Astronomical observations recorded in Vedic Literature & their Date

Aupmanyav

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
5,099
New Delhi, India
#21
What is the Taittariya description?
I too did not understand how above reference connects with vernal equinox being in Punarvasu (Castor and Pollux). Request kindly elaborate for ur benefit.
1. In the Vajasaaeyi Sanhita 4.19 (YajurVeda), Aditi is said to be "ubhaya shirshni", "double-headed". This would not have happened if Punarvasu was not the asterism with which the new year started on vernal equinox. Aditi is the deity of Punarvasu.
2. It should be clear from the position of the Abhijit day in the sacrificial literature fully supports the tradition about Aditi, the presiding deity of Punarvasu, having discovered the commencement of the sacrifice. Aditi (or the asterism of Punarvasu) at this time must have also separated the Devayana from the Pitriyana (end of the year and beginning of the new) and thus may have been appropriately called the mother of the Devas (Rig. x.72,5). It was from her that the Adityas were born (Rig. x.72.8; Shat. Br. iii.1.3.2), or the sun commenced his yearly course.
3. Taittiriya Brahmana (1.5.2.2): Tilk has already given the translation. I give below the image of the page.
"The asterism of Chitra is here said to be the head of this Prajapati, Svati the heart, Hastha the hand, Vishakha the thighs, and Anuradha the foot." If Chitra is the head of Prajapati, then the New Year must have started at the time when sun arose on the day of vernal equinox in the asterism of Punarvasu.

Taittiriya 1.5.2.2.png

Tilk further says: "But the traces of such period which we can discover in the sacrificial literature and especially the express mention in Taittiriya Sanhita that the Chitra full-moon once commenced the year are, in my opinion, sufficient to prove the existence of such a calendar in the primitive days. We cannot otherwise account why the first and last offerings in every sacrifice should be made to Aditi and why Abhijit day should precede the Vishuvan by four days.", and

"The asterism of Abhijit marked the approach of Vishuvun or the central day, while Punarvasu, which soon after came to be called Yamakau, perhaps Yama and Yami, indicated the beginning of the year. Sometime after this and before the vernal equinox had receded to Orion, the lunar months and tithis or days appear to have come in use; and, in fact, the whole calendar seems to have been rearranged, the year being made to commence from the winter solstice in the Chitra full-moon. But this did not alter the sacrificial system, which, so far as the procedure is concerned, still Continues to be what it was in the oldest days."

I acknowledge that the reasoning is not straight-forward and a bit difficult to understand.
 

Aatreya

Ad Honorem
Dec 2014
3,412
USA
#22
1. In the Vajasaaeyi Sanhita 4.19 (YajurVeda), Aditi is said to be "ubhaya shirshni", "double-headed". This would not have happened if Punarvasu was not the asterism with which the new year started on vernal equinox. Aditi is the deity of Punarvasu.
2. It should be clear from the position of the Abhijit day in the sacrificial literature fully supports the tradition about Aditi, the presiding deity of Punarvasu, having discovered the commencement of the sacrifice. Aditi (or the asterism of Punarvasu) at this time must have also separated the Devayana from the Pitriyana (end of the year and beginning of the new) and thus may have been appropriately called the mother of the Devas (Rig. x.72,5). It was from her that the Adityas were born (Rig. x.72.8; Shat. Br. iii.1.3.2), or the sun commenced his yearly course.
3. Taittiriya Brahmana (1.5.2.2): Tilk has already given the translation. I give below the image of the page.
"The asterism of Chitra is here said to be the head of this Prajapati, Svati the heart, Hastha the hand, Vishakha the thighs, and Anuradha the foot." If Chitra is the head of Prajapati, then the New Year must have started at the time when sun arose on the day of vernal equinox in the asterism of Punarvasu.

