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How Authentic is the Brhat Parasara Hora Sastra?

 
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Mark
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Posted: Sun Jul 21, 2013 11:37 pm    Post subject: How Authentic is the Brhat Parasara Hora Sastra? Reply with quote

I am providing a link to a very interesting article written by Shyamasundara Dasa entitled 'On the Authenticity of the Brhat Parasara Hora Sastra'

The article questions the genuine antiquity much of the version of the BPHS which has become so prevalent in contemporary Jyotish. Dasa suggests the current version of the text is full of interpolations and that much of the modern BPHS bears little relationship to the ancient text attributed to Parasara.

http://shyamasundaradasa.com/jyotish/resources/articles/bphs.html

Mark
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pankajdubey



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Posted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 5:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am not sure what you are upto but
Atleast we know that the term Vedic astrology was his invention and he is seeing the world with eyes of an ISKCON devotee.

THe issue is, does BPHS work for you ?

If not, you have to work out a coherent system of yours like Marin does with Tajik and using different kind of dasa systems.

South INdian astrologers give 9th house to father, the Northerners give 10th and also you cannot understand dasha phala of BPHS till you have read and understood Laghu Parashari siddhant .

If you are looking for the 1st edition of any old text without interpolatins then good luck.
THere are even different versions of Gita and Ramayana and the Gita is considered an interpolation in the Mahabharata epic !!


PD
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Martin Gansten
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Posted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 7:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As Pankaj says, Shyamasudara is a member of ISKCON or the Hare Krishna movement; in fact, he may be said to belong to the hardcore, (most) fundamentalist section of the organization. Think neo-Hindu with a Southern Baptist ethos, and you will be close. That naturally affects his view of history and, well, most things.

Nonetheless, while Pankaj is right that there are few or no Sanskrit texts without variant readings (the same goes for most ancient literature, except when only a single copy has been preserved!), the BPHS is an extreme case. Pingree did think that there was an original version written between c. 600 and 800; but what relation that text bears to the ones in current circulation I can't say.
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Mark
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Posted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 6:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pankajdubey wrote:
Quote:
I am not sure what you are upto


Nothing beyond seeking the truth I hope. Shocked

If you haven't already noticed before I am very interested in astrological history and I found this article very intriguing in that respect. I dont have any conscious agenda beyond that.

Quote:
but Atleast we know that the term Vedic astrology was his invention and he is seeing the world with eyes of an ISKCON devotee.


Fair enough. However, that in itself doesn't invalidate all his points. One needs to critique his arguments not his background.

Pankajdubey wrote:
Quote:
THe issue is, does BPHS work for you ?


That kind of pragmatic question is somewhat missing the point as far as I am concerned. Noone is suggesting the BPHS is not a very useful astrological text. I am not proposing anyone should reject the text.

I am just interested in the actual historical credentials of the text in current circulation considering the elevated status it has attained in many contemporary Jyotish circles as the most authoritative Jyotish text. As Dasa points out this seems a fairly recent view in Jyotish.

Quote:
If not, you have to work out a coherent system of yours like Marin does with Tajik and using different kind of dasa systems.


Again I think you have misunderstand my motivation here.

Quote:
South INdian astrologers give 9th house to father, the Northerners give 10th and also you cannot understand dasha phala of BPHS till you have read and understood Laghu Parashari siddhant.


ditto to above point

Quote:
If you are looking for the 1st edition of any old text without interpolatins then good luck. THere are even different versions of Gita and Ramayana and the Gita is considered an interpolation in the Mahabharata epic !!


Perhaps but many texts seem to hae survived in much better shape than the BPHS. For example, the Brihat Jataka.

Mark Shocked
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Last edited by Mark on Mon Jul 22, 2013 7:16 pm; edited 4 times in total
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Mark
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Posted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 7:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Martin Gansten wrote:
Quote:
As Pankaj says, Shyamasudara is a member of ISKCON or the Hare Krishna movement; in fact, he may be said to belong to the hardcore, (most) fundamentalist section of the organization. Think neo-Hindu with a Southern Baptist ethos, and you will be close. That naturally affects his view of history and, well, most things.


I accept that may be the case here. However, it seems to me he is making some valid points in questioning the antiquity of parts of the text whatever his background.

