Sanskrit has a tradition of Maxims, called Nyāya
Arundhatidarśananyāya* is a Sanskrit maxim used to infer “the unknown from that which is known”. The maxim is named after Arundhati as the faded star Arudhati is identified only after pointing the brighter star Vasishtha. We also note from various Gṛihya sutras that newly wedded couple are suppose to watch Saptaṛṣi along with Arundhati and thereafter they are suppose to observe the pole star. Arundhati is Alcor from Ptolemaic star catalog and Suhā/Sohā from Arabic star catalog meaning either the ‘forgotten’ or ‘neglected’ one. It appears as الخوّار al-Khawwar, ‘the Faint One’, in an interesting list of Arabic star names, although even people with quite poor eyesight can see the two stars distinctly seperate. With normal eyesight Alcor appears at about 12 minutes of arc from Mizar (Wiki). More better information and understanding comes from Shri Nilesh Oak’s Blogs and books.
Naked eye resolution is about 1 arc-min. The maximum separation (with Arundhati ahead of Vasistha) between Arundhati and Vasistha were around 500 arc-sec, which is about 8 arc-min.Nilesh oak
Complication arise with further understanding of this laukika Nyāya,
1. Why this Nyāya was needed?
2. What hidden concept could lie in this laukika Nyāya?
3. What can be known or justified from Arundhuti-darshana?
Lets understand Saptaṛṣi and Dhruva connection
Instantly the Gṛihya Sutra suggests that this Nyāya was needed to locate an available pole star. From the research paper presented in Oxford Coffee Table Conference we ascertained that there were two pole “star” conditions (north and south) in 3000 BCE as well as 12000BCE which appears as an evidence of presence of pole “star” from Bhugolādhyāya of Suryasiddhānta due to its specific mention of “ध्रुवतारे” in 12.43** verse. http://indiafacts.org/ancient-updates-to-surya-siddhanta/ This means that the pole stars and pole points were constantly observed, in fact, by every individual in the Indian society, as a mandatory norm prescribed in Gṛihya sutras. It was majorly used for human movements off places and for navigations. Suryasiddhānta also refers to placing of Saptaṛṣi in the north with Abhijit in armillary section.
Essential condition that Alcor-Arundhati provides to naked eye observation
But there’s more to it. Magnitude/brightness of all the available stars, [can be visualized on invisible north celestial pole circle formed during precession of earth’s axis] who once served as pole star during precession of earth’s axis, varies from 0.03 ( Vega) till 3.9 ( tau Hercules). Interestingly the fact is, Arundhati’s i.e, – Alcor’s magnitude is 3.99. Thus the prescription of locating Arundhati after Vasishtha was an eye testing exercise to locate the faintest pole star, if available. This is why the Nyāya in question was needed.
But what if there were no pole stars
We understand that Arundhati is very much known so she is not the “unknown” from that which is “known” and “known” here is not Vasishtha alone, simply because both are known. From the both “known” we have to find something unknown which is always subjected to change due to Axial Precession. We also understand from the above, and it is not a mere coincidence, that the lowest magnitude pole star tau Hercules comes within the eye resolution required to find the unknown through Arundhatidarśananyāya.
From one of the previous blogs we understood that King Brihadratha observes the Pole star drifting away which is an example of observation of precession of earth’s axis in our scriptures. The complication arises that if the Arundhatidarśana – observation had been so mandatory, then there were times when no visible polestar in the vicinity of the pole point, i.e, earth’s rotational axis was available. Then who became the night guides for the direction “north” if there were no polestars at the bay to locate north and can we locate those times.
It was more than enough for Indian astronomers to observe Saptaṛṣi to locate north with the help of observational geometry w.r.t pole star or point pointed by earth’s rotational axis. Every pole star will have different distance measured from Saptaṛṣi during 25750 years of span of one precession of earth’s axis. Some time Saptaṛṣi will be nearer and sometime it will be farther away from north pole star. During spring it will start appearing above horizon and till autumn it will be visible( applicable to lower latitudes). From autumnal till vernal, Cassiopeia will be visible during the night from Indian peninsula, further northern latitudes will see all these clusters of stars as circumpolar stars. Then why Arundhati’s need arose…
Do we find any other Astronomical evidence from different scripture that Arundhati becomes pointer puller to the “unknown” NCP
All the mentions of Saptaṛṣi from different ages (Manvantara) have different names which itself is a complex and now a lost case for why such nomenclatures arrived, but it hints in authorship of different times by different authoritative sages, interestingly Arundhati is absent, she is absent in Rig veda also, while Vasishtha is present. In testing them answer was sought for why and when, then, Arundhati got a place and mention with Saptaṛṣi and got involved in answering ‘the unknown from that which is known’ after her “Darshana“. When did the use of such condition became more precise and prevalent while observing the sky. Answer to this pertinent question is, after Arundhati darshana observers were constantly missing pole star, this made more inquisitive and detailed observation of Arundhati herself. I found that she is mentioned “ṛṣiṇām arundhati” in Taittiriya Aranyakā-3.9.2. That suddenly makes sense since Nirukta says ṛśi raśmayaḥ, the one who pulls. At one point of time during no pole star condition the observation via Nyāya succumbed till Arundhati and interestingly, it was Arundhati who was pulling all the Riśis.
