Friday, December 25, 2020

Validating the Traditional date of Mahabharata War: Determining the date of Kali Yuga (Part 1)


On this auspicious day of Vaikuntha Ekadasi when Vishnu, the Atman, as the Sun in his chariot in Margashira, instructs the self, in the nature of the Moon, having taken refuge at His feet, let Jayam springs up from this upavāsa.

nārāyaṇaṃ namaskṛtya naraṃ caiva narottamam
      devīṃ sarasvatīṃ caiva tato jayam udīrayet


The date of Mahabharata War is as contentious as the war itself!

The date, already embedded within the Itihāsa, is lost from sight due to various causes, the important one being our lack of knowledge of the features of the calendar system in vogue ever since Krishna left his mortal coils. The Kali Maha Yuga calendar started since then. Thirty five years before that, the Mahabharata war was fought. This offers the best hint to arrive at the year of the war which can be cross-checked with the astronomy references found in the text.

Here comes the next issue of locating the astronomy positions precisely. We are not able to locate the astronomy positions concurring with the date derived from the Kali date and we fail to understand the cause for it. The only external element being the simulator in use, we fail to probe that external element but instead start finding fault with the verses or manipulate the verses of Mahabharata.

These two issues are to be resolved– Kali Yuga date and the precise astronomy positions - before I begin decoding the verses to validate the Traditional date of the war.  

Kali Yuga date forms the basis for deriving the date of Mahabharata war.

Very often we come across references to Kali Yuga in Mahabharata – mostly used in the context of dharma (or adharma) prevailing then. When adharmic fighting technique was used by Bhima to slay Duryodhana, Krishna himself said, “prāptaṃ kaliyugaṃ viddhi[1]

{Prāptā = attained to, reached to.

Viddhi = the act of piercing, perforating (second person singular present imperative class 2 parasmaipada √vid)}

If this is construed as referring to the start of Kali Maha Yuga, then we must justify another verse, pertaining to the entry of Kali in Parikshit’s time. Parikshit needs no external citation, for, his name was mentioned by Krishna himself after Aswattama shot his astra to destroy the fetus growing in the womb of Uttarā, the wife of Abhimanyu, his nephew. Krishna said that the fetus would be saved and the son born would be known as Parikshit and would rule for sixty years.[2]

Parikshit came to the throne after the Pandavas relinquished the throne which happened soon after Krishna left the world. On the day of exit of Krishna, Kali Maha Yuga started, says the same author Vyasa in Srimad Bhagavatam at two places.[3]

We have two entries of Kali by now – one at the time of Bhima killing Duryodhana and another after Krishna left this world. And for the third time we see the entry of Kali “kaliṁ praviṣṭaṁ” after Parikshit started ruling the country.[4] However Parikshit succeeded in restraining Kali from entering his country but remain in five designated places.[5] So who is this Kali who entered here?

We have to gauge the circumstances and the meaning together. At the time of the war and at Parikshit’s time the Kali’s entry was about Adharma setting in. Whenever Adharma exceeded Dharma, it was said that Kali had entered. Malyavan, the maternal grandfather of Ravana warned Ravana that, “when adharma swallows dharma, it stimulates Kali yugaand this dialogue took place in Treta Yuga![6] Similarly we come across a reference to the entry of Kali in Treta Yuga when the sage Chyavana, covered inside an anthill due to his continuous penance, started watching the young girl Sukanya without her knowledge. This was told by the sage Lomasa in Dwapara Yuga in Mahabharata![7]

So Kali could enter Treta Yuga and Dwapara Yuga but remain muted in Kali Yuga when it had to be active. This shows that we need to do contextual analysis of the Kali verses in Mahabharata to understand whether it is about an increase in Adharma or a reference to the Time scale.

In the Time scale, there are sub divisions and units to measure time. The solar year is the basic unit and 4,32,000 solar years make the duration of this Kali Yuga. The Kali Yuga duration in turn becomes the basic unit of the Catur Maha Yuga. Two times the Kali Yuga duration is Dwapara Yuga; three times the duration is Treta Yuga; four times the duration is Krita Yuga. Thus from Krita to Kali, the time period can be expressed as 4:3:2:1 in which 1 part is equal to 4,32,000 years which is the duration of Kali Yuga. Basically all the Yugas are measured in solar years, or in other words, by the celestial entity. This in turn suggests that only celestial entities mark the beginning and the end date of the Yugas. We do come across such reference, only when we search the relevant texts- the relevant texts being the Jyothisha Siddhantas.

 Gruha sāmānyam Yugamsays Aryabhatiya, a Tantra Siddhanta. [8] Here Catur Maha Yuga is identified in terms of planets sharing commonality or coming together. Traditionally it is being held that all the planets except one of the nodes congregated near zero degree Aries when Kali Yuga began. Most scholars are skeptical about this feature that it is fictitious and not supported by any textual reference. The major reason is that they are not able to get this congregation at the traditional date of Kali Yuga! 

It is indeed true that we are not able to get a direct citation from any text. However a combined reading of Aryabhatiya and Surya Siddhanta offers an indirect reference to the grouping of planets at the beginning of Aries.

Aryabhatiya does refer to the congregation of all the planets except Rahu at the beginning of Aries when Krita Yuga started on a Wednesday.[9] Can this be taken to mean that this congregation repeats at the beginning Kali Yuga, having the basic unit of time of the Catur Maha Yuga (4,32,000)? In the absence of any explicit citation in support of this we have to analyze the existing verses. Going by the Aryabhatiya verse quoted above, the congregation must repeat at the beginning of every Krita Yuga that starts after 10 rounds of the duration of Kali Yuga (4+3+2+1).[10]

Here we get to see a verse from Surya Siddhanta saying that at the END of Krita Yuga the mean places of the all the planets except the nodes coincide with each other at the first point of stellar Aries.[11] This means that the planets congregate at Aries at the beginning of Treta Yuga, after crossing 4 parts of Krita Yuga each having the duration of 4,32,000 years. If it is assumed that this congregation occurs for the second time after the previous one happening at the beginning of Krita Yuga, it upsets the very idea of such a congregation, for the reason, the subsequent congregation can occur at the middle of Dvapara Yuga (3 parts of Treta + 1 part of Dvapara) and further next, at the middle of Krita Yuga (remaining 1 part of Dvapara + 1 part of Kali Yuga + 2 parts of Krita Yuga). This cannot be true going by the mandatory requirement of the congregation at the beginning of Krita Yuga.

