Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Limitations of the astronomy simulators for dating the Indic past – 3067 BCE as case study (Supplement to Mahabharata date series -2)



Today the methodology followed by the researchers to find out the date of Mahabharata is to make a list of astronomy references given in the Mahabharata text, including the eclipses –without deciphering whether the Sanskrit verses do refer to an eclipse or not; choose a millennium range as one thinks right and try to locate the twin eclipses or three eclipses in that region to zero in on certain dates; then find out the date that is more closer to the planetary combinations. All these are checked in the astronomy simulators that use concepts different from the Vedic way of calculation of the planetary positions. The meticulous calculation of the ayanamsa and the adjustment of the same to stick to the zero point of Aries is completely absent in all these astronomy softwares. The mismatch can be summarized under three headings in the context of dating Mahabharata. 

(1) The division of the zodiac is not the same as in Vedic astrology.

(2) The calendar system used in the simulators for a remote past raises more questions than it could answer.

(3) The calculation of the location of the planets and the stars differ greatly.

The division of the zodiac (tropical) is taken up in this part and checked with the date 3067 BCE, earlier suggested by four scholars including Prof. Srinivasa Raghavan as the date of Mahabharata war, later proposed by Prof. Narahari Achar and now promoted by Dr. Manish Pandit.

The division of the zodiac.

The zodiac of the western astronomy and western software doesn’t start from the zero point of Aries where the star Aswini begins, but keeps shifting backward (as of today) along with the moving vernal equinox. The first point of the shifting vernal equinox is taken as the first point of Aries. Figure 16 shows the zodiac with three points, A, B and C. A represents zero degree Aries, the beginning point of the zodiac (sidereal) identified by the Vedic society. Presently the sun has moved away from this point to B located approximately at 6 degree Pisces. This displacement is approximately 24 degrees to the left. This is the approximate ayanamsa of the current time. Different systems of ayanamsa hover around this number.

Figure 16: Vernal equinox as of today

Western science treats the current point (B) as the beginning of the zodiac, i.e. the zero degree point of Aries. In other words the zodiac starts from B as per western astronomy. What is Pisces in Vedic astronomy is Aries in western astronomy.

Since the sun is seen to move leftward, the beginning point of the zodiac keeps shifting with the shifting sun as per western astronomy. When the sun shifts to the point C (Aquarius) then that would be taken as the beginning point of the zodiac, namely Aries. What is Aquarius in Vedic astronomy will be then known as Aries in western astronomy

Vedic astronomy never followed this system of the west. It has always held on to the zero degree Aries by applying the ayanamsa. At any time in the past, including the time of the Mahabharata, the planetary longitudes were constantly adjusted this way.

Today with the loss of continuity of the Vedic astronomy- astrology schools, we pick out the tropical longitudes from the western ephemeris (used in western softwares) and deduct the ayanamsa of today. The horoscopes used in Hindu astrology are cast in this way only.

Tropical planetary positions not used in the Indic system

To show how the tropical longitudes change in the Indic system, let me produce the planetary positions on 21st March 2021 (tropical vernal equinox) from Jhora astrology software for the western model (Tropical zodiac) and the Indic model using Lahiri ayanamsa. (Figure 17)

Figure 17: Comparison between sidereal (Indic) zodiac and Tropical zodiac (western)

One can compare the data  in Figure 17 for the differences. The data on the left is prepared by incorporating Lahiri ayanamsa. The data on the right is based on western concept of tropical or shifting zodiac where the ayanamsa will always be zero (ayanamsa added / sayana). On 21st March the sun would be at the 7th degree of Pisces but that would be treated as zero degree Aries in western astronomy. The figure shows the sidereal points for the tropical zodiac, but in reality western astronomy does not link the planets with the stars at their background. In other words, people using the astronomy software for dating Mahabharata would not know the star dispositors of the planets which are very essential in Vedic astronomy.

For the same date, time and location taken for both the models, the tithi remains the same, but the star transited by the moon is different; and the planetary longitudes also have differed greatly.

·         The tithi doesn’t change because it is unrelated to the background of the sun’s movement in the sky. It is calculated as 1/30th part of the lunar orbit from one conjunction of the moon with the sun to another.

·         The star had changed because it is observed in the background of the solar system as the moon crosses a particular part of the sky. The zodiac being enumerated from the 6th degree of Pieces in western astronomy, the star at the background of the moon is pushed forward accordingly.

·         Coming to the planetary degrees, look at the huge difference between the two systems. It is because in the Vedic system, the ayanamsa value of 24-08-15.05 is straightaway deducted from the tropical positions of the planets.

·         Lahiri ayanamsa is used here. Until the time the Indians were observing the planetary positions by themselves, there was no Lahiri or Raman or Pushyapaksha or any other ayanamsa. But today with everyone depending on the planetary tables (ephemeris) prepared by the western sources such as the NASA the ayanamsa value is needed to be deducted as shown in Figure 17. 

What we are shown in the astronomy simulators for the Mahabharata time 5000 years ago or 7000 years ago are just run-away positions of the planets enumerated from the vernal equinoctial location of those times, and not corrected to the fixed vernal equinox at zero Aries of the Vedic system.

As a result along with the tropical equinoxes, the signs and the solstices also shift continuously in western astronomy. Those who use the astronomy software seem to have ignored this mis-match with the Indic calendar. To cite an example, let me quote from Prof. Narahari Achar’s monograph on the “Date of the Mahabharata war using Planetarium software[1]

The rejection of a date or endorsement of a date for Mahabharata is done on the basis of the tropical equinoxes of the astronomy software. If the tropical positions are accepted, why should we expunge the ayanamsa value from that? Why do we continue to reject the current tropical equinox at Uttara Bhadrapada with many stalwarts having labored to derive the correct ayanamsa for the current time?

One may say that this is for astrological purpose. In the Vedic system astrology and astronomy are not working at cross purposes. Astronomy is Siddhanta that devises means and methods to find out the ayanamsa by the observance of the shadow of the gnomon – for application in astrology. Both astronomy and astrology work on the same celestial entities with astronomy providing the mathematical derivation of the positions of these celestial entities (where ayanamsa gains relevance) and  astrology, devising the impact of those celestial entities on man and mankind from the positions identified by astronomy.

Figure 18 shows the classification of the Jyothisha system incorporated in Narada samhita, Brihat samhita and encapsulated in Prasna Marga.[2]

Figure 18: Branches of Jyothisha

The Siddhanta section having Gola and Ganita is astronomy. This is part and parcel of the overall compendium of astrology. Without Siddhanta (of Jyothisha), Hora cannot exist; without Hora there is no use for Siddhanta. Samhita also depends on Siddhantic derivations for zodiacal and asterismal concepts. If Siddhanta is theory, Hora and Samhita are application part of it. When we say Siddhanta, people immediately think it is Surya Siddhanta. There are many Siddhantas and all of them can be classified into three, depending upon the utility. 

(1) Siddhantas that calculate Time from the beginning of Kalpa; the 18 Siddhantas including Surya Siddhanta come under this category.

(2) Tantra Siddhantas that offer calculation of Time from the nearest Yuga; e.g Aryabhatiya.

(3) Karana Siddhantas that offer methods to calculate time from the nearest Shaka. Many Karana Siddhantas were composed in the last 1500 years after the equinox crossed the zero point of Aries. Laghumānasa by Manjula, Rajamrgānka of King Bhoja and Karanakutuhala of Bhaskara II are some examples of Karana Siddhanta.

Each Karana text starts with an epoch of its own that comes within a Shaka era. The purpose of these texts is to offer the corrected tables of the planetary longitudes and time factors to be of use to the Pancanga makers and the astrologers. It is easy to calculate from the nearest time than from Kalpa or Kali Yuga. More importantly the ayanamsa values and the planetary positions are updated for the nearest time under consideration. The very existence of many karana texts shows that the Siddhantins were constantly updating the planetary positions and the ayanamsa. Today western scientists do concede that planetary positions are subject to variations due to many causes. This was already known to Indic Siddhantins who were well equpied with methods to get the accurate positons.

