Validating Traditional date of Mahabharata War - XII
by Jayasree Saranathan on 28 Jan 2021 0 Comment

No twin eclipses, but only loss of Tithi - heralding concept of Bodhayana Amawasya 


The three nimittas stated by Karna about the moon and Rahu suggested a calamitous impact on the moon by which Amawasya advanced. The same version that Amawasya advanced unnaturally was expressed by Vyasa in his conversation with Dhritarashtra before the war started.


The phase that had seen the comet hit ended up on Trayodasi when Amawasya occurred in Vishakha, instead of Jye?tha. This is judged from the fact that Krishna originally expected Amawasya in Jye?tha. [Mbh: 5-140-18] Two tithis short of that indicates Vishakha as the star of the day, when the no-moon occurred on Trayodasi. A shocked Vyasa expressed,

caturdasi? pañcadasi? bhutapurva? ca ?o?asim

ima? tu nabhijanami amavasya? trayodasim [Mbh: 6-3-28]


Since this verse is interpreted casually as referring to ‘days’ and drawing a non-existent eclipse from that, a word for word meaning is given to know what Vyasa conveyed.



caturdasi? =  caturdasi   (i-stem, singular, accusative)

pañcadasi? = pañcadasi (i-stem, singular, accusative)

bhuta =  actually happened, true, real (n. an actual occurrence, fact, matter of fact, reality)

purva? =  formerly  (a-stem, singular, accusative)

ca = and, also, moreover

?o?asim = ?o?asi (i-stem, singular, accusative)

ima? = this

tu = but

na abhijanami = I have never known (I could not realize even until now: SB: 9-19-12)

amavasya? =  the sun and moon “dwell together” (a-stem, singular, accusative)

trayodasim = trayodasi (i-stem, singular, accusative)


Overall meaning:

“This (Amawasya) in Caturdasi, Pañcadasi and also formerly happened in ?o?asi, but I have not known until now Amawasya in Trayodasi.”


There is absolutely no reference to an eclipse in this verse. Vyasa spoke about a never-heard, never-happened-before event of Amawasya occurring in Trayodasi.  


To know why it is a never-happened before event, we must know what caturdasi, pañcadasi etc. are. They are Tithi-s of the lunar time scale each covering exactly 12 degrees span of the sky in the lunar orbit. They are not days, that are reckoned from sunrise in a place on the earth. (Definition of Tithi given in Part X) Pañcadasi (15th tithi) ends at the 180th degree in the orbit of the moon. For easy understanding, we may call it the median position around which Amawasya or Paurnami occurs.

Sometimes Amawasya starts after caturdasi (14th tithi) had started but never before caturdasi, in which case it would mean Trayodasi (13th tithi). Similarly it could stretch a little forward of pañcadasi (15th tithi) touching ?o?asi (16th tithi) but never go to saptadasi, the 17th tithi. The sway occurs between the 14th and 16th tithi with 15th tithi as the median.


The drift can happen gradually over millions of years to either the 13th or the 17th tithi, due to a gradual change in the speed of the moon, but not suddenly. If ever it goes to the 13th or the 17th tithi suddenly, it is an indication of some calamity affecting the path and speed of the moon. This basic scientific knowledge about the moon is essential for understanding this verse of Mahabharata.


The verse is explicit in referring to tithis and the occurrence of Amawasya impossibly in Trayodasi tithi and not a “time interval of 13 days” between two eclipses that many researchers are proposing.


Thirteen day eclipse, single or twin or triple eclipses are proposed by almost all Mahabharata researchers without realizing that Vyasa doesn’t talk about day but only about tithi. There is no reference to Rahu or Ketu either; whose conjunction with the sun and the moon is an essential condition for a solar eclipse (on Amawasya). There is only a reference to ‘aparva?i grahav etau’ – of two grahas joining in, out of season. Vyasa says this in the next verse:


candrasuryav ubhau grastav ekamase trayodasim

aparva?i grahav etau praja? sa?k?apayi?yata? [MBH: 6-3-29]



Candrasuryav = Moon and sun (dual, nominative, vocative, accusative)

Ubhau = both of them, against each other, i.e. opposite to each other (SB 10.63.23) (dual, nominative, vocative, accusative)

Grastav = covered (SB 6.8.34: sva-tejasa grasta-samasta-teja? sva-tejasa = by His personal effulgence covered all other influences = one upon another) (dual) stem: grasta. (Nominative, accusative, dual past passive participle)

ekamase = in a month (locative)

trayodasim = trayodasim = trayodasi (i-stem, singular, accusative)

aparva?i = (locative case of a-parvan-) at the wrong time, out of season

grahav = two grahas (moon and sun), (dual, nominative, vocative, accusative)

etau = these two (SB 10.41.31), these (SB 10.43.23, SB 10.46.31, SB 10.82.38, SB 11.11.6, SB 3.16.2)

praja? = people

sa?k?apayi?yata? = will be destroyed


Overall meaning:

“These two grahas, the moon and the sun covered each other (Full-moon) at a wrong time in Trayodasi in a month, (by which) the people are to be destroyed.”


