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KRONOS Vol VIII, No. 4
INDRA AND BRHASPATI
To the Editor of KRONOS:
It is highly doubtful that Roger Ashton will gain any adherents among Indologists for his hypothesis that Brhaspati is identical with Indra – at least on the basis of the data advanced in his article "Brhaspati" (KRONOS VII:3, pp. 25-26). Ashton seeks to buttress his arguments primarily with materials derived from four areas: 1) A certain epithet of Indra (Brhaspati-Purohita); 2) an entry in an English-Hindi dictionary; 3) certain passages from the Rg and Atharva Vedas; and 4) passages from the Satapatha Brahmana.
Unfortunately for his hypothesis, he is – demonstrably, I think – wrong in almost every particular.
This is indeed a well-known epithet of the Vedic god Indra. It does not, however, mean, as Ashton asserts, "Jupiter-Priest" (or even "Brhaspati-Priest"). It does mean "he whose purohita (priest, preceptor, chaplain) is Brhaspati". The very sources cited by Ashton inform us that Brhaspati was the purohita of all the Vedic gods. See also Grhyasutras (Rules of Vedic Domestic Ceremonies), Part II, translated by H. Oldenberg in the Sacred Books of the East (SBE), Vol. XXX, Prasna II, Patala 7, Section 17:
Brhaspati, being the purohita of the gods, was also the purohita of Indra – a great favorite of the latter, based in part on joint exploits; hence Indra's epithet "he whose purohita is Brhaspati".
DICTIONARY ENTRY UNDER "JUPITER"
Ashton misinterprets the entry under "Jupiter" in Bhargava's Standard Illustrated
Dictionary of the English Language (Anglo-Hindi Edition), compiled and edited by (the late)
Prof. R. C. Pathak.
If there is still any doubt left on the method used by Pathak, let us turn to another entry in the same dictionary (p. 617):
This is then followed by the Hindi equivalents of all these different meanings of the English word "Pole".
I have no wish to saddle Ashton with the belief that, in India, there is a tendency to equate magnetic poles with the inhabitants of Poland, although that would be entirely in line with the kind of conclusion he draws from the entry under "Jupiter" in the same dictionary.
Furthermore, in Bhargava's Standard Illustrated Dictionary of the Hindi Language (revised and enlarged edition, 1946), the following entry is found on p. 796:
I have quoted the entry in its entirety – there's not a word about Indra.
RG AND ATHARVA VEDAS
The Vedas – and more especially the Rg Veda
Are we to conclude from such very numerous passages that Indra was identical with all of the gods coupled with his name?
Actually, it is worth noting in connection with the Vedas that in none of the many
passages cited by Ashton did I find Indra and Brhaspati treated as a single deity. Thus Hymn
45 (Book VI) of the Atharva Veda
Note also that in Rg Veda VII.6.8 (corresponding to VII.97 in the alternative notation used by Ashton's sources) it is explicitly stated that:
(I assume that what Griffith renders as "to you both" is a dual in the original.) See also Rg Veda VII.6.9:
Ashton is on equally shaky ground, I believe, when he invokes a passage from the
Does Ashton think that the Hindu tradition would accept – let alone assert! – that
Brahman and Kshatriya, priest and warrior castes, are personified in a single deity? I am of
course aware that later Indian philosophy (for example, in the Bhagavad Gita) does assert
such identities at the level of ultimate reality – thus: 'The wise look with equal eye on a
Brahmana endowed with learning and humility, a cow, an elephant, a dog and an outcaste"
Ashton's references - via Heinrich Zimmer and Apollodorus (as translated by Michael Simpson) - to Indra being identified with Zeus (the latter being in turn identical with Jove or Jupiter), cannot be used to buttress his thesis: Indra is indeed most probably comparable to Zeus/Jove/Jupiter in so far as these are "kings of the gods", exactly as is Vedic Indra; but that has no bearing whatever on the asserted identity of Brhaspati and Indra, and of the planetary role or aspect of the latter.
If Ashton wishes to support his hypothesis of the equivalence or identity of Brhaspati
and Indra, let him cite even one authoritative Sanskrit or Hindi dictionary which under the
entry "Brhaspati" informs its readers that the word means both Indra and the planet Jupiter, as
well as the preceptor (purohita) of the gods. At any rate, none of the several reference works
available to me offers such an assertion. They usually do offer three separate meanings of the
word "Brhaspati": 1) Name of the preceptor of the gods (whose wife Tara was abducted by
the Moon); 2) the planet Jupiter; and 3) the name of the author of a certain Sanskrit Smrti –
thus, e.g., in Apte's Sanskrit-English dictionary.
The vast field of Indian literature, sacred and profane, classical and modern, cries out for knowledgeable cultivation and is bound to yield an immensely rich harvest in terms of inter-disciplinary Velikovskian studies. It is not, however, enough to bring to that task enthusiasm or premature speculations: what is needed is critical acumen based upon knowledge in some depth. It is my entirely sincere hope that Roger Ashton will indeed pursue his Indological studies and share with KRONOS readers the fruits of his own growing insight and knowledge.
NOTE: When citing directly from various Sanskrit and Hindi sources in translation I have followed their own respective (and often divergent) methods of transliteration, even at the cost of consistency. (Note especially the SBE's use of "ri" where later sources prefer "r[underdot]". Some quoted sources omit all diacritical marks, as noted in the bibliographic references which follow.)
REFERENCES1. The Grhyasutras (Rules of Vedic Domestic Ceremonies), trans. by H. Oldenberg, Sacred Books of the East (SBE), Vol. XXX (Hiranyakesi-Grithya-Sutra; Delhi, 1964), p. 240.
