reviewed by Jojo James Date Added: Wednesday 20 Jan 2016

Hindu Zodiac and Ancient Astronomy by K. Chandra Hari, Source : http// • January 2003 Vol. 92 No.1 • THE ASTROLOGICAL MAGAZINE by V.S. Kalyanaraman
Two years after the author published his True Ayanamsa when his Malayalam book Rasichakram hit the stands in 1996, it created ripples in the think-tanks of different orthodox astrological schools in Kerala and compelled many genuine researchers to do a lot of introspection. The bulky volume under review is a sequel to and culmination of his extensive studies and contemplation over a vyazhavatta or a cycle of Jupiter. It is a bold attempt to not only question but also to answer many of the anomalies afflicting and the history of Jyotisha and its chronology.

Wading through the din and dust of controversial opinions articulated in attempting a right definition of the Zero point of the Zodiac, the author has delved deep into the myriad viewpoints engulfing astronomy, history, Vedas, Tantra and Jyotisha and paraded a plethora of irrefutable arguments to establish his conclusions. Some of the astronomical evidences adduced by him have behind them the scrutiny and acceptance of the academicians of the IJHS and have also been published. He has included, in this volume, some of his papers rejected by IJHS with the comments of the referees and his own counters. This vouches for his insatiable desire to proclaim, without fear or favour, whatever he feels correct, in unflinching terms. In the process, the work succeed in placing Indian antiquity on a Tantric Vedic foundation deriving its strength from Yoga, Agama and Jyotisha for its arguments.

Admitting that the book is not for any general reader, the author avers that the hallmark of spiritual wisdom is its ability to identify the truth. And in this title, he embarks on enquiry into just such a journey into ancient Hindu wisdom and Jyotisha which form the backbone of the Hindu religion and offers a delightful sojourn into Indian antiquity. In twelve absorbing chapter and a few appendices, he takes a look back into time, to trace the origins of Jyotisha, endeavouring to understand the scientific and creative vision behind the concepts of the Zodiac and astrology that have remained neglected over the years. To understand its contents an exposure to the disciplines of astronomy, mythology, history and the like, is imperative.

The author admits that the genesis of this work was inspired by astrology. It presents a Zodiac, Muladhara Rahu Sikhi Chakra, whose origins can be traced to the conscience of the great sages who lived around 4000 BC.

Beginning with the historical context of Jyotisha, the legends and modern historical notions, the book takes us to the history of Indian civilization. Searching for the true Zodiac in the corridors of Siddhantic astronomy, it goes on to analyze the Ayanamsa puzzle. Finding the initial point of Muladhara Rahu Sikhi Chakra in A.D. 233, it tries to prove the incompatibility of all other ‘Pakshas’ within the mathematical framework of Surya Siddhanta. Giving an astronomical interpretation of the Tantric iconography of Mahakala Siva, it determines the prehistoric epoch of ancient Indian astronomy. Discussing the mystery of time and destiny in relation to Tantric philosophy, it presents an overview of studies of Vedic astronomy.

The author discusses the astronomical basis of Hindu religion and festivals and tries an astronomical interpretation of the dates of the Ramayana and Mahabharata. Explaining the genesis of the present thesis, two informative, so far unpublished papers, Indian—Babylonian Astronomy and Antiquity of Vedic Astronomy, are provided in the penultimate chapter. The final one contains two more, Vedic Antiquity and other on the Date of Krishna and the Mahabharata War.

Of the five Appendices, the first three are informative and educative. The one detailing the concepts of astonomy is a lesson par excellence and deserves to be read by all who dabble in astrology and do not know astronomy. A Table of Ayanamsa based on the Muladhara Zero point is also given. Interspresed with thoughtful quotes, the reading is invigorating and thought-provoking.

The book bristles with controversial dialogues over a plethora of issues right from the birthdates of epic heroes, war diaries of battles, underlying principles of Hora division and Dasa periods and advocates a Tantric definition of birth-time as the time of the first cry which could be computed by Kundagunanam. Holding that there is no astrology in Vedas, he calls Vedic astrology a misnomer. The book comes down vehemently on the followers of different schools of astrology preaching and teaching the same fundamental principles of planetary and house characteristics but differing radically when it comes to mathematical conception of planetary longitudes. He avers that terrestrial Ganga, Yamuna and Sarasvati could not have met in Prayag and Triveni to be a Tantric term for the confluence of Ida, Pingala and Susumna. Like these, there are many vistas to stir up a hornets’ nest.

The anguish of the author is apparent in his forthright attack of the advocates of Sayana and divergent Nirayana systems. He holds that vishus and ayanas are to be reckoned with reference to the position of the Celestial Equator, in relation to the stellar background, independent of the Sayana Zodiac.

Regarding divergent views on Ayanamsa, the author comes down heavily on the CRC for its recommendation of the 1800 Chaitra initial point which he calls an absurdity and questions why no explanations came from those who advocated it.

The author holds that the true Indian religion is Tantric and universal and abhors any sort of differentiation between humans. He puts the Tantric tradition to an antique 4137 BC. As mentioned in the foreword, it is an indisputable fact that many of the customs were instituted as reflective records of important astronomical data. One such is the perambulation custom of not crossing the abhisheka jaladhara or channel, ordained for Siva temples in Kerala, which is reminiscent of the astronomical Zodiacal position of the Fiducial Star of the Kala Chakra—Moola or  Scorpii – at 2400 where the path of the Milky Way cuts the ecliptic.

When the Western scholars are prepared to discuss astronomy contained in ancient Vedic and Upanishadic myths, the author asks, legitimately, why such interpretations have no place in the history of science in India. Perhaps the author is right while holding that the Hindus have no papacies worth that name and we need not wait for any papal decree to refine our religious practices. He calls for a review of the Hindu calendar by the Acharyas, of at least the pithams of Adi Sankaracharya. When in the fifties, it was tried and the defects of the erroneous Panchanga followed by a Mutt were pointed out by a team of scholars, the then senior pontiff suggested Drigganita Panchanga for astrological needs and Vakyaganita for religious anushtanams. Today this Mutt commissions both types of Panchangas.

The erudite author has come up with suggestions of a scientific solution to many vexed calendaric questions and the Ayanamsa, in particular. They need be put to test by sincere researchers or thrown open to a forum for a meaningful dialogue with the dissidents. Though it is doubtful whether any consensus could emerge, the intellectual exercise can be of some value. Till then we may have one more Ayanamsa to tackle with.

The divergent views presented by the author on ancient astronomy, affecting astrological beliefs, cannot be dismissed simply because many of them go against conventional beliefs and customs but being path-breaking in nature merit serious debate.
•V.S. Kalyanaraman.
Source : http// • January 2003 Vol. 92 No.1 • THE ASTROLOGICAL MAGAZINE by V.S. Kalyanaraman

Rating: 5 of 5 Stars! [5 of 5 Stars!]