HISTORICITY OF MAHABHARATA WAR
January 2001, Indian History Congress was holding its Annual Conference at the
Alipur Campus of the University of Calcutta and at the concluding session of the
said Conference the Nobel Laureate economist Dr. Amartya Sen, while addressing
the delegates, said that Ramayana and Mahabharata
do not have any historical value. These two epics are simply mythology and
nothing but poets’ fancy. He also said that neither Rama nor Krishna was a
historical personality and both of them were simply mythical.
wrote two commentaries on Shrimadbhagavadgita,
Anasaktiyoga and Gitabodha, and in the introduction of the former work, he wrote,
“Generally Mahabharata is taken to
be a historical work. But in my opinion, it is not so. I cannot say that Ramayana
and Mahabharata are historical works. They are simply religious works.
If you are still inclined to treat them as historical works, then I should say
that they are nothing but the history of the Self (Atma). They do not contain
what happened thousands of years ago. On the contrary, they are the reflections
of what is happening today in every soul”. About Lord Krishna, he wrote,
”Krishna of Gita is the embodiment
of pure and divine knowledge, but without having any physical existence. By this
the Avatar Krishna is not denied at all, but only it is said that He is
is not difficult to understand that all such utterances of Sen, Gandhi and many
other like minded Indians derive inspiration from the Western interpretation of
Indian history. Most of the Western scholars firmly believe that our ancestors
grossly neglected writing history and what we claim to be our history is nothing
but mythology. So M. Winternitz in his History
of Indian Literature writes, “History is one weak spot in Indian
literature. It is, in fact, non-existent. The total lack of historical sense is
so characteristic that the whole course of Sanskrit literature is darkened by
the defect”. The renowned German scholar Max Muller, in his History
of Ancient Sanskrit Literature, writes, “No wonder that a nation like
India cared so little for history”. “With regard to history, the Hindus have
done really nothing but romances from which some truth may occasionally be
extracted”, says another Western scholar Major Wilford. These scholars refuse
to accept Ramayana, Mahabharata and
the Puranas as historical works as there are no mention of year and dates of the
events described therein.
people of this country firmly believe that Ramayana,
Mahabharata and the Puranas are their history and not simply epics or
poets’ fancy. So Dr. S. Kalyanaraman, the director of the Chennai based
Saraswati River Research Centre, says that the historicity of the events
described in Ramayana and Mahabharata is
validated by two evidences: one is based on tradition and the other is based on
jyotisha, or planetary configurations and other celestial events narrated along
with mundane events described in those epics, which may be called sky epigraphs.
far tradition is concerned, people of this nation believe that Lord Rama was
born on the day of Ramanavami and Lord
Krishna was born on the day of Janmastami and so on. In fact, there is a long
list of such traditional beliefs such as: Bhishma died on the Bhishmastami day,
on the day of Vijaya Dashami, Lord Rama celebrated the day, with His army, as
the day of victory after killing Ravana and defeating his army just on the
previous day, on the day of
Deepavali, Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya after 14 years of exile and the people
of Ayodhya celebrated the day and decorated their houses by lighting lamps and
the tradition is still being continued; the
War of Kurukshetra began on the day of Gita Jayanti and so on and so forth.
is really strange that the people of Western Garhwal, now in the state of
Uttaranchal, observe every year the Duryodhana Festival. There also exists a
temple dedicated to Duryodhana where people offer their puja and many believe
that the city of Varanavat, where Duryodhana tried to burn the Pandavas alive,
was situated in that locality. It is also really striking that people of this
country offer water in memory of Bhishma during shraddha ceremony. The point to
be highlighted here is that, had all these been poets’ fancy and mythical, the
traditions could not have been continued for such a long time.