In the first line of this verse, ‘candrasuryav, ubhau and grastav’ are in dual case indicating the catching of only two planets, the moon and the sun. Since this followed Amawasya in Trayodasi in the previous verse, the meaning “against each other” referring to “opposite to each other” (Full-moon) is taken for ‘ubhau’. The event being that of Full-moon, the meaning ‘covered’ is taken for ‘grastav’ (dual declension). They covered each other at wrong time (aparva?i), a reference to Trayodasi –i.e. before the normal season on pañcadasi or even caturdasi. This happened in ekamase – in a month or in one month – which could be a reference to a solar month or two pakshas (phases of the moon) together, but can never be in a single lunar month, because by Amawasya a lunar month ends and the next month starts from the next day. In that month the Full Moon had happened at Trayodasi.


Thus there is absolutely no reference to an eclipse in this verse too. The word ‘grasta’ is misinterpreted by some to mean Rahu! Grasta can happen with or by any one. To have meant an eclipse, the verse should have made a mention about Rahu or Ketu by their alternative names [Rahu: Tamas, Agu, Asura. Ketu: Shiki; Brihat Jataka: 2-3] if not in their own names. It is repeatedly written in dual declension about the sun and the moon and what they did with each other.


The Amawasya in Trayodasi had occurred in the lunar month of Kartika (Kaumudi) in the star Vishakha and not in Jye?tha. The simulated version from the astrology software for Surya Siddhanta ayanamsa shows Vishakha starting in the evening of Krishna Trayodasi of Kartika month that ushered in the concept of Bodhayana Amawasya. The location of Rahu is more than 90 degrees away from the sun. In the absence of a conjunction with Rahu or Ketu, an eclipse cannot occur.


Bodhayana Amawasya initiated by Krishna 


The origin of the oral legend about Krishna starting to do Pitru Tarpan by inviting the sun and the moon earlier than normal had emerged from this unusual earlier occurrence of Amawasya. Though Krishna could not have done Pitru tarpan at that time as Vasudeva, his father, lived until Krishna left this world, it must be noted that the odd Amawasya was retained in memory just as Amawasya and not as an eclipse. This extraordinary Amawasya was retained in tradition by the observance of what is called Bodhayana Amawasya. A Trayodasi Amawasya can never recur, but the Amawasya starting earlier than pañcadasi, i.e. on Caturdasi can replicate the memory of that odd Amawasya that was witnessed at the end of Krishna’s mission.  


When Amawasya starts on the previous evening and ends before sunset the next day, the previous day (caturdasi) is treated as Amawasya, as per Bodhayana Sutra. The rationale is that since Amawasya means conjunction of the sun and the moon, Amawasya tithi must be running at night time, though the tithi is recognized at sunrise. On 10th September 3136 BCE, Amawasya must have started by the evening of Trayodasi when Vishakha also started. Though it was there on 11th morning, it must have ended before sunset. No software, no manual calculation can establish this. This is deduced from the events revealed by the verses.


The people at that time could have done the tarpan on 11th noon, but Amawasya starting on the day of Trayodasi made that an exceptional event. Lot of commotion must have prevailed at that time and Krishna might have suggested the offer of tarpan on Trayodasi when moon became invisible by joining the sun. Perhaps in memory of that odd Amawasya, the tradition of observing Amawasya on the previous day (caturdasi) if Amawasya doesn’t extend to the next night - had come into place. It was formalized in Bodhayana sutra.


The Bodhayana Amawasya span occurs in normal course three or more times in a year, but it was not treated as the time for tarpan ceremony until the unexpected Trayodasi Amawasya occurred. This is deduced from the tradition of Bodhayana Amawasya tarpan having been initiated by Krishna. The simulation shows there is absolutely no scope for an eclipse on that day. The fundamental rule for a solar eclipse being the conjunction of Rahu or Ketu with the sun and the moon was non-existent on that day. Rahu was away from the Sun by more than 90 degrees.


The second Trayodasi Paurnami repeated in Vyasa’s version


The connection between the sun and the moon occurred on Trayodasi twice, first as Amawasya in the 13th tithi and then as Paurnami in the 13th tithi of that phase. The second is deduced from another verse also. Let me explain that deduction.


