakshmi, Asa, Sukhaprada, Sinivali, Kuhu, Sadvritti,
and Aparajita, is known among men as Devasena, the wife of Skanda”)
Then comes the
narration that the abandoned wives of the six rishis approached Skanda and wanted
him to erase the bad name they earned. Skanda accepted them as his mothers. After
this Indra approached Skanda and talked about Abhijit, given in four verses in
the narration of Markandeya in Mahabharata.
abhijit spardhamānā tu
rohiṇyā kanyasī svasā
icchantī jyeṣṭhatāṃ devī tapas taptuṃ vanaṃ gatā
tatra mūḍho 'smi bhadraṃ te nakṣatraṃ gaganāc cyutam
kālaṃ tv imaṃ paraṃ skanda brahmaṇā saha cintaya
dhaniṣṭhādis tadā kālo
rohiṇyādyo 'bhavat pūrvam evaṃ saṃkhyā samābhavat
evam ukte tu śakreṇa trividaṃ kṛttikā gatāḥ
nakṣatraṃ śakaṭākāraṃ bhāti tad vahni daivatam.
by Ganguli: (Vasava said,) The
lady Abhijit, the younger sister of Rohini, being jealous of her
seniority, has repaired to the woods to perform austerities. And I am at a loss to find out a substitute for the
fallen star. May good luck attend on thee, do
thou consult with Brahma for the purpose of filling up the room of
this great asterism. Dhanishtha and other
asterisms were created by Brahma, and Rohini used to serve the
purpose of one such; and consequently their number was full. And in accordance
with Sakra's advice, Krittika was assigned a place in the
heavens, and that star presided over by Agni shines as if with seven
The substance of
these verses can be split as follows:
1. Abhijit, jealous of her elder sister Rohini
retired to the forest to do tapas.
2. Indra could not find a substitute for Abhijit.
3. Brahma had assigned the foremost place for
Dhansihtha and also for Rohini and their number was full.
4. On the advice of Indra, Skanda assigned a place
for Krittika in the heavens.
followed by Svaha approaching Skanda expressing her desire to marry Agni.
dakṣasyāhaṃ priyā kanyā svāhā nāma mahābhuja
bālyāt prabhṛti nityaṃ ca jātakāmā hutāśane
na ca māṃ kāminīṃ putrasamyag jānāti pāvakaḥ
icchāmi śāśvataṃ vāsaṃ vastuṃ putra sahāgninā
Translation by Ganguli:
'O mighty being, I am the favourite daughter of Daksha, by name Svaha; and from
my youthful days I have been in love with Hutasana (the Fire-god); but
that god, my son, does not understand my feelings. I desire to live for ever
with him (as his wife).”
“From this day, lady, all the oblations that men of virtuous character, who
swerve not from the path of virtue, will offer to their gods or ancestors with
incantation of purifying hymns by Brahmanas, shall always be offered
(through Agni) coupled with the name of Svaha, and thus, excellent lady,
wilt thou always live associated with Agni, the god of fire.”
havyaṃ kavyaṃ ca yat kiṃ cid dvijā mantrapuraskṛtam
hoṣyanty agnau sadā devi svāhety uktvā
adya prabhṛti dāsyanti suvṛttāḥ satpathe sthitāḥ
evam agnis tvayā sārdhaṃ sadā vatsyati śobhane
further with the sequence of the narrative, Skanda also known as Kartikeya was
anointed as the Commander-in-chief of the celestials with none to equal him. He
was sent with all paraphernalia and was seen off by Sankara.
After Skanda was
seen off by Sankara and Uma, there occurred a terrible shower of weapons on the
celestials and towards where Sankara and other celestials stood. This account, though
sounding like mythological warfare, contains description that smacks of a comet
or asteroid breaking into pieces by showering numerous fiery canons (Shatagni),
hillocks (parvata) and rocks in all directions and particularly in the
direction where Sankara stood.
into action immediately by hitting them back again and again with his weapon
called Sakti that returned back to him after hitting. At last Skanda
successfully exterminated the enemies (Danavas) and this earned him a great
name as one in the image of Rudra. With this the narration ends with a eulogy
narration of Skanda’s birth contains a number of allegorical events. The use of
specific names for Skanda hints at the location where the birth and events had
taken place. The events of the catastrophe have a parallel with the Tamil
version of Skanda’s life. Vishakha’s
sons had peopled India and started an important lineage of India. Most important
of all, the marriage of Svaha with Agni facilitated by none other than Skanda
makes a decisive statement on when, where and by whom the Vedic tradition was
initiated. When we know where all these events had happened we get a pleasant
surprise of what was meant by Abhijit retiring to the forest. Let me elaborate
decoded from the narration is the marriage of Svaha with Agni. Svaha is the
term chanted while making the oblations in the Homa fire. Without Svaha, no
oblations are made. Therefore marriage of Svaha with Agni can only refer to the
first ever time the practice of offering oblations into fire was started. This
is nothing but the birth of Homa culture that forms the basis of the Vedic
Skanda had conducted this marriage goes to show that Skanda was the first one
to have started the Vedic Homa and thereby the Vedic culture!
Skanda had been
explicit in saying that by this marriage of Svaha and Agni, people can offer
oblations (Havya and Kavya) to Gods and ancestors.
The terms ‘havyam
kavyam’ in the earlier quoted verse starting as, “havyaṃ kavyaṃ ca yat kiṃ...”
refer to first Agni or Aupasana done by the householder. Vayu Purana in the
chapter on geneology of Agni refers to Havya-vahana and Kavya-vahana as
referring to Āvāhaniya and Gārhapatya respectively.
Vayu Purana says that Agni was the mental son of Brahma and Svaha bore to him
three sons, Pāvaka, Pavamāna and Śuci or Śaura (solar fire). Pavamāna’s son is
Kavya-vahana, the fire of Pitrus. Śuci’s son is Havya-vahana, the fire of
Devas. Pāvaka’s son is Sahasrakṣa,
the fire of Asuras.
That Skanda had
initiated the Āvāhaniya and Gārhapatya homa was immortalised into a story of
Skanda conducting the marriage of Svaha with Agni. These two fires are the
primary fires from which all the other homas are done. Of the two fires the
Gārhapatya, derived from the word Gruhapati, the lord of the house or the
householder is the first agni that a son receives from his father and passes on
to his son. This Agni is to be kept alive at home throughout one’s life time.
Even if the husband is away, the wife can do this homa. This appears in
consonance with a time that Agni was protected at home as the only source of
light and fire. This Homa was first initiated by none other than Skanda is what
is revealed in this verse.
These two Agni
Homas constitute what is called ‘Aupasana’. From this Aupasana Agni, Pāka yajnas, attributed to Manu are
done. The Pāka yajnas also are
about household yajnas in which cooked rice is offered. Thus we find the
development of the Vedic Homa started by and starting from Skanda, and further
expanded by Manu with more developments in course of time.
The story of
marriage of Svaha with Agni appeared after the marriage of Skanda with
Devasena, leading to the deduction that Skanda started doing these homas (to
Devas and Pitrus) after his marriage with Devasena. So it is apt to say that
Skanda- Devasena was the first couple to protect or create Gārhapatya-Agni and
Āvāhaniya for making offerings.
Till date the
etymology of Aupasana and the description of the same is found missing in any
Vedic literature. (However without Aupasana, no other homa can be done) The
causes are obvious when we come to know that Skanda had introduced it at a
troubled times of fear from Agni, perhaps seeking protection from Agni and when
Manu and Vedic sages had not yet appeared. The term ‘Aupasana’
seems to be derived from ‘Aum-upasana’ – as we know from the Tamil tradition of
Skanda having taught his father, Lord Shiva, the Praṇava which is nothing but
The decipherment of the
story of marriage of Svaha with Agni solemnised by Skanda puts at naught the Aryan debates and about who started the
Vedic culture or who brought the Vedic culture.
This story also puts at
rest the unresolved question of how and
why the Tamils have had a long past of Vedic culture ingrained within the
society as known from the ancient Sangam literature.
That Skanda was
the initiator of the Homāgni is revealed further in the description of Skanda
in this Mahabharata narrative. Skanda had six faces of which the middle one was
that of a goat says, Markandeya.
chāgamayaṃ vaktraṃ skandasyaiveti viddhi tat
ṣaṣ ṣiro 'bhyantaraṃ rājan nityaṃ mātṛgaṇārcitam
“Know that the sixth face of Skanda was like that of a goat. That face, O king, is situated in the middle of the
six, and is regarded constantly by the mother”.)
The same idea is
found in the Sangam text that describes each of the six faces and what they
In this form as Shanmukha (six faced) the goat face will be looking at
the Vedic Homa says the text.
The Goat (Chāga)
is unique to Homāgni, as the Agni Deva is mounted on a goat according to the
iconographic rules found in Mayamatam.
It says that Agni Deva,
mounted on a ram and is near the fire pit and he must wear the ascetic’s belt.
Svaha is to his right, adorned with jewelled ear-rings. Agni, whose adornments
are russet and who is favourable towards all sacrifices, is pure.”
iconographic description with goat as the mount and Svaha as the consort of
Agni taking oblations must clear any doubts arising from other legends of Agni
with names of consorts being different in such legends.
When Agni is associated with Svaha it refers only to Vedic Homa.
Skanda as facilitator for the marriage of the two is a clear
statement that Skanda was the initiator of Vedic culture.
stating in no uncertain terms, through the words of Markandeya that Skanda
formalised the wedding of Svaha with Agni and declaring the starting of Homa
thereon, we are able to identify the chronological evolution of Vedic culture
hint is the birth of Vishakha from Skanda at the time of terrible lightening
which was diffused by Skanda by spewing fire and those born after that event
calling themselves as the children of Vishakha! The foremost among them was ‘Vivasvān’-
whose son Vaivasvata was the progenitor of the current Manvantara!
the son of Aditi, the first among the planets, the sun-god, was born in the
constellation Viśākhā in the Cākṣuṣa Manvantara”, says
Skanda existed towards the end of the 6th Manvantara
known as Cākṣuṣa, and shortly after him the current Manvantara of Vaivasvata
Like Yugas known at
Divya and Dharma scale, Manvantaras also seem to follow a larger and smaller
time. At smaller time the classification is known from the heroes and events
around them. Skanda, known as one who lived in flesh and blood, existed at the
end of Cākṣuṣa manvantara. We will know the time period of this when we discuss
about the date of Skanda shortly.
The birth of Vivasvan
in Vishakha could only mean that Vaivasvata Manu and other people of his ilk
were born after the terrible calamity of the “splitting”, with fire bellowing
out while there were terrible lightening strikes. Their birth happened at or
after the time of Skanda.
The progeny that
followed, hailed Vishakha as their father.
The Ikshvakus coming in
the lineage of Vaivasvata Manu also identified Vishakha as the star of their
Giving evidence for this let me quote
Lakshmana’s words to Rama while they were moving towards the sea shore carried
by Angada and Hanuman (carrying Rama). Lakshmana was referring to the stars
seen at that time and mentions Vishakha as the supreme star of the Ikshvakus!
ca prakāśete viśākhe nirupadrave
nakṣatraṃ param asmākam ikṣvākūṇāṃ mahātmanām
“Visakha stars are shining clearly without any evil influence. This supreme
constellation is of our Ikshvakus, the high-souled”)
Again during Rama’s
direct fight against Ravana, the star Vishakha is mentioned as the one adorned
by the kings of Kosala, the country of Rama and Ikshvakus.
ca nakṣatraṃ vyaktam indrāgnidaivatam
ākramyāṅgārakas tasthau viśākhām api cāmbare
planet Mars stood assailing in the sky, the constellation Vishakha, presided
over by the gods Indra and Agni (the god of fire), which is adorned by the
kings of Kosala.”)
Reading through Valmiki
Ramayana, one can even say that the Ikshvakus held Skanda as their supreme
deity. At the time of Rama leaving to the forest, his mother Kausalya invokes
Skanda’s name among other deities to protect him. Notable feature in this is
that all except Skanda are Vedic or (perhaps) non-human deities. She says,
dhṛtiś ca dharmaś ca pāntu tvāṃ putra sarvataḥ
skandaś ca bhagavān devaḥ somaś ca sabṛhaspatiḥ
Veda, the Smriti texts taken as one body, the resolution and the piety protect
you, my son! May lord Skanda and the moon god along with the sage Brihaspati,
the well known seven sages as well as Sage Narada guard you on all sides.”)
Similarly Manu invokes
only Skanda’s name along with other Vedic deities in the mantra of consecration
signalling that in those times of Manu’s emergence, Skanda was a deity of
Manu’s name is
also associated with the primary homas called ‘Pāka yajna’.This
is done from Aupsana fire. The strange feature is that there is hardly any
mention of this fire in Taittriya Samhita says Vedic scholar Ramanathan
lending credence to its primary existence, initiated by Skanda, but before
Vedic verses were composed.
All the other
primary homas of the householder, going by the name Pāka yajna were
associated with Manu’s name. Manu seemed to have carried over the Vedic Homa
(Aupasana) from Skanda with newer additions.
It was only
along with or after Manu, the Rig Vedic compositions had evolved. There again a
strange feature is noticed by the presence of retroflex sound of Tamil (ɻ)
substituting ‘ḷa’ sound of the Rig Veda.
This has been pointed out by Kanchi
who also brings to our notice the traditional view that the entire Rig Vedic
compilation was ‘Agni Upasana’ – the
worship of Agni - by starting and ending the compilation with the worship of
He further says that Rig Veda is an anthology of stotras in Mantra form. Yajur
is the practical application of them in worship. Saman calms down the mind.
Thus the three
Vedas had evolved as a network to conduct the Vedic yajnas. All these trace
their origin to Skanda’s Havya- Kavya (Aupasana) Agni, at a time Abhijit
retired to the forest and was substituted by Krittika. In stellar terms that
was also the time the star Vishakha had come into existence, but in the absence
of a reference to its identify as a new star included in the zodiac, it is
understood that the star was already part of the 27 star zodiac but was
re-named after the event of the ‘birth’ of Vishakha by Indra’s Vajrayudha!
established the Vedic origins to Skanda the next task is to ascertain the date
of Skanda. The date is enumerated in two ways which match with each other.
literary past had spanned across three Ages of Tamil Sangam of which the
earliest was initiated by none other than Skanda, who was known as Ugra Kumara
of Pandyan lineage. He was born to Tadathaka, later glorified as Mīnakshi,
married to Chokkanatha, identified as an incarnation of Lord Shiva. Skanda with
his father constituted an Assembly for the purpose of developing Tamil in three
ways, viz., prose, poetry and drama.