Quote:
Nonetheless, while Pankaj is right that there are few or no Sanskrit texts without variant readings (the same goes for most ancient literature, except when only a single copy has been preserved!), the BPHS is an extreme case. Pingree did think that there was an original version written between c. 600 and 800; but what relation that text bears to the ones in current circulation I can't say.


That point is well brought out in the article.
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lihin



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Posted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 7:11 pm    Post subject: Age of text a criterion? Reply with quote

Good evening,

If one assumes that astrology is an experimental science that investigates the possible correlations between celestial and terrestrial events and possibly establishes their probabilites, may one doubt that antiquity or modernity of reference texts are adequate, or perhaps even relevant, criteria?

Best regards,

lihin
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Mark
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Posted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 7:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lihin wrote:

Quote:
If one assumes that astrology is an experimental science that investigates the possible correlations between celestial and terrestrial events and possibly establishes their probabilites, may one doubt that antiquity or modernity of reference texts are adequate, or perhaps even relevant, criteria?


I dont personally wish to be drawn into another discussion with you on astrological tradition vs empiricism. I feel that can be discussed in other places on Skyscript. I opened this thread because of an interest in the historical antiquity of this text. If your not interested in that issue I would request that you dont try to divert the topic towards your one of your ongoing personal agendas on Skyscript.

Mark
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Last edited by Mark on Fri Aug 02, 2013 8:16 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Kenneth Johnson



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Posted: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The reference to "Parashara" in Varaha Mihira probably does not refer to the authors of the BPH (as it was called until the 20th century, when it "acquired" the "S" for Shastra). His reference is to a quote re: the cycles of Mercury, a passage which does not appear in the BPH. The name Parashara was not at all uncommon in Classical Sanskrit. Pingree mentions an author by that name whose writings had to do with nimitta or celestial omens; this is probably the individual to whom Varaha Mihira refers.

The oldest ms. of the BPH isn't very old and dates only to the 17th century. This is in contrast to VM's Brhat Jataka, the oldest ms. of which dates to the 9th or 10th (kept in the royal library of Nepal). Pingree's collation (in Jyotisastra) of the chapters in the oldest BPH ms. bears only marginal resemblance to any of the current volumes in publication. The oldest ms. is in a mixture of poetry and prose, whereas the published versions have all been reworked into anustubh meter. The oldest ms. is comprised of about 60 chapters, whereas published versions can include up to 90 or even more (they are all different). The published versions also rework the whole book into dialogue form, which was true of only parts of the earliest ms. The anustubh meter has often been cited as evidence of the work's antiquity, but this argument does not hold up well. Though anustubh was indeed a common meter in the Rgveda, it was also in continuous use until the demise of Sanskrit as a spoken language. In any case, there could not have been a Vedic original in anustubh: the text that we have includes the compound nouns typical of Classical Sanskrit, and none of the verbs are in the aorist form. In Vedic Sanskrit, nouns are declined separately rather than compounded, and the aorist is common. To write the text out in Vedic Sanskrit would add a few syllables to each line with separate declensions or aorists, hence no more anustubh.

Beyond that, early authors such as Prthuyasas (600) and Kalyana Varman (800) don't mention Parasara at all. His work is mentioned by Mantresvara, mostly in connection with the Vimsottari Dasa system, but Mantresvara dates from about 1500.

The famous invocation to Vishnu that begins the published versions is not found in the earliest ms. The principal references to deities in the original are to be found in chapters on "exotic" techniques such as Sudarshana Chakra, Chara Dasha, and Kalachakra Dasha, and all of these chapters are in the form of dialogues between Shiva and Parvati, suggesting a Tantric origin. If Pingree's dates for BPH are anywhere near correct (650-750 CE), this suggests northwest India as a place of origin and Kaulika Tantra as a principal influence. The chapter on incarnations of Vishnu appears to be a 19th or even 20th century addition included to give the text a more "orthodox" appearance.

