Tale of Two unknowns

Shri Harshad Sarpotdar has proposed 4494 BCE as the year of Rama Janma.

When he became aware of my proposals for year of Rama-Janma (12240 BCE) and year of Mahabharata war (5561 BCE)

He wrote…

(Nilesh Nilkanth Oak हे जर रामायण १२००० वर्षांपूर्वी झालं असं मानत असतील तर ३१०१ या महाभारत काळापर्यंतची सुमारे ९००० वर्षे भरून दाखवायची जबाबदारी त्यांच्यावर पडते. या नऊ हजार वर्षात भारतात कोणते राजे झाले त्यांची नावे आणि वंशावळी त्यांनी द्याव्यात.).

I have corrected for his minor errors (typographical/specific dates for my claims) in my translation.

(If Shri Oak claims 12240 BCE as the timing of Ramayana and 5561 BCE as the timing of Mahabharata, then he has responsibility to explain the gap of about 7000 years; specifically who were the kings (and thus how many) and their genealogies for this interval of about 7000 years)

I responded by stating that while his concern for the gap of about 7000 years is understandable, he is not correct in stating that therefore the responsibility falls on me to explain the list (and count) of kings during this time.

Thus I responded, “Hypothesis Non Fingo!” (I do not know aka I do not pretend to know the answer).

I also added….

That using the same logic, one may (or should) hold every researcher who proposes (claims) a date for the timing of Ramayana to also show/explain how Pushpaka viamana was also possible during that time period.

On the other hand those who employ these genealogies do have a lot to answer for the plausible error in their proposals.

The problem of explaining gap in genealogies of kings exists for all (no exceptions) proposals.  This is precisely the reason I did not rely at all on them as evidence in determining the timing of either Mahabharata or Ramayana.

It is true that very question of this gap comes into the picture, only when someone accepts my claim, as proposed by me, for the timing of Ramayana and Mahabharata.

This is because the cycle of progress, in our growth of knowledge, occurs in the cycle of (after Karl Popper) the form P1-TT-EE-P2, where P1 is original problem and to solve it a tentative theory (TT) is proposed and when consequences of this theory is compared with actual evidence, it may lead to, by luck, error elimination (EE). Of course, this is never the end of the cycle. Any new theory, especially, a revolutionary theory, leads to new problems of greater and deeper complexity (P2). And then cycle repeats.

We have good demonstration of this cyclic progress in the most successful application of science – namely – theory of Cosmology (Ptolemy- Copernicus-Tycho Brahe – Galileo-Kepler-Newton-Lagrange-Einstein)

When asked, “How do these forces between masses work at a distance?”

Newton had replied, “Hypotheis Non Fingo”

And irregularity in the orbit of Mercury that could not be explained by Newton’s theory was a big deal very much because of enormous success, otherwise, of Newton’s theory.

Let’s get back to the Genealogies of Kings between Ramayana & Mahabharata

Let’s begin with what Shri Sarpotdar has to say….

(१. काही विद्वानांचं मत असं आहे की राम महाभारतापूर्वी ३० ते ३२ पिढ्या आधी होऊन गेला. परंतु डॉ. पी. एल. भार्गव यांनी साधार सिद्ध केलं आहे की रामाचा २८ वा वंशज बृहदबल हा महाभारत युद्धात कौरवांच्या बाजूने लढत होता. मला भार्गव यांचं मत मान्य आहे. तसं मानल्यास राम केवळ हजारएक वर्षे आधी होऊन गेला हे दिसून येतं. २. कालिदासाने त्याच्या ‘रघुवंश’ काव्यात रामानंतरच्या २२ पिढ्यांमधल्या राजांची नावे दिली आहेत. ती डॉ. भार्गव यांनी दिलेल्या वंशावळींशी तंतोतंत जुळतात.  मेगॅस्थेनिस इत्यादींच्या म्हणण्यानुसार भारतीय माणसे १०० वर्षे सहज जगत आणि राजे ५०-६० वर्षे राज्य करत. त्यामुळे त्या काळात ४८ सरासरी फारशी चुकीची नसावी.)

(He states that according to some researchers there were 30 to 32 generations between Ramayana and Mahabharata. However Dr. P L Bhargava claims 28 generations between Ramayana and Mahabharata (based on 28 generations between Rama and Brihadbal, both inclusive). He also states that Kalidas names of 22 kings after Rama and these names match with the list presented by Dr. P L Bhargava.)

Shri Sarpotdar assumes average time of 48 years for each king and thus estimates time interval between Ramayana and Mahabharata (48 x 28 = 1344 years).

Thus subtracting 1344 from Timing of Ramayana (4494), he arrives at timing of Mahabharata (4494-1344 = 3150 BCE).

As many readers are aware, 3150 BCE is in the vicinity of ‘traditionally’ assumed date of Kaliyuga (3102 BCE).

The formula is rather simple. The challenge is elsewhere.  I will call this challenge ‘the problem of two unknowns’


While I do not have access to lists of Dr. P L Bhargava or Kalidasa, let’s look at some readily available genealogies.

Brihadbal from Ikshwaku dynasty, and descendant of Rama, was contemporary of Mahabharata times.  He fought in the war from the side of Duryodhana and was killed by Abhimanyu.

(1) Harivamsha (Harivamsha Parva) chapter 15 provides us with a list of 23 kings between Rama and Brihadbal.

Harivamsha clearly mentions that what it is presenting is but a list of key names of Ikshwaku dynasty.  This is a clear admission that the list is not intended to be complete.


I wonder if this was the list of ~22 kings employed by Kalidas.  Shri Sarpotdar can confirm this for us.

(2) Bhagavat Purana (Skandha 9, Adhyaya 12) also provides us with a list of 28 kings between Rama and Brihadbal.

I wonder if this was the list of ~28 kings that Dr. P L Bhargava was referring to.  Again, Shri Sarpotdar can confirm this for us.

Harivamsha & Bhagavat Purana lists share 14 names.  This is to be expected.

What is interesting, although not surprising, is that both lists have exclusive lists of kings,not shared by the other.


This means they were deriving their data from different sources.

And by no means this is limited to this specific example.

If we compare the list of kings of Harivamsha 15 with that of Bala Kand 19 for list of kings between ‘Sagar’ and ‘Rama’ we find the same phenomenon as above.

This is also the case  for genealogy list for Janaka. (Bala kand 66:8 vs Bala kand 71:3-6)

And we have only scratched the surface (Harivamsha, Bhagavat Purana and Valmiki Ramayana).

I encourage researchers to collect and study genealogies from all sources of ancient Indian narratives.

Thus, while genealogies of Kings from ancient Indian narratives can be extremely useful (at least as a first approximation) to determine their relative chronological sequence, they are of little to no value in determining the time interval between two historical events, in the absence of two unknowns (1. Number of kings, 2. exact duration for their rule, either individually or cumulatively).









9 thoughts on “Tale of Two unknowns

  1. There is another side of this line of argument. A gap of 7000 years, even with a very generous figure of 50 years for each king to rule, calls for 140 kings between Rama and Brihadbala. From 140, no source has listed a reasonable percentage of names! Maximum is only 28 or 20% Did the other 80% left no mark of their reign? It is quite unlikely that we will ever get a reasonably reliable list of kings who ruled between Rama and Brihadbala but 28 and 140 leave a huge gap. One cannot wish away the point! A big question mark remains.

    • True. But the question mark is (or would be) for the Indian research community. Not for the researcher who (in this case, yours truly) proposed 12209 BCE for Rama-Ravana yuddha. If the claim can be falsified based on the very theory that was used to propose the timing (12240 BCE – 12196 BCE), then this minor issue would go away, anyways. Of course, to recognize the issue of huge gap between 28 vs. 140 (or any other suitable number) is to recognize the force of argument for 12209 BCE.

      I did not understand your statement.. “From 140, no source has listed a reasonable percentage of names!Maximum is only 28 or 20% Did the other 80% left no mark of their reign?”

      This is not correct.

      For example.. If you make a list based on these two references (Harivamsha and Bhagavat Purana) based on common and exclusive names (in the sequence shown).. they add up to 37. Thus maximum is NOT 28.

  2. “Did the other 80% left no mark of their reign?”

    No statement of mine leads to such conclusion. Rather the point is that Harivamsha list is incomplete (self professed) and based on the fact that Bhagavata Purana lists does not have many names from Harivamsha list alludes to the same status as that of Harivamsha, whether Bhagvaata Purana explicitly states it or not.

  3. I am only highlighting the gap between 140 (itself underestimated) and, well, 37 if you please. The question remains why only 37. If it was, say 120 rather than 37, I would say there is no issue. When someone sits down to list the kings, he may ignore some if they were inconsequential but would not stop at 37 out of 140!

    • I don’t know what to say! Average reign is been estimated from as low as 14 and recently ~48 years. That would mean estimate (estimate indeed!) range from 7000/15 ~ 500 kings to 7000/50 ~ 140 kings. So why anyone would be even happy at 120 or 140. Since 50 years of rule is on the higher side too.

      The point is, this means we don’t have complete list of kings. Why we don’t have one? I don’t know. Maybe someone with much keener sense of detective (historical) mind knows it.

      This is a question for those who are using genealogies of kings to arrive at their dates to answer. All I am showing is that based on astronomy data of Ramayana, it did not occur anytime after 10,000 BCE and based on Mahabharata data, it did not occur anytime after 4500 BCE.

      Let’s imagine, by some luck, tomorrow one finds a truly complete list of kings from Ramayana to Mahabharata and then to our times and exact duration of their reign, and let’s say it conflicts with inferences (12209 BCE or 5561 BCE) for the timing based on astronomy evidence,….still the fact that two sets of evidences (genealogies and astronomy) lead to different conclusion problem does not go away.

      So yes, you are telling the obvious… i.e. someone stopping at 37 does not make sense. And I agree. But are you hinting at any solution? If you are, I missed it.

  4. The fact every researcher who have employed list of kings, emphasizes a specific list and specific average time for their reign and arrives at a number to explain the delta between their two proposed timelines of Ramayana and Mahabharata, amply demonstrates accuracy, precision and quality of this evidence (or lack thereof) , and it demonstrates, equally well, desperation and weaknesses, of these researchers. The fact that this piece of evidence is so malleable is lost on both, researchers and readers of such evidence.

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