In all the
Assemblies conducted even after Skanda had exited the world, his name was
invoked and a learned person was chosen to represent Skanda to adjudicate the
material presented. This had gone on for long even after losing their capital
city to natural calamities and re-settling in newer places. The last such
Assembly was conducted 2000 years ago by a Pandyan King by name Ugra Peruvaɻuti.
From inscriptional evidences we are able to establish without doubt that the
last Assembly was conducted sometime around the start of the Common Era.
presented at the last Sangam Assembly by poet Nakkeerar to a Grammar work
called ‘Irayanar Agapporul’ contains the duration of each of the Sangam
periods along with the number of participant-poets and some of their names.
One such name
just refers to the King of Dwaraka who attended an Assembly of the 2nd
Sangam. This could be a reference to Krishna because he was the first and last
king of Dwaraka founded by him. After his exit, it was lost to the seas.
of this information of Nakkeerar, there exists a verse in Mahabharata spoken by
Krishna that the king of the Bhoja-s, belonging to his clan, had
conquered the Pandya-s by his learning. This appears like a reference to establishing
his mastery over some form of knowledge, which in the case of Pandya-s
could only refer to successfully publishing a composition in Tamil in the
Assembly of Sangam that requires one and all in the Assembly to endorse it
Tamil source: Krishna attended the 2nd Sangam Assembly.
Krishna in Mahabharata: Bhoja of his clan established his knowledge
in Pandyan Assembly.
between the two different references establishes that Krishna attended the
session of the Sangam Assembly in which a member of his clan published his
cross-reference from Mahabharata corroborating the long history of Sangam Assembly
let me divulge into the duration of each Sangam Age narrated by Nakkeerar.
According to him the first Sangam lasted for 4440 years, the second for 3700
years and the third for 1850 years (till the time he presented his work). Now
adding up these years until the start of the Common Era we arrive at the
started around 1850 BCE.
started around 5550 BCE.
started around 9990 BCE.
This puts the
time of Skanda around 9990 BCE or 10,000 BCE occurring around the beginning of
that Sanskrit was known to Skanda at that time (to facilitate the conduction of
Vedic Homa), there is textual reference that Tamil existed side by side with
This idea is a very old one – something found in old texts and also coming by
tradition. There is even a time period for this, mentioned in Tirumandiram
authored by Tirumular, a
Siddha. The verse says,
“There was a
time when rainy season and summer season ceased to exist. There was snow
everywhere that made the lakes to shrink. At that time Lord Shiva taught
Sanskrit and Tamil to his consort.”
corresponds to the Ice age or pre-Holocene when two languages were formed by a
people owing allegiance to Shiva or Shakti or both. The very purpose of the
Tamil Sangam being promotion of grammatical Tamil, it goes without saying that
the language was newly formed and was sought to be popularised among the
masses. Simultaneously the ‘well-perfected’ Sanskrit was used for Vedic Homa.
Thus we find the birth two languages - both formed with efforts and were not
naturally existing and perhaps drawn from a pre-existing proto language. The
name of just only one person is associated with both the languages at the time
of their formation. That person was Skanda, who initiated the Tamil Assembly
for the promotion of Tamil and Vedic Homa in which Sanskrit found an
Skanda was the only person associated with the birth of Tamil Sangam
and the birth of Vedic Homa
His time as
per Tamil literary evidence was around 10,000 BCE
That was the time of the first ever Vedic Homa!
His life events
as given in Tamil texts
more or less match with the description of Markandeya. The comparison with the
Tamil texts is necessary to establish the authenticity of the events involving
The first ever event in
Skanda’s life as per Mahabharata was breaking the Krauncha mountain. The same
is found in Tamil literature too. That perhaps marks the time people invented
means to break the mountains slopes for stone works.
Skanda was described as
seated on a hill top in the narration by Markandeya. That is also the same in
Tamil tradition, and temples of Skanda are found on hill tops.
The next event was the
fight with Indra in which Indra attacked with Vajrayudha ‘piercing’ Skanda, leading
to the birth of Vishakha. The parallel in Tamil texts speaks about the first
sea flood that was controlled by Skanda by throwing the spear he got from his
This event might sound
as a myth, but a similar kind of event is reported in Rama’s life too when he
was asked to direct his Brahmastra at a place so that the sea at the place he was standing could recede, giving way for
him to cross the sea.
From the available scientific knowledge
we can say that a tectonic disturbance at a place on the sea- floor can cause
the waves move in a different direction. Both Skanda and Rama had directed
their weapons at a region in the sea in such a way that water in their places
receded and sea floods moved in a different direction.
The name ‘Vishakha’ is
not associated with this legend in Tamil.
The ‘Fall’ of Abhijit
appearing after this incident in Mahabharata is not found in Tamil texts.
The marriage of Svaha
and Agni mentioned in Mahabharata has a different kind of presence in Tamil
texts. There is complete chapter on Skanda having taught the Vedas to sages.
The foremost teaching was giving the Praṇava mantra (AUM) to his own
father Shiva, says Tiruvilaiyadal Puranam.
Skanda teaching Praṇava to Shiva is found in all legends of Skanda in Tamil.
The temple of Skanda at Swamimalai is hailed as the place where he
taught the Praṇava. Praṇava being the initial utterance at any Vedic
chant, it appears now - after realising the role of Skanda in the marriage of
Svaha and Agni – that Skanda as the initiator of Vedic Homa had been
remembered by the Tamils by the story of
teaching Praṇava to Shiva himself. In reality it was the occasion of Skanda
conceiving the concept of ‘Aupasana’ (AUM- Upasana) and conducting the Homa every
day after his marriage with Devasena.
With clear leads
that we have got from both Mahabharata and Tamil texts on Skanda’s role in
starting the Vedic Homa, our next task is to identify the location of Skanda
from where he observed the ‘Fall’ of Abhijit.
To unlock this
mystery, let me look for the hints in Markandeya’s narration. He often refers
to Skanda as Guha and the followers of Skanda as Guhyakas. There is also the
narration of marriage of Skanda with Devasena! This information can be found as
an expanded story in the chronicles of Skanda in Tamilnadu. The story of
Skanda’s marriage with Devasena was preceded by the war with Surapadma.
The location of Skanda after the war was Tiruchendur. For this reason
Tiruchendur is known as Srijayantipuram. Even the name Tiruchendur is a
corrupted from of Sanskrit word Sindhu, a name Adi Sankara has used to denote
this place near the ocean, in one of his verses.
Sindhu+ur had become Chendur and the prefix ‘Tiru’ was added for
originally a cave justifying the name of Skanda as a cave dweller. One can see
remnants of the cave inside the temple even today and fragments of a cave a
little away. Sometime in the past the cave was removed and the present
structure had come up. That the entire region was once a huge cave
can be made out from the sudden depression in that part of the town where the
temple complex stands. The cave has been completely removed to build the
temple. The same rocky material of the cave is found on the floor of the seashore
in front of the temple. The main shrine of Shanmukha has cave-roof, proving
without doubt that this part of Tiruchendur was once a cave. Temple legends say
that Skanda worshiped Shiva at the main shrine where he as Shanmukha is
The talk of
Abhijit comes after the marriage of Skanda with Devasena that took place after
winning the asuras. When we checked the sky-view from Tiruchendur for the time
deduced from Tamil literature, i.e. 9990 BCE in the tropical zodiac of the
astronomy software it does show Abhijit disappearing near the horizon
Abhijit’s orbit. Orange circle: Polar precession circle)
Vedic concept of the to and fro movement of the equinoxes within 54 degree
range (27 +27) rejects the above depiction of the astronomy software. As per
the Vedic concept the vernal equinox must have coincided with zero degree Aries
at the time of Skanda.
