Dr. Brahmachari reporting on the historicity of Mahabharata
Dr Radhasyam Brahmachari studied at Vidyasagar College , Calcutta , Rama Krishna Mission Residential College , Narendrapur and the University of Calcutta and is now Professor in the Department of Applied Physics, University of Calcutta. He is equally at ease in literary, historical and spiritual pursuits, including the study of Vedic philosophy, other philosophies of Indic schools and western philosophy. He is also an acclaimed authority in comparative studies of religions. He has published a number of books. His lively articles keep appearing both in Bengali and English print media. An online presentation of his on the historicity of Mahabharata War, which appeared in his own site http://www.indianresurgence.com/index.htm is reproduced below. The copyright naturally vests with Dr. Brahmachari. The material below is a complete, unaltered reproduction.
HISTORICITY OF MAHABHARATA WAR
In 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.
Gandhiji 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 mythical".
It 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.
But 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.
So 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.
It 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
The 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.
The 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 from now.
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.
Dr. 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 is HHis Sudarshan Chakra.
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.
The solar eclipse at Jyestha occurred on 14th October, 3067 B.C.
Lord Balarama set out for pilgrimage on 1st November, 3067 B.C.
The War began on 22nd November, 3067 B.C.
Lord Balarama concluded His pilgrimage on 12th December, 3067 B.C.
The winter solstice occurred on 13th January, 3066 B.C.
Bhishma died on 17th January, 3066 B.C.
The comet Mahaghora appeared at the asterism Pushya in October, 3066 B.C.
Finally, 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.
Last 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 old.
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.
[email protected] radhasyam brahmachari
More posts by this author:
- A New Triple Eclipse Series on Hand
- The potent Power of Devotion, a Micro-story
- When SrI ANDAL wrote her tiruppAvai
- Of Fusion of Faith and History
After R & D and technical management experience of over three decades in petroleum and organic chemical industry, have been devoting the past fifteen years to the study of Tamil and Sanskrit classics, including dharmic works and doing some serious translation work. Have been a significant contributor to the medha journal almost since its inception upto 2013 and expect to continue my association with it.