|Dating the "Mahabharatha" - Two eclipses in thirteen days
The aim of this work was to analyze the unique statement that Mahabharata war took place when an ominous pair of eclipses occurred in "Thirteen days". Initially, Mahabharata texts, contemporarily accepted as most authentic were reviewed and relevant data about Mahabharata and astronomical planetary observations have been presented.
Firstly, this document looked at modern astronomical software with all known corrections, and validated its performance using the clay tablet eclipse information from the Mesopotamia valley during the period 2100 BCJ down to 900 BCJ, with best- known contemporary research data.
Secondly, a search of all eclipses during the period 3300 BCJ to 700 BCJ visible at Kuruxethra, where Mahabharata war took place was made. Amongst nearly 672 possible eclipse pairs, the time from end of one to beginning of next eclipse was found to vary between 13.8 days to 15.8 days. Eighteen naked eye visible eclipse pairs with less than 336 hours (14days) of time gap were found.
The third issue was, what was the definition of a day, and how was the determination that eclipses occurred in "thirteen days" made, has been addressed. Day was taken to be the time between either successive sunrise or successive sunset. This is particularly important when clocks did not exist. Using this method, it was easy to demonstrate that observers from 3000 to 5000 years ago could identify accurately a "thirteen-day "eclipse pair.
Fourthly, eighteen pairs of possible ‘Thirteen day eclipses" were extensively analyzed. Six pairs amongst these, found to be good candidates for Mahabharata, have been illustrated, showing how any observer could conclude that the eclipse pairs occurred in less than 14 days or in "thirteen days". The locations of Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, Venus, Sun and Moon, during the eclipses were identified with reference to Bharateeya 27 star locations.
Finally, it is found that two dates suggested by Indian authors Aryabhata, Varaha Mihira from Gupta period were credible dates for Mahabharata war. It would appear that 3129 BCJ is a first candidate for Mahabharata war followed by 2559 BCJ. Four other dates viz., 2056 BCJ, 1853 BCJ, 1708 BCJ and 1397 BCJ are other candidates which qualify as " Thirteen day" eclipse pairs.
In conclusion, this article has tried to address the basic issue, whether " Thirteen day" eclipse pairs are astronomically possible. The conclusion is that such eclipses have occurred and observers could easily identify the duration using sunset/sunrise transitions. 3129 BCJ and 2559 BCJ dates appear to be very viable dates for Mahabharata war as are a few others. This study provides modern scientific support one critical astronomical statement made in Mahabharata text that "thirteen day" eclipse pair occurred Kuruxethra.
Some related material about Vedic star astronomical locations
The Bharateeya 27/28 daily Star system is a lunar day count used in Vedic Bharata. Two articles in Ref 11 and 12 provide background in this area for those who do not have this information.
The Internet web and search engines have been a great boon in providing rare material online, particularly conversion of Devanagari script to English and vice versa. Reference 5 was of great help in finding such basic Mahabharata material, confirmed in Ref 4. Ref 10 provided a method of converting between scripts.