The last time
the Vernal equinox coincided with zero degree Aries was at the start of Kali
yuga (3101 BCE). The previous time was 7200 years ago (in forward direction)
that occurred around 10,301 BCE –
the time close to Skanda’s time with a margin of just 300 years. (Figure below)
To and Fro
movement of equinox.
At the point of
vernal equinox at zero degree Aries, the world witnessed catastrophe by fire in
the form of comet hit before Mahabharata war. At the same point in the previous
cycle Adbhuta fire was experienced. It is perhaps in lieu of this, the pole
star at that point was named Agni. And the birth of ‘Vishakha’ happening at
that time caused by Indra and resulting in Agni deciphered in earlier passages,
it is evident that the concept of “Indrāgni’ as the deity of Vishakha
had its genesis at this time only.
It must also be
recalled here that the northern pole star at the time of vernal equinox at zero
degree Aries was identified as twin names or one after the other as Agni and
Indra by Vayu Purana
and Taittriya Aranyaka.
With only 3 northern pole stars recognised by Vayu Purana, (named Kasyapa, Agni
and Dhruva with Dhruva identifiable with Polaris)
it is deduced that Indra, owing to close proximity to Agni (name of the pole
star) near the NCP for zero degree vernal equinox date, was merged with Agni,
and referred to as Indrāgni.
Early evidence of rice
in Tiruchendur supports genesis of Vedic Homa around that region.
Rice is an
important grain used as oblations in the Aupasana fire – the primary fire that
was initiated by Skanda in our analysis. This requires cultivation of rice or
availability of wild rice in the region around Tiruchendur. Research shows that
wild rice occurred naturally since 20,000 years BP in the region of
Tiruchendur, of all the places in India!
map shows evidence of growth of refugial wild rice in regions around
Tiruchendur and the adjacent land-locked region between India and Lanka since
the last Glacial Maxima around 20,000 years BP. Parts of Eastern India too was
growing rice since then as an extension of South East Asian influence. In
contrast the rest of India particularly the Saraswati region did not support
growing of rice - the grain that is inevitable for Vedic Homa until 9000 years
growth of rice is proven in the region around Dwaraka, the mouth of Saraswati –
ever since 9000 years BP (H in the map). West coast of Peninsular India also
had grown rice.
that Skanda started the Vedic Homa and Manu came into existence only after
Skanda, we can trace the path of migration from south east India (Tiruchendur)
to Dwaraka through coastal line. Vishakha’s children might have moved through
this route and entered mainland India through Narmada valley and Saraswati
River when a flash flood pushed them inwards into Saraswati facilitating them
to reach the Himalayan ranges. But then the earlier presence was in Sarayu,
showing the initial presence in trans- Sarayu region where Manu’s descendants,
the Ikshvakus thrived. The rice-route establishes the earlier civilization to
be Sarayu civilization much before Saraswati- Sindhu civilization evolved,
perhaps from a migration from Sarayu and Eastern India.,
Rice-genetics completely rules out Aryan migration from Europe which was
freezing with cold when Skanda was actively evolving Vedic Homa!
distribution map since 20,000 BP (P) and 9000 BP (H) Source: Fuller et
In this map, P
located in South East India is where Tiruchendur exists. Srilanka was
land-locked as per this map even as early as 9000 BP (7th – 8th
millennium BCE) discounting any probability of Ramayana having occurred before
The narration of
the Mahabharata text shows that Krittika was not in the list of stars at that
time. The list had 27 stars with Abhijit one among them. Abhijit sounds like a
male name but it was referred to as the sister of Rohini. This confusion on
gender can be resolved by looking at the concept of the 27 star-system. The 27
stars were daughters of Daksha Prajapati married to moon. As such Abhijit was
treated as a female.
But then how did
Abhijit become the sister of Rohini? A basic knowledge in astrology would help
answer this question. The 27 stars are categorised into 3 groups of nine each.
The three stars in a row are said to belong to the same category and become the
ruler of a planet.
One can see that
Rohini, Hasta and Abhijit are of the same group and Moon was the planet ruled
by them. Of the three, Rohini enjoys primacy as a star ruled by Prajapati.
The next feature
in the verse refers to the primacy enjoyed by Dhanishta and Rohini.
The verse is
repeated here for continuity in reading.
tadā kālo brahmaṇā parinirmitaḥ
rohiṇyādyo 'bhavat pūrvam evaṃ saṃkhyā samābhavat
interprets this verse as “At that time (as a result) Brahma assigned first
rank to nakshatra Dhanistha (for it being at the point of summer solstice).
Rohini used to be in the first position prior to this”
The verse does
not say that Dhanishtha was assigned the first rank at that time (of noticing
the Fall of Abhijit). Nor does it say that Dhanishtha was at summer solstice.
Ganguli’s translation is more exact. It runs as follows:
other asterisms were created by Brahma, and Rohini used to serve
the purpose of one such; and consequently their number was full.”
conveys that both Dhanishtha and Rohini had a place of primacy in the olden
understand what this means, we must recall the 90 ̊ (right angle) distance
between the solstice and the equinox in the zodiacal design which can be easily
understood from the following astrological chart. The zodiac is divided into 12
parts of 30 ̊ each. At every 90 ̊ the equinox and solstice alternates.
figure shows the Mean location of the solstices and the equinoxes when the
vernal equinox is at zero degree Aries. As explained in the 4th
chapter, the oscillation of the equinoxes goes to the maximum extent of 27
degrees on both sides of the Mean position of the equinoxes and the solstices.
winter solstice (Uttarayana) starts in Dhanishta, the vernal equinox (Vishu)
will occur at Krittika (by the rule of 27 degrees) in the current zodiac. But
in the olden zodiac Krittika was not present and Rohini was there in its place.
In that case if Uttarayana started in Dhanishtha, Vernal equinox occurred at
To decipher the
location of Abhijit and Rohini in the zodiac of Skanda’s time before Abhijit
was dropped and replaced by Krittika, let me first test the traditional view
prevailing now that Abhijit started at 6 ̊40ʹ of Capricorn. Let me reproduce
the zodiac by placing Abhijit at 6 ̊40ʹ. I have noted down the degrees in terms
in ‘pada’ for easy understanding and counting.
1 star = 4
1 pada = 3 ̊ 20ʹ
(1 minute =60 seconds)
3 pada = 10 ̊
9 pada = 30 ̊ =
1 sign of the zodiac.
27 padas (9 x 3)
= 90 ̊ = distance between a solstice and the equinox.
There is another
equation pertaining to the distance of 27 ̊, on either side of Mean VE, AE, SS
27 degrees = 8
pada (=26.40 degree)
In the following
illustration I have placed Abhijit in Capricorn at the 3rd pada
(after 6 ̊40ʹ), i.e. after the last 3rd and 4th padas of
Uttrashada. The requirement as per Mahabharata is the distance between
Dhanishtha and Rohini must be 90 ̊ to make them foremost in the solstice and
equinox respectively. This gap is equal to 27 pada. We have to match only that
Pada of Rohini that lies at 28th pada from a pada of Dhanishtha.
Deductions from this
If Uttarayana started
at the 2nd pada of Dhanishtha, Vernal equinox would start at the 1st
pada of Rohini.
3rd pada of
Dhanishtha - 2nd pada of Rohini
4th pada of
Dhanishtha - 3rd pada of Rohini.
Never in the past had
the equinox gone beyond Rohini.
When vernal equinox had
occurred at Rohini, Krittika was not part of the zodiac.
To put it differently
wherever the texts say that vernal equinox occurred at Rohini, it goes without
saying that Krittika was not counted at that time. If Krittika was there, the
vernal equinox could have occurred only in Krittika – due to the right angled
distance between Uttarayana and vernal equinox.
The confusion over the equinox
at Mrigashirsha (Agrahāyana) was already solved in the 10th
it was the beginning of the year and the cycle of Sapta Rishi calendar as well.
It has nothing to do with the equinox.
From the above
understanding, let me now deduce the Mean position of the Solstices and the
equinoxes. The Mean winter solstice (Uttarayana) must occur at zero degree
Capricorn as per the oscillation of the zodiac caused by the axial precession
of the earth.
position of Uttarayana must occur after the 8th pada south of the
maximum extent of Uttarayana which is 4th pada of Dhanishtha in the
above illustration. By the rule of Dhanishtha – Rohini angle, only 3 probable
pada of Dhanishtha, the Mean Uttarayana = Abhijit 4th pada
pada of Dhanishta, the Mean Uttarayana = Abhijit 3rd pada
pada of Dhanishtha, the Mean Uttarayana = Abhijit 2nd pada.
This makes it
mandatory to place Abhijit 2nd pada at zero degree Capricorn. But
the illustration shows 3rd pada of Uttarashada at zero degree
Capricorn. This makes the zodiac tilted towards further north (to our right) by
10 degrees (3rd and 4th pada of Uttarashada and 1st
pada of Abhijit).
10 degrees over
and above the current Mean tilt is unrealistic and improbable. Moreover the
narration in Mahabharata talks only about the change in the position of
Abhijit and not about any change in the zodiac or the signs. For these
reasons the current view of locating the span of Abhijit (though symbolic) at 6
̊ 40ʹ covering Uttarashada 4th pada and touching Shravana 1st
pada (10 ̊ 53ʹ 20ʺ) is found to be baseless.
illustration is re-done with above deductions on Dhanishtha – Rohini angle and
the Mean Uttarayana for the probable maximum locations of Uttarayana at
feature is the presence of Vishakha completely within the sign, i.e. Libra. It
was not split in this design and also if we move the zodiac by 10 ̊ to our left
to align with the Mean position. This strengthens the view that it was
originally known as Radha with the
succeeding star given the name Anu-radha.
In the above
illustration, from Dhanishtha to Rohini represents the limits between
Uttarayana and vernal equinox. From Dhanishtha to Abhijit represents the Mean
Uttarayana for the three probable locations of Uttarayana.
It can be seen
that Abhijit occupied the same location (in the zodiac) of Uttarashada as it is
placed today. The 2nd pada of Uttarashada starts from zero degree
Capricorn today. 2nd pada of Abhijit too started from the same position
(Mean Uttarayana) in the past. Let me show it.
Mean Uttarayana started
in Abhijit 2nd pada. At that time the Vernal Equinox (Mean) occurred
at 1st pada of Asvini.
Maximum limit of
Uttarayana was Dhanishta 2nd pada.
At that limit, vernal
equinox occurred at Rohini 1st pada.
This was the same as in
Krittika 1st pada today.
There is only one
location of Uttarayana – vernal equinox for Dhanishtha – Rohini in this design.
Rohini spreads between
Aries to Taurus.
When the vernal Equinox
occurred at Rohini 1st pada, Dakshinayana started at Magha 4th
pada. Therefore reference to Solstice at
Magha in any olden text should refer to time when Abhijit was part of the
There are remarkable
limits to the three positions such that for vernal equinox to occur at Rohini,
the maximum extent of Uttarayana was at the 2nd pada of Dhanishtha.
The only possible position for Dakshinayana was 4th pada of
Vishakha was not split
in this arrangement.
But Swati was split at
its middle. This reminds us of the verse in Ramayana praising the appearance of
Setu Bridge as “Swati patha”
– the Madhya Veethi that I earlier explained in the 5th chapter.
Swati Patha cuts the zodiac into two equal halves.
Swati Patha was the
Mean Autumnal Equinox in Skanda’s times, when Abhijit was part of the zodiac.
That idea continued to be in memory in Ramayana times.
In this backdrop
let us discuss the reference to Abhijit retiring to the woods, understood as
the ‘Fall’ of Abhijit by modern researchers.
THE “FALL” OF ABHIJIT DECIPHERED.
pada was rising at zero degree Capricorn when the vernal equinox occurred at
the 1st pada of Asvini at zero degree Aries. At that time Rohini 1st
pada was in Aries and Krittika was not part of the zodiac. The equinox was in
forward motion (refer the figure titled ‘To and Fro movement of equinox’) in
the year 10,301 BCE. This means right after 10,301 BCE Uttarayana (winter
solstice) started moving forward in Capricorn, or in other words, from Abhijit
2nd pada, to 3rd pada and then to 4th pada and
finally to Shravana. By this, Abhijit, the star had slipped back into Aja
Veethi, the southern street in course of time!
At the time of
Skanda (9990 BCE deciphered earlier from Tamil Sangam texts) Uttarayana
advanced by 300 years (10,301 – 9990 =311). At the average rate of precession
derived earlier from Surya Siddhanta verse, (66.66 Years per degree) it is
found that the Uttarayana and the Vernal equinox advanced by 4.5 degree which
is little more than the span of one pada (3.2 degree) of a star. At the time of
Skanda Uttarayana started at 3rd pada of Abhijit and not at 2nd
pada of Abhijit (which is the median position in the zodiac). The vernal
equinox also moved forward into 2nd pada of Asvini.
Among the three
stars of a group, Abhijit, Rohini and Hasta (identified as sisters who married
Moon), Abhijit and Rohini enjoyed special attention, respectively, for
occupying the location of beginning of Uttarayana and part of Aries where
Vishuva occurred. But with the passage of time, it was observed that Abhijit
was slipping down from the mean position of the Uttarayana while no change was
noticed with Rohini. A reading of the verse by Markandeya in Mahabharata
reveals this movement observed by the society of the day.
abhijit spardhamānā tu rohiṇyā
icchantī jyeṣṭhatāṃ devī tapas taptuṃ vanaṃ gatā
Ganguli this means, “The lady Abhijit, the younger sister of Rohini,
being jealous of her seniority, has repaired to the woods to perform austerities.”
down of Abhijit from Uttarayana point is perceived as Abhijit retiring to
woods, being jealous of Rohini not suffering any change in her status. This is
the “FALL” of Abhijit! This is one part of the explanation.
