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.