Validating Traditional date of Mahabharata War - XXVII
by Jayasree Saranathan on 12 Mar 2021 0 Comment

Krishna left and Kali Maha Yuga started: Resolving the controversies on Kali and Shaka


Vaisampayana opens the 16th chapter, Mausala Parva with these words,

?a? tri?se tv atha sa?prapte var?e kauravanandana

dadarsa viparitani nimittani yudhi??hira? (16-1)

“When the thirty-sixth year (after the battle) was reached, the delighter of the Kurus, Yudhisthira, beheld many unusual portents.” (Ganguli’s translation)

viparitani nimittani were many - terrestrial, atmospheric and celestial that included meteor showers and unusual appearance of the solar and lunar discs. A short while later, the king Yudhisthira received the news of the destruction of the Vrishnis.


The narration then shifts to Dwarka, wherein many inauspicious and odd omens were seen for some time. Some peculiar planetary movements were noticed. The stars were repeatedly attacked by the planets. None among the Yadavas could, however, obtain a sight of the star of his birth. [Mbh: 16-3-14: paraspara? ca nak?atra? hanyamana? puna? puna?, grahair apasyan sarve te natmanas tu katha? cana] This implies that the planets were crossing the same stars one after the other, which means that the planets were congregating together at some location of the zodiac.


Seeing this kind of planetary congregation and other odd sightings on earth and the atmosphere, Krishna thought that the Time has come – something similar to what was witnessed during the Bharata war. His thoughts (see Part 21) in the context of the solar eclipse on the 19th day of the war at the time of the mace fight:

“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 Pañcadasi by Rahu at the battle of the Bharatas is (there) now for our destruction.” [Mbh: 16-3 -16 & 17]


The extended tithi of Caturdasi into Pañcadasi recalled here, hints at the day being Caturdasi extending into the next day. Krishna recalled Gandhari’s curse and “understood that the thirty-sixth year had come, and that what Gandhari, burning with grief on account of the death of her sons, and deprived of all her kinsmen, had said was about to transpire.” [Mbh: 16-3-19]

putrasokabhisa?tapta gandhari hatabandhava

yad anuvyajahararta tad ida? samupagatam


He also thought, “The present is exactly similar to that time when Yudhisthira noted at such awful omens when the two armies had been arrayed in order of battle.” [Mbh: 16-3-20]


Thinking so, Krishna commanded the Vrishnis to go on a pilgrimage to the sacred site on the sea shore. Once they reached the sea shore, hell broke loose and mutual destruction of each other followed. Following the destruction of the Vrishnis, Krishna left home after summoning Daruka to bring Arjuna to take care of the women and the wealth. Hastinapur located at a distance of nearly 1400 kilometres from Dwarka, Daruka could have taken a day to reach Hastinapur and the return journey with Arjuna must have taken another day. Daruka delivering the news of the destruction of the Vrishnis must have coincided with Yudhisthira having noticed the nimittas just then. Perhaps those nimittas marked the time of Krishna leaving. That could be Pañcadasi when Amawasya turned into a solar eclipse.


After sending Daruka to Hastinapur, Krishna proceeded to the forest where he found Balarama in Yoga, leaving the earth. This must have been the day of Amawasya. Sitting down on the bare earth and thinking of Gandhari’s curse, of the previous slaughter of the Kurus and the mutual destruction of Vrishnis a short while ago, he thought it was time to leave the earth and laid himself down on the earth and entered into Maha-yoga.


A hunter named Jara seeing him from a distance, draped in his famous yellow garments, mistook him for a deer and shot his arrow piercing Krishna’s heel. Krishna left the world, and Kali entered the world.


The day Krishna left the world was astronomically and historically the same day from when the 4th Maha Yuga started ticking. The day was marked by the congregation of all the planets except Rahu at the beginning of Aries. The gathering of the planets was already noticed by Krishna.


From Mahabharata to Bhagavata Purana, we find a continuity of events following the exit of Krishna. In the very beginning of Bhagavata Purana, Vyasa repeats the bad omens seen by Yudhisthira at the exit of Krishna as was described in Mahabharata. When Arjuna brings the bad news about Krishna’s departure, Vyasa says (in Suta’s narration) the Kali has manifest fully at the exit of Krishna.

yada mukundo bhagavan ima? mahi?

jahau sva-tanva srava?iya-sat-katha?

tadahar evapratibuddha-cetasam

abhadra-hetu? kalir anvavartata [Bhagavata Purana: 1-15-36]


Meaning: “When the Personality of Godhead, Lord K???a, left this earthly planet in His selfsame form, from that very day Kali, who had already partially appeared, became fully manifest to create inauspicious conditions for those who are endowed with a poor fund of knowledge.” []


The day of mass conjunction of the planets marks the cut-off date of Time. The date of conjunction was 22nd January, 3101 BCE in the year Pramathi, on a Thursday when the sun and the moon joined at the beginning of Aries at the star Aswini, causing a solar eclipse.


