Thursday, August 31, 2023

Mahabharata Quiz - 46

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Question – 46

To find out the unusual change in Time, let us begin to explore from the time of the end of Pandava-s exile. What were the events in the initial months after the Pandava-s returned?


To find out the events that caused the change in Time, let us begin from Ashadha Krishna Dasami when the Pandava-s ended their exile.

Lunar Ashadha month: (Sun in Cancer)

  • Exile ended on Krishna Dasami (11th May, 3136 BCE)
  • With 5 days left for the month to end, developing acquaintances and discussions must have happened.
  • Proposal for marriage of Uttara, the daughter of King Virata, with Abhimanyu.

Lunar Shravana month: (Sun in Leo)

  • Marriage of Abhimanyu conducted.
  • After the marriage, intense discussion on ways to get back the kingdom from the Kauravas.
  • Krishna and Balarama returned to Dwaraka.

Lunar Bhadrapada month: (Sun in Virgo)

  • Pandavas began the preparations for war.
  • Both Arjuna and Duryodhana went to Dwaraka seeking support of Krishna for the war. (It is also probable that this happened in the previous month.)
  • After getting assurance from Krishna to send army to support his side, Duryodhana went on to meet Balarama. Balarama refused to side with anyone and expressed his inability to act against Krishna.
  • Emissary of King Drupada was sent on a peace mission to the Kuru kingdom on a Pushya day. This was in waning phase (Krishna Paksha) of Bhadrapada.

Lunar Asvayuja month: (Sun in Libra)

  • The peace mission of Drupada’s emissary sent on the Pushya day failed.
  • This was followed by a peace mission by the Kauravas headed by Sanjaya to Pandavas. This also failed. There is no reference to any Panchanga feature for this date.

In the next month, that is in the month of Kartika, Krishna himself went to Hastinapura to broker peace between the cousins.

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Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Mahabharata Quiz - 45

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Question - 45 

Is Ratha Saptami intended to remember the altered time of Uttarayana that forced Bhishma to lie on the arrow bed for 58 nights?


Yes. The tithi- star alignment changed once for ever at that time and it continues till today. The first day of the 5-year Yuga, that was supposed to begin on Magha Shukla Pratipat started on Krishna Ekadasi of Pushya month.

There was no change in the position of the sun. It continued to turn northward in the star Uttaradhadha but the moon did not join that on the day after Amavasya as it used to be. It joined the sun four tithi-s earlier at Krishna Ekadasi.

This change being caused by a sudden change in the 2nd year, with the new year starting in Magha Shukla Ashtami, and Uttarayana happening at Magha Shukla Saptami, the sages decided to immortalize it into memory as an odd date of the Sun turning northward. That is remembered as Ratha Saptami – the Sun turning his chariot on an unseasonal date of Shukla Saptami.

Tithi Dvayam is a conditional feature of Ratha Saptami indicating similar Tithi Dvayam on the day Bhishma left. By its presence at sunrise, Saptami was the tithi of the day marking the change of direction of the chariot of the sun, but Ashtami should follow sometime soon. This must have been present on the day Bhishma left, for he cast off his body on the very day of Saptami when the sun’s chariot turned north with Rohini at sunrise, but Ashtami was running when he left the world.

The Ganesha moment exists in this context requiring us to find out what caused the unusual extension of a month when it should not have been. The Adhika Maasa in Magha that caused Bhishma to wait for the arrival of the Nija Maasa must be probed to identify the root cause of an anomaly that caused a change in the lunar days. That can be done by a systematic analysis of the events that unfolded after the end of the exile of the Pandava-s.

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Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Mahabharata Quiz - 44

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Question – 44

What is the basis of the claim that Adhika Maasa cannot occur in the month of Magha? The extended stay of Bhishma shows the probability for an Adhika Maasa in that month.


Adhika Maasa is a lunar month that is caused by the difference between the solar and the lunar months due to the differences in the speed of the sun and the moon. The sun travels 1 degree a day and covers one month of 30-degree duration in 30 days. The moon moves faster and completes 30 solar days (one solar month) in approximately 29 days. In other words, every solar month is equal to one lunar month + 1 lunar day. Because of this, at the end of every year (12 solar months), 12 lunar days are formed extra. In two years, 24 lunar days remain additionally. In another six months, another 6 lunar days are formed. Thus, every two and a half years 30 lunar days are formed extra. Since this is the duration of a lunar month, this is expunged to adjust the lunar month with the solar month.

For identification of the Adhika Maasa, when two New-Moons (Amavasya) occur in a solar month, the lunar month following the first Amavasya is treated as Adhika Maasa. The month following the second Amavasya is treated as Nija Maasa. This follows the rationale that there must be solar ingress (saṅkramaṇa) in a lunar month. The lunar month not having a solar ingress is an Adhika Maasa.

