Astronomical Dating of Rigveda

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1 "The Indus-Sarasvati (Harappan) Civilization vis-a-vis The Rigveda, Draupadi Trust, New Delhi, March, 2015 Astronomical Dating of Rigveda Ashok K. Bhatnagar Former Director, Positional Astronomy Centre Former Additional DG, India Meteorological Department

2 Astronomy The science of Astronomy is as old as human civilization. It has resulted from thousands of years of human observation and thought Natural cycles that affect human life most : alternation of daylight and night recurrence of the phases of the moon and recurrence of the seasons

3 Dating of Astronomical References Frequent references to these cycles in ancient scriptures pointing to development of a reliable calendar for prediction of : seasons and moon s phases It is possible to simulate the described phenomena by applying modern astronomical knowledge and tools; thereby determine the period of these texts.

4 SUMMER SOLSTICE JUNE Sunrise Point VERNAL EQUINOX MARCH WINTER SOLSTICE DECEMBER North ΔA E ΔA South

5 Sunrise Point and seasonal cycle Amplitude: ΔA = cos -1 (sin δ / cos φ) - 90º Because the changing Declination δ of the Sun causes the seasons, azimuth variation can be used to mark them Such variation was observed in the Megalithic. In India, we have plenty of evidence of such observations that take us to 9000 years BP, almost to the start of the Holocene.

6 Astronomical References In Rig-Veda Rig-Veda is considered as the most ancient Sanskrit text in India {The Rig Veda, Translator Ralph T.H. Griffith, (1896), Shriram Sharma Acharya. Rig-Veda Samhita, Hindi translation, Haridwar 2002 } Astronomical phenomena described in Rig-Veda hold clues to the time of composition of the respective verses Pioneering work was done by S. B. Dikshit, Bharatiya Jyotisa Sastra (1896), (Marathi). K. D. Abhyankar (Bull. Astron. Soc. of India, 26, 61-66, 1998)

7 Early Astronomical References यद द व यतय यथ भ वन न यप न वत अत र सम द रआग ळ हम स यमजभतयन When, O ye Gods, like Yatis, ye caused all existing things to grow, Then ye brought Sūrya forward who was lying hidden in the sea. Rig Veda उत स य न उप ज म र ववय कपवरपह ण त ब ध न य हव मपन स य यम स पवचरन त ददपवप त पधय म नह ष अस य ब धतम And may he too give ear, the Sage, from far away, the Dragon of the Deep, to this our yearning call. Ye Sun and Moon who dwell in heaven and move in turn, and with your thought, O Earth and Sky, observe this well. Rig Veda एक एव प बयह ध सपमद ध एक स य पवश वमन प रभ त एक व ष सवयपमद पव भ त य क व इद पव बभ व सवयम Only one sun is the lord of the universe; one dawn gives light to the universe. Rig Veda

8 The Lunar cycle नव -नव भवपत ज यम न.अहन क त र षस म त यग र भ ग द व भ य पव दध त य यन र चन द रम पस तरत द र यमय He, born afresh, is new and new for ever Ensign (flag or mark) of days he goes before the Mornings Coming, he orders for the Gods their portion. The Moon prolongs the days of our existence. Rig Veda

9 Rules for Early Calendar सत य न त तपभत भ पम स य ण त तपभत द य ऋत न ददत य पस तष ठपन त ददपव स म अपध प त Truth is the base that bears the earth; by Sūrya are the heavens sustained. By Law the Ādityas (constellations/sun s path) stand secure, and Soma (Moon s path?) holds his place in heaven. Rig Veda यत त व द व प रप बपन त तत आ प य यस न व य स मस य रप त सम न म स आक पत When they begin to drink thee then, O God, thou swellest out again. Vāyu is Soma's guardian God. The Moon is that which shapes the years. Rig Veda

10 Rig-Vedic Calendar व द म स ध तव रत द व द प रज वत व द य उ ज यत Dhratavrata (Varuna) knows the twelve moons (months) with their progeny: He knows the moon of later birth (intercalary month). Rig Veda द व द र नपहतज जर य ववयर वत चक र ररद म तस य आ त र अ पमथ न स अत र सप त त पन वव पतश च तस थ Formed with twelve spokes, by length of time, unweakened, rolls round the heaven this wheel of during Order. Herein established, joined in pairs together, seven hundred Sons and twenty stand, O Agni. Rig Veda द व द प रथयश चक रम क त र पण न भ य पन क उतपत चक त तपस मन तस क पत र त न ङकव Sअर व त षप नयचल चल स Twelve are the fellies, and the wheel is single; three are the naves., what man hath understood it? Therein are set together spokes three hundred and sixty, which in nowise can be loosened. Rig Veda

