Date of Jyotisa Vedanga

Koenraad Elst koenraad.elst at PANDORA.BE
Fri Mar 17 11:15:28 UTC 2000

 Luis Gonzalez-Reimann <reimann at UCLINK4.BERKELEY.EDU>
 17 maart 2000 8:40  wrote:

> So there seems to be agreement on the date of the text (ca 4th c. BCE)

Not at all: not counting myself, Rajesh Kochhar is only the latest in a long
list to date it unequivocally ("uncritically"?) at ca. 1300 BC.

> Sastry believes that it preserves a tradition dating back to when the
> winter solstice was at the beginning of zraviSThA.

Why should a manual instructing priests in the astronomical aspects of their
rituals point to stellar positions of a thousand years earlier rather than
those actually visible, esp. when the matter at hand is not too complicated
and the instruction given could be falsified at the first implementation?

>  Pingree writes that, " Since a displacement
> of the beginning of the equal nakSatra by some 10 degrees, or an error of
> 10 days in computing the date of the winter solstice, or some combination
> of these two effects is all that is required to bring the date from the
> 12th century to the 5th century B.C., we should not lend much weight to
> chronological argument.

This lack of precision is a valid point, but it works in both time
directions: with the same probabaility, it could push the date to 2000 BC.

> Sastry (p. 15) also states that "The system of the VJ is the same as that
> taught in the GargasamhitA of the SamhitA period, being the immediate
> centuries before Christ and the next following...'  So, once again, we are
> in the early centuries BCE.  If the astronomy of the text can safely be
> placed in that period,

it cannot, it is only in spite of and against its astronomical data that the
VJ can be placed in the early centuries BC

> then the position of the solstice is the only
> discordant note,

but a consequential one, especially in a manual of astronomy.  It is harder
evidence than much else on which indological chronology relies, e.g. the
fabled "sheet-anchor" of Indian chronology, the Megasthenes-Sandrokottos
synchronism, in which the all-important identity of "Sandrokottos" is much
less clear than is conventionally assumed.  On that identification rests a
lot, partly also the belief that classical Sanskrit as used in the VJ is
typical of the centuries around Christ.

K. Elst

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list