Nov 22, 2013 CANADA (SUN) A serial exploration of Vedic references to comets, their effects, and their association with great floods.
There was great interest in comets before the Siddhantic period of astronomy in India (1st Century A.D. and onwards). Twenty-six comets have been listed by Parashara, in chronological order. Their name, effects and position in the sky are also given.. Some of the descriptions are quite graphic, like eyewitness accounts. And most interesting is the fact that the list begins with the great flood.
Professor R.N. Iyengar for the Geological Society of India (2006) offered the following detailed comments on how Vedic references to comets support a timeline dating back to the last great flood.
"Therein arise three related to Death namely, Vasaketu, Asthiketu and Sastraketu one after another. Elapsing 130 years in the Floods, Vasaketu, big and sharp, with its crown bent towards north having risen in the west, causes immediate destruction. Harsh Asthiketu appears in the same period causing famine. Sastraketu rising sharply in the east results in destruction of weapon handling kings."
In contemporary Sanskrit, this above would be translated as 3000, not 130 years. This is how Bhat translated it. Garga is quoted by Utpala and Ballalasena about Visvarupa, which are celestial objects causing fire. The count given is given by Garga as vimsat-grahasatam. Ballalasena explains this as vimsatyadhikham satam ityarthah. Varaha Mihira in Brhat-samhita (11.23) and Utpala in his commentary on the same verse give the number of Visvarupa as 120, without ambiguity. Thus, in ancient India, twenty-above-hundred (not twenty-times-hundred) was the accepted meaning of the above number term. Hence, trimsat-vars.a-satam should be taken to mean 130 years.
With this in the background the further comet sequence is given following Adbhuta Sagara:
"Kumudaketu is seen in the west at the end of the transit of Vasa and other comets. It is seen for one night like a bright spray of cow's milk, with its head bent eastwards. Kapalaketu among the offspring of Adityas, rises in the east. It is seen on a new moon evening with a smoky flaming crown, moving in the center of the sky."
Seen 125 years and three fortnights after Kumudaketu, Dhumaketu or the smoky-comet is the last in the list of Parasara.
As per internal evidence in the text, the samhita of Parasara should have started around 1400 B.C. The statement about the twenty-six comets and the interval between some of them could be a chronological artifice to link the initial time of Parasara with the samplava or the Flood.
The total number of years in the list adds to about 1,300 years, which indicates that the great flood should have occurred before 2500-2700 B.C. These figures can be easily in error by a few centuries. The Shatapatha Brahmana is dated to about the same period.
With the appearance this month of Comet Ison, those interested in astronomy and ancient geophysical history are trying to determine how this great comet's elliptical orbit might relate to catastrophic events on Earth's planetary timeline. Vedic astronomers and historians may provide key information in that regard.