There is another
explanation, in terms of a change in the ecliptic from an elliptical orbit to
the current circular one. This was marked by an increase in insolation,
bringing an end to the Ice Age and a spurt in melt water pulses that were
experienced as sudden sea floods in the time of Skanda. Abhijit appears to be
part of the elliptical orbit – which can be visually judged by its location
lying to the north of the ecliptic of today. Perhaps the drift in the ecliptic,
observed by means of the ‘drift’ in the position of Abhijit over thousands of
years was finally reconciled to, as the ‘fall’ of Abhijit from the ecliptic and
recorded so in the time of Skanda.
from this are as follows:
astronomy had been going on for a long time before Skanda. Only if the
pre-Skanda society had started observing the celestial position of the stars
and conceived the idea of the zodiac from the time Abhijit was at zero degree
Capricorn, this kind of slipping away could have caused distress as revealed in
Markandeya’s narration of the dialogue between Indra and Skanda.
The earliest possible
time for the evolving interest in Abhijit as the star of Uttarayana could have
started from when the 1st pada of Abhijit was rising at Uttarayana.
That was from the last 3.20 degree of Sagittarius (which was the 1st
pada of Abhijit). This span is roughly equal to 230 years before 10,301 BCE
(that is c.10, 530 BCE). But the observation of Abhijit on the ecliptic must
have started thousands of years ago.
The time of conception
of the zodiac with Abhijit at Uttarayana is likely to be around c.10, 530 BCE.
The zodiac and the allegorical story of Moon marrying 27 daughters (stars) of
Daksha Prajapati, including Sasi (Abhijit) must have evolved long before this.
With Abhijit slipping
back with advancing Uttarayana, the society had decided to keep Abhijit away
from any change or blemish. This idea could occur only of the society had held
the star in great reverence. The reference to Abhijit in Vedic texts (that
evolved after Skanda initiated the marriage of Svaha and Agni) reveal her high
status. To name some of them:
1. Abhijit was the day “for the
gaining of the world of heaven”
2. The heveanly connection is
further reiterated in Mahabharata in Bhishma’s sermon on the arrow bed. While
associating different kinds of results for charity done on the days of
different stars, attainment of heaven is mentioned by Bhishma only in the case
of charity done on Abhijit day.
3. Similarly while enumerating the
results of doing optional shraddha ceremony for departed ancestors, Abhijit is
associated with acquirement of knowledge.
4. Offerings were done to Abhijit
on the third year (of the 5 year Yuga) – year that is mid-point of the 5-year Yuga. The mid-point
also matches with Abhijit spread on both sides of the Uttarayana in mean
position, or in other words Uttarayana falling in the middle of Abhijit which
was the case in Skanda’s time, when a re-think on Abhijit was made.
after the 2nd pada of Abhijit or in the middle of Abhijit in
It was also noted that
Arundhati had not deviated from her path, of following Vasishtha!
A catastrophe was
witnessed by that time or before that time (to be discussed in the course of
this chapter) that it was felt that Krittika could be elevated as a star of the
zodiac (one among the 27 stars) by dropping Abhijit from the counting.
Since the society could
not stomach the loss of importance to Abhijit as the star of Uttarayana, it
decided to freeze Abhijit at the mid-point location, from the 3rd
pada as it was at the time of Skanda. It seems this was mistaken as the 3rd
pada in Capricorn (after 6.40 degree) and continuing in tradition now, while in
fact it could be the 3rd pada of Abhijit spread between 3.20 and
6.40 degree of Capricorn.
The mid-point nature of
Abhijit was frozen in memory by the Vedic society later which we see in the
naming of the mid-day as Abhijit Muhurtha!
the zodiac into two halves between the two equinoxes when its 2nd
pada started at zero degree Capricorn. That mid-position was recognisable in
10,300 + BCE. That mid-position was retained in memory as Muhurta at mid-day.
The ‘Swati Patha’ (the mid-point of Autumnal equinox when Abhijit was part of
the zodiac) reference in Valmiki Ramayana is proof of the attachment the olden
society had for things held high in far olden days.
Even after discarding
Abhijit from the zodiac, the society had retained the name to refer to the
mid-day Muhurtha at local time. This starts from 1 ghati before noon at local
time and ends 1 ghati after that. So wherever mid-day reference appears in the
context of Abhijit, one must check if it refers to Abhijit Muhurtha.
In astrology, Abhijit
Muhurtha is known as Vijaya Muhurtha or Brahma Muhurtha or Kutup Muhurtha.
Therefore one can expect words like Vijaya associated with Abhijit to refer to
The rationale of
mid-day attributed to Abhijit Muhurtha has risen from having held Abhijit as a
Mean Uttarayana star.
In Ramayana, Rama refers to Abhijit Muhurtha as
Vijaya Muhurtha while starting for war. “This is suitable Muhurtha for Vijaya;
the sun has reached mid-day” (युक्तोमुहूर्तोविजयःप्राप्तोमध्यम्दिवाकरः)
Yet another verse in Valmiki Ramayana says that the
Vanaras were waiting for “Abhijit Abhimukha” to start their journey towards
This is a clear reference to the Muhurtha which ensures victory particularly
when they have to travel towards the South known for inauspiciousness owing to
be abode of Yama. Naturally they had waited for the auspicious time to start.
The context was that of meeting Sampāti and starting
the search on his advice. All this had happened in broad day light. Only the
sun was the guide for directions in the day time. They waited for the Sun to
reach mid havens (Abhijit Muhurtha) and then started off.
In this context let me set at rest a controversy
regarding a verse of Valmiki Ramayana, that it refers to Abhijit as the pole
The verse is
viśuddhaś ca śuddhāś ca paramarṣayaḥ
arciṣmantaḥ prakāśante dhruvaṃ sarve pradakṣiṇam. 
There is no
dispute over the fact that Abhijit is referred to as the Brahmarashi in this
verse. The verse first refers to Abhijit (Brahmarashi) looking clear. And then
tells the same for the great Rishis (sapta rishis) and all of them circumambulating
the Pole Star (Dhruva). Abhijit and Pole star were not treated as the same in
this verse. They were different. Abhijit can never be a pole star as per the
Siddhantic version of to-and fro movement of the equinox within 54 degrees.
The love for Abhijit
had continued down the ages with Krishna identifying himself with Abhijit among
the stars! Though he uses the name “Śaśī” in his discourse to Arjuna,
he does mention Abhijit for the same in his discourse to Uddhava.
“Śaśī” was the original name of Abhijit as one among the 27 stars.
Its importance was
retained as a mid-day Muhurta in Mahabharata times too. The corresponding
mid-night Muhurtha is known as “Śaśī”! It is probable that after Śaśī was
dropped from the 27 star-group she was renamed as Abhijit.
The interesting feature of this Muhurta is that
though it is auspicious on all days, it is not so in the mid-day of the week,
Wednesday is the mid-day of the week and Abhijit Muhurta of this day is not
auspicious. This gives rise to the view that there was something obsessive
about the “middle”.
Only if the society had watched Abhijit high in the
sky which at the same time coincided with the Mean position of Uttarayana (in
the middle of two equinoxes), this obsession with Abhijit is justifiable.
Around 10,800 BCE Uttarayana started sliding up from
Uttarashada to Abhijit, but then the star slipped down in Skanda’s times and
the society must have gained the grasp of the movement of the solstics and
equinoxes. For a society infatuated with Abhijit, the inevitable dawned on them
that Abhijit cannot continue to be the start of Uttarayana forever. By pulling
it out of the zodiac and keeping its relevance to Muhurtha they thought they
can retain its greatness for all times to come. This made them choose Krittika
as the foremost star of the zodiac at a distance of 90 degrees from Dhanishtha
by pushing Rohini away from the primary position.