View attachment 14466

Tilk further says: "But the traces of such period which we can discover in the sacrificial literature and especially the express mention in Taittiriya Sanhita that the Chitra full-moon once commenced the year are, in my opinion, sufficient to prove the existence of such a calendar in the primitive days. We cannot otherwise account why the first and last offerings in every sacrifice should be made to Aditi and why Abhijit day should precede the Vishuvan by four days.", and

"The asterism of Abhijit marked the approach of Vishuvun or the central day, while Punarvasu, which soon after came to be called Yamakau, perhaps Yama and Yami, indicated the beginning of the year. Sometime after this and before the vernal equinox had receded to Orion, the lunar months and tithis or days appear to have come in use; and, in fact, the whole calendar seems to have been rearranged, the year being made to commence from the winter solstice in the Chitra full-moon. But this did not alter the sacrificial system, which, so far as the procedure is concerned, still Continues to be what it was in the oldest days."

I acknowledge that the reasoning is not straight-forward and a bit difficult to understand.
Tomorrow will be the reply for this post. I can't help laughing at the mis-interpretation. So Tilak makes a big interpretation of Punarvasu, Rohini, etc.. which are totally absent in Rig Veda.
 
Oct 2015
890
India
#23
Dear Aatreya,

I look forward to your response and analysis.

The question we need to ask is not: Does Rig Ved Samhita mentions Punarvasu (Castor & Pollux) or Rohini (Aldebaran)? The correct framing of the question is: Is there anything in Vedic corpus to enable us to deduce / conclude / suspect that vernal equinox was at these or some other stars?

We all agree that Rig Ved is one part of the Vedic corpus, the oldest. Even Atharva Ved Samhita is old. Yajur Ved Samhita gives the SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) for performing the Yagya (fire-worship ceremonies).

We need to remember that Yagya (fire-worship ceremonies) began first and only much after that the Rig Ved Samhita came into existence in the form we have. It is not the other way round. So it may be possible that looking at practice of Yagya (ceremonies & time-table) one can try to extrapolate some astronomical references.

Anyway, you have lot of knowledge and a healthy skepticism. Await your analysis.

Regards

Rajeev
 
Likes: Aupmanyav
Oct 2015
890
India
#24
Came across an interesting paper on ancient people's ability to watch the night sky, define a zodiac, and mark equinoxes/solstices. [1] This paper is linked in another thread in historum.com. [2]


The authors studied three ancient archaeological sites - Lascaux Shaft Scene (France), Çatalhöyük shrines (Turkey) and Göbekli Tepe (Turkey). The animals carved / drawn appear similar to those in present-day western zodiactern zodiac. They re-constructs a zodiac based this info and note the occurrences of equinoxes/solstices depicted therein.

Using the re-constructed zodiac & equinoxes/solstices, they date each of the sites based the imagery depicted there and on precession of axis. They find that the date arrived for each site is reasonably accurate - Lascaux Shaft Scene (15,150 BC), Çatalhöyük shrines (7,400 – 6,500 BC), and Göbekli Tepe (10,950 BC).

The limited point I wish to make it is that ancient men were able to define a zodiac and record equinoxes even during c. 15,000 BCE.


[1] https://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1806/1806.00046.pdf

[2] Astronomical connection between Paleolithic European art and Gobekli Tepe?
 
Likes: Aupmanyav

Aatreya

Ad Honorem
Dec 2014
3,412
USA
#26
Waiting for your comments since Saturday.
Sorry for the delay.

For now, let me open this chain of responses by commenting on the title "Ubhaya ShIrshiNi" for Aditi. The reason is not because of two stars (Punarvasu), but because Aditi, the Universal mother (in Rig Veda) is called so because she represents both DyAva and Prithivi.
 
Jul 2017
510
Sydney
#27
I don't know the hymns used for the calculation but Hermann Jacobi dated parts of Rig Veda to 4500 BC using precession, a very scientific approach

It is said details of his method can be found in his paper 'On the date of the Rig Veda' published in 1894

He published his work again in the Royal Asiatic Society in 1908 and generated heated debate

Mandala 5, hymns 40.5 to 40.9, has a solar eclipse that can supposedly be dated to 3928 BC

I'm not too familiar with this approach but I did meet Saroj Bala Ji once who has done a lot of work in this area
 
Last edited:
Oct 2015
890
India
#28
Thanks @Kadi

Tried to get Jacobi's paper online but could not. Archieves.com has his books on Jainism but not this paper.

Tilak published 'The Orion' in 1893 after researching the subject for four years. He does not refer to Jacobi's paper in it because Jacobi published a year later, but acknowledges an American professor who before him gave a hypothesis that Aryans came from Polar or Arctic region.

