Validating Traditional date of Mahabharata War - XI
by Jayasree Saranathan on 25 Jan 2021 0 Comment

The 5th nimitta expressed by Karna sounds strange.


5] The sign on Moon’s disc had changed.

Karna: somasya lak?ma vyav?tta? [Mbh: 5-141-10]

[Ganguli: “The spot on the lunar disc hath changed its position”]. The same verse appears in Vyasa’s narration, with the words jumbled.

Vyasa: vyav?tta? lak?ma somasya (6-2-32)

[Ganguli: “The sign of the deer in the Moon hath deviated from its usual position”]


This being an important verse let me do a word for word translation:

vyav?tta? = to be distinguished, to become separated, to diverge from, to divide, to part with, to wind in different directions.

lak?ma = a mark, sign, stain, bad mark, blemish (neuter nominative, accusative, vocative, singular, stem: lak?man)

somasya = of the moon (masculine, genitive, singular, stem: soma)

Overall meaning: The mark (sign) of the moon became separated or parted with.


This observation looks bizarre but it refers to some abnormality with reference to the features found on the lunar disc. Not a shred of evidence of an eclipse in this meaning, but most researchers had treated this as evidence for a lunar eclipse.


This observation was given by Karna during the waning phase of the lunar Kartika month. So any lunar eclipse suggested by the researchers, must have occurred on Kartika Full Moon. Just before the Kartika Full Moon, Krishna left Upaplavya in the star of Revati. But then there is no mention of an eclipse soon after he started, anywhere in the continuing descriptions. Whatever we have been reading right from the time Krishna left Upaplavya was about natural calamities related to a cosmic impact.


The same worded expression about a mark on the moon by Vyasa to Dhritarashtra before the war must have been about the same observation that Karna had made. This observation by Karna coming in the wake of the comet-hit and his apprehension about Rahu’s peculiar movement and Gara karana coming up on the star of Citra is symptomatic of an extra-terrestrial object hitting hard on the moon’s surface.


Scientifically speaking, atmospheric turbulence can make the lunar surface appear to shimmer in naked eye observation under extreme conditions as experienced at that time. The dark marks on the lunar surface could have appeared blinking or shaky. Now after having established that the moon had received a massive hit or a series of hits from a breaking comet, the probability exists for visible changes in the spots, perhaps a new spot or a sign becoming visible in the featureless region giving an appearance that a pre-existing sign got separated and moved to a new location.


As per current scientific knowledge the lunar surface receives on an average 140 new craters every year and this includes those that are more than 10 meter across.

[] The object that shook the moon on the Pushya day must have been huge enough to have caused a deep and wide penetration on the lunar surface sending plumes of lunar dust settling down on a wider region around the impact area. Since the object doesn’t burn in the atmosphere-less moon, the impact zone remains true to the size of the hitting object with the displaced lunar mud and dust settling down around. A very huge spill-over region on the moon could have been detected by a regular visual observer from the earth immediately after the collision.


More than half the moon was originally visible in Krishna Shashti / Saptami on Pushya day. The waning moon appears like a huge walnut compared to the smaller visible surface of the waxing moon of the same tithi. It is possible for the observers on the earth (Karna and Vyasa) to have noticed a change in the marks on the moon on the very night of Pushya after the collision. Thereafter the spilled lunar sand would have settled down well, leaving no big change for the visual observer to detect. Moreover, the Moon was waning and it was not possible to track the change visually on all days after that.


Identifying the impact region on the lunar disc


The observation “Somasya lak?ma...” shows that major fragments of the disintegrating comet landed on the earth and the moon simultaneously on the Pushya day. The impact on the earth was felt or heard towards the end of the anointment of Bhishma as the commander-in-chief. There was no way to know that something went wrong with the moon as well, until the moon rose around mid-night on that Shashti-Saptami day. Persons like Karna and Vyasa must have been watching the surroundings keenly to know what had happened.


As the moon started rising around mid-night their focus shifted on it. But alas, the moon appeared shrunk than expected for that tithi – or else it could not be possible for Karna to detect the jumping of the Gara karana to the star Citra. By stating that, he implied Amawasya could advance, but Krishna seemed hopeful to see it in the normal course – i.e. on Jyeshtha, seven days thence. That conversation seems to have this underlying difference of opinion between Karna and Krishna in identifying the day of Amawasya in the light of the changed phase of the moon seen on the night of Pushya.


And the moon on the night of Pushya threw up another shocker. The huge mark on the disc appeared to have split, with the split mark appearing away from the normal one. It is worth remembering here that the features on the moon are part of folk stories for all time in the past.  The most popular version compares the appearance on moon with an old woman sweeping the floor. Ganguli, the translator, referred to it as a deer. Keen observation of the features being part of pastime stories in this country, any slightest deviation could not have escaped the attention of the people – particularly on the night of the calamitous Pushya. Karna and Vyasa did not fail to see the deviation.


