[Advaita-l] On evidence for and against Yugas of Indian chronology

Raghav Kumar Dwivedula raghavkumar00 at gmail.com
Mon Nov 13 11:54:41 EST 2017


Yes there is no problem with atIndriya viShsyas like svarga, karma phala
etc., since such statements are *non-falsifiable* . Most of the discussions
related to shruti fall in this category.

The challenge is, with topics dealt with in some of the pauruSheya texts
which are well-regarded in the tradition, where the viShaya described is
*within the purview of the senses* and yet of some importance for Astikas.
In such cases, such as historiography, there is scope for objections coming
from current science.

I may choose to ignore and not address such scientific objections due to my
other priorities. But such objections from science are not something that
can be dismissed merely as a matter of principle by invoking
anadhigatatvaM, (when it comes to itihAsa purAnas.)Because they are indriya

Again you rightly observed, science remains perpetually a work in progress.
But that is true even of traditional historiography.
I gave the example of (a minority view) of a respected acharya mentioning
600 years and you mentioned 5000 years by some dharmic institution  to say
that such issues may also be works in progress. I was told that such other
calculations are not totally arbitrary and follow a different way of
calculation . I am looking for the exact details .

As for tAtparya nishcaya, that is about the mahAvAkya etc. It remains fixed
as the samanvaya has already been done. (dvaitins may disagree but let us
ignore that aspect for now)

But when it comes to other topics there is definitely scope for contention,
refinement even within the tradition. Take the example of year of birth of
bhAShyakAra. Even the two southern maths do not agree on the year.
The very fact they are contending (rather than ignoring it as a mere
vyAvahArika issue like in a dream) shows that it has some importance. I
certainly found it helpful to see both the views of the maThs and we can
reach a clearer conclusion and see where the later distortions are coming
in. So even within the tradition there is going to be debate over such

Thank you for all the inputs esp. the quote.

Even about the prakriti kāryam that is the jagat
Shankara says:  अस्य जगतो नामरूपाभ्यां व्याकृतस्य अनेककर्तृभोक्तृसंयुक्तस्य
प्रतिनियतदेशकालनिमित्तक्रियाफलाश्रयस्य मनसाप्यचिन्त्यरचनारूपस्य  BSB


On 13-Nov-2017 6:58 PM, "Venkatraghavan S" <agnimile at gmail.com> wrote:

> Namaste Raghav ji,
> Indeed, I do think itihAsas have historical value. I also do not think
> these are merely stories to inculcate the values embodied by the characters
> in these epics. In my view, they were real people whose lives were
> described by the historians of the day using the means at their disposal.
> However, where the problem arises is when someone subjects these epics to
> a scientific methodology prevalent in today's time and discovers
> inconsistencies between the events described in the epics and the outcome
> of scientific tests. That is when it is worth bearing in mind that the
> chroniclers of that time did not set out to pass today's tests. If science
> is able to prove these as fact, well and good. If it disproves them, that
> is not the end of the world - as Shankara says, what logic (science) proves
> today can be disproved by someone cleverer tomorrow. In the meantime, we
> still have our tAtparya to hold on to.
> Regards,
> Venkatraghavan
> On Mon, Nov 13, 2017 at 11:22 AM, Raghav Kumar Dwivedula <
> raghavkumar00 at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Namaste Venkataraghavan ji
>> I have to admit that examining the itihAsa as having a core of historical
>> truth, may be not exactly be par for the course in an advaita forum. But
>> there are so many learned members here who I felt, cherish the itihAsas as
>> having atleast some historical value so I raised this topic.
>> The intention behind my question was as follows. Much of the content of
>> the Indian itihAsas is dismissed as imagined or allegorical from the
>> perspective of modern science.
>> This may be due to several reasons one of which is,  the fantastic
>> incidents mentioned in them. I am not examining this aspect.
>> One additional  reason which is advanced to dismiss itihAsas as having no
>> historical value which I specifically wanted to focus on was that the time
>> scales mentioned in the itihAsas with human dynasties having been present
>> for much longer (Sri Rama belonged to c.870,000 BCE if we accept 432000
>> years as the Kali Yuga; but it appears that this figure of 432000 years for
>> Kali Yuga is not insisted upon by all within the tradition. Another figure
>> of 600 years is also accepted by some) than what is regarded as plausible
>> or compatible with evidence from modern science. I wanted to know if any of
>> the members in this group have any idea about this aspect. I posted that
>> 'science invalidates the yuga concepts and such large time scales' as
>> something like a hypothesis for examination.
>> To say that the itihAsas describing Sri Rama the King of Ayodhya are mere
>> imagined stories weakens the overall sanAtana dharma, is my perception. A
>> deeper bhakta may indeed not bother since he has discovered the Rama tattva
>> within his heart and is moving towards the nirguNa svarUpa of Sri Rama.
>> For him,  it is of no consequence whether Rama existed historically or not.
>> He has already embraced the eternal archetype of Sri Rama available as a
>> possibility for divine communion within the mind through nAma japa etc.
>> But for a large number of people it does make a difference if it is said
>> that Rama ruling Ayodhya is just a story with not even a historical
>> *possibility* given that *870000* is just too far back. In such a case we
>> have to, as Swami Dayananda Saraswati ji or Sri Yukteswar Giri suggest,
>> revise the duration of the Kali Yuga to 600 years. Or we show that the
>> so-called proof that there were no human beings that far back, coming from
>> science, to be of doubtful authenticity. I was hoping some members have
>> more idea about these two ideas.
>> 1. Is the Kali Yuga 600 or is it the more commonly quoted figure of
>> 43200?
>> 2. Does the evidence from science which goes against the larger time
>> scales have any significant flaws or problems? (For example until
>> recently, it was held that there were no human beings before 20,000 BCE and
>> this figure has morphed into 200,000 BCE or even more. Well that's an
>> improvement no doubt.)
>> I am also not too sure the time scales are merely an arthavAda for
>> inculcating vairagya. I am trying to take itihAsa (iti ha aasa - thus it
>> happened ) as having atleast some historical basis. Sri Kanchi Periyava for
>> one took them quite literally and seriously.
>> In this post, I did not mention Sri Krishna since the time scales
>> traditionally mentioned of 3102 BCE has no violent clash with scientific
>> and archaeological evidence. (Please note I am not trying to validate but
>> only discover non-conflict. But with traditional dates for Sri Rama the
>> conflict is too strong. )
>> Om
>> Raghav
>> On 13-Nov-2017 1:22 PM, "Venkatraghavan S" <agnimile at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> Agreed. The prAmANya or aprAmANya of a particular line of shAstra is
>>> determined based on several metrics.
>>> 1) Contradiction with other pramANas
>>> 2) Whether the topic conveyed is uniquely conveyed by shAstra
>>> 3) Whether what is being conveyed is subsidiary to an injunction in
>>> shAstra or not.
>>> 4) Whether that line conveys the tAtparya of the section
>>> The topic in question is the periodicity of yugas. We need to assess
>>> whether scientific evidence conclusively disproves it or not. Have we
>>> settled whether fossils conclusively disprove the account given in shAstra
>>> first? If it does, then let us examine the context in which the description
>>> of yugas is given. I think you will find that the tAtparya of the text may
>>> not be the time period of each yuga, but something else (installing
>>> vairAgya?).
>>> Faith in shAstras is a must, but we should critically examine whether we
>>> have simply misunderstood the import of scripture and have applied it in an
>>> instance not intended by it.
>>> Regards,
>>> Venkatraghavan
>>> On 12 Nov 2017 11:41 a.m., "Raghav Kumar Dwivedula via Advaita-l" <
>>> advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> wrote:
>>> Namaste
>>> I do not know of specific quotations but the fact that different pramANas
>>> have different domains is captured by the idea of anadhigatatvaM of the
>>> pramaNas. So when shruti talks of atman and brahman etc., these topics
>>> being not the subject matter for pratyaksha and anumAna there is no
>>> conflict between shruti/agamas and modern science. Even where there are
>>> mentions of anumAna topics in shruti, they are merely anuvAda of what is
>>> obtainable through anumAna (incl. arthApatti etc) and in such matters
>>> anumAna prevails.
>>> Sri Sankara bhagavatpAda says in gita 18.66 bhAShya
>>> प्रत्यक्षादिप्रमाणानुपलब्धे हि विषये अग्निहोत्रादिसाध्यसाधनसम्बन्धे
>>> श्रुतेः
>>> प्रामाण्यम् , न प्रत्यक्षादिविषये, अदृष्टदर्शनार्थविषयत्वात्
>>> प्रामाण्यस्य ।
>>> तस्मात् न दृष्टमिथ्याज्ञाननिमित्तस्य अहंप्रत्ययस्य देहादिसङ्घाते गौणत्वं
>>> कल्पयितुं शक्यम् । न हि श्रुतिशतमपि‘शीतोऽग्निरप्रकाशो वा’ इति ब्रुवत्
>>> प्रामाण्यमुपैति । यदि ब्रूयात् ‘शीतोऽग्निरप्रकाशो वा’ इति, तथापि
>>> अर्थान्तरं
>>> श्रुतेः विवक्षितं कल्प्यम् , प्रामाण्यान्यथानुपपत्तेः, न तु
>>> प्रमाणान्तरविरुद्धं स्ववचनविरुद्धं वा
>>> My liberal translation of the key parts...
>>> Only in matters unavailable for pratyaksha etc., as in the case of
>>> agnihotra and its results, shruti has prAmANyam.....even a hundred shruti
>>> vakyas saying fire is cold or not luminous do not have any prAmANyam.
>>> Even
>>> if it is said so in shruti, we have to assume some other intended
>>> meaning,
>>> rather than take a (literal) meaning which contradicts other pramANas or
>>> shruti itself (in some other place).
>>> The well-known  passage is actually a remarkable one since it's also a
>>> clear demonstration of why there was never any conflict in Indian history
>>> between 'science' and the sanAtana dharma unlike the church and science
>>> conflict in the West.  The vaidika scholarly consensus would always
>>> determine the meanings of the vedas and it's allied texts in such away as
>>> to both protect shruti prAmANyam as well as give the discoveries of
>>> anumAna
>>> etc., their due.
>>> Different pramAnas sometimes need reconciliation and there are no easy
>>> methods to do so. In some cases it may be simple for example, I see a
>>> Guru
>>> who is a well-wisher hold a yellow rose in his hand and tell the student
>>> 'I
>>> am holding a white rose'. He is an Apta and his words (shabda) have
>>> prAmANyam. But it is clashing with another pramANa viz., my eyes.
>>> Depending on the situation I may analyze and finally  choose to surrender
>>> to my eyes as the pramANa and explain away his words as being an
>>> inadvertent mistake.
>>> Or in another different situation, maybe we can closely examine the
>>> situation and see that the light in the room has a strong yellow hue and
>>> so
>>> although it appears yellow, its actually a white rose, so the Guru is
>>> right.
>>> While I make up my mind, both the 'prama-s' will be critically examined
>>> ...
>>> But eventually I settle the issue * by suitably explaining *  the wrong
>>> perception (bhrama) as either a mistake of the speaker or alternatively
>>> as
>>> a result of yellow light. It depends...
>>> therefore wherever modern science gives reasons for the non existence of
>>> yuga chronology etc., closer examination is necessary of both the
>>> conflicting ideas from itihasa and science is unavoidable. There are no
>>> easy ways out.
>>> Hope the above helped.
>>> Om
>>> On 10-Nov-2017 7:23 PM, "GR Vishwanath" <grv144 at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> So when Anuman clashes with Shruti/Smriti-- did our Acharayas address
>>> this
>>> explicitly? Is there a specific quote from Sankara or a Purva Mimamsin
>>> tht
>>> directly
>>> addresses this question of how to proceed when there is a conflict ?
>>> Specific links will be appreciated
>>> Vishwanath
>>> On Fri, Nov 10, 2017 at 1:59 AM, Raghav Kumar Dwivedula via Advaita-l <
