Srimad Bhagavatam 10.82.02 - Ancient Astronomer Stands Out Unique (download mp3)
by Radhadyuti Prabhu at ISKCON Chowpatty
tam jñatva manuja rajan
purastad eva sarvatah
Knowing of this eclipse in advance, O King, many people went to the holy place known as Samanta-pañcaka in order to earn pious credit.
Vedic astronomers of five thousand years ago could predict eclipses of the sun and moon just as well as our modern astronomers can. The knowledge of the ancient astronomers went much further, however, since they understood the karmic influences of such events. Solar and lunar eclipses are generally very inauspicious, with certain rare exceptions. But just as the otherwise inauspicious Ekadasi day becomes beneficial when used for the glorification of Lord Hari, so the time of an eclipse is also advantageous for fasting and worship.
The holy pilgrimage site known as Samanta-pañcaka is located at Kuruksetra, the “sacred ground of the Kurus,” where the Kuru kings’ predecessors performed many Vedic sacrifices. The Kurus were thus advised by learned brahmanas that this would be the best place for them to observe vows during the eclipse. Long before their time, Lord Parasurama had done penance at Kuruksetra to atone for his killings. Samanta-pañcaka, the five ponds he dug there, were still present at the end of Dvapara-yuga, as they are even today.