Validating Traditional date of Mahabharata War - VII
by Jayasree Saranathan on 12 Jan 2021 0 Comment

Krishna left on a peace mission in ‘Kaumuda’ month


The Pandavas completed their exile on Ashadha Krishna Dasami in the year Krodhi (3136 BCE). This was 17 days after Dakshinayana began and 11 days before the Greeshma ritu ended. Here we come across the term ‘ritu’, meaning season. This word appears again as we progress with the events, prompting us to define how seasons were calculated in Mahabharata times. Since the calendar is 5-year Yuga, the extant texts of Rig and Yajur Vedanga Jyothisha are helpful.


The sun is the prime cause for the change of seasons and therefore rightly associated with the seasons. The sun’s transit in two signs makes one season, with each sign having two-and-a-quarter nakshatras. [Rig Vedanga Jyothisha: 9d. Yajur Vedanga Jyothisha: 10d]


Seasons can also be defined in terms of lunar months. Yajur Vedanga Jyothisha defines the season as two synodic months and two tithis. [Yajur Vedanga Jyothisha: V. 11] This must not be construed as synodic months starting from a New moon or a Full moon. Vedanga Jyotisha calculates it from the beginning of the 1st year of the 5-year Yuga period, i.e. from Uttarayana of the 1st year.


Shishira was the first season covering the two months, Tapas and Tapasya that are known as Magha and Phalguna. Since Uttarayana started in Magha (in the version of Bhishma) we can construct the Season-calendar of Mahabharata by counting two lunar months and two tithis from the first tithi of the 1st year that was found to be Magha Shukla Pratipat. The 8th ritu must start from the 15th tithi from the beginning of the 1st ritu, says Vedanga Jyothisha. [Yajur Vedanga Jyothisha: V.11]


We have to meticulously pinpoint a particular year - in this case the year of the war. The season (any season) didn’t begin on the same day in any year of the 5-year Yuga. No simulator can help in deriving the first day of a season; we have to manually calculate. All the major events of the war took place within the four seasons of the 1st year (Samvatsara – Krodhi). All dating hints are also found within this period only.


The exile ended in the Greeshma ritu in the Ashadha month.

-        The next ritu was Varsha (rainy). No events were reported in the Varsha season. However there is scope to speculate that the marriage of Abhimanyu was conducted in this season in Shravana month, which is auspicious for marriage ceremony. 

-        This was followed by the Sharad season that started on Shukla Navami of Aswayuja month. The war preparations started from this season onwards.

-        The most important event of this season is that Krishna started on a peace mission.


The verse says, [[Mbh: 5-81- v. 6, 7]

tato vyapete tamasi surye vimala udgate

maitre muhurte sa?prapte m?dv arci?i divakare

kaumude masi revatya? sarad ante himagame

sphitasasyamukhe kale kalya? sattvavata? vara?

[Translation by Ganguli: “The night having passed away, a bright sun arose in the east. The hour called Maitra set in, and the rays of the sun were still mild. The month was (Kaumuda Kartika) under the constellation Revati. It was the season of dew, Autumn having departed. The earth was covered with abundant crops all around.”


This verse is a source of contention among researchers, the major issue being the month name: Kaumuda. The third line “kaumude masi revatya? sarad ante himagame” is disputed to refer to Varsha season and Kaumudi as ‘the month of lotuses.’ We have to resolve this before proceeding further.


Was Varsha season running then?


If Varsha (rainy) season was running then, lack of heat must have been indicated, since the sun could be mostly hiding behind the clouds. But the words “arci?i divakare” in the second line says the opposite. Arci?i is the name of one of the twelve suns that is characterized as blazing or in flame. The dictionary meaning of the stem word ‘Arcí’ shows that the word was used in Rig Veda in that sense.


The sun of the rainy season cannot be described as ablaze. In the very next line of the same verse on Kaumudi, the growth of abundant crops is mentioned as “sphitasasyamukhe kale kalya? sattvavata? vara?”, thereby rejecting any scope for an interpretation that it was rainy reason. [Mbh: 5-81-7] Enlarged (sphita) corn or grains on top (sasyamukhe) had come up in time (kale kalya?) abounding with life. Crops of this description cannot be seen in the rainy season. These crops are the result of the rainy season that appear in Sharad season. These were present in the surroundings under the blazing sun when Krishna started off from Upapalavya carrying the message of the Pandavas to the Kauravas.


Which month is Kaumuda?


The next question is identifying the month of Kaumuda. (Kaumuda: masculine vocative singular) The dictionary straightaway says it is the month of Kartika. One of the meanings of Kaumuda is the day of the Full moon in Kartika. Since the month gets the name from the Full moon, it is obvious that Kartika was also known as Kaumuda.


However, another meaning points to the Full moon in Asvina. Though both Kartika and Asvina are the time of Sharad season, we have to clarify the overlapping version here, because the time was ‘Sharadante’ - at the end of the Sharad season. This clarification is done using the Puranic versions.


