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Purana Vamsa Charitra - Dynastic Chronicles

WesternPurana
fromfromto
3139 The Mahabharat War
Start of Brihadrath dynasty of Magadh
Start of Yudhisthir dynasty of Hastinapur
3102 Ascension of Bhagwan Krishna
Start of kaliyug
2139 End of Brihadrath dynasty
21392001 Pradyot dynasty
20011641 Shishunag dynasty
480 18941814Gautam Buddh
16411541 Nandas
15411241 Maurya dynasty
15411507 Chandragupt Maurya
15071479 Bindusar
14791443 Ashokvardhan
1241784 Shung and Kanau dynasty
57 AD 784328 Andhra dynasty
509477 Jagadguru Shankaracharya
315 328321 Chandragupt Vijayaditya
326 Alexander’s invasion
321270 Ashok the Great
102BC15AD Vikramaditya, established Vikram era in 57 BC
AD2585 Shalivahan, established Shalivahan Shak era in 78 AD
851192 There were several kingdoms of Rajput kings all over India. They ruled for 1,107 years.
1192 Mohammad Gori invaded Delhi (Hastinapur) defeated and killed Prithviraj Chauhan

The subject of early Hindu eras and dates is very involved. The Vamsa Charitra [ = histories, Vamsa = Dynasty or clan, rather less frequently seen as Vamsanucarita or Vamshanucharita, almost never seen as Vamsanu Charitra, Vansacharita, vamsyanucharita or vampanucharita], the fifth standard element of the Puranas, are the histories of the great dynasties, the royal families who rule over the earth. Archeology consigns the early part of the traditional account firmly to the realms of mythology.

Modern scholars do not consider the Vedas as ancient as the majority of Indians had done so far. Winternitz thought the Vedas belonged to a period stretching from 2500 BC to 7000 BC, but most scholars today would certainly put the origin at a date later than 2500 B.C. In a document of about 1300 BC, the Mitannian king Mattiuaza is found invoking the gods Mitra, Varuna, and Indra of the Hindu pantheon; so the roots of the Vedas certainly stretch at least to the middle of the second millennium BC. It may be mentioned in passing that religiously-minded people often have little interest in fixing the date or the age of their beliefs.

On referring to the accounts of ancient India handed down by Alexander's companions, there is found a curious statement which seems to bear directly on this question of the starting point of Indian chronology. The statement is preserved by Pliny, Solinus, and Arrian. The first says, "Colliguntur a Libero Patre ad Alexandrum Magnum reges eorum CLIV, annis sex millia CGCCLI adjiciunt et menses tres,"—that is," they reckon from Bacchus to Alexander the Great 154 kings, who reigned for 6451 years and 3 months." As Alexander entered the Panjab in 326 B.C., and left it towards the end of the same year, this account fixes the starting point of Indian chronology to the year 6451^ + 326 = 6777 BC.

Now it is a curious coincidence that if another Saptarshi Chakra of 2700 years be added to 4077 BC, or the beginning of the Chakra indicated by Vriddha Garga, the initial year will fall in 6777, the very year which was said by the Indians of Alexander's time to be the initial point of their history. This coincidence is certainly very remarkable, and as it is the result of the addition of such a large period as 2700 years, it would seem to point to the conclusion that so early as the time of Alexander the Saptarshi Chakra of 2700 years was the common mode of Indian reckoning.

In all these lists the compilers and revisers seem to have had no other object in view, but to adjust a certain number of remarkable epochs. This being once effected, the intermediate spaces are filled up with names of kings not to be found any where else, and, most probably, fanciful. Otherwise they leave out the names of those kings of whom nothing is recorded: and attribute the years of their reigns to some among them better known, and of greater fame. The compilers filled up the intermediate spaces between the reigns of famous kings, with names at a venture; that he shortened or lengthened their reigns at pleasure; and that it was understood, that his predecessors had taken the same liberties.

The lists were new modelled, at least twenty different ways, according to the whims and pre-conceived ideas of every individual, who chose to meddle with it. They often do not scruple to transpose some of those kings, and even whole dynasties; either in consequence of some preconceived opinion, or owing to their mistaking a famous king for another of the same name. It was not uncommon with ancient writers, to pass from a remote ancestor to a remote descendant; or from a remote predecessor to a remote successor, by leaving out the intermediate generations or successions, and sometimes ascribing the years of their reigns to a remote successor or predecessor.

