Shri Phadnis writes…
“119 Shanti GP 48 – 1-6
When the Visitors reached Kurukshetra where Bhishma was lying, they saw on the way many remains of dead bodies of humans and animals lying around. This is a bit surprising as many days had passed since end of war. Pandavas had dealt with dead bodies of Kurus. Large common funeral pyres had also been arranged. Followers of prominent persons from other families of kings, presumably, would have taken similar action. Flesh-eating animals would have also been in action since kurukshetra was abandoned.”
Let’s look at the detailed descriptions (Shanti Parva, GP 48:1-6)
Vaishampayn tells King Janmejaya, as he recalls/recollects the instances…..
After this.. Yudhishthir and Pandava (4) brothers, Krishna, Kripa and others proceeded towards Kurukshetra in their chariots. (48:1-2)
They soon arrived at Kurukshetra that was filled with hair, flesh and bones. (48:3)
The place was surrounded by mounds, made up of Horse-elephant bones and skulls of warriors. (48:4)
Thousands of funeral pyres had taken place here (not that long ago). The scene appeared as if residence of all devouring time and that this ‘Kala’ had sumptuous meal and ‘leftover’ left. (48:5)
The Place appeared to be now residence of ghosts and rakshasas. The Party (Krishna,Yudhishthir, Kripa, etc.) proceeded through the area as the looked on. (48:6)
Pandavas had certainly dealt with dead bodies of Kurus and it is also reasonable to assume, as Shri Phadnis suggests, that followers/relatives of other prominent people would have also taken care of respective bodies.
This is all good.
However, Mahabharata is not explicit if all human bodies were burnt in funeral pyre. In any case, the description is generic when it comes to hair, flesh and bones and their mounds.
What is significant is that ‘human skulls could be seen’ which means, some of the scavenging work by flesh eating animals (and bacteria, ants and such) had already been done.
A random search led me to this (for what it is worth)
‘Between 20 to 50 days after death, the body begins to dry out as all of the remaining flesh is consumed by insects. Maggots can no longer feed on the dry body because they can’t chew through the tough tissue. This is where the beatles take over. They can chew through the remaining tendons and ligaments, until all that is left is bone and hair.
Between 50 to 365 days after death, moths and bacteria consume the hair. All that is left is bone; it can last indefinitely as long as there are no predators around.
This whole process can be hastened or slowed depending upon what happens to the body after death. Bodies last longer in cold and dry environments and are consumed quicker in the heat. Contrary to what you might think, a body lasts longer in the water, than in open air and much longer in the ground than in either of the previous two.’
We can estimate the minimum timing of this event since the end of war: = Y + 27 (27-30) + X and if we consider war days (from the beginning of the war), then (18+ Y + 27 (27-30) + X ) days.
And since my proposal (claim) for duration between ‘Fall of Bhishma’ and ‘Bhishma Nirvana’ = ~98 days (for year 5561 BCE, i.e. 25 October 5561 BCE – 30/31 January 5560 BCE)…..
9+ 27 (27-30) + X + 56 = 36+ X + 56 days,
The party was at 36+X days from the 10th day of war, when they visited Kurukshetra,
And solving for X, for year 5561 BCE and my claim,
36 +X + 56 = 98, leads to X = 6
The party was at 42 days from the 10th day of war, when they visited Kurukshetra,
Bottom line: The description is consistent with what Is expected.