The solar month stretching longer than the lunar month happens when the earth is at aphelion, that is farther from the sun. Because of this, the solar days range from 30 to 32 in the months starting from Phalguna to Ashvina. Adhika Maasa can happen only in this period.

On the other hand, in the months from Kartika to Magha, the earth is at perihelion, that is closest to the sun. The Panchanga will show 29 days for these months due to the faster movement of the earth during this period. Only in these months, Kshaya Maasa can occur. This is identified by two solar ingresses within a lunar month.

Any time a Kshaya maasa occurs, it would be accompanied with two Adhika maasa - one before and another after the Kshaya maasa. Kshaya Maasa repeats once in149-years. The last time it occurred in the year 1983 when the solar ingress into Capricorn (Makara Saṅkrānti) started after Shukla Pratipat of the lunar Pushya month and ended on 13th February before the lunar month ended. The very next month, Phalguna was an Adhika maasa with no solar ingress. Prior to the Kshaya masa, an Adhika maasa occurred in Ashvina. Thus, the stretching and shortening of the months before and in the middle are the result of the difference in the speed of the earth from farther to closer distances to the sun.

Thus, scientifically, it is impossible for an Adhika Maasa to occur in the month of Magha. In the Mahabharata, only in the beginning of that year (Krodhi), an Adhika Maasa occurred in Caitra. So, no Kshaya maasa could have occurred in Magha of that year. So, what happened then? How did the days get extended, forcing Bhīṣma to wait for the Uttarayaṇa to come up?

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Monday, August 28, 2023

Mahabharata Quiz - 43

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Question – 43

Bhishma’s waiting period for 58 nights is almost close to two months. Any chance that a major part of that period was an Adhika Maasa? Since Uttarayana was not about the exact solar position but determined by the tithi, can’t we say that he waited for the arrival of Nija Maasa?


There is of course a greater probability for an Adhika Maasa in the 58-night period. This is ascertained from the fact that after Duryodhana’s fall on a solar eclipse day, the Pandava-s retired to the banks of the river Bhagirathi and spent a month there. The presence of solar eclipse on the last day of the war coinciding with the fall of Duryodhana shows that there was an Amavasya on that day. The next day a new lunar month started.

The retirement of the Pandava-s to a riverside for a full one month lends scope for the presence of Adhika Maasa running then. Since Bhishma left his mortal coils in Magha Shukla Ashtami, this month coming before that could in all probability be the Adhika Magha month.

But there is a hitch here. Adhika Maasa can never occur in Magha month. There is a pattern in the way Adhika Maasa occurs. It can occur anytime from Phalguna to Ashvina months but not in the part of the year from Kartika to Magha. In the months Kartika, Margashira, Pushya and Magha only Kshaya Maasa will occur. Rarely an Adhika Maasa can happen in Kartika but never in Magha.

The extended duration of Bhishma’s stay and the recluse of the Pandava-s for one full lunar month shows that there was an Adhika Maasa in Magha – but such an occurrence is impossible to happen in Nature. A Ganesha moment is staring at us in this issue.

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Sunday, August 27, 2023

Identity of the Śakakāraka of Shalivahana Śaka (Supplement to Mahabharata date series 16)



The knowledge of the beginning date of Kali Maha Yuga being vital in deciphering the date of the Mahabharata war, this supplementary series was made to clear the doubts and questions of Kali Yuga.

Kali Yuga has six sub-divisions, known as Śaka-s, already mentioned in the 13th Part. They are listed down here again.

1.         Yudhiṣṭhira Śaka

2.         Vikrama Śaka

3.         Śālivāhana Śaka

4.         Vijayābhinandana Śaka

5.         Nagārjuna Śaka

6.         Bali Śaka 

The duration of each of these Śaka is already fixed by the sages as shown in the table below:

The complete plan of Kali Yuga of 4,32,000 years already in existence implies that it was devised at the time Kali Yuga computation was handed down. This was done by ‘Purā-vidah’- the learned people of the past who declared that Kali Yuga started on the day Kṛṣṇa left for his higher realm, as per Śrīmad Bhāgavatam. 

We have already discussed in the previous parts the references from Jyotirvidābharaṇa by Kalidasa on how a Śakakāraka is decided, based on defeating the Śaka tribes. This text was written in 57 BCE, 24 years after the Vikrama Śaka began.


The first Śaka of Kali yuga was named after Yudhiṣṭhira, who annihilated many Śaka tribes in the Mahābhārata war. Yudhiṣṭhira Śaka did not include the 35 years of rule by Yudhiṣṭhira but it started only with the beginning of Kali Mahā Yuga, after Yudhiṣṭhira abdicated the throne and Parīkṣit was crowned. Even though Yudhiṣṭhira had left, his rule of the law was prevailing. Hence, the name Yudhiṣṭhira Śaka. This Śaka went on for 3044 years. 

