Archaeology, Astronomy & Mahabharata War

A researcher wrote (at another forum)….

By the time of the Kurukshetra war, the Saraswati had pretty much dried up. By archaeology, that cannot be much earlier than 2000 BC, because at that time the Harappan settlements along the river were going strong. How to square this with the astronomical calculations, I have the least clue. [emphasis mine]


My Response…

While archaeological evidence for drying up of Saraswati can not help us determine exact timing of Kurukshetra war….

If archeological evidence has (or can determine) determined a timing e.g. 2000 BCE or such, for ‘Saraswati drying up completely…. then based on Mahabharata text descriptions, one can assert that Mahabharata occurred definitely before that date (e.g. 2000 BCE).

Archeology inference for drying up of Saraswati, of course, will still not able to assist us in determining exactly when the Kurukshetra war occurred.


Thus, as of now, there is no conflict between findings of archaeological research and astronomy findings (e.g. AV observation, duration of Bhishma on the bed of arrows) for the timing of Kurukshetra war.

There are indeed conflicts between interpretations/inferences of some (based on Archeological evidence) with that of astronomy inferences for the timing of Kurukshetra, but then this is not due to evidence from either fields.. but rather due to logical/inferential errors committed by these researchers.

This has occurred within the field of astronomy evidence and its testing/interpretation itself. No need to even go as far as reconciling evidence from two fields – archaeology and astronomy.

The partial list of those who claim Kurukshetra war (and basis for their reasoning) around or after 2000 BCE include…

(1) R N Iyengar ( ~1478 BCE) – (astronomy/Archaeology (iron))
(2) Velandi Aiyer (~1194 BCE) – (Not exactly sure)
(3) Shrikant Talageri ( ~1400-1500 BCE) – (Not exactly sure)
(4) Prof. B B Lal (~900 BCE -1000 BCE) – (Archaeology)
(5) Koenraad Elst (~1400 BCE) (Not exactly sure)
(6) Subhash Kak (~1900 BCE) (Drying up of Saraswati)

It is possible to show (without much effort) via simple logic, why none of these attempts even qualify as anything close to logical, rational, testable and hence scientific. This is even without bringing in outcome of Archaeology, astronomy or Mahabharata text.

Of course..

Evidence of either

(1) Archaeology + Mahabharata text


(2) Astronomy + Mahabharata text

can falsify any of the above claims in less than ~2000 sec.

Mahabharata text preserves for us,  descriptions of river Saraswati , in copious details.

There is more to it than summarized below, however highlights presented below falsifies all above claims (6 of them) for the timing of Mahabharata war, purely based on this one piece of archaeological claim for drying up of Saraswati by 2000 BCE.

Sarasvati was in flux, during  the Mahabharata times….

It is flowing in many places and flowing with a magnificent view of it…during Mahabharata times. When Balarama did Tirthayatra of Sarasvati, he and his party is taking bath in the waters of Sarasvati at multiple places (no description of they taking dust-bath, Dhuli-snan). There are descriptions of marketplace with people from various area (not clear by areas if it refers to various nationalities or various areas of India) crowding its banks.

It had disappeared under the sands in some places, flowing underground in other, and still reappeared in other locations.

Mahabharata describes Kurukshetra as a place between rivers Dristavati and Sarasvati.

Sarasvati -4

Balarama did holy bath in few places and gave away cows, horses, gold, plates, wealth etc. to Brahmins and sadhaka along the Sarasvati.

At one point (physical location) , when Balarama is doing its Tirthayatra, the river course was eastward the view was amazing.

Sarasvati was separated from river Sutlaj and river Yamuna before Ramayana times…

Thus, timing of river Sarasvati that was also fed by waters of river Sutlaj and river Yamuna was long before that of Ramayana.

The flows of various rivers into pre-Ramayana times (when Satlaj and Yamuna were part of river Sarasvati) might have looked liked this…


Finally, ‘river Sarasvati drying up by 2000 BCE’ is not the summum bonum of archaeology research, but rather only one aspect of it.

River Sarasvati was in flux during Mahabharata times and Sarasvati research is in flux in our times.  We have barely scratched the surface….

For example….

Sarasvati -3





6 thoughts on “Archaeology, Astronomy & Mahabharata War

  1. I came across a news that Indus Valley Civilisation is 8000 years old,.i.e., roughly 6000BCE.

    We will be forced to redefine and recalibrate our historical views, albeit, reluctantly, since it has falsified the most widely accepted timeline of 3000BCE. This is yet another instance, in my opinion though, where we had to wait longer to get archaeological evidence for dating of Mahabharata which had already been solved by astronomy (By P.V.Vartak or Nilesh Oak). A lot of academicians rely too much on archaeology under the impression that absence of evidence is the evidence of absence- which is illogical. I hope the new research in archaeology will show us the way forward towards the truth.

    • Sameer,

      Are you on Facebook? I might have asked this question before (If so, forgive me).

      This is to let you know I will be in Mumbai, India sometime during December 2016. I have been invited to speak at two conferences – one in New Delhi and another one in Jabalpur, MP. I will be visiting Mumbai and also Pune.


  2. Very nice. Congratulations Nilesh Ji.

    I am not using facebook for quite some time now. But, we can remain in touch over email.

    In December, I will be in Mumbai as I have no plans to go out so far.

  3. D Mozumdar ji. I will be in Pune 5-9 December 2016. The talks are being planned and thus do not know the exact timing or location(s), as of now. Regards, Nilesh

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