This leaves us with only two probable choices for the congregation of planets, either at the beginning of every 4,32,000 years or at the beginning of double that time. If the second choice is taken, there won’t be a congregation at the beginning of Kali Yuga. Kali Yuga being the basic unit of the Yuga, there must be some form of identification to mark its beginning. Except planetary movements no other markers are available or cited in any text. Therefore the second choice is ruled out. This leaves us with the first choice which is logically tenable in that being the basic unit of the Catur Yuga. In other words, all the planets come together at the beginning of Aries once in 4,32,000 years. By implication this means that any specific planetary configuration cannot occur more than once within the period of 4,32,000 years.

Vyasa on noticing the gathering of all planets at the beginning of Aries sensed the arrival of the new Yuga. When he came to know about the exit of Krishna, that was a clinching evidence of the arrival of Kali Yuga. Any derivation of the sky map for the date of Kali Yuga must have all the planets (with the exception of Rahu as stated in Aryabhatiya) close to zero degree of Aries.

That date can be derived from the simulator – not in tropical simulator but in astrology simulators using the ayanamsa as zero. [12] (Figure 1)

Fig 1: The Date of Kali Yuga with the conjunction of all the planets at zero degree Aries.

Eight planets except Rahu congregated at zero degree Aries with most of them at the last one or two degrees of Pisces. The date was 22nd January of 3101 BCE in the Gregorian calendar (including the 0 year). This corresponds to the year Pramathi, Amawasya in Caitra when the sun and the moon joined at the beginning of Aries on a Thursday. Traditionally these are the exact Pancanga features at the time of the beginning of Kali Yuga. A new Epoch was born by which the world became different after that.

One may recall a near similar congregation on 26th December 2019, when six planets congregated at the sign, Sagittarius. (Figure 2)  It was followed by a complete change in the life of the people around the world with the advent of the Covid-19 virus.

Fig 2: Six planets congregated at Sagittarius before the global outbreak of Covid 19.

This is to show that this kind of large scale changes are noticed when many planets congregate at a strategic corner accompanied with a solar eclipse. We are finding only this kind of description in Mahabharata, and not the language of the astronomers. All the astronomy references of Mahabharata were spelt by associating with some calamity or fear of calamity. When a result is associated with planetary features, it is no longer about astronomy; it enters the domain of astrology.

When we compare the two figures we will see a difference in the ayanamsa. Figure 1 was simulated for zero ayanamsa as deduced from Surya Siddhanta concept of the equinoxes. Figure 2 is simulated to the current ayanamsa (based on current location of equinox). Suppose the ayanamsa is changed for Figure 2, the planetary features would not be the same. This addresses the 2nd issue raised earlier on getting the exact planetary positions.

Only when we simulate for zero ayanamsa we get the exact planetary positions. Figure 1 showing the Kali Yuga combination is a solid proof for this. Since a new Yuga starts at the conjunction at zero degree Aries with the tropical equinox coinciding with the sidereal equinox, we have to check the astronomy features of Mahabharata only for the Surya Siddhanta ayanamsa.

Inscriptional evidence for Kali Yuga date

Further corroboration comes from the inscription of Janamejaya, the son of Pariskhit, quoted by Kota Venkatachela Paakayaaji in his book[13] from Indian Antiquary P.P. 383 334.The inscription was issued in the 29th regnal year of the king Janamejaya to Lord Sitaram temple on the banks of Tungabhadra River, in today’s Hampi. The Pancanga features were Plavanga year, Amawasya, Monday and Sahasya month referring to Pushya month when a solar eclipse was on. Only the star of the day is not given.  These four out of five features of the Panchanga were checked in astrology software.[14] The year exactly matched with the count from the Kali Yuga year (Pramathi). There was a solar eclipse on that day with the sun within 19 degrees from Rahu - fulfilling the requirement for a solar eclipse. Among the Pancanga features only the day turned out to different (Friday) These combinations not possible to recur in any other year of the Kali Yuga, it seems that it was a scribal error that Sukra vara was written as Saumya Vara. (Figure 3)

              Fig 3: The date of Janamejaya inscription

The date was 2nd November, 3013 BCE. This was the 89th year after the start of Kali Yuga in 3101 BCE.

Another inscription indicating the Kali date is from Aihole issued in the name of Pulikesin II, but there is a controversy regarding the event mentioned there. The year matches with 3101 BCE, but the event referred to is ‘Bhāratādāhāvāditah’ – interpreted as referring to the time of the war. This is incongruous since the date concurs with that of the Traditional Kali Yuga date and validated by the planetary and Pancanga features. There is either a mistake in the letters or in our understanding of the word.

This expression is much like ‘Bhāratāt Purvam’ used by Aryabhata to indicate the beginning of Kali Yuga, that was interpreted by ancient commentators as referring to Bhāratā (Pandavas) relinquishing the throne.[15] The Bhāratā renounced everything and cast off their sacred fires too.[16] Bhāratā dāha avādita could refer to the sacrifice of the Bharata clan after coming to know of Krishna’s demise (when Kali Yuga started). The time of Pulikesin II coming within 150 years of Aryabhata, this kind of reference to the start of Kali Yuga seems to be widespread in use. The other way of looking at it is that a powerful and prosperous king like Pulikesin II could have found it difficult to ascribe to the view that Kali was running in his country, much like Parikshit who detested the presence of Kali. Perhaps this made him pick out the alternate marker for the Yuga beginning, the sacrifice of the Bhāratā (Pandavas) on coming to know of Krishna’s exit.