2. P. N. Bhargava, Bhargava 's Standard Illustrated Dictionary of the English Language (Anglo-Hindi tenth edition, revised and enlarged Varanasi, 1956), compiled and edited by R. C. Pathak, B.A.L.T.
3. Rig-Veda-Sanhita (Bangalore, 1946, second reprinted edition of the original 1850 edition), trans. by H. H. Wilson in six volumes. (N.B. Mandalas IV and VII appear in Vols. III and IV. Unlike the 1850 original, the reprinted edition does not use diacritical marks.)
4. The Hymns of the Atharva Veda (Benares, 1916, second edition), trans. by R.T.H. Griffith in two volumes. (N.B. Griffith, in a note to Hymn XLV.3, states that it and the preceding stanza (i.e., XLV.2 and 3) "are taken, with variants, from Rigveda X.164.3.4". H. H. Wilson (see preceding note) translates the verse from the mandala concerned (Rg Veda X) as follows: "O Indra, O Brahmanaspati, whatever sin we run into (save us there&om), and may the Prachetas of the Angirasas protect us from the malignity of our enemies" (Vol. VI, p. 269, Rig-Veda-Sanhita, vide supra) Note that I. and B. are addressed as two distinct entities.)
5. The Satapathabraihmana (according to the Text of the Madhyandina School), trans. by J. Eggeling, Sacred Books of the East, Vol. XLI, pp. 2, 3 (Delhi, 1963; 1966 reprint).
6. Sridhara Swarni, Srimad-Bhagavad-Gita (Madras, 1948), trans. by Swarni Vireswarapanda, p. 169.
7. V. S. Apte, The Student's Sanskrit-English Dictionary (Delhi, 1959), p. 394. (See also entries under "Brhaspati" and "Indra" in A. Daniélou, Hindu Polytheism (N. Y., 1964), Bollingen Series LxxIII.)
Roger Ashton Replies:
Artur Isenberg begins his attempted criticism of my article about Brhaspati and Indra by implying that I claimed that the early Hindus recognized Brhaspati and Indra as identical. Even a quick and simple reading of my article will show that, in reality, what I set forth implied that:
Isenberg is therefore wrong in his representation of what my article actually says. He is wrong in his efforts to invalidate the connections which I set forth. He is wrong in his presumption that sources or items he cites support any contrary thesis. He is wrong also in his summation of the major sources of my article, omitting to summarize them all, and missing their conjoint effect.
My article made clear that Indra's epithet, "Brhaspati-Purohit", could be regarded as a remnant trace of a lost original identity of Brhaspati and Indra. Isenberg managed to misunderstand this completely. He cites a Grhyasutra to the effect that Brhaspati is preceptor of 33 gods. Contrary to what he simply asserts, this in no way proves that the early Hindus took Indra's epithet "Brhaspati-Purohit" to mean "whose preceptor is Brhaspati". The sense of the cited passage is one thing, the epithet another. Juxtapositions of Sanskrit words in different contexts mean different things, sometimes entirely different things. Isenberg has evidently missed or ignored this fact.
If it were, after all, true that "Brhaspati-Purohit" as an epithet of Indra meant "he whose preceptor is Brhaspati", it would further be true that this would document the link between Brhaspati and Indra. The link would be more tenuous than I have presumed, and that is all.
Isenberg accuses me of misunderstanding the entry under "Jupiter" in Bhargava's dictionary and, by implication, the entire system of entries in this or any other dictionary. With the phonetically spelled and Hindi words in Devnagari letters in the original, the total entry reads:
Comparison of this with what I wrote in my article reveals no discrepancy between the dictionary's separation of senses and what I wrote. Isenberg has nonetheless tried to manufacture such a discrepancy and, in doing so, in effect criticizes a misinterpretation or even a misquotation of what I wrote.
To pursue this matter of the dictionary to the bitter end, Bhargava's Hindi to English dictionary has an entry for "Indra" which I herewith reproduce:
Further on, the entry for "Brhaspati" reads:
The link which the early Hindus perceived as existing between Brhaspati the god and Brhaspati the planet is exemplified by an entry in Vaman Shivram Apte's Sanskrit to English dictionary – to wit:
This epithet of Brhaspati the planet or Brhaspati the god translates as "Two Lightbeams" or "Two Lightrays". This link is so tight, in effect, that it supports the shift from one sense to another that I followed in my article when dealing with the dictionary entry first cited above.
Isenberg's omission in mentioning or considering the conjoint implications of these facts seems due either to ignorance of them all, or to a wish to go further with a criticism that is baseless throughout. Since he goes further to the absurdity of tying all this to the Pole and Poland, he has run off into an exercise in total irrelevance.
The latter is true also of Isenberg's efforts to undermine or invalidate my citing of Rigvedic hymns in which Indra and Brhaspati share identical exploits and alternate with one another. He cites juxtapositions of Indra with other gods, but these have no similarity or connection with those I cited and, in addition, the exploits and attributes are not those which I cited. Whatever Isenberg has quoted or cited in this regard, therefore, is completely irrelevant.
Isenberg quotes some passages in which Indra and Brhaspati are mentioned together, but as explicitly separate entities. In my article, I mentioned this sort of pairing and cited an example. Isenberg's citations are therefore superfluous, unnecessary, and, because they prove nothing, irrelevant.
When Isenberg wants to invalidate my citing of the name "Indra-Brahmanaspati" he cites Griffith's translation of the Atharvaveda. I have been informed by a Sanskrit scholar that this translation is execrable. The same considerations apply to this item as applied to Indra's epithet "Brhaspati-Purohit".
The name, if that is indeed what it is, of "Indra-Brahmanaspati" can in fact be translated as "Indra King of Priests". Here there is nothing incongruous.
When Isenberg reaches the topic of passages I cited from the Satapatha Brahmana, he tries to make my eventual logical conclusion equate warriors with priests. It was for their own social purposes, however, that the priests who compiled the Brahmanas made Indra represent the warrior caste, and Brhaspati the priestly caste. But, since I did not claim that these same priests perceived the actual identity of Brhaspati with Indra, in this respect, also, Isenberg has indulged in irrelevance.
When Isenberg reaches his summary, he is again basing what he says upon a misinterpretation or even misquotation of what my article, taken as a whole, actually proposes. While he tries to make it appear that I am unavoidably obliged to produce a Sanskrit source specifically tying Indra the god to Jupiter the planet, the hard truth is that I never implied that such a source existed.
Sources which imply or state this can be found in a hymn to Brahmanaspati where the
expression "twain Maghavans" is clearly applied to " Brahmanaspati and Indra".
Also, in a late source, the Narada Purana, there is an astronomical section wherein the
presiding god of Jupiter is listed as Indra.
For these reasons, what Isenberg cites in addition is totally superfluous and irrelevant. While he is condescending to my Indological studies, I have no reason to be condescending in return.
I welcome exposures of blunders in scholarly matters, for this prevents mistakes from becoming embedded in major works. This is quite different from welcoming enthusiastic and premature efforts to demolish the kind of qualified identification of Brhaspati with Indra that is so obvious to anyone studying Vedic texts that it could be seen that only tiresome labors would be needed to give it a complete documentation. An example of such obviousness is where Maurice Bloomfield wrote in his notes to the translation of the Atharvaveda that:
I am interested in finding the truth about the connections, if any, between Vedic gods and planets. This requires that all of the data, not just some of it, must be reviewed. Time, effort, and paper employed for this is greatly preferable to the same being lavished on such efforts at criticism as have been treated herein.
REFERENCES1. Bhanava's Standard Illustrated Dictionary of the English Language (Anglo-Hindi Edition, Varanasi, 1963).
2. Idem, Bhargava's Standard Illustrated Dictionary of the Hindi Language (Hindi-English Edition, Varanasi, 1960), p. 114.
3. Ibid., p. 796.
4. V. S. Apte, The Practical Sanskrit-English Dictionary (Delhi, 1890/1965), p. 518.
5. R. T. H. Griffith, The Hymns of the Rgveda (Delhi, 1896/1973), p. 146 (RV II.24.12).
6. Ibid., e.g., p. 20 (RV 1.32.3, e.g.).
7. G. V. Tagare (trans.), The Narada Purana (Delhi, 1981), Vol II, p. 725 (NP II.55.15-16) & p. 768 (note on 11.55.16).
8. M. Bloomfield (trans.), Hymns of the Atharva-Veda (Delhi, 1897/1973), p. 596 (note on AV IX.3.2).
Dwardu Cardona Comments:
Having read Ashton's reply to Isenberg's criticism of the former's article on Brihaspati, I find there is little else to add. As Ashton has shown, Isenberg's criticism is not valid. What follows, therefore, is offered more as clarification than as additional refutation.
Although the gaining of "adherents among Indologists" is not to be shunned, failure in
this connection should not be misconstrued as ineptness in the field which Isenberg somehow
implies. The equation of Athene with Venus, which Isenberg accepts, did not gain Velikovsky
any adherents among classical mythologists as neither did the equation of the Queen (of)
Sheba with Hatshepsut gain him any adherents among ancient historians. In their way, these
two equations are as blasphemous as Isenberg believes Ashton's to be. For that matter, I doubt
that Indologists would easily embrace Isenberg's own equation of the Devi with the Venerian
Granted, Isenberg did not take Ashton to task so much for equating Brihaspati or Indra with a planet – namely Jupiter – as he did for equating one deity with another. The fact remains that Isenberg's objection concerns an equation which has neither been proposed, nor is liable to be easily accepted, by students of Hindu mythology. At this point I would like to be blunt and ask: So what?
Are we, in our mytho-planetary identifications, bound to follow in the same rut which has been trod by uniformitarian mythologists? Did Velikovsky? Did Isenberg?
As Velikovskian scholars – and I use that term in a most general sense – we cannot always be content with what mythologists generally accept and/or reject. As catastrophists in a uniformitarian world, we are often forced to go against accepted tenets in the search for truth. One of Velikovsky's prime lessons was to dig beneath the surface of mythology. Fortunately, like almost everything else, mythology has progressed through evolution. We therefore can, in most cases, retrace its evolutionary steps to recapture its origin. And if we wish to have the truth, it is this origin that we should be concerned with.
Thus, for example, as Ashton has indicated, whatever Indra's epithet of Brihaspati-Purohit can be made to mean, it is what it originated as in primitive times that should concern us. That Brihaspati is the name of the planet Jupiter, and that "purohit" means "priest", is not contested. So that even if the meaning of Indra's epithet is taken as "he whose purohit is Brihaspati", it would translate as "he whose priest is the planet Jupiter" – and the connection between Indra, Brihaspati, and the planet in question would be maintained. It should, however, be pointed out that the translation of Brihaspati-Purohit as Jupiter-Priest is grammatically correct.
Actually Isenberg should have asked himself the following question: If Brihaspati, as he has shown, is considered the priest of all the gods, why was it only Indra who was honored by this title?
This particular epithet of Indra was not always rendered Brihaspati-Purohit. Originally it was merely Brihaspati. How would Isenberg, without the "purohit" to bail him out, translate this version of Indra's epithet?
If an appeal to authority is what is going to satisfy Isenberg, it can safely be stated that
it has long been recognized that Brihaspati – sans the "purohit" – originated as an epithet of
Indra. Only later was Brihaspati considered an independent deity.
