Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Varahamihira and His Sakakala by Sri V. Thiruvenkatacharya

Pandit Venkata Chelam, in an appendix to his book Chronology of Kashmir History writes:
In this as well as many other publications of mine, I had several occasions not only to refer to but also to prove the genuineness of the Saptarshi Era and the Kali era. In fact many of the questions dealt with by me in my works have a bearing on these eras. The validity of much of what I have said on several problems of Chronology, depends on the genuineness or otherwise of these eras. My esteemed friend Sri. V. Venkatacharya M.A.,L.T., has written masterly thesis on the saptarshi era in which he proved its validity and genuineness with incisive logic and incontrovertible astronomical evidence.
I have great pleasure in publishing hereunder the thesis, which he kindly sent to me with a wish that it might be published as an appendix in the present volume. I am deeply thankful to him for this favour.

Varahamihira and His Sakakala
A necessity for rectification of Chronology of Indian History,
by Sri V.Thiruvenkataclnarya, M, A., L.T., Madras Educational Service (Retired)
Astronomical data the sheet-anchor of Indian Chronology.

There are a number of astronomical references in our ancient literature which give the lie direct to the existing pet theories of historians. One of the references is as follows and it is given by Varahamihira.
"The Great Bear- Saptarshis - was in the constellation Magha, when Yudhishthira was ruling; add 2526 years to his kala to get the Saka kala." .... (Brs. 13-3)

So, if 2526 years are added to (algebraically) 3077 B.C., we come to 551 B.C. Is there any era corresponding to 551 B.C. It is the object of this article to discover this era. But considering that the Saka mentioned by Varaharnihira to be Salivahana Saka, Indian historians have brought down the date of the Mahabharatha-War to about 2448 B.C.; others have assigned even much later dates to the same.

(a) The date of Varahamihira :
What does Varahamihira give as his date? In Panchasiddhantika, he gives the following data:- "Subtract 427 from Saka Kala, when the sun is half-setting at Yavanapuri at the beginning of Chaitra Sukla Prathipadi (that is when the Chaitra new moon ends), it is the beginning of Wednesday."

‘Wednesday’ is the reading given in some books, I have consulted; but in the text edited by Dr.Thibaut. सोम, సోమ(Monday) is put down instead of Wednesday. Sankara Balakrishna Dikshit gives भौम, భౌమ(Tuesday) as his reading.( Indian Antiquary Vol. XIX, page 45)-Original Surya Siddhanta by Sankara Balakrishna Dikshit). Which are we to take? Dr. Thebaut,unfortunately, does not give the alternative readings, whereas S. B. Dikshit gives them, but prefers Tuesday to Wednesday. But both of them took Saka Kala as Salivahana Saka, which naturally led to textual modifications. Dikshit had to resort to many arguments and suggest alterations simply because he was under the impression that Salivahana Saka was meant whenever 'Saka' was used. His arguments and conclusions are defective, untenable and fallacious.

Now let us take the week days of Chaitra Sukladau for each of the Saka years 427 current and elapsed. I am following Swamikannu Pillai's Ephemeris for the calculations:-

Salivahana Saka:

(i)427 (elapsed) Chaitra Sukla Prthipath begins at 10gh 10 on Friday, March 3, A.D. 506.

(ii) 427 (current) Chaitra Sukla Prathipath begins at 4gh. 2 on Saturday, Feb. 19-A. D. 505, but ends on Sunday 20-2-505 A.D. as pointed at by S. P. Dikshit.

Vikrama Saka:

(iii) 427 (elapsed) Chaitra Sukla Prathipath begins at 49gh. 50 on Wednesday, March 2, 371 A.D.

Saka 551 B.C.:

(iv) 427-(elapsed) Chaitra Sukla Prathipath begins at 59gh. 56 on Tuesday, i.e. early morning of Wednesday or 2-3-124 B.C. 3-3-124 B.C, is a Wednesday with Chaitra Sukla Prathipath fully current.

The results speak for themselves and do not require an advocate to prove that Varahamihira did not mean either the Salivahana Saka or Vikrama Saka when he used the word Saka, but meant some Saka commencing with 551 B.C.. which I, for the saka of convenience, designate as the Andhra Saka. It is very clear from the above tabulation, that the epoch chosen by Varahamihira is Tuesday-Wednesdey mid-night 3-3-124 B.C, corresponding to Chaitra Sukladau of Saka 427 (elapsed). आदौ (ఆదౌ) means the beginning and the beginning of Chaitra Sukla Prathipadi. i. e., the ending of Chaitra new moon, is to be taken as the moment of epoch. According to Hindu astronomy, when the Sun is half—setting at Yavanapuri, it is midnight at Ujjain a town on the standard meridian for India. Therefore, the first thithi of the bright fortnight of Chaitra, must begin at mid—night Tuesday—Wednesday at Ujjain. The moment of epoch we get in (iv) of the table given earlier is 15 ghatis earlier and the error is not serious and is within the limits of probability. Finally it is clear that the Saka of 551 B. C. is the Saka used by Varahamihira.

Thinking that Saka-Kala mentioned by Varahamihira is nothing other than Salivahana Saka, oriental scholars have assigned 427+78 = 505 A.D. as the period of Varahamihira. whereas according to the present scheme, his period must be about 124 B.C.(551-427). This result refutes the existing theory of all oriental scholars that the Indians were indebted to the Greeks for their knowledge of Astronomy; for Hipparchus, the first Greek astronomer, lived about 160 B.C. and Ptolomy came later and worked from 127 A.D. to 151 A.D.

What has been proved now helps us to clarify the doubts of Dr. Thibaut expressed by him in his introduction to Panchasiddhantika, page XXX:-

"There may have been special circumstances rendering the year 427 Saka a more convenient starting point than a later year; but I am not far the present able to point out any such."

"I consider it altogether improbable that any of the three treatises should have originated so late as 505 A.D."
Yes. These treatises were written about 600 years earlier, i.e, in 123 B. C.

(b) The date of Bhattotpala:-

Bhattotpala is a commentator of the treatises Brihatjataka and Brihat Samhita of Varahamihira. At the end of his commentary on Brihatjataka, Bhattotpala states as, follows:-

चैत्रमासस्य पंचम्याँ सितायाँ गुरुवासरे|
वस्वष्टाष्टमिते शाके कृतेयॅँ विवृतिर्मया||

ఛైత్రమాసస్య పంచమ్యాం సితాయాం గురువాసరే |
వస్వష్టాష్టమితే శాకే కృతేయం వివృతిర్మయా||

"This commentary was written by me in the year 888 of the Saka on Thursday, Suklapaksha Panchami of the Chaitra month."

Neither 888 of Salivahana Saka nor Vikrama Saka tally with the week day. This matter can be easily verified from Swamikannu Pillai’s Ephemeris. Salivahana 888 (elapsed) Chaitra Sukla Panchami corresponds to 18th March 967 A.D. but the week day is Monday and not Thursday.

Vikrama Sake 888 (elapsed), Chaitra Sukla Panchami corresponds to 10th March 832 A.D. but the week day is Sunday and not Thursday. 888 current (Vikrama Saka) Chaitra Sukla Panchami ends with 56gh. 43 on Sunday 19-2-831 A.D.

But 23-2-338 A.D. falls on Chaitra Sukla Panchami with Thursday as the week day. So. if 888 of the Saka mentioned by Bhattotpala corresponds to 338 A.D. when did the Saka begin? The era began in 550 (888-338) astronomical or 551 B.C. So, we may take 551 B.C. as the starting year of the Saka mentioned by Bhattotpala and Varahamihira.

