Monday, September 4, 2023

Mahabharata Quiz - 50

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Question – 50

Vyasa could have simply used ‘Kartika’ - the well-known name. Why did he opt for a lesser-known name ‘Kaumudi’ for Kartika?


Kaumudi offers a ‘Ganesha moment’ to think deeply but not in a shallow way like modern day researchers such as Mr. Nilesh Oak who is found to twist words and meanings to suit the date he got in his simulation.

In fact, the name Kaumudi was in common usage until a thousand years ago. There was a Sanskrit drama, ‘Kaumudī Mahotsav’ detailing the life of King Kalyanavarman of Magadha, of the 7th century CE, staged at the palace of Sugāṅga at Paṭaliputra on the “Autumnal Full Moon Festival Day”, i.e., Sharad Kaumudī Mahotsav day! This king was re-instated to the throne on the day of Kaumudī Mahotsav, the Full Moon Festival in the Kartika month.

If we dig further into its beginnings, we find Padma Purana and Skanda Purana giving the details of this festival starting from the time of Mahabali who offered land to Vāmana. It is explained in the context of the festival of Dīpāvaḷi in memory of Bali in Padma Purana. 

On the day of Amavasya of Ashvina, charities and celebrations were done by the king followed by the worship of Mahabali at night by keeping awake. Padma Purana states that the “Kaumudī” festival started since then. Perhaps Kaumudī was the earlier name for the Dīpāvaḷi festival.

Going by the description of this festival in Padma and Skanda Purana, it appears that “Kaumudī Festival” that started on the day after Dīpāvaḷi by worshiping Mahabali culminated on the Full Moon Day of Kartika. The Kaumudi Mahotsav of the above-mentioned Sanskrit Drama culminated on the Full Moon of Kartika month.

Kaumudī festival seems to have a specific significance for the recovery of lost lands. By worshiping Bali who donated the earth to Vāmana, a king can prosper for a whole year, says Padma Purana.

In tune with the aim of the mission to restore the land of the Pandava-s, Krishna started off after completing the worship of Bali, along with the Pandava-s (Dīpāvaḷi). Vyasa, who didn’t utter a word without significance, seems to have thoughtfully employed the name “Kaumuda” for Kartika, reflecting the expectations of the Pandava clan on their completion of Kaumudī austerities. The date of the mission seems to have been planned in such a way that, Krishna would return with a positive news by the Full Moon Day of Kartika.

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