(It is shocking to see several scholars of yester years, assigning the year of the Mahabharata war as the beginning of Yudhishthira Śaka. I noticed this particularly while going through the previous works on the date of Adi Shankara. Almost everyone who attempted to fix a date for Adi Shankara has taken Yudhishthira Śaka as starting from the Mahabharata war date, while it refers to the Kali Yuga date)

The next Śaka was that of king Vikramāditya who defeated the Śaka and the Ramatha tribes.  (14th Part) Seeing him subdue the Śaka tribes when the new Śaka era was due, the scholars of that time crowned him as the Śakakāraka. If the Śaka classification was arbitrarily made by Vikrama himself, he could have given more years to his own era and not just 135 years and a long duration of 18,000 years for the next Śaka! This goes to show that the Śaka divisions were made at the time of the start of the Kali Yuga and the kings abided by them.

In this article, let me focus on the 3rd subdivision namely, Śālivāhana Śaka.


The third sub-division of Kali Yuga was Śālivāhana Śaka, whose initiator is not exactly known. However, going by the requisites of a Śakakāraka, I have zeroed in on Gautamīputra Śatakarṇi of the Sātavāhana empire.

He defeated Nahapāna of the Śaka tribes in addition to the Yavana-s, Pahlava-s and Parthia-s. This information is written in the Nashik inscriptions of his mother Gautamī Bālaśri as “Śaka-yavana-pahlava-niṣudana”. His victory over the king Nahapāna of the Śaka tribes is authenticated by the discovery of a hoard of coins at Jogalthambi, numbering more than 13,000 originally issued by Nahapāna, but more than 9000 of them counterstruck with the legends and symbols of Gautamīputra Śatakarṇi.  

His name is associated with the Tamil Cera king Senkuttuvan, who made an expedition to the Himalayas to procure stones for making the image of Kannagi. According to the olden Tamil Epic, Silappadhikāram, the Cera king was assisted by a Śatakarṇi in his trip. The army of the Cera king and that of the Śatakarṇi had fought together against the Yavana-s settled in the environs of the Amarnāth cave, whose peak known as “Paruppadam” in Tamil, was the destination of the Cera King. Silappadhikāram mentions twice about the victory of the Cera King over the Yavana-s (van sol yavanar valanādu āndu / வன்சொல் யவனர் வளநாடு ஆண்டு).[i]

Gautamīputra Śatakarṇi being the only Śatakarṇi associated with a victory over the Yavana-s, it is deduced that he was the one mentioned in Silappadhikāram. This victory also made him the Śakakāraka of the third Śaka, namely Śālivāhana Śaka.

Nashik inscription about Gautamīputra Śatakarṇi

The Nashik inscription provides an important information that this king devised Time and place for the pursuit of three goals, perhaps referring to Dharma, Artha and Kāma. Written specifically as “suvibhatativaga desa kālasa”, this seems to indicate the initiation of Śālivāhana Śaka. Starting from this Śaka, many Karaṇa texts were written to prepare the tables for Pancānga-s for usage in religious, cultural, civil, and administrative works. The relevant parts of this inscription referring to the king’s Time and his victory over the Śaka tribes is produced above.[ii]

On the eastern walls of the veranda of Cave 3 where the inscription on devising Time and the victory over the Śaka-s are found, there is another inscription dictated by Gautamīputra Śatakarṇi from his military camp at the battlefield soon after winning the Śaka king ‘Usabadata’ (Rishabhadatta), the son-in-law of Nahapāna, transferring the villages previously under the control of the Western Kṣatrapa-s to the ascetics.[iii]

The deed declares that it was issued on the 18th year of the rule of the king, on the 1st day of the second fortnight of the rainy season. In Caitra, the next year, this king must have got established as the Śakakāraka. This was at the expiry of 3179 Kali year, corresponding to 78 CE.

The name Śālivāhana given by the Purā-Vidah at the time of Vyāsa was taken over to refer to this new era which we, the Bhāratīya-s continue to use till date.


(End of the series)


[i] Silappadhikāram, 28.141; 29.25

[ii] Epigraphia Indica, Vol VIII, p.60

[iii] Epigraphia Indica, Vol VIII, p.71

Mahabharata Quiz - 42

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Question – 42

Why did Bhishma wait for 58 nights for the Uttarayana? Since he had a boon to choose his end time, why couldn’t he choose a day closer to Uttarayana and avoid a long, grueling stay on the arrow bed?


Bhishma was an expert in the science of Time which we know from the way he did  a calculation to convince the Kaurava-s that Pandava-s did not reveal themselves earlier than expected (Question 15). How could he make a grave mistake in calculating the arrival of Uttarayana which marked the beginning of a new year in the 5-year Yuga scheme?