Despite the fact that the BPH has been severely messed with, it still has great value. Here we see Jyotish moving away from its Hellenistic roots in Ujjain and becoming much more "Indianized." The Parasara writers (for there are clearly several hands involved) can be credited with introducing the nakshatra-based dasha systems, thus moving away from the Hellenistically inspired systems of the YJ and Varaha Mihira and returning to indigenous roots -- which in time became the paradigm for time lord systems in India. We owe the dashas to the BPH.

Sorry for the inconsistent Sanskrit spellings. No time for editing!
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Mark
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Posted: Fri Aug 02, 2013 9:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello Kenneth,

Thanks very much for your response. You have identified several issues I was totally unaware of regarding this text.

I just wanted to query your final point.

Quote:
The Parasara writers (for there are clearly several hands involved) can be credited with introducing the nakshatra-based dasha systems, thus moving away from the Hellenistically inspired systems of the YJ and Varaha Mihira and returning to indigenous roots -- which in time became the paradigm for time lord systems in India. We owe the dashas to the BPH.


I take it that like Martin Gansten you dont think the comments by Shyamasundara Dasa on the antiquity of the nakshatra based dasa have much historical credibility. In particular when he states:

Quote:
...we know that Udu Dasa system is older than Varaha Mihira because Satyacarya, whom Varaha Mihira admired and quoted from extensively, used Vimshottari Mahadasa and Prithuyasasha the son of Varaha Mihira though writing on Mula Dasa also includes a short chapter on Udu dasa in Hora Sara. However, the Rasi based Dasa systems in BPHS appear to be interpolations from Jaimini system


I would have thought acceptance of the current version of the Horasara of Prthuyasas to around 600CE is problematic for you. Since the text discusses nakshatra based dasas I would have thought you might have suggested (as Martin Gansten has here on Skyscript) that the version of the Horasara passed down to us attributed to Prthuyasas is in reality likely to be much later in origin. Otherwise doesn't this undermine your position that the BPHS is our oldest source of nakshatra based dasas?

Regarding Satyacarya I have seen this source mentioned by a few Jyotish astrologers (for example Ronnie Dreyer in her book 'Vedic Astrology'). I understand texts like the Satya Jataka and Satya Samhita are attributed to this figure. I can only speculate Satyacarya is yet another in the long line of legendary ancient Indian sages in Jyotish we have next to no evidence on ever having existing as a single historical personage?

Thanks

Mark
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Kenneth Johnson



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Posted: Sat Aug 03, 2013 5:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's a bit of a muddle, to be sure. As Martin points out, Shyamasundara is from the Krsna Consciousness movement, and follows his guru Prabhupad in regarding mythology as literal history, so I rather doubt if his dates can be taken seriously. He is, however, correct when he asserts that all the ancient writers regard Varahamihira rather than Parasara as the sine qua non of the astrological art. Though contemporary jyotisis for the most part take Parasara as the "bible" of astrology, this is a fairly recent development which seems to me to have begun in the late 19th century and which has not yet taken hold in Kerala where, as Shyamasundara correctly states, the Kerala tradition of prasna (horary astrology) continues to regard Varahamihira as the ultimate authority.

On p. 90 of his Jyotihsastra, Pingree refuses to accept the attribution of the Horasara to Prthuyasas, son of Varahamihira. His grounds for rejecting Prthuyasas' authorship are that the author of Horasara is clearly borrowing certain key passages from the Saravali of Kalyanavarman, which, as Martin has pointed out, is commonly dated to 800 CE. Though the Saravali was written a bit later than the BPHS, it does not contain the Vimsottari Dasa. Here we may be dealing with a time period wherein the new, naksatra-based dasa systems, though already in existence, had not yet become the dominant paradigm.

On p. 111, however, Pingree accepts Prthuyasas as the author of the horary work entitled Satpancasika. In a certain way, this makes sense. Both the Brhajjataka of VM and the Satpancasika are written in a similar style of Sanskrit, condensed and abbreviated almost to the point of incomprehensibility. This style is typical of what we would call a "foundation text" -- one which is intended to stand as the basis for an entire scholarly discipline, and is deliberately written in ambivalent language in order to invite lengthy commentaries that seek out its inner meanings. For example, Panini's work on Sanskrit grammar is written as a foundation text -- the original work is about 28 pages long, while the average commentary is more than 1000.

