Are the Mahabharata real or stories?
Transcriber: Suresh Gupta
Question: Are the Mahabharata real or stories?
Answer: History is not like an empirical repeatable science like gravity which is proved by the falling of a fruit in the past and present. Then how do we know what happened historically? Broadly speaking, there are multiple ways. One way is to adopt the same methodology which historians use and then look at Ramayana and Mahabharata. Few years ago, in an archaeological expedition the remains of an ancient city were found under the water which was off the coast of the city of Dwarka. Certain seals were found bearing marks of an ancient city. There was also the name of Vasudeva (one of the names of Krishna) marked there. Hence, archaeological evidence for the existence of the city of Dwarka is almost non- debatable now. Everybody accepts it. This can be one way to know about history.
Second way, which is more sophisticated, is called archeoastronomy. Archeoastronomy is the science of using the knowledge of mathematics and astronomy to know how the planetary bodies or the celestial bodies move and using this we can also predict the occurrence of eclipses. We can also predict, to some extent, astronomical patterns and also whether a full solar eclipse occurred in the past or when it will reoccur in future. As per the Vedas, it is said that when Kaliyuga started, all the nine planets aligned in one line. This is an extremely rare event in human history. This is something which happened approximately five thousand years ago (which is when the Mahabharata took place) and scientists have themselves said this.
Similarly, in the Mahabharata there are a number of celestial formations mentioned during the events at that time. There were rapid occurrences of lunar and solar eclipses which we can predict using the scientific knowledge today. There is a video on YouTube – Krishna History or Myth? where a professor has done complete research on this subject where he is talking about archeoastronomy and the description of the celestial formations, eclipses and other formations in Mahabharat. He did calculative dating of these formations and it came out to be approximately three thousand BC, that is, five thousand years old which is when the Mahabharata took place.
Along with archaeology and archeoastronomy, another way to know is looking at the architectures. We see that at least two thousand five hundred years ago, there were invaders from Europe and other part of the world who came to India and while they were in India, they built structures and columns where they put insignias of Krishna, Vasudeva etc.
Another way is, cross referencing other texts. When Buddhism and Jainism rose in India, at that time, these religions, in order to attract followers, criticised Hinduism and their central figures like Krishna and Rama, their philosophies and teachings. But it is important to note that none of them ever said that Krishna and Rama are not historical figures. If these figures were imaginary then one of the easiest ways for those critics to challenge the teachings and philosophy of Krishna and Rama would be to deem them as mythology, but none of them did that. Hence, we see that the opponents of the Vedic tradition have also talked about these figures.
Beyond all of this, we should also consider what history can prove and what it cannot prove. What history can prove is maybe the existence of some people or things. When God descends in this world, sometimes he performs some miracles and when such miracles are performed, those cannot be historically proved. For example, if somebody asks, “Can you prove that Krishna lifted the Govardhan hill?” There is no historical way to talk because these are super-natural things. Somebody may doubt, “How Krishna could lift the Govardhan Hill? For me to lift this table on a finger, I will have to find its centre of gravity. How could Krishna find the centre of gravity of Govardhan Hill?” Well, if we understand Krishna’s position as God then we will know that Krishna does not need to find the centre of gravity because he is the source of gravity.
Hence, miracles are not against science, miracles are above science. God makes the laws of nature and sometimes if He wants, He can expand the laws of nature. We cannot prove such super-natural things historically but at the same time, that is not what history is about? At present, we may doubt whether such things happened or not but with archaeological studies we may get more evidence. As India does not have enough earmarked funds for archaeological studies, that is why we do not have much archaeological evidences apart from Dwarka and few other places but many of the cities which even the Bible talked about and which were considered mythology, archaeological studies found many of them to be true. Therefore, if we earmark more funds for archaeological studies in India, surely many more evidences can come out. However, even with the sparse funds that have been given today we have significant amount of archaeological, archeoastronomical and architectural evidence by which we can make a strong case that the Mahabharata is historical. As for the Ramayana, it being very old, the presence of same amount of evidence is not possible but the ones that are present prove it to be historical as well.
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