Category: Indology

Agasthiyar’s Tattuvam-300

Sri Sri Ravishankar gave me an assignment a few months back to translate certain works of Agasthiyar and Bhogar both of who belong to the Siddhar tradition. Until then I did not realize the importance of ancient Tamil texts as a treasure house of integrated Indic knowledge. Siddhars and Munis had continued spiritual quest in the mountains of South India for several millennia and had brought out practical wisdom in the form of Siddha medicine. There is a lot more to Siddhar texts than herbology. They for example elucidate building blocks which are common among different traditions in ancient India. Agasthiyar compares all extant philosophies of the Indian subcontinent using a handful of verses in his work Tattuvam-300. He achieves this by referring to the methodology of Tattvas. I had thought the Tattva methodology to be unique to Sanskrit texts called Darshanas. The Indian subcontinent has nurtured parallel systems of thought for eons. Scholars must have used a standard way

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The reality of Shadow Planets

The Sanskrit word for planet is Graha. The english equivalent of the word Graha is however inadequate. European translators who wanted to understand Indian astronomical texts, two centuries ago, made the hurried assumption that the word Graha means Planet. They did not understand the nuances of the word Graha. The widespread use of the word planet in place of Graha by educated Indians today in the context of astronomy creates confusion. The best example of this is a reference to Chhaya Graha (Shadow planet). How can a shadow be a planet or how can a planet be shadowy? An overview of a few Sanskrit words Agraha, Parigraha, Nigraha, Anugraha and Vigraha gives us a clue that the word Graha refers to the principle of holding something in place. According to Sri Sri Ravishankar, an expert on the terminology in Vedic texts, the whole universe is moving fast and whatever is holding this universe is called Graha (QNA Nov 2015). Planets

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South India Neolithic sites – A training ground for budding astronomers?

A few megalithic sites of South India are enigmatic as they do not fall into the widely accepted idea that they were inhabited by small groups of primitive people living close to a town settlement. They suggest that these primitive people were more than curious about the skies and that they were able to construct observation structures to study the movement of the stars. They used the most rudimentary tools available to them and created view lines to the horizon with the help of stones and menhirs on carefully selected natural slopes. It is as if they understood the importance of sloped celestial viewing angles atmospheric extinctions due to fog and other common obstructions. The careful placement of the taller/larger menhirs at the top of the slope and the smaller ones at the bottom is common place in most of these sites. Archaeologists can not explain the reason for the multiple sight lines to the same astronomical event at some

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Did Harappans celebrate the Punjabi festival of Lohri?

Jan 13th 2016 is Lohri, the end of winter festival according to the Punjabi calendar which was introduced in the 1st century BCE. Tradition considers Lohri to be the longest night of the year with the day following it being Winter Solstice. Let us apply some astronomy to guess the time when Lohri was celebrated for the first time.. Most of the Panchang calendars in India, like the Punjabi calendar are calibrated against the monthly full moons and the monthly transitions of Sun from one one constellation to the next. In other words, these calendars contain Lunar months and Solar Months. The first day of the solar month with the name Makara would have coincided with the Winter solstice around the third century CE. The ancient astronomers in India were aware of the astronomical phenomenon called “Precession” and precisely timed Vedic fire rituals to the Winter Solstice. Ancient Indians knew that the winter solstice day slips a day with respect

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Discovery of Americas VS Translation of Vedas

The Ottoman Empire had closed all land routes from Europe to South Asia in the fifteenth century. Columbus set sail to find a new route to South Asia in 1492 and he made history by becoming the man who “discovered” the Americas. The natives of the Americas today find irony behind the “discovery” of Americas. Europeans depended on the geographical knowledge of the natives to spread out to the vast lands of the American continent. Lewis and Clarke, whose expedition found the “Oregon trail” to the pacific coast had documented the help provided by several native tribes. The natives had superior idea of landmarks, rivers and mountains in the new territories. Native Americans had different concepts of geographical space than those held by the Europeans. They happily translated their sacred landscapes onto cartographic media which included relief maps modeled with sand, dirt and snow. The sacred space of the natives then began fading! Europeans found well developed societies when they came to Asia.

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Rishi Saunaka more important than Veda Vyasa to Max Muller?

Max Muller, the reputed translator of the Vedas and the original proponent of the Aryan Invasion Theory (AIT) relied on the commentaries of the 13th century Indian author by the Sayana for his translations. Not many people today recognize the contribution of Sayana to our ability to understand the Vedas to some extent in the twenty first century. Max Muller had an easy task of translating the Vedas, thanks to the works of Sayana. His task of finding support for AIT was definitely tougher. Max Muller had to wrestle with the works of a colossal literary figures, such as Saunaka, from the ancient Vedic civilization to construct an unprecedented foundation for AIT. Saunaka, a contemporary of Veda Vyasa, compiled Anukramani Indices to the Vedas. He indexed every line and every verse in the Vedas according to the Chhandas (Poetic Meter), Devata (Vedic Diety) and Rishi (Vedic seer). The manuscripts of the Vedas which were discovered by Europeans in the 18th

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