The aspect of celestial epigraph, or planetary positions described in
these epics, particularly in Mahabharata, undoubtedly shows that the said epics
do mention the dates of events described therein, which the Western scholars
failed miserably to understand. In Mahabharata
alone there are 150 instances where worldly events are mentioned along with the
planetary positions in the sky. And, in addition to that, other astronomical
events such as occurrence of an eclipse, or appearance of a comet, or rare
events like shower of meteorites have been mentioned. A few of such examples may
be mentioned below
Udyoga Parva of Mahabharata narrates that, just before the War, Lord Krishna, in His
final peace mission, went to Hastinapur in the month of Kartika. He set out on
the day when moon was at the asterism Revati. On His way to Hastinapur, Krishna
took rest for a day at a place called Brikasthala, and on that day the moon was
at the asterism Bharani. The day on which Duryodhana turned down each and every
effort of Lord Krishna to make peace and made the war inevitable, the moon was
resting at the asterism Pushya. And the Lord left Hastinapura with Karna, on the
day when the moon was yet to reach the asterism Uttara Phalguni. As mentioned
above, Karna accompanied Him to
some distance to see Him off and he
then described to the Lord the positions of planets in the sky and expressed his
apprehension that such a planetary configuration stood for very bad omen: such
as large scale loss of life and drenching of blood. Vyasadeva narrated all these
planetary positions in as many as sixteen verses as if someone was describing it
after visualizing them in the sky. It is also well known that during the War,
Lord Balarama went on a pilgrimage to holy places along the banks of the River
Saraswati and Mahabharata describes
the position of the moon during the entire course of pilgrimage. For example, He
set out on the day when the moon was at the asterism Pushya and returned on the
day when the moon was at the asterism Shravana.
Mahabharata also mentions the
occurrence of a solar eclipse at the asterism Jyestha and a lunar eclipse at the
asterism Krittika, just before the beginning of the War. It also mentions the
appearance of a comet at the asterism Pushya, on the 8th day of the
bright half of the month of Magha, when Bhishma died. On that day the moon was
at the asterism Rohini and it was the day of Winter Solstice. The day on which
Ghatotkacha, son of Bhima, died, the moon appeared at the horizon at 2.00 a.m.
The epic also mentions the occurrence of a very rare astronomical event that
took place prior to the War: three eclipses, two lunar and a solar, within a
lunar month of 27 days.
There is also another continuing tradition in this country that says that
the beginning of the present Kali Yuga, Kurukshetra War, death of Lord Krishna
and coronation of Emperor Yudhishthira were contemporary events. Famous
astronomer Aryabhatta in his celebrated work Aryabhatiyam
had accepted the said tradition and used the word “Bharatapurvam” in the
said work very often and scholars agree that he used the word to refer to such
events that occurred before the Mahabharata War. In 1991, Dr. D. Abhayankar and
Dr. Ballabh of the Osmania University calculated that the present Kali Yuga began on 7th February, 3104 B.C.
But it is
now well accepted by the both Eastern and the Western scholars that the present Kali Yuga began on the midnight of 17th and 18th
February, 3102 B.C. And hence it
can roughly be said that the Mahabharata
War took place nearly 5000 years ago
Today, man has created a machine called computer which, though most
idiotic, can do mathematical calculations at an incredible speed.
According to a popular ad of a computer company, the calculations which
Johannes Kepler took ten years to complete, can be done today within minutes,
using a computer. It has therefore been possible for the scientists, with the
help of this fantastic machine, to determine the dates of ancient events with
unthinkable accuracy, using the planetary configurations given in the Mahabharata , as inputs. They have developed so many software for
this purpose and to name a few are: (1) Planetarium, (2) Ecliptic, (3) Lode star
and the(4) Panchang Software.
In 2003, a two day seminar was held on 5th and 6th
January, in Bangalore, on “The Date
of Mahabharata War: Based on Astronomical
Data Using Planetarium Software”, and a few of the eminent researchers who
submitted papers were (1) Dr. S. Balakrishna of NASA, USA; (2) Dr. B. N.
Narahari Achar, Department of Physics, Memphis University, USA; (3) Dr. R. N.
Iyengar, Department of Civil Engineering, IISc, Bangalore; (4) Dr. S.
Kalyanaraman, Saraswati River Research Centre, Chennai and so on. These
scientists agree that there does not exist any contradiction between any two
descriptions of planetary configurations given in the Mahabharata.
S. Balakrishna has studied the eclipses, both solar and lunar, described in the Mahabharata
and tried to find out the dates of those eclipses using the Lode Star Software.
Generally 240 solar and 150 lunar eclipses occur in a century and during the
period from 3300 B.C. to 700 B.C. nearly 6000 solar and 4000 lunar eclipses took
place, though not all of them were visible from India, or to be more precise,
fromKurukshetra. Out of them, 672 were eclipse pairs,
or both solar and lunar eclipses within a lunar month. Dr. Balakrishna
studied the eclipses those have been mentioned in the text of Mahabharata. In fact, there are mentions of solar eclipses at 8
places in Mahabharata, out of which
three of them are very important. Firstly, the solar eclipse that is mentioned
in the Sabha Parva. The second solar eclipse which is mentioned in the Udyoga
Parva to which Karna tried to draw the attention of Lord Krishna when He was
returning from Hastinapur. The third important solar eclipse has been mentioned
in the Shalya Parva, that occurred along with two lunar eclipses within a month.
