Kak Subhash - Babylonian and Indian Astronomy Early Connections


Author : Kak Subhash
Title : Babylonian and Indian Astronomy Early Connections
Year : 2003

Link download : Kak_Subhash_-_Babylonian_and_Indian_Astronomy_Early_Connections.zip

Did the Indian and Babylonian astronomy evolve in isolation, was there mutual influence, or was one dependent on the other? Scholars have debated these questions for more than two centuries, and opinion has swung one way or the other with time. The similarities between the two systems that have been investigated are: the use of 30 divisions of the lunar month; the 360 divisions of the civil year; the length of the year; and the solar zodiac. Some have wondered if the Babylonian planetary tables might have played a role in the theories of the siddhantas. I shall in this essay go over the essentials of the early Indian and Babylonian astronomy and summarize the latest views on the relationship between them. I shall show that the key ideas found in the Babylonian astronomy of 700 BC are already present in the Vedic texts, which even by the most conservative reckoning are older than that period. I shall also show that the solar zodiac (rasis) was used in Vedic India and I shall present a plausible derivation of the symbols of the solar zodiac from the deities of the segments. In view of the attested presence of the Indic people in the Mesopotamian region prior to 700 BC, it is likely that if at all the two astronomies influenced each other, the dependence is of the Babylonian on the Indian. It is of course quite possible that the Babylonian innovations emerged independent of the earlier Indic methods. The Indic presence in West Asia goes back to the second millennium BC in the ruling elites of the Hittites and the Mitanni in Turkey and Syria, and the Kassites in Mesopotamia. The Mitanni were joined in marriage to the Egyptian pharaohs during the second half of the second millennium and they appear to have influenced that region as well. The Ugaritic list 33 gods, just like the count of Vedic gods. Although the Kassites vanished from the scene by the close of the millennium, Indic groups remained in the general area for centuries, sustaining their culture by links through trade. Thus Sargon defeats one Bagdatti of Uisdis in 716 BC. The name Bagdatti (Skt. Bhagadatta) is Indic and it cannot be Iranian because of the double `t'. The Indo-Aryan presence in West Asia persisted until the time of the Persian Kings like Darius and Xerxes. It is attested by the famous daiva inscription in which Xerxes (ruled 486-465 BC) proclaims his suppression of the rebellion by the daiva worshipers of West Iran. These Indic groups most likely served as intermediaries for the transmission of ideas of Vedic astronomy to the Babylonians and other groups in West Asia. Since we can clearly see a gap of several centuries in the adoption of certain ideas, one can determine the direction of transmission. The starting point of astronomical studies is the conception of the wheel of time of 360 parts. It permeates Vedic writing and belongs to the 2nd millennium BC or earlier, and we see it used in Babylon only in the second part of rst millennium BC. ...

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