This date is coming along without any controversy by the Pancanga writers who are the custodians of time till now. The Jyothisha Siddhantas are the main sources of authority for this time computation. Unfortunately these two are forgotten or set aside inadvertently by those who are not even aware of the time Kali Yuga started or the factor that marked the start of this Yuga. Let me address those issues before going ahead with the post-Krishna events.


The ayanamsa factor


The foremost problem is that none could get the planetary congregation in the simulators. Without having incorporated in the simulators, the zero degree ayanamsa position running at the time of Kali Yuga, the Kali Yuga congregation cannot be obtained. I am able to show the congregation using the correct ayanamsa embedded in Surya Siddhanta model – the model observed over thousands of years by the ancient sages. 


Attempts to manually calculate using the planetary longitudinal tables could not get the date or congregation right for the reason that those tables were given from the equinoctial point of the time of the persons who computed them. E.g.: the date of Aryabhata given by Govindasvamin was Shaka 444 that corresponds to 522 CE! He arrived at it for Aries 0° on the basis of the rate of trepidation of his time, whereas we know now that the date was 499 CE. The continuous change in the trepidation is the cause for the slightly different values, given by different Indic texts of different times of the past.


It should be noted that even at the present times, there is a sudden increase in the trepidation of the equinoctial point and the earth had rotated faster than average on 28 days in the year 2020 alone, noticed for the first time in the last fifty years.



No one knows if there is any correlation between the two, but what is known is that the rate of movement of the precession is not constant. This makes dating past events difficult. Fortunately in the case of Mahabharata, the zero ayanamsa of at the beginning of Kali Yuga serves as a solid ground to corroborate the planetary combinations.


In this backdrop, the proof of reliability of the Surya Siddhanta Ayanamsa for dating Kali Yuga (and Mahabharata) is seen in the stipulated congregation of all the planets except Rahu at the beginning of Aries.


Kali Yuga measured by planets


We often find people making claims that Kali Yuga started during the Mahabharata war, citing verses stating that Kali had ushered in. This claim is rejected outright on the simple premise that such a proposition makes Krishna, an avatara of Dvapara Yuga, live across two yugas – Dvapara and Kali Yuga – which is totally against the Yuga-avatara connection. The ratio of the number of years of the four yugas starting from Krita is 4:3:2:1 which is also the same for the number of avataras in the four Yugas. Krishna and Balarama were the two avataras of Dvapara Yuga; they cannot be shifted to Kali Yuga due to our inability to corroborate the Kali Maha Yuga at the time of the exit of the two.


Any reference to Kali beforehand could therefore suggest the decline in Dharma and not the arrival of the Kali Yuga, mainly because the Yugas are noted in terms of the planetary movements. Krishna noticed it in the planets crossing the same stars one after the other. The Yuga concept is basically about Time and we have seen how Time is cosmically created and not by what we do. Siddhantas are the authority for deciding the date of the Yuga.


Aryabhata says,

“The Yuga, the year, the day and the month commenced simultaneously at the beginning of the light half of Caitra. This time which is without beginning and end, is measured with the help of planets and the asterisms of the celestial sphere.” [Aryabhatiya: Ch.3. Kalakriya Pada, ed. and trans. by Kripa Shankar Shukla]

The planets and the stars, being the factors of measurement of the Time of the Yuga, the claims that Kali Yuga started at the time of war are automatically rejected.


In this statement of Aryabhata, there is scope for controversy. Commencement at the light half of Caitra could refer to the solar month because the lunar month soon after the conjunction was Vaishakha. Since the first day of the Yuga was counted from the day after conjunction, i.e. Shukla Pratipat, it could not have been lunar Caitra unless it was Nija Caitra. In the absence of an evidence of an Adhika masa at the time of conjunction (in the simulator), to be followed by Nija Caitra, it is deduced that the verse refers to the waxing phase present in the solar Caitra or Mesha. The lunar Vaishakha starting from the first day of the Yuga explains why the year beginning is reckoned from lunar Vaishakha in some parts of India.


