Anand M. Sharan

Professor, Faculty of Engineering

Memorial University of Newfoundland

St. John's, Newfoundland

Canada A1B 3X5

E-Mail :


August 10, 2003

Revision I : January 17, 2004


Key Words : Dating Mahabharata War , Dating Kurukshetra War , Astronomical Dating



To be a part of history, the evidences have to be there. Until now, the Mahabharata War could not be included as a part of Ancient Indian History because of lack of evidences. Many famous astronomers like Aryabhatt ( 476-550 AD ), Varahmihira ( circa 560 AD ) etc made serious efforts to date the Mahabharata . There have been many researchers attempting to solve this problem in the last 100 years that their names have not even been compiled properly. Many claimed that it , the descriptions in the text , had inconsistencies, and that it , the Mahabharata , was a mere fiction.

The actual reason was that - to verify the astronomical data , and come up with a definite date, was a very complex mathematical problem . The calculating abilities of the Indian astrologers / astronomers were very limited as compared to the challenge posed by this problem. There have been several Indian astro-physicists who have also tried to solve this problem but all in vain.

The names of some recent researchers are: ( a) Achar, B.N.N. , ( b ) Gupta, M., ( c ) Kalyanaraman, S., ( d ) Balakrishna, S., (e ) Vartak, P. V, ( f ) Patnaik, K.N.S., (g) Saraswat , S. P., and ( h ) Sharma V. N. , ( i ) Sengupta , P.C., (j) Raghavan , K.S. , ( k ) Kochar , R. , ( l ) Iyengar , R.N. to name a few .There are some more relevant references mentioned in the list of references .


The objective of this work is to correctly identify the date of the War and to show that no other date is possible . This is carried out by minimizing an objective function whose variables are the errors in the positions of various planets including the node of the moon ( Rahu ) on the day of the Kartik Purnima as mentioned in the Bhishma Parva of the Mahabharata . After arriving at this minimum , the planetary positions of each of the days up to the Uttarayana ( the winter solstice day ) are calculated and checked for the matching descriptions of these positions with respect to the descriptions in the Mahabharata . The search time span begins from 500 BC to 4000 BC . This time span ensures that it covers all possible dates of the Mahabharata War . Finally , the date so determined is checked against other archaeological evidences such as the possibility of the presence of iron in India on that date . In this regard, other papers are cited as supporting evidences .

In this way, it is established that this , and only this date, is the date of the Mahabharata War .

This work , in establishing the historicity of the Mahabharata , is similar to the findings ( unearthing ) of the antiquities, a collection of pre - Mycenaean jewels and plates known as Priamís Treasure, by the German archeologist Henrich Schliemann in Turkey in 1870s .



The identification of the event in this work was , at first, based on the minimization of the position errors of the heavenly bodies - Sun, Moon, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and Rahu ( one of the nodes of the Moon ) on the Kartika Purnima day mentioned in the Bhishma Parva in the " Samkshipta Mahabharata " published by the Geeta Press , Gorakhpur, U. P., India . The descriptions of these planetary position were mentioned by Sage Vyasa who was describing these planetary positions to Dhritarashtra .

None of the researchers mentioned above or any others have come close to the actual descriptions . The errors in their cases are very large.

Many others like Achar, Raghavan etc have used the Jyestha Amavasya ( New Moon ) day only, as the critical day to identify the year of the War . Achar laid special emphasis on the position of Saturn in Rohini around the time of the War . He has approached this problem by searching for those years when Saturn was in Rohini , and there was Jyestha Amavasya The year that he arrived at - did not yield the correct year as will be shown in the results discussed later on. Iyengar, on the other hand , based his search on combination of Solar and Lunar eclipses in the year of the War in any sequence, and followed by another eclipse on the 36th year at Dwarka .

Besides Kartik Purnima, and Jyestha Amavasya , the third critical day is the day of the Winter Solstice ( Uttararayana ) when Bhishma left for the heavenly abode . Before this event , there was Bhishma Panchakam - from the saptami ( seventh day ) to the ekadashi ( eleventh day ) during the waxing phase ( Shukla Paksha ) of the moon . It is also stated very clearly that when Bhishma left his body, one quarter of the Paksha was over, and three quarter was left . One can quite clearly see that this Paksha had to be the waning phase ( Krishna Paksha ) otherwise he could not have carried on with the ekadashi ( the eleventh day ) . The Krishna Paksha started with the full moon ( Purnima ) in the Chandramasa ( Lunar Month ) named Magha ( mentioned in the descriptions ) .

To arrive at the date of the actual War, one has to use the information that Bhishma lay on the bed of arrows for 58 nights ( mentioned explicitly ) . He fell in the War on the 10th day . So, one has to go back 68 days before this Uttarayana to determine the start of the War .

The date of the killing of Duryodhana is determined from the day of arrival of Shree Balarama from a pilgrimage along the Saraswat river . This pilgrimage lasted for 42 days, and the tithis ( lunar days ) for going and coming back from the pilgrimage are mentioned in the descriptions. One has to remember that a tithi is not exactly equal to a day . One has to refer to Raghavan's work or some book on Vedanga Jyotisha to get more information about it .

The second point that the author would like to emphasize is any errors mentioned in the Mahabharata can not be in positions of Sun , Moon , and Rahu because these were too important in every day life of the ancient people in India .

The results that the author has obtained , can be summarized in the following way:

1. There was a Kartik Purnima on Oct, 7/8, 2156 BC which had descriptions of planetary configuration such as ( a ) Rahu was attacking the Sun thereby implying that it was an eclipse season, but not an actual eclipse , ( b ) Mars in Magha , ( c ) Jupiter in Shravana, ( d ) Saturn in Rohini , and ( e ) Venus in Purva Bhadrapadapar . The moon was pale etc There is also a mention in ambiguous terms but in past tense that the Mars had retrograde motion . It is not clear whether it continued to have retrograde motion even on the Kartik Purnima day

The season was described to be very nice, and the rivers were full of water.

