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DATING THE KURUKSHETRA WAR

 

Scholars from across the world came together, for the first time, in an attempt to establish the 'Date of Kurukshetra War based on astronomical data.'  Undoubtedly, it was an amazing collation of information presented in a colloquium, held on January 5 and 6, 2003 at the Mythic Society, Bangalore.  The colloquium was jointly organized by The Mythic Society, Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts - Southern Regional Centre and Sir Babasaheb (Umakanth Keshav) Apte Smarak Samithi Trust.

Inaugurating the two day session, Dr. Raja Ramanna, Member of Parliament and eminent nuclear scientist, emphasized that the 'best clock for dating was the sky itself and the position of stars.'  He added that 'research and scientific theory should be questioned although he found that many homes and libraries hampered the progress of research by keeping ancient manuscripts to themselves.'

 

Dr. Kalyan Raman clarified the purpose of the colloquium in his introductory remarks.  Well-known historian, Dr. Suryanath Kamath, in his Presidential address explained the objective as an ' exploration of the authenticity of dates using planetary software and textual evidences containing over 150 references.'  He felt that 'chronology was most important for the history of any society since history without chronology is like a body without a skeleton.'  He also gave a detailed explanation of the development of the Mythic library and the collections.

The other dignitaries present on the dais were Dr. M.K.L.N. Sastry - Hon. Secretary, Mythic Society, Prof. P.V. Krishna Bhat - Hon. Coordinator, IGNCA-SRC and Shri K. Narahari - Managing Trustee, Apte Trust.  The opening session set the tone for the mind stirring sessions with various interpolations found in the Mahabharata.  Several scholars put forth their perception and calculated derivations.  Dr. S. Balakrishna (NASA, USA) proved the occurrence of 'two eclipses in (a span of) 13 days prior to Mahabharata'.  Analysing the astronomical possibility of Vyasa's statement in Bhishma Parva "Amavasya occured on the 13th day.  Two eclipses in a month, on the thirteenth day." he presented the data of eclipses during the period 3300 BCJ (Before the Calendar of Julian Ceaser) to 700 BCJ visible at Kuruxethra, using Lodestar Pro software.  He stated the possibility of 672 eclipse pairs, ten 'thirteen day lunar first' eclipse pairs and concluded that 2559 BC eclipse pair was nearest to the text of Mahabharata.

Prof. R.N. Iyengar (I.I.Sc., Bangalore) systematically dealt with "Internal consistency of eclipses and planetary positions in Mahabharata".  Verifying all double eclipses of 501-3000 B.C. and when Satur + Jupiter were near Vishaka, he concluded that 1478 B.C. was the most likely year of the war.

Dr. B.N. Narahari Achar (Dept. of Physics, University of Memphis, U.S.A.) gave a brief description of various available planetary software, a review of the works of astrophysicists Kochhar, Siddharth and astronomers, Sengupta and Srinivasa Raghavan and other astronomical references in the epic.  He critically examined the limitations and the reliability of simulations and concluded that the astronomical events in the Mahabharata pointed to 3000 B.C.E. (Before Common Era)* and simulation of events to 3067 B.C.E., identical to the one given by Raghavan.

Speaking on 'The date of Mahabharata War with reference to Bhishmashtami', Dr. Kalyan Rama (Chennai) validated the ground truth of River Saraswati of Vedic times that established the historicity of the Mahabharata.

Dr. Shambhu Shastry (Franklin, USA) and Dr. Venkateswara Reddy dealt with 'Natural cycles in the Solar System and Chaturyuga Cycles.'  Dr. Kalyan Raman (Chennai) validated the ground truth of River Saraswati of Vedic times that established the historicity of the Mahabharata.

Dr. Shambu Shastry (Franklin, USA) and Dr. Venkateswara Reddy dealt with 'Natural cycles in the Solar System and Chaturyuga Cycles.'  Dr. Shambhu Shastry showed that the chatuyuga and manavantara schemes of Hindu chronology are directly from natural astronomical cycles and based on this, he stated, that the human race is about five million years old.  He concluded that this helped demythologize the Mahabharata and Ramayana and placed them in the last descending Chaturyuga segment over a time span of not more than 6000 years.