The other popular Siddhanta, namely Siddhanta Shiromani authored by Bhaskara II repeats the same, but qualified with an additional input. [Siddhanta Shiromani: Madhyadhikara, section I, v.28]

“Six Manus had elapsed in this Kalpa, thereafter thirty seven yugas, as well as three yuga padas, namely, Krita, Treta and Dvapara. Further 3179 years of this fourth yuga pada namely Kali have elapsed by the end of the Shaka king.”


3179 is the number of elapsed years since Kali Yuga began. This marks this 3rd Shaka Era which is the current Era of Shalivahana Shaka. Many olden Pancanga aphorisms are there to calculate any date in this Shaka starting from the first year of the Shalivahana Shaka in 78 CE. By adding 3179 to the current year of the Shaka one gets the Kali Year date which started in 3101 BCE.


This knowledge is now getting derailed by Mahabharata researchers, none of whom got the Kali Yuga date right. Having entered the dating research with no inkling of any of these concepts, they are bringing in “Cyrus the Great”, a mleccha, into the picture and claim that his Era was referred by Bhaskara II.


Resolving the confusion in Shaka kala


With information dissemination happening now, they bring in all terms Shakendra Kala, Shakabhoopa Kala and Shaka-anta kala in to Kali Yuga Time scale. As far as Kali Yuga time scale is concerned, only six Shaka eras have been mentioned. They are [Kalidasa, “Jyotirvidabharana” 4-89]

-        Yudhisthira Era

-        Vikrama Era

-        Shalivahana Era

-        Vijayabhinanda Era

-        Nagarjuna Era

-        Bali Era


The years allotted to all these Eras add up to 4,32,000 years – the exact duration of Kali Yuga. All these are based on some sort of cosmic time measurement. For example, in Yudhisthira Shaka, the year was marked by Uttarayana. It changed into Caitra in Full moon in Vikrama Era and Caitra No-moon in Shalivahana.


Moreover, the Pancanga features (Year, month, paksha, star and weekday) would repeat at the lapse of 3780 years. [LCM of 60, 12, 30, 27 and 7 respectively for the features given] This means a combination of these five on a day, say, in year 1 of kali Yuga (3100 BCE) would repeat in the year 680 CE. This causes problems in identifying dates of the past beyond 3780 years. It is my conjecture that a new era was necessitated to avoid this. The initial one was Vikrama Era which however failed to be compatible with most of India since it started the year in the Full Moon which was not in vogue in many parts of India. Perhaps due to this, a revision was introduced in 78 CE by ushering in Shalivahana Era.


The next Era is going to start after 18,000 years. Not surprising, given the fact that our countrymen have to go that long to understand the basic features of Kali Yuga!


To stop these explanations getting too long made me focus on the contentious issue: Shaka. That is a verse in Brihat Samhita by Varahamira which researchers are using to push their wrong theory of Shaka and Sapta rishi yuga. To know what that verse says, let me do a word for word meaning of the verse.


The verse states, [Brihat Samhita: 13-3]

asan maghasu munayas sasati pruthvim Yudhisthira nriptau

Shad-davik-panch-davi (2526) yutas shaka kalas tasya rajasya


asan = Halting, stopping, abiding, staying, sitting  (third person plural present imperfect class 2 parasmaipada vas )

maghasu = in the lunar mansion Magha (feminine locative plural stem: magha) SB 12.2.31

munayas = the sages (masculine nominative, vocative plural stem: muni)

sasati -= to command, to control  (third person plural present present class 2 parasmaipada vsas)

pruthvim = earth (Accusative)

Yudhisthira (singular masculine locative)

king (singular masculine locative)


Shad-davik-panch-davi = 2526

yutas = Binding, fastening, attaching, going (masculine nominative singular past passive participle stem: yuta)

shaka kalas tasya – his shaka kaala

Tasya = about this (SB 10.89.2), at him (SB 11.23.9), by him (SB 1.9.17, SB 9.14.42, SB 10.70.24)

Rajasya = by (of) the king (singular masculine Genitive)


Overall meaning:

The earth was controlled by the king Yudhisthira in his shaka kala of 2526 (years) (when) the Saptar?is (muni) were in Magha (star)


The Shaka era mentioned here is that of Yudhisthira and not of anyone else, particularly not “Cyrus the Great” which is complete anathema to the concept of Shaka. [The founder of the Shaka era in Kali Yuga is one who defeated a Shaka (Mleccha) ruler]


Why this specific year stated?