The Vedanga Jyothisha authored sage Lagadha is similar to Karana Siddhanta in giving the time factors for a particular period when the equinox reached its maximum eastern limit at the first quarter (pada) of Krittika in Mesha (Aries). The time of Vishuva (vernal equinox) given in this text for the 3rd year of the 5 year Yuga (middle of the Yuga) is the same as what is found in Vayu Purana that was in existence before Mahabharata.[3]

The Vishuva occurred on the Full moon of Vaishakha month when the sun was at the 1st pada of Krittika in Mesha, as per Rig Vedanga Jyothisha.[4] Vayu Puarana also recognises Vishuva when the sun was in the 1st pada of Krittika and (Full) Moon at the 4th pada of Vishakha – the day of Full moon.[5] Vayu Purana also makes a significant statement that the equinox is known from the position of the sun and moon. (Figure 19). In the 5-year Yuga of Mahabharata the true position of the winter solstice (Uttarayana)  was recognized only in the first year and that was marked at a time, the moon joined the sun. In subsequent years, the Uttarayana did not start on the same conjunction. It repeated only on the 6th year which was the 1st year of the next Yuga. So the solstice of Mahabharata time is not what the astronomy simualtor shows; this is some other calculation.  

Figure 19: Vayu Purana on Vernal equinox

Two texts – Lagadha Jyothsiha and Vayu Purana – separated in time, give the same position of the vernal equinox. How was this possible? What does this convey? Should we say in Oakian style that Vayu Purana was composed 26000 years before Lagadha Jyothisha or deduce that Vayu Purana referred to the maximum limit of the equinoctial limit in any cycle of the to and fro oscillation for 54 degrees or that Vayu Purana was composed at that equinoctial limit in the previous cycle of the oscillation?  When we attempt to date Lagadha Jyothisha, using the astronomy software, why not date the equinox given in Vayu Purana using the same software? Only then we will know that there is a big slip between the astronomy knowledge given by the astronomy softwares and the Indic knowledge written in Siddhantas and Puranas directly and indirectly. Table 13 in Part 1 listing down the duration of the cycle around 7200 years cannot be brushed  away.  

Prof. Achar had also stated that the vernal equinox was near Rohini around 3200 BC. This is just a century earlier than the Kali Yuga begin-date when Krishna left this world. Kali Yuga date was marked by all the planets except Rahu congregating at the beginning of Aries. This date can never be simulated in any astronomy software, because simulators follow continuous precession. The last time the vernal equinox crossed zero Aries was in 499 CE. The previous conjunction of the vernal equinox at the same zero Aries point will appear 24k or 26k years ago in the astronomy simulator. But this conjunction happened 3600 years prior to 499 CE (3101BCE) is what Aryabhatta has written. 

Just think about a model in which the Kali Yuga occurred at zero degree Aries, before the 499 CE mark in the same zero degree Aries (when Aryabhata was 23 years old). It would appear as shown in Figure 12 in Part 1, reproduced in Figure 20 below.

Figure 20: Equinox appearing at Zero Aries at Kali Yuga beginning

This model, not known to the westerners who designed the software, can never be detected in any astronomy software. Their model developed from their knowledge of equinoctial movement in the last few centuries, shows Kali Yuga in Taurus and the equinox of the Mahabharata time in Taurus. (Figure 21) For Mr. Nilesh Oak's date of 5561 BCE, it goes out of the frame in Figure 21. It starts in Gemini - that is, tropical Aries in Gemini is picked out as the starting point of Aries for Oak's Mahabharata. 

Figure 21: Equinox of Mahabharata in Taurus in the astronomy software

The astronomy simulator would show the vernal equinox at Rohini for 3067 BCE. This can be seen in a simulation tweeted by Dr. Manish Pandit from Cybersky simulator in support of the year 3067 BCE for Mahabharata proposed by Prof. Achar. The screenshot shows summer solstice near Purva Phalguni star. (Figure 22)

Figure 22: Summer solstice (Dakshinayana) in Purva Phalguni

The three stars of Leo, namely Magha, Purva Phalguni and Uttara Phalguni are shown by arrow marks in Figure 22. Leo ends with the 1st pada of Uttara Phalguni. It is seen that the summer solstice (underlined with dotted white line) marked at 90 degrees was at Purva Phalguni in 3067 BCE. It is at the middle of the sign Leo in the Vedic system of the zodiac.

One can trace the beginning the vernal equinox from this 90 degree point in the map (Fig 22) through the previous degrees. The 60 degree point (towards the right corner on the ecliptic) is shown by a white arrow mark. Further down there is 30 degree mark in Gemini (not seen in the Figure) and 0 degree beginning at the vernal equinoctial point of that time in Taurus! With ninety degrees separating the summer solstice and the vernal equinox, the location of the vernal equinox on 3067 BCE is found at the middle of Taurus where Rohini is seen.

