Validating Traditional date of Mahabharata War-IV
by Jayasree Saranathan on 06 Jan 2021 4 Comments

Discrepancy in time of Uttarayana remembered as Ratha Saptami


The Uttarayana that Bhishma was waiting for, must have started in Shukla Trayodasi of Magha. But Bhishma says, “The lunar month of Magha has come. This is, again, the lighted fortnight and a fourth part of it ought by this according to my calculations be over”. [Mbh: 13-167]

magho ‘ya? samanuprapto masa? pu?yo yudhi??hira

tribhagase?a? pak?o ‘ya? suklo bhavitum arhati (13-153-28)


On the face of it, the verse refers to Magha month and three-fourths of it. Three-fourth of a lunar month is seven-and-a-half tithi (after Saptami / on Ashtami) in Krishna Paksha (waning phase). However by saying further “pak?o ‘ya? suklo bhavitum arhati”, Bhishma had referred to the seven-and-a-half tithis in Shukla Paksha of Magha (waxing Magha). Bhishma identified the month as ‘Punya Masa’ of Magha. Magha was Punya Masa because the Uttarayana started in that month. Bhishma had made it clear that Uttarayana started after the completion of Saptami in Shukla Paksha of Magha.


An additional verse from Gita Press edition says Bhishma’s exit happened on “Magha Shuddha Ashtami and when the Moon was near Rohini”

Sukla paksasya ca??amyam magha masasya parthiva

prajapatye ca nak?atre madhyam prapte divakare [Mbh: 12-47-3, Gita Press edition]


The additional information is that the sun was at the middle of Rohini, the star of Prajapati. This means that sunrise occurred when the star of the day was Rohini (transited by the moon) and half of the star was crossed by the moon by the time of sunrise. This is an essential condition to identify the day Bhishma left the world.


Since Magha Shukla Ashtami offers a definite time limit, the general tendency of researchers is to deduct 58 days from this date to arrive at the first day of the war. It more or less comes to the last day of Kartika month, the month in which Krishna went on a peace mission. Within a fortnight of this mission, the war must have started according to them, which however, throws up a lot of improbabilities. None thought how and why Bhishma, an adept in calculating the movement of the sun and moon, miserably failed to judge the arrival of Uttarayana, for which he had to wait for not just a week or a paksha (fortnight) but nearly two months!


Additionally we have now found a discrepancy in the normal sequence of the calendar dates from the 2nd year of the Yuga. How could Shukla Trayodasi slip back to Shukla Ashtami in the following year?


A big mystery is staring at us


With this realization, let us proceed step by step in a systematic way. Now by having known that Bhishma referred to a changed tithi-star position of the Uttarayana, let us look at the changed calendar for Uttarayana of Vishvavasu when Bhishma shed his mortal body.


The important observations are:

-        The first two ayanas of the 1st year are in natural sequence of the calendar until then.

-        The tithi-nakshatra of the Uttarayana time (of the 2nd year) that Bhishma was waiting for. It ought to have been Shukla Trayodasi in Magha, but it turned out to be Shukla Ashtami – 4 tithis behind.

-        The regular 7 tithi difference between one ayana and the next also got disturbed. From Shukla Saptami in the 2nd ayana, it became Shukla Ashtami in the 3rd ayana. This signals the loss of tithis happening after the 2nd ayana (dakshinayana of the 1st year, Krodhi) started. In other words, during the ayana when the war took place, something odd happened disturbing Time.


Interestingly, the star of the day remained the same in the 2nd and in subsequent years as it used to be in the original calendar. Only the tithi changed. So something went wrong cosmically to upset the Time denoted by the moon! There was a loss of four tithis as a result!


This implies that Time slipped backwards!


We cannot match the first day of the next Yuga with Krishna Ekadasi of Magha for that means 19 more tithis (and 22 stars) to go, but then the sun would have moved 20 degrees ahead in Capricorn to be at Shravana and not at the exact Uttarayana degree of northward turning. The sun at zero degree Capricorn in the first year of the next Yuga is the essential condition to be present. When that condition is fulfilled, the lunar month happened to be the previous month.


Keep in mind that there was no change in the movement of the sun; the day it turned northward remained undisturbed. The 1st year of the next round of the Yuga would start at the location where the sun turned northward. The sun was at zero degree Capricorn, but the tithi was different. This means the tithi- lunar month had got disturbed.


Some unexpected cause had changed Time once forever and this change of time coming into use from the time of Magha Shukla Saptami was frozen in memory as Ratha Saptami.


Ratha Saptami, evidence for change of Time in Mahabharata


Ratha Saptami marking a change in the direction of the chariot of the Sun God, celebrated even today, is proof of the importance attached to this particular day. The sudden change in time resulting in the re-adjustment of Uttarayana on Magha Shukla Saptami was preserved in memory for all times to come by infusing certain practices by way of oblations to the departed on this day. No Mahabharata researcher can afford to ignore the significance of this day waited upon by Bhishma to come out of the distress he was undergoing on the arrow bed. He left the world in the next tithi, i.e. Ashtami. (The new ayana starts from the next tithi).


Further concurrence comes from the rules of ‘Ratha Saptami Vrata’ attributed to sage Garga. [Jothida Varushadhi Nool (Tamil), Kumaran Padhippagam, Chennai, p. 388] Ratha Saptami vrata must be observed in Magha when there is “Tithi-dvayam” at sun rise. Tithi-Dvayam means two tithis within two sunrises. The previous tithi must end any time after the sun rise in a day, followed by the next tithi which also ends after the sun rise the next day.  For Ratha Saptami Vrata, Shashthi tithi must have ended the previous day, followed by Saptami tithi. This tithi (Saptami) must be present at sunrise the next morning but end after some time, so that Ashtami would begin in the same day.


Tithi Dvayam is a conditional feature of Ratha Saptami, indicating similar Tithi Dvayam on the day Bhishma left. By its presence at sunrise, Saptami would be the tithi of the day marking the change of direction of the chariot of the sun, but Ashtami should follow sometime soon. This must be present on the day Bhishma left. Additionally, Rohini must have been present at sunrise on that day, having crossed the 2nd pada or at the end of 2nd pada. The date of Uttarayana should fulfill these two conditions. We will check them as we proceed with the derivations systematically.


The Ratha (of Surya) that Bhishma waited for, to bring peace to him is preserved in tradition as a Homa, known as “Bhishma Ratha Shanti homa”. This is done even today on completion of 70 years of age, though it needs to be ascertained whether this number refers to Bhishma’s age or the number of decades representing the number of tithis he waited after Magha started. Some people mistakenly mention this as Bheema ratha Shanti. The Ratha of Surya was waited upon by Bhishma, not Bheema.


The various austerities related to Bhishma’s departure as seen on Ratha Saptami, Bhishmashtami (when he left the world) and Bhishma Ratha Shanti that continue to be in vogue today are standing proof of the unexpected change of time of Uttarayana after the Mahabharata war.


There is another austerity having relevance to Magha Saptami, known as “Mandara Saptami” vrata done on Magha “Shuddha” Saptami. [Jothida Varushadhi Nool, (Tamil) p. 381] This sounds strange because ‘Shuddha’ refers to ‘Nija’ masa in usage. Nija or Shuddha masa is the month following the Adhika Masa. Mandara means Heaven. Those desiring to go to Heaven should do this vrata which goes on for 13 months starting from Magha shuddha Saptami says the astrological text. This implies that this vrata is possible only in the year having an Adhika masa. An Adhika masa coming in between two Magha Shukla (waxing) Saptami fulfills the 13 month duration of the vrata. But the reference to Magha “Shuddha” Saptami and “Mandara” being the fruit of the vrat – something on the lines of what Bhishma achieved, this seems to be connected with Mahabharata time or to have originated from an event of Mahabharata.


The reference “Shuddha” to Magha sounds strange as there can never be a Nija or Shuddha Magha, because Adhika Masa can never occur in the month of Magha!




Validating Traditional date of Mahabharata War-V


Can Adhika Masa occur in Magha month?


Adhika masa is the month when two New moons occur in a solar month or in other words, when there is no solar ingress in a lunar month. In this context it is necessary to know about another type of anomalous month, called Kshaya Masa, when there are two solar ingresses (Sankaranti) within a lunar month. In this event the lunar month is stretched into two signs of the zodiac such that the solar ingress occurs after the lunar month begins and the 2nd solar ingress into the next sign occurs before the lunar month ends. This happens because of the faster movement of the earth at the perihelion that covers the months from Margashira to Magha. Therefore the Kshaya Masa always occurs within these months and not at any other month. This also means that the Adhika Masa can never occur in the months Margashira, Pushya and Magha!


Any time a Kshaya Masa occurs, it would be accompanied with two Adhika Masa, one before and another after the Kshaya Masa. This one-in-149 year phenomenon occurred last in the year 1983 offering us a good case study. The Kshaya Masa started on 14th January 1983 when the solar ingress into Capricorn (Makara Sankranti) started after Shukla Pratipat of the lunar Pushya month, and ended on 13th February before the lunar month ended. The very next month, Phalguna was an Adhika Masa with no solar ingress. Before the Kshaya Masa, an Adhika Masa occurred in Aswayuja. This recent event of Kshaya Masa occurring in a month at the  perihelion of lunar orbit, with an Adhika Masa immediately following it and another Adhika Masa a couple of months before the Kshaya Masa offers a better understanding of these anomalous  months.


Normally the Adhika Masa occurs any time between Phalguna and Aswayuja and not in the rest of the four months. Rarely Adhika Masa can happen in Kartika, but never in Margashira, Pushya and Magha. Strangely we come across a vrata that suggests that there was an Adhika Masa in Magha! Stranger is the change in the date of Uttarayana that started in Magha after the Mahabharata war; strangest is the fact that the all-knowing Bhishma failed to calculate the date of Uttarayana correctly.


Here I want to show readers the absurdity of following the tropical simulator that works on continuing precession of the equinox. Having known that Adhika Masa can never occur in Magha, let me show that ‘it can’, when we use the continuous precession of the tropical zodiac.


If we simulate continuous precession, Adhika Masa is in the month Magha, but two years earlier than Krodhi, i.e. in Shubhakrit, in 3138 BCE.  The succeeding month, Nija Masa, is in Magha! From this one can also understand how erroneous deductions will be when simulators working on continuous precession are used. The next month was Nija Magha which the simulator recognizes as Shubhakrit, but is in reality Shobhakri, the next year, due to the fact that the year was counted from Uttarayana in the 5-year Yuga calendar.


This simulation cannot be true because (1) it is based on an unrealistic precession degree of 312-54 and (2) it occurred 37 years before the end of Krishna or the beginning of Kali Maha Yuga.


Now checking the same for the precession rate of Surya Siddhanta that was close to zero at the time of Mahabharata war, the Adhika Masa didn’t appear in Magha. So it is clear that Adhika Masa could not have occurred as a natural sequence of the different speeds of the moon and the earth (detected in the movement of the sun) in the month Magha in general, but seemed to have occurred in the year Krodhi when Bhishma waited for a prolonged period on the arrow bed.


With Caitra of Krodhi being an Adhika Masa, no kshaya masa could have occurred in Magha that year; and no Adhika masa could have occurred any time between Caitra and Magha in that year; so what happened? How did the days get extended that forced Bhishma to wait for the Uttarayana to come up?


Having now made readers aware that the time loss (tithi loss) is central to understanding Mahabharata verses, let me begin with the core story of Mahabharata relevant for dating.  This story starts from the beginning of the exile of the Pandavas.


(To be continued…)


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