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Archaeology and the Mahabharata

Updated on June 19, 2012

Did It Really Happen

Personally, I believe it did because I am a believer. Now the scientific me which has a high level of temper delved into to find some facts.

The archaeological evidences of the Mahabharata, the Ancient Indian Epic saga of the Pandavas and Kauravas are not strong and high in quality or quantity but still there are some that cannot be neglected

Here I present an analytical view of some facts found over the years through various archeological surveys and excavations.

PGW: Painted Grey Ware

Evidences of pottery dating back to 1000 BC were found during archaeological explorations and excavations at places mentioned in the Mahabharata like Hastinapura, Kurukshetra, Panipat, Tilpat, Baghpat, Mathura and Bairat. Such kind of pottery is called Painted Grey Ware. This confirmed inhabitation in these regions with a pastoral cum agricultural lifestyle.

Interesting Evidences

Literary evidences in the Matsya and Vayu Puranas state that the capital was shifted from Hastinapura to Kaushambi after a flood in the Ganges River and the site remained deserted for centuries. This happened during the reign of king Nichakshu ( 5th king after Parikshit, the grandson of Arjun).

Evidences of flood in the Ganges were found archaeologically but it is not necessary that this was the same one mentioned in the Puranas.

Literary Evidences In Works By Historians

Shams Siraj Afif

In his work Tarikh-i-Firuz Shahi (approximately in the 14th Century) he mentions that Indraprashtha was the headquarters of a pargana (district).

A 14th Century stone inscription found in Naraina Village in West Delhi also mentions Indraprashtha. Both mark Indraprashtha as the capital of the Pandava Empire.

Abul Fazl

His work Ain-i-Akbari states that Humayun’s fort was built at the place where Indraprashtha was located.

Interesting Excavations

During 1954-71 a number of excavations carried at Purana Qila in Delhi revealed several archaeological levels ranging from the 4th Century BC to the 19th Century AD.

A few stray pieces of PGW indicated the possibility that elder settlement was located nearby.

However, connections between them and the Mahabharata are difficult to be established.

What to trust: Archaeology or Literature

Archaeology cannot really prove or disprove the historicity of epic events or characters. The Crux of the Matter is that there is a qualitative difference between the nature of literary and archeological evidence.

Archaeology tells us about general patterns of material culture and cannot be easily used to corroborate textual details about individuals or events.


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      manasa 4 years ago

      excellent work. really we all believe that both mahabaratha and ramayana are the great epics and their existence in india. you'r doing a good job becoz, this generation children don't know about this much and we have to imbibe upon them about the facts of these epics.

      and we are all lucky to take birth in this great country.

    • profile image

      divyanshi 4 years ago

      i m totally agree with this coz this was really happened in past and the archaeologist found many antiquities, pottery's like painted grey ware in the kurukshetra region .

    • profile image

      Mukta 4 years ago

      excellent work!! They did happen. The books should be believed in. The ramayana and mahabharata both tokk place. But it's a bog plan of some people to root out the culture of India. So that if not directly, they can indirectly rule over this country. Bcoz when a country stops believing in their own roots and in their own culture, its obviously easy to make them "a Follower". So, please continue your work. It is very important that we bring back this culture, knowledge and establish a powerful society.

    • rahul0324 profile image

      Jessee R 5 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      Thank you so much Katrine... much appreciated

    • profile image

      KatrineDalMonte 5 years ago

      Nice research, well constructed, accompanied by great images, well done and thanks for sharing.

    • rahul0324 profile image

      Jessee R 5 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      I am sorry my work did not quench your thirst my friend... but that is the mark of an avid reader.... who loves to read...

      I will put in more effort and bring up something more interesting for you... You can check out my hub about the Stages Of the Ramayana.... mean while...

    • rahul0324 profile image

      Jessee R 5 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      Thanks max... The Mahabharata Epic is a sublime classic....

    • WD Curry 111 profile image

      WD Curry 111 5 years ago from Space Coast

      This is the most interesting thing I have heard in a long time. I was sad to reach the end. I want to read more about this. I am so used to European, American, and biblical stuff around here, that it is easy to forget the wonderful history of India.

      I think it happened, more or less. All scripture is based in reality.

    • BeyondMax profile image

      BeyondMax 5 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      I do, I believe too. I think there is plenty of evidence that supports it. Great story!

    • rahul0324 profile image

      Jessee R 5 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      Words of truth and wisdom Harmony!

      The epic conversations between Lord Krishna and Arjuna are the most inspiring pieces of writings one can trace across the history of literature :)

    • rahul0324 profile image

      Jessee R 5 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      Hi Vinaya... It is how interesting to note that me and you belong to the same ancient heritage is it not?

      Thanks for connecting

    • rahul0324 profile image

      Jessee R 5 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      Sush! Your talents amaze me... You're a know it all indeed!

      I would definitely like to know more and in detail about your experiences... I have a keen interest in history... I even aspire to pursue it after I am done with my family's interests :)

    • rahul0324 profile image

      Jessee R 5 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      Thanks Puneet! I am glad you liked it my friend

    • rahul0324 profile image

      Jessee R 5 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      Thanks Ruchi! Mahabharata is a true epic! The battle took place... many archaeological facts remain to be found ... but sooner or later they will be found

    • harmony155 profile image

      harmony155 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      True to life or not, the mahabharata or bhagavad Gita specifically teach us to stand up for our ourselves and face our battles like Arjuna did in his battle with Krishna by his side,

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

      I also believe, the Mahabharata really happened. The most approximation I think is around 1300 BCE. This is well researched and well written article.

      Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

    • sen.sush23 profile image

      Sushmita 5 years ago from Kolkata, India

      Very well done Rahul. The conclusion, is the best part, and I presumed you were arriving at it, but it is definitely a pleasure to see you conclude on notes like a real researcher and not a pseudo-propagandist. The experience of viewing the stone walls and excavated remains of an earlier civilization, and imagining it to be those of the Pandava capital, the beautiful palaces of Moy Danava, is such an awesome experience. I really felt very invigorated by it, more so as there were more substantial edifices of the Sultanate, side by side. Thanks, voted up and sharing.

    • BeingPuneet profile image

      BeingPuneet 5 years ago

      Nice rahul... a great hub about India.. voted up as interesting...

    • Ruchira profile image

      Ruchira 5 years ago from United States

      I believe ya, Rahul.

      The epic war happened and the archaeology does support it to some extent. good research done in framing this hub...voted up as useful