Vartak vs. Oak: 5561 BCE – Part 1 of 6

A reader (who is reading through that wonderful classic ‘Swayambhu’ by Dr. P V Vartak) wrote…

1. Year of war claimed by Vartak and Oak is same, 5561BC. In fact Oak has tested by computer use, various astronomical references with this year as a basis and found it correct. Vartak has done the same by his own numerical calculation methods and found it correct.

My Response…

Let’s begin with similarity of claims:

Dr. P V Vartak proposed 16 October – 2 November, 5561 BCE as the 18 days of the Mahabharata War.

I (Nilesh Oak) did not propose anything different. In fact I tested this claim of Dr. P V Vartak, for the 18 days of Mahabharata War (one of the two claims I tested, that fell within the Epoch of Arundhati: 11091 BCE – 4508 BCE) and I could not falsify it.

Thus I have borrowed this timeline of 18 days from Dr. P V Vartak.

Now the differences (discussion limited to 18 days of the War, for now)

While the factual positions of planets (with respect to Naskhatra) should be identical for this time period, since both are claiming the same time period, claims for ‘positions of planets’ by Vartak are somewhat different than those claimed by Oak.

This discrepancy is due to the fact that while Oak has noted down positions of planets based on Voyager astronomy software for these 18 days, Vartak has done so by manual calculations. (the details are provided in my book – Chapter 10). This information is factual in nature and one can easily test with a decent astronomy software to validate who (Vartak or Oak) has provided more factual information.

Do note, the interpretations of Oak and Vartak are drastically different. Vartak has resorted to ‘Sayana-Nirayana’ theory and combinations of many other ‘ad-hoc’ hypotheses to corroborate factual planetary positions with that of Mahabharata descriptions. Oak has employed the theory of ‘visual observations of the sky’ to corroborate the same. Huge Difference!

This reader also wrote…

2. The date claimed for first day is also same , 16th October. There is a big difference though. Oak has followed the Julian calendar 1300AD backwards. Vartak seems to have stuck to Gregorian Calendar throughout, for working backwards. As a result, Vartak’s 16th Oct. occurs 67 days prior to winter solstice (Uttarayana), which also he has taken on 22nd December as it occurs now. In fact, he has taken Bhishma’s 58 nights on death bed and 10 days of war as the basis for arriving at the date, working backwards from 22nd Dec.. The date according to Vartak matches with an Amavasya he claims.

My Response…

What this reader is saying is INCORRECT. I thank the reader for using cautious language (‘seems’). The caution was very much warranted.

It is correct that I have followed Gregorian Calendar, going backwards, upto 1582 CE/AD (and not 1300 AD) and then Julian Calendar into antiquity.

Reader’s statement about Vartak’s work is not correct. Dr. Vartak also followed same calendar as Oak (Gregorian until 1582 CE and then Julian into antiquity).

Thus when Vartak says 16 October, Vartak is very much referring to Julian Calendar. Oak has done the same.

Dr. Vartak has done a mistake in assuming 22nd December (per Julian Calendar) as day of Winter solstice, even in 5561 BCE. That is a mistake.

To make this clear, let me state dates per Julian and Gregorian Calendar for First day of Mahabharata War and for the day of Winter solstice (Bhishma Nirvana).

First day of Mahabharata War

16 October 5561 BCE (both Vartak and Oak agree on this day and also on the calendar).

The day of Winter Solstice

30/31 January 5560 BCE (per Oak). This date is consistent based on use of Julian Calendar.

22 December 5561 BCE (per Vartak). Vartak has made a blunder in suddenly jumping to ‘ASSUMED‘ Gregorian Calendar only for the day of Bhishma Nirvana. This day as day of ‘Winter Solstice’ is incorrect.

Per Gregorian Calendar

The Day of Winter Solstice (per Gregorian Calendar) would have been 16/17 December 5561 BCE (and not 22 December 5561 BCE)

The first day of Mahabharata War (16 October 5561 BCE, per Julian Calendar) would be 2 September 5561 BCE.

Although obvious, I should emphasize that whether one uses Julian or Gregorian calendar (they are reference calendars. Either one can be used, as long as one is consistent, i.e., one should not jump ship only for specific day, as done by Dr. Vartak), the duration of Bhishma on the bed of arrows (at least per the claims of Vartak and/or Oak, i.e. 5561 BCE) would be ~98 days (>92 is what can be corroborated based on 20+ references of Mahabharata text).

In case of Gregorian calendar: Fall of Bhishma in the battlefield (11 Sept 5561 BCE) to Bhishma Nirvana (16/17 December 5561 BCE) would also have time interval of ~98 days.

20 days (September) + 31 days (October) + 30 days (November) + 17 days (December) = 98 Days


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