An Indian Civilizational Perspective

Search for Historic Krishna

I have always considered Sri Krishna as my eternal Guru. I can most relate to His logical mind and clear thinking in terms of spiritual ideas. He is considered to be the Highest Ego by some and I feel it was an ego out of compassion and an Infinite Ego – where it is not possible to differentiate between Zero and Infinite. So, I though it would be interesting to look at the “Historic Krishna”. Who was He? And when did He walk on this earth?

Krishna and the Western Devotees
In 1966 in New York City, International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) was set up by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Some believe this was the first time that Westeners came in touch with Krishna and became His devotees. But is that so? Read the following inscriptions on a pillar erected around 110 BCE in central India in Vidisha near modern Besnagar – by Heliodorus. He was the Greek ambassador of the Indo-Greek king Antialcidas to the court of the Sunga king Bhagabhadra.

“Devadevasa Va [sude]vasa Garudadhvajo ayam
karito i[a] Heliodorena bhaga-
vatena Diyasa putrena Takhasilakena
Yonadatena agatena maharajasa
Amtalikitasa upa[m]ta samkasam-rano
Kasiput[r]asa [Bh]agabhadrasa tratarasa
vasena [chatu]dasena rajena vadhamanasa”

– Original inscription

“This Garuda-standard of Vasudeva (Krishna or Vishnu), the God of Gods
The first inscription of the Heliodorus pillar that was made by Heliodorus 110 BCE.
was erected here by the devotee Heliodoros,
the son of Dion, a man of Taxila,
sent by the Great Greek (Yona) King
Antialkidas, as ambassador to
King Kasiputra Bhagabhadra, the Savior
son of the princess from Benares, in the fourteenth year of his reign.”
(Archaeological Survey of India, Annual Report (1908-1909))
“Trini amutapadani‹[su] anuthitani
nayamti svaga damo chago apramado”

– Original inscription

“Three immortal precepts (footsteps)… when practiced
lead to heaven: self-restraint, charity, consciousness.”
(Archaeological Survey of India, Annual Report (1908-1909))
Also read:  The Future of Humanity: a dialog between J. Krishnamurti and David Bohm

Some say that Heliodorus was probably one of the most prominent devotee of Krishna in his times. Dr. Thomas Hopkins, chairman of the department of religious studies at Franklin and Marshall College, has said,

“Heliodorus was presumably not the only foreigner who was converted to Vaishnava devotional practices-although he might have been the only one to erect a column, at least one that is still extant. Certainly there must have been many others.”

So, Heliodorus who also turns up in Biblical extracts as a tax collector (Daniel 11:20) – was considered in latter years to have been into Bhagvatam devotion and knowledgeable about the scrioptures in that time.[5]

Professor Kunja Govinda Goswami of Calcutta University concludes that Heliodorus “was well acquainted with the texts dealing with the Bhagavata religion.

Krishna’s Historic Birth

Krishna’s exact historic veracity has always been a matter of debate amongst the Western historians, more because of their prejudice and less because of their inability to find the evidence. When references from the scriptures are juxtaposed on the astronomy records using computers and cross-checking in various different scriptures, one can make some intelligent inferences and conclusions.

Krishna was born in the Rohini nakshatra, in the Hindu month of Bhadrapada, on the 8th day of the waning moon at midnight.

Based on this reference of Krishna’s birth date according to Hindu Astrological calendar, the birth date of Krishna was July 21, 3228 BC by Arun K. Bansal [4]. His left the earth (died) at 2 pm on February 18, 3102 BC.

The bias for and against some writings is very evident. BaburNama – a treatise written in the time and about the barbarian Babur becomes a work of history. But Guru Granth Sahib and Japji Sahib – also the utterings of another person alive at that very time have no historic value!

Of course, for some strange reason you do not read about all these things in India’s own history books, because our “scholarly historians” like to depend on stories and fiction. They pick and choose the type of writing or books they consider “evidence” and which they do not. If History of India was indeed written by some OPEN MINDED INTELLIGENT person – the hisory of the WORLD would change! But oh well.

The birth and death dates calculated by Arun K. Bansal also seem to match the content of another shloka this time in Bhagwat Purana.

Shrimad Bhagwat Purana (part 11, chapter 6) where Brahma himself speaks to Krishna about how old he is. “Brahma says that 125 years have passed since Krishna’s birth; this is just before Krishna plans his death.”

Interestingly Bansal also used the astrological chart to discuss the life of the person. And among many things like Krishna’s interest in music, he also suggests that

person born under this astral spread would have been a great believer in karma who would advise others about karma and noble deeds.

There have been many more attempts at ascertaining the time of Krishna’s life and most are all over the place. They use Mahabharat happenings as the guide.

At a colloquium organised by the Mythic Society in Bangalore in January last year, dates as wide as 1478 bc to 3067 bc were proposed. Contributors included S. Balakrishna (from NASA, US), using Lodestar Pro software, who proposed 2559 bc as the start of the war. Prof R.N. Iyengar (from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore) brought the event closer historically, suggesting the date 1478 bc, while B.N. Narahari Achar (Department of Physics, University of Memphis, US) after “critically examining” the astronomical events in the Mahabharata pointed to 3067 bc. Authors like P.V. Vartak push back the date of the Mahabharata much further, to 5561 bc. Swami Prakashanand Saraswati, in his book, The True History and the Religion of India, comes up with the same dates as Bansal does.

It is said that with the death of Krishna started the Kali-Yug. According to the Hindu Calendar, the Kali-Yug’s start is given as roughly 3102 BC – such that almost 5100 years have elapse by the end of last century (1999). Which makes Bansal’s calculation very likely the correct one.

History of India and Krishna’s dates

Based on these dates, it seems very likely that Krishna’s death in some way also coincided with the rise of Indus Valley Civilization. Before that period, the only verifiable civilization is considered to be Mehrgarh.

Mehrgarh Culture: (7000–3300 BCE)
Indus Valley Civilization: (3300–1700 BCE)
Late Harappan Culture: (1700–1300 BCE)

Some writings and descriptions in Mahabharat seem to agree with the geophysical environment of that time as well:

These rivers are, as the belief goes – Ganga, Yamuna, and Saraswati. Every one sees Ganga, and Yamuna, but what about the Saraswati? The answer is that the Yamuna River carries with it, parts of the water of the old Saraswati River. Secondly, in the Mahabharat, it is mentioned that Balarama, the brother of Lord Krishna at Dwarka (shown in Fig. 2), did not participate in the war. Instead, he went on a pilgrimage along the Saraswati river . This figure shows that the possibility did exist at that time when the Saraswati River was flowing as shown in Fig. 2. What Feurstien et. al ( 1995 ) say, by and large could be true but, these authors do not dwell into other aspects such as the state of other areas in India during the Indus Valley days.

It would be interesting to investigate further – any links and relationships between Krishna and Indus Valley times. But if the astronomical dating is anything to go by, then Krishna did have presence and effect on those times.

Reference Links:

1. Heliodorus pillar
2. Vedic Archeology: Part 2: Further Antiquities
3. Heliodorus (minister)
4. Krishna (b. July 21, 3228 BC)
5. Heliodorus (minister)

Get Drishtikone Updates
in your inbox

Subscribe to Drishtikone updates and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.

Comments are closed.

Get Drishtikone Updates
in your inbox

Subscribe to Drishtikone updates and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.