Friday, March 25, 2016

Early Dates in Vedic Texts

Early Dates in Vedic Texts

Indian Bloggers An unbiased reading of the Vedic corpus will throw up some rather early dates. These early dates in Vedic texts are quite in keeping with the ancient historical traditions preserved in our Vedic heritage - however many Western indologists, and Leftist academicians disregard such early dates and prefer to follow timelines of the theoretical so-called Aryan Invasion Theory (a.k.a Arya Migration Theory or Aryan Trickle-In theory), hereinafter referred to as the AIT

Timelines according to Aryan Invasion/ Migration Theory
  1. Aryan Invasion Theory - Invading central Asian migrants brought Vedic religion and culture to India in 1500 BCE by conquering India and subjugating the locals.
  2. Aryan Migration Theory - Has gained currency in the last 25 years. Small group of non-conquering migrants arrived in India and brought Vedic religion and culture to India in between 1700 BCE to 1400 BCE.
  3. Aryan Trickle-in Theory - A few small tribe of people, from Afghanistan area, trickled-in to India from 1700 BCE and brought Vedic religion and culture to India.
In other words, Western scholars believe that Hindus could not possibly have developed Hinduism and that a Western intervention was definitely required to create the Vedas (probably similar to how the West intervenes today in everybody else's affairs).

According to all these theories:
  • Rig Veda - 1700 - 1100 BCE
  • Sama Veda / Yajur Veda and Atahrva Veda - 1200 - 1000 BCE
  • Veda Brahmana - 900 BCE to 600 BCE
  • Early Principal Upanishad - 800 BCE to 300 BCE
All these dates are based on linguistic considerations only and not on any archeological, geological, genetic or other corroborative study.
  • Klostermaier [2007][1] says "The AIT is based purely on linguistic conjectures which are unsubstantiated."
  • Prasanna [2011][2] says "Most scientists, archaeologists [Bryant 2001, 2005, Biswas 2004, Chakrabarti 2006] and geologists [Valdiya 1996, 2002, Gupta 2004] oppose AIT/AMT as hard evidence points against it instead of supporting it."
Let us briefly see the relative chronology that is generally accepted [12]:
  • Early/middle layers of the Rigveda, parts of the Atharva veda.
  • Latest Rigveda, core Atharva veda, core Yajur Veda
  • Events of the Ramayana
  • Vedanga Jyotisha, core events of Mahabharata, late vedic material
  • Systematization of Vedic Samhitas, Shrauta rituals, Janamejaya’s conquest of Takshashila
  • First Puranas composed, end of vedic composition
  • Sutra literature begins
  • Panini, Kanada
  • Buddha (500 BCE)
Let us now see what kind of early dates we get in the Vedic texts using various literary, archeological, geological, palaeo-astronomical and other studies.  

6776 BCE | Greek Records on Indian Dynastic Lists

Early Dates in Vedic Texts - Ancient Greek Records
  • Pliny wrote that the Indians date their first king [Father Libre] to "6,451 years and 3 months" before Alexander the Great (d. 323 BC). [5]
  • Arrian puts "Dionysus" as head of the dynastic list at 6,042 + 300 + 120 = 6,462 years before Sandrokottos (Chandragupta), to whom a Greek embassy was sent in 314 BC. [5]

3928 BCE | Rig Veda
  • In Rig Veda 5.40.5-9, a solar eclipse is referred to: Surya is obscured by an Asura called Svarbhanu ("self-luminous"), but recovered by the Atris.
  • It was at that site a central, non-total eclipse, which took place in the afternoon on the Kurukshetra meridian, on a given day after the summer solstice. This calculation stands or falls with the accuracy of the unusual translation of the word brahma as "solstice". This reading is supported by later scriptural references to the same event, Shankhayana Aranyaka 1:2,18 and Jaiminiya Brahmana 2:404-410.
The only date which supports this event is 26 July 3928 BC[3].

