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Shinshumara or Dhruva Matsya?

Shinshumara is the mysterious constellation which hosts the drifting celestial north pole. Several Purana texts make a reference to it. However, these references can not be anything but symbolic. We must refer to the texts of Vedic astronomers to get a clue. Only then can we understand what this constellation corresponds to in a physical sense. Let us look at the Dhruva-Matsya asterism in this regard. Presently, the celestial north pole is near the tip of the tail segment of the Ursa-Minor asterism. In fact, many call the star at this location as Polaris. Secondly, this asterism has seven stars. We can not but notice five of them forming an arc. Is this arc a part of the Dhruva-Matsya asterism? Firstly, Dhruva-Matsya means the fish. Secondly, it is in the vicinity of Dhruva, the celestial north pole. Thirdly, Hindu astronomers in the past have used it as a celestial clock. Twelve stars form the Dhruva-Matsya asterism. However, experts today are unable

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Katyayana and Sulba Sutra

Kalpa Sutra literature clarifies the steps related to Yajna rituals. They are highly specialized in nature. Sulba Sutra texts belong to this category. These texts explain the geometry steps in constructing a Vedi or a fire altar and the temporary structures around it. Experts in rituals wrote them, four to five millennia ago. However, the works of only four have survived. Katyayana’s work on Sulba Sutra is the shortest and the simplest among them. The Asiatic society of India hired European scholars to translate the Vedas. These scholars in turn took the generous help of native subject matter experts in the Vedas. Despite this help, early European scholars found some texts challenging. Therefore, they had to train junior scholars who were smarter.  Besides, a translator could not apply guess work of any sort with a text like the Kalpa Sutras. Let us understand the reasons by looking at Katyayana’s work. Katyayana’s text has only six short chapters. These chapters contain a total

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Mitra-Varuna Battery

Mitra and Varuna are a pair of closely related cosmic principles. Like every other principle, the Vedas attribute to them a celestial personality. The hymn to Mitra is recited after the morning Argya water offering to the Sun and the hymn for Varuna in the evening. This design is perfect per the following logic. Mitra enhances harmony which is essential to anyone engaging in the chores of the day. That is to say, clearer decisions arise in a harmonious mind. Some frustration or insult is normal during the course of any working day. Therefore everyone has to clear their minds of these to enjoy the leisure of the evening. Varuna enhances purity and allows. Certainly, a mind expands and feels the freedom only by dropping negative impressions. Surprisingly, the neurons in our brain reflect these two desirable mental states as electrical charges. A neuron has a negative electrical potential at rest. However, it becomes positively charges in preparation for action.

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The Yantra of Shukra

Venus is one of the two inner planets of our solar system. It, therefore, does not swerve too far from the position of the Sun in the sky. Consequently, one can only see Venus close to the Eastern or the western horizon. Venus appears for a few weeks in the eastern sky before dawn. After a gap for few weeks, it appears in the western sky immediately after the dusk.  Anyone charting the positions of the visible locations of Venus, can stumble upon to a startling pattern, namely, a Pentagon shape. Vedic astronomers specialized in pre-dawn and post-dusk observations. They made the Pentagon an integral part of the Yantra of Shukra or Venus. A magic square is also a part of the Yantras of the Navagrahas like Shukra. Astronomers recognize the above pattern as the five petals of Venus. Through astronomy software, we can plot the relative rotations of the earth and Venus. Five petals appear over eight cycles of

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Writing in Vedic Tradition

The phrase “Vedic tradition” is a broad rubric for a large collection of compositions. These form the civilization heritage of India. Certainly, the Vedas are the core part of this. They were meditatively cognized, orally compiled and verbally transmitted through the generations. The larger set is however its written part. The Purana (story dominant) and Itihas (History dominant) compositions are the most popular among this set. The Puranas and the Itihas proliferated by relying on Tools of writing. The Rishis who compiled the Vedas, on the other hand, created one of the most efficient systems of memorization which does not rely on these tools of writing. The question arises “did these two modes of sustaining knowledge intersect?” In this connection, let us explore a popular narration related to Vyasa and Ganesh. Vyasa and Ganesha Vyasa is the author of the famous Mahabharat text and Jaya is its original name. Ganesh is the scribe of this text. The elephant headed Ganesh broke one of