However, something seemed to have gone wrong going by the time features that Bhishma himself told for his last day on the earth. While lying on the arrow bed, he told Yudhishthira and others that he would leave the earth on the first day of Uttarayana coinciding with Shukla Ashtami in the month of Magha. And he did shed his body on that tithi when the moon was in the star Rohini.

This date looks strange because Shukla Ashtami can never become the tithi of any ayana in any year of the 5-year Yuga. Let us take a look at the table of the 5-year Yuga calendar produced in Question 39

In the first year, the Uttarayna begins in Shukla Pratipat. The Dakṣiṇāyana of the same year will begin in Shukla Saptami only because every 7th tithi will be the first day of the next ayana. By this, the Uttarayana of the second year will begin in Shukla Trayodasi but Bhishma says that it was Shukla Ashtami! It was four tithi-s behind, but the star of the day continued to be the same (Rohini). How can this happen?

Since Bhishma very clearly and openly stated that Uttarayana starts on Shukla Ashtami, let us take it as the base tithi and construct the 5-year yuga calendar. The calendar so constructed throws up a big surprise that the subsequent Yuga didn’t start on the same day but regressed to a past date! A look at that calendar shows what I mean!

A systematic addition of 6 tithi-s and 18 stars for each ayana (as stipulated by Lagadha) beings the 6th year (which is the 1st year of the Yuga) to the previous lunar month, Pushya (Paush) and not Magha as it was when the Yuga started in Krodhi! The tithi was that of Krishna Paksha Ekadasi – four tithi-s behind the expected Shukla Pratipat of Magha.

By starting four tithi-s behind on Shukla Ashtami, the next round of the Yuga also lagged by 4 tithi-s by which the lunar month happened to be the previous one. Has Time slipped backward?

How can Time slip backward? The original calendar had gone awry such that Bhishma or any one of that time lost track of Time and ended up spending more time than required to reach the day of the Uttarayana.

The mismatch between the two calendars for two consecutive years has given us this unique puzzle on Time.

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Saturday, August 26, 2023

Mahabharata Quiz - 41

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Question - 41

If 'Krodhi' - the year of the Mahabharata war happened to be the first year of the 5-year Yuga, in which year Bhishma left his mortal coils? 


In the 5-year Yuga, the year begins in Uttarayana. Bhishma wanted to die in Uttarayana and decided to cast off his body on the 10th day of the war, thinking that it was the proper time to cast of his body. But, lo, it was not so. While falling from his chariot with face turned east a little before sunset, the Sun was still in the southern solstice. The rishi-s watching him from the sky took the form of swans and walked around the fallen Bhishma conversing within themselves that the Sun was still in the south. They then flew away in the direction of the south. Bhishma observing these decided to wait for Uttarayana to leave the earth.

So, his fall was in the year Krodhi but the ultimate release from his body was only after Uttarayana, which marked the beginning of the next year. That year was named Vishvavasu! That was the second year in the 5-year Yuga. 

But the wait happened to be too long - for 58 nights, in Bhishma's own words. 

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Friday, August 25, 2023

Mahabharata Quiz - 40

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Question - 40 

Is it possible to reconstruct the 5-year Yuga for the current times too? 


It is possible to construct the 5-year Yuga for the current times too but such calendar will not fulfil the purpose of the 5-year Yuga. It is because the 5-year Yuga is based on two factors:

1. The Sun will be in the star of Uttarayana, but not necessarily in the exact degree of winter solstice, because of the second condition. 

2. The 1st year of the Yuga must start in Shukla Pratipat and this must coincide with the star of the Uttarayana.

For example, today the Sun begins its northward journey (winter solstice) in the 6th degree of Moola nakshatra. The Sun continues to turn northward in Moola star right from the year (approximately) 1450 CE. It has traveled more than 7 degrees in Moola star all these years, but not always in conjunction with the moon (Shukla Pratipat) in the Moola star or in the exact location of the Uttarayana. The moon was conjunct with the Sun 7 days ahead of the true position of the Uttarayana in the year 1450 CE. It means, the Uttarayana was observed 7 days earlier than the actual position of the Uttarayana in the year 1450 CE. 

This discrepancy will occur every 2 and half stars (which is the distance travelled by the Sun / equinoctial sun between two consecutive shukla pratipat-s). What probably had happened was that they had two standard calendars: 

# one at zero ayanamsa position for which the corresponding Uttarayana position was at zero degree Capricorn (Uttarashadha star will be there) 

# another at Dhanishtha at 27 degree forward of zero degree Capricorn. This will be the 27th degree of Capricorn. This was explained by Lagadha in Rik Jyothisha. 

Only at these two points - 0 degree Capricorn and 27 degree Capricorn - Shukla Pratipat also will occur (approximately ). The 0 degree Capricorn position of the Uttarayana was present during the Mahabharata time. That calendar (produced in the previous question- answer) was used for the next 1800 years though the exact Uttarayana position of the Sun was not taken into consideration. They stuck with only the tithi - that is, Shukla Pratipat to begin the Yuga. It will not occur anywhere other than at 0 and 27 degrees of Capricorn.   

