Date of Mahabharata War

mbh-war cambodia
Mahabharata war in Angkhor wat Temple, Cambodia

Research paper written by London Swaminathan
Research article No.1383; Dated 1st November 2014.

Mahabaharata stands out in the epic literature of the world for various reasons:

1.This is the longest epic in the world with one hundred thousand couplets.
2.It is said that all the subjects under the sun are dealt with by the author Vyasa and the saying goes “Vyasochchishtam Jagath sarvam” i.e. The whole world is the spit of Vyasa. That is nothing is untouched by Vyasa. In the epic itself it is said that what you find elsewhere in the world is already here.
3.The date of the great war is debatable because there is no archaeological proof to confirm the traditional date.

Hindus strongly believed in the traditional date of the war around 3100 BCE. But scholars who believed in archaeology of Gangetic plains think that it was fought around 1500 BCE. Either way it is interesting.

Two inscriptions give the date of Kali Yuga. Both of them believed that Kaliyuga commenced around 3100 BCE!
a)Aihole Inscription of Chalukya King Pulekesi II stated that the inscription was made in the year 3735 of Kali era when the Saka era was 556. This meant that the Kali era began in 3101 BCE.
b)Parthivasekarapuram copper plate Tamil inscription of Ko Karunathadakkan gave the number of days of Kali passed as 1449087! The inscription is dated around 865CE.

Ellora - Mahabhatara
Mahabharata war in Ellora caves

This shows that Hindus believed in the date of 3100 BCE as Kaliyuga year 1. Till this date all South Indian Panchangs (traditional ephemeris) give the date of Saka, Vikrama and Kali era faithfully. Hindus believe that the war happened just before the Kali Yuga began.

Now I will summarise the views of some scholars who attended seminars on Mahabharata or contributed articles on this subject:

16th century Abul fazal’s ‘Ain-i-Akbari’ – the 40th year of din-I Llahi 4696 years have elapsed from the beginning of Kali Yuga. This means war took place in 3137 BCE

12th century Kalhana’s Rajatarangini – Kali 653 i.e 2500 BCE. So the war took place before 2500 BCE.

Kalhana was the first historian according towstern scholars. That Kashmiri Brahmin was the first one to write Indian History with dates. But he did a blunder in calculating the Kali Yuga. Still scholars wonder how he committed this mistake. There are various theories about it.

Mahabharata war in Halebedu

R.Morton Smith – 1050 BCE
Srinivas Raghavan 3067 BCE
P C Sen Guptas 2449 BCE
Dr Sankalia – later than 15th century BCE
S B Roy on the basis of astronomical calculations – 1424 BCE
S B ROY in his book “Date of Mahabharata Battle” has beautifully summarised the views of scholars in this field as follows:–

Group A who believed in the date 3100 BCE
D R Mankad- 3201 BCE
M M Krishnamachari – 3137 BCE
C V Vaidya – 3102 BCE
V B Athvale – 3016 BCE

Chakra vyuha
Chakra Vyuha in Bharata battle

Group B (2500 BCE)
Varahamihira (Brihat Samhita)
Kalhana (Rajatarangini)
P C Sengupta (Indian Chronology)

Group C (1450 BCE)
A.Cunningham – 1424 BCE
K P Jaiswal – 1424 BCE
Tarakeshwar Bhattacharya – 1432 BCE
Giridra Sekhar Basu – 1416 BCE
Bankim Chandra Chatterji – 1400 BCE
Swami Vivekananda – 1400 BCE
(Complete Works, Vol.II, PP 27,29
A D Pusalkar 1400 BCE
Bala Gangadhara Tilak – 1400 BCE (in his book Gita Rahasya)
H C Deb – 1400 BCE
B B Ketkar – 1267 BCE
Shri Aurobindo -1191 BCE
(in his book Vyasa and Valmiki)
K L Dapthari 1197 BCE
K G Shankar – 1197 BCE
Sitanath Pradhan – 1151 BCE

Arjuna or Bhageeratha doing penance, Mahabalipuram

Group D (950 BCE)
Pargiter – 950 BCE
Roy Chowdhuri – 900 BCE

My comments: Tamil inscription and Pulikesin’s Aihole inscription confirm the traditional date for Kaliyuga i.e.3100 BCE. Our Panchangam also sticks to the traditional date. They were not influenced by the concocted and outmoded theory of Aryan Invasion. They were of pure and unpolluted mind. Moreover Megasthenes of third century BCE said that 143 generations had passed before his time. His statement is repeated by other Greek authors. Even if we give 20 years per king then it would add up 2860. This gives the traditional date 2860+Appr.300 BCE). Inscriptions never lie. Kalhana and Varahamihira lost 600 years in their calculations because of some vague astronomical positions.

It is very interesting to note that scholars differ widely even after several seminars. We must hold one more seminar or conference in the light of new evidence from the submarine Dwaraka, underground Sarasvati River and the revised date of Rig Veda from Shriknat Talegari and American Sanskrit scholars.

Bhisma on acupuncture treatment (Bed of Arrows)

The following three books give lot of information on this topic:
Mahabharata Myth and Reality – Differing Views, Agam Prakashan, New Delhi
Age of Bharata War, Edited by G C Agarwala, Motilal Banarsidas, 1979
Date of Mahabharata battle, S B Roy, The Academic Press, Gurgaon, 197
Long live the Greatest, Oldest and Longest Epic Mahabharata!!

krishna war
Lord Krishna, Military strategist and main architect of the great war.