Mahabharata question

Alf Hiltebeitel beitel at GWIS2.CIRC.GWU.EDU
Mon Mar 20 18:47:33 UTC 2000

Prof. von Simson's reference is informative with regard to insistence in
Tamil circles that Aravan's (Skt. Iravat's) sacrifice takes place on a new
moon day. This sacrifice to Kali does denote the beginning of the war,
though how the eighteen days would be counted therefrom is something I
have not learned.

Alf Hiltebeitel
Director, Human Sciences Program
Columbian School Professor of Religion and Human Sciences
Human Sciences Program
The George Washington University
2035 F Street, NW
Washington, D.C., 20052
202/ 994-4297
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Department of Religion
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Fax: 202/ 994-9379

On Mon, 20 Mar 2000, Georg von Simson wrote:

> Vidyasankar Sundaresan wrote:
> >In consonance with the much bemoaned transformation of this list into a
> >battlefield, partly due to a perceived scientists vs. humanists polarity,
> >let me ask an astronomical question regarding an ancient battle.
> >
> >In the Mahabharata, when acting as an envoy for the Pandavas, Krishna parts
> >from Karna with the statement that the two armies should meet in seven days
> >time, on a new moon day. Is the epic consistent throughout, in telling us
> >that the battle started on the new moon day? I would very much appreciate
> >specific references.
> As far as I can see, Mbh. (Poona Edition) 5.140.18 is the only passage
> where the start of the battle on the new moon day "which has Indra as its
> deity" (that means probably jyeSThA so that the month would be mArgazIrSa)
> is mentioned. Though the chronological account of the Mahabharata battle
> does not seem to be quite consistent (see my article "Narrated time and its
> relation to the supposed Year Myth in the MahAbhArata", in M. Brockington
> and P. Schreiner (ed.): Composing a Tradition. Proc. of the First Dubrovnik
> Int. Conference on the Sanskrit Epics and Puranas, Zagreb 1999, p.49-66,
> here p. 59 f.), it is nowhere said that the battle did NOT start on a new
> moon day.
> Best regards,
> G.v.Simson

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