Deriving the date of Mahabharata War from Kali Yuga. 

Once having established the date of Kali Yuga at 3101 BCE, it is not difficult to derive the date of Mahabharata War. There was a gap of 35 years between the war and the exit of Krishna.

On seeing the death of her children and all relatives in the war Gandhari vented out her frustration at Krishna that he (Krishna) after causing the slaughter of his kinsmen would perish in the wilderness on the 36th year.[17] On the 36th year a huge carnage did take place wiping out the Krishna-clan.

When the 36th year (after the war) arrived Yudhishthira noticed many unusual omens, says the first chapter of Mausala Parva.[18] In the next chapter it is said that a great calamity overtook the Vrishnis on the 36th year. [19] In the third chapter, Krishna on seeing the inauspicious omens understood that the thirty sixth year had arrived when Gandhari’s curse given out of grief of losing her children was about to happen.[20]

What is special about the number 36?

The number 36 has a special relevance for the welfare of one’s progeny. A 36-year sacrifice (sattra) was in vogue during Mahabharata times. It is known from Pancavimsa Brahmana that the descendants of Sakti had conducted 36 year sattra.[21] By the mention of Gauriviti as one who did the satttra[22] , Sakti is identified as the father of Parasara whose son was Vyasa.. It is further said in the Brahmana text that the one who performs this sattra gets rulership and also ten strong sons.[23] Without doubt this sattra must have been popular with the Kauravas, the Pandavas and the Vrishinis. 

As biological descendants of Vyasa, the Kuru kings could have performed the sattra. Perhaps the Kauravas could not complete the 36 year long sattra[24] or else they could have won the war, retained rulership and children. It is doubtful the Pandavas had completed the sattra in view of the exile they had to undertake. Only the Vrishinis had survived the war and were expected to prosper more in the years after the war. The Vrishnis headed by Krishna were very clever in having chosen to support both the warring sides. Whichever side wins the war, the Vrishnis would bring home the advantages of the winner.

Gandhari’s anger naturally turned towards Krishna who she accused as not having worked enough to avert the slaughter of the Kuru-s. The Kauravas lost their progeny, so did the Pandavas by the time the war ended, but only the Vrishnis survived! The Vrishnis were already known for wealth creation and didn’t mind relocating to newer terrains (Dvaraka) to safeguard their wealth, works and resources.[25] Their clan continued to be intact after the war, unlike the Kuru clan which suffered heavy losses. Gandhari’s anger was such that the new 36 year sattra that was likely to be initiated by the Vrishnis after the war was over should collapse at the penultimate hour, thereby wiping out their progeny and rulership. It is not known if the sattra was done by the Vrishnis, but their end came in the 36th year just before the Sun entered Aries with all the planets gathered around it.

The year started in Uttarayana before that time. The 36th year happening to be Pramathi, we have to count backwards by 35 years. That leads us to the year Krodhi! That was the year of the Mahabharata War. The year corresponds to 3136 BCE in the Gregorian date. Thus we have two dates established without doubt of which the date of Kali Yuga continues to form the basis of time in all Vedic and traditional activities.

The date of Kali Yuga:  22nd January 3101 BCE, Year Pramathi, Caitra, Amawasya, Aswini, Thursday with all the planets except Rahu near the beginning of Aries when the tropical vernal equinox coincided with the beginning of sidereal Aries.  

The date of the Mahabharata War: 3136 BCE corresponding to the year Krodhi. Further details will be established in the course of this series.

In any research on the date of Mahabharata war, the deduced planetary positions must concur with the year Krodhi and with the corresponding Pancanga details such as tithi, star, karana and month - whichever among them was given in the text of Mahabharata for various events around the time of war. A systematic analysis of such inputs did validate the date of Mahabharata war that the reader can find in the upcoming posts.

(To be continued)

[1] Mahabharata: 9-59-21

[2] Mahabharata: 10-16-14

[3] Srimad Bhagavatam: 1-15- 36; 12-2-33

[4] Srimad Bhagavatam: 1-16-10

[5] Srimad Bhagavatam: 1-17

[6] Valmiki Ramayana: 6-35-14

[7] Mahabharata: 3-121

[8] Aryabhatiya: 3-8

[9] Aryabhatiya: 1-3,4

[10] Kali yuga duration of 4,32,000 years is the basic unit in Maha Yuga. Two times the Kali years = Dwapara Yuga. Three times the Kali years = Treta Yuga. Four times of the Kali years = Krita Yuga. So the ratio is 4:3:2:1 from Krita to Kali. In other words Krita = 10 times of Kali years.

[11] Surya Siddhanta: 1-57

[12] Zero ayanamsa refers to the conjunction of the sidereal and tropical equinox at the beginning of Aswini / Aries. As time goes the tropical equinox shifts in the backdrop of the stars giving rise to a gap between the tropical equinox and zero degree Aries position. This gap is known as ayanamsa.

[13]“Chronology of Ancient Hindu History” Part 1, by Pandit Kota Venkatachela Paakayaaji (1957) Page 13-17

[14]The horoscopy illustrations are generated from Jagannatha Hora software, version 7.4

[15] Aryabhatiya: 1-5

[16] Mahabharata: 17-1-20

[17] Mahabharata: 11-25-41

[18] Mahabharata: 16-1-1

[19] Mahabharata: 16-2-2

[20] Mahabharata: 16 -3 –verses 18 & 19

[21] Pancavimsa Brahmana: 25-7-1

[22] Ibid. 25-7-2

[23] Ibid. 25-7-3 & 4

[24] The Sattra is of 4 parts, with nine nine-versed years, nine fifteen versed years, nine seventeen versed years and nine twenty one versed years. (Pancavimsa Brahmana: 25-7-1)

[25] Mahabharata: 2-13

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Download my book “Myth of ‘The Epoch of Arundhati’ of Nilesh Nilkanth Oak”

I am glad to inform the readers that my eBook, “Myth of ‘The Epoch of Arundhati’ of Nilesh Nilkanth Oak” is now available in  

Click here for free download

This is an updated version incorporating features not covered in the eBook edition – most of them pertaining to the traditionally accepted date of Mahabharata (12th chapter) validated by me.

