On the chronology of Mahabharata War: 5561 BCE vs 3067 BCE – Part 4

In this part, I will respond to the comments of Prof. Achar as summarized in ponits# 14, 15, & 16

The Points# 15, 16 & 17 are as follows:

(14) And he (Oak) gives a calendar (according to Prof. Achar) and asks the audience to look at the calendar:

According to Prof. Achar:

Oak lists the 6 ritus for year 5561 BCE and then lists equinoxes and solstices and all that.

(15) Then Prof. Achar points the attention of the audience to :

Prof. Achar says, “But look at these months,

He (Oak) has Adhika Bhadrapada

And Adhika Kartika

He (Oak) has two Adhika masas in that year (5561 BCE) and that makes this year of 14 lunar months!

(16) And in addition to this, continues Prof. Achar, “Look at this”

Bhadrapada is followed by Adhika Bhadrapada!

Kartika is followed by Adhika Bhadrapada (I am not sure if Prof. Achar meant to say Adhika Kartika?!)

This year (2018) We had Adhika masa in Jyeshtha.

It is always the Adhika Jyeshta followed by the Nija-Jyeshtha.

It is completely the opposite here. So we can not take this…(unclear).

@ 1 hr 6 min 42 seconds onwards, the presentation slide of Prof. Achar reads:

“He (Oak) even makes up his own Panchanga”

I had sent links to first 3 parts of this series to Prof. Achar.  Prof. Achar sent me two word documents he wrote in critiquing my claim of 5561 BCE.  A portion from these documents is relevant to Points (#14, 15,& 16) being discussed in this part.

Prof. Achar writes,

“It is amusing to see how many traditional astronomical conceptions Mr Oak throws out at every step. A case in point is the expertise of Mr Oak in Calendrics illustrated by the following table in his work:”

5561 BCE calendar

Prof. Achar continues,

“Mr. Oak has two adhika masas , Adhika Bhadrapada and Adhika Kartika,in 5561 BCE and thus  there are 14 lunar months in one year. His adhika masa follows the nija masa! i.e., the first month is the nija (true) masa and the following is the adhika masa which also bears the same name. It is not clear how Mr. Oak determined his adhika masas. Surely the rules of modern Surya Siddhanta would not be applicable so far back in time. I may be excused for rejecting his exposition on Calendrics.”

Nilesh response:

It appears that the angst expressed by Prof. Achar in points#14, 15, 16  may be related to Table 2 from my first book – When did the Mahabharata war happen?: The Mystery of Arundhati.

5561 BCE calendar

Prof. Achar appears to have no objections for the content of last two columns of this table.  His point#14 is a simple statement that I list 6 seasons and corresponding time intervals per Julian calendar.  Thus, we are left with Points#15 and 16.

Prof. Achar claims in point#15, that I insist on two adhika masas (two intercalary months) during the year 5561 BCE.  In point#16, Prof. Achar insist that what I have written in the table (first 6 rows, first column) are actual months imagined by me, with those names and that I am claiming the sequence as Nija-masa (ordinary lunar month) followed by Adhika masa (intercalary lunar month).

No such thing is intended in this table and thus angst of Prof. Achar is unfounded.  In fact, it took me a month to figure out what Prof. Achar might be talking about and what specific passages from my books, or blogs he might be referring to.

I admit that what I have written in the first 6 rows of the first column of the table can be confusing to a novice or even an expert astronomer or Indian calendar expert.  Thus, I thank Prof. Achar for bringing up this issue and providing me an opportunity to clarify.

Here it goes,

The Mahabharata text is scant on the evidence of lunar months, especially their names, in specifying the events of the Mahabharata war. The limited evidence we have is as follows:


Krishna leaving for Hastinapur on nakshatra Revati, during कौमुदे masa and at the beginning of the Hemant ritu.

Udyoga 81:7

कौमुदे मासि रेवत्यां शरदन्ते हिमागमे |

स्फीतसस्यसुखे काले कल्यः सत्त्ववतां वरः ||७||


Krishna suggesting to Karna that let the war begin (or the preparation for the war) on the day of Shakra Amavasya

Udyoga 140:18

सप्तमाच्चापि दिवसादमावास्या भविष्यति |
सङ्ग्रामं योजयेत्तत्र तां ह्याहुः शक्रदेवताम् ||१८||


Vyasa describing to Dhritarashtra that the full moon of Kartika month appeared coppery (a plausible lunar eclipse or otherwise)

Bhishma  2:23

अलक्ष्यः प्रभया हीनः पौर्णमासीं च कार्त्तिकीम् |चन्द्रोऽभूदग्निवर्णश्च समवर्णे नभस्तले ||२३||


Vyasa tells Dhritarashtra about heavy hailstorm on the day of Krishna Chaturdashi. The lunar month is not specified.

Bhishma CE 3:31

मांसवर्षं पुनस्तीव्रमासीत्कृष्णचतुर्दशीम् |अर्धरात्रे महाघोरमतृप्यंस्तत्र राक्षसाः ||३१||


Vaishampayan narrates Bhishma telling Yudhishthira that “the timing of Bhishma-nirvana appeared to be that of the lunar month of Magha and that the timing appeared to be when 3 parts (or 1/3 part) of the paksha (fortnight or month) were remaining (or has elapsed).”

