Curious Case of Absence of Agastya in Vedāṅga Jyotiṣa

Apart from Ṛgveda and Rāmāyaṇa, Agastya has yet another connection to the place called Rohitānka, which was later found a synonymical to Kurukṣetra in Ikṣvāku connection. Rohatak near Kurukṣetra has still conserved the name. Rohitānka appears in Suryasiddhanta which is an astronomy text and probably named after king Rohita of Ikṣvāku lineage. Later we find Agastya in Brāhmaṇa and in every Astronomy text but curiously absent in Vedāṅga Jyotiṣa. This would mean that during the composition of Vedāṅga Jyotiṣa, Agastya was not visible from, either most part of India ,or at least from the place where Vedāṅga Jyotiṣa was composed.

We already read about Ikṣvāku king Bṛihadratha and his readings of receding level of ocean as well as axial precession. The other information from the sixth prapāṭhaka is very important for understanding of verses from Vedāṅga Jyotiṣa. “The sixth prapāṭhaka gives information of his time where Samvatsara appears in the beginning of Maghā and ends at half of Śraviṣṭhā, this portion is ruled by Agni. And in continuation from Ashlesha to the end of śraviṣṭhā’s half is sacred to Soma”.

अथर्ववेद मे मघा में अयनप्रवृत्ति का सङ्केत प्राप्त होता है। मैत्रायणीयोपनिषद् मे धनिष्ठार्ध मे उदगयनप्रवृत्ति उल्लिखित है। वेदाङ्गज्योतिष मे धनिष्ठा के आदि मे उदगयनप्रवृत्ति प्रतिपादित है। अतः वैदिकों की कालगणना आर्तव (सायन) अवगत होती है। यह पद्धति ऋतुप्रधान वर्षगणना के लिये समुचित और पुर्णतया युक्तियुक्त (वैज्ञानिक) भी है।

शिवराज आचार्य कौण्डिन्नायन (भारतवर्षीय ज्योतिष के ज्वलन्त प्रश्न और वेदाङ्गज्योतिष)

In this above information Shivraj ji has noted that the uttara-ayana begins from Śraviṣṭhā but actually it began from Maghā. (c.f मघाद्यं श्रविष्ठार्धमाग्नेयं क्रमेणोत्क्रमेण सार्पाद्यं श्रविष्ठार्धान्तं सौम्यम्…॥ ६.१४॥). Still it gives an important note that the year has to be based on Sāyana – Ṛtus. Now we have a verse from Vedāṅga which is just an opposite condition of MAU, i.e., now vernal is in the beginning of Śraviṣṭhā with Māgha month.

प्रपद्येते श्रविष्ठादौ सूर्याचन्द्रमसावुदक्।
सार्पार्धे दक्षिणाऽर्कस् तु माघ-श्रावणयोः सदा ॥७॥वेदाङ्गज्योतिष

Many have this idiosyncratic belief that the above verse corresponds to winter solstice and assume it to be from 1370 BCE~500 BCE. ( T. K. S. Sastry and R. Kochhar suppose that the Vedanga Jyotisha was written in the period that it describes, and therefore propose an early date, between 1370 and 1150 BCE.[1]. David Pingree dates the described solstice as about 1180 BCE, but notes that the relevance of this computation to the date of the Vedanga Jyotisha is not evident.[2]) However, to counter this we have two verses from Vedāṅga itself on how five year begins from Vernal equinox. There is another delusion that the vedic viṣuvat means winter solstice, which I have solved in one of the previous blogs and one research paper. We will see that this is not the case. So, going back to the point, Vedāṅga jyotiṣa has yet another verse which says five year yuga system begins from Maagha shukla month.

माघशुक्लप्रपन्नस्य पौषकृष्णासमापिनः।
युगस्य पञ्चवर्षस्य कालज्ञानं प्रचक्षते॥५॥वेदाङ्गज्योतिष

There is no verse which calculates uttarāyaṇa in Vedāṅga Jyotiṣa, instead Lagadh muni was aware of computing vishuva to vishuvān and also showed what tithi would arrive.

विषुवन्तं द्विरभ्यस्तं रूपोनं षद्गुणीकृतम्।
पक्षा यदर्धं पक्षाणां तिथिः स विषुवान् स्मृतः॥२३॥वेदाङ्गज्योतिष

It is thus evident that the month Māgha and vernal equinox in Dhaniṣṭhā will fall during 21,120 BCE.

Now, the question arise, why there should not be any mention of Agastya. If we are talking about the time period of 21,000 BCE it does go towards the end of Vedic period ( I have concluded that addition in Ṛg veda ended somewhere during 26,000 BCE – 22,000 BCE and I am testing this memory with the further evidence) Vedāṅga must have been “one of the first” ( other one I believe is Suryasiddhanta ) proper five year calendrical system calculator. It was a Laghu-shortest form and gist taken from all the cumbersome processes of Brāhmaṇa which were also computing the whole year with the help of the rituals. Note that the Brāhmaṇa are further extensions of Ṛgveda which uses Vedic mantras for the yearly rituals.

धनिष्ठादि तदा कालो ब्रह्मणा परिनिर्मितः - MBH

The vesre from Mahabharata also suggests that धनिष्ठादि has got deep into memory of Indians from where the calendrical system computation began with a novelized idea by the Ṛishis.

Then what about Agastya?

There is a memory in Tāndya-brāhmaṇa that Agastya left for heaven from Kurukṣetra. What would this mean. This is talking about Ṛgvedic Star Agastya( Canopus) which rose māna by māna- i.e., measure by measure his mean height is increasing which is a notation of change of declination and its visibility from the upper latitudes. Leaving Kurukṣetra means its mean height is decreasing (declination increasing) and the probable latitude from where the Agastya would be visible is from just above Vindhya during 21,120 BCE when the Autumnal equinox was at half of Ashlesha. Agastya has thus left the vedic lands of Sapta-Sindhu and is visible from Kashi Latitude. Vedāṃga Jyotiṣa, the 6th limb of Vedas when written was unable to see the Agastya star from Kurukṣetra or the later vedic seer’s place Naimishārṇya for around 3000 years. That’s pretty long time-lapse to forget about the star-Agastya-Canopus in Vedic land (till Dhaniṣṭhādi kāla) and not to include it further in the Brāhmaṇa texts. We thus do not find the mention of Agastya in later Yajur- Brāhmaṇa like those of Taitiriya śākhā etc.

One can see the video on how Agastya become visible, invisible and oscillate from different latitudes in Indian Peninsula.

What this study leads to?

  1. Lagadhmuni is writing the Vedāṅga Jyotiṣa when Vernal was in Dhaniṣṭhā nakshatra- around 21,000 -22,000 BCE
  2. During this time Agastya is not visible on the vedic land for 2-3K years. Agastya lost its association with Autumnal equinox from above Vindhya latitude.
  3. Those who assume Dhaniṣṭhā nakshatra and Māgha month to be during 1200 BCE at Winter Solstice point, would not be able to justify two things, a) whether Rigveda was written during 1200 BCE, & b) Whether Lagadh muni would deliberately not see and disassociate Agastya from Autumnal equinox which was visible from Kurukshetra, on the contrary that too when other contemporary ( if the text from 1000-1500 BCE) texts were including Agastya at the same time.

Notes

[1] Witzel

[2] Pingree, David (1973), “The Mesopotamian Origin of Early Indian Mathematical Astronomy”, Journal for the History of Astronomy4: 1–12,

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