Bringing in Krittika also solved the problem of
completing the star count of the zodiac arising from the inevitable event of
having to remove Abhijit from the zodiac. So what happened then? What made them
choose Krittika and not any other star near the ecliptic?
narration speaks about a second catastrophe that smacks of a comet falling from
the sky. Though this is characterised as Danavas fighting with Devas, the
description speaks about hills, rocks, fire balls and parigha falling
towards the direction where Sankara (Shiva) and other celestials stood.
The chief among the enemies is identified as Mahisha who was described as
hurling hillocks at the Devas.
The sage says that unable to protect themselves from the army of Mahisha, Rudra
prompted Skanda to attack him and his army. Skanda shot his weapon Shakti that
broke into pieces the head of Mahisha. Translating the verses Ganguli writes,
cut off the head of Mahisha, and he fell upon the ground and died. And his head
massive as a hillock, falling on the ground, barred the entrance to the country
of the Northern Kurus, extending in length for sixteen Yojanas though
at present the people of that country pass easily by that gate.”
repeatedly sent his weapon and killed other invaders too. This led to Rudra
declare that Skanda must be seen like himself from then onwards (rudreṇa
skandaṃ paśyata mām iva)
This story has
allegorical parallel to the fall of a comet that caused massive and widespread
damage in the northern hemisphere (land of Devas in the story) leading to
global firestorms, bio-mass burning, extinction of life forms, such as
mammoths. This caused cooling of the earth by 2 to 6 degrees Celsius resulting
in a period termed as ‘Younger Dryas’ – with a brief return of Ice age
conditions for a 1000 years.
scientific community had come to a unanimous agreement that this was caused by
a comet hitting the earth around 10,800 BCE.
It is even speculated that this event is expressed in one of the stone carvings
at Gobkli Tepe.
The comet has hit Greenland but its fragments fell on a wider area causing
nearly 10% of the earth experience wild-fires. The comet’s fragment was found
to have fallen in southern hemisphere too, at 40 degrees South in Chile.
So far nothing
has been heard of this hit in India, but we have three evidences from Mahabharata, one in the narration of
Markandeya explained above, another in the reply given by Bhishma from his
arrow bed to a question by Nakula on the origin of the ‘sword’- the weapon
considered to be foremost among all the weapons and the third in the narration
of Bhishma of Vasishtha’s version on the transfer of Agni, the seed of Shiva to
these have the trappings of the comet-hit or an asteroid-hit witnessed or
experienced at the time Skanda lived.
It sprang from
scattering flames, looking tall and exceeding in energy. When it struck, the
earth trembled, oceans agitated and meteors fell from the sky. From the image
of the fall of a comet or asteroid, the sword seems to have been designed.
intriguing part of the narration by Bhishma is that the ‘sword’ was born under
the constellation of Krittika; Agni was its deity and Rohini was its Gotra!!
cāsya nakṣatram aser agniś ca daivatam
rohiṇyo gotram asyātha rudraś ca gurur uttamaḥ
Does this refer
to the comet-fall on a Krittika day? Rohini becoming the Gotra is another
intriguing feature that conveys Krittika comes under the family of Rohini or
evolving from under Rohini!
The shape of the
sword and the power of the sword hitting on all sides seem to have been
inspired by the shape of the comet falling on the earth. The name of Krittika
in the Gotra of Rohini appears to convey that the comet hit had happened on a
day when Rohini was reigning in the previous zodiacal design where Krittika was
From the initial
look of it, the choice of Krittika to replace Abhijit does appear to be a
needless one given that it is a dim group of stars which easily escapes
observation. For a visual observer, in the span of the sky from Asvini to
Krittika, the zodiacal stars do not appear in regular distance from each other.
Unless otherwise there were compelling reasons to choose Krittika, the ancients
could have gone ahead with the regular Dhanishtha – Rohini in supremacy and
include some other star near the ecliptic to make for the loss of Abhijit.
Rohini has been
held in high esteem for all these ages as an auspicious star.
Even a smallest obstruction caused to it by a passing planet or meteor is
treated as indicative of a calamity in astrological predictions. This view
could have gained currency right from the time the comet/asteroid hit the earth
on a Rohini day. Some of the arguments in justification of pushing away Rohini
to position Krittika in its original place are as follows:
At that time the
ancients were already taunted with worries over the changing position of
Abhijit that slipped down from Uttarayana.
The society that was
wondering about how to re-work the zodiac was hit with another calamity in the
form of a comet hit. And if only that calamity had taken place on a Rohini day,
they could have thought about protecting the identity of Rohini as an
auspicious, but not a calamitous star.
Rohini that was
supposed to bring growth and prosperity, if brought out death and destruction
contrary to its assigned nature, then it is perfectly justifiable to move her a
little and give way for another upon whom death and destruction can be
With Krittika in the
neighbourhood of Rohini as seen from the earth, its inclusion also serves as a
replacement for Abhijit.
- The comet hit on
the Rohini day can be technically altered by positioning Krittika at where
Rohini was located in the zodiac.
Krittika in the place of Rohini.
As a result,
Krittika’s 1st pada becomes the last pada of Aries at which the
maximum extent of Vernal equinox occurs. The re-designed zodiac with this
replacement pushes Rohini well into Taurus. Vishakha that was never branched in
between the zodiacal signs, now appear branched or split much in tandem with
the birth of ‘Vishakha’ by the blow (Vajrayudha / thunder bolt) of Indra and
Agni spewed by Skanda to counter the blow. Expectedly Indragni is recognised as the deity of Vishakha.
Abhijit whose 2nd
pada appeared at mid-point of the equinoxes had to give way for Uttarashada
after making a quiet exit. The re-designed zodiac is shown in the following
diagram. This design continues to be in vogue till date.
of the six rish-patnī-s is also a feature noticed in Skanda’s times. The
change in their position is revealed in the impersonation done by Svaha which
however could not be repeated in the case of Arundhati. This indicates that
some stars were initially recognised as the spouses of six sages of the
Saptarishis. However their identity is not discussed anywhere in the texts.
There is also an
unrealistic element in this description as the change in the position of six
stars is not palpable for thousands of years. However the slipping away of
Abhijit being the cause of all consternation and substitution of the same with
Krittika (Pleiades) having six stars, we are left wondering whether Abhijit was
treated as a group of six spouses of the six rishis who along with Arundhati
accompanying her husband circulated the Dhruva. Abhijit always present in high
northern latitudes and circulating the Pole stars spread within the span of 54
degrees (as per derivation from Surya Siddhanta verse) in the company of Sapta
Rishi Mandala, it sounds plausible that Abhijit was also considered as a group
of the six rishi patnis.
Once Abhijit was
abandoned, the ancients had looked for a ‘stable’ star group that can be linked
up with the Sapta Rishis as spouses. Giving credence to this conjecture is a
reference found in Satapatha Brahmana that the seven sages married the Krittika
This idea is also reflected in the Marriage mantras during the sighting of
meaning of the mantra discussed in the 1st chapter, Arundhati, the
spouse of Vasishtha always remained following her husband. The other six
spouses were also stable as the six Krittika stars! This idea about Krittika
stars must have come up only after Krittika was included in the zodiac to
replace Abhijit in Skanda’s times! The star-spread of Krittika and that of the
Sapta Rishis (Big Dipper) offer a marvellous resemblance to one another.