Have we ever heard of the vernal equinox starting at Taurus?

Is there any text of the Vedic culture stating that Vishuva (vernal equinox) started at Rishabha?

All the Puranas have a separate chapter on cosmology and time, but why none of them state anything other than the limited extent of the vernal equinox around zero Aries and not going beyond Krittika in Aries?

Have we ever come across a Vedic reference to Dakshinayana starting at Purva Phalguni? We claim thousands of years for Vedic past, but why is there no mention of the summer solstice beyond the sign cancer?

The only time we read about Summer solstice starting beyond the sign Cancer is from Maitrayaniya Upanishad which recalls an old memory of Dakshinayana starting at the star Magha by stating that “It has been said elsewhere”.[6] But then such an alignment was possible when Abhijit was part of the zodiac and Krittika was not. The olden and original zodiac had Abhijit and not Krittika. During Skanda’s time Abhijit was dropped and Krittika was accepted as the star of the zodiac. In the original zodiac of the old, the maximum limit of the vernal equinox was Rohini and that of Dakshinayana was the star Magha.[7] (Figure 23)

Figure 23: Summer solstice at Magha when Abhijit was part of the zodiac

Always the tropical vernal equinox moved only within two signs - Pisces and Aries. There is a Tamil adage continuing to be in vogue, stating that one should not see “Meena or Mesha” - in an obvious reference to the equinox anywhere between these two signs but never outside them.[8]

Back to our discourse, the tropical solstices and equinoxes of these softwares never match with the Indic system of the same. It may be argued that the dates picked out from the astronomy software can be fed into astrology software to get the Indic calendric dates – but not possible to get the solstices and equinoxes.  Till date everyone using the astronomy software to date Mahabharata is showing the solstices, only from the tropical locations given in the software. Date of Krishna’s mission and Bhishma’s exit are shown in tropical locations. How could the end of the sharad season of the 5-year Yuga of Mahabharata be located near the tropical autumn equinox?  How could the Uttarayana at Magha Shukla Ashtami be simulated in the astronomy software?

The backers of the Year 3067 BCE offer a way out. They think that they can simulate the date in the astrology software. They use the current Lahiri ayanamsa to show the sidereal positions of the planets they located in the astronomy software, though they can never establish the solstices and the equinoxes as used by the Mahabharata people in the 5 year Yuga system.

The approximated ayanamsa fails the test of reliability for Mahabharata at 3067 BCE

They use the current Lahiri ayanamsa approximated to 3067 BCE with the result the ayanamsa is at the range of 47 degrees – a reading never acceptable to Vedic calendar. The problem is we want to use the Vedic calendric system for Mahabharata date, but we won’t adhere to the Vedic calendric rules of the ayanamsa.

Along with the approximated Drik Siddhanta values of the tropical position of the planets as observed by the modern planetariums, the approximated ayanamsa value is added to get the positions of the planets as per Vedic-Hindu system. There is a test of the reliability for this methodology for as long a time as 5000 years ago when Mahabharata occurred. Let me check it after explaining it.

Indic people must be aware of the concept of Adhika masa and Kshaya masa in the Vedic calendar system. The Adhika Masa concept was a crucial factor in determining the duration of the exile of the Pandavas in Mahabharata. It was part of the 5-year Yuga system of the Mahabharata calendar.

When there is no solar ingress into a sign (Sankaranti), within a lunar month, that lunar month is treated as an Adhika masa. This could occur in any month between Phalguna and Asvayuja once in two to three years. When there are two solar Sankaramana-s within a lunar month, that solar month is known as a Kshaya masa. This is caused by the faster movement of the earth in the months between Kartika and Magha when the earth is passing the perihelion of its orbit around the sun. As a result the solar month passes quickly resulting in Kshaya masa. This happens once in 149 years in one of the months from Kartika to Magha. Adhika Masa cannot happen in these months, particularly in Margashira, Pushya and Magha. The Adhika masa not occurring in these months is the test of reliability of the Drik-Lahiri combination chosen by 3067 BCE promoters.