What this means is that the god derived from the epithet so that, regardless of what later traditions vouched for, it is quite obvious that originally Brihaspati and Indra were one.
The argument should actually end here but since Isenberg saw fit to further muddy the waters, I had better clarify a few more points.
I will start by saying that the planet Jupiter's association with priesthood is not a
uniquely Hindu trend. Among the Persians, whose ancestors derived from the same Aryan
stock, Jupiter was also considered the protector of "men of religion" and "preachers in the
Secondly, Indra's identification as Jupiter is nowise weakened by Bhargava's (or Pathak's) special brand of dictionary entries. "Indra Devta" and "Brihaspati (graha)" are both found listed under "Jupiter". Brihaspati graha, or the planet Brihaspati, stands for the planet Jupiter. Indra Devta stands for the god Indra whom, Isenberg himself concedes, "is indeed the equivalent of the ruling Roman god, Jupiter". What Isenberg should not here forget is that the Roman Jupiter personified the planet Jupiter. By the same token, therefore, so must have Indra. This, again, would make him and Brihaspati truly equivalent.
I hate to bring an earlier argument to bear upon the present one, but Isenberg's attempt
to disassociate Indra the god from Jupiter the planet is as good as his former attempt to
disassociate Kartikeya the god from the planet Mars.
It also surprises me that Isenberg should reject the Greek identification – "via
Heinrich Zimmer and Apollodorus" - of Indra as Zeus as a "buttress" of Ashton's thesis. As I
have shown elsewhere, the mythological birth and early history of Indra actually duplicates
that of Zeus.
Isenberg's rejection of the Greek identification surprises me even more since, in his own article on the Devi, he himself stated:
Where Isenberg failed, Ashton succeeded.
Or was Isenberg pained because, in his own research, he reached the false conclusion
that "classical Greek authors do not appear to have identified any Hindu gods" – his
I do agree with Isenberg in that similarities of exploits do not necessarily constitute identity. The examples he cited, however, do not invalidate Ashton's method. Isenberg's examples concerning shared exploits by Indra and Vishnu, Indra and Soma, Indra and Varuna, and Indra and Vayu, are exactly that shared exploits. Both deities of each pair are described as partners in the same deed. Ashton's examples are of an entirely different character. Here a deed or an event is in one place attributed to Indra, in another to Brihaspati.
That Indra and Brihaspati are generally presented as different deities is not at all
disconcerting. The differentiation made between them is no different from that made between
Janus and Saturnus - to give an example – separate deities who are yet equivalent to one
another and to the planet Satum.
Such a state of affairs is actually quite common. Ramachandra and Parasurama are also treated as individual personages, yet they are both avatars of the same Vishnu. What might be unique is that while Vishnu appeared in his seventh avatar, as Parasurama, his sixth, as Ramachandra, was still running loose on Earth. What is even more ludicrous is that, in both the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, we see Parasurama in battle against Ramachandra – which makes for the incongruous situation where a god is actually forced to fight his own self.(13)
Is this not the way of myth? Do we not, in the Iliad, see Athene/Venus in battle against
Aphrodite/Venus?(14) Do we not, in Roman mythology, see the defeated Saturnus/Saturn
being welcomed by Janus/Saturn?
Ashton, after all, never claimed that Indra and Brihaspati are anywhere treated as a
Finally, Isenberg challenged Ashton to "cite even one authoritative Sanskrit or Hindi dictionary which under the entry 'Brhaspati' informs its readers that the word means both Indra and the planet Jupiter, as well as the preceptor (purohita) of the gods".
In view of all that has been stated above, this is too tall an order to fill. Sanskrit and Hindi dictionaries, like English ones, do not always concern themselves with the origin of "words", especially so when these are sometimes lost. The challenge, in any case, is void because Isenberg completely misunderstood Ashton. But since the former seems to lay so much store in the gaining of "adherents among Indologists", allow me to present just such an entry from the index to the work of one of these scholars:
"Brhaspati, 'lord of sacred speech,' originally an epithet of Indra, then an independent deity,
the preceptor of the gods. The planet Jupiter."
REFERENCES1. A. Isenberg,"Devi and Venus," KRONOS II:1 (Aug. 1976), pp. 89-103.
2. W. D. O'Flaherty, Hindu Myths (Harmondsworth, 1976), p. 341.
3. Rig Veda, X:108:6. NOTE: It is only fair to state that Griffith, in his translation adds the note that Brihaspati is here presented as "Indra's companion and ally in battle". See R. T. H. Griffith, The Hymns of the Rgveda (Varanasi, 1963 fourth edition), Vol. II, p. 551. Griffith's opinion, however, has since been contested. See W. D. O'Flaherty, op. cit., p. 74. A diligent comparison of the Rig Veda and Brihaddevata versions of this episode indicates that O'Flaherty's rendition is the correct one.
4. Brhaddevata, VIII:24-36.
5. C. Huart, "The Mythology of Persia," Asiatic Mythology (N.Y., 1972), p. 50.
6. A. Isenberg, "Kartikeya: Mars or Venus?" KRONOS VIII:2 (Winter 1983), pp. 73-74; but see also D. Cardona, Ibid., pp. 74-76.
7. D. Cardona, "Indra," KRONOS VII:3 (Spring 1982), pp. 21-22.
8. I. Velikovsky, "On Saturn and the Flood," KRONOS V:1 (Fall 1979), p. 5.
9. A. Isenberg, "Devi and Venus" (see note No. 1), p. 95.
10. Ibid., p. 97(emphasis added).
12. D. Cardona, "Child of Saturn," Part I, KRONOS VII:l (Fall 1981), pp. 60-63.
13. V. Ions, Indian Mythology (London, 1967), pp. 51-54.
14. Homer, Iliad, XXI:424-433.
14a. F. Guirand A.-V. Pierre, "Roman Mythology," New Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology (London, 1972), p. 202.
