Validating Traditional date of Mahabharata War-VI
by Jayasree Saranathan on 09 Jan 2021 0 Comment

Reconstructing the start and end date of Pandava’s exile


The sequence of events before the identity of the Pandavas became known is narrated in Mahabharata along with the tithis when such events occurred. This greatly helps in deducing the start and the end date of the exile period.


Ø  Susarma, king of Trigarta, started seizing the cattle of Matsya country on a Krishna Saptami. The month name is not given.


Ø  Matsya troops began chasing the Trigartas after the sun crossed the meridian, on Krishna Saptami and the fight continued at night. The Pandava brothers except Arjuna accompanied the Matsya king in the fight. They defeated Susarma in the night of Krishna Saptami after the moon had risen. They stayed in the battlefield for the rest of the night. Messengers were sent to the city gate to give the victory news by the next morning. [Mbh: 4-32-50] 


Ø  While the Matsya troops were away, the Kauravas started seizing the cattle of the Matsya country on the morning of Krishna Ashtami. [Mbh: 4-29-28] This happened before the victory news reached the palace.


Ø  At that time Uttara (named Bhuminjaya), the Matsya prince, was in the capital. Arjuna in the guise of Vrihannala accompanied Uttara as his charioteer to challenge the Kauravas. This happened on the same day.


Ø  Arjuna revealed his true identity to Uttara on the same day, that is, on Krishna Ashtami. He also told him that he had completed one year of vrata in his (Matsya) kingdom. [Mbh: 4-40-12&13] So according to Pandava’s time keeping, they had completed one year period incognito by Krishna Ashtami (Arjuna must have added the days of Adhika masa in Caitra that year - Krodhi).


Ø  Arjuna didn’t conceal his identity in the fight with the Kauravas. He hoisted his banner (dhvaja) on the chariot while fighting. This created a flutter among the Kauravas raising doubts about the exact number of days completed by the Pandavas in exile and it was clarified by Bhishma (explained earlier).


Ø  Arjuna (Vrihannala) with Uttara as charioteer successfully chased away the Kauravas and restored the cattle. The two returned to the palace on the same day, i.e. Krishna Ashtami.


Ø  When they entered the royal court, the king was already seated, but Arjuna didn’t reveal his identity.


On the third day after that, the Pandavas revealed themselves openly. It is written “tatas t?tiye divase”. [Mbh: 4-65-1] This can be taken as the third day counted from Ashtami (tatas = thence, thereupon, after that). That is the day of Krishna Dasami.


The name of the month or the ayana is not given. However the running season at that time is revealed in the words of Karna that their troops had come to an unknown place possessed by enemies and in the mighty forest in the hot Greeshma season.[Mbh: 4-42-22]

adesika mahara?ye gri?me satruvasa? gata

yatha na vibhramet sena tatha nitir vidhiyatam


Greeshma has two solar months, Mithuna and Kataka and corresponding lunar months, Jye?tha and Ashadha. If the date Arjuna revealed himself was Jye?tha Krishna Ashtami, it was in the first half of the season when the sun was at mid-Mithuna. Since exhaustion of the troops is hinted in the verse for having travelled a long way in the Greeshma season, it is deduced that it was peak Greeshma. This matches with the second half of the season when Ashadha was running.


Dakshinayana started on Shukla Saptami in Ashadha month when the sun was in Punarvasu (at the junction of Mithuna and Kataka) and the moon in Uttara Phalguni in Krodhi, the 1st year named Samvatsara.


Karna’s reference to Greeshma season coming on the day of Krishna Ashtami, it is more likely to be the month of Ashadha after Dakshinayana had begun. Counting from Uttara Phalguni on Ashadha Shukla Saptami (Dakshinayana day) to Ashadha Krishna Ashtami, there are 16 tithis/stars. The star happens to be Aswini on Ashadha Krishna Ashtami. The third day from that is Krittika!


The Pandavas revealed themselves on Ashadha Krishna Dasami when the moon was in Krittika. They ended the exile on 11 May, 3136 BCE in the year Krodhi when the moon was in Krittika at sunrise. Dakshinayana had already begun by then.


Thirteen years prior to this date, they started the exile period in Ashadha Krishna Dasami. This happened to be Khara corresponding to 7 May, 3149 BCE. Rohini was running on that day.


A controversy


Here we have to address a version pointed out by some scholars that there was a solar eclipse on the day the Pandavas left for exile. In support of this the following verse is quoted. [Mbh: 2-72 21]

divolkas capatan ghora rahus carkam upagrasat

aparva?i mahaghora? prajana? janayan bhayam

[Trans. by Ganguli: “Meteors fell from the sky and Rahu by swallowing the Sun unseasonably alarmed the people terribly”]


A solar eclipse can occur on Amawasya and not on any other tithi. Suppose the Pandavas started their exile on Amawasya (eclipsed or not), they must have completed the exile on Amawasya only. (In the 5-year Yuga, a date can be identified only on the basis of the solar month, the lunar phase, the tithi and the ayana). But the Pandavas ended the exile on Krishna Dasami.


Even if it is assumed that the exile ended a day later considering the verse “tatas t?tiye divase” as referring to a count starting after Ashtami, it could be on Krishna Ekadasi which is three tithis behind Amawasya. Therefore the tithi of the end of the exile rejects an outward meaning of a solar eclipse for the above quoted verse.


So then what did this verse convey? Two explanations are plausible.


1] Computer simulation shows Rahu behind the Sun 80 degrees away, just 10 degrees short of 90 degrees (quarter circle). Due to this, when the sun rises, Rahu would be at the night part on the other side of the globe. When the sun crosses overhead, Rahu would be rising in the east. The context of the verse refers to the time Draupadi was dragged into the royal court. By the sequence of events it is deduced that this happened after the sun crossed the meridian, at which time Rahu entered the day sky as if to swallow the sun (rays of the sun).


This expression is found repeated in a couple of other events of Mahabharata. When Parasurama fell down on the earth afflicted by the shaft of Bhishma, it is said that Rahu forcibly attained the blazing sun [Mbh: 5-183-22 “arka? ca sahasa dipta? svarbhanur abhisa?v??ot”]. Similarly when Arjuna was badly wounded by the Saindhavas during his military campaign for the Aswamedha yajna, it is said that Rahu swallowed both the sun and the moon at the same time. [Mbh: 14-76-15 “rahur agrasad aditya? yugapat somam eva ca”]


This is an abnormal expression since only one of the two luminaries can be swallowed by Rahu (or Ketu). This verse makes it clear that it was a general, non-specific statement to express the gravity of a situation and not necessarily about a true event. In each of these contexts, the Rahu verse is accompanied with meteors, earthquakes, the howl of animals and so on, which are repeated by the sage Markandeya while explaining the nature of events at the end of Yuga or calamity. [Mbh: 3-189, Ganguli’s translation]


2] The second cause can be attributed to Rahu-kala [span of a day said to be unfavourable] on Sunday, the day the Pandavas left for exile. On Sunday Rahu Kala occurs at the last one-eighth part of the day time. (The concept must have developed from the time of Ramayana, or even before, that is known from the event of Hanuman facing the third and last obstacle from Simhika, mother of Rahu, while crossing the ocean. This obstacle happening towards the end of the day can be taken to mean that Hanuman crossed the ocean on a Sunday. Sunday is meant for royal mission, and obstacles can be expected at Rahu Kala on that day, as per astrological view.)


The humiliation suffered by Draupadi at the royal court on a Sunday must have happened at Rahu Kala, the most wrathful time for royalty, but Rahu afflicted the royal house at ‘aparva?i’ (out of season or normal time), that is, before the regular time of Rahu (Rahu Kala). As such, the time of the sinful event was characterized as Rahu swallowing up the Sun (King or Royal house). This conveys that the verse does not refer to a solar eclipse.


Let us examine the entire exile period. The exile started in Khara year (3149 BCE), in Dakshinayana, Ashadha Krishna Dasami, when the moon was at Rohini at sunrise. The exile ended in Krodhi year (3136 BCE), in Dakshinayana, Ashadha Krishna Dasami, when the moon was at Krittika at sunrise.


Within the 13 year period, 5 Adhika Masa-s occurred, with the last one occurring two months before the end of exile. Five Nija Masa followed the five Adhika Masa (in BCE 3147 and 3145; in BCE 3142 and 3139; and in BCE 3136).

The details of the Nija Masa simulated to the ayanamsa of the Mahabharata time emphasize the fact that one cannot simply ‘insert’ an Adhika Masa to suit one’s date of Mahabharata. An Adhika Masa occurred a few months before the exile ended. This rules out an Adhika Masa in the same year just after the war, in the most improbable month of Magha, but that it did occur shows there lies a hidden issue on Time resulting in the loss of four tithis.


As we search for the cause of this anomaly, the next task is to establish the ritu calculation of the Mahabharata calendar to locate the time of Krishna’s peace mission.


(To be continued….)



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