Validating Traditional date of Mahabharata War - XXI
by Jayasree Saranathan on 23 Feb 2021 0 Comment

The next event of a celestial reference occurred on the evening of the 14th day of the war when Arjuna was trying to breach the security cordon around Jayadratha whom he avowed to kill in revenge for the killing of Abhimanyu, his son, the previous day. If he failed to kill him before sunset he would have to jump into fire. With no great progress in sight as the sun was quickly descending in the west, Krishna shrouded the sun with his yoga and urged Arjuna to kill Jayadratha. After Jayadratha was killed, the darkness was withdrawn by Krishna. This was interpreted by some to be a solar eclipse. It cannot be so - which is corroborated by other references to late moon-rise on the night of the 14th day.


Before going ahead with those references, let me point out certain hints found in Mahabharata useful for creating darkness, as was done by Krishna. These were told by Bhishma to the Pandavas from his arrow bed in the context of giving tips on winning a war.


He said that

“The troops should be placed in such a position that the wind, the sun, and the planet Sukra should blow and shine from behind them.” [Mbh: 12-101-17]


This sounds perfectly logical, thinking of how each of the factors could help in the battle. The wind blowing from the back is highly conducive for victory by increasing the momentum of the arrows shot.


The sun shining at the back of an army helps in two ways. The light of the sun mars the vision of the opponent in aiming his shots. It is also possible for the army to create illusions with the sun at the back. The Pandavas were facing the east with Vayu and Venus at their back on the first day of the war says Mahabharata. [Mbh: 6-20-6] They must have swayed between the west and the north, by keeping the Kauravas at the east and the south. They must have maintained this directional position throughout, by which the sun was behind them before sunset. The phenomenon of sunset created by Krishna on the 14th day of the war followed by the sudden re-appearance of the sun became possible when they were in this position.


The army having the sun at its back has ample scope to create ILLUSIONS AT THE BACK OF ITS TROOPS to deceive opponents facing the sun. The text says that the Kauravas were turning to the side of the sunset to see it invisible. In the month of Pushya - before the Uttarayana - the sun would be in the southernmost part of its sojourn. So the Kauravas must have turned to south west to see if the sun was gone. The sun can be hidden by dark smoke and made to re-appear by dispelling the smoke. All these deceptions can happen at the back side of the army without leaving any hint to the opponent fighting in front of it.


The late moon-rise on the 14th night


The war continued that night but after a brief rest, the warriors woke up to fight again when the moon arose. The verse states, [Mbh: 7-159-25]

tato vinidra visrantas candramasy udite puna?


The words ‘udite puna?’ raises a doubt whether there was a re-appearance of the moon, perhaps due to cloudy weather – by which it is meant that it was not a waning phase. This is rejected by the meaning of ‘udite’ which is a dual past passive participle (feminine nominative, stem: udita). The verse has clubbed together both the army and the moon and stated that they had risen again – the soldiers after a brief rest and the moon after a day’s off. 


Moreover the tithi counted from the time of the eclipsed Full-Moon that rose up on the evening of the 3rd day of the war shows that it was a late moon-rise, few hours before the sunrise.


The lunar eclipse occurred on the evening of 25th October 3136 BCE.

The 10th day of the war happened to be 1st November when Bhishma fell.

The 14th day coincided with 5th November.


Counting the tithis from Krishna Pratipat that started at the night of the 3rd day of the war (25th October) till the midnight of the 14th day (5th November), eleven tithis must have passed. At the time of late moon rise, the warring people must have seen either the end of Krishna Ekadasi or the beginning of Krishna Dwadasi. This sighting happened in the early hours, say around 3 a.m. of 6th November 3136 BCE.


The day break on the 15th day must have coincided with Krishna Dwadasi. This sequence justifies extended tithis culminating in Amawasya stretching to the 19th day – something Krishna recalled 35 years later.


The solar eclipse on the 19th day of the war


There is a general perception that the war ended on the 18th day. The remaining warriors, Uluka and Shakuni were slain by the noon of the 18th day after which Duryodhana fled on foot to hide himself in Dvaipayana Lake. [Mbh: 9-21- 43] The Pandavas started searching for the whereabouts of Duryodhana, but retired to their camp without success. That the sun had set by then is revealed in four different verses when (1) the three survivors of the Kaurava army, namely, Kritavarman, Kripa and Aswattama stealthily went on to meet Duryodhana lying in the lake [Mbh: 9-28-62], (2) Yudhisthira supervised the removal of the royal women from the battle field after seeing off Yuyutsu [Mbh: 9-28-82], (3) Duryodhana expressed that he wanted to take rest for that night [Mbh: 9-29-17], and (4) the three survivors of the Kaurava army are mentioned again as going to meet Duryodhana. [Mbh: 9-30-4]


The final war with Duryodhana thus remained unfought on the 18th day. The secret meeting between Duryodhana and the three survivors was overheard by a group of hunters who promptly conveyed the location of Duryodhana to Bhima. On hearing this, the Pandava brothers with Krishna quickly reached the lake. This must have been in the next morning.