Anushasan CE 153:28

माघोऽयं समनुप्राप्तो मासः पुण्यो युधिष्ठिर | त्रिभागशेषः पक्षोऽयं शुक्लो भवितुमर्हति ||२८||


After the war and after the passing away of Bhishma, Vyasa tells Yudhishthira that the latter would be given “diksha” of Ashwamedha yajna on the “upcoming” Chaitra full moon day.

Ashwamedhika CE 71:4

चैत्र्यां हि पौर्णमास्यां च तव दीक्षा भविष्यति |सम्भाराः सम्भ्रियन्तां ते यज्ञार्थं पुरुषर्षभ ||४||

There is an additional reference in support of the same.

Ashwamedhika CE 75:25

आगच्छेथा महाराज परां चैत्रीमुपस्थिताम् | तदाश्वमेधो भविता धर्मराजस्य धीमतः ||२५||

The above references provide strict limits of Kartik Amavasya & Chaitra Poornima as two lunar tithi limits within which events of the Mahabharata war – beginning with the war itself and ending with Bhishma-nirvana must take place.  This amounts to a time interval of about 4.5 lunar months. So far so good.

The challenge faced by researchers is that Mahabharata text is not explicit on the first day of the war.  Naturally, researchers have conjectured (a common procedure in a scientific theory) various lunat tithis for the first day of the war. Interestingly, the claims are at the extreme ends of the lunar spectrum (moon phases)  – (1) Amavasya – conjectured by many and (2) Full moon day through 4 days before full moon by others.

Until I analyzed descriptions of the season and phases & positions of the moon, it was anybody’s guess for the first day (lunar tithi) and lunar month for the year of Mahabharata war. Not a surprise that Mahabharata researchers have conjectured either Amavasya or Shukla 11 through full moon (Shukla 15) ‘ luanar tithis for the first day of the Mahabharata war.  My analysis of the evidence (listed in the figure below)  from 18 days of the war asserts that the war began on Kartika Amavasya and it continued through the Shukla paksha of Margashirsha and ended at the beginning of the Krishna/vadya paksha of Margashirsha.

18 days of the MBH war with phases and positions of the moon referenes

[I may mention that enormous evidence for the phases and positions of the moon through 18 days of the war asserts the first day of the war to be that of Kartika Amavasya.  I may mention that according to the claim of Prof. Achar, 22 November 3067 BCE is the first day of the war. This day is 10/11 days removed from the day of Amavasya.   This means:

(1) The entire set of evidence for the phases and positions of the moon, through the 18 days of the war, falsifies 22 Nov 3067 BCE as the first day of Mahabharata war.

(2) 22 Nov 3067 BCE occurs during the first part of Hemant season.  This means the entire set of evidence for Sharad season descriptions through the 18 days of the war, falsifies the claim of 3067 BCE as the year of Mahabharata war.

 More on this in future parts of this series.]

When this information is combined with the evidence of Bhishma-nirvana, we can assert the lunar tithi of Bhishma-nirvana to occur only on or after Phalguna Shukla 12.  This claim conflicts with Anushasan CE 153:28 (माघोऽयं समनुप्राप्तो मासः पुण्यो युधिष्ठिर | त्रिभागशेषः पक्षोऽयं शुक्लो भवितुमर्हति ||२८||) which states that, per Bhishma, the timing of his death was during the lunar month of Magha.

This brings us to the reason for my descriptions for plausible lunar month nomenclatures in the first 6 rows of the first column of the table.

The apparent movement of the Moon

Lunar month receives its name based on the position of the full moon with respect to key Nakshatras (Chitra, Vishakha, Jyeshtha, Ashadhas, Shravan, Bhadrapadas, Ashwini, Krittika, Mrigashirsha, Pushya, Magha, Phalgunis).  The determination of the name of the lunar month based on visual observation (or mathematical calculations) of the full moon and the nearby nakshatra is the method of ‘Drik-pratyay’ (actual observation).

The movement and position of the moon is the most erratic and difficult to predict of all the celestial bodies.  The reasons are obvious – (1) it is closest to the earth and (2) is influenced by the ever-changing dynamics of gravitational forces due to the sun, earth and the rest of the planets.  Add to it the need for the insertion of intercalary month, about ~2.8 years in order to synchronize Luni-solar calendar.

Unpredictable movements and positions of the moon and the gap between lunar and solar year result in the variations/challenges in the naming of the lunar month.  This can be easily observed by looking at some of our existing Panchang. It is in this context that I ran multiple simulations around the year of 5561 BCE (+/-` 10 years) and noted down actual positions (variations) of the full moons throughout the lunar year and then wrote down plausible names for the lunar months that could have been assigned through each season of the year.  This the reason, I have listed anywhere from 3 to 4 plausible names of lunar months (Nija or Adhika) for each season.

Thus the fear of Prof. Achar of me considering a year of 14 lunar months is unfounded.  In fact, if it is indeed true, then he should have counted a total of 20 months, consistent with his confusion of plausible month names as actual months,  corresponding to 6 seasons (see Table2) and NOT 14.

Although a digression, it was a useful digression and I hope it pacifies folks of any fear of unusual 14 months long lunar year (or 20 months long lunar year, if one counts, erroneously, all the 20 months of the first 6 rows of the first column) .

Thus points#14, 15, and 16 are addressed.

In upcoming parts, I will respond to points# 7 through 13. All of them deal with pre-war events and have deep implications for the year of Mahabharata war.

To be continued…






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