1. A significant part of the debate about Mahabharata dating involves the interpretation of the shlokas narrated by (a) Karna to Sri Krishna and (b) Sri Vyasa to Dhritarashtra. One key question here is - should be shlokas be interpreted using a Jyotisha lens or not?
2. When Karna and Sri Vyasa talked about positions of stars, planets and other phenomenon, they used a lot of terminology - such as vakra, apasavya, etc. Now these terms are well known in Jyotisha.
3. So if it is accepted that these shlokas and their narration had a Jyotisha basis, then we MUST accept the Jyotisha definitions of the terms. We then do not have the freedom to render our own meaning to these terms just in order to retrofit the shlokas to a particular date.
4. So the question is - how can we be sure that the discussions on nakshatras, planetary positions, yogas, muhurthas in the Mahabharata are astrological (Jyotisha) in nature? Answer lies in the Mahabharata itself!
5. In the Udyoga Parva, when Sanjaya comes back to Hastinapura, he is called to the palace next day and he gives a long narration of what Arjuna told him. In that he quotes two shlokas told by Arjuna. Here is what they say.
अप्येवं नो ब्राह्मणाः सन्ति वृद्धाः
बहुश्रुताः शीलवन्तः कुलीनः |
सांवत्सरा ज्योतिषि चाभियुक्ता
नक्षत्रयोगेषु च निश्चयज्ञाः ||

"On our side we have lots of well-read, noble, experienced brahmanas who are experts in Jyotisha and in results of years, nakshatras, yogas etc"
उच्चावचं दैवयुक्तं रहस्यं
दैवप्रज्ञाः ग्रहाचर्या मुहूर्ताः |
क्षयं महान्तं कुरुसृञ्जयानाम्
निवेदयन्ते पाण्डवानां जयं च ||
"They know all secrets, movement of planets, muhurtas due to deva-bala. They are predicting victory of Pandavas and annihilation of Kurus and Srunjayas"
8. These shlokas are excellent proof that the discussions (wherever they take place) in the Mahabharata on planets, nakshatras etc are rooted in Jyotisha. Which means our attempts at interpretation of these must also be based on JYOTISHA.
9. So when we interpret "vakra", "nakshatra peeda", "apasavya", "yoga" etc etc - they must be based on what is given in Jyotisha. Not our own "abba dabba jabba" definitions to force-fit a particular year.
10. An excellent example substantiating this thread is with regard to interpretation of shloka related to Budha - Mercury. One "scientific" interpretation given is that Mercury has traveled across ALL nakshatras over one year.
11. This is a meaningless interpretation with no value in terms of indications for a great war or destruction. Also, given enough time, ALL planets will cover ALL nakshatras. The interpretation has to fit in from a Jyotisha shakuna-shastra perspective.
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