Here the narrative shifts to Balarama’s pilgrimage. On the 18th day of the war he was at the sacred waters of Kurukshetra and began to ascend the mountain. But he didn’t go very far and spent the night at Plakshaprasravana and Karavapana. The next day he reached a holy spot in Yamuna where he was met by Narada who gave him the details about the war including Duryodhana’s flight to the lake and the mace-fight decided between him and Bhima at that very moment. [Mbh: 9-53-30] Balarama immediately rushed to the spot to meet the warriors. This was the 19th day after the war began.


On the suggestion of Balarama, the venue of the fight was shifted to Samantapancaka. All of them went by foot to that location. Just when Duryodhana started roaring, calling out Bhima to fight with him, numerous nimittas of the kind of an aftermath of the comet-hit was once again seen. Loud thunderbolts, dust showers, hundreds of meteors falling, the earth and the trees trembling, hot winds and mountain tops breaking were seen along with Rahu swallowing the sun in ‘aparvan’!!

rahus cagrasad adityam aparva?i” [Mbh: 9-55-10]



Rahus ca = and Rahu

agrasat = swallowed

adityam =  the sun (masculine accusative singular stem: aditya)

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


Overall meaning:

Rahu swallowed the sun out of season.


Unlike the verse of Vyasa on “candrasuryau…” and “caturdasim...”, here there is a specific reference to Rahu swallowing the sun, indicating a solar eclipse. The word ‘aparva?i’ appeared then (in ‘candrasuryau’ verse) and here also, only to mean that it was either unexpected or occurred defying the calculated time of Amawasya. The simulation for Krodhi, Pushya Amawasya, exactly matches with Shravana, the star of the day Balarama returned.


By the evening of that day, Duryodhana had fallen. This is known from the verse of Krishna saying that “It is evening; we had better depart to our tents,” soon after the end of the fight. [Mbh: 9-60-63] From the description of the fight it is known that the fight took place in the afternoon. The solar eclipse was seen only in the afternoon. The simulation shows the location of the sun and Ketu well within the required distance of 19 degrees in this simulation, which cannot be true as per the calculation we made for the lunar eclipse of the 3rd day. But it turned out to be aparvani, either because the eclipse was not predicted in advance or it occurred well beyond Pancadasi.


The second factor that the eclipse occurred well beyond the expected time is ascertained by calculating the duration between the lunar eclipse of the 3rd day and the solar eclipse of the 19th day. The eclipse as well as the tithi – either Paurnami or Amawasya – end simultaneously. Immediately after the eclipse the first (next) tithi (Pratipat) starts. Counting from the rising lunar eclipse on the evening of the 3rd day, 15 days were over by the evening of the 18th day of the war. Though a day is not equal to a tithi, a paksha would be little less than the 15 day duration. By the evening of the 18th day, 15 tithis were over. The solar eclipse had happened well beyond the time that the normal duration of a paksha gets over. This is very rare – something recognized by Vyasa in his verse, “Caturdasi?.” Was there a 16th tithi (sodasi) then?


The answer for this is found in Musala parva at the time of the destruction of the Vrishnis. This extended phase was remembered by Krishna at that time. Looking at the bad omens seen at that time, Krishna said, [Mbh: 16-3 -16 & 17]

eva? pasyan h??ikesa? sa?prapta? kalaparyayam

trayodasyam amavasya? tan d???va prabravid idam

caturdasi pañcadasi k?teya? rahu?a puna?

tada ca bharate yuddhe prapta cadya k?ayaya na?



eva? = thus

pasyan = by seeing (SB 3.1.42, SB 3.9.33) observing (SB 11.22.53) (masculine, nominative, singular, stem: pasyat)

h??ikesa? = Krishna

sa?prapta? = sa?prapta = arrived in time, attained

kalaparyayam = revolution of Time

trayodasyam =  In Trayodasi (dual, instrumental, dative, ablative, i-stem)

amavasya? = Amawasya

tan = that, there (accusative, plural, stem: tad)

d???va = having seen, after seeing (BG 1.2)

prabravid = pra – abravit = began to speak (SB 9.3.5)

idam = this (neuter, nominative, stem: ayam)

caturdasi pañcadasi = caturdasi pañcadasi

k?teya? = k?ta = made (third person singular tense paradigm injunctive class atmanepada vk?)