>>> advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> wrote:
>>> > Namaste Rajesh ji and Sujal ji
>>> > Thank you for your inputs
>>> > Rajesh ji,
>>> > Its not a question of their system versus our system, rather its about
>>> > having the patience to read through the arguments against the yugas
>>> etc.,
>>> > as historical realities and strengthening our dharma. If you notice
>>> > bhAShyakara does advance arguments against the Buddhists on logical
>>> grounds
>>> > alone without merely saying 'our shruti invalidates Buddhist ideas'.
>>> Just
>>> > saying that shruti is supreme is ineffectual.  Different pramANas like
>>> > shruti (and it's allies) and anumAna may appear to clash,  in which
>>> case we
>>> > have to put in sone efforts to either show the fallacies in the
>>> anumAna or
>>> > we reinterpret shruti without losing its key points.
>>> >
>>> > Moreover when the dominant consensus  amongst large sections of
>>> thinkers
>>> > and scientists is presenting a pUrvapakSha against the itihAsas,
>>> atleast a
>>> > few of the Astikas can try and show the problems with these
>>> pUrvapakShas.
>>> >
>>> > Another related issue , (on a diffetent note)
>>> > Take the idea of the time period of the yugas. I have not read but been
>>> > told that Sri Yukteswar Giri held the kali yuga to be 600 years and the
>>> > other yugas being multiples thereof in the usual way. Now this scheme
>>> was
>>> > endorsed by Sri Swami Dayananda Saraswati ji, a  traditional teacher of
>>> > Vedanta who said on more than one occasion that the current Yuga is
>>> Dwapara
>>> > yuga. ( He offered two reasons if I recollect, viz.,  the developments
>>> in
>>> > science and another reason being (this is my recollection) that
>>> atleast a
>>> > small significant section of people are able to worship as per Hindu
>>> > traditions and peacefully study vedanta etc., without religious
>>> persecution
>>> > unlike in the medieval ages. So things are better now than during say
>>> > Aurangzeb's time ) The above view represents a debate or discussion
>>> within
>>> > the tradition regarding the itihasa chronology. I wanted to ask if the
>>> > above book of Sri Yukteswar Giri has been read by anyone here.
>>> >
>>> > Om
>>> > Raghav
>>> >
>>> >
>>> > On 09-Nov-2017 7:53 PM, "Rajesh Benjwal" <rbenjwal at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> >
>>> > > Namaste,
>>> > >
>>> > > They should think how to defend their fossil dating method as our
>>> > > scripture yuga information invalidate it. They should improve their
>>> > system.
>>> > >
>>> > > Thanks
>>> > >
>>> > > On Wed, Nov 8, 2017 at 10:06 PM, Raghav Kumar Dwivedula via
>>> Advaita-l <
>>> > > advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> wrote:
>>> > >
>>> > >> For many traditionalists the chronology of Yugas having the order of
>>> > >> hundreds of thousands of years where there were human beings living
>>> on
>>> > >> this
>>> > >> planet earth, is taken for granted.
>>> > >>
>>> > >> But there is a counter argument that the fossil records don't
>>> support
>>> > such
>>> > >> as possibility.  I wanted to know the fallacies in this such a
>>> fossil
>>> > >> record based argument against the possibility of Yugas. This is no
>>> > doubt a
>>> > >> bit off topic with respect to Advaita Vedanta per se but i am hoping
>>> > some
>>> > >> learned members would know about ideas to defend the concept of
>>> Yugas
>>> > >> given
>>> > >> the so-called evidence from fossil records which is claimed to
>>> > invalidate
>>> > >> even the possibility of Yugas.
>>> > >>
>>> > >> thank you
>>> > >> Om
>>> > >> _______________________________________________
>>> > >> Archives: http://lists.advaita-vedanta.org/archives/advaita-l/
>>> > >> http://blog.gmane.org/gmane.culture.religion.advaita
>>> > >>
>>> > >> To unsubscribe or change your options:
>>> > >> http://lists.advaita-vedanta.org/cgi-bin/listinfo/advaita-l
>>> > >>
>>> > >> For assistance, contact:
>>> > >> listmaster at advaita-vedanta.org
>>> > >>
>>> > >
>>> > >
>>> > >
>>> > > --
>>> > >
>>> > >
>>> > > *Rajesh Benjwal*
>>> >
>>> > >
>>> > >
>>> > _______________________________________________
>>> > Archives: http://lists.advaita-vedanta.org/archives/advaita-l/
>>> > http://blog.gmane.org/gmane.culture.religion.advaita
>>> >
>>> > To unsubscribe or change your options:
>>> > http://lists.advaita-vedanta.org/cgi-bin/listinfo/advaita-l
>>> >
>>> > For assistance, contact:
>>> > listmaster at advaita-vedanta.org
>>> >
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> Archives: http://lists.advaita-vedanta.org/archives/advaita-l/
>>> http://blog.gmane.org/gmane.culture.religion.advaita
>>> To unsubscribe or change your options:
>>> http://lists.advaita-vedanta.org/cgi-bin/listinfo/advaita-l
>>> For assistance, contact:
>>> listmaster at advaita-vedanta.org

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list