 The Mahabharata war occurred in the year 3136 BCE corresponding to the year Krodhi, 35 years before Krishna left and Kali Yuga began in 3101 BCE, corresponding to the year Pramathi.

The updated features include

·         the starting date of the exile of the Pandavas,

·         the identification of Adhika Masa-s in the 13 year period,

·         establishing the Adhika Masa in the lunar month of Magha that caused Bhishma to postpone his date of death,

·         the date of the Gada Yuddha and the solar eclipse at the start of the Gada Yuddha,

·         the coronation date of Yudhishthira,

·         additional inputs on why there were no twin eclipses during the 13 tithi phases,

·         additional inputs on the comet hit,

·         identifying the location of the comet-hit on the moon,

·         the details of the twin eclipses during the war,

·         Establishing the traditional features such as Ratha Saptami vrata, Bodhayana Amawasya Tarpana done by Krishna and establishing that there could have been no interpolation in the version of Ganesha as the scribe for Vyasa,

This book is basically a critique of the book written by Mr Nilesh Nilkanth Oak “When did the Mahabharata War happen? The Mystery of Arundhati.”  

In the course of this book, I am purely guided by a desire to set the record straight with reference to Arundhati and the date of Kali Yuga.

I may have sounded harsh at times on Nilesh Oak, but it must be understood that


I want this book to have a wider reach so that the awakened Hindu readers get clarity about what it means by scientific dating of Mahabharata and how the date of Mahabharata is already embedded in our time scale, but not grasped by many. I request readers to share this book with as many people as possible and in as many ways as possible. All that you have to do is to create a log-in ID in academia and download. It is hassle free and gets you access to the works of almost all the top scholars of diverse fields. You can choose to read it online too.

Just to give a brief of the 13 chapters:

Chapter 1 establishes the symbolism of Arundhati and why her iconic stature cannot be sullied.

Chapter 2 presents the Purva paksha of the book of Nilesh Oak, his methodology and other references divulged at different times in his videos and blogs.

This is followed by Uttara Paksha comprising of the exposition of the flaws in the entire book of Nilesh Oak.

Chapter 3 evaluates his assumptions and the contradictions in his theses.

Chapter 4 reveals the flaws in his understanding of Mahabharata astronomy, his faulty interpretation of traditional concepts such as Adhika Masa and Pidana by the planets.

Chapter 5 critiques his understanding of equinoxes and solstices that are fundamental to positioning Mahabharata time period. The equinoctial degree at the time of Mahabharata is also derived in this chapter.

Chapter 6 reveals the flaws in the application of Karl Popper’s theory of falsification for treating the Arundhati- Vasishtha observation as the Basic Sentence.

Chapter 7 is about his mis-interpretation of the concept of Pramana as applied to the Arundhati- Vasishtha verse by Vyasa.

Chapter 8 deals with his faulty understanding and use of the term “Prishtha” that is fundamental to the verse on Arundhati and Vasishtha.

Chapter 9 shows why it is wrong to treat the nimitta of Arundhati as a scientific concept.

Chapter 10 is about the non-violability of the Kali Yuga date that he casually treated in his book and blogs by denouncing stalwarts of the past like Aryabhata, Kalhana and others.

Chapter 11 is the core exposition about why Mr Oak’s Epoch of Arundhati never existed. This chapter gives the scientific causes for the freak appearance of the A-V stars that lasted for a few moments.

Chapter 12 is quite long as it works on the entire period from the start of the exile of the Pandavas till the last day of Bhishma. The dates of the Mahabharata war along with all the other events are established based on all the astronomy references used by Mr Oak and other references not covered by him.

Chapter 13 resolves the most mis-understood concept of the “Fall” of the Abhijit star and establishes the start of the Vedic culture around 12k years ago by none other than Skanda. All these were derived from Mahabharata only.

Appendix I shows how all the astronomy data supposedly corroborated by Mr Nilesh Oak in his book are found to be just manipulations to corroborate his date.

Appendix II furnishes the mathematical proof given by Dr Harish Saranathan on which of the two stars, Arundhati and Vasishtha, went ahead of the other in the period of the so-called Epoch of Arundhati


Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Why Arundhati- Vasishtha observation by Vyasa was a nimitta

 Free download of the entire book  Myth of 'The Epoch of Arundhati' of Nilesh Nilkanth Oak

Kindle ebook  here:

The below article is the 9th chapter of this book.


Chapter 9



The second problem with the Basic Sentence of Nilesh Oak is more serious than the first, and it disqualifies the entire research of Mahabharata dating, by taking it out of purview of empirical research. The problem here is that nimitta is not part of astronomy; it comes under the domain of astrology. Karl Popper straightaway rejects astrology as a pseudo-science and therefore cannot be falsified. It was already discussed in the 6th chapter how Nilesh Oak had done selective reading of the A-V verse, by ignoring the fact that it is a nimitta.

Selective reading is further seen in the omission of Karna’s reference to astronomy features as nimitta in his book. Karna has used the word ‘Nimitta’ three times in his conversation with Krishna. In the first instance he uses the word nimitta to mean ‘cause’ – the cause being himself besides Shakuni, Dussasana, and Duryodhana for the destruction of the earth.[1]

In the second instance Karna refers to seeing terrible nimittas before listing them out (“nimittāni ca ghorāṇi tathotpātāḥ sudāruṇāḥ”) indicating defeat of Dhritarashtra’s sons and the victory of Yudhishthira.[2]These nimittas are of diverse kinds, all in the nature of signs emanating from animate and inanimate things in the earth, atmosphere and space. But such signs are treated as causes connected with certain effects.

