ON ASTRONOMICAL REFERENCES IN THE MAHĀBHĀRATA AN EXERCISE IN ARCHAEOASTRONOMY*
Mahābhārata, the great epic of India describes a legendary war which is believed to be based on actual events that took place anytime between 3500 and 500 B.C.
A number of astronomical references, portents of calamitous events, are reported in the epic around the time of the war. In the archaeoastronomical exercise undertaken for this paper, these astronomical references are critically examined. The exercise is based on a number of assumptions. One, the astronomical reports in the epic belong to the earliest version of the epic; and two, that they are based on visual observations and not on astronomical computations. Three, that the domain distributions of the lunar mansions of the Hindu astronomy, the nakatras, were different in the ancient times than they are today. With these assumptions,the paper reports that most of the planetary conditions described in the epic are satisfied around the date -3021 A.D.