Many believe that there was a total solar eclipse occurred on the 13th
day of the War, which has been allegorically mentioned as covering the sun by
Lord Krishna with His
The epic Mahabharata has so
many other aspects which common people do not know. Firstly, the epic as we see
it today containing 100,000 verses was not the creation of Vedavyasa. He
composed what was then known as the Jai,
containing only 8,800 verses. Later on Rishi Vaishampayana enlarged it to
contain 24,000 verses which was then known as the Bharata.
Finally Sauti, the son of the suta (the chariot driver) Lomaharshana, gave it
present form as we see now, containing 100,000 verses.
It has been mentioned earlier that just prior to the Mahabharata War, a
very rare event of three eclipses occurring within a lunar month took place: a
lunar eclipse followed by a solar one and then another lunar eclipse. According
to the text of Mahabharata, the solar
eclipse occurred just 13 days after the first lunar eclipse. Dr. S. Balakrishna
of NASA, USA, has searched all
eclipse pairs, a lunar eclipse followed by a solar eclipse after 13 days, that
took place from 3300 B.C. to 700 B.C., using the Lodestar pro-software. He found
that nearly 672 eclipse pairs have occurred within the said period, out of which
27 pairs have been found to have less than 14 days time gap. And according to
Dr. Balakrishna, the eclipse pair of 2559 is the best match with the description
given in the text of Mahabharata. But
according to Dr. Kalyanaraman, the eclipses occurred in 3067 B.C.- the lunar
eclipse on 29th September at the asterism Krittika and the solar
eclipse on 14th October at the asterism Jyestha.
Researcher Dr. P. V. Holay examined 6 planetary configurations given in
the Mahabharata and concluded that the War began on 13th
November, 3143 B.C. But Dr. K. S. Raghavan and his coworker Dr. G. S. Sampath
Iyengar, using the Planetarium software came to the conclusion that the
Kurukshetra War began on 22nd day of November, 3067 B.C. (according
to the present Gregorian calendar). Professor Dr. Narahari Achar of the
University of Memphis, USA, also arrived at the same conclusion using the said
Planetarium software. Dr. S. Kalyanaraman of the Saraswati River Research Centre,
Chennai, found the estimates of Dr. K. S. Raghavan and Dr. Narahari Achar
correct and, on that basis, calculated the dates of some other important events
of Mahabharata. For example: Lord
Krishna, on His final peace mission, set out for Hastinapur on 26th
September, 3067 B.C. when the moon was at the asterism Revati. Lord Krishna
arrived Hastinapur on 28th September, 3067 B.C., when the moon was at
the asterism Bharani. The full moon and lunar eclipse at Krittika occurred on 29th
September, 3067 B.C.
solar eclipse at Jyestha occurred on 14th October, 3067 B.C.
Balarama set out for pilgrimage on 1st November, 3067 B.C.
War began on 22nd November, 3067 B.C.
Balarama concluded His pilgrimage on 12th December, 3067 B.C.
winter solstice occurred on 13th January, 3066 B.C.
died on 17th January, 3066 B.C.
comet Mahaghora appeared at the asterism Pushya in October, 3066 B.C.
it should be mentioned that the said seminar officially accepted that the
Mahabharata War began, as mentioned above, on 22nd November, 3067
B.C. So it appears that the Mahabharata War took place, not in Dwapara Yuga but,
in the 35th year of the present Kali Yuga. It is not unlikely because
according to the text of Mahabharata,
the War took place at the juncture of Dwapara and Kali Yuga.
year, (2005 A.D.), astrologer Arun Kumar Bansal, using computer software,
calculated date of birth of Lord Krishna and it was 21st July, 3228
B.C. So it appears that during the Mahabharata War, age of Lord Krishna was 161
years. At the first sight, it may appear to be absurd. But it should be
mentioned here that, according to Hindu scriptures, the normal life span of
human beings is 400 years in Krita (or Satya), 300 years in Treta, 200 years in
Dwapara and 100 years in Kali Yuga. In fact, during the Kurukshetra War, most of
the military top brass of both Kauravas and Pandavas were more than 100 years
To conclude, it should be mentioned here that the discovery of the ruins of the city of Dwaraka by the renowned archaeologist Dr. S. R. Rao, under the Arabian Sea, provides another strong evidence that Lord Krishna and the story of Mahabharata were a reality and not simply poet’s fancy.