Once the Uttarayana had reached 27 degrees of Capricorn (with the equinox forward moving) the calendar was changed to the new position of the sun where Shukla Pratipat occurred. Sage Lagadha prepared a manual for that position which is available even now as Lagadha Jyothisha. . The Uttarayana position of the sun will be taken from Dhanishtha and the Shukla Pratipat happening near that will determine the 1st year of the Yuga. The subsequent year positions will be derived from that as explained in the last post. 

After reaching 27 degrees of Capricorn, the Sun will return back as per the Vedic theory of to and fro motion. When the Equinox and solstices are processing, the Vedic society stopped using the 5- year Yuga because of the injunction that precessing equinox will bring misfortunes to the world. Particularly, after the Uttarayana had slipped backward of Capricorn, the 5 year Yuga must have been frozen and replaced with what we have now. 

Now we stick to Uttarayana at zero degree Capricorn, irrespective of whatever be the position of Uttarayana. This will not be changed until the Uttarayana returns to the zero degree Capricorn after making a turn-around near the 3rd degree of Moola. As per texts, the revival of Dharma will happen only then. 

So, in the final analysis, the concept of the 5-year Yuga can be applied even now, but the conjunction of Shukla Pratipat with the exact Uttarayana position will not be guaranteed. Also the negative injunction on precessing equinox / Uttarayana calls for remedial measures which is however enforced by having the Uttarayana at Makara Sankramana (zero Capricorn) with Sankramana puja and tarpan. This injunction can be read in Brihat Samhita. 

The bottom-line is that in any event of the Uttarayana position - that which is followed now or in the 5-year Yuga - the exact location of the Uttarayana is NOT taken into consideration. This must be understood by anyone wishing to date the Itihasa-s. 

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Thursday, August 24, 2023

Mahabharata Quiz - 39

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Question - 39

Is it possible to re-construct the 5-year yuga of the Mahabharata period? If yes, how? What was it?



·       The 5-year yuga is based on the Uttarāyaṇa of that time. The true position of the sun turning towards north was taken into reckoning in the 1st year. However, the Uttarāyaṇa was not observed on the exact day of the sun turning north in this scheme. It was observed only on the day after the moon joined this sun in the 1st year. This is because of the concept of the sun and the moon yoking the year together (Yugya). Conjunction with the other planets is not considered in this Yuga (as in the beginning of Kali Yuga).

·       Every 7th tithi and the 19th star at the time of the Uttarāyaṇa in a year will become the tithi and the star of the next ayana of the year. That will be the Dakṣiṇāyana of the 1st year.  When this is computed for every succeeding ayana, it is found that the initial tithi-star combination (of the 1st year) repeats only in the 6th year. That is why five years are clubbed together as one Yuga. When the next conjunction of the sun and the moon takes place at the point of Uttarāyaṇa in the 6th year, that is taken as the 1st year of the new 5-year Yuga.

·       Since the beginning of subsequent years of the 5-year period will begin in a different tithi which is determined by the location of the moon, the Uttarāyaṇa of those years will not be in the true location of the sun. The astronomy simulators are practically inadequate to locate the time of the Uttarāyaṇa in the 5-year Yuga.   

Using this formula, we can construct the tithi- nakṣatra of the first day of all the 10 ayana-s in the 5 years of the Mahabharata time. As we know by now that the Mahabharata war occurred in the year Krodhi (3136 BCE), it is possible for us to find out the Uttarāyaṇa position of the year and construct the 5-year yuga from that. This is done using the astrology simulator Jhora.

This simulator provides two systems – Drik and Surya Siddhanta.

Drik is based on the current location of the equinox and the planetary positions as of today. This is extrapolated using a standard ayanamsa calculated by the Western scientists based on continuous precession of the equinox (the current model)

Surya Siddhanta calculation is based on Vedic concept of to and fro oscillating equinox (3600 +3600 years for to and fro) and uses the ayanamsa based on this. When we check the dates from both systems, it was found that Kali Yuga feature of super conjunction of all the planets can be simulated only in the Surya Siddhanta model. Since this is not simulated in the Drik model (same as the one used by NASA et al), the westerners are rejecting the very concept of super conjunction of Kali Yuga. This is supported and parroted by all Indologists except me!

Now coming to the decipherment of the 5-year Yuga, I noted the ayanamsa position in the Jhora and the corresponding date when the sun and the moon were conjunct. The conjunction occurred in the star Uttaraṣādha when the tithi was Shukla Pratipat! The ayanamsa was zero – implying that the sidereal equinox coincided with the tropical equinox at the beginning of Aries (Ashwini). Therefore, the Uttarāyaṇa (winter solstice) had occurred at the beginning of Capricorn where Uttaraṣādha was located.