In the next verse Karna starts mentioning the astronomy features such as the one on the ‘vakri’ motion of Mars[3]; that was interpreted by Nilesh Oak in his own way. After listing out all the planetary and star based observations, Karna once again invokes the term nimitta to say that all those nimittas are indicating the approach of a terrible slaughter (“nimitteṣu mahābāho dāruṇaṃ prāṇināśanam”)[4]

Nimittas appear in other contexts too. Drona sees certain omens before the death of Bhishma on the 10th day of the War[5] - of which some were also seen by Yudhishthira before the death of Krishna that took place on the 36th year after Mahabharata War.[6] Some of the omens at that time were a repeat of the omens witnessed at the time of Mahabharata War, says Yudhishthira. But the A-V observation was not cited at any other time, anywhere in Mahabharata.

Nowhere in his book “When did the Mahabharata War happen? The Mystery of Arundhati” published in the year 2011 do we come across any reference to nimitta. This makes us think that

(1) Nilesh Oak was not at all aware of the presence of this term in the context, and this reiterates our stance that he had done only selective reading of Mahabharata. Even within a chapter he had searched for astronomy terms only and not bothered to read the entire chapter.

(2) Nilesh Oak was not aware that the word ‘nimitta’ is part of astrology! If he was aware, he could be expected to have given some explanation like he did for vakri and pīḍayate.

Contrary to his absolute silence on Nimitta in his book, he is found to give newer meanings to Nimitta in his characteristic way in his blogs in the year 2014. These explanations are mostly in response to criticisms. It is not difficult to deduce the reason for his sudden interest in Nimitta. He has become alive to the issue of nimitta after being challenged on the admissibility of a nimitta for scientific testing. Here again he can be seen developing a new idea of nimitta every time he speaks about it and predictably his explanations are not based on any theory but only on Voyager – Simulation Nyaya!

Nilesh Oak’s Nimitta concepts.

(i) The A-V observation is not a unique nimitta and it is just one among many.

In his blog written on February 2014, Nilesh Oak downplays the question on why suddenly Vyasa makes a mention of A-V as a nimitta if that phenomenon was happening for thousands of years before the War. He says there are numerous nimittas which Vyasa listed down with the intention of stopping the war. Among them he mentions A-V phenomenon too as it also happens to be a nimitta. He mentions about Karna too in this context while he is absolutely silent in his book about Karna speaking on nimittas. His blog entry is re-produced below.[7]

(ii) Nimitta is a non-regular, non-ordinary phenomenon, but scientifically explainable.

On being told that a Nimitta is not a regular or ordinary phenomenon, and therefore the A-V observation running for more than 6000 years cannot be a nimitta – Nilesh Oak can be seen giving a justification in his blog in September 2014.

He proposes that a non-regular and a non-ordinary phenomenon could have happened in a distant past and documented or could have come in oral tradition or remembered as background knowledge. He writes as follows in his blog:[8]

Vyasa remembered such an old time when the non-regular, non- ordinary phenomenon (A-V observation) did not happen and therefore treats the observation as a nimitta.

According to him, he has found this non-regular, non-ordinary phenomenon in his simulator for a period of 6000 years! In a period of a million years, the A-V phenomenon running for 6000 years is non-regular, non-ordinary, according to his scientific acumen.

He is able to prove through his Simulator that an omen is a scientifically explainable phenomenon[9]

(iii) Nimitta is a sign and must not be confused with ‘Bad omens’.

Taking a big leap from 2014, Nilesh Oak writes in response to a comment in his blog in March 2017 that nimittas are signs that are perceived depending on one’s mental and emotional state. The confusion is in the Indic minds that attempt to defend their prior conclusions. The idea of ‘Bad omen’ is not what Vyasa has conveyed. He has only conveyed the astronomy observations for the purpose of recording history. This view of Nilesh Oak is reproduced below.[10]

Evaluation of Nilesh Oak’s Nimitta concepts.

(i) Nilesh Nilkanth Oak is consistently inconsistent in his explanation for nimitta.

The causes are not difficult to find. He was caught off-guard on A-V observation being a nimitta and can be seen struggling to give a reply that occurs to him every time he is confronted. From not recognising a word ‘nimitta’ in his book, Nilesh Oak can be seen to make a meandering journey through an array of explanations in his blogs which, to use his own words on Vartak’s explanation for astrological words of Mahabharata, shows him “forced to employ numerous patchworks..”[11]to justify and then reject the very concept of Nimitta as used in Mahabharata!

·         A cursory look at the three different explanations he has given shows that within a span of three years he has changed his opinion of Nimitta from being a bad omen that Vyasa expressed in a last minute effort to stop the War, to a declaration that Vyasa did not see through the lens of bad omen!

·         From Bad omens in February 2014, the nimitta had just become ‘signs’ in March 2017. May be if a re-print of this book happens, we can expect a new theory on Nimittas finding place in that.

·         Inconsistency is further evidenced in Oak’s rationale of why Vyasa expressed the nimittas. According to Nilesh Oak, Vyasa narrated them to make a record or to note down the time of War. (He says this without any proof in support of this claim).

·         If so, what then was the purpose of Karna to express the nimittas? Did he express them for record-purpose?

·         Then what about Drona whom Mahabharata hails as a great knower of nimittas? ( “nimittāni nimittajñaḥ sarvato vīkṣya vīryavān”)[12]

·         Even Arjuna and Yudhishthira had expressed the nimittas. What for they expressed them?

·         Any reader can see a common thread in all the narrations as indicative of some danger. But Nilesh Oak, habituated to selective reading, finds Vyasa doing the record work and leaves out others from the purview of his lens.

(ii) Nilesh Oak has no respect for traditions and the “Indic minds” that stick to tradition.

