Background of Current Dwarka
Dwarka is known as “Lord Krishna’s house”, who is considered to be the 8th incarnation of Lord Vishnu. It was known in ancient times as Kushasthali. The name Dwarka literally means dwar = gate and ka = Brahma. Brahma considered being infinite. So complete meaning is ’ gate of salvation’. Therefore, the aura of this religious city turns into spirituality with the mantras of devotees seeking holiness and salvation.
Dwarka is the only city that is part of both the Dham (the four main holy places) and the Satpura Puri (seven holy cities) mentioned in Hinduism. For this reason, it has a remarkable religious significance which attracts thousands of pilgrims throughout the year. This place is also mentioned in Mahabharata and Skanda Purana. According to the devotees’ texts, Dwarka is one of the holy sites which provide liberation because after leaving Mathura, Lord Krishna built his earthly empire here.
The Story Behind Making Dwarka
According to tradition, Krishna was born to Mathura with a black hair of Vishnu, son of Prince Vasudeva and Devaki. Kamsa, a King of the Bhoja lineage, cruel and immoral, reigns over Mathura after overthrowing his father, Ugrasena. Kamsa is also Devaki’s brother and he is in love with his sister, who is to marry Prince Vasudeva. As he drives the chariot that leads Devaki to his new husband, he hears a heavenly voice that predicts that his sister’s eighth child will cause his fall. Mad with rage, he pulls Devaki by the hair out of the chariot and when Vasudeva sees it, he promises to give him his unborn children.
The couple keeps his promise for his first six children, but the seventh, Balarama, is secretly entrusted to Rohini, one of Vasudeva’s wives. When he learns he has been cheated, Kamsa jails the couple. Devakî soon brings forth a new child, Krishna, and thanks to a miracle that kills the soldiers of Kamsa, Vasudeva manages to escape for a while, goes to the village of Gokula and entrusts Krishna to a couple of cowherds, Yashoda and Nanda, who exchange it for one of their daughters, Yoga Mâyâr. In the morning, Kamsa learns the birth of a new child, seizes and kills Yoga Mâyâ who turns into a celestial creature and reminds her of the prediction. Kamsa kills all the newborns, but Krishna escapes him.
He then sends his several demons to kill him, but without success. When Krishna grew up, he took revenge for his parents by killing Kamsa. Kamsa father-in-law Jarasandha was very angry with Krishna’s actions and he took an oath to destroy Krishna along with the entire family of Krishna, and once Jarasandha was attacking the city with his demons partners, he was going to destroy Mathura. So save Mathura’s people from the war, Krishna constructed Dwarka with the help of God. when the people of Mathura were sleeping at night, Krishna transformed all the Mathura people to Dwarka by elusive powers, so any harm to the lives of the people can be prevented in the war with Jarasandha.
Krishna then leaves the banks of Yamuna and settles with his people in Dvarak (Dwarka) in Gujarat. There he meets and marries Rukmini. Later, he participates alongside Arjuna and the Pandavas in the great battle of Kurukshetra evoked in the Mahâbhârata(in which the Bhagavad-Gîtâdescribes the teaching of Krishna), then his sister Subhadrâwife Arjuna.
Dwarka Mentioned in Ancient Scripture
Dwarka is mentioned in many old Hindu Vedas (Scripture) (Mahabharata, Harivansha Purana). Below are the few snapshots from Harivamsa Purana where Dwarka is mentioned.
The text is complex, containing layers that go back to the 1st or 2nd centuries BCE. The origin of this appendix is not precisely known but it is apparent that it was a part of the Mahabharata by the 1st century CE because “the poet Ashvaghosha quotes a couple of verses, attributing them to the Mahabharata, which is now only found in the Harivamsa” (Datta 1858). Edward Washburn Hopkins considers the Harivamsathe latest Parva of the Mahabharata. Hazra has dated the Purana to the 4th century CE on the basis of the description of the rasa lila in it. A couple of insight about Dwarka in Harivamsa Purana which can find from Page 420-440
- In Harivamsa, Dvaraka is described as largely built on “submerged land”, “released by the ocean” (2.55.118 and 2.58.34).
- The city was the former “sporting ground of the King Raivataka” called “Dvāravāti”, which “was squared like a chess board” (2.56.29).
- Nearby was the mountain range Raivataka(2.56.27), “the living place of the gods” (2.55.111).
- The city was measured by Brahmins; the foundations of the houses were laid and at least some of the houses were built by the Yadavas (2.58.9 – 15).
- It was built by Vishwakarma in one day (2.58.40) “mentally” (2.58.41 and 44).
- It had surrounding walls (2.58.48 and 53) with four main gates (2.58.16).
- Its houses were arranged in lines (2.58.41) and the city had “high buildings” (2.58.50 and 54) “made in gold” (2.58.53), which “almost touched the sky” (2.58.50) and “could be seen everywhere like clouds” (2.58.48).
- It had a temple area with a palace for Krishna himself, which had a separate bathroom (2.58.43).
- It was a very rich city (2.58.47 – 66) and “the only city on earth which was studded with gems” (2.58.49).
The information given above shows that Dwarka was like an island around the sea.
Why would the city be flooded and destroyed?
According to Mahabharata, the city had to submerge because of Queen Gandhari’s curse on Lord Krishna (her 99 sons died during the war and she blamed Krishna for not stopping the slaughter). Then:
A small feud started among the Yadavas and it evolved into a massive fight. This fight killed all the sons of Lord Krishna and his elder brother. Almost all of the Yadavas were killed and the city was burnt to ashes. Krishna and his brother fled to the forests without stopping the fight. Later in the forest Krishna was struck by an arrow, mistaken for a deer, by a hunter who was actually King Baali of Ramayana period in his rebirth. Later, the city submerged into the sea.
If we ignore the dates for moments and inspect the chart above, then we can see that in the meantime the vast sea level increased in a very short period of time. It is possible that Dwarka was submerged due to the rise in sea level. It is possible that in that period Dwarka would have been from some of the cities in the world who were on the shores of the sea.
For hundreds of years, there was no evidence suggesting that any of the legends may be true and that there was ever a beautiful city as described in the epic. But things started to change at the beginning of the 20th century.
Latest Research work on Dwarka Underwater City
A lot of research has been done and still going on to understand the artifacts which are present underwater. Great excavation which was lead by S. R. Rao to explore the underwater city Dwarka. The findings of Dwarka include structures underwater and stone anchors of varying in different such as prismatic and stone. Structures of the circular single-holed conical stone object are Iying weH above high water line south of Dwarka.
Most of the composite anchors are made out of the locally available calcareous rock, limestone. The nearest source of this rock is at Dhangadra in the Okhaandal area. The above picture was taken from A.S. Gaur, Sundaresh and Sila Tripati report ANCIENT DWARKA: STUDY BASED ON RECENT UNDERWATER ARCHAEOLOGICAL INVESTIGATIONS
The layers of temples underneath the current city of Dwarka
There are pieces of evidence which prove that city built re-built many time in the past. As per S.R Rao, there is a layer of temples which built over another one. During this excavation, Dwarkadish (Krishna) temple which blocking the view was demolished. When this structure was removed there was a temple below it. A temple of Vishnu. It has beautiful sculptures and all that. We were surprised. This is a ninth-century temple. There were two more temples below when dug further.
The interesting fact about Dwarka excavation
- S. R. Rao from India leads this excavation.
- As per his report, the artifacts his team has found are 1700 to 1800 BC at the earliest. But he is also not denying the fact that there can be more artifacts that can be much older.
- His report says that structures go to about 10-12 meters depth.
- For dating the artifacts thermoluminescence
- For identifying the artifacts under the water sonar survey was used.
Contradiction with Mythology
The departure, or death, of Krishna’s incarnation, is taken at the end of a previous age, of a yuga, and the beginning of the Kali Yuga which is approximately 3100 BC. If Dwarka was created by Lord Krishna then artifacts could have dated to 3100 BC. On the other hand, artifacts show the date of 1700 to 1800 BC which contradicts with Mythology which is believed in India.
Before Dwarka excavation, Dwarka was completely Myth. This excavation brought out many truths about Dwarka which makes Myth to the truth.