15. Actually, even Wilson's translation of "O Indra, O Brahmanaspati" fails to prove that the addressed are two distinct entities as this can easily be taken in the spirit of "O Jupiter, O Jove".
16. M. Bloomfield, Hymns of the Atharva-Veda (Delhi, 1897/1973), p. 596.
17. W. D. O'Flaherty, op. cit., p. 341.
ABRAM'S FEAR AND GOD'S COVENANT
To the Editor of KRONOS:
I have read recent issues of KRONOS with great interest. In particular, I have found great pleasure reading the articles by Dwardu Cardona (the "Child of Saturn" series, the "Jupiter – God of Abraham" series, and his astonishing analysis of Hindu myths) in Vol. VII: 1-3, and that by Ragnar Forshufvud in Vol. VII:2. I detect a resurgence of creative activity amongst Velikovskian scholars, and find it most refreshing.
I should just like to pick up one or two minor points from Cardona's "Jupiter - God of Abraham", Part II. Towards the end of the article (Vol. VII:2, p. 51), Cardona remarks on a "discordant note" in the narrative of Genesis 15. The events of Genesis 15 take place just after Abram's battle with the four kings of Shinar. Abram has a vision:
Cardona asks: "What did Abram have to fear? Certainly not the failure to inherit Canaan." Agreed. The important point here is that Abram gets a vision from the Lord shortly after killing men in his battle with the kings of Shinar. His first reaction would surely be fear, fear of divine retribution for having killed. Thus the Jewish scholar Rashi, who interpreted the passage in this way:
I do agree with Cardona that the vision, with its beginning of "fear not" strikes a discordant note with what follows – the covenant between the pieces – a solemn promise by God that Abram's descendents will inherit the land of Canaan.
Another small point concerns the word "magen" used in this passage as "shield". It struck me that the "Magen David" is not only the shield of David, but also the star of David. Is this further support for the idea of an astral god as the God of Abraham and David?
I was puzzled by the concluding paragraph of the piece. Cardona seems to be implying that the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah took place "not long after" the covenant between the pieces of Genesis 15. There are two points I have to make on this. One is that in Genesis 15:2-3 Abram tells God that he has no seed, and that his servant Eliezer of Damascus is his heir. In Genesis 17 we learn that Abraham is 99 and Ishmael is 13 in the year of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. In other words, at least 13 years must have elapsed between the covenant between the pieces and the destruction of the Cities of the Plain. My other point is that there is a corpus of Jewish myth which places the covenant between the pieces at a time when Abram was only 70 and still living in Haran (L. Ginzberg, Vol. V, p.230). Precisely what to make of this version is difficult to know, but it is certainly difficult to date this covenant.
Finally, there is a misprint in the reference (Cardona's note No. 111) given by Ginzberg (Vol. V, p. 225) to Tractate Shabbat 156b. The early edition of this work (1925-47) has 196b instead of 156b.
Dwardu Cardona Replies:
I appreciate Dr. Bernard Newgrosh's comments. They are offered in good faith and in a scholarly manner.
I should myself have included Rashi's interpretation of Abram's fear. Although my point of view remains unchanged, l realize now that the discussion of this topic would have been more balanced had both sides of the coin been presented.
I hate to brush Rashi's interpretation aside by condemning it to the realm of theological expedients. Nor do I wish my own interpretation to appear dogmatic. On matters of this nature, one can best present one's case and offer a scholarly opinion. Mine was offered in my article.
The information at my disposal does not allow me to accept Rashi's interpretation. Had the explanation been as simple as all that, one would expect it to be so spelled out in the pages of Genesis itself. Yet, nothing is there told of Abram's guilt feelings for having been forced to kill. Nowhere is Abram made to ask god for forgiveness in this. Instead, the "fear not" is flung within a divine utterance that strangely lacks a reason for the offered solace. It almost seems that the real cause of Abram's fear has been expurgated - although this, I must stress, is only a surmise.
My interpretation is backed by god's immediately following words – "I am thy
Also, if, as Newgrosh has pointed out, "magen" can be made to mean "star", god's
utterance can be translated as "Fear not, I am thy star",
The telling point surfaces in god's covenant. That this rite was an appeal for protection
from things to come is ascertained by comparison with the almost identical Moabite ritual
practiced in the very land through, and in which, Abram wandered and sojourned.
As to the "date" of this covenant, Newgrosh is right in that there is more than one
version. In fact there are three. The Apocalypse of Abraham states that the covenant between
the pieces occurred at the very beginning of Abram's career, before his infiltration of Canaan.
Even so, it has always been my opinion that when different traditions supply different versions, and unless external evidence dictates an alternative choice, our safest bet is to accept the oldest. So until a source older than the Septuagint is discovered that will contest it, we had best be content with the version supplied therein.
The "puzzle" concerning my concluding paragraph, wherein I stated that the destruction of the Cities of the Plain occurred "not long after" the time of god's covenant with Abram, is easily explained. I was merely guilty of time reduction. I shied away from using the term "thirteen years later" because I am not yet satisfied that the "years" mentioned in the early pages of Genesis constituted solar ones. This, in fact, is a topic that deserves special study.
Finally, I apologise for what I mistook to be Newgrosh's error concerning Ginzberg's citation of the Tractate Shabbat. Although I should have, I did not realize that the version Newgrosh used was different from mine.
REFERENCES1. Emphasis as supplied in the King James version.
