चातुर्मास & 5561 BCE: Year of Mahabharata War

The following shlok are from ‘Mahabharata Nirnayamruta’, now extant, a text on Dharmashastra with uncertain dating. Astronomer Shankar Balakrishna Dikshit mentions it in his ‘History of Indian astronomy’ written more than 100 years ago.

S B Dikshit had seen a copy of ‘Mahabharata Nirnaymruta’ however now the book appears to be extant. This book stated that the shlok below were from Mahabharata text, however, S B Dikshit could not locate them within Mahabharata text.

This should not be surprising to anyone. Mahabharata text employes nakshatra system throughout its 18 parvas and mention of zodiacs- Virgo and Libra makes it obvious that whoever wrote this ‘Mahabharata Nirnayamruta’ is commenting on Mahabharata at a time when zodiac system of Aries through Pisces were in vogue.

What I found interesting, especially the first shlok where reference to four months of rainy season refer to timing of sun traveling through area of zodiacs Virgo and Libra.

वार्षिकांश्चतुरोमासां व्रतं किं चित्समाचरेत
असम्भवे तुलार्के तु कन्यायां तु विशेषत:

Which arduous vrata (one shoud) accomplish/practice during the four months of rainy season, especially during the sun’s transit through the area of Libra and Virgo.

(Four months of the rainy season (Chaturmas?) vratam – vrata, Kim = What?, Chit – attend to, perceive, care for, samacharet – ccomplish, practice, associate with, Asambhave – interruption, impossible, improbable, arduous, onerous, grueling, extraordinary, tula- area of zodiac Libra, arke- sun, tu-and, Kanya -area of zodiac Virgo, ya-behave, advance, travel, approach, visheshata – in particular, especially.)


If we consider second shlok (from the same book) as pertaining to the same subject, then this would infer that sun traveled through rainy months of the year through area of zodiacs occupied by Virgo and Libra, but also possibly through area of Zodica Scorpio.

यावच्च कन्यातुलयो: क्रमादास्ते दिवाकर:
शून्यं प्रेतपुरं तावद वृश्चिकं यावदागत:

Whenever the sun travels through the area of zodiacs – virgo and libra, all the way to the area of zodiac Scorpio, the city remains deserted.

(yavaccha – as many times as? as many ways? Kanyatulayo- area of zodiac libra and virgo, Kramad-by degrees, gradually, in regular course, aste – remain, stay, continue, lie, Diwakar – sun
Shunyam – empty, absent, blank, zero, deserted, pretapuram – city of dead, Yama’s abode, tavad – meanwhile, during that time, Vrushchikam – area of zodiac of Scorpio, yavada -while, as long as, corresponding day/time [Yavat -until, upto, unless] gata: -gone out)

Question: What does all this has to do with Mahabharata?

Answer: A lot.

The point of summer solstice coincided with the nakshatra Chitra (Yogatara of Naksahtra Chitra/center of zodiac Virgo) around 6000 BCE. The point of summer solstice stayed through the area of zodiac Virgo from 7000 BCE through 4000 BCE.

The first quoted shlok from ‘Mahabharata Nirnayamruta’ refers to transit of sun through zodiac Virgo and Libra as that of rainy season. The second quoted shlok from the same text also refers to transit of sun through zodiacs Virgo – Scorpio, plausibly, as that of rainy season.

These one (or two) shlok then corroborate 5561 BCE as the timing of Mahabharata War.

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4 thoughts on “चातुर्मास & 5561 BCE: Year of Mahabharata War

  1. The Shloka is in the form of a question. Can you throw some light as to who has asked it and to whom? I agree that it cannot be in Mahabharat as Rashi is a far later concept. Mahabharat never mentions any rashi name. Ecliptic divided into 27 parts (may or may not be equal) is a far better mapping and timekeeping tool than division in 12 Rashis. Wonder when and why our ancestor astronomers accepted Rashis. Of course they didnt give up nakshatras.

  2. I have (and continue to make) numerous efforts to acquire copy of this Dharamshastra book with no luck so far.

    Thus, I have no idea who is asking it and to whom.

  3. Surya Siddhanta as it exists today has both mentions of nakshatra and Rashi. And while when Rashi entered into Surya Siddhanta is not clear, I have been told that some of the measurements mentioned in Surya Siddhanta (note – Surya Siddhanta.. as it exists shows proof of it being updated few times…at least 3 times) were updated around 500 CE (AD). This could be (speculation) the time when Rashi might have entered. As far as epoch of Surya siddhanta (based on version of Surya Siddhanta we have today) is concerned (at least some of the data…especially Longitude and latitude of Nakshatras) it goes back to 7000 BCE – 8000 BCE.

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