Category: Indology

Agasthiyar’s Tattuvam-300

Sri Sri Ravishankar gave me an assignment, sometimes 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 the building blocks or Tattvas which are common among different traditions in ancient India.   Agasthiyar compares all extant philosophies of the Indian subcontinent. Besides he does this through 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.  However, in reality, the Indian subcontinent has nurtured parallel systems of thought

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The reality of Shadow Planets

How can a shadow be a planet? Can shadow qualify to be an object? What is the logic behind the part snake, part human representations of Rahu (Earth’s shadow) and Ketu (Moon’s shadow)? The Sanskrit word Graha is very unique. Its English equivalent, namely planet, is however inadequate. Graha is a reference to a holder of an energy of some sort. However, the word planet does not convey this idea. European translators, two centuries ago, made the hurried assumption that the word Graha means Planet. The widespread use of the word planet to refer to Graha today creates confusion. A good example of this confusion is the literal translation of the phrase “Chaya Graha” to a shadow planet. An overview of the related Sanskrit words gives us a better idea about the phrase Chaya Graha. Something that grasps, holds or seizes is Graha. According to Sri Sri Ravishankar, an expert on the terminology in Vedic texts, the entire universe constantly

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

A few megalithic sites of South India are enigmatic. Besides they do not fall into the widely accepted idea that small groups of primitive people living close to a town settlement lived here. Instead they suggests two things. Firstly, the megalithic primitives were curious about astronomy!. Secondly, they were able to construct observation structures to study the movement of the stars. Besides, they achieved this with the most rudimentary tools available to them. First, they chose natural slopes at the best angle. Then they created view lines to the horizon with the help of stones and menhirs. Surprisingly, these megalithic astronomers preferred sloped viewing angles to avoid atmospheric extinctions. Certainly, fog and other obstructions can cause the extinction of star light. Finally, the careful placement of taller menhirs at the top of the slope and the smaller ones at the bottom suggest superior planning skills.   There appear to be multiple sight lines to observe the same astronomical event at

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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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Rishi Saunaka more important than Veda Vyasa to Max Muller?

Only a few people know the value of the commentaries of a 13th century scholar by the name Sayana or Sayanacharya. European translators could make no progress without his works. However Max Muller, the reputed translator of the Vedas, hardly credits Sayana. What was the reason? Secondly, Max Muller is the original proponent of the, now discredited, Aryan Invasion Theory (AIT). However, Sayana’s work provides a list of key literary figures from an earlier millennium. Max Muller and other early Indologists had to explain the existence of their works to add credibility to AIT. One among them is Saunaka, the author of the unique Rig Veda index. He is a key literary figure to determine when the Vedas were written! Rig Veda Index of Saunaka Saunaka was a contemporary of Veda Vyasa. He compiled an exhaustive Rig Veda index, or the Anukramani. He indexed every line and every verse in the Vedas. In addition, he indexed them three ways, namely,

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