Bhishma Nirvana: Two Truth Claims – 22 December 5561 BCE & 31 January 5560 BCE (Part 1 of 5)

“In the field of thought, you have more often to refute the theories of those nearer to you than those more remote. Shankaracharya did not refute the atheists so much as he refuted Samkhyavada, which is closer to his theory. That is because what is close to us differs from us only in some small detail. Thus there is a greater probability of being misled. So the closest ideas have to be formulated and defended first. Later, it does become quite clear as to where the real point of difference is.”

– Vinoba Bhave

Observations of Bhishma Nirvana, from the Mahabharata text, have baffled Mahabharata researchers for at least 400 years (beginning with Shri Nilakantha Chaturdhara of 17th century).

To date, there are more than 130 different claims for the Year of Mahabharata War and thus (assumed) those many claims for the day of Bhishma Nirvana.

Against this background, why I selected two claims – separated by only 40 days, can be understood by those who comprehend the essence of the quote above by Acharya Vinoba Bhave.

While both Dr. P V Vartak and Yours truly agree on the 18 day timeline of the Mahabharata War (16 October – 2 November 5561 BCE), Vartak claims 22 December 5561 BCE as day of Bhishma Nirvana.

I assert that 31 January 5560 BCE was the day of Bhishma Nirvana.

Majority of Mahabharata researchers have shown awareness of only 2-3 observations (out of total of 23) of Mahabharata text that allow us to determine the timing of Bhishma Nirvana.  To ignore remaining observations that have direct implications for the determination of day of Bhishma Nirvana is ridiculous.

Be it as it may, any claim based on only these 2-3 specific observations still has to satisfy the following:

  1. The day has to be not more than +/- 1 day from the day of winter solstice
  2. Lunar Month of Magha
  3. Shukla Ashtami (i.e. 8th day of the bright half of lunar month Magha) considering 3/4th referred to the lunar month, or Magha Shukla 4 or Magha Krishna 4 considering 3/4th referred to the lunar Paksha.  Additional plausible Tithis (based on other interpretations – remaining vs. elapsed time) include Magha Shukla 8 & 12 and also Magha Krishna 8 & 12.
  4. The Moon near Rohini
  5. Time interval of 58 nights between fall of Bhishma (in the battlefield) and the day of Bhishma Nirvana.

A reader must recognize that condition (4) is not an ‘independent’ condition, when conditions (2) and (3) together.. especially Magha Shukla 8 is considered.  This is because Magha Shukla 8 corresponds to position of the moon near nakshatra Rohini.

Vartak’s proposal of 22 December 5561 BCE for the day of Bhishma Nirvana, satisfies 4 of the 5 conditions above.  Unfortunately this proposed day (22 December 5561 BCE) is 40 days removed from the day of Winter Solstice!  Thus the proposal does not corroborate the first condition – namely Bhishma passed away on the day of Winter Solstice.

How many of you would be willing to accept this corroboration (4 out of 5) for the day of Bhishma Nirvana?

Any Takers?

To be continued…..

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