Margashira month started on the next day of the Amawasya (on waning Trayodasi). In the normal course, the Full-moon of this month would occur in the star Margashira, but that would be the 16th tithi when counted from Vishakha, whereas Vyasa noted specifically that the phase ended in the star Krittika! Normally, Full-moon would occur in Krittika or close to Krittika in the month of Kartika. Krishna started two days before the Full-moon in Krittika in Kartika month. That Full-moon was event-free. The major event of the comet fall happened four days after that Full-moon. So any reference to an affliction related to the Full-moon in the star Krittika was not about the Full-moon day of Kartika month. With this clarity let us read the statement by Vyasa.


ahoratra? maya d???a? tat k?ayaya bhavi?yati

alak?ya? prabhaya hina? paur?amasi? ca karttikim

candro ‘bhud agnivar?as ca samavar?e nabhastale [Mbh: 6-2. V.22-23]



ahoratra? = day and night, continually (dual number, neuter, vocative, singular, stem: ahoratra)

maya = by me (deictic instrumentative, singular, stem: asmad)

d???a? = is seen (SB 5.10.11), seen (SB 1.12.30), being seen, personally seen

tat =  there, in that place (neuter, nominative, accusative, singular, stem: tad)

k?ayaya =  for destruction (BG 16.9, SB 4.29.22), for the sake of diminishing (SB 2.7.22),  diminution, decay, loss (dative, singular, stem: k?aya)

bhavi?yati = it will be (SB 11.7.4), will appear (SB 2.7.38) (locative, singular, future participle, stem: bhavi?yat )

alak?ya? = no particular marks (stem: lak?ya? meaning mark), insignificant appearance.

Prabhaya = with its light (SB 10.51.29) (feminine, instrumentative, singular, stem: prabha)

hina? = bereft of (SB 4.14.39-40) (nominative, singular, past passive participle, stem: hina)

paur?amasi? = Full moon (i-stem, singular, accusative)

ca = and, also, moreover

karttikim = Full-moon in the constellation of Krittika, Full-moon in the month of Kartika (i-stem, singular, accusative)

candro ‘bhud = candra  (moon) abhut = Root verb:bhu, appeared (SB 10.19.7, SB 9.24.12) (third person, singular, tense paradigm aorist class, parasmaipada)

agnivar?as = having the colour of fire

ca = and, also, moreover

samavar?e = of the same colour (singular, locative)

nabhastale = sky surface, firmament (neuter, locative, singular)


Overall meaning:

Day and night seen by me that the diminution will be happening; also in the firmament Full-Moon in Krittika without marks and bereft of light, appeared in the same colour, in the colour of fire.


This verse is misinterpreted by almost all Mahabharata researchers as indicative of a lunar eclipse in 13 days. In support of this, they show ‘Kshaya”, “Prabhaya hina” and “agnivarna”.


The first point against the lunar eclipse is that it was seen by Vyasa ‘day and night’. Can the lunar eclipse that was going to happen in future (bhavishyati) be seen beforehand for day and night continuously?


The second point is how the Full-moon could occur in the star Krittika? Only the star is mentioned here, not the month. The Kartika month was already gone at the time Krishna left two days prior to the Full moon in Kartika. There was no eclipse at that time. But this Full-moon had occurred in Margashira, after the Amawasya in Trayodasi. So there is something wrong with it appearing in Krittika, the star. This is asambhavam – impossible, but it seemed it was going to happen; that is why Vyasa kept watching day by night.


The third point is against linking the term ‘Kshaya’ with eclipse (reduction in lighted surface during lunar eclipse). ‘Kshaya’ refers to the tithi. Day and night Vyasa was observing the tithis, finding them diminishing (kshaya) by which the Full Moon would appear ‘out of season’- expressed in another verse (aparva?i).


To understand this one must know how tithis extend or reduce in a phase. A ‘kshaya tithi’ is that which starts after the sunrise and ends before the next sunrise, by which that tithi is lost in counting. To give an example, suppose the tithi at sunrise is Dwitiya, then the tithi of the day is taken as Dwitiya only. Sometime after sunrise, Tritiya arrives but may get ended before the next sunrise when Caturthi has already started. By this the previous day had Dwitiya and the next day has Caturthi, and in between Tritiya is dropped from counting. Tritiya in this case is known as Kshaya tithi.