11 Seasons Caused by Sun: the two half-years द व त चक र स य ब रह म ण ऋत थ पवद अथ क चक र यद ग ह तदद ध तय इद पवद The Brahmans, by their seasons, know, O Sūrya, those two wheels of thine: One kept concealed, those only who are skilled in highest truths have learned. Rig Veda व य र चरत म यय तय प क ळन तय रर यत ध वरम पवश व न यन य भ वन पभच ऋत न रन य पवदधज ज यत न By their own power these Twain in close succession move; They go as playing children round the sacrifice. One of the Pair beholdeth all existing things; the other ordereth seasons and is born again. Rig Veda

12 Sun s Motion, Seasons and Length of the Day (Specific mention of Uttarayana or Udagayana and Dakshinayana found only from Shat. Brah and Narayana Upanishad Anu. 80, but clearly defined from Siddhanta Period as prevalent today). तस म द ददत य षण म स दप ण न पत ड त तर ण The sun moves towards the south for six months and north for another six months. Taitr. Sam इपषर ण त मनस स तस य भ मपह प त र यस य व र य स म र जन प रण आय पष त र रह न व स य व सर पण May we enjoy with an enlivened spirit the juice thou givest, like ancestral riches. O Soma, King, prolong thou our existence as Sūrya makes the shining days grow longer. Rig Veda

13 Year- स वत सर and ऩररवत सर ब र ह मण स स ममन व चमक रत ब रह म क न वन त पररवत सर णम अध वर यव घममयण मसष ववद न आववर यवष न त ग ह र न क चचत These Brahmans with the Soma juice, performing their year-long rite, have lifted up their voices; And these Adhvaryus, sweating with their kettles, come forth and show themselves, and none are hidden. Rig Veda द वहहतत ज ग ऩ र दयव दशस र ऋत नर न प र ममनन त र त स वत सर प र व वर गत र तप त घम य अश न वत ववसगयम They keep the twelve month's God-appointed order, and never do the men neglect the season. Soon as the Rain-time in the year returneth, these who were heated kettles gain their freedom. Rig Veda

14 Cycle of Seasons as measure of time- Year शत ज व शरद वधयम न शत ह मन त ञ छतम वसन त न शतममन र घ न सववत ब हस ऩतत शत र ष हववष म ऩ नद य Live, waxing in thy strength, a hundred autumns, live through a hundred winters a hundred springs,. Through hundred-lived oblation Indra, Agni, Bṛhaspati, Savitar yield him for a hundred! Rig Veda Atirattra correction to Year ब र ह मण स अततर त र न स म सर न ऩ णयममर त वदन त स वत सरस र तदह ऩररवठ र न मण ड क प र व ष ण बर व As Brahmans, sitting round the brimful vessel, talk at the Soma-rite of Atiratra, So, Frogs, ye gather round the pool to honour this day of all the year first of Rain-time. Rig Veda

15 Rig-Vedic Calendar Year (Samvatsara): Seasonal- determined from observation of position of rising sun and at noon Year had 360 days and 720 day/night. (Rig Veda ,48) 12 solar Months of 30 days each (Aruna, Arunaraj etc -Tait. Samh and Madhu, Madhava etc- Tait. Samh ) Leap days (Atiratras)- 4, 5 or 6 days added in the middle of the year of Samvatsarasatra around start of rains. (Rig Veda , Tait. Samh ) Practice changed to having an intercalary month of 30 days (after every 6 years) (Rig Veda )

16 Star Observations How did they decide Year Beginning? Half years: Uttarayana begins at WS (as also the year); Dakshinayana begins at SS (Visuvadin). Heliacal rising of certain stars (Asvini) was used as Marker for year beginning. There are 53 refs. in Rig-Veda eg /2; ; /2 offering prayers to Asvinis (Aries ) relating them to the Sun, the Dawn and Season of agricultural produce.

17 Asvins (Asvini) sighting as marker for Year Beginning र व र ष अन प र ऩररज मन र ऩ चरत ऋत वनथ अक त मर O circumambient Aśvins, Dawn follows the brightness of your way: Approve with beams our solemn rites. र द ष र मस र न न स स र ण र चस आ ह र मष श वन रथ वततयर यतत न ऩ य र म Rig Veda Thou, Dawn, approaching with thy light shinest together with the Sun, And to this man-protecting home the chariot of the Aśvins comes. Rig Veda

18 Tropical or Seasonal Year days Sidereal Year days. Longer than tropical year by about 20m due to Precession

19 Precession- Vernal Equinox and Winter Solstice through ages Winter Solstice Today Winter Solstice Today Spring Equinox 9000 years ago Winter Solstice 9000 years ago Equinoxes move westward along the ecliptic relative to the fixed stars, at the rate of about 50.3 seconds of arc per year. Past observations of Equinox/Solstice can help determine their date using precession rate.

