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How an ancient astrological book points to the historical date for King Rama

Right this moment, we’re aware of the concept of movie star astrologers doling out predictions concerning the rise and fall of leaders, and key world occasions. It seems that millennia in the past, astrologers in historic India did precisely the identical factor. This brings us to the Yuga Purana.

An astrological treatise so historic that it predicts the Mahabharata struggle, the Yuga Purana, which additionally chronicles some dramatic occasions from the previous (like Parashuram’s bloodbath of the Kshatriyas), focuses totally on future occasions resembling a number of future invasions, a few of which we now know really occurred. Essentially the most putting issues it predicts, nevertheless, lay even additional into the longer term. It says girls would take over the financial system and take part in commerce and trade despite the fact that many males would have a tough time seeing them rise. It says many males would maintain home and take note of sporting colourful garments and predicts that folks from the 4 varnas or castes would, some day, put on precisely the identical form of garments and observe the identical professions with no distinctions between them.

Historic treatises just like the Gargi-samhita have been typically written down on palm leaf (Shutterstock)

This astrological treatise is embedded in a a lot bigger e book on the intently associated however extra scientific self-discipline of astronomy, the Gargi-samhita. May each texts have been authored by Gargi? This may appear stunning as Gargi’s fame lay in one other path, philosophy – she is talked about particularly within the Brihadaranyaka, one of many oldest Upanishads, as a famous thinker who participated in debates and challenged different stalwarts like Yajnavalkya. She is even talked about within the Grihya Sutras, which lay down rituals for homeowners. They point out Gargi amongst a small variety of extremely revered academics whom homeowners have to pay their respects to earlier than starting essential duties. Why would a thinker enterprise into the world of crystal gazing, and even into observational astronomy? This turns into much less stunning as a risk once we take into account that some historic students did certainly specialise in a number of fields. Patanjali, who’s greatest often called the one who codified yoga within the Yoga Sutras, was additionally a grammarian of reputation, second solely to Panini. He even wrote a e book on drugs! The eleventh century polymath monarch, King Bhoja of Dhara, wrote books on every thing from poetry to yoga to mechanical innovations to structure. So, it will not be too unusual if Gargi, although primarily a thinker, had an curiosity in astrology or astronomy, notably contemplating the truth that she got here from a well-known household of astronomers.

The Yuga Purana offers one clue concerning the classic of King Rama. Although it mentions previous figures like Parashuram, and future ones like Krishna and another characters of the Mahabharata struggle, it’s utterly silent on Rama or anybody whose time interval overlapped along with his (resembling his father Dasharatha, or his father-in-law Shiradhwaja Janaka). Astrologers are mainly focused on predicting future occasions so the current is unimportant to them. The writer of the Yuga Purana might even have been a up to date of Rama, and thus, was not focused on discussing him. Now, it’s identified that Gargi was additionally a up to date of Rama as a result of the well-known philosophical debates she participated in have been held on the court docket of King Shiradhwaja Janaka of Mithila. Gargi or considered one of her relations of the identical era could have authored the Yuga Purana and, subsequently, had little interest in speaking about contemporaries, resembling Rama.

The subsequent piece of the puzzle is equipped by some latest analysis on features of archaic Indian astronomy. RN Iyengar and a few co-authors have mentioned two historic astronomers named Parashar and Vriddha-Garga. Vriddha-Garga, the founding father of the Garga household to which Gargi belonged, was additionally the unique writer of the Gargi-samhita (to which his descendants saved including). Primarily based on in depth analysis, Iyengar dates these two astronomers to round 1400 BCE. He reconstructed Parashar’s astronomical textual content (the Parashar-Tantra) primarily based on detailed quotes of his work by later writers resembling Varahamihira, Utpala and Ballala-sena. He and his co-authors additionally edited and translated the Gargi-samhita (additionally identified by many different names together with Vriddha-Garga Jyotisha) of which the Yuga Purana varieties an element.

Later writers make it clear that, whereas Vriddha-Garga, the unique founding father of the Garga lineage or gotra, was a celebrated astronomer, his descendants included at the very least one different noteworthy astronomer. Intriguingly, Vriddha-Garga can also be talked about within the Mahabharata (Guide 9.37 mentions how he had acquired information of time-keeping, and of luminous our bodies within the sky, and what number of rishis went to him searching for information. It even mentions {that a} tirtha was named after him, because the Garga-srotra). Parashar and Vriddha-Garga are all the time talked about collectively by later astronomers, and appear to have shared the identical sorts of observations and theories. They began the astronomical custom that maintained that, on the primary day of winter solstice, the solar and moon occupy the primary level of asterism β-Delphini. This was observationally legitimate for the interval 1400-1300 BCE (Iyengar et al 2019). As well as, Parashar mentions that his academics noticed a sequence of seven lunar eclipses separated by six-monthly intervals (now identified to be a really uncommon prevalence). Utilizing knowledge maintained by NASA eclipse skilled Fred Espenak, Iyengar discovered that, whereas this phenomenon of seven six-monthly lunar eclipses didn’t happen in any respect throughout 1400-1100 BCE, it did happen between 1439-1442 BCE, and was seen from northwest India (each Parashar and Vriddha-Garga have been positioned in Rajasthan). Thus, if Parashar’s academics noticed this sequence, that might place him in direction of the start of the 1400-1300 BCE interval talked about earlier (round 1400 BCE).

The winter solstice (Shutterstock)

Moreover beginning the astronomical custom concerning the winter solstice, each Parashar and Vriddha-Garga have been related to one another, and distinct from later astronomers, of their nice curiosity in comets, which they elaborately categorised and recorded particulars about. In addition they adopted the identical classification of meteors and had related views on why eclipses may happen (Iyengar 2016). All this together with the purpose concerning the observational validity interval of the winter solstice custom, and the truth that they have been typically talked about as a pair by later astronomers, means that they labored roughly in the identical time interval. Vriddha-Garga could nevertheless have been a barely youthful modern of Parashar, as a result of he added a brand new comet to Parashar’s checklist, which he named after Parashar!

Since Gargi and Rama have been contemporaries, and Vriddha-Garga was an ancestor of Gargi, we will now say – following our practice of logic – that Rama’s time would have been after 1400 BCE. However how a lot later would rely on what number of generations separated Gargi (or her siblings or cousins) from Vriddha-Garga.

We now flip to a different hyperlink within the chain – the Anukramanis, or lists of composers of particular person Rigvedic hymns. Vriddha-Garga, because the founding father of the Garga lineage – itself descended from the Bharadwaja clan – contributed a hymn (6.47) to the Rigveda, as we will confirm by analyzing Shrikant Talageri’s (2000) checklist of composers supplied by the Anukramanis. A studying of Griffith’s translation of this hymn unexpectedly reveals some historic proof. Vriddha-Garga mentions two royal patrons: Divodasa Atithigva, who, he says, shared treasure chests with him and Srinjaya, from the identical royal household, who he mentions as bestowing items on Vriddha-Garga’s youthful relations. Had been Divodasa Atithigva and Srinjaya precise kings or princes? We discover that they have been.

A composite picture of a partial lunar eclipse, in Jaipur, Rajasthan on July 17, 2019. “Parashar mentions that his academics noticed a sequence of seven lunar eclipses separated by six-monthly intervals (now identified to be a really uncommon prevalence). ” (Himanshu Vyas/Hindustan Instances)

Intensive genealogies compiled and synchronized by FE Pargiter (1910) present that Divodasa and Srinjaya have been actual. A civil servant and choose in British India, Pargiter grew to become focused on the truth that in depth genealogical data of various royal households have been maintained in numerous Puranic and epic sources. He compiled this data and labored to determine synchronicities among the many numerous royal households, in order that he was capable of quantity royals from totally different households by a era quantity. This was troublesome work as a result of, typically, a number of kings had the identical names, and these weren’t even essentially kings from the identical household or dynasty. From Pargiter’s 1910 paper, we discover that each Divodasa Atithigva and Srinjaya are listed as kings of the North Panchala dynasty, being two generations aside (Srinjaya might have been Divodasa’s grandson.

The checklist additionally has two different kings named Divodasa, who belong to the Kashi dynasty, however they aren’t referred to as “Atithigva” and they don’t have a close to descendant named Srinjaya. Thus, Divodasa Atithigva was Vriddha-Garga’s modern, whereas Srinjaya (two generations later) was modern with Vriddha-Garga’s younger descendants. Now, in line with Pargiter’s era numbers, Rama, as a king of the photo voltaic dynasty (Ayodhya), was in the identical era as Srinjaya. Since Gargi was a up to date of Rama, she would seemingly have been Vriddha-Garga’s granddaughter (two generations after him).

Pargiter establishes the synchronicity between Srinjaya and Rama fairly rigorously. To observe this, we could delve into the historical past of the traditional metropolis of Mathura. The Yadu royal household initially managed the territory from Gujarat all the way in which as much as Madhuvan – on the banks of the Yamuna. Nevertheless, King Rama’s brother Shatrughna seized management of the Madhuvan space and constructed the town of Mathura on the web site. He then requested his sons to protect Mathura. After Rama’s demise, the Yadus regained management of Mathura, and the Yadu king Andhaka dominated there on the time that Kush (Rama’s son) was ruling over Ayodhya. Pargiter finds that Srinjaya’s daughter married Andhaka’s brother; since Andhaka was a up to date of Kush, this makes Srinjaya and Rama contemporaries. All this means that Rama was about two generations after Vriddha-Garga’s time. Assuming that one era of rulers dominated for 25 years, a date of 1350-1400 BCE for Vriddha Garga would subsequently translate into 1300-1350 BCE for King Rama.

There have been many latest makes an attempt thus far Rama or the occasions of the Ramayana, and these often depend on astronomical software program. Nevertheless, these makes an attempt don’t seem to present us a singular reply, and there’s no consensus. Utilizing logic, and relying totally on 4 skilled sources (Pargiter, Iyengar, the Rig Veda and its Anukramanis), and the Yuga Purana of the Gargi-samhita, we will conclude that King Rama lived a while round 1300 to 1350 BCE.

Brishti Guha has a PhD in economics from Princeton and is presently an affiliate professor on the Faculty of Worldwide Research, JNU.

Indrani Guha is a psychotherapist and a Harvard-Radcliffe alumnus.

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