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Planetary formation clues from Arrokoth

Ancient idea related to Arrokoth

One year ago, NASA encountered the most distant yet object in our solar system. It is a compact binary named Arrokoth. Astronomers are able to understand more about how planets formed in the solar system from swirling clouds of gas and dust. Small particles in this cloud slowly combined into larger and larger objects. Planetesimals which are the precursors to planets form in this way. Astronomer understand, from studying Arrokoth, that such mergers during the planetary formation process were gentle and not heavy impact collisions. There is an interesting parallel to this idea in Vedic astronomy. Let us explore an ancient idea related to Arrokoth in Pitru Devatas who reside in the Magha Nakshatra. Magha Nakshatra – the area of Pitru Devatas The Rishi astronomers of India divided the night sky into 27 equal parts. They then assigned a unique cosmic impulse to each of these divisions. They therefore assigned Pitru Devatas to the Regulus region of the sky. Pitru

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Kalpa - 4.32 billion years

The 4.32 Billion Year Eon

In the year 1858, the mathematician missionary Rev Ebenezer Burgess introduced the famous Surya Siddhanta text to American Oriental Society. The Surya Siddhanta, a Sanskrit work explains the principles associated with Indian astronomy. Aryabhata, the famous Indian astronomer (5th century CE) is known to have consulted the Surya Siddhanta text. Ebenezer makes the following comment about the Maha-Yuga time cycle (4.32 million years) in this text. Vast as this period is, however, it is far from satisfying the Hindu craving after infinity. We are next called upon to construct a new period by multiplying it by a thousand Translation of the Sûrya-Siddhânta, A Text-Book of Hindu Astronomy; With Notes, and an Appendix ( Ebenezer expresses his astonishment that the Hindu astronomers imagined an even bigger eon namely the 4.32 billion year Kalpa. Little did he know that in less that two centuries, discoveries in astronomy will show the age of our Solar system to be 4.85 billion years and the

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Who dropped the 13th Zodiac sign?

The classical constellations of western astronomy goes back to the time of Ptolemy. Almost until the 15th century only 48 constellations were on the list. The interesting fact is the presence of a 13th constellation on this Zodiac. There are only twelve in the Zodiac of today. Who dropped the 13th sign or the constellation? The Sun signs are broken per the modern constellation boundaries. Check the story below about the development of constellation boundaries. Sun signs were broken during the time of Ptolemy because of the 13th constellation. What can be the reason for the 13th sign on Ptolemy’s Zodiac? Let us turn to the East for an answer. In the past, the astronomers of the Indian peninsula were experts in using the rotations of the Moon as a marker for months. The idea of a lunar month is popular in India even today. The Panchang calendar shows both the lunar and solar months. The length of an year

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The mind and Entropy

Entropy is a word which is popular among scientists. Scientists say that air molecules more chaotically as the temperature rises. On the contrary a crystalline substance has low entropy due to the orderliness among the molecules within a crystal. The word Entropy can also be applied to the human mind. A worried mind is at a higher entropy due to the increased number of thoughts. However, a relaxed mind has less thoughts. According to the law of thermodynamics – Entropy in the universe keeps increasing. However, there are zones of low and high entropy within the universe. The Rishi seers of the Indian civilization conveyed the complementary nature of low and high entropy as the metaphor of Agni and Soma. The accompanying web story illustrates this nicely. Scientists are fascinated by entropy in Crystals like a diamond. Crystals in one sense does not follow an important law of thermodynamic. Certainly, they appear to be violating this law. Diamond and charcoal

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Bed of Nails and Ratha Sapthami

Two popular images defined India as an exotic destination in the sixties. They were the nail of bed and snake charmers. The Nail of bed drew the attention of westerners, once again, a decade back, this time as a therapy. The New York Times ran an article about this trend in 2014. During the colonial era, Britishers living in India experienced thrill upon encountering an ascetic sitting on bed of nails. However, sitting on a nail of bed has never been a common custom among Indians. On the other hand, Indians know a popular story about the nail of bed. This story goes back several millennia in the collective memory of India. The Mahabharata text documents in detail the incidents surrounding the decision of the great warrior Yogi Bhishma to lay on a bed of arrows while awaiting his death. Bhishma, the great warrior Yogi had received a boon during his youth to chose the time of his death. In

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