(Click the image to enlarge)

The figure shows that a new Yuga started in the year Krodhi – the year of the Mahabharata war. In that year, the Pandava-s ended their exile.

The figure also shows that the Uttarāyaṇa date did not start on the same day every year, though the sun turned northward in the same star. For example, it started on Shukla Trayodasi with the moon in Rohini, in the next year.

A researcher in Mahabharata must bear in mind this anomaly in the calendar in vogue at that time. No modern simulator can detect this anomaly since this Yuga system is not incorporated in any astronomy simulator


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Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Mahabharata Quiz - 38

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Question - 38

The dice game was the cause for the exile of the Pandava-s. Are there any clues in the Mahabharata on how it was played? Was it similar to rummy or chess (Chaturanga)? 


The dice game played by the Pandava-s with Shakuni was not like rummy or chess, but it was a game involving memory power, guesswork and number game.

The Mahabharata refers to it as Aksha or Paashaka game and not dice game. Aksha is the rudraksha look-alike got from a tree called Vibheetaka. It is called 'Thandri - kaay' (தன்றிக் காய்) in Tamil. They are the nuts of the Vibhitaka tree. They only are used for this game.

There is no direct description in the Mahabharata of how the game was played, but we are able to construct the method of playing from the different sources such as Nala's story in which he learnt the science of counting numbers from Rituparna by practicing with the Aksha nuts and won the dice game to get back his kingdom. 

Basically the gamer must be skilled in guessing the number of askha-s (nuts) held in a closed hand. He must be able to quickly count the number of askha-s thrown during the game. This game looks similar to the odd or even or null game (ஒத்தையா, ரெட்டையா, பரட்டையா) we used to play in olden days. We used to have a collection of seeds (mostly tamarind seeds) and take a handful of them in a closed hand. The opponent must guess the number as odd or even or null. Then we will throw the seeds and start counting. If it turns out to be the number the opponent said (eg- odd), the opponent has won. All the seeds are to be given to the opponent.

In the same way, in the aksha game of the Mahabharata both sides will keep a number of aksha-s closed inside their palm. Each will claim a number and throw the askha one after the other. Here the numbering is not odd or even or null but just four numbers. They are Krita meaning 4, treta meaning 3, dwapara meaning 2 and kali meaning 1. 

We will use the Itihasic names for explaining the game.

Yudhishthira throws the aksha claiming treta, for example. Immediately Shakuni has to throw his askha-s by claiming a number. He always said Krita and threw some askha from his closed hand. Then they will count the total number. If it comes in multiples of 4, Shakuni has won. In this way Shakuni was won in all the throws. 

The trick lies in quickly guessing the number of aksha-s thrown by Yudhishthira and accordingly throwing enough number of aksha from his hand to make up for Krita. Shakuni was quick is judging the aksha-s thrown by Yudhishthira and the corresponding number that he has to throw by a controlled throw. 

What was basically a game of skill was misused when they started staking. 

This was played as a game of leisure by kings. Yudhishthira played it with the Matsya ruler in their 13th year exile but without staking anything. It was not so in the game with Shakuni. 

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Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Mahabharata Quiz - 37

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Question – 37

From a single tithi, namely Krishna Saptami, you derived the dates of exile and the date of Kichaka-vadha. Does it mean that dating of Mahabharata is an astrological exercise than an astronomical endeavor?


Any research on date depends on the kind of data available. Here the data is taken exclusively from the text itself. Only two types of data are available in the text of the Mahabharata.

One is about the Pancānga elements such as tithi, star etc., mentioned for the events. The Mahabharata does give these features for major events. These features are in use even today. These features continue endlessly such that it is possible to simulate the combination of these for a past date from the present combination. It just involves mathematical calculations which are incorporated in astrology simulators like Jhora.

The second set of data pertains to the planetary references in the Mahabharata. They might appear along with the Pancānga elements or stated as ‘nimitta-s’. The first problem is encountered by one while sifting through astronomy factors – are they true astronomy positions or nimitta-s?

For example, the reference to the star Arundhati appearing to have caused the star Vasistha trail behind, is a nimitta and not an astronomy feature. But this is taken as an astronomy feature by Mr. Nilesh Oak taking along with him a huge chunk of Indians into abysmal foolishness. Understanding the astronomy features itself requires a certain level of knowledge of astrological terminologies because both planetary positions and nimitta-s found in the Mahabharata are from the domain of astrology. Vyasa didn't possess the knowledge of modern astronomy such as Right ascension, Declination and visual magnitude.

In the case of the second set, namely, planetary combinations, we must be aware of the limitations of the simulators. They are not watertight like the Pancānga details. It is because there is an element of uncertainty in the planetary movement over long period. Those who follow planetary positions (as part of astrology) will be aware that the position of Saturn in Vaakhya system is not the same as in Drik system. It is lagging from what it is seen in Drik system.

Drik is what the NASA or Swiss ephemeris provide by way of current positions.  They are extrapolated to past by means of a set of calculations which are not valid for long periods such as the Mahabharata. More so with the position of the moon. The position of the moon can be checked from numerous inscriptions available in India, particularly South India, on eclipses giving the date, solar days, the star transited by the moon during eclipse etc. A random check done by this writer by picking out one eclipse every 100 years for 1000 years showed that none matched with the NASA date of the same eclipse. In some cases, the eclipse should not have been visible as per the NASA data whereas epigraphic evidence shows that people observed vrat, puja, daana etc. during such eclipses.

This gives the foremost lesson that moon data is unreliable astronomically. The discrepancies start appearing from 200 years backwards from now. There are other issues such as the equinoctial position of the sun which is unreliable right from 1800 CE backwards – which again can be cross checked with inscriptional data. Astronomers are aware of the limitations of equinoctial values, but simulator makers incorporate them for tens of thousands of years. Indologists believe the publicity gimmick of those simulator creators and fall an easy prey, by taking clueless masses into their blissful ignorance.

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Monday, August 21, 2023

Mahabharata Quiz - 36

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Question - 36

The decipherment of the last and the first day of the 13-year period of exile was done on the basis of a single factor, namely 'Krishna Saptami' when the Trigarta-s had stolen the cattle of the Matsya country. How reliable is this factor?


First of all, we established in the initial questions that Vyasa had stated only the truth and there was no interpolation of any kind, more so in the case of date features. So, the mention of Krishna Saptami in the text is a highly reliable date feature.

Secondly, people of those times (even of current times) conducted their activities as per time or date features. Tithi is particularly important for performing specific actions. Each tithi has a sub-division called 'karana' which determines the kind of action that can be successfully fulfilled - giving rise to a famous dictum "Karaṇāt kārya siddhi".

For instance, the Vishṭi Karaṇa coming in Krishna Saptami is particularly meant for stealing! In those days, even thieves have known the relevant parts of astrology for choosing the right time for robbery so that they won't be caught. Robbery is one of the 64 arts which a person was supposed to learn but not use - the rationale is to know how and when a robber can strike.

The Trigarta-s, when they planned to steal the cattle of the Matsya country could have chosen a relevant tithi to do that act. Amazingly, the Mahabharata mentions that it was done on Krishṇa Saptami which has Vishṭi Karaṇa as its sub-part, suitable for stealing, murder and attacks. 

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Antiquity of Lord Vishvanatha temple - my article in

Kashi, also known as Varanasi, is one of the seven Mukti sthals of Bharat – the others being Ayodhya, Mathura, Dwaraka, Haridwar, Ujjain and Kanchi. Of these seven, the prime temples of three places, namely Ayodhya, Varanasi and Mathura had fallen to the Mughal invaders. Presently, a petition is filed seeking permission to worship within the Gyan Vaapi mosque in Varanasi, claiming that it was built atop the original temple of Lord Vishvanatha.

Today there is a temple of Vishvanatha adjacent to Gyan Vaapi mosque, but it was built by Rani Ahilyabai of the Maratha empire in 1780. The original temple was built by Raja Vikramaditya 2050 years ago, claim the petitioners. Looking back at the history of Lord Vishvanatha, this temple had existed even in the Mahabharata times. The wax palace in which the Pandavas were tricked to stay was built in Varanasi only. The Pandavas were lured to go to Varanasi to witness a colourful festival for Lord Shiva in this city in the month of Phalguni. 

The Mahabharata states that they started their journey to this temple in Varanasi on the 8th day of Phalguni month, that is on Shukla Ashtami. Even today there is a grand festival of colours,  much like the Holi festival, called ‘Rangbhari’, celebrated in this temple on the 11th day, that is Shukla Ekadasi of Phalguni month. The Mahabharata having taken place more than 5100 years ago, this striking similarity offers evidence for the continuous existence of this temple for more than 5000 years.

Kashi was the oldest name of Varanasi, derived from the name of the great grandson of Ila, the daughter of Vaivasvata Manu. The temple of Vishvanatha traces its beginning from the time River Ganga started flowing in the early years of Holocene. As per the temple legends, Lord Shiva appeared as Svayambhu from under the ground and had water filled in his place. That came to be known as the celebrated Gyan Vaapi – which means the Well of knowledge. It is said that this well is fed by the waters of Ganga from under the ground. The well was part of Gyan Mandapa in olden days where discourses have taken place. People in search of knowledge and Salvation flocked to this temple of Vishvanatha.