2. N. M. Sarna, Understanding Genesis (N.Y., 1970), p. 121.
3. Inferred from Genesis 14:20 and extrabiblical sources.
4. Emphasis would again be as supplied.
5. Refer to article in question, p. 50.
6. L. Ginzberg, The Legends of the Jews (Philadelphia 5728/1968), Vol. V, p. 230.
8. D. Cardona, "Jupiter - God of Abraham", Part I, KRONOS VII:1 (Fall 1981), p. 80.
SPECULATIONS ON "PLANET X"
To the Editor of KRONOS:
The idea that there is a tenth planet or other body beyond the orbit of Pluto is
becoming popular among astronomers. At a conference held at NASA's Ames Res. Ctr. in
June, 1982, a number of researchers discussed the growing evidence that something is out
there: perhaps a planet, perhaps the remnant of a burned out white dwarf or neutron star that
was (is) a binary companion to the Sun, perhaps even a black hole.
The evidence for such a body comes from the fact that the gravitational forces among the Sun and known planets cannot account fully for the observed orbital motions of the planets, particularly Uranus and Neptune, which show tiny unexplained deviations or perturbations from their predicted orbits. The same situation existed prior to the discovery of Pluto, and the belief that an unknown planet was causing the perturbations was in fact the motivation for the search that led to Pluto's discovery in 1930. Nowadays it is clear that Pluto was found for the wrong reasons; its mass is too low to produce the observed effects. Hence the new interest in finding a body out beyond Pluto.
Until more is known, it is easy to speculate about what could be out there.
Astronomers at the NASA-Ames conference suggested a planet the size of Uranus at a
distance of about 100 A.U. from the Sun, or a burned-out star at a distance of about 500
A.U., or a black hole (10 solar masses) at a distance of about 1000 A.U. Others have argued
that the available evidence implies a body of 2 to 5 Earth masses, lying out of the plane of the
From a Velikovskian perspective, there are also other possibilities. One is simply the
idea that the perturbations could be minor effects of electrical or magnetic forces
superimposed on the gravitational forces that are mainly responsible for the orbits. The source
of such electrical or magnetic forces need not be a solid body but could be the sort of
large-scale fields in space that Ralph Juergens envisioned.
Another rather speculative possibility is that an unknown body does exist beyond the
orbit of Pluto, that it is on a highly elliptical orbit with its perihelion well inside the orbit of
Pluto, and that it participated in at least one of the planetary interactions described by
To conjecture about the details of any such interactions seems fruitless without more information. However, there are some things that can be said about the range of possible orbits that would allow the unknown body to be: 1) close enough to engage the known planets in a Velikovskian interaction within the past several thousand years, 2) close enough to perturb the known planets at the present time, and 3) far enough away to remain unnoticed in the interim. Much depends on the mass of the unknown body but, since it left behind a reasonably intact planetary system, it must have been much smaller than the Sun.
Suppose we assume the unknown body to be no larger than Uranus and to be following an elliptical orbit that meets the above conditions. Its orbital period must be at least 3500 years, so its semimajor axis must be at least 230 A.U. If it is now close enough to perturb the outer planets, it cannot be more than about 100 A.U. from the Sun, which means that it cannot be moving away from the Sun. It must already have passed aphelion and be heading back toward the inner solar system. As can be seen from Table I, all of the applicable orbits have rather similar properties within 100 A.U. of the Sun, regardless of whether the orbital period is 3500 years or 14,000 years. If there is indeed an unknown body on such an orbit, it is heading toward the inner solar system at roughly 1 A.U./year and will reach perihelion in a century or less.
The idea that the body now perturbing the outer planets has a highly elliptical orbit is of course pure speculation; it is generally consistent with but not necessarily a consequence of Velikovsky's theory. Within a few years, the nature of the unknown body may become much clearer; astronomers are optimistic that its effect on the trajectories of Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11 will be measurable as the two space probes move out past Pluto's orbit and will indicate the mass and location of the unknown body, even if it cannot be located visually. In the meantime, one can wonder whether the overall effect of a body returning to wreak interplanetary havoc in the solar system would be entirely bad. It could kill us all, though reports of previous encounters imply that some of us survived. Could it also make us realize the foolishness of our petty squabbles, over which we threaten to kill ourselves?
Raymond C. Vaughan
Hamburg, New York
1. "Something lurking beyond the planets", New Scientist 94, 829 (24 June 1982). See also
"Mysterious Planet X", Science Digest (Nov. 1982), p. 42.
PLANET X: "DEUS EX MACHINA"?
C. Leroy Ellenberger Comments:
The hubbub fomented last June by NASA about the possible existence of a tenth
planet, Planet X,
The data upon which the inferred presence of a trans-Plutonian planet is based consist
of the residuals, or deviations, in the motions of the planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and
Neptune, and of six comets that both go beyond Neptune and have been observed on more
than one return.
The probable mass and distance of the undiscovered body are indicated by its gravity
gradient, i.e., how its presence differentially affects the motions of other bodies at varying
Although the orbit of Planet X is expected to be markedly eccentric like Pluto's, it is
not expected to be as elongated as that proposed by Vaughan. Because the indicated orbit
crosses that of all the planets beyond Jupiter, it is unstable. This follows from the fact that
Neptune, Uranus, and Saturn are not in resonance with each other and, therefore, Planet X
cannot be in resonance with them either; thus it cannot achieve stability. Elementary
perturbation theory suggests that, under the most favorable circumstances of avoiding close
encounters with other planets, no body with such an elongated orbit would keep the same
period for two consecutive passages. Crossing Jupiter's orbit, as one of his examples does,
greatly magnifies this effect. The object would eventually be either ejected from the solar
system or converted into a short-period object.
