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Re: Antiquity and Continuity of Indian History (Part 4)





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           Antiquity and Continuity of Indian History : Part 4
                (From Swayambhuva Manu to Gupta Dynasty)
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Index
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10. Mahabharat Era
11. Ramayanic Era


10. Mahabharat Era
------------------

The Mahabharat has exercised a continuous and pervasive influence
on the Indian mind for millennia. The Mahabharat, originally
written by Sage Ved Vyas in Sanskrut, has been translated and
adapted into numerous languages and a variety of expressions and
interpretations have been derived from it. Dating back to "remote
antiquity", it is still a living force in the life of the Indian
masses. European scholars have maintained that the events described
in the ancient Sanskrut texts are imaginary  and subsequently, the
Mahabharat derives to be a fictitious tale of a war fought between
two rivalries.

The dating of the Mahabharat has been a topic of research for the
past several years. Various dates have been estimated referring to
astronomical recordings, lineagial references, archaeological
findings and other evidences. Encoding of the astronomical
recordings in the text, the only way to provide time precision upto
a day, or even less, have been performed by numerous mathematicians
in the past. From the Vishnu Puraan (4-24-108,113) it is known that
the Kali Age started with the death of Shree Krishna of the
Mahabharat Age, the time for which is precisely known to be 2-27'-
30", February 20, 3102 B.C. 

>From internal evidences from the Mahabharat text, the coronation of
Yudhisthir can be determined to be 36 years before Kaliyug, i.e.,
3138 B.C. There are other pointers in the epic text itself that
lead to the same date (Udyog Parva: 142-18). One scholar, Dr.
Shriram Sathe, has evaluated the opinions of numerous experts on
the dating of the Mahabharat, a majority of whom appear to concur
with the 3100 B.C. dateline and therefore this time frame can be
safely accepted. Among others, one scholar Dr. Patnaik has done
commendable work in this regard. He has calculated the date of the
starting of the Mahabharat War to be October 16, 3138 B.C. from
textual references available in the epic text. However, many others
have calculated dates many years before 3100 B.C. Dr. P.V. Vartak
from Pune, Bharat (India) has shown, in his book "Swayambhu" that
the Great War to have initiated on 16th October 5561 B.C. 

Greek records, like the ancestral links of Megasthenes to Shree
Krishna, also provide some corroborating evidence to the 3100 B.C.
date. Archaeologists have been successful in excavating Dwaraka, an
important city during the Mahabharat era and Krishna's abode, which
is said to have submerged into the sea around 2500 B.C. Mahabharat
therefore precedes this date, and 3100 B.C. seems quite correct. 

The remote antiquity of the Great War leads to a paucity or
unavailability of archaeological records. However, archaeological
evidences found (Dwaraka, River Saraswati), inscriptions found at
various places (Aihole, Belgaum, Nidhanpur), Greek records
(Megasthenes), etc. provide interesting clues to the dateline of
the Mahabharat.  On one of the excavations obtained from the
Egyptian Pyramid, dated to 3000 B.C, is found engraved a verse from
the Bhagavad Geeta "vasanvsi jeernani yatha vihaya, navani
ghrunnati naro parani" (Nava Bharat Times, 18-4-67). A tablet found
in the Mohenjodaro sites depicts Lord Krishna and is dated to be
2600 B.C (Mackay's report, Part 1). This finding confirms two
things: Mahabharat must have definitely occurred before that date,
and that the people of the Saraswati-Sindhu culture knew of Lord
Krishna. Also, according to B.B. Lal, horse bones, vestiges of the
Ashwamedh, have been discovered at Hastinapur. There is further
stratigraphical evidence at Hastinapur showing the flood level at
the times of Nichakshu, sixth in line from Parikshit which has been
mentioned in the Puranas. Thus calculating backwards, the date of
Yudhisthira/Mahabharat can be determined. 

The dating of the Mahabharat is also significant in fixing the
dates of the Vedantic (Upanishadic) texts, the famous Bhagavad
Geeta and the Brahma Sootras. It is known that the end of the Vedic
school of thought was marked by the composition of the Vedanta by
Sage Ved Vyas, the illustrious author of the Mahabharat text
(Rajgopalachari, "Indian Philosophy"). The basis of yogic school of
thought, the Sankhya Yoga, has been mentioned by Lord Krishna in
the famous Bhagavad Geeta discourse. This philosophy of Sankhya and
other five schools of thought, definitely preceded the Upanishadic
alias Vedantic expositions. All these schools known to have been
inspired by the Vedic teachings, and were extant much prior to 3100
B.C.

The Brahma Sootras, which propound the essence of the Vedantic
thought, were also composed by the illustrious Ved Vyas during the
Mahabharat Era. Some Samhitas (eg.Taitiriya) and Brahmanas (eg.
Taitiriya) also fall into the same period of ancient history
(Vartak, "Swayambhu").  Many other Brahmanas (eg. Shatpath),
Samhitas (eg.Sushrut), Shreemad Bhagwat etc. were 'composed' after
the Mahabharat War. The chronological span of Indian history
finishes its ancient epoch with the Mahabharat War and 5000 years
have elapsed subsequently into the "new" age. Since the age of the
Mahabharat War is now quite correctly known, it may very well serve
as a convincing benchmark to relate and date other and related
events in Indian history.


11. Ramayanic Era
-----------------

Ramayan precedes the Mahabharat by simple reason that the
genealogies of the personalities in the Mahabharat can be traced
back to those in the Ramayanic Era (Ikshwaku, Kuru) and not
otherwise. Detailed genealogical connections of the characters in
the Ramayanic Era to those in the Mahabharat Era are also known.
Also, the Ramayan is known to have occurred in the Treta Yug(a),
which antecedes Dwaapar period when the Mahabharat took place.
However, the exact dating of the Rama's accomplishments has been
unattempted and undecided as of today. However, it is suggested
that it may have occurred 2 millennia before the Mahabharat (from
available lineages) and 5100 B.C therefore becomes the approximate
dateline. 

The Mahabharat contains list of kings and family histories of the
heroes of that era (eg. Pandav), which when traced back can provide
an estimate of Shree Ram's era. It is unfortunate that not much
work has been done of the dating of Ramayanic events. The
conservative date of that era falls to about 4500 B.C, about 1500
years beyond the Mahabharat age, which is altogether not impossible
a date. Dr. Vartak, using astronomical recordings in the Ramayan,
has reckoned Rama's birth date to be 4th December 7323 B.C.,
approximately 1800 years prior to the Mahabharat dateline which he
calculates (5561 B.C.). Assuming his lineage determinations are a
correct estimate, and knowing that Mahabharat occurred in 3100
B.C., an approximate age when the Ramayan flourished can be
reckoned to be around 5000 B.C. Dr.Vartak's calculations have been
presented in his celebrated book "Vastav Ramayan". Tilak summarizes
(in "Orion") other researches stating that the Ramayan, from
astronomical calculations, might have occured between 5000-6000
B.C.

Some clues from Sumerian clay tablets, Isin and Kish chronicles
which approximate the date of the first king (Ukhu == Iksh-vaku) of
the first dynasty of Sumeria to be 8350 B.C. Waddell states that
the names of kings in the above records remarkably tally to those
of Indian Solar and Lunar dynasties. This suggests the antiquity of
the Solar dynasty, and the genealogies can be followed to determine
Shree Ram's Era. It is known from Shrimad Bhagvat that Shree Ram
was (approx.) 75th in Ikshwaku lineage and that 60 generations passed 
between Shree Ram and Shree Krishna. Assuming 40 years for each 
generation (people lived longer at that time), and assuming the
first Ikshwaku king at 8350 B.C, we see that Ramayan falls at about
5350 B.C and Mahabharat at 3000 B.C., the latter which is known.
Ramayanic date therefore falls at about 5300 B.C.

The deities in the Ramayanic era (eg: Varun, Rudra, Marutgan,
Indra) are similar to those worshipped (mentioned) in the Vedas.
These deities are altogether different from those worshipped during
the Mahabharat time. Ramayan therefore must have occurred when the
RgVed (one of its stages) was being composed. Tilak, Ketkar, etc.
have calculated the last phases of RgVed to be between 6000-4000
B.C. Ramayan could have occurred during this time, or even earlier.

Tradition informs that Mahabharat occurred at the end of Dwaapar
Yuga and Ramayan at the end of Treta Yuga. However, if the Kali Era
itself spans 432,000 years and Dwaapar two times that, how can then 
Ramayan occur in 5500 B.C ? One theory by Swami Yukteshwar (derived
from Hindu texts) gives 4800 years for the Satya Yuga, 3600 for
Treta, 2400 for Dwappar and 1200 years for Kali (cycle of 12000*2
years=24000 years). Dwapaar has 2000 years, with 200 years of
"sandhee" period on either sides. Now, assuming Kaliyug began in
3102 B.C, the beginning of Dwapaar concludes to be around 5300 B.C.
Subtracting the "sandhee" between Dwaapar and Treta, the end of
Treta comes to around 5500 B.C., which is closer to Shree Ram's
date estimated above.

Incidently, the Ramayan has been conveniently linked with the
premise of the aryan invasion of India, apparently, a story of the
aryan conquests of south India; Rama being the ugly aryan engaged
in subjugating Ravana's dravidasthan. In that case, Rama must have
been an Iranian invading Lanka, i.e., Mohenjodaro and Kishkinda
(the above of the Vaanara community) therefore may be placed
somewhere in Pakistan. This construction of geography puts us in
endless trouble. On the other hand, due to their dark hue, Rama and
Krishna are classified as dravidians and strangely, dravid Ravana
is known to the Ramayan to be a very intelligent Brahamana, a part
of the aryan caste. Indeed, the situation becomes unnecessarily
complicated and tortuous.

Shri Rama of the Ramayanic age and Krishna from the Mahabharat age
are considered to the incarnations (avataar) of the Supreme
Godhead. They strove for the upliftment of humanity with a prime
objective of establishing righteousness and morality through the
globe. Like wise, Sage Buddha is also considered as yet another
avataar, and the time he prospered is determined below. However, to
determine the age when Buddha flourished requires finding dates of
some other events in the course of history. The datelines of Maurya
Chandragupta and his grandson, Maurya Ashoka, are considered in the
following two sections.

[ Continued in Part 5 ]
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