Krishna- the protector of Mathura, the lord of Dwaraka and the reciