Dating of Mahabharata war by Astronomy, Archaeology, and Inscriptions

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Mahabharat War Date (1)

The Battle of Mahabharata has had a sustained and widespread influence on the Indian mind for millennia. The Mahabharata, originally written by Sage Veda Vyasa in Sanskrit, has been translated and adapted into many languages and prescribed for a wide variety of interpretations. Dating to “remote antiquity”, it is still a living force in the lives of the Indian public.

Due to the un-contextual reading of Hindu scriptures by European scholars, the dating of Indian chronology becomes a challenge. European scholars have understood the events described in the ancient Sanskrit texts are imaginary and subsequently (Because the reading and translation were words to word and contextual consideration was not taken), the Mahabharat derived to be a fictitious tale of a war fought between two rivalries.

As per modern history scholars and archaeology followed currently, Indian chronology starts from the compilation of the Rigved in 1200 B.C. then comes other Ved’s, Bhagwan Mahaveer was born, then Gautam Buddha lives around 585 B.C. and the rest follows.

This chronology creates a direct contradiction with the Hindu beliefs because it is believed that events in the Ramayana took place before prehistory and Mahabharat war took place at least 5000 years ago. Then how to fit these events in chronology?

To date some ancient events, normally three ways are possible.

  1. Discovery of artifact which was present during that event. If any artifact related to that time is present then through carbon dating of the artifacts finding a date becomes very easy.
  2. Through astronomical study present in ancient scriptures like by calculating the position of constellations and stars.
  3. Information passing through generations and later inscribed on some stone plate or in the book.

Here we are going the put light on few evidences belong to different categories to find the date of Mahabharata war.

Read about Mahabharata War

Findings of Indian Scholars

Many Bharatiya scholars have tried to find out the actual occurrence of the Mahabharat War by studying the astronomical and literary evidence or clues from the Pauranic and Vaidik texts have been deciphered to provide a conclusive date for the Mahabharat War.

The fifth-century mathematician, Aryabhatta, calculated the date of the Mahabharat War to be approximately 3100 B.C. from the planetary positions recorded in the Mahabharat.

Prof. C.V. Vaidya and Prof. Apte had derived the date to be 3101 B.C. and Shri. Kota Venkatachalam reckoned it to be 3139 B.C.

However, the astronomical data used by the above, and many other scholars, had some errors, as examined by a scholar from Pune, Dr. P.V. Vartak.

Using astronomical references and various other sources, Dr. Vartak dates the start of the Mahabharata war, 16 October 5561 B.C.

This proposed date has been verified and verified by some scholars. This may prove to be a break-through in deciding the chronology of events in India’s history (and perhaps the world).

Through Inscriptions

Inscriptions mostly on the stone give a clear highlight of the past. They carried the information about the event of those they were inscribed. They have been discovered throughout all the world regions whether it is India or Egypt. Below are few inscriptions which played an important role to understand the ancient civilizations.

Vishnu-Hari Inscription which Played an Important Role in the Ayodhya Verdict. It played an important role to resolve the centuries old conflict in India which is known as Ram Janm Bhumi conflict.

3300-year-old Stale Reveals Well Dug Incident In Egypt’s Desert. 3300 year old Stele revealed the drilling of a well in Egypt’s desert by Ramses II to begin the water supply in the middle of the desert.

3600-Year-Old JURIDICAL STELE: Oldest Proof of Administrative Event of Ancient Egypt. 3600 year old, a Juridical Stela or Cairo Juridical Stela is a oldest proof of transfer of governor office. Its main purpose is to document the sale of a government office. It provides valuable juridical information about the provincial administration event in Ancient Egypt

How Cuneiform Script was Deciphered? The Answer is Behistun Inscription. A Rosetta stone to decipher the ancient cuneiform script. After deciphering cuneiform script scholars could get access to the knowledge of 4000 years.

Aihole Inscription

Aihole Inscription

The inscription is found at Aihole in Karnataka state, India. The Aihole inscription was written by the Ravikirti, royal poet at the court of Chalukya King, Pulakeshi II who reigned from 610 to 642 CE.

The stone inscription of Ravikirti, in praise of the king, can be read at the Meguti temple dated 634 CE. The inscription is in the Sanskrit language and uses the Kannada script.

Aihole inscription of Pulakesin II mentions his victory over the Southern kingdom of Pallavas, who had attempted to prevent the rise of the Badami Chalukyas.

Since the inscription has mentioned the time elapse since the Mahabharata war and also the Shaka era, this inscription is also important in determining the possible date of Mahabharata war.

Interpretation

It says, according to scholars, that the temple was constructed in 30+3000+700+5 = 3735 years after the Bharat War, and 50+6+500 = 556 years of Shaka era in the Kali era.

Today the Shaka era is 1942. Hence 1942 – 556 = 1386 years ago the temple was constructed. Thus the year of inscribing this note is 634 AD.

At this time 3735 years had passed from the Bharat War. So the date of the War comes to 3101 BC (3735 – 634). This can assume also the date of the Kali Yuga commencement.

Naturally, it is evident that relying on the beginning of the Kaliyuga and holding that the war took place just before the commencement of Kaliyuga, this inscription is prepared. This is the basic belief in Hindus.

Dr.P.V.Vartak has a different opinion and he considered Mahabharata war and beginning of Kaliyug two different event and they might be separated by thousands of years. That’s what he tried to prove by analyzing the Aihole inscription.

If we take the Bharat war and kali Era as a two different event and then try to decipher this verse then the result will be different.

The verse inscribed is:

Trinshatsu Trisahasreshu Bhaaratdahavaditaha | Saptabda Shatayukteshu Gateshwabdeshu Panchasu Panchashatasu Kalaukale | Shatasu Panchashatsu cha | Samatsu Samatitasu Shakaanamapi Bhoobhujaam ||

Aihole Inscription

It says “3030 years from the Bharat War” in the first line, ( Trinshatsu Trisahasreshu Bhaaratdahavaaditaha) where the first clause of the sentence ends. In the second line, the second clause starts and runs up to the middle of the third line thus ( Saptabda…..Kalaukale) This means 700+5+50 = 755 years passed in the Kali Era.

It is clear from the former portion of the verse that 3030 years passed from the Bharat war and 755 years passed from the Kali Era. Kali Era started from 3101 BC.

755 years have passed so 3101-755 = 2346 BC is the year when 3030 years had passed from the Bharat War. So 2346+3030 = 5376 BC appears to be the date of the Bharat War.

Through Astronomical Study

We already know that through the study of constellation and stars the date of a past event can be derived. Some hymn in Rigveda gives the position of Dhruv star during the writing of Rigveda which helped scholars to derive the date of Rigved.

The same has happened with Gobekeii Tepe. Scholars are matching pillars figures with constellation are trying to find out the date for Gobekii tepe.

Hisse Borala Inscription of Deva Sena

Hisse Borala Inscription of Deva Sena

This inscription is of 5th century AD and scholars hold that it throws light on the time of Mahabharat war. It was found in the year 1963/1964 in the river-bed of Vatsagulma river

It states that Saptarishis were in Uttara at the time of this inscription. There are three planets containing prefix “Uttara”. But this word confirms it as “Uttara Ashadha”

It confirms that Hisse Borala inscription were made in “Uttara Ashadha” Nakshatra

Scholars hold that Saptarishis were in Magha at the time of Yudhishthira because Varahmihira has stated so in Brihat-Samhita. Scholars also hold that Yudhishthira’s time is 3137 BC. So if we can verify Yudhishthira’s timeline then also we can find the Mahabharat war precisely.

Saptarishis stay in one Nakshatra for 100 years, and there are 27 Nakshatras. Hence Saptarishis would be again in Magha 2700 years later during the 4th century BC.

As per this inscription, Uttara Ashadha traversed 1/6 of the portion during the creation of this inscription. That means movement from one Nakshatra to another takes slowly in the time of hundred years.

As a progressive human, I believe more about archaeological artifacts rather than believing in ancient scripture to show more inclination towards science. So let’s start calculating in a reverse way. Devasena ruled the Vatsagulma branch of the Vakataka dynasty during the 450 – c. 475 CE.

So we can assume that he created this inscription somewhere in between 450-475 year. We take two extreme points that this inscription was created either 450 AD or 475 AD.

450 and 475 is the time when Uttara Ashadha has completed one-sixth of his time (~16 years)

Hisse Borala Inscription of Deva Sena

By this reverse calculation, we got a very optimistic number 3241 B.C when during the reign of Yudhishthira’s Saptarishis was traversing in the Megha Nakshatra’s. Here I take two extreme points.

  1. Let’s assume that it was the beginning time of Magha Nakshatra’s then 3241 B.C is the final number.
  2. But if we assume that it was the end time of Magha Nakshatra’s then we can deduct 99 years from 3241 and it then it will be 3142. A number that is very close to the scholar’s number.

Yudhishthira’s ruled 37 years so the oldest date which we can get for Mahabharat was will be 3142 – 37 = 3105 B.C.

Through Pass On Information

Persian Record

The well-known astrologer Varahamihira has mentioned that during the reign of Yudhisthira, the Saptarishis were in the Maghả Nakşatra, and on this basis, he said that there was a gap of 2526 years between Yudhisthira and the Sakas, thereby referring the latter term to Emperor Cyrus the Great of Iran (Sakastan).

