Kurukshetra was declared as the land of ‘Dharma’ and ‘Righteousness’ by King Dhritarashtra himself in the first verse of Bhagawat Gita.
“Dharma kshetram kurukshetra yu yu suvaha”
Verse from Bhagawat Gita
On the banks of River Saraswati, history is almost palpable. Sages once recited the Vedas here; Brahma and his deities performed yajnas; Vashishtha and Vishwamitra attained divinity. Kauravas and Pandavas fought a bloody battle and Lord Krishna delivered the message of Gita to Arjuna.
The first book of the Mahabharata writes:
In the interval between the Treta and Dwapara Yugas, Parashurama, great among all who have borne arms, urged by impatience of wrong, repeatedly smote the noble race of Kshatriyas. And when that fiery meteor, by his own valour, annihilated the entire tribe of the Kshatriyas, he formed at Samanta-panchaka five lakes of blood.
— Mahabharata 1:2
It is known that Duryodhana approached Sahadeva to seek the best date for Kauravas victory. Since Sahadeva could see the great war coming but couldn’t warn his brothers because of his curse – the moment he would reveal the future he would die, thus Lord Krishna advised him to answer questions with respect to future only in the form of questions.
Both the royal families, to fight against each other started to get the favor of their friends and relatives in the Great Battle. While Arjuna was able to get Krishna in his side, Duryodhana was awarded the Narayani Sena of Lord Krishna who would fight on the side of the Kauravas. Several ancient kingdoms took part as allies of the rival clans in the battle.
Debate on the date of the Kurukshetra War
Some historians like A. L. Basham estimates the date of the Kurukshetra war to Iron Age India of the 10th century BCE. Whereas M.Witzel have corroborated that the general setting of the epic has a historical precedent in Iron Age (Vedic) India, where the Kuru kingdom was the center of political power during roughly 1200 to 800 BCE.
The evidence of the Puranas is of two kinds:-
- First: there is the direct statement that there were 1015 (or 1050) years between the birth of Parikshit (Arjuna’s grandson) and the accession of Mahapadma Nanda, commonly dated to 382 BCE, which would yield an estimate of about 1400 BCE for the Bharata battle.
- Second: analyses of parallel genealogies in the Puranas between the times of Adhisimakrishna (Parikshit’s great-grandson) and Mahapadma Nanda. Pargiter accordingly estimated 26 generations by averaging 10 different dynastic lists and, assuming 18 years for the average duration of a reign, arrived at an estimate of 850 BCE for Adhisimakrishna, and thus approximately 950 BCE for the Bharata battle.
There have been a number of theories put forward:
▪ Most widely accepted date is 10th century BCE or 950 BCE, according to archeological evidence.
▪ S. Balakrishna concluded a date of 2559 BCE using consecutive lunar eclipses.
▪ R. N. Iyengar concluded a date of 1478 BCE using double eclipses and Saturn+Jupiter conjunctions.
▪ B. N. Achar states a date of 3067 BCE using planetary positions listed in the Mahābhārata.
▪ P. V. Holey states a date of November 13, 3143 BCE using planetary positions and calendar systems.
▪ P. V. Vartak calculates a date of October 16, 5561 BCE using planetary positions.
▪ Based on translation work by K. Sadananda, on November 22 3067 BCE, Kurukshetra War started.
▪ The findings in Dwarka and archeological evidence found are compatible with the Mahabharata tradition and removes the lingering doubt about the historicity and positions the Mahabharata war date to around 1500 BCE
Discussions and debates have been going on for a long time among many scholars and historians, decoding the text of Mahabharata is a tough task but absolutely worthy and necessary.
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