The very topic he has taken is to prove a violation of a tradition by one (Arundhati) who is hailed as an icon of a tradition. This by itself is an affront on the Indic culture. His contempt for tradition and Indic culture is further reiterated by his comment posted above that the “Indic minds” would go downhill in a minute on talking of nimitta. He has no qualms in expressing his contempt for traditions in his book where he says,

“I consider traditional belief worthless, as primary evidence, in support of any theory however I am willing to allow it as corroborative evidence for an established theory, i.e. established based on empirical evidence.”[13]

What do all these convey except that he is working on an agenda to derail the tradition, destabilise the Indic belief system and influence the young and unsuspecting minds by choicest words on empiricality, luring them away from deep rooted traditions? His contempt for traditional concepts is well evident from his utter lack of interest to learn the basics of Mahabharata astronomy in the traditional way but to replace them with his weird absurdities.

(iii) If omens are testable, why didn’t he test other omens?

Nilesh Oak claims to have proved by A-V observation that omens are testable and thus scientific. This raises a question whether he had tested other omens too. There is no indication that he had tested any other omen expressed by Vyasa except the astronomy observations. If an omen is scientific and therefore testable, then all the omens must obey testability. But Nilesh Oak makes a statement in his book,

“I claim that all astronomical statements are testable while all non-astronomical statements are not; at least not with our current knowledge of Mahabharata conventions, current interpretation of non- astronomical passages and current advances in technology at our disposal.” [14]

If omens of non-astronomical nature are not testable, is it right to claim that omens are testable and therefore scientific? An omen is an omen irrespective of whether it is an astronomy reference or non-astronomy reference. A common thread must run through all of them. Without identifying that common thread how can Nilesh Oak segregate the omens as testable and non-testable? A degree of objectivity will be achieved in his research, only if he tests other omens too. Such testing strengthens his version that omens are testable and scientific. And it also eliminates doubts on whether A-V observation was just an aberration.

If on the other hand it is not possible to test the other omens, then it would go without saying that A-V testing is also not possible and not true. For instance, can he test scientifically the 2nd omen in Vyasa’s list that carnivorous animals and fierce herons were wheeling across the centre towards the southern region foreboding terror? He can’t. But it may be replied that movement of such animals anyway cause fear in the mind. If so, why is it specifically said they were moving to the south? Why not to the north or any other direction? Shouldn’t he test this also for different directions? Even if one omen is not testable, there is no logic in claiming that omens are testable.

(iv) Why A-V observation was not at all mentioned by others as a nimitta if it was around for more than 6000 years?

Vyasa was not alone in having spoken about nimittas around the time of Mahabharata War. Just before the start of the war Arjuna expressed to Krishna, the bad nimittas he was seeing. On the 10th day of the War Drona reported the nimnittas around him. Karna had told about the nimittas during his meeting with Krishna and Yudhishthira sighted nimittas of the same kind on the 36th year after the War. But strangely none of them mentioned the A-V observation while the nimittas mentioned by them were of similar nature.

The fall of the bow from his hand was reported by Arjuna as a nimitta before the start of the war. In the same way Drona found his arrows coming out of the quiver on their own and his bow seeming to yawn. He reported this on the 10th day of the war. Most of the nimittas told by these two and others (Karna and Yudhishthira) were almost the same. Only Drona makes a strange sighting of Moon, rising with its horns (head) downward! A big astronomy fact is hidden behind this nimitta which solidly establishes that the war didn’t start on Amawasya day. Keeping that explanation for the 12th chapter let me continue to concentrate on Nilesh Oak’s absurdities around nimitta.

No other Mahabharata character reported the sighting of Arundhati keeping her husband at her Prishṭha! According to Nilesh Oak this position was continuing for thousands of years. This must have become a kind of permanent nimitta! But why Vyasa alone mentioned it?

Suppose it is argued that others ignored it because it was a permanent nimitta, one cannot help asking what made Arjuna to ignore this nimitta (A-V) when he expressed in the worries about women being made to face hardships on account of the war. This discussion comes in the 1st chapter of Bhagavad Gita. After expressing the bad nimittas seen by him Arjuna went on to express the kind of destruction the war was going to make. One among them was the state of Kula-stree’ on losing her husband in the war.[15] The kind of changes in her life that she would be forced to undertake, leading to adharma, were narrated by him. There is ample scope to link it with the nimitta of change in the walk of the iconic Kula-stree, i.e. Arundhati that any ordinary person would be tempted to do. But Arjuna couldn’t think of the changed position of Arundhati as a nimitta for the expected change in the life of Kula-stree-s after the war.

Only if the A-V observation was a temporary aberration, seen only by Vyasa and not others, it could have gone missing in the narrations on nimittas by others.

(v) Can Nilesh Oak show any other omen that ran for 6000 years as A-V did?

The most common feature of all the other omens in the list of Vyasa, Karna, Drona and others is that they are all transient. At the most some of the nimittas could have lasted for a few days. The twilight sightings, appearance of stars and planets, the colour, the cries, the sounds all around – all these were temporary and did not last long. Only the A-V observation as tested by Nilesh Oak has lasted for more than 6000 years. In other words, the A-V stands out from the list of other omens, making it appear that it is not an omen. But it is an omen according to Vyasa. By way of its non-regular, non-ordinary nature like other omens, the A-V also must have been sighted and lost within a short period. That only sounds logical in the context of omens.

All talk of scientific testing of omen by Nilesh Oak therefore sounds like a desperate attempt to save his theory of Epoch of Arundhati. He has all the right to defend it but defend he should with objectivity in his research. Such objectivity demands that he proves other omens testable (point iii) besides proving at least one omen to have lasted for thousands of years as A-V did. If he cannot prove even one omen for that long, then there is no objectivity in either claiming A-V as an omen (for being an odd man in the list of omens) or assign thousands of years for this single omen while others are all transient.

A Popper-follower, claiming to have made a revolutionary discovery, had made his ‘discovery’ from a Basic Sentence on a Nimitta – of dubious nature! With no inkling of what a nimitta is and not even aware that he has taken a nimitta as his Basic Sentence, Nilesh Nilkanth Oak has done ‘scientific’ dating of Mahabharata War by proving that a nimitta lasted for more than 6000 years! The root cause for this claim is that he didn’t know what a nimitta is and those who believe his claims also do not know what a nimitta is! To clear the air of the mess he has created let us know what a nimitta is and why A-V observation is only a nimitta and not an astronomy event.

