Ancient Indian Astronomy and the Aryan Invasion Theory
Department of Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay
Mumbai - 400076
June 16, 2011
Revised November 4, 2011
Astronomical references in ancient Vedic (Brahmana and Samhita) texts do not support the Aryan Invasion Theory as proposed by western Sanskrit scholars more than 150 years ago. We have examined this issue and present a comprehensive analysis relating to the key astronomical references only and find that they consistently lead to 3000 BC, in contrast to AIT dates to 800 BC. Various shortcomings are highlighted in the process as to the western Sanskrit scholars‟ interpretations of verses on ekastaka leading to 3000 BC: the references to Phalguna full moon marking new year which could only be dated to 3000 BC (new year at winter solstice) or 1200 AD (new year at spring) and nowhere near 800 BC and other facts. The errors in known methods of observations are also examined and estimated.
Keywords: Ancient Indian astronomy, Ekastaka, Krittika, Rohini, Gnomon, Measurement, Observation
Appears in the December 2011 issue of the Indian Journal of History of Science, vol.46.4 (2011) p573-610
Nineteenth century European scholars recognized the close similarities between Sanskrit and European languages, now called Indo-European languages. Based only on this similarity and without any hard evidence [Klostermaier 2007], they proposed the Aryan Invasion Theory which claimed that Aryan tribes invaded India about 1500 BC. The Ri g Veda is the oldest text. Later Vedic texts, Samhitas and Brahmanas are dated to 1000-800 BC. AIT has always been controversial and many scholars from the 19th century onwards have opposed it [Bryant 2001, Klostermaier 2007]. AIT continues to be dominant among western Sanskrit scholars and others who rely on their authority. No evidence has been found in 150 years for any invasion. Klostermaier  states* “The AIT is based purely on linguistic conjectures which are unsubstantiated.” To overcome the lack of evidence for an invasion an even more speculative Aryan Migration Theory, with similar dates, has been proposed. 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.
Astronomical references offer a direct method to date Vedic texts. Weber (1861) was the first (Sanskrit) scholar to recognize the importance of this method. The key verses are in Kausitaki [Keith 1920], Satapatha [Eggeling 1882-1900] and Pancavimsa [Caland 1931] Brahmanas and in Taittiriya Samhita [Keith 1914]. Thibaut‟s article [Thibaut 1895] is influential to this day among western Sanskrit scholars (or Sanskrit scholars henceforth). Weber and Thibaut dated key verses to 800-1000 BC. Their interpretations gained acceptance amongst Sanskrit scholars and other supporters of AIT. In contrast, in 1893-94, Jacobi  and Tilak  interpreted key references to 4000 BC and were supported by Buhler . Tilak [1893, Ch.5 and p-213] interpreted an astronomical myth in Aitareya Brahmana to imply that it referred to the shifting of the equinox from Mrgasirsa to Rohini nakshatra. That is, sun in Mrgasirsa marked equinox in an earlier period (4000 BC) and sun in Rohini marked equinox in the Brahmana period (3000 BC). Dikshit  interpreted verses in Satapatha Brahmana as Krittika rising on true east and dated it to 3000 BC. Since then, most scholars with scientific backgrounds have proposed similar dates for these and other astronomical references. Sanskrit scholars have strongly disagreed and questioned these interpretations. We present the correct interpretations and analyses of key astronomical references and show that they consistently lead to 3000 BC. This also allows us to examine the interpretations and analyses of Sanskrit...
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