Dark features are normally seen on the lunar disc. The dark patches are volcanic ‘seas’ that were formed during the early period of the formation of the moon. They have always remained the same. Any collision in that part is not detectable, but a powerful collision in the blank region of the disc could create temporary marks formed by the scattered soil. That can be seen as a fresh mark on the face of the moon in the immediate aftermath of the collision. The same statement made by Karna and Vyasa - “somasya lak?ma vyav?tta?” (“The mark (sign) of the moon became separated or parted with”) goes to prove that the two had seen some fresh mark on the lunar disc on the night of Pushya.


Once the surface became calm, the fresh marks would no longer appear but the impact site would remain as a crater. There are numerous impact craters on the moon, but only two prominent ones are found in the blank part of the moon of the waning Shashti, giving us an idea about where the comet-piece could have landed. The two craters, Albategnius and Moretus, are outside the visible features of this part of the lunar disc. [See,]


Albategnius crater is 131 km wide with its outer wall heavily eroded with impacts, valleys and landslips, indicating many subsequent impacts after its formation. This is noticed in very old impact craters. In contrast, the 114 km wide Moretus crater is without such features barring a very few impacts, thereby indicating its recent origin.


The locations of these two craters indicate the probable regions of the scattered lunar soil that could be visible as fresh signs on the lunar disc. These locations depict the exact meaning of the verse “Somasya...” of the mark or sign on the disc getting separated from the huge prominent feature occupying most part of the disc. When a single distinct mark appears on the blank region it was perceived as though the major feature got divided (vyav?tta?).


Of the two craters, the scattered soil around Moretus is easily distinguishable for the earth-bound naked eye observer as a newly formed mark on the face of the waning moon.


Moretus crater was widely studied and rated as ‘young’- though this means millions of years old. Some of the features of this crater match with the impact hinted in Mahabharata. A study by Ivanov et al for choice of crater for landing purpose says, “The excavation depth of Moretus impact exceeds the total thickness of ejecta of all lunar basins, regardless of the model applied.” [Ivanov et al, (2018) “Geological characterization of the three high-priority landing sites for the Luna-Glob mission”, Planetary and Space science, p.195]


This means the impacting fragment had penetrated deeper and caused massive displacement of lunar material that can be seen as a fresh mark on the face of the moon. This crater has a chain of secondary craters, hinting at a trail of a falling fragmented object. The impact that caused the moon to alter its speed and path could not have been a single smaller piece.


There is a likelihood of some other crater being the impacted region of the comet fall; however such region must be in the feature-less space of the lunar disc to have become visible from the earth. The Pushya day events corroborate a simultaneous fall of fragments on the earth and the moon.


A comet caught in the gravitational pull of the earth- moon system started circulating the two for some time and finally landed on them much like the comet Shoemaker-Levy that fell on Jupiter after getting trapped by the gravitational pull of Jupiter. In this event the comet would be shattered as it comes closer and would crash land as a series of meteorites over a few days. The big chunks would cause heavy damage. One such big piece had fallen on the Pushya day on the moon while the accompanying smaller pieces had fallen on the earth simultaneously. A cosmic collision simultaneously on the earth and the moon has a probability ratio of 23:1. [Terada et al, “Asteroid shower on the Earth-Moon system immediately before the Cryogenian period revealed by KAGUYA”, Nature Communications, p.6]


The planetary nimittas told by Vyasa indicate that the collision has occurred at sunset time in Hastinapur. A shower of fragments was experienced in North India while the major chunk had fallen somewhere in Europe. Around that time four odd events were reported – all traced to a change in the atmospheric refractive index caused by the comet-hit. The Arundhati observation was one among them.


The moon must have received the biggest hit, around the same time. The simulator shows the moon in Pushya and Rahu in Magha at sunset time in Hastinapur on Sep 2, 3136 BCE.


The comet-fragments had come from the south western direction. Just before midnight, the battered moon started appearing in Hastinapur with a fresh mark on its disc. The expected shape of Shashti phase was found changed into Saptami phase – its impact on tithi-karana-star, meticulously noted by Karna.


For the first ever time in recorded history Time changed by a tithi. From Vyasa’s version we come to know that two consecutive phases ended in Trayodasi (13th tithi) which are wrongly interpreted as twin eclipses by many researchers. Eclipses were ruled out in the nimittas of Karna. Vyasa’s version straightaway rejects any hypothesis on eclipses at that time.


(To be continued…)



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