The specialty of this date – Yudhisthira Shaka 2526 when the Saptar?is were in Magha is demystified in Srimad Bhagavatam! Srimad Bhagavatam (SB) also talks about the Saptar?is on Magha. Before talking about it SB makes a clear statement again that the Age of Kali started only from the time Krishna left the world. This is same as what Vyasa told in the first chapter of Srimad Bhagavatam quoted earlier. (SB: 1-15-36)


In the next verse this is repeated as though to clear the doubts of people who read the verses such as “prapta? kaliyuga? viddhi” at face value. [Mbh: 9-59-21] As long as Krishna was there, Kali could not enter.


After stating explicitly that Kali did not enter the world as along as Krishna was living on this earth, SB makes a statement that Kali started from the time the Saptar?is started occupying Magha.

“When the constellation of the seven sages is passing through the lunar mansion Magha, the Age of Kali begins. It comprises twelve hundred years of the demi-Gods” [SB: 12-2-31] This date corresponds to Brihat Samhita date of Kali / Yudhisthira 2526. After 2526 years of Kali Maha Yuga, the true Age of Kali began.


This is reiterated in the next verse that “When the great sages of the Saptarishi constellation pass from Magha to Purvashadha, Kali will have his full strength, beginning from King Nanda and his dynasty.” [SB: 12-2-32]


Then what was the Kali at 3101 BCE when all the planets congregated and Krishna left? Vyasa clarifies in the very next verse that, “Those who scientifically understand the past declare that on the very day that Lord Sri Krishna departed for the spiritual world, the influence of the Age of Kali began.” [SB: 12-2-33]


The word “Pura-vidah” is used to show the source from which this knowledge that Kali Yuga started only after Krishna left the world. Pura means olden, formerly, in the beginning. Vida means knowledge. In the beginning, (told by Vyasa who authored Mahabharata in his other work, Srimad Bhagavatam) the knowledgeable seers had gathered and decided that Kali Yuga started only at the time Krishna left.


How did they make this discovery?


They had seen the congregation of all the planets which is mandatory for the measurement of Yuga and found that Krishna left at the moment of that congregation. They decided the start of Kali Yuga at that moment; we are just specks of dust before them. Anyone disregarding that knowledge given by the sages and stated by Vyasa is unfit to research Mahabharata!


Vyasa repeated this idea in two verses before starting to identify Saptar?is at Magha  related to Kali. [SB: 12-2- 29 & 30] So the whole issue about Brihat Samhita verse on Saptar?is in Magha star is not about a Shaka era of Cyrus, but about deterioration of the Dharma in Kali Yuga. His verse is a re-statement of Srimad Bhagavatam verse.


To re-cap it, originally the Age of Kali (Kali Yuga) started only from the time Krishna left the world. This is repeated in 4 verses of Srimad Bhagavatam. That was the date when all the planets except Rahu congregated at the beginning of Aries – stated by Siddhantas, the authoritative books on Time and approved by “Pura-vida”. The calculation of Time that is happening till now follows this only. Janamejaya’s inscription (Part 1) followed the date of this Kali Yuga started from the time of Krishna’s exit. From that time it was known as Yudhisthira Shaka. Janamejaya’s inscription mentions “Yudhisthira- shake” giving the year counted from Yudhisthira Shaka which is also the Kali year.


By Yudhisthira Shaka 2526, the command of Yudhisthira’s rule, his code of ethics and Dharma seemed to have faded. That date is marked by the Saptar?is in Magha verse. In the next 1000 years it further deteriorated (425 CE). [Saptar?is move at the rate of 100 years per star. There are 10 stars from Magha to Purvashadha covered by the Saptar?is in 1000 years. Counted from 2526, this comes to 425 CE which is the time ayanamsa was zero once again but precession was moving backward]


After this, Uttarayana started before reaching Makara (Capricorn). [This is about the point of Precession (sun at the backdrop of stars) that started moving south of Makara, which is never treated as auspicious by the sages. Presently we are in this part]


This would bring evil, says Varahamihira. [“Brihat Samhita”, Ch. 3-4] Another 1500 years passed away before our current times. There is nothing worthy of telling for the state of Kali now and so Vyasa refrained from saying anything beyond.


The bungling of Mahabharata date and the forgotten knowledge of Kali Yuga testify how we are beyond redemption. With a heavy heart let us go back to where we left...Arjuna arriving at Dwarka.


(To be continued…)


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