The six Krittika
stars resemble the shape of the Sapta Rishis. So the choice of Krittika was so
apt as to replace Abhijit that was treated as a single group of six spouses.
The choice of
Krittika, an obscure star group as a substitute for a glowing Abhijit seemed to
have been prompted by its elevation in the sky. Astronomy simulations are of
help here. When checked in Stellarium, it is found that Krittika was at zenith
when the Sapta rishis were rising, but Abhijit was setting! This was true for
Vedic dates of to and fro limits of times (and also in the western astronomy
precessional past for the year 10,000 BCE)
for both Vedic dates of 54 degree limits and western astronomy dates shows the
Sapta Rishis and Krittika together for quite some time in the sky on any day of
the year. In contrast Abhijit by virtue of its position in the sky opposite to
the Sapta Rishis, disappeared short time after the Sapta Rishis rose up in the
sky. This was immortalised into a story of the six wives seeming to run away
due to impersonation and the six sages abandoning their spouses on account of
it. Only Arundhati kept constant company with her husband. By rising early and
setting late she set a model for an ideal wife, the pativratā and
therefore was celebrated in all the three worlds.
Could she ever
transgress from her position?
Could anyone in the
know of Vedic tradition ever imagine that Vyasa did indeed refer to a
transgression committed by her?
I leave it to
the readers’ judgement.
The choice of
Krittika also reveals the basic concept behind stars as time keepers. Many
people think that the division of the sky into 27 star segments help in
tracking the motion of the sun and the moon in specific time intervals.
The true import
of the nakshatras perceived by our ancients is revealed in placing Krittika on
a Rohini day such that the comet fire engulfed the earth on Krittika, and not
on Rohini day. That is because a nakshatra – which is nothing but a
self-illuminating Deva – awards the good or bad that it is supposed to give.
The Nakshatra ‘times’ the events to be experienced by the people, as and when
coming into contact with the sun, the moon or the planets (graha). Naksh, the
root word of nakshatra meaning ‘obtain’, ‘attain’, ‘get’, ‘arrive at’ etc.,
stands for timing the fruits of karma to be obtained by people.
Rohini, the star of the deity Prajapati delivers growth and prosperity to the
praja, the people as a father does to his children. When Moon crosses it, this
deity causes to obtain prosperity. But alas a terrible fire ball descended on
the earth on a Rohini day, which runs counter to the ‘timing’ of the stars!
Those were the
times people were keenly watching the celestial sphere and matching them with
terrestrial events. The fire on Rohini had upset their conjectures. For quite
some time they must have observed the region of the sky from where the
fire-ball descended and must have come to the conclusion that that part of the
celestial sphere is fit to be assigned to the Fire God and thus was born the
Agni Deva, the deity of Krittika. This necessitated the moving away of Rohini
in spite of her being the foremost star in Brahma’s scheme along with
Abhijit had never caused any agony. The only problem with it was slipping away
from the high position at Uttarayana. The fruits ‘obtained’ (naksh) from it are
sought to be obtained when the sun came into contact with the mid-point in the
sky. Thus was born the Abhijit Muhurtha.
It is for the
reason of obtainment of specific results Rama chose to march towards Lanka on
Purva Phalguni, 
Lakshmana was happy that there was no evil influence on Vishakha the star of
their dynasty, Karna was worried that the Graha (moon) of the Prajapati
nakshatra (Rohini) was afflicted by Saturn and Vyasa was worried that Arundhati
appeared to change her position from normal!
Each one of
these references found in the Epics conveys the results expected at the moment,
‘timed’ by the respective nakshatra. Of these Arundhati stands apart for she is
not part of the ecliptic to be traversed by planets or the luminaries (sun and
moon) to cause mankind get the result – and the result being pativratātva!
Just by looking at her and contemplating on her one can fashion oneself in the
path of pativratātva.
Such a star
seemed to have changed her position- said the worried Vyasa thinking of the
transgressions that women would have to make in the event of losing their
husbands on account of the war – a predicament that caused Arjuna refuse to
fight. Such appearance of Arundhati could only be momentary, like all the other
so-called ‘astronomy’ references that were related to some result.
stood apart, as a star ensuring Vijaya, and that must have made the ancients
include it in the ecliptic. But alas ever since it started slipping down from
the Uttarayna - something the ancients had not originally contemplated and
hence gone into thoughtful mode on what to do about it. This deduction makes me
declare that the final design of the zodiac was done around the time Uttarayana
started in Abhijit. That was around10,600 BCE.
The last event
of ‘adjustment’ by including Krittika prompted by the comet-hit pre-supposes
that India also received the fiery canons of the comet. The completely
undetected regions that received the fiery fragments of the comet must have
been immortalised into another legend of self-immolated body parts of Sati Devi
falling in different parts of India. Most of them fell in northern section
towards the direction of Mount Kailash, the abode of Shiva – having a parallel
in Markandeya’s narration to the fiery rocks falling at where Sankara stood.
parallel pertains to Sankara retiring to “Bhadravaṭa” after
Skanda won over Mahisha. In the legend of Sati Devi’s body parts falling
scattered, the same deity Sankara was recognised as “Virabhadra”. Although the impact regions were glorified as
Shakti-Peetha, the underlying event seems to be the same.
Not to be left
out is the Arbuda Devi on Mount Abu that has the stamp of a fiery fragment of a
comet or asteroid falling on the mountain. The local legend claims that the
Devi is still hanging in ‘mid-air’. A Rig Vedic verse on Indra piercing through
Arbuda with frost appears to be an allusion to pouring down water on the fiery
Adbhuta was the
fire in Skanda’s legend that was described as aiming to destroy itself. The
society which was not well aware of the ways to grow fire with huge flames,
after experiencing the fire-balls from the sky and wild-fires caused by them,
had started to praying to Fire God to protect them from destruction, and help
them to grow in prosperity. That was the aim of the Agni Upasana, initiated by
Skanda and kept warm throughout the millennia.
The comet-hit of
10,800 BCE matching with the catastrophe from the sky that ultimately gave
Skanda the designation as the celestial commander in chief, and the spread of
Adbhuta fire and the splitting of Vishakha caused by fire - all happening
around the same time offer the foundation for Skanda legends. However between
10,800 BCE and 9990 BCE (the date of Skanda deduced from the Tamil sources)
there is a long gap of 800 years. But before that, we can be certain about the
design of the zodiac as early as 10,600 BCE. The gap is only 200 years then,
and with the date of comet-hit being fixed around the same time with a
variation of a few centuries, it is deduced that the Pre-Skanda society
witnessed the comet hit.
in the aftermath of the comet-hit, thanks to Skanda whose list of reforms
included development of Tamil and Sanskrit besides the introduction of Vedic
Homa as a way of prayer to Agni, not to destroy but to develop the seeker. And
all the after-effects were blended around Skanda as he happened to the valiant
persona of the times that followed the calamity. The Vedic society elevates the
great among men as a God and Skanda was the first man elevated into Godhood.
Rama and Krishna were later inclusions.
In the final
analysis, Abhijit reference is not only about a long past of Vedic culture, but
also a hint to pinpoint the exact time of birth of the Vedic culture.
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