Nothing in the history of the search for a trans-Neptunian planet has indicated the
presence of bodies as large as NASA proposed. In 1915, on the basis of an analysis of the
residuals of Uranus, Percival Lowell predicted a trans-Neptunian planet about 43 AU from the
Sun with a mass of 6-
The USNO's estimate of size and distance is consistent with the results of a 1973
analysis which estimated the mass of Planet X, assuming a circular orbit, for a number of
distances from the Sun using only the residuals for Neptune.
Furthermore, if there were a remotely distant body, as massive as NASA was talking
about, orbiting the Sun inside the postulated Oort comet cloud, then its presence would
produce a "signature" in the orbits of comets entering the inner solar system for the first time.
Such a signature is absent.
Since the mass and distance of Planet X had already been inferred reliably prior to the
special NASA conference, why would attention have been focused on the sensational
candidates for Planet X, to the exclusion of the more realistic USNO estimates? Clearly, the
NASA conference ignored the evidence provided by the gravity gradient. Even the astronomer
J. Allen Hynek went along with the NASA hype in discussing Planet X,
Perhaps this situation may be explained by the fact that, at the time of the conference, funding for maintaining contact with the Pioneer probes was being evaluated. If there was nothing of pressing importance for them to do, then there would have been no reason to spend more money on them. Quite simply, in the face of shrinking budgets for the space program, the search for Planet X was very likely enlisted to preserve the Pioneer program. Searching for a possible brown dwarf star certainly looks more impressive and more exciting than searching for a more run-of-the-mill planet only two to five times larger than Earth.
From a Velikovskian perspective although the "possibilities" mentioned by Vaughan
look interesting, they are neither relevant nor tenable. Since the terrestrial planets are not
perturbed, it is hard to envision 'large-scale [electrical or magnetic] fields in space" that would
act so selectively. If a massive body passed close enough to Jupiter or Saturn several thousand
years ago so as to "have participated in the birth of Venus", then why do their satellite systems
not look as though they have been disrupted, as Neptune's system patently does?
In invoking a Planet X as large as Uranus, Vaughan is careful to make this an upper
bound, thereby ostensibly subsuming the USNO estimate of a body with a mass of two to five
Earths. He also speculates that his Planet X "could have passed through the inner solar system
in the fifteenth century B.C.". If this were so, it might help explain the energy disposal problem
attending the Velikovskian sequence of planetary orbits.
If Vaughan's Planet X was the deus ex machina once suggested by Rose and
Considering other possibilities, a single body initially on a 3,500 year orbit could not absorb the full energy input on one pass and it necessarily would not be back soon enough to finish the job. This body, being larger than Uranus, would be too big. Postulating the existence of more than one additional body would strain the bounds of credulity, besides being egregiously ad hoc. Thus, Planet X appears to be irrelevant to explicating the events in Worlds in Collision.
Velikovskians already have enough problems to work on without spinning them futilely out of the politics of NASA budget battles. For example:
Such are some of the real problems confronting Velikovskians. To paraphrase the wisdom of
William of Occam: Speculations ought not be multiplied beyond necessity. Then feckless
doomsaying can be left to the tabloids.
NOTES AND REFERENCES:1. See, for example: New Scientist (24 June 1982), p. 829; Astronomy (October, 1982), pp. 62, 64; Science Digest (November, 1982), p. 42; and Patrick Moore, OMNI (February, 1983), p. 24.
2. T. C. Van Flandern, personal communication based on current investigations.
3. For example, if identical perturbations were produced on Neptune by a two Earth mass body at 50 AU or a five Earth-snass body at 100 AU, then the perturbations on Uranus would not be the same. The relation between the Neptune and Uranus residuals would determine which body was the more likely perturbing agent. Because the gradient in the force from a distant, massive object is more gradual than that from a closer, less massive object, the two Earth-mass body would perturb Uranus more than would the five Earth-mass body. In practice, the situation is much more complicated because as the bodies revolve around the Sun, their distances from each other vary along with the perturbations.
4. Science Digest (December, 1981), p. 17. Because of the immense complexity in determining the precise location of Planet X, the USNO team has not narrowed it down close enough to justify a search for it. When the location is sufficiently pinned down, their work will be described in a journal article. In the meantime, while they do not believe in publishing the status of work in progress, they freely discuss their work when queried.
5. Ibid. This is known because the residuals for the latitude and longitude are comparable in size. If Planet X were close to the ecliptic, then the residual for longitude would be greater than that for latitude. Also, see Terence Dickinson, "Planets beyond Pluto?" Star& Sky (June, 1980), p. 45.
6. Van Flandern, op. cit.
7. E. Everhart, "The origin of the short period comets," Astrophys. Lett. 10 (1972), pp. 131-135 and E. Everhart, "Examination of several ideas of comet origin," Astron. J. 78 (1973), pp. 329-337.
8. D. Rawlins, "The Mysterious Case of the Planet Pluto," Sky & Telescope (March, 1968), pp. 160-162.
9. D. Mulholland, "The Ice Planet," Science 82 (December, 1982), pp. 64-68. Actually, the combined mass of Pluto and its moon Charon is only one fifth the mass of our Moon.
10. D. Rawlins and M. Hammerton, "Mass and Position Limits for an Hypothetical Tenth Planet of the Solar System," Mon. Not R. astr. Soc. 162 (1973), pp. 261-270. Overview in Nature 240 (1972), p. 457.