3300 BCE | Rig Veda

Using Evidence from Mature Harappan (Integration) Phase

Early Dates in Vedic Texts - Mature Harappa

The first pre-Harappan cities appear as Mehrgarh, Amri, and Kotdiji before 3500 BC, they are built from mud (or sun-dried) brick. Many more villages than cities continue to expand the cultural domain along the Ghaggar Hakra river and along the Makran coast with a doubling of sites numbers after
3200 BC. Baked bricks made their first appearance at Jalilpur around 2800 BC. [8]

Nicholos Kazanas explains that among the Harappan features absent in Rig Veda, the most important one is bricks [iShTaka] which were used in Harappan buildings. Moreover, RV does not talk about any degree of urbanization and is unaware of rice/ wheat, all of which occur in Yajur Vedic, Brahmana and other texts.[9]

Sarasvati River
Sarasvati is one of the most important rivers in the Rig Veda and is talked about in almost all the books.
  • 2.41.6 - Sarasvati is described as naditama, ambitama, devitama or the best river, best mother and best Goddess
  • 6.52.6 - Sarasvati is made swollen by many rivers (pinvamana sindhubhiH)
  • 7.95.2 - Sarasvati flows from mountains to the ocean (giribhyaH A samudrAt)
  • 10.177 - Mandala 10 is the last portion of Rig Veda in terms of chronology. Even this book has hymns which pray to Sarasvati for continuation of sustenance and good fortune [9]
Nowhere in the Rig Veda is there any indication of Sarasvati getting dried up or not flowing. Moreoever Sarasvati which means "she who has swirls/ currents" is derived from the root sRRi meaning "to rush, to flow, to leap".

Possehl, an authority on Harappan Civilization studies, quoted in Danino [2010], concludes that till about 3000 BCE, the Sarasvati, whose tributaries include the Yamuna and the Sutlej, is in full flow [ corresponding to the Early Phase of the Harappan Civilization 3300 BCE to 2800 BCE].

Based on the above points, the terminus ad quem (lowest estimate) of Rig Veda in general is 3300 BCE.

3067 BCE | Udyoga Parvan of Mahabharata
This date is based on a series of astronomical references in the Udyoga Parvan of Mahabharata:
  • Krishna leaves on a diplomatic mission for peace: Revati
  • Reaches Hastinapura: Bharani
  • Lunar Eclipse: Kartik Purnima
  • Talks for Peace till: Pushya
  • Krishna leaves Hastinapura on: Uttar Phalguni
  • Seven days later new moon would occur at Jyestha
  • Amavasya at Jyeshtha Nakshatra
  • It will be a solar eclipse on war day
  • Saturn is at Rohini
  • Mars had become retrograde near Jyestha
Based on this the only likely date is 3067 BCE as per Raghavan as well as Achar. [13]

Early Dates in Vedic Texts - Mahabharata Udyoga Parvan


3024 BCE | Satapatha Brahmana and Kausitaki Brahmana
  • Kausitaki Brahmana KB 19.37 states that Magha new-moon marked winter solstice (270°).
  • Satapatha Brahmana SB 11.1.1.7 states that Vaishaka new-moon coincided with Rohini nakshatra. Hence, Rohini symbolically marked 0° (or equinox) in the Brahmana period.
  • Keith [1920] places these two texts together.
  • Lunar months are Magha, Phalguna, Caitra, Vaishaka ...
  • Vaishaka new-moon would occur three months after Magha new-moon.
  • In three months, the sun would have traveled 90° on the ecliptic.
  • Vaishaka new-moon would therefore correspond symbolically to 360° or 0°.
  • As per Abhyankar [1991] [4], as of 1950 the lambda was 69° and 5, which implies that precession of that degree had occurred since SB 11.1.1.7.
  • There is 1° precession every 72 years  - hence 69° and 5' precession corresponds to 4974 years before 1950.
Hence SB 11.1.1.7 and KB 19.37 can be dated as 3024 BCE.