The name Kaumudi was in common usage until a thousand years ago. Kaumudi (feminine vocative singular) festival is perhaps the oldest festival starting from the times of Mahabali who offered land to Vamana. It is explained in the context of the festival of Deepavali in memory of Bali in Padma Purana [here]


While describing Deepavali, Padma Purana refers to the beginning of that festival on the thirteenth day (Trayodashi) of the waning phase of Kartika month, a reference to the month of Aswayuja, before Amawasya. Light is offered to Yama on this day. On the next day (Krishna caturdasi), light is offered to Naraka, says the Purana. Then on the following day that happens to be the New moon day (Amawasya), charities and celebrations done by the king are explained, followed by the worship of Mahabali at night by keeping awake. Padma Purana states that the “Kaumudi” festival started since then. Perhaps Kaumudi was the earlier name for the Deepavali festival.


The same festival is described in Skanda Purana [here] as Bali Pratipat, done on the first day of the bright phase of Kartika month. The festivities are mentioned in the same way as written in Padma Purana, but the day after Amawasya marked the beginning of the Kaumudi festival. So by all means, Kaumudi is connected with Kartika month. Padma Purana refers to Aswayuja- month as Kartika but relates Kaumudi festival to the month next to Aswayuja, i.e. Kartika.


Padma Purana gives the meaning for Kaumudi, by splitting the word as Ku and Muda, where ‘ku’ stands for earth and ‘muda’ for joy. It says,

“The word ‘ku’ stands for the earth, the word ‘muda’ stands for joy. Due to the root (meaning) of the two (words coming together) the festival is said to be (i.e. called) Kaumudi, since the people mutually rejoice (during it) on the earth. They are glad and pleased, are happy, so it is called Kaumudi. O son, since during it red lotuses are offered to Bali by kings for (removing) their sins, therefore it is called Kaumudi.”


The lotus is part of the festivity and not the basis for the name of the festival. Perhaps the flower - the lotus or water lily got the name Kaumudi from the etymology given by Padma Purana. Kartika in Sharad season is the time all water bodies are full and cool - a suitable time for the bloom of lotus and water lilies. That is how Kartika came to be known as the month of lotuses. Such bloom cannot be seen in Varsha season dotted with frequent rains, making the water bodies turbulent. Lotus and lilies don’t grow in the turbulent waters of the rainy season.


Why Krishna chose Kaumuda month for the peace mission


Kaumudi festival seems to have a specific significance for the recovery of lost lands. By worshiping Bali who donated the earth to Vamana, a king can prosper for a whole year, says Padma Purana. This connotation is found in the coronation of King Kalyanavarman of Magadha who was re-instated on the throne on the day of Kaumudi Mahotsav, the Full Moon Festival in Kartika month. A Sanskrit drama, ‘Kaumudi Mahotsav’ detailing this event in the life of this king of the 7th century CE, was staged at the palace of Suganga at Pataliputra on the “Autumnal Full Moon Festival Day”, i.e.  Sharad Kaumudi Mahotsav.* Going by the description of this festival in Padma and Skanda Purana, it appears that “Kaumudi Festival” started on the day AFTER DEEPAVALI by worshiping Mahabali and culminated on the Full Moon day of Kartika.

[*The Historical Drama of Kaumudi-Mahotsava, or Full-Moon Festival, Sakuntala Rao Sastri]


In tune with the aim of the mission to restore the land of the Pandavas, Krishna started off after completing the worship of Bali, along with the Pandavas (in today’s parlance after Deepavali). Vyasa, who didn’t utter a word without significance, seems to have thoughtfully employed the name “Kaumuda” for Kartika, reflecting the expectations of the Pandava clan on their completion of Kaumudi austerities. The date of the mission seems to have been planned in such a way that Krishna would return with positive news by the Full Moon day of Kartika. But he didn’t!


The date of Peace Mission

Krishna started on the day of Revati which occurs in the waxing phase of Kartika. Assuming that the Full Moon of Kartika occurred in the star Krittika, the tithi on Revati was likely to be Shukla Dwadasi. By Kartika Shukla Dwadasi, half of Sharad season was over, considering the fact that the Sharad season started on Aswayuja Shukla Navami. This prompted Vyasa to say that Krishna started at the end of Sharad season. When simulated in astrology software for Surya Siddhanta ayanamsa, Krishna started on 25 August, 3136 BCE.


The simulation was for 8 am in the morning when “Maitri” Muhurta was running. The 3rd Muhurta since sunrise on any day is known as Maitri Muhurta. To know this muhurta, we need the sunrise time of the day, which was 6 am, and by adding 2 Muhurta duration of 96 minutes (48+48), the beginning of Maitri muhurta comes out to be 7.36 am. The star Revati matches with Shukla Dwadasi derived conceptually.


Krishna and the Pandavas chose an auspicious time for this crucial mission. The nodes (Rahu and Ketu) were positioned at Leo and Aquarius, hence no single or double or triple eclipse could have occurred any time in Kartika or in the months before and after Kartika. This is being emphasized to educate readers against eclipse claims by some researchers, as we shall discuss this later.


Now Krishna was seen off by the Pandavas. There were auspicious signs throughout the path of Krishna, but unusual events were witnessed at the same time at Hastinapur, the capital city of the Kauravas. What were they?


(To be continued…)


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