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Historicity of Mahabharat

Prasad Gokhale (f0g1@jupiter.sun.csd.unb.ca) wrote:
: On Tue, 2 Aug 1994, Jaldhar Vyas wrote:

: As an aastik(a), you may construe the events as fables guiding your moral 
: conduct. Infact, an aastik(a) is simply learning by observing the 
: behaviour of those Great Persons that actually lived during the Mahabharat 
: (and Ramayanic) Era. And that is what is history, as studied by an 
: Aastik(a). 

Right.  That history is different from the the history of modern 
historians.  My teachers told me Shri Rama existed so as far as I'm 
concerned it's true.  I don't need to know exactly when.

: > : Mahabharat ia a text documenting the *history* of an ancient civilization.
: > : The characters and events chronicled in the great text therefore are not
: > : mythical or fictitious. Mahabharat is an account of the Great War and
: > : the heroes that participated in it. Ved Vyas's meticulous work
: > : provides progeny with an insight into the cultural trends and customs in
: > : that bygone era. He has written down what he saw and knew as a "itihas",
: > : as a history of that time. Sage Vedvyas, like Krishna, Yudhisthira,
: > : Arjuna, Duryodhana, Abhimanyu, Parikshit, Janamejaya, did exist -- 
: > : having two hands and two legs like people today. The Mahabharat has been
: > : dated to around 3100 B.C by numerous scholars, and even beyond that by
: > : others. Dr. Vartak has calculated the date of the commencement of the
: > : War to be 16th October 5561 B.C.
: > 
: > : Same is true with the Ramayan. That it did not occur, and Rama was a 
: > : mythical character is just not true. Sage Valmiki has written down
: > : the accomplishments of a Great Hero, contemporary to him, who lived 
: > : in the ancient times.  The Ramayanic Era precedes the Mahabharat
: > : Era.
: > Do you think you are doing our religion a favor by trying to show how 
: > "historical" it is?  As someone who is familiar with the type of 
: > "scholars" you mention, let me tell you their research isn't worth a hill 
: > of beans to Dharmik people.  Historians have their own agenda which only 
: > accidently coincides with ours.  I read the Mahabharat because it 
: > contains the words of God and tells me how to live, not because it's a 
: > history book.  

: You again are reading too much into what I wrote. Mahabharat can be 
: perceived differently by various people.

We are talking about religious people.  They are the only ones whose 
perceptions matter.

: Historians consider it to be a 
: record of events occured in the past, as an annal of the accomplishments 
: of extraordinary personalites and also, study it to gain knowledge of the 
: entire world. Please refer to the following post for a some 
: interpretations of the Mahabharat.

: A person interested in history can be dhaarmik as well.

Of course.  But his interest in History has no relation to his interest 
in Dharma.

: Therefore it is 
: possible that one person can study the Mahabharat through different 
: angles.

For a Dharmik person their is only one angle worth studying.

: Study of history (Mahabharat) may not benefit a dhaarmik directly.

or at all.
: However, it may help him/her understand the text better, and therefore, 
: may strengthen and enhance his/her belief and reverence for the 
: personalities (Gods?) in it...

This is the problem.  "Modern" Hindus are weak in faith.  They think that 
being "scientific" will bolster their faith but in fact it will only 
accelerate their decline into atheism.

: > : needs mention. According to him, Shree Rama's birth date is 4th December
: > : 7323 B.C.
: > This Dr Vartak is apparently unaware that Shri Ramas birthday is on 
: > Chaitra Shuddha Navami (usually around April-May) 

: And you apparently are unaware how the astral bodies behave and affect 
: the seasonal changes along the years. No comments there.

On the contrary I am well aware of what is called the precession of the 
equinoxes.  Our ancient jyotishis discovered it centuries ago.  Dr 
Vartaks date is nonsense.

: > Shruti, Smrti, and Shishtachara.  This is the religion I and millions of 
: > others ardently follow.  We will forcefully reject anything that goes 
: > against those principles whether it calls itself secularism or Hinduism 
: > or anything else.

: That is excellent. Please continue to follow the words of wisdom of our 
: ancestors. You defintely will benefit from it. Hinduism, as the Persians 
: referred to the life in Bharat (whi incidently were Vedists themselves), 

Actually, they weren't.  They practiced a religion which had some 
similarites to but was not based on the Vaidik religion.  And even that 
was basically destroyed by Zoaraster.
: has been consistently changing through the ages for the betterment of its 
: people.

See there you go again.  You are viewing our religion through the prism 
of progressivism (which only dates back to the 19th century.)  Did you 
stop to think whether this was valid or not?  Traditionally, we have 
always viewed our religion as fixed and unchanging.  Hence it is called 
Sanatana ("Eternal")

: I do not think our ancestors, if alive, would have 
advocated the 
: passive and cowardly life-style that the present day Hindus are leading. 

Speak for yourself.  Nobody I know is living like that.

: > : Buddhism is essentially
: > : a part and parcel of Sanatana Dharma alias Hinduism.
: > 
: > NO!!!  This statement goes against everything generations of our Rshis 
: > and Acharyas taught.  Perhaps you should read a little less of Dr. Vartak 
: > and a little more of their writings.  Anyway, how can you call Buddhism 
: > sanatana (eternal) when it completely disappeared from India?

: Your assumption : Sanatana, that is eternal, only applies to India -- 
: that is Bharat. Please do not forget that there are territories 
: outside India (Bharat) as well where people live and follow a 
: particular way of life.

And let them live it.  What concern is it of ours?

: That Buddhism disappeared from India does not 
: mean it cannot be included as a Hindu school of thought. Buddha was born 
: a Hindu, lived as a Hindu and died as a Hindu.

Buddha was born a Licchavi, lived as a Licchavi and died as a Licchavi.  
There weren't any Hindus back then. 

: Followers of his  philosophy are Hindus as well.

: The reasons why Bauddhik thought (followers) disappeared from Bharat are 
: myriad and form another topic of discussion. 

: > As the man is dead, you can list him anywhere you like.  He won't mind. <G>
: > An objective look at his life shows that he did his best to destroy my 
: > religion (for the most part failing miserably thank God) and he 
: > personally rejected the term Hindu.

: Can I not call you a Hindu, since you reject the term Hindu as well?

I don't reject the word Hindu.  After all, I am reading alt.hindu.  I 
just don't think it is very appropriate.  In Gujarat, rural people 
pronounce the word Brahman as Bamman.  The word Hindu belongs in the same 
category, the mispronounciation of the illiterate.  Educated people 
should aim for a higher standard. 

-- Jaldhar

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