The Mahabharata Research
History or Mythology
Is Mahabharata a mere mythology or is it really History? -- A question which puzzled many and got debated and researched by many in the 20th century. There are lot of archeological and analytical data that indicates that Mahabharata is not purely an piece of literature. The excavations in the sea near Bet Dwarka and the Gulf of Cambay brough to limelight a 5000 year old submerged city while throwing open the existance of a civilization 9000 years back. Multiple evidences relating this submerged city to the legendary Dwarka of Mahabharata is just one piece of the puzzle to solve theh historical relevance of Mahaharata. The excavations done across multiple sites in Himachal and Uttar Pradhesh (including those at what is believed to the site of the ancient city of Hastinapur near Meerut) boost the historicity of some of the cities and events described in Mahabharata. Also the attempts to astronomically date the Mahabharata war and the events before and after war showed the existance of a period which matches the astronomical events mentioned in Mahabharata with great accuracy. The fact that a series of astronimical events detailed in Mahabharata exacting matches with the planetary positions in the mid of 4th Millenium BC (astonishingly even the interval between the events accurately matching the description in Mahabharata), and the fact that the archeological dating of some of the excavated sites (including Dwarka, Hastinapur and Kurukshetra) also matches with the period of 4th Millenium BC is proof to the fact that Mahabharata is indeed based on true events that happened during this period. Also a reverse dating of all the Kings mentioned in the epic from Janamejaya to Mahapadmananda (assuming a judgemental period for each king) also points to the mid of 4th Century BC as the period of Janamejaya. And historical evidances of the era of the Nanda Dynasty also indicates that modern Indian History from the period that we know today is in fact a continuation of the Mahabharata story. There seems to a thin line that splits the known history and the legendary epic. It's in fact pretty hard to erase this thin line and make a perfect connection to pre-historic India. But with all the excavation, analytical and historicn data that we see as of today, we could assert with authoritative confidence that Mahabharata is a literary work on Indian history.
Exaggerations and Reality
Now comes the second question. If it is indeed history, how much of Mahaharata is true and how much is exaggeration? Another tough nut to crack. There is no doubt that there is a lot of exaggeration that happened over a period of time to what might actually have happened. The fact that the epic is written in a poetic form than as a prose means that the writer/writers had to tone the lines with adjectives and relativity that could be interpreted in umpteen number of ways. And over a period of time, the adjectives were taken literally and considered to be a factual account. With the deterioration of the academic, intellectual and cultural enlightment of the Indian civilization the exaggerations became superstitions and history became mythology. It's indeed hard to seggregate these exaggerations and convert this poetic excellece to a real historic version. A handful of writers have attempted to do this seggregation based on their analysis and interpretation of the epic and what they believe to be a possible reality against what they see as mere exaggeration. But we need to keep in mind that the partition between reality and exaggeration in each of these versions is highly depended on the interpretation of the writer and what he sees as the limit of human skills and his judgement on the limits and capabilities of ancient Indian civilzation and technology. In mahabharata-research.com, I'm attempting such a version with my interpretations and reasoning.