Date of the Veda

Edwin F Bryant efb3 at
Wed Nov 13 16:32:44 UTC 1996

 Purushottama, Thank you for your response.

Yes, the first part of Tilak's book, at least sections of it, do make
rivetting reading.  He and Jacobi, both within two weeks of each other
and originally oblivious of each others work, submitted their results to 
Buhler for consideration.  Buhler fully supported their views (that the
Rig veda contains astronomical clues that would date the text far
earlier than had been accepted by most Indologists), and added numerous
more references in support of them.  Their views were
opposed by Whitney, Thibaut and Oldenberg.  However, Jacobi and Tilak (I
don't know about Buhler) never retracted or modified their position.
Whitney and Thibaut did not disprove their claims, but did show that
alternative explanations were possible for the references that Jacobi and
Tilak (J & T) had brought forward, so that such claims could not be used
as proof of the antiquity of the Veda. 
	Although the debate, almost exactly a century ago now, has never
resurfaced in mainstream Western academic circles, Indian astronomers, 
in general, have never accepted that Whitney and Thibaut (W & T) had
finalised the matter.  It boils down to what assumptions one chooses to
make.  W & T's assumption is that there is no evidence that the
Indo-Aryans had the
same nakshatra system earlier, as it had by the time of the Vedanga
jyotisha (even though several nakshatras are mentioned in the Rig).  They
also claimed that there is no explicit reference to the solstice or
equinox in the Rig.  Their assumption, in short, is that non-mention of
such skills equals non-familiarity with them.
	T & J, Buhler, and most astronomers I am familiar with in
India, do not share this assumption.  For them non-mention of such things
is not tantamount to ignorance of them, and the references themselves
suggest familiarity with elementary, basic astronomical abilities, which
would be very essential for any pre-technological society.

Any comments anybody?   Edwin Bryant,   Columbia University

On Wed, 13 Nov 1996,
purushottama bilimoria wrote:

> Have you looked at B G Tilak's revisions of Jacobi's dating system, which
> he apparently discussed with Max Muller as well (in London at an Oriental
> Conference)? I am no expert in the field and have some suspicions about
> Tilak's pre-Hindutva urges, but the speculations he comes with and the
> astronomical evidence he adduces are rivetting for a late Dipawali
> atfernoon! See his Vedas in the
> Arctic Age, and Orion (both from Poona).
> Cheers
> PB
> On Tue, 12 Nov 1996, Boris Oguibenine wrote:
> > On Wed,  6 Nov 1996 23:09:11 GMT, Edwin F Bryant wrote:
> > 
> > >I am doing research involving the antiquity of the Veda.  Can any one
> > >refer me to sources, over the last century or more, that have contributed 
> > >to establishing the commonly assigned date of circa 1200 BCE (apart from
> > >Max Muller's assignment of 200 year periods for the various texts back 
> > >dated from the beginning of the Buddhist period, which he later
> > >acknowledged was totally arbitrary)? Is there any material that has
> > >contested these dates (apart from Winternitz)?  Most especially, is there
> > >any more recent material discussing the problems of Vedic dating (by which
> > >I intend the whole corpus including Braahma.nas etc.)?  Any references at
> > >all would be much appreciated.  Thank you.  Edwin Bryant  Columbia 
> > >University.
> > 
> > See among other secondary sources J. Gonda, Vedic Literature, if it 
> > escaped your attention
> > 
> > 

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