3000 BCE | Kausitaki Brahmana
  • Kausitaki Brahmana KB 19.3 states that winter solstice is marked by Magha new-moon. Caland [1931][6] and Witzel [2001][7] insist that KB 19.3 must be interpreted in the amanta scheme. This leads to 3000 BC.
  • Pancavimsa Brahmana PB 5.9.1-6 and Taittiriya Samhita TS 7.4.8 discuss the difficulties in starting diksha, consecration, lasting 12 days, on ekastaka. Astaka is the 8th day after every full-moon and ekastaka is the 8th day after Magha fullmoon. Sanskrit scholars have, for the last 80 years interpreted ekastaka to imply that amanta Magha new-moon marked winter solstice which leads to a date of 3000 BCE [2]

2927 BCE | Shatapatha Brahmana

Agnayadhana is the ritual where a householder starts a fire for the first time at his house, and for this the Shatapatha Brahmana 2.1.2.3 states that the best time is the nakshatra of Krittika, because Krittika's rise exactly in the East. This referes to a time when Kritikka was at the equator.[13]

This has been dated to 2927 BCE.

2780 BCE | Grihya Sutra

An ancient marriage custom in India required  the husband and the wife to take a vow that they would stay as still as the Dhruva Star ("Pole Star"). This cannot be the current one - only in 2780 BCE one comes across Alpha Draconis which stood for half a millennia so close to the pole that it had to  appear as immovable when observed with the naked eye.[17]

2500 BCE | Late Mandals of Rig Veda

The camel was domesticated around 2500 BCE in Central Asia.[16] All references to camel in the Rig Veda are in the later books (5, 1, 8 and 10).

Hence the late Mandalas of Rig Veda were definitely composed after 2500 BCE.

2300 BCE | Taittiriya Brahmana

In Taittiriya Brahmana 1.5.2.7 there is a classification of the nakshatras as devanakshatra and yamanakshatra. Thirteen and a half nakshatras ending with Visakha were situated in the Northern Hemisphere and called Devanakshatra. Others in the Southern Hemisphere were yama-nakshatra. This corresponds to 2300 BCE. [14]

2000 BCE | Atharva Veda

The Atharva Veda 19.7.2 places the ayana or solstice in Magha (Regulus or early Leo) reflecting a date of before 2000 BCE. [11]

1862 BCE | Vedanga Jyotisha

Vedanag Jyotisha is one the earliest available manuals of astronomy. Vedanga Jyotisha says:
a. the sun and the moon turn towards north in the beginning of Dhanishtha
b. winter solstice at Dhanistha

This yields a date of 1862 BCE.[13]

Early Dates in Vedic Texts - Vedanga Jyotisha

1900 CE | Late Mandalas of Rig Veda

Abirattash ruled the Kassites of Babylonia (West Asia) after the reign of Ushishi around 1677 BCE. Abirattash is the apabhramasha of the Vedic abhiratha. The Kassite king Abirattash and later the Mittani ruling elite (1460 BCE) all had Vedic names, worshipped Vedic Gods, followed Vedic custom but spoke Kassite and Hurrian. Their ancestors were Vedic speakers. As per noted American Indologist, Witzel, "the Indic elements seem to be little more than the residue of a dead language ... the symbiosis that prouced the Mittani may have taken place centuries earlier".

The original Indic Mitanni kings, who influenced the Kassites, were therefore present in West Asia well before 1700 BCE. Conservatively assuming 2 centuries, we arrive at a date of 1900 BCE.

Now we see similar kind of names as Mittani and Kassites in Mandalas 1,5,8, 9 and 10 only of the Rig Veda. [15] As per Oldenberg, noted Indologist, these 5 Manadals represent the late phase of Rig Veda.

Hence some of the late Phase of Rig Veda may be dated earlier to 1900 BCE.