What is a nimitta?

The most common meanings of Nimitta found in Vedic literature such as Upanishads, Manu Smriti and Brihat Samihita are cause, motive, ground, reason etc..[16] A cause that gives rise to an effect is a nimitta - an example of it is seen in the dialogue of Karna (explained in the beginning of this chapter) quoting himself and his friends as the nimitta (cause) for the destruction of the earth.[17] This is visible cause where we know how the cause ‘worked.’  Sometimes the effect is visible and the cause also is visible but how the mechanism of the cause worked to fetch the effect remains invisible. In such cases the causes would be short lived.

Giving the Vyakharana meaning of the word Nimitta, Mr. Ramanathan, the Vedic scholar says that a nimitta is an unstable first cause from which a stable effect is formed[18]. The ‘adhruva’ (not fixed, non permanent) nature of the first cause makes nimitta a temporary occurrence! The unstable cause giving rise to a stable effect is a nimitta.

The A-V nimitta does not belong to the former category of ‘stable’ cause (eg: the continuing enmity of Karna and others resulting in destruction by war) but the second category of momentary ‘unstable’ cause where a feature just flashes for a moment – against its normal nature- signaling the arrival of unnatural effects.  This cause (nimitta) cannot go on for 6000 years; if it does, it is not a nimitta of Adhruva nature. A fixed appearance of A-V in a particular alignment for 6000 years is not a nimitta at all in any sense. It is just an appearance that Vyasa need not have talked about this appearance as a nimitta. The definition of ‘nimitta’ completely dismantles the notion of Nilesh Oak that A-V nimitta was running for more than 6000 years!

The description given by Varahamihira in his chapter on nimitta says that “Devas send down portents to indicate their displeasure” when “mankind, by their misdeeds offend the Devas.”[19] Such expression of displeasure cannot go on for thousands of years as Nilesh Oak claims for the A-V observation. The reason why Vyasa reported the nimittas to king Dhritarashtra is obtained from the same verse of Varahamihira that “the king shall perform expiatory rites for the redress of the miseries which otherwise are sure to befall mankind.” So it is not for record purpose, but to warn the king so that the king can undertake propitiatory measures.

The non-seasonal, non-regular nature of nimitta can be explained in the following way. The cows are said to look up at the sky or at the sun before the arrival of rainfall. Similarly ants are supposed to shift from place to place carrying their eggs just before the arrival of the rainfall. These actions are said to be nimittas for rainfall. In these two occasions, no rain clouds might have been sighted initially, but these animals were able to sense the arrival of rainfall hours before. The main feature of the nimitta is its immediate relevance. They appear at the moment to indicate an event that is going to appear shortly.

In the above examples on rainfall nimitta, there is no relevance for them in the rainy season. People would anyway be aware of impending rainfall from features such as wind and cloudiness in a rainy season. But in a non-seasonal time, the above two nimittas are of value to man to be prepared for a sudden and un-seasonal rainfall. Therefore a nimitta is one that is non-regular and non-seasonal. This is different from what Nilesh Oak mentions as non-regular, non-ordinary nature of A-V. Appearing in a particular configuration for 6000 years in a span of million years is not a nimitta. But appearing in that configuration anytime other than those 6000 years is a nimitta!

Mahabharata, peak time of Nimitta knowledge.

Looking at Indic past, it is seen that the knowledge of nimittas as a science reached its peak during Mahabharata times. Drona is described as nimittajñaḥ (निमित्तज्ञः) as one knowledgeable in nimittas. Another character namely Shakuni must be a knower of omens, for his name Shakuni is actually the name of a bird of omen. His son was known as Uluka – the owl which is also observed for omens. It sounds strange that these persons of Mahabharata times were named after ominous birds. The only probable explanation could be that they must have mastered the omens of Shakuni and Uluka birds respectively.

Giving credence to this idea is a reference to “Mahabharata Shuddhi Shakuna” found in a text called ‘Nimitta Choodamani’! This text is originally a palm leaf manuscript found in the Oriental Research Institute Manuscript Library, at Sri Venkateswara University, Tirupati. The unique feature of this text is that it begins with the description of the ‘dice’ and how to make it. After describing the making of the dice and the markings on it, the text says that “Previously Lord Sri Krishna, Dharmaraja, Bheema, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva were said to have used this to know Shakuna and gained a lot out of it. It is also called Mahabharata Shuddhi Shakuna[20]

It is possible to link Shakuna with dice game, as the number on the dice decides whether one makes losses or gains. No wonder concepts of Nimitta or Shakuna had reached its peak in Mahabharata times as can be seen from many references to nimittas in the text.

The basis of Nimitta in the two instances discussed above is that all beings are sub-consciously linked with all the other sentient or non-sentient beings and are capable of knowing beforehand an impending event. The immediacy factor is inherent in this – both in the case of nimitta and the event indicated by the nimitta.

Summarising what a nimitta is,

·         It is an omen that appears at the moment

·         Is non-seasonal

·         Has immediate relevance, with the event appearing shortly thereafter

Nimitta is a concept of Astrology.

Nimitta as a consolidated and a systematic knowledge appears only in astrology. The classification of the branches of astrology is given below.[21]

Astrology is also classified in terms of angas. They are six in number, viz., Jataka, Gola, Nimitta, Prasna, Muhurta and Ganita.[22]

So anyone working on Nimitta is in reality dealing with a branch of astrology. Nimitta takes into consideration “tatkalika lakshana – like ants shifting places and cows looking at the sky, and not an event going on for 6000 years! Nimittas are known as ‘omens obtaining at a particular time.’[23]

Chapter 46 of Brihat Samhita gives a detailed account of the omens attributed to sages Garga and Atri. They are of three kinds, terrestrial, atmospheric and stellar. The description of nimittas by Vyasa, Karna and Drona covers all the three. Omens are indicated by idols of Gods too. Vyasa’s omens include them also.