There is an interesting astronomical phenomena available for this maxim to be true. This is the famous AV observation of Mahabharata researched by Shri Nilesh Oak and documented in his book***, in which he explained that during few thousand years Arundhati goes ahead of Vasishtha, i.e, Alcor was crossing the meridian before Mizar in Big dipper and he asserts that this happens only in the recent past and does not happen in the previous cycles due to other astronomical factors involved ( voyager tested). Visuals of angular separation became better due to “Saptaṛṣi positioning”, due North celestial pole point, and Saptaṛṣi coming very near to earth’s axis, in a way Alcor was crossing meridian first during 5561 BCE during 11000 BCE till 4800 BCE, ( via voyager simulation). Arundhati going ahead of Vasishtha in Mahabharata is an astronomical observation very skillfully added by Vyasa in the narratives. Indeed, it was an astronomical observation of day to day life as the various Gṛihya Sutras suggests. And thus arrives the Maxim Arundhatidarśananyāya with ṛṣiṇām Arundhati.
Precise Answers to the Questions in understanding of this Laukika Nyāya,
1. Why this Nyāya was needed? – This was needed to find the unknown with the help of known that is to locate and know North polestar in regard of its magnitude and position.
2. What hidden concept could lie in this laukika Nyāya? There’s more to magnitude/ brightness of faint polestar to belated with the help of sighting of Arundhati. With the help of Taittiriya Brahmana “ṛṣiṇām arundhati” and Nirukta “ṛśi raśmayaḥ” we find that once Arundhati was given a status of Ṛṣi. The seven great Ṛṣis once offered her an honourable seat. (M.B., Vana Parva, Chapter 226, Verse 8). Once all the Devas eulogized Arundhatī and Brahmā blessed her. (M.B., Anuśāsana Parva, Chapter 130, Verses 12 and 13)
3. What can be known or justified from Arundhuti-darshana? The magnitude of the Pole star, position of the Pole point during 11000 BCE till 3000BCE, in between Arundhati’s magnitude helped finding the faintest pole star Tau Hercules during 8000 BCE-7000 BCE. During these times when pole stars were absent Arundhati, being ahead of Vasishtha positionally, served as second best point geometrically towards north from cluster of seven celestial saptarishi stars near earth’s rotational axis.
*अरुन्धतीदर्शनन्यायः Bhaashya; यः अरुन्धतीनामकं तारकं प्रदर्शयितुम् इच्छति सः पूर्वम्अ रुन्धत्याः समीपस्थं स्थूलम् अमुख्यं तारकं निर्दिशति । पश्चात् अरुन्धतीं
ग्राह्यति । एवं यदा सूक्ष्मः पदार्थः स्थूलेन पदार्थेन निर्दिश्यते तदा एषः न्यायः प्रयुज्यते ।
अरुन्धतीजानि: Arundhatījāni .—Name of Vasiṣṭha one of the seven Ṛiṣis or stars in the Ursa Major. -दर्शनन्यायः (darśananyāyaḥ) see under न्याय (nyāya). Derivable forms: arundhatījāniḥ (अरुन्धतीजानिः).— pair or husband of Arundhati who knew or found out.—(aor. of jānāti), knew; found out.
अरुन्धती: अ neg. रुध to confine, तन् and ङीप् affixes; who does not confine or hinder good works.
**मेरोरुभयतो मध्ये ध्रुवतारे नभ:स्थिते। निरक्षदेशसंस्थानामुभये क्षितिजाश्रिये॥१२:४३॥, Surya siddhanta
***”When did Mahabharata war happened- Mystery of Arundhati”- Nilesh Oak, https://nileshoak.wordpress.com/2015/07/13/multiple-meanings-of-अरुन्धतीदर्शनन्यायः/
Apte : Though a woman she was regarded with the same, even more, veneration as the Saptarṣis; cf. Ku.6.12; तामगौरवभेदेन मुनींश्चापश्यदीश्वरः । स्त्री पुमानि- त्यनास्थैषा वृत्तं हि महितं सताम् ॥