It should be noted that while the Brhajjataka and Satpancasika are both written in the style of foundation texts, both the Horasara and the BPHS are written in a quite different style, the BPHS in particular being discursive and chatty.

As for Satyacarya, Pingree regards him (p. 83) as a very early writer, after the YJ of 269 but before Minaraja in 325 (following Pingree's dates just for the sake of placing Satya in some sort of context while admitting that the new article by Mak does indeed cast a great deal of doubt on the date of the YJ). He also states that Satya's work is lost. This assumes that the works which now bear his name are spurious attributions.

So, it seems to me that Varahamihira (c. 550) is using a dasa system derived from Hellenistic models and his work predates the rise of naksatra based dasas. These new systems begin to arise c. 600 or a bit later and make their first appearance in the BPHS (compiled between 600 and 800), but have not yet become the predominant time lord systems by 800, when the Saravali is composed. They are noted in the Horasara, which Pingree thinks (though he may be simply guessing) was composed about 850, and here we see the new time lord systems beginning to make an impact on the tradition.
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pankajdubey



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Posted: Sat Aug 03, 2013 10:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What is important about Vimshottari system is that suddenly, out of the blue , you have a well developed integrated system showing up.
This points to a parallel underground tradition.
It's appearance around 800 CE same time as hindu rejuvenation by Shankaracharya, and the decline of Jainism and Buddhism in India around the same period suggests that this must have been a system popular with those who were outside the circuitry or opposed to it.As the merged into the hindu tradition again, they brought this system with them.

Something so different and so left flank is seen in the Tamil Jinendramala- a totally different way of analayzing horaries.

According to tradition, anyone worth his salt would try to prove that he knows Astrology(Natal), Meterology,Omens,Mundane astrology.So, if there was a Parashara collection on Omens there is a possibility of the others- it may have been in the hands of other sects antagonist to the Brahmanical Hindu tradition.
Remember, Jainism became very popular around 500 BCE, so no wonder, if any of those holding the Parashara tradition had converted to Jainism then it only returned mainstream after the reform movement of Shankaracharya.

Guess work- but more plausible than Pingree Smile


PD
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Therese Hamilton



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Posted: Mon Oct 05, 2015 11:57 pm    Post subject: Re: How Authentic is the Brhat Parasara Hora Sastra? Reply with quote

Mark wrote:
I am providing a link to a very interesting article written by Shyamasundara Dasa entitled 'On the Authenticity of the Brhat Parasara Hora Sastra'

The article questions the genuine antiquity much of the version of the BPHS which has become so prevalent in contemporary Jyotish. Dasa suggests the current version of the text is full of interpolations and that much of the modern BPHS bears little relationship to the ancient text attributed to Parasara.

http://shyamasundaradasa.com/jyotish/resources/articles/bphs.html

Browsing, I recently found this topic on Skyscript and decided to check out the article, which was originally published in The Astrological eMagaine in 2009. I found the article so fascinating and informative that I moved it into my word processor for formatting and printing. (I could not get the article to print from the site.) The printed article came to 15 pages, so it would be difficult to grasp the various points the author makes from reading it on-line.

I have always been curious about the dating of India’s astrological texts, and it’s obvious that careful research has gone into this article. Referring to comments on this thread, I didn’t see anything in the text that would specifically relate the content to Hare Krishna tenets. The article contains a clear and interesting textual history of BPHS based on what we can trace to date.

I doubt there is a better source than this article for historical information on BPHS and Jaimini. Apparently there may have been a more ancient edition of BPHS which is currently lost, perhaps molding away in India’s temples. I found especially interesting the list of principles that might have survived from an original BPHS.

The article includes much information about the ancient Brihat Jataka (Varahamihira) and Jaimini, which seems to have only modern roots. Since I’ve always found Jaimini particularly confusing, I was gratified to read a quote in the article:

One very senior astrologer who had mixed the two sources (Jaimini Sutras and BPHS) confidentially told me that he had been studying Jaimini system for more than 20 years and found it full of contradictions and confusions; he lamented that "I have wasted 20 years of my life studying Jaimini."

So I would personally recommend this article to anyone who would like some well researched background on BPHS as well as Jaimini. The author is familiar with all the well known texts that many of us have studied.
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