This nature’s law is violated when we use Lahiri ayanamsa to a distant past as 5000 years ago. Figure 24 shows Adhika masa in the month of Magha in Shubha-krit year corresponding to the Gregorian date of 3138 BCE! Can this happen in reality?

Figure 24: Adhika Magha – an impossible event in Nature

Figure 24 demonstrates that whatever formula that had gone into calculating the precession and the coordinate systems to be applicable to a distant past (and close to the Mahabharata date) had just gone beyond realistic limits. From this one can judge the reliability of the outcome for the year 3067 BCE, coming close to this date by 71 years for this combination of Drik-Lahiri.

Further cross-check with the Julian date gives a similar result of Adhika Magha. Figure 25 is simulated to the Julian calendar that is used in all the astronomy simulators. It also shows Adhika Magha in 3138 BCE.

Figure 25: Adhika Magha in Julian calendar date

Adhika masa in Magha is the single most proof to reject the use of Drik- Lahiri for dating Mahabharata. The adhika masa is ingrained with the relative motion of the sun and the moon from the geo-centric view. It is also defined by the ecliptic coordinates at that time and the motion of the moon whose orbital nodes are crucial for determining the eclipses. They have all gone topsy-turvy for the time close to 3067 BCE is the fact glaring at us. Therefore the Pancanga features (year, month, paksha –tithi, star and week-day) and the sidereal positions of the planets for 3067 BCE simulated by the Drik-Lahiri combination coming close to this Adhika Magha by 71 years are no longer worth considering.

Mahabharata war occurred close to Kali Yuga date that is referenced in numerous inscriptions. The tropical vernal equinox at zero degree Aries at that time should ring the bell to the researcher that the ayanamsa was zero at that time. The Lahiri ayanamsa at 312-54-21-45 for 3067 BCE highlights the inevitability of doing a ground study of the Indic system before starting the research. Mahabharata dating research is not like a science research where there are many theories already available and the researcher is working on improvising them or looking for a new break-through idea from them. The date is available, embedded in the text itself, detectable by using the exact ayanamsa of the Mahabharata time, but with almost everyone picking up the tropical zodiac of the astronomy simulator we are seeing a plethora of dates– none of them matching with the true date of Mahabharata - but making a mockery of the Vedic calendric system in use in Mahabharata.

There is another issue here. The date picked out from the astronomy simulator is from a calendar that is different from the one used in the astrology software. How far is it reliable? We will check it in  the next part of this short series.

 (To be continued)

Click here to know how the calendar of Mahabharata time was deduced. It looked as follows and not as seen in the astronomy simulator.

This is e-mailed to Prof. Narahari Achar and Sri. P.V.R.Narasimha Rao, the maker of Jhora software. 

[1] B.N.Narahari Achar, (2014) “Date of the Mahabharata war using Planetarium software”(pdf) p.88

[2] Prasna Marga: Ch 1- V. 5-8

[3] Mahabharata: 3-189-14

[4] R-VJ: verse 33 from ‘Vedanga Jyothisha by Lagadha’, translated by T.S.Kuppanna Sastry, p. 47

[6] Maitrayaniya Upanishad 6-14

[7] Dr. Jayasree Saranathan, “Myth of ‘The Epoch of Arundhati’ of Nilesh Nilkanth oak’, Chapter 13. P.389.

[8] ‘Meena Mesham paarkka-k koodaadhu’


Raghu said...

"This model, not known to the westerners who designed the software, can never be detected in any astronomy software."

India is known for producing software engineers in great numbers and good quality. Since the forward-backward movement of oscillation is accurately mentioned in our Siddanthas (as against the continuous forward movement of precession proposed by western astronomers), is it not possible for us to re-write the astronomy software to include ayanamsa calculations for any given date? This will put to rest all controversy about dating the events of the past.

Jayasree Saranathan said...

Indians are accustomed to claiming 'our sages knew it already' after the westerners had discovered it. Waiting for that moment.

As of today those who are capable of designing softwares have not grasped this. Those who know this are not skilled in developing software for this.

However this to and fro setting is available in jhora with which I showed the correct Kali Yuga date and from that validated Mahabharata dates. Since MBh occured at zero degree ayanamsa this setting centred around the same ayanamsa of SS is found to be very reliable for years around zero ayansmsa.