The Sun Set Twice To Kill Jayadratha

By Dr. P.V.Vartak

To kill Jayadratha in one day before the sun-set was an impossible task. So Krishna told Arjuna that he would employ some trick so that Jayadratha would see the sun-set and would come forward openly at which moment Arjuna should severe his head, unhesitatingly, without fear of the sun-set.

Mahabharat tells that Krishna employed "Yoga Maya". Yoga means combi- nation, Maya means illusion. Krishna combined Maya with a fact based on a natural phenomenon of Mirage.

Though the sun-light travels in a straight line, it refracts on enter- ing the atmosphere around the earth. This atmospheric refraction of light brings the sun below the horizon into our view.

The same principle works in the phenomenon of Mirage, but in the other way round. Mirage results from a difference of temperatures between the air in contact with the ground and the above. Due to the heated ground, the air layers near it become rarefied while those at a higher level are denser. Thus a ray of light coming from a moderately high point at a distance such as a top of a hill, and entering increasingly dense layers of air near the ground, will be refracted along a path which becomes more and more parallel with the surface. Finally it comes to a surface where the density is so low that the light is relected up along a path which is symmetrically opposite to the path which it has just followed. Thus an observer will see an image of the hill-top beneath the ground, that is in the direction along which the light reaches him. The reflection of the sky in the layers of hot air gives an impression of a liquid mirror. This causes appearance of a false horizon, the real horizon being hidden by the relection of the sky

Mirages can be seen at the right time anywhere, both on the sea and dry land.

On the 14th day of the Mahabharat War, i.e., on 30th October a similar phenomenon took place. Due to the October heat enhanced with the heat of the fire-weapons liberally used in the War, the ground became so hot that the layers of air near it were rarefied while the layers at the top were denser. Therefore the sun above the horizon ws reflected producing its image beneath. The Sun's disc which was flattened into an ellipse by a general refraction was also joined to the brilliant streak of reflected image. The last tip of the Sun disppeared not below the true horizon, but some distance above it at the false hor- izon. Looking at it, Jayadratha came out and was killed. By that time, the same appeared on the true horizon. Naturally there was no refrac- tion because the light rays came parallel to the ground. This revisu- alized the Sun at the true horizon. Then the sun actually set, but the refraction projected the image above the horizon. The sun was thus visible for a short time which then set again.


The Summaries of Papers read in The Seminar on Mahabharat, May 30-31 1992.

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