1660 BCE | Maitrayaniya Brahmana Upanishad

Maitrayaniya Brahmana Upanishad (6.14) refers to the winter solstice being at the mid-point of the Sravistha segment and the summer solstice at the beginning of Magha which indicates a date of 1660 B.C.E. [14]

1370 BCE | Vedanga Jyotisha

Vedanga Jyotisha (Yajur 6-8) mentions that winter solstice was at the beginning of Sravistha (Delphini) and the summer solstice at the mid-point of Aslesa which corresponds to about 1370 B.C.E. [14]

Conclusion
We have referred a wide range of Vedic texts to understand what kind of dates we get for ancient Indian civilization based on literary, archaeological and other non-linguistic sources. And broadly this is what we get:
  • 6700 BCE - Earliest historical tradition recorded
  • 3900 BCE to 2500 BCE - Early Layers of Rig Veda
  • 3000 BCE - Udyoga Parvana of Mahabharata
  • 3000 BCE - Shatapatha Brahmana and Kaushitaki Brahmana
  • 2500 BCE to 1900 BCE - Later Layers of Rig Veda
  • 2300 BCE - Taittiriya Brahmana
  • 2000 BCE - Atharva Veda
  • 1800 BCE to 1300 BCE - Vedanga Jyotisha

As is obvious, these dates are significantly earlier than what West thinks our history is. At the same time, these dates our quite in keeping with our oral and recorded historical traditions.

References
[1] Klostermaier, K.K., A Survey of Hinduism, SUNY Press, Albany,2007, Chapter-1 – The Beginnings of Hinduism
[2] T.R.S. Prasanna Ancient Indian Astronomy and the Aryan Invasion Theory
[3] Sengupta, P.C. : "The solar eclipse in the Rgveda and the Date of Atri" - Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal Letters - 1941/7, pg 92-113
[4] http://www.dli.gov.in/rawdataupload/upload/insa/INSA_1/20005ac0_1.pdf
[5] John E. Mitchiner, Traditions Of The Seven Rsis, 158 - 159
[6] Caland W, Panchavimsa Brahmana, [193]
[7] Witzel, M., “Autochthonous Aryans? [2001]
[8] Bricks and urbanism in the Indus Valley rise and decline
[9] Kazanas, Nicholas. Collapse of Aryan Invasion Theory and prevalence of Indigenism
[10] Danino, Michel
[11] Harness, Dennis M. , The Nakshastras: The Lunar Mansions of Vedic Astrology
[12] https://manasataramgini.wordpress.com/2003/07/20/a-brief-summary-of-the-state-of-early-indian-history/
[13] Achar, Narahari. Historicity of the Mahabharata War Exploring with Planeterium Software
[14] Kak, Subhash. Astronomy and its Role in Vedic Culture
[15] Talageri, Shrikant The Out of India Theory, Part 1
[16] Mukasa-Mugerwa, E. (1981). The Camel (Camelus Dromedarius): A Bibliographical Review. International Livestock Centre for Africa Monograph 5. Ethiopia: International Livestock Centre for Africa. pp. 1, 3, 20–21, 65, 67–68.
[17] Winternitz Moriz and Sarma V. Srinivasa, A History of Indian Literature, Volume 1

Images
http://hinduebooks.blogspot.in/2011/03/four-vedas-sanskrit-text-with-hindi.html
http://iasmania.com/indus-valley-civilization-2900-1700-bc/
http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/primaryhistory/ancient_greeks/gods_and_heroes/
http://www.mensxp.com/special-features/today/28456-karna-was-the-unsung-hero-of-mahabharata-and-this-is-why-he-deserved-more-respect-than-other-warriors.html

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8 comments:

  1. Do you have the books in the first pic.
    Are they your personal collection?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for the comment. I have the soft copies of these books, and the picture was borrowed from the same site where I got the pdfs.

      4 Vedas in Sanskrit with Hindi Bhashya

      Delete
    2. Thank you for the link!
      Looks like a treasure!

      Delete
  2. As I know next to nothing about the vedas my head starts spinning after a while! But I will keep coming back and learn more!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Very nicely written and well researched article. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete