Year of Mahabharata — Full Article Text
INDIA, February 29, 2004: The article which appeared in the last HPI on the "Year of Mahabharata" had an invalid URL. Following is the full text of the article, as several readers have asked for it:
For thousands of years, we have believed in the divinity of Shri Krishna. For us he was a Karmayogi par excellence who gave us action oriented philosophy of life in the form of Bhagavad Gita. But questions have constantly haunted us as to whether Krishna was a historical or mythical character and whether the war of Mahabharata was actually fought.
Till recently, we did not have the wherewithal to search for and establish the truth. But modern scientific tools and techniques like computers with planetarium softwares, advancements in archaeological and marine archaeological techniques, earth-sensing satellite photography and thermo-luminescence dating methods, all have made it possible to establish the authenticity and dating of many events narrated in ancient texts like the Mahabharata. Recent archaeo-astronomical studies, results of marinearchaeological explorations and overwhelming archaeological evidence have established the historicity and dating of many events narrated in the Mahabharata. These have led to the conclusion that Mahabharata War was actually fought in 1478 BC and Shri Krishna's Dwarka City got submerged under the sea in 1443 BC.
Astronomical Evidence: In the Mahabharata references to sequential solar and lunar eclipses as also references to some celestial observations have been made. Dr RN Iyengar, the great scientist of Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, examined relevant references and searched for the compatible dates by making use of planetarium software (PVIS and EZC). He concluded that most of these references were internally consistent and that the eclipses and celestial observations of Mahabharata belong to the period 1493 BC-1443 BC of Indian History, (refer Indian Journal of History of Science/38.2/2003/77115).
In the Mahabharata, there are references to three sequential solar eclipses and some other planetary positions. Reference to the first solar eclipse comes in the Sabha Parva (79.29), graphically described by Vidur when Pandavas start their journey to the forest on being banished for 12 years of life in exile and one year of life incognito after they had lost everything in the game of dice. After 13 years of exile and incognito life, the Pandavas returned to Hastinapur and demanded their kingdom back, but Duryodhana refused. Several efforts to prevent war failed and war became imminent.
There is a reference to the second solar eclipse in the Bhisma Parva (3.29), following a lunar eclipse occurring within the same fortnight a few days before the actual war of Mahabharata. These eclipses occurred after 14-15 years of the first solar eclipse The epic also refers to some unfavorable planetary positions between the second solar eclipse and the beginning of the war on Kartika Purnima (Bhisma Parva 3.14 to 3.19). On Kartika Krishna Ashtami, Saturn was near Rohini and Mars was between Jayestha and Anuradha. Twenty two days later, on Kartika Purnima, Saturn was near Rohini, Mars was near Jayestha (probably Uranus) was between Citra and Swati.