Date of Jyotisa Vedanga

Koenraad Elst koenraad.elst at PANDORA.BE
Thu Mar 23 17:49:07 UTC 2000

Swaminathan Madhuresan <smadhuresan at YAHOO.COM>
 22 maart 2000 16:25 wrote

> Foll. Prof. Parpola, what about the Fish symbol as Star in IVC?

Nothing in the Harappan record says that the fish-like glyph means "star",
only some modern interpreters do.  Though at some point I didn't know better
than to believe the Dravidian Harappa theory, this one interpretation made
me suspicious.  It is rather absurd for a pictographic script to use the
rebus principle for an easy-to-depict object such as a star.  Sumerian, at
any rate, writes "star" with a sketchy drawing of a star.

Luis Gonzalez-Reimann <reimann at UCLINK4.BERKELEY.EDU>
18 maart 2000 6:22 wrote (and meanwhile Michael Witzel quoted):

> the Yuga Purana was convincingly dated by Mitchiner
> (p.82) to the end of the last century BCE (the Yuga Purana actually
> mentions historical rulers). (John E. Mitchiner, The Yuga Purana.
Calcutta: The Asiatic Society, 1986)

Interesting, thanks for the reference.  I'll look that up.  But I predict
that I will find his proofs to be synchronisms with Indian dynasties whose
dating is ultimately dependent on the Sandrokottos "sheet-anchor".

> If you wish to revive the theory that
> Sandrokottos is the Gupta and not the Maurya Candragupta -against the
> general opinion of historians- then the burden of proof is on you.

Scientists continually, or at least periodically, question their own most
basic assumptions in the light of recent findings.  To most of you the
sheet-anchor will look like the answer to a 19th-century question, but it
may be right to reopen the question.  If you have no time for it, you can
give it as
a useful exercise to your students: prove the sheet-anchor.  Unlike on
some other matters, this is one in which I don't have a decided opinion,
though of course underdog opinions have my sympathy.  So, it was with
sympathy that I read KD Sethna's admittedly laborious objections to the
Maurya-Megasthenes synchronism (Ancient India in a New Light, Aditya
Prakashan 1990).  I'll try to summarize them sometime soon.  Mainly, he
tries to show that Megasthenes' description fits the Guptas better than the
Mauryas, and that the Maurya identification leads to chronological
absurdities, e.g. that Purana editors writing in the Gupta period gave
chronological frameworks which would put their own Gupta contemporaries some
six centuries in the past.

Of course, one major problem is that there are plenty of calendars in India,
often dynasty-based and with no clear indication about synchronism or
otherwise with other known dynasties.  I don't know enough about the
wide-ranging post-Vedic literature and all its direct or indirect data on
interdynastic or international synchronisms to have a definite opinion.  I
see some prima facie objections, e.g. the mention of Greek kings on an
Ashokan pillar (which, then again, doesn't name "Ashoka"...), but I have
learned by now not to take too much conventional wisdom in Indian history
for granted.

Dr. Koenraad Elst

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