Tilak says that he began thinking about astronomical dating when in Bhagvad Gita he read Krishna say: 'Among nakshatras I am Mrigashirsha' (Among the asterisms on ecliptic, I am the Orion). A question arose in his mind - why did Krishna think that Mriga-shirsha is the most important nakshatra?
 
Oct 2015
890
India
#29
Sorry for the delay.

For now, let me open this chain of responses by commenting on the title "Ubhaya ShIrshiNi" for Aditi. The reason is not because of two stars (Punarvasu), but because Aditi, the Universal mother (in Rig Veda) is called so because she represents both DyAva and Prithivi.

@Aatreya

You say that Aditi is called "Ubhaya ShIrshiNi" (double/both headed) because she is "the Universal mother (in Rig Veda) is called so because she represents both DyAva and Prithivi". Your interpretation is also plausible

However, it does not tie-in with other interpretations:

[1] Firstly, with "the commentators [on Vajasaaeyi Sanhita 4.19] interpret it [Ubhaya ShIrshiNi] to mean that the two termini of the sacrifices, which began and ended with Aditi, are the two heads here alluded to."

[2] Secondly, the presiding deity of Punarvasu is Aditi, and we are told in the Aitareya Brahamana 1.7 and the Taittiriya Sanhita 1.5.1, that Aditi has been blessed with a boon that all sacrifices must commemce and end with her.
 
Oct 2015
890
India
#30
@Aatreya

Reproduced below are the clear statements in Yajur Veda (Taittiriya Sanhita ) and Aitareya Brahmana of Rig Veda. First one says Fire should be established under Punarvasu. Second one narrates story of Aditi saying that all sacrifices should commence with her and end with her [=Punarvasu].

You may like to verify & comment:

..............................................

Taittiriya Sanhita i.5.1 (Yajur Veda)

"He should establish [the fire with Agni as its divinity] under Punarvasu; Punarvasu is the Nakshatra for the re-establishing; verily by establishing it under its own deity he becomes resplendent. He establishes with Darbha grass, for variety. He establishes with Darbha; verily winning it from the waters and the plants he establishes it. The sacrificial cake is offered on five potsherds; the seasons are five; verily he wins it from the seasons and establishes it."

Source:

Kanda I: / PRAPATHAKA V: The Rekindling of the Fire: / Verse i. 5. 1.

The Yajur Veda (Taittiriya Sanhita). Arthur Berriedale Keith, translator 1914

https://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/yv/yv01.htm

..............................................

Aitareya Brahman of Rig Veda 1.7

"The sacrifice (the mystical sacrificial personage) went away from the gods. The gods were (consequently) unable to perform any further ceremony. They did not know where it had gone to.

They said to Aditi : Let us know the sacrifice through thee!
Aditi said: Let it be so; but I will choose a boon from you.
They said :Choose!
Then she chose this boon: all sacrifices shall commence with me, and end with me.

Thence there is at (the beginning of) ihe Prayaniya Isti a Charu-offering for Aditi and the same offering is given to her as the boon chosen by her at the end (of the sacrifice). Then she chose this (other) boon. Through me you shall know the eastern direction, through Agni the southern, through Soma the western, and through Savitar the northern direction. The Hotar repeats the (Anuvakya and) Yajya-mantra for the Pathya. Therefore the sun -rises in the east and sets in the west; for it follows in its course the Pathya. He repeats the (Anuvakya and) Yajya verse for Agni."

Source:

Page 11-12

Aitareya Brahmanam of the RIgveda,
CONTAINING THE EARLIEST SPECULATIONS OF THE BRAHMANS ON THE MEANING OF THE SACRIFICIAL PRAYERS, AND ON THE ORIGIN, PERFORMANCE AND SENSE OF THE RITES OF THE VEDIC RELIGION

BY I MARTIN HAUG, Ph. D.,

REPRINTED AND PUBLISHED BY
SUDHINDRA NATH VASU, ALLAHABAD. 1922.

https://ia802702.us.archive.org/32/items/aitareyabrahmana04hauguoft/aitareyabrahmana04hauguoft.pdf

..............................................
 

Similar History Discussions