From the sloka "आसन मघासु मुनय:", "ఆసన్ మఘాసు మునయ:" we get 551 B.C. plus 2526=3077 B.C. as the year of Yudhishtira kala which began after the expiry of 25 years of Kali, that is, in the 26th year of Kali.

3077 B.C. plus 25 = 3102 B.C. is the beginning of Kali yuga tallying with the traditional date given in the Puranas. Astronomical and puranic dates lead us to the same conclusion. What more is necessary to establish the validity of our arguments.

The late Nadimpalli Jagannadho Rao of Narsaraopet, Guntur Dt. has made a lot of research in this field and published the results of all his researches in a Telugu Book under the title "Andhra Mahasamrajyam". In his research he found that three or four published editions of Bhattotpala’s works contained the sloka as given above, whereas in some editions published by Sudhakara Dwivedi the sloka is corrected as follows:-

फाल्गुनस्य द्वितीयायामसितायाँ गुरोर्दिने |
वस्वष्टाष्टमिते शाके कृतेयॅँ विवृतिर्मया||
ఫాల్గునస్య ద్వితీయాయా మసితాయాం గురొర్దినే |
వస్వష్టాష్టమితే శాకే కృతేయం వివృతిర్మయా ||

Jagannadha Rao’s contention is that Pandit Sudhakara Dwivedi purposely changed the original sloka since Chaitra Sukla Panchami of 888 Salivahana Saka is not a Thursday as required. But I kept an open mind till now as I could not come to a definite decision as to which version is the modified version.

Fortunately in an old edition of Bhattotpala’s commemtary on Brihatjataka in Grantha characters, published in South India and so more reliable, I found the version “ चैत्रमासस्य " etc. So I have come to the conclusion that Sudhakara Dwivedi's version is the modified version and has to be rejected.

Some scholars feel otherwise as regards the dates of completion of the commentaries by Bhattotpala on Brihat Jataka and Bribatsamhita ---

They state that, according to Bhattotpala, the commentary on Brihat Jataka was completed on Chaitra Suddha Panchami, Thursday of Sake 888 elapsed and that the commentary on Brihat Samhita was completed on Phalguna Krishna Dwitiya, Thursday of Sake 888 elapsed. The following results of mine calculated with the help of the tables of Swamikannu Pillai’s ephemeris are given below :-

Sukla Panchami of Chaitra month :

(i) Salivahana Saka 888 elapsed :- Chaitra Sukla Panchami begins on Monday, 18th March 967 A.D. at 15 ghatis and ends on Tuesday. Week day is not a Thursday.

(ii) Salivahana Saka 888 current:— Chaitra Sukla Panchami ends on Wednesday, 28th February 966 A.D. The week day is not a Thursday.

(iii) (Cyrus Saka or) Andhra Saka 888 elapsed:- Chaitra Sukla Panchami begins at 16 gh.12 on 19-3-34O A.D. Wednesday and continues on 20-3-340 A.D. Thursday which is the required week-day.

Krishna Dwitiya of Phulguna month :

(i) Salivahana Saka 888 elapsed :- Phalguna Krishna Pratipathi ends on Tuesday, 17th February 968 A.D. at 51 ghatis; Dwitiya falls on Wednesday, 18th February 968 A.D. The week day is not a Thursday.

(ii) Salivahana Saka 888 current:- Phalguna Krishna Pratipathi ends on Thursday, 28th February 967 A.D. at 11 gh. 24 So, we might take that Dwitiya falls on Thursday in this case.

(iii) Andhra Sake (or Cyrus era) 888 elapsed :- Phalguna Krishna Dwitiya begins at 16 gh. 12 on 19th February 341 A.D. Thursday, which is the required week-day.

This table gives an unequivocal proof that the Saka referred to by Bhattotpala is not the Salivahana Saka but the forgotten Andhra Saka (Cyrus era) which began in 550 B.C., as this satisfies both the dates whereas Salivahana Saka satisfies only one date.

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