Old Thoughts

Connecting Science and Scriptures : Satya Sarada Kandula : All Rights Reserved

Where are the Saptarishis (Big Dipper) today?

In this image east and west are reversed from the way it appears in bangalore..., but relative positions are okay.

The Saptarishi Mandala or the Big Dipper Circle is to the north of the Nakshatra Mandala or the circle of Fixed Stars. (Ashwini, Bharani etc.. See Also : Nakshatras, Grahas, Varas, Rasis, Masas, Rtus). The Nakshatra Mandala is distributed on both sides of the ecliptic. If you look at the picture above, you can see that the Saptarishis are ‘Next To’ or “IN” Kanya (Virgo) and Simha (Leo). The colonials, not having a background in Indian astronomy, took this a little too literally, and dismissed it. The word “IN” means “rises and sets with”. (Saptami vibhakthi is used to indicate “while” as well as “in”.)

The deal is that there is a relative motion between the Saptarishi Mandala and the Nakshatra Mandala. So the Saptarishis are “next to” different rasis in different centuries. Our Ancient Indian Astronomers (Vrddha Garga, Varahamihira, Vateswara ) knowing that 2 rasis (zodiac signs), was not specific enough, picked one nakshatram, and said that in every century, the saptarishis were “IN” one particular nakshatram. If you look at the picture above, you will see that different pairs of the saptarishis point to different nakshatras.

Dr. Satya Prakash Saraswat says that Visakha is presently indicated by the Saptarishis (The present position of the Saptarishis). He opines that middle means “perpendicular”. I am not so sure of this. I thought it might be Arudra, but I am not sure of that either at this time.  The answer to this question is important in dating the Mahabharata War.

This is what Varahamihira said : “The Sages traverse through each lunar mansion (nakshatram) for a period of 100 years (satam, satam varsah). Whichever constellation makes them conspicuous when they rise to the east of it, in that they are said to be situated” – (4) Varahamihira quoted the views of Vrddha (Senior) Garga in the 13th chapter of Brihat Samhita.

By this definition, we are the Saptarishis are “IN” makha nakshatram again.

  • By Varahamihira’s one century per constellation rule : we have 5400 years for the date of the Mahabharata War (2 cycles).
  • Using Vateswara’s correction to this rule and using 94 years, 6 months and 20 days per Nakshatram.. 2 cycles take 5111.4 years, which matches very well with our present date for the start of Kaliyuga!!

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