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Kurukshetra: History or Myth?

Posted by VASUDEVA REDDY on Wednesday, December 28, 2011 Under: ancient history

Modern world has seen many wars, the biggest war that modern world had seen is World War II, which has accounted for 73 million causalities.  But, according to Indian mythology (for instance), Kurukshetra was the Great War that world has ever seen. According to Mahabharata, One billion 660 million and 20,000 men have fallen in this battle (Mahabharata, book 11, chapter 6, verses 7&8)1.  As many people know Mahabharata has 18 parvas, among which 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th parvas deal with the Great War. The debate has been continuing among the historians about the historical evidence of the Great War. Some people believe that it had actually happened in the period of 3100 BC, while some other denies that. But now the question is why some people believe that Kurukshetra (Mahabharata story, as well) had happened actually. What are the historical facts they are showing to support their arguments, are they acceptable ones.


 Let’s drill…..

Indus civilization was the oldest civilization that India has seen. Indus civilization existed in the period between 3300 BC to 1300 BC. Though it is said as oldest, we had civilization before that period also which is called as Mehrgarh I-IV dated back to 7000 BC2. It is said that the Great war Kurukshetra was the junction between Bronze Age (Dwapara yuga) and iron age (kali yuga). The Kali Yuga is said to have begun with the death of Krishna on February 17, 3102 BC (dates were given by historians, not by me). The dates were calculated based on the astronomical movement as described in the Mahabharata.  Scholars have established that parvas were written at different times, some being much older than the others.


Historical evidences of Mahabharata:

Some of the characters and seals described in the epic The Mahabharata were found in their contemporary literature and culture. For example, words like Paila (Vyasa's pupil), Akrura (Krishna's friend), Vrishni (Krishna's clan), Yadu (Krishna's ancestor), Sritirtha (old name for Dwaraka) are found on seals, some of which may go back five thousand years. The greatest barrier to study ancient history of India is being the Aryan invasion; again it is a debatable topic. It is just one of the theories proposed to support the extinction of Indus civilization, but no one knows how far it is true.

The ancient Indian grammarian, Panani3, mentioned several Mahabharata names including Vasudeva (Krishna), Arjuna, Nakula etc in his writings. Historians say that he lived in the period of 4th century BC. Not only in that but many books/scripts written in that period contains the names of Mahabharata characters (including some Buddhist works). That means, the story or Mahabharata had happened or told much before them. Which can be supported by the historians expected dates of happening story.


As I said earlier, traditional scholars have always held that Kali-yuga - the Age of Kali - began in 3102 BC. Professor K. Srinivasaraghavan, perhaps the foremost authority on the topic, has even determined November 22, 3067 BC as the day on which the Mahabharata War took place, but this assumes that ancient astronomical observations are exact.  But one most arguable issue is the discovery of submerged ancient city Dwaraka.


Ashvalayana, author of the Ashvalayana-shrauta-sutra, recorded that in his time plants sprouted after the beginning of monsoon rains in the Hindu month of Bhadrapada. This goes to show that the monsoon in his time used to start in the month of Sravana instead of Jyestha as it does today - a difference of about seventy days. This is due to a well-known astronomical phenomenon called the 'precession of the equinoxes6'. Seasons fall back relative to the fixed stars (and the Hindu calendar which is based on the fixed stars) by about one day every 72 years. What this means is that the beginning of monsoon noted by Ashvalayana must have been taking place close to 5000 years ago or about 3000 BC.

Even some greek records described about the character named Indian Heracles4, derived from Hari- Krisha. They stated, Indian Heracles (Krishna) is recorded by the Greeks as having lived 138 generations before the time of Alexander and Sandracottos which we may take to be c. 330 BC. By taking 20 years per generation, the period in which Indian Heracles had lived will be about 3090 BC.

Moreover many of the place still exists which were mentioned in the Mahabharata. As they stated in that epic, city Dwaraka was submerged and still it is under water5.

Whatever the mythology says and whatever the historians say, the story of Mahabharata is an epic which had helped most of our film directors to write stories in some or other way. It is no wonder when one says that no Indian film can come without having any traces of Mahabharata.

As someone said in one movie, Histories will become legends and legends will become myths. I don’t know what had become what in case of Mahabharata, but I can only say it’ll be an endless debate topic until lord Krishna comes and say that it had happened.

PS: I didn’t intend to promote any religion.










In : ancient history 

Tags: kurukshetra  mahabharata  krishna  mythology  myth  history  india  ancient 
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