Sakas/Persian was the rulers who conquest of the  Median, Lydian, and Babylonian empires and had the largest ruling area in the ancient world. They had an important role in world history. By their wisdom, modern scholars could decipher the cuneiform script.

Cyrus had set up a big empire 554 years before Vikrama with the help of Bhārata kings. Cyrus started his own Samvat which the Bharata kings accepted because of their friendly relations. Iran’s ancient historical records also testify to this fact.

Know more about Persian Top Persian Kings

Varahamihira, Kālidāsa, Bhaskarácārya, and others have referred to this Saka period in their books. In this way, according to Varāhamihira, Yudhisthira ascended the throne 5157 years ago (2526+554+2077 years) as of today whereas the Mahābhārata war took place a little earlier than this event.

Greek Records

The Greek Ambassador Magasthenis has recorded that 138 generations have passed between Krishna and Chandragupta Maurya.

Read Also: Gold Digger Ants of India From the Records of Historian Megasthenes

Many scholars have taken this evidence, but taking only 20 years per generation they fixed the date of Krishna as 2760 years before Chandragupta.

But this is wrong because the record is not of ordinary people to take 20 years per generation.

In the matter of the general public, one says that when a son is born a new generation starts. But in the case of kings, the name is included in the list of Royal Dynasty only after his coronation to the throne.

Hence, one cannot allow 20 years to one king. We have to find out the average per king by calculating various Indian Dynasties. Here is a list of some of the important kings with the no. of years ruling.

      Chandragupta Mourya      330-298 B.C.     32 years.
      Bindusar                 298-273 B.C.     25 years.
      Ashok                    273-232 B.C.     41 years.
      Pushyamitra Shunga       190-149 B.C.     41 years.
      Chandragupta Gupta       308-330 A.D.     22 years.
      Samudragupta             330-375 A.D.     45 years.
      Vikramaditya             375-414 A.D.     39 years.
      Kumargupta               414-455 A.D.     41 years.
      Harsha                   606-647 A.D.     41 years.
                                                ---------
                                                327 years.

The average is 327/9 = 36.3 years.

Multiplying 138 generations by 35 years we get 4830 years before Chandragupta Mourya. Adding Chandragupta’s date 320 B.C. to 4830 we get 5150 B.C. as the date of Lord Krishna.

According to Arian has written to Megasthenis that between Sandrocotus (Chandragupta Maurya Greek name) to Dianisaum 153 generations and 6042 years passed.

From this data, we get an average of 39.5 years for every king. From this, we can calculate 5451 years for 138 generations. So Krishna must have been around 5771 B.C.

Pliny gives 154 generations and 6451 years between Bacchus and Alexander. This Bacchus may be the famous Bakasura who was killed by Bhimasena. This period comes to about 6771 years B.C.

Thus Mahabharata period ranges from 5000 B.C. to 6000 B.C.

Through Archaeological Artifacts

We know that the city of Dwarka was established by Lord Krishna near the time of the Mahabharata war and later the city submerged under the ocean by the curse of Gaandhari.

Recently in the post-19th-century, the Archaeological Survey of India team discovered the city of Dwarka under the ocean in the excavations of the nearby areas of modern Dwarka city.

ASI team discovered many artifacts from the submerged city like mooring stone, giant hall, the lunate shaped stone which looked the top part of the giant gate of the city.

The artifacts which have been found in this area, indicate dating of this area about 3800 years old. This date is very latest and does not match with the beliefs and mythology.

The reason may be that people were still living in that area for a long time after the departure of Krishna until the whole area was swallowed by the ocean. So the found artifacts must belong to the last generation who lived in beyt Dwarka before escaping.

Conclusion

Way of DatingMahabharata Date
Through Inscriptions3735 B.C & 5376 B.C
Through Astronomy3105 B.C
Through Pass on Information5000 B.C. to 6000 B.C.
Archaeological Discoveries 1800 B.C

Different methods may end up with different dates for the Mahabharata war but a bigger opinion about the Mahabharata war date which is at-least 5000 years ago proves true by the above study.

Reference

  • Book – Age of Bharata War
  • Book – From Bharata to India: Chrysee the Golden

This information is extracted from the above books. I just added a few pieces of information. But research work was done by writers of these books.

I hope you read something new today. Share your views in the comments section below.

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DHEERAJ JAIN

Hello, My name is Dheeraj Jain. I am a software engineer by profession and hobbyist historian. I am trying yo write content that has not been explored in the past. More info about me @ https://tathastuu.com/about-me

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