11. R. S. Harrington and T. C. Van Flandern, "The Satellites of Neptune and the Origin of Pluto," Icarus 39 (1979), pp. 131-136; reprinted in KRONOS V:2 (1980), pp. 48-56
12. B. G. Marsden, Z. Sekanina, and E. Everhart, "New Osculating Orbits for 110 Comets and Analysis of Original Orbits for 200 Comets," Astron. J. 83 (1978), pp. 64-71; D. Wilkins, "Energetic comets versus the Sun's companion," Nature 282 (1979), pp. 696-697; and D. Wilkins, "Cometary evidence against the solar companion," Nature 286 (1980), p. 306.
The news item "Is the Sun Part of a Double Star System?" [Star & Sky (November, 1979), p. 10] concludes: "At present there is no evidence that any unknown planet of substantial size exists within many billions of miles of us, and there is overwhelming evidence against the sun having a stellar companion."
13. Science Digest (November, 1982), p.42.
14. Ibid. and Astronomy, op. cit., p. 64. The scheduled launch in December 1982 was postponed to January 25, 1983. This satellite will be able to detect an ordinary flashlight/torch at a distance of 6,000 miles.
15. Harrington and Van op. cit.
16. L. E. Rose and R. C. Vaughan, "Velikovsky and the Sequence of Planetary Orbits," Pensée IVR VIII, pp. 27-34; reprinted in Pensée Editors, Velikovsky Reconsidered (New York, 1976), pp. 110-132.
17. Ibid, pp. 32-33; pp. 125-128.
18. Ibid, p. 30; p. 118: Table 2. Plus R. C. Vaughan, "Orbits and Their Measurements," KRONOS II:3 (1977), pp. 31-48 (44).
19. See, for example, C. Linedecker, "Mystery planet threatens mankind," National Examiner (December 14, 1982), p. 5.
20. Nels Winkless III and Iben Browning, Climate and the Affairs of Man (N. Y., 1975), p. 28.
Vaughan Replies to Ellenberger:
Leroy Ellenberger's letter raises a number of interesting points. His objections to my original letter can be put in two categories: criticisms of the viewpoint advanced by NASA that Planet X might be a very massive body, and criticisms of my own suggestions regarding Planet X.
I have no reason to defend the NASA viewpoint and will not do so here; I described that viewpoint in the first and third paragraphs of my original letter but did not intend to endorse it. On the contrary, a massive body such as a dwarf star would be incompatible with my own Planet X proposals.
There were two main proposals that I made in my original letter. One was that there might not be any Planet X; large-scale electric or magnetic fields in space could be responsible for the observed phenomena. Ellenberger's objection to this is that such fields (if they exist) are inexplicably selective, affecting the outer planets and several comets but not the inner planets. But this is just the sort of thing that would be expected (qualitatively, at least) in the presence of heliocentric streams of charged particles such as Parker's solar wind or Juergens' oppositely directed streams of protons and electrons. Planets immersed in such streams are effectively shielded from any weak external fields that may exist in our part of the galaxy. The outer planets, whose orbits lie in regions where the stream becomes more tenuous and irregular, would be more influenced by external fields than the inner planets would. Whether this mechanism can be developed quantitatively remains to be seen.
In my other proposal, I suggested a range of possible orbits for Planet X, assuming that it does exist. The issue here is not whether Planet X is actually on such an orbit, but whether such a scenario is possible in view of the available evidence. I say yes; Ellenberger says no.
According to this scenario, Planet X is a body no larger than Uranus on a highly elliptical orbit. More specifically, I proposed that its present orbital period must be at least 3500 years (corresponding to a semimajor axis of at least 230 A.U.), and that it came close to one of the known planets and was thus involved in one of the interactions described by Velikovsky at about the time of its last perihelion passage. The orbits shown in Table I of my original letter are representative. While it may seem that those orbits cover a hopelessly broad range of possibilities, there are in fact some narrow limits on parameters such as radial velocity and perihelion. If it can be shown that Planet X does not fit these parameters, then my scenario will have been contradicted. So far, this has not been done.
I agree with several of the statements put forth by Ellenberger, though I do not consider them to be criticisms of my scenario as he apparently intended. In particular, I agree that:
It should be noted that any such change in orbital period (from a few dozen to a few thousand years) need not have happened entirely at the last perihelion passage; it could have occurred sporadically in a series of interactions extending over a number of orbital revolutions.
Not only energy but also angular momentum must be taken into account, and it remains to be seen how Planet X would fit into the overall angular-momentum balance. The inclination of the orbit of Planet X is an important factor here, inasmuch as angular momentum is a vector quantity. The orbits of most of the planets lie more or less in the same plane as one another, but the analyses of Van Flandern and others at the U. S. Naval Observatory indicate a relatively high orbital inclination for Planet X, perhaps on the order of Pluto's inclination of 17°. While combinations of orbits can be proposed that conserve both energy and angular momentum for almost any inclination of Planet X, it seems best to wait until the orbital parameters and mass of the unknown planet are better established.
An important consideration in adding Planet X to the balance sheets for energy and angular momentum is that Jupiter or Saturn would also have to be added if either of them perturbed Planet X significantly on its way outward from perihelion. In general, any involvement of Planet X in the planetary events described by Velikovsky would be likely to change the constraints and thus the quantities (e.g., the energy-disposal problem of 5.77 to 5.90 geobasic units) that Lynn Rose and I discussed in "Velikovsky and the Sequence of Planetary Orbits".
Now that my Planet X scenario has been discussed at length by Ellenberger and myself, it may be worthwhile to restate very succinctly what I consider to be the essence of it: If Planet X has the type of highly eccentric orbit that I have already identified, then it very likely participated in some of the events described by Velikovsky, inasmuch as it would have been in about the right place at the right time. The probability that Planet X is actually on such an orbit seems very low, but I see no evidence for Ellenberger's contention that such an orbit has already been ruled out.