2 Shree Balarama leaves for the pilgrimage on Oct. 10 / 11 , 2156 BC

Lord Krishna had told Karna in the Uddyoga Parva that the War should start after the Amavasya ( New Moon ) falling in the Jyeshtha nakshatra ( Oct. 22, 2156 BC )

On Oct. 22, 2156 BC , there was a Solar Eclipse on this Amavasya Day in the Jyestha nakshatra . These eclipses are not explicitly mentioned in the Mahabharata . It merely mentions the position of Rahu . It should be noted that the eclipses explicitly mentioned on the Kartika Purnima evening refer to the eclipses ( Solar and Lunar ) in the past tense i.e. they had taken place earlier than the Kartik Purnima day in 13 days ( tithi ) each Paksha .

( 3 ) The War started on Oct. 31 / Nov.1, 2156 BC

( 4 ) On Nov., 5, 2156 BC, there was a Lunar Eclipse during the War These eclipses were not necessarily visible from Kurukshetra , and that is why they are not explicitly mentioned .

( 5 ) On Nov. 9/10 , 2156 BC - Bhishma falls and lays on the bed of arrows prepared by Arjuna .

( 6 ) On Nov. 17 / 18 , 2156 BC , the War Ends after 18 days.

( 7 ) On Nov. 23/24 , 2156 BC Shree Balarama returns from the pilgrimage , and watches the mace fight between Bhima, and Duryodhana . It should be noted that Duryodhana had fled the battle field and was hiding in a pond, away from the battlefield . The Pandavas had to find him in his hiding .

( 8 ) On Dec. 21 , 2156 BC there was an Amavasya , and the Shukla Paksha for the Bhishma Panchakam started . Bhishma observed the fast on the Shukla Ekadashi , and gave sermons to the Pandava brothers .

( 9 )On Jan 3, 2155 BC - there was the Magha Purnima

( 10 ) Jan 6, 2155 BC - Sun turned northwards ( Uttarayana ) - Bhishma left for the heavenly abode after laying on the bed of arrows for 58 nights.

The results have also been confirmed by a Swiss Software called Swiss Ephemeris .

The calculations were performed using several software written by the author which included the modification of some commercial software . The language used was FORTRAN . The calculations were performed in double precession .

After arriving at the date, the results obtained by other researchers were also looked into, and these are given in Table 1 . In the table , DEV stands for deviation .









2156 BC


3067 BC


1478 BC































































One can clearly see that the year 2156 BC is the best choice . The position of Saturn which is 10. 7 degrees falls in the Ashwini nakshatra . The positions of Venus ( not shown in the table ) for Sharan, Achar, and Iyengar were : 244 , 256. 8 , and 254.6 degrees respectively where the expected mean value is 326 degrees . In the case of Venus, all the three results are close to each other .

The possibility of minimal errors in the Mahabharata are there due to the long oral traditions but, the positions of the planets have come to us with remarkable accuracy .

The date of 2156 BC is appropriate from three other reasons : ( a ) The existence of iron in the days of the Mahabharata which has been discussed in the reference paper by Sharan , and also ( b ) iron has been one of the objects found by Rao , S. R. when he carried out the archaeological work at Dwaraka . Even Rao thinks that the Mahabharata War should be between 1900 BC to 2200 BC , ( c ) The phenomenon of the precession of the earth's spin axis known to our ancient astronomers has been reported in the literature [ Chakravarty , 1987 ] . This knowledge was possessed by them as far back as 2400 BC when the sun rose in the Kartika nakshatra . This topic has been widely discussed by Indian archaeo - astronomers . The findings of this research reinforces the view that our ancient astronomers had precise knowledge of the movements of the planets in sky .

Another reason is the drying up of the Saraswati river which many believe happened around 1700 BC . The descriptions in the Mahabharata ( Shree Balarama's pilgrimage ) show that this river had not dried up then .


In the present work , calculations were performed to arrive at the year when the Mahabharata War took place . The year was based on the descriptions of the planetary positions on the Kartik Purnima Day described in the Bhishma Parva . Using these positions as the starting point , the configuration on the Jyestha Amavasya day , and the Uttarayana ( Winter Solstice ) was also checked . The results confirm that the descriptions in the Mahabharata are correct , and do not require re-organization of the shlokas as suggested by many researchers such as Iyengar . Finally , one can confidently conclude that the year was 2156 BC which should go as the date in the Ancient Indian History .


The author is grateful to the Memorial University of Newfoundland for the computing facilities , and his family consisting of wife - Veena, son - Rajat , daughter - Swati, and son- in -law - Punit for their patience and co-operation without which this pious work would not have been possible.



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Balakrishna, S., " Two eclipses in thirteen days prior to Mahabharatha War ",

Chakravarty , A. K. , 1987 , " The Asterisms " , History of Oriental Astronomy IAU Colloquium 91 , Edited by G. Swarup , A. K. Bag , and K. S. Shukla , Cambridge University Press, Cambridge .

Gupta, M., The Date of Mahabharata War Puranic and Astronomical Evidence "

Iyengar , R.N. , " Internal Consistency of Eclipses and Planetary Positions in Mahabharata " ,


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Sharan , Anand M. , " The Existence Of Iron In The Vedas, Mahabharata And Ramayana- Back To The Harappan Civilization ",

Vartak, P. V, The Scientific Dating of the Mahabharat War " ,