The compilers and revisers wrapt up Salivahana and the eldest Vicramaditya in such darkness, possibly designedly, that it is almost impossible to recognise these two famous kings. In some, Salivahana is called Pattansinha; in others Dhananjaya, Dhanadhara, &c. Saca, Sactisinha; and in the Vrihat-catlia, Samasila, and Visamasila, and lastly Hala and Sala, Hali and Sali, NriSinha and NaraVahana. Vicramaditya is sometimes called Vaditya simply; in other places Vlcrama, Vlcramamitria, Vicrama-tunga, Vicramasinha, Vicramasena, Vicramacesari, Vicramarca, &c. while he is sometimes left out entirely; which is immaterial, as they say, when SaLiVahAnA, his antagonist, is mentioned.

The Puranic lists come down to the 4th or the 5th century AD and they are quite accurate in their details for the post-Mauryan period for which independent inscriptional evidence is available. Some scholars who do believe in the trustworthiness of the puranic genealogies prefer to rely on data for the historic period only, since almost every thing else is the production of the fertile genius of the compiler.

About the commencement of the 19th century several learned men in India were engaged in trying to verify Indian Chronology, shrewdly suspected of being falsified by the Brahmins to suit their purposes and confound their rivals the Buddhists. The Brahmins reported that first king of the Maurya dynasty, called Chandragupt Maurya, was in BC 1500's, and the first king of the Gupt dynasty, called Chandragupt Vijayaditya, was in BC 300's.

P. N. Oak in Some Blunders of Indian Historical Research explains (p. 189) that the Puranas provide a chronology of the Magadha rulers. At the time of the Mahabharata war, Somadhi (Marjari) started a dynasty that included 22 kings spread over 1006 years. They were followed by five rulers of the Pradyota dynasty that lasted over 138 years. Then for the next 360 years came the 10 rulers of the Shishunag family. Kshemajit (who ruled from 1892 to 1852 BC) was the fourth in the Shishunag dynasty, and was a contemporary of Lord Buddha's father, Shuddhodana, during this period in which Buddha was born. It was during the reign of Bimbisara, the fifth Shishunag ruler (1852-1814 BC), when Prince Siddhartha became the enlightened Buddha. Then it was during the reign of King Ajatashatru (1814-1787 BC) when Buddha left this world. Thus, he was born in 1887 BC, renounced the world in 1858 BC, and died in 1807 BC according to this analysis.

Sir W. Jones first discovered that Chandragupta of the Hindus, who reigned, according to the Puranas, 1502 BC, was identical with the Sandracottus of Megasthenes, BC 315. The great point of contact between Greek and Indian history in Chandragupta, who has long been identified as the Sandracottus (or Sandracoptos) of classical writers. The identification is almost certain; and in the utter confusion of all Hindu chronology it may well be called a "sheet-anchor," for "every thing in Indian chronology depends on it."

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) assert that present-day Haryana and parts of western Uttar Pradesh were the core area of the civilization. Its most coherent presentation is by David Frawley, an American selfproclaimed Sanskrit scholar. In his book, Gods, Sages and Kings: Vedic Secrets of Ancient Civilization, Frawley asserts that the date of the Rig Veda be pushed back by hundreds, if not thousands, of years.

In 1994, Subhash Kak, a computer engineer based in the US, had published a book entitled The Astronomical Code of the Rig Veda challenging the accepted chronology. Citing information of an astronomical nature (supposedly encoded in the Vedas, in the design prescribed for fire altars) he contended that the Rig Veda belonged, according to his calculations, to the period circa 4000–3000 BC.

The end of the Harappan civilization was marked by the disappearance of urban centres, and many other prominent features of the civilization: for instance the use of standardized bricks. This was followed by another historical phase in the north-western part of the subcontinent,for which evidence comes from the Rig Veda as well as archaeology:this phase is designated as the Early Vedic Age (1500 to 1000 BC). It was an entirely rural society, combining pastoralism with some agriculture. The horse, to which there are constant references in the Rig Veda, is the distinctive signature of the Vedic-Sanskrit speaking communities. There is no evidence of the domesticated horse in the Harappan civilization. Not surprisingly, attempts have been made to ‘manufacture’ this evidence, now completely discredited.

The obsession with the early history of northern India and the chronology of the Vedas is ultimately about the ‘Aryan’ ancestry of the Indian nation, which in turn has its origins in the colonial notions of the Aryan race. For the Sangh Parivar, those who are descended from the Aryans, the people of the sacred Vedas, are the original and ancient inhabitants of the Indian subcontinent, and have superior claims: non-Aryans can only live on sufferance. During the nineteenth century colonial ideologues had advanced the idea that the Aryans were a race (rather than a linguistic group, which is the sense in which philologists had initially used the term), and stood at the top of the racial hierarchy constructed by them.



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