But there is one kind that does not qualify as an omen. To quote Varahamihira, “if the phenomenon is one due to the particular season, the evils described for such phenomenon would not come to pass.”[24]

·         This means a recurring, seasonal or regular and an everlasting phenomenon does not qualify to be an omen.

·         In Nilesh Oak’s scheme the A-V observation did not last for just a few minutes or a day or two or a few months. It went on for more than 6000 years. That means it was a regular event. A regular event cannot be considered as an omen.

·         If it is to be an omen, it must have been sighted for a short duration only. Vyasa called the A-V observation as an omen only, which means its appearance was momentary.

·         Are omens scientific in nature? A verse by Varahamihira in this chapter states that omens are the words of Gods themselves (quoted earlier).[25]Is that scientific or non-scientific?  Nilesh Oak’s following illustration offers the answer for this.

Nimittas are metaphysical, though some of the terrestrial nimittas such as those related to cows and ants explained above have been noticed through generations and remembered as nimittas. Nilesh Oak has rightly marked the metaphysical assertions as preservation of tradition. May be for the first time so far, I am able to concur with Nilesh Oak on his view! But unfortunately he thinks that a nimitta (A-V) is testable and therefore scientific. The test of a nimitta is in the manifestation of its effect; it cannot be seen in the simulator!

It is upto Karl Popper- follower to decide whether he made a wise decision of making a nimitta falsifiable.

Non-regular appearance of Arundhati to be treated as nimitta – says Mahabharata.

Earlier in the 1st chapter it was quoted from Mahabharata that Arundhati’s unwavering position in relation to Vasishtha was observed at the time of Skanda. Since then Vedic society has been looking up at her as an icon of chastity. But there was a time she looked different. The appearance at that time was linked to an event in Arundhati’s life. Arundhati had once insulted her husband. In consequence of that act she became a little star, mixed with smoke, sometime visible and sometimes non-visible like an omen. The relevant verses from Mahabharata are reproduced below.[26]

suvratāpi hi kalyāṇī sarvalokapariśrutā
     arundhatī paryaśaṅkad vasiṣṭham ṛṣisattamam
 viśuddhabhāvam atyantaṃ sadā priyahite ratam
     saptarṣimadhyagaṃ vīram avamene ca taṃ munim
 apadhyānena sā tena dhūmāruṇa samaprabhā
     lakṣyālakṣyā nābhirūpā nimittam iva lakṣyate

Ganguli’s translation: “Even the auspicious and well-behaved Arundhati, celebrated amongst all creatures, had been jealous of the illustrious Vasishtha of great purity of mind and always devoted to the good of his wife. Arundhati insulted even the wise Muni amongst the (celestial) seven. In consequence of such insulting thoughts of hers, she has become a little star, like fire mixed with smoke, sometimes visible and sometimes invisible, like an omen portending no good (amongst a constellation of seven bright stars representing the seven Rishis).”[27]

The last verse describes the appearance of the star as ‘Nābhirūpā’ – looking like the navel! The navel is characterised by the depression at the centre. The star had looked smoky, thereby dim with its disc appearing like a concave depression. At times the star was visible and also not visible. The scientific causes for this appearance could be anything, but the sage Mandapāla to whom this verse is attributed, had said that such appearances are treated as nimitta!

By categorising it as a nimitta, it is conveyed that such an appearance was not long lasting. In her real life too, the incident of insult and the after effect could not have lasted long and not caused any dent to her image as an icon of chastity. 

The verse also conveys that whenever a change in her regular appearance was seen, it was treated as a nimitta. In the last chapter we found why Vyasa invoked the generic nature of Arundhati as a Shabda Pramāna, in our discussion on pramāna based interpretation of the A-V verse. Only if her generic state of appearance had been permanent, Vyasa could have treated the changed appearance as a nimitta. In the above narration too, the changed appearance runs counter to her generic appearance, warranting it to be treated as a nimitta. Therefore a nimitta is a temporary appearance. 

If this appearance had lasted for more than 6000 years as Nilesh Oak claims, the sages would have stopped viewing Alcor as Arundhati and started looking for some other binary that could fit-in the description of Arundhati not obstructing the path of Vasishtha. They did so for the changed position of the wives of the six rishis of the Sapta Rishi Mandala and picked up Krittika to denote the six wives. Similarly the Mizar- Alcor pair could have been abandoned and replaced by another binary. Moreover the long duration proposed by Nilesh Oak for the star to be in front of her companion runs against the very etymology of Arundhati.

So what Vyasa had seen was a momentary appearance which was not present when Karna, Drona and Yudhishthira watched the sky to take note of the omens.


[1]Mahabharata: 5-141-2

yo 'yaṃ pṛthivyāḥ kārtsnyena vināśaḥ samupasthitaḥ
      nimittaṃ tatra śakunir ahaṃ duḥśāsanas tathā
      duryodhanaś ca nṛpatir dhṛtarāṣṭra suto 'bhavat

[3]Mahabharata: 5-141- 8 “kṛtvā cāṅgārako vakraṃ jyeṣṭhāyāṃ.....”

[8]“Response to Shri Shrikant Talageri – Part 8 of 8”


[11]“When Did The Mahabharata War Happen?”  Page 187

[13] “When Did The Mahabharata War Happen?” Page 98.

[14] Ibid. Page 58.

[17] Mahabharata: 5-141-2

[18]yaḥ prekṣāpūrvakārī bhavati saḥ adhruveṇa nimittena dhruvaṃ nimittamupādatte vedikāṃ puṇḍarīkaṃ vā”. Maha Bhshya. on I.1.26 Vart.5.

[19]Brihat Samhita: 46-3

[20]Nimitta Choodamani. Translated by V.Raghavendra Rao

[21]Prasna Marga: 1-5 to 8

[22] Ibid.

[23] B.V.Raman in Prasna Marga I- 5 to 8. Page 4

[24]Brihat Samhita: 46 – 82.

[25]Brihat Samhita: 46 -3