20 Winter Solstice 2010 Sgr Vernal Equinox 2011 Psc Summer Solstice 2011 Tau Tau Vernal Equinox 8000 BC Cnc

21 Sky Simulation for Rig-Veda events Sky simulation softwares : Utilise high precision data on positions of stars (HIPPARCOS) Solar system ephemeris (DE200/HORIZONS of JPL, NASA, USA and VSOP87 of France) The time can be set to generate views of sky in future or past Very high planetary accuracy of s, over 2000 BC to 4000 AD. Beyond that accuracy falls. We need to match only naked eye observations of remote past. Low accuracies will suffice. The date of Vernal Equinox remains fixed around March in Planetarium Gold over millenia; it keeps drifting in Stellarium from 21 March during to 2 May in 5000 BC and so on. These can be used to simulate the phenomena described in ancient texts to help determine their dates.

22 Earliest Vedic reference of Winter Solstice, 7000 BC वव व रथ वध व र दम न ऽन त ष न दव ब धत वतयतनभ र म Rig-Veda /2 Your cart on which your spouse is wont to travel marks with its track the farthest ends of heaven This shows that the Ashvinis (Aries) represented the southernmost point of the sun s amplitude on the horizon-the Winter Solstice (WS). This implies an ecliptic longitude of 270. Asvini s (Alpha Arietis) longitude(1950) is about 33 Allowing for the change due to 50.3 per year, we arrive at a time about 9000 years BP. The sky simulated over Delhi shows WS in Aries on 19 December, 7001 BC.

23 Winter Solstice occurred in Aries (Asvini Nakshatra) on 19 December, 7001 BC. Sky at 07:15 Hrs (RgVeda 5:77.2, 7:69.3)

24 Earliest Vedic reference of Winter Solstice, 7000 BC प र तर यव ण प रथम र जथ व ऩ र ग ध र दरर ष वऩब त प र तहहय र ज ञमष श वन दध त प रशस तत कवर ऩ वयर ज Rgveda & 2 first worship those who come early in morning. Let the twain drink soma before others. The sages of old extol that the Ashvins claim the sacrifice at daybreak. The above line refers to heliacal rising of Ashvinis (Aries) at WS, i.e., the first sighting of Ashvinis on the eastern horizon after Winter Solstice, just before sunrise. The event was used as marker for the year beginning as shown in the sky view over Delhi on 5 January, 7000 BC.

25 Horizon Heliacal rising of Ashvini Nakshatra, marking the year beginning ; Jan 05, 7000 BC, 0649 hrs

26 The second stage of Vedic Calendar BC क वठ द व वष ञ चन र दर हदव मन वस तच छरवथ व षण वस अत रत रव यम ववव सतत क त त र क ह स श र त हदव द व न सत र Rig-Veda & 2/2 Where in the heaven are you today, Gods, Ashvins, rich in consistency? Hear this, ye excellent bestowers: Atri invites you to come. Where are they now? Where are the Twain, the famed Nasatyas, gods in heaven. Precession had moved the WS to Revati by 6000 BC. Ashvinis were no longer rising before the Sun at WS.

27 Vedic Calendar BC Bright star Chitra (Alpha Virginis) on opposite side (Western horizon) began to be used as a new marker for the year beginning. Later, a full moon in Chitra heralded the lunar month naming system - Chaitra, Vaisakha etc of Luni-Solar Calendar,which finds explicit mention in : च त र प णणम स द क ष रन म ख व एतत स वत सरस य Taitr. Samh Chitra full moon is the mouth of the year

28 Winter Solstice Chitra (α Vir) Full moon in Chitra at Winter Solstice on 19 Dec 6000 BC as the new time marker for the year beginning

29 Concluding Remarks The year (Samvatsara/Parivatsara) in Rig-Vedic time was solar tropical (based on seasons), had two halves, 12 solar months of 30 days each, had 360 days with Atiratra correction of 4 to 6 days in the middle of the year at the beginning of rains. The earliest reference of year beginning at Winter Solstice found in Rigveda corresponds to the date 19th December, 7001 BC and the marker for the event- heliacal rising of Ashwini Nakshatra (Aries) occurs on 5th January, 7000 BC.

30 Concluding Remarks... In the second stage, when Aries had moved away from WS due to precession, Chitra (Alpha Vir.) opposite the Sun in Winter Solstice was used from around 6000 BC as the new time marker for the year beginning.

31

32 Indian Nakshatras

33 GENERAL PRECESSION The combination of the gravitational effect of Sun, moon and planets on the orientation of the earth in space is called general precession Equinoxes move westward along the ecliptic relative to the fixed stars, at the rate of about 50.3 seconds of arc per year, opposite to the motion of the Sun along the ecliptic As a result of the precession, the apparent position of the Sun relative to the backdrop of the stars at some seasonally fixed time, say the vernal equinox, slowly regresses a full 360 through all twelve traditional constellations of the zodiac in 25,772 years, at the rate of about 50.3 seconds of arc per year or 1 degree every 71.6 years.

34 PRECESSION OF EQUINOX-25,772 YEARS

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