[Advaita-l] Interesting article.

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Fri Aug 17 10:16:54 CDT 2012

> Radhe Krishna
> When the evidence of sudanva’s thamra sAsana was mentioned in the list, I raised questions as 
> to whether such thamra sAsana was subject to carbon dating. That time, if I remember well, 
> Shri vidyasankar explained that a thamra sAsana per se can not be subjected directly to carbon 
> dating. However it so happens that these artefacts are tied together by a cloth or a rope. 
> And that because of this carbon dating could be possible. If I understand properly, it 
> presupposes the presence of some matter like a cloth or rope which had contact with a living 
> matter say human being or animal for conduct of carbon dating. I may be corrected, if I am 
> wrong.

You are right; carbon dating can only be done on organic material, not on inorganic material.
Metal objects as well as sand are predominantly inorganic in nature, so the dating will be based
on organic material that is found in conjunction with the said objects.
> Regarding the carbon dating of sand near river purna, I have following questions
> 1. Is it that pujya kanchi periava has actually told this instance or is it ascribed to 
> him that so and so claims that pujya kanchi periava has narrated this instance.

This was my first thought too. Thank you for articulating it well. It is high time that we, as a
culture, stopped doing anonymous recounting of such things, leaving a lot to the imaginations
of readers. Every once in a while, a new account like this comes up, raising more questions
than it is capable of answering.
> 2. From my limited understanding, I doubt that carbon dating could be conducted on sand 
> particles to determine the fact as to how old the sand deposits are there at a particular 
> place. Those having knowledge on this aspect in our list may clarify. Perhaps it could have 
> been done by some other scientific method, if there are any.
> 3. By whatever scientific method such conclusion have been arrived at, are the papers 
> regarding the conduct of such an experiment available as on date for the scrutiny of people 
> who have expertise on these experiments?
> 4. Assuming that the result of such a scientific experiment establishes date of sand 
> deposits at different places at different times, one can still take that this part of the 
> theory as scientific. But could connecting such a fact with an incident of Acharya Shankara’s 
> hagiography be still scientific?

Relative dating of archeological finds relies on the fact that older objects lie buried deeper
than newer objects. In a riverbed, one would have to ask where samples were collected
from, whether samples from two different locations gave different ages even though they
were from the same layer depth, whether turnover of material from different depths did
not happen during the timeframe in question because of water flow in the river, whether
the construction of dams along various spots in the river, at different times, did or did not
affect flows and deposition of sand upstream and downstream of those dams ... There are
too many scientific questions that would have to be adequately taken into account. 
Finally, even if all such questions are asked and addressed to the best possible extent,
connecting it to the known accounts of Adi Sankaracharya's life would still leave other issues
unaddressed. I won't get into those at this stage, but suffice it to say that your expression of
doubt about the scientific nature of such a connection is quite sound.

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