This phenomenon of kshaya tithi occurs due to variation in the speed of the moon. It would be faster at perihelion, by which a tithi (12 degree) gets ended between two sun rises. By this, three tithis are seen within two sunrises. Similar to the Kshaya masa event the Kshaya tithi would be followed or preceded by an extended tithi, known as Tri-dina spruk that stretches beyond two sun rises. This occurs when the moon is at aphelion. Within a month the moon crosses both the perigee and apogee in its orbit around the earth by which the Kshaya tithi and Tri-dina spruk occur in succession. At times Kshaya tithi is accompanied with Tithi-dvayam by which two tithis appear with in two sunrises. But whenever a Kshaya tithi occurs, either a Tithi-dvayam or a Tri-dina spruk is certain to occur a few days before or after the Kshaya tithi, in the same paksha (phase of the moon).


Particularly after Bodhayana Amawasya, which by itself is a case of early occurrence of a tithi, not matching with day and night, an extended tithi would occur within Pancami (the first 5 tithis). Strangely Vyasa was seeing only Kshaya tithis and no automatic adjustment by way of extended tithis. This means the moon was faster than normal.


This gives us the revelation that the 13th tithi Amawasya occurred because of faster than normal movement of the moon, caused by the comet-hit. That it continued in the next phase is made out from the expression, “tat k?ayaya bhavi?yati” which was seen by Vyasa day and night.


The fourth point against the suggestion of an eclipse is about “alak?ya? prabhaya hina?”. Taking the meaning of ‘alakshya’ as ‘invisible’, many researchers thought that it referred to an eclipse as there was a ‘reduction in the moonlight’ (prabhaya hina?). Alakshaya is the opposite of Lakshaya with one of the meanings, “mark”. Alaskya means without marks.


Here we must recall Vyasa’s verse on “Somasya lakshma vyavrittam” where he meant seeing changes in the marks on the lunar disc. So naturally he was expected to look intently at the waxing moon for the fresh mark that he had seen days ago. To his dismay no marks were seen anywhere on the moon. Then what did he see? He explains it in the next line, “candro ‘bhud agnivar?a” - the moon appeared in the colour of fire. Additionally, the increase in brightness day after day expected in the waxing phase was no longer happening. The lunar disc appeared entirely devoid of marks and bereft of light.


The three-lines perfectly express the dull appearance of the lunar disc that was recovering from a comet-hit. Even the normally appearing features were not seen as the disc appeared dull with red – made so by the catastrophic collision on its soil. The impact must have been phenomenal that the disturbed lunar soil did not settle down in the next 20 days that Vyasa was watching. And strangely the Full-moon occurred in the same star of the previous month!  Simulated horoscopy shows Krittika joining Trayodasi, but that was Paurnami day at that time.


Trayodasi in this simulation is counted in normal course as no simulator can show the loss of tithis at that time. There must have been minimum two kshaya tithis without any extended tithi in that phase, bringing Paurnami on a tithi which would in normal count be Trayodasi. This is ascertained from the difference of four tithis at the start of Uttarayana the next year, from Shukla Trayodasi to Shukla Ashtami, explained earlier.


We may deduce that the two anomalies were likely to have occurred within a solar month (ekamase). The 13th tithi Amawasya occurred when the sun was in 17/18th degree of Scorpio. The next 13th tithi event (Full-moon) could have started at the time of solar ingress into the next sign (Sagittarius). 


The occurrence of the Full-moon in the same star (Krittika) consecutively for two months (in Kartika and Margashira) is proof of the loss of a complete month- a kind of kshaya masa. This has to get adjusted by an adhika masa after this, if the moon was recovering from the shock of the collision. Bhishma busy with the war preparations obviously did not keep track of the change in time in the lunar tithis. As a result he failed to foresee the piling up of days leading to an Adhika Masa at the most inappropriate time of Magha and prepared to lay down his life much earlier than the delayed arrival of Uttarayana! The sequence explained till now justifies an Adhika masa appearing at Magha! Without a grasp of these events, it is not possible to get the Mahabharata date right.


In the final analysis, Vyasa’s reference to Amawasya in Trayodasi in Kartika month followed by Paurnami in Krittika in Margashira month is proof of an anomaly in the moon’s speed which however returned to normal by the next phase. The temporary glitch in the lunar cycle finds an explanation only in the comet hit hinted by Mahabharata. This written record pointing to a comet hit on the moon and the subsequent observations are the first of its kind in the world, and must be brought to the notice of the world. It establishes the accuracy of Mahabharata and the well advanced Indic culture present as early as 5000 years ago.


The evidences for the comet-hit are not yet over. Vyasa’s version to Dhritarashtra reveals additional proofs and something more, that explains why Vyasa made an unusual observation of Arundhati keeping her husband at her back.


(To be continued…)  


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