iyam = this (nominative singular stem: ayam)

rahu?a = by Rahu (instrumental)

puna? = again

tada = at that time

ca = and

bharate yuddhe = in the battle of Bharatas (Mahabharata war)

prapta = underwent (SB 1.9.13), was attained (SB 3.24.47)

cadya = ca adya = now

k?ayaya = for destruction (masculine dative singular stem: k?aya) (BG 16.9, SB 4.29.22)

na? = us, to us (accusative genitive case dative case plural of first person pronoun)


Overall meaning:

“By seeing (the adverse omens) Krishna understood that the Time (of wheel) had come to a revolution. Having seen Amawasya in Trayodasi at that time (in the past), he began to speak that Caturdasi made into Pancadasi by Rahu at the battle of the Bharatas is (there) now for our destruction.”


Krishna compared the solar eclipse at the time of the utterance of this verse by him with the solar eclipse at the time of the Mahabharata war. Both occurred at extended tithis. Rahu that made caturdasi into Pancadasi at the time of the war causing the destruction of the Kuru-s repeated again at that (Krishna’s) time signaling the destruction of the Vrishnis. The trayodasi Amawasya therefore didn’t happen again at that time is what is being made out here, which some researchers had missed. Krishna merely recalled the destruction and the omens at the time of trayodasi Amawasya.


This verse by Krishna, told 35 years after the Mahabharata war offers validation of the extended tithi coinciding with a solar eclipse on the 19th day of the war. The 19th day had extended Pancadasi when the solar eclipse had happened. Similar kind of extended tithi swallowed by Rahu had occurred at the time Krishna spoke this. That marked the start of Kali Maha Yuga.


The extended Pancadasi on the 19th day of the war shows that the moon was almost back to its original path by then. From the quick and shorter phases immediately after the comet-hit, the moon had attained a longer path with a slowdown, causing extended tithis. This happened within 42 day duration which was exactly the same period of Balarama’s pilgrimage. The major disturbances were noticed only within this period. The next major disturbance was at the time of exit of Krishna, which however was a once in a while, rare phenomenon (refer “caturdasim.. ?o?asim..” verse) However, never again in the history of the world Trayodasi Amawasya or Paurnami was reported and never before too.


This deduction is possible because of step by step and sequential interpretation of the verses in the Mahabharata. The lunar month of Magha started the very next day after Duryodhana died. But the sun’s longitude didn’t support an adhika masa then, obviously because no simulation (and no manual calculation) can give the exact picture of the time variation then. The fortunate feature is that the astronomy observations that we validated so far were independent of the location of the sun and the moon and were about the aspects (association) between the planets that were in no way affected by the comet-hit. The moon’s location (see Part 8) changed with reference to the sun only after the comet-hit and in the 42 day period, by which time the war ended.


The next day (11th November) was the first day of Magha. To have this month as Adhika masa, the sun must have been at the beginning of Capricorn –by having just entered the sign. This is the original time of the Uttarayana then, but the calendar system of the Mahabharata times did not propose the exact time of the turn of the sun in the years other than the 1st year of the Yuga. That year being the 2nd in the 5-year Yuga, the waxing 13th tithi of Magha was the day of Uttarayana. But by then they witnessed the lunar month starting after the sun entered Capricorn and ending before the sun exited Capricorn. This made this lunar month of Magha an Adhika masa. (This adhika masa is deduced only from the sequence of events. No simulation helps us in this regard)


This duration shows that the sun had advanced into Capricorn and entered Aquarius soon after the Nija Magha began. By the time of Uttarayana in Nija Magha the sun could be seen in Aquarius, i.e. Magha (Kumbha) in solar reckoning.


In other words, both the sun and the moon must have been together in their respective month of Magha (for the Sun, Kumbha masa nowadays). This is reiterated by Bhishma when he identified the Uttarayana, which we will discuss in an appropriate context.


In the normal course, the 13th tithi of waxing Magha was the day of Uttarayana in the 5 year Yuga in vogue then (see Part 3). That tithi coming in the adhika masa, Bhishma preferred to wait till the Nija masa started, but then he seemed to have calculated the Uttarayana of Nija Magha by just deducting the four tithis lost in the two phases after the comet-hit. Overall this made him wait for 58 days for his exit. This duration can be cross-checked by constructing the tithi-nakshatra alignment in the reverse from Bhishma Nirvana for 58 days to locate the date of the commencement of the Mahabharata war.


(To be continued…)


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