Validating Traditional date of Mahabharata War - XXIX
by Jayasree Saranathan on 18 Mar 2021 0 Comment

From Mehrgarh to Saraswati, Dwarka people spread and started the Early Harappan culture


On the 7th day after Krishna left on that fateful day of a solar eclipse when all the planets except Rahu congregated at the beginning of Aries, the people of Dwarka started moving out with Arjuna leading them. The sea swallowed the entire city by the time they left. The entourage consisting of women, children and elders accompanied with servants had moved slowly taking rest at forests, mountains and near streams. Immediately reaching on the Gujarat coast in the west they must have moved to the highlands and then entered the plains.


We posit Krishna’s Dwarka near Girnar; Bet Dwarka was not inhabited at the time of Mahabharata. The tsunami waves going southward could wash out Dwarka on its path. Laterally the waves could hit the west coast of Gujarat but not intrude inland except through the waterways draining into the west. The escapees must have climbed on the highlands surrounding the Girnar Hills immediately after leaving Dwarka. From there, crossing the mountains and streams in a slow march they reached the country of five rivers.


“Arrived at the country of the five waters, the puissant Dhananjaya planted a rich encampment in the midst of a land that abounded with corn and kine and other animals”, says Mahabharata.

sa pañcanadam asadya dhiman atisam?ddhimat

dese gopasudhanya?hye nivasam akarot prabhu? [Mbh: 16-8-43]


By the specific reference to the five rivers, it is known that the Vrishnis had spread far and wide in the upper region of the Indus River. At that time of settling down in this region, the Mlecchas from the west attacked them and had taken the Vrishni women, including those of high order, i.e. royal families. This is an indication of the genetic outflow of mtDNA and the Y-chromosome of native Indians through the male children of the Vrishnis to the west of the five rivers as early as 3101 BCE. 


Unable to rescue them, Arjuna further moved with the remaining women and children to Kurukshetra. This reveals that the Dwarka people did NOT settle down in the Indus region. He settled the people at different places. This must be around Kurukshetra.


Then an interesting version appears. Kritavarma and Satyaki were the two main persons who were responsible for starting the quarrel that led to the total annihilation of the Vrishnis and the Andhakas. Of them Kritavarma sided with Kauravas and Satyaki with Pandavas in the war. So there was ideological difference between them, expected to have spilled over to their families and supporters. Arjuna did not put them at the same place. He settled the son of Kritavarma at Mattikavata (Matrikavat) along with the Bhojas. Bhojas were already settled in the regions west off the Indus. Now they were grouped under Kritavarma’s son.


The family and supporters of Satyaki were settled down on the banks of Saraswati. The year was 3101 BCE coming under the classification, “Ravi aspect of Hakra Phase” between 3300 BCE and 2800 BCE []


Then Arjuna established Vajra, the great grandson of Krishna, in Indraprastha as its king. The women folks of Akrura went further north into the forests. Satyabhama, the dear wife of Krishna, went to a place called Kalpa beyond the Himavat. There is a place by name Kalpa in Himachal Pradesh. The families and servants who accompanied her must have settled there and spread out of India in later generations.


After settling the people of Dwarka in all these places, Arjuna went on to meet Vyasa. By then seven months were over, says Srimad Bhagavatam. [SB: 1-14-7] When Arjuna informed Vyasa of Krishna’s exit, Vyasa spoke about the change of time and that time has come for the Pandava brothers to leave the earth. [Mbh: 16-9- 36] It was only after meeting Vyasa Arjuna went on to meet his brothers to convey the news of Krishna’s exit. Until then no one knew about Krishna’s end.


From Mahabharata to Srimad Bhagavatam we find a continuity of events following the exit of Krishna. In the very beginning of Srimad Bhagavatam, Vyasa repeats the bad omens seen by Yudhisthira at the exit of Krishna as were described in Mahabharata. When Arjuna brings the bad news about Krishna’s departure, Vyasa says (in Suta’s narration) that Kali has manifest fully at the exit of Krishna. [Srimad Bhagavatam: 1-15-36]


In the very next verse it is said that Yudhisthira having understood the arrival of Adharma (adharma-cakra?) prepared to exit the world. [SB: 1-15-37] It is again repeated that the arrival of Kali Yuga (kalinadharma) was perceived by the younger Pandavas prompting them to leave the earth. [SB: 1-15-45] Thus there is consistency in the narration on the change of the Yuga and the birth of a new Yuga, and the narration continuing from Mahabharata and taken over to Srimad Bhagavatam by the same author Vyasa.


Again in the 12th chapter of Srimad Bhagavatam, we find the repeat of the start of the Kali Yuga after Krishna’s exit. From those verses it is known that the sages including Vyasa had gathered together and notified the start of the new Yuga of Kali on the day Krishna left the world when the planetary measurement of the Yuga also concurred perfectly. [SB: 12-2-33] The Yuga began at the end of the great Itihasa of Mahabharata!


Connections between the settlements and Harappan culture


It is not just a coincidence that the Early Harappan started developing at the end of Dwarka flood. The people of Dwarka were mainly established along the banks of the River Saraswati. A paper by Chatterjee et al gives a graphic description of the sudden growth of settlements along the river Saraswati from the time of Mahabharata. [9] The first growth of settlements coincides with those of the kith and kin of Satyaki.

[Chatterjee et al, “On the existence of a perennial river in the Harappan heartland”, Scientific Reports,]


Gaps in the settlements show the loss of the river even as early of Mahabharata time. The settlement is dense in tune with the Mahabharata narration that after reaching Kurukshetra, they turned southward along the river Saraswati. This stretch containing more number of settlements of the entire Harappan regions discovered so far, goes to show that the Dwarka people, particularly the friends of Krishna, remained more or less within present day India. Their choice of Saraswati shows the continuity of the Vedic culture in those days of which Kalibangan has thrown up some evidences.


Who were in the Indus region


In Part 15 we showed the destruction at the Lower Town of Mohenjo-Daro, possibly caused by a fragment of the comet falling there. We also showed that it was in the Sindhu country of Jayadratha.


There is least chance of the Dwarka people having mingled with the Saindhavas (Sindhu people). This is known from the Ashwamedha Parva of Mahabharata when Arjun went to the country to bring them under the control of the Pandavas. This shows that the country of Jayadratha remained independent after the war. When the Ashwamedha horse went to the Sindhu kingdom, the Saindhavas refused to budge and preferred to fight with Arjuna taking revenge for the death of their king Jayadratha.


It was a fierce battle where Arjuna too suffered, but then Dussala, daughter of Dhritarashtra and wife of the slain Jayadratha, approached Arjuna with her grandson in her hand. Her son Suratha died on hearing that Arjuna had arrived at the country to annex it. Seeing the Saindhavas losing the battle, Dussala came to Arjuna, showed the child to him saying that the child sought protection from him, Arjuna, the maternal uncle. Like Parikshit who was born after the war, this child was born after the war; let that child live with his countrymen, not troubled by the Pandavas. Arjuna agreed to do so and left. There is no mention of the Saindhavas agreeing to pay tribute to the Pandavas.


So the Sindhu country remained out of control of Hastinapur. The grandson of Jayadratha must have ascended the throne and controlled the Sindhu region as Jayadratha did. There were 10 Sindhu countries at the time of Jayadratha, covering the entire region of the five rivers of Indus and extending up to Gandhara, Vahlika (also known as Bactria), Kamboja and Yavana, connected by marriage alliances. So the people of the Indus region had similarities with all the places mentioned here. There is a clear demarcation between the Sindhu people and the Saraswati people.


That we cannot club them together is established by the famous priest king found at Mohenjo-Daro dated at 2200-1900 BCE. The figure with beard like a saint has no moustache! A shaven upper lip is the identity of a Mleccha, ordained to be so right from the time of Sagara, an early ancestor of Rama. This information is repeated in Mahabharata and Vishnu Purana.


Ear piercing is an important Vedic ritual. The priest King’s ear does not bear any evidence of an ear-bore or having worn an ear ornament. A similar image is found in Bactria too, though Bactria has evidence of presence of Vedic people right from Ramayana times. The Garuda emblem of Krishna is found in Bactria, so also the image of Krishna, but they were later period than Mahabharata. This implies to and fro movement had happened and Vedic and non-Vedic practices had alternated.


But Sindhu remained out of Yudhisthira’s command and showed signs of degradation of Vedic practices, the foremost evidence being the Priest king.


The next region of interest is Mattikavat (Matrikavat), capital of Salwa, who was ill-disposed to the Vrishnis. He overran Dwarka when Krishna was in the Rajasuya yajna of the Pandavas, but was revenged by Krishna who went over to Matrikavat to attack him. At the time Salwa attacked Dwarka, Kritavarma was in Dwarka. Krishna came to know of the details of Salwa’s attack only from Kritavarma. Perhaps, Kritavarma accompanied Krishna in his attack on Salwa at Matrikavat. So some connection was there for Kritavarma with Matrikavat. Perhaps his wife had come from that country. Perhaps that made Arjuna settle Kritavarma’s son in Matrikavat.


Where was Matrikavat?


Going by the etymology of the name Matrikavat, the place had something to do with Mothers! Mehrgarh in Baluchistan is the one place seen with mother figurines with child in hand. Mehrgarh perhaps was corrupted form of Maa-ghar, from Mother’s house that had its origin in the name Matrikavat. This place was the oldest site as far as archaeological evidences are available, so too are the Indic connections. Satyavan, husband of Savitri, belonged to the Salwa kingdom. He lived before Ramayana times, because Satyavan and Savitri were remembered by Sita in Ramayana. [Valmiki Ramayana: 5-24-10] So Mehrgarh was very much part of the Indic past long before Ramayana.


There was movement of people and plants from Mehrgarh to western Gujarat often quoted by researchers as though people came from outside to India. But Mehrgarh, also known as Matrikavat, was a Vedic territory long before Mahabharata and was occupied by Kritavarama’s lineage whose roots were in Gujarat. A surprising connection stretching up to South East India exists in the name “Kachchh”. Mehrgarh is in Kacchi plain. The gulf north of Gujarat is Rann of Kachchh. Down south, Kanchipuram’s original name was Kacchi! That is how it is mentioned in Tamil texts. Further towards Srilanka, there is “Kaccha” theevu (island). All these have the same meaning, “something in between” or “at the border of”. 


Let me briefly state a few more Mahabharata impressions outside India. One is Uluka, son of Shakuni. Uluka means Owl. The owl emblem appears in Anatolia in the 1st millennium BCE. The coins featuring owl on one side have the faces of the kings with ear ornament!

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The next interesting feature is the Gandaberunda, the emblem of the Mysore kings, now made the State emblem of Karnataka, which seems to be a modification of Nakula’s insignia! According to Mahabharata, Sharaba was the emblem of Nakula. The bird with two faces is seen in Turkey, Albania and was the emblem of Ninruta, a god of Mesopotamia. Ninruta’s double headed eagle symbol is exactly like the Gandaberunda which was also like Sharaba, the emblem of Nakula. All these have appeared only after the Mahabharata period. They appear in Hittite kingdom too.


Today Western researchers are writing that Hittite is the origin of this double headed eagle.


The region was known as Hatti – a corrupt form of Hasti (elephant) was the name of Nakula’s capital (Hastinapur). It is Hatti in Pali and Atthi in Tamil with the same meaning. The famous Mitanni treaty quoted by the AIT proponents having references to horse taming is not surprising given the fact that Nakula was a skilled horse tamer. How did Nakula’s skill and his emblem get into Hittite of the mid-2nd millennium BCE, when Nakula’s period was more than a millennium before that? A logical derivation is that his control had extended there and his men had spread over there.


The next interesting feature is the Kish dynasty which appeared in Mesopotamia after a flood around the same time of the Dwarka deluge. The name, the artifacts and the Indus seals make me wonder whether the people of Dwarka were dispersed through the Persian Gulf at the time of Dwarka deluge, but retained connections later. [Details in my book]


Harappan was Post Mahabharata culture


Most animals in the Indus seals are found in the Standards of kings who fought the Mahabharata war; prominent among them being Varaha, the Unicorn found in the Standard of the Sindhu king, Jayadratha. [Mbh:  7- 102]  Almost all the Unicorn seals were found only in the Sindhu region ruled by Jayadratha with ten kingdoms under him. [Mbh: 8-5 and 3-265] In addition, Jayadratha wielded influence till Vahlika (Bactria) through his marriage with the women of Gandhara, Kamboja and Yavana all of them forming part of the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex (BMAC) that includes Bactria consisting of northern Afghanistan around modern Balkh and south-eastern Turkmenistan, and Margiana (Merv) near Turkmenistan. In all these places, the authority of the Unicorn (his insignia) must have been running during Mahabharata times and before and afterwards.


Other animals of the Harappan seals have their presence in the Standards of kings and chieftains of the Mahabharata period. For example, the Bull image having the second highest occurrence in Harappan seals adorned the Standard of K?pacarya, the brother-in-law of Dro?a and maternal uncle of Aswattama. It continued in Pallava emblems; the Pallavas claimed ancestry from Aswattama. That means the Harappans were not somebody outside the Indic culture, but Mahabharata people whose descendants continued to live in different parts of India. The Harappan Bull seals have appeared outside India, in Mesopotamia, Gulf, Bactria and Iran, hinting at trade and migration in some cases.


The Varaha emblem continued to appear until a few centuries ago. Gurjara Pratiharas, Kadambas, Chalukyas and Vijayanagra kings had Varaha emblem only. Even the measurement of gold was known by Varaha units. All these are proofs of continuing Mahabharata lineages in India, though some of them had forgotten their origins.


Salwa and Duryodhana had Elephant in their banners; Bhima, Satyaki and Uttara had Lion; Pradyumna, K???a’s son, had Makara while Sahadeva had Swan in his flag. All these animals are found in the so-called “Harappan art”. It is easy to dismiss them as post-Harappan, but what stands out is that most of the frequently recurring animal motifs in the seals belong to the losers of the Mahabharata war! After the war, the victors must have been leading royal lives in their palaces and going about with Kshatriya duties. The losers had become Kshatriya vratya-s– by having given up fighting and started engaging in Vaishya-hood. The Saindhavas refused to be controlled by the Pandavas, but retained their independence and led a subdued life by taking to trade.


In the final analysis, Mahabharata left a legacy in Harappan culture. The Sindhu and Saraswati culture were caused by people of different ideologies, aptly to be known as Saindhava-Satyaki culture or just Post-Mahabharata culture. Therefore a separate study is needed particularly in the light of researches on animal food ingestion noticed among the Harappans. The cattle-owning Vrishnis were not animal food eaters. One of the recent findings is that Kotda Bhadli in Gujarat was the Milk capital during Harappan culture 4000 years ago. The place name reminds of the comet-hit because Bhadli means ‘omen’. Kotda was once a Fort. [,was%20no%20stranger%20to%20dairy]


Forgetting the Mahabharata connection and its date at 3101 BCE when the major dispersal occurred along the River Saraswati, we are losing a lot by our ignorance. A lot more needs to be written on these evidences, but I am closing the post Mahabharata history with this and with an epilogue tomorrow, the 30th and last part.


(To be continued…)



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