The evidence for the temple for Lord Vishvanatha exists in the account of the life history of Tulsidas (1511-1623). He lived through the period when Ram Janma Bhumi was destroyed (1528) – which he recalled in his composition ‘Tulsishatak’. It was accepted as evidence during the proceedings on Ram Janma Bhumi-Babri....(Click here to read the rest of the article)

Mahabharata Quiz - 35

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Question - 35 

Is it possible to deduce the date of Kichaka's death from the available date features of the end period of the exile? 


Yes, the reason being Draupadi mentioned the remaining days of exile after Kichaka-vadha. 

The trouble from Kichaka started only after the Pandava-s completed 10 months of incognito living. After Kichaka and his men were killed by Bheema in disguise as a Gandharva, Draupadi was confronted by the queen of Matsya Desa, namely Sudeshna. Frightened by the attack of an 'invisible Gandharva' husband of Draupadi (in the guise of Sairandri), the queen asked Draupadi to leave the country. 

At that time, Draupadi pleaded her to allow her to continue for just thirteen days after which she would leave (MB: 4-23-27). This implies that the exile period was going to get over after 13 days. 

Taking the version of Vaisampayana and Arjuna (question - 34), that the exile ended on the 13th day of Kataka Maasa (Krishna Shashti), this conversation between Draupadi and Sudeshna must have occurred on the last day of Mithuna Maasa. The corresponding tithi was Jyeshtha Shukla Ashtami

This conversation occurred on Jyeshtha Shukla Ashtami, after Sairandri (Draupadi) was released by the Kichakas (supporters of Kichaka) who wanted to burn her in the pyre of Kichaka. 

Therefore, we are led to deduce that Kichaka was killed a day or two before that.

He was likely to have been killed on the night of Jyeshtha Shukla Shashti. 

On Jyeshtha Shukla Saptami, the Kichakas were killed by Bheema.

By Jyeshtha Shukla Ashtami, Sairandri was released from the clutches of the Kichakas and returned to the palace. 

Saturday, August 19, 2023

Mahabharat Quiz - 34

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Question - 34 

There seems to be three different calculations to determine the last day of the exile of the Pandava-s. Arjuna revealed himself on Krishna Ashtami saying that his exile period was over. The Pandava-s revealed themselves on Krishna Dasami. Bhishma declared that they spent 5 months and 12 days extra. Which of them is correct?


In fact, there are four different days given in the Mahabharata – each of them true on some count.

1.     On the day of Krishna Saptami, when the Trigarta-s started stealing the cattle of the Matsya country. Vaisampayana says that this attack by the Trigarta-s was on the expiry of the exile (MB: 4-30-3) which means the exile period ended on Krishna Saptami of Ashadha month.

2.     The next day, Arjuna while revealing his identity to Uttara, the Matsya Prince, said that he had completed one year of the vrata – a reference to living incognito.

3.     On the third day from then, i.e., on Krishna Dasami all the Pandava-s revealed themselves. Going by the first point, mentioned by Vaisampayana, Arjuna and the Pandavas revealed themselves well after the expiry of the exile period, particularly, the last one year in the Matsya kingdom.

4.     Bhishma calculated on the basis of the lunar months to show that they spent 5 months additionally, if the Adhika Maasa-s are taken into account.

The discrepancy in the 1st and the 3rd point – between Krishna Saptami and Krishna Dasami - makes us wonder whether another calculation was also there based on solar years.

To verify this let me produce the horoscope charts for the first day of the exile and the last day of the exile when they revealed themselves on Ashadha Krishna Dasami. The first day of the exile was made for Ashadha Krishna Dasami, 13 years before Krodhi.

1st day of the exile (Khara year)

The lunar tithi and the phase being the same, the discrepancy can occur only with reference to the solar day. The sun’s position in the above chart shows that the Sun was in the 13th degree of Cancer. In other words, on the 13th day of Kataka Maasa, the Pandava-s left for exile.

By this calculation, their 13th year incognito living must have started on the 13th day of the Kataka Maasa.

Now, let us take a look at the last day of the exile in the year Krodhi, Ashadha Krishna Dasami.

 Last day of the exile (Krodhi year)

Tithi and phase being the same, we can see that only the solar day is different. 

The Sun was in the 17th degree of Cancer. That is, the Pandava-s revealed themselves on the 17th day of Kataka Maasa

This is 4 days more than the time they started the 13th year in the Matsya country.

By Krishna Shashti they completed one solar year. On Krishna Saptami, a year of incognito living was over. That is why Vaisampayana said that Trigarta-s attacked on the expiry of 13 years. Perhaps the Pandava-s planned to reveal themselves on that day itself, but the sudden attack by the Trigarta-s spoiled that decision.

However, it did not stop Arjuna from revealing himself to Uttara out of need, but he too waited till Yudhishthira made themselves known.

Yudhishthira, as one who stood by what is right and legal, chose the day of Krishna Dasami – the same tithi when they left the country for exile.

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