Shri P.V. Holey (Nagpur) was of the opinion that the war began on the 13th day of November 3143 B.C.  He sourced this to crucial events with planetary positions after a comparative study of astronomical dates based on nakshatra, the Julian and Gregorian systems.

On the second day, Dr. Mohan Gupta (Ujjain) dealt with Puranic and Astronomical evidences.  Based on genealogical and astronomical calculations he concluded that 17th October 1952 B.C.  Thursday, Marga Krsna Amavasya kali 1157 or shakapurva 2029, Julian year 2762 as the date when the Mahabharata war began.  Dr. S.R. Rao based his derivation on archaeological evidence obtained from onshore and offshore excavations conducted in Dwaraka, Bet Dwarka and in the Kurukshetra region and found 1900-1700 B.C. as acceptable.

Dr. N.S. Rajaram (Bangalore) expressed a need to exercise caution while interpreting astronomicla statements and that it should take into account both the literary evolution and interpolated passages.  He felt 3100m B.C. had the best astronomical support.  Shri K.V. Ramakrishna Rao (Thiruvananthapuram), felt that due to periodical corrections in Indian astronomical works, changes had crept it and without the significance of the two ears - kali and saka - dates cannot be determined, Dr. M.V. Subba Rao (Secundrabad) gave astrological references of Sri Krishna and felt that the dates could be calcutated from the day of Ktrishna's birth.  Shri M.V. Narasimhan (Mysore) spoke of a research methodology using the shastric and the scientific inputs.  Referring to Pulakesin's inscription and comet at Nagercoil he concluded 3100 B.C. as the year of the war.

Despite the inspiring deliberations, it was observed that further resource data from varied fields was required to calibrate supportive evidence.  Thus the concluding session unanimously drew a plan of action.  Dr. S. Nagaraju reviewed the colloquium with regard to the two objectives set at the beginning - to establish internal consistency with respect to dates and chronology mentioned in the Mahabharata and whether it could be proved using planetary software and secondly, if a correct date of the Mahabharata could be derived from the 150 astronomical references and have a sheet anchor of chronology of pre-Buddhist India?  He said that at least four papers dealt with the problem directly and clarified a non-discrepancy with respect to the dates given.  This is he felt was the most important contribution of the colloquium.  But a problem he sighted was, out of the one-lakh odd sholkas, to distinguish what was added at what time.  In this context he suggested that more interactions might be had with people who had knowledge of geography and other related areas of study.  Secondly, he felt that the dating of the Mahabharata war could not be done merely on the basis of astronomy alone.  Since there are a number of texts one should find out the correct text and establish a critical edition giving all details.

Dr. R. Subramaniam in his observations also agreed that there was a need to develop a critical editions of the verses with interpretations in consensus with astronomy, history, archaeology, Sanskrit astrology and mathematics.  He suggested that verifications should take into account occurrence of double eclipse, Saturn in Rohini and the use of all available software and data.  Another valid point he raised was the absence of direct reference to winter solstice in the Mahabharata.  Once that is available it was felt that 'everything could be nailed.'

'Where do we go from here?'  Answering the self-query Dr. Kalyan Raman voiced the common desire to 'trash Western Indological work done with motivation and instead rewrite Indian history.'  The fundamental task would bring to light traditional works which can be achieved in a series of colloquiums.  Truth, he felt, should be perceived in terms of our national heritage and his colloquium had established the reliability of this tool.

The Chairperson, Prof. K.I. Vasu addressed the various issues discussed and surmized that the Mahabharata could be 'considered a historical document'.

- Report from Southern Regional Centre

* (B.C.E. - Before Common Era (indicates dates before the Chiristian era, used especially by non-Christians; B.C.J. - indicated the Julian Calendar.  The Julian Calendar is names after Julius Caesar who ordered its adoption in 45 B.C.E. upon the advice of Greek astronomer Sosigenes and decided to use a purely solar calendar.  The Julian Calendar also established the order of the month and the days of the week as they exist in present day calendars.  Caesar's Calendar consisted of 11 months of 30 or 31 days and a 28 day February with no leap year.  In 1582 Pope Gregory XIII ordered another reform of the calendar, which came to be known as the Gregorian calendar.  The Gregorian calendar is still in official use and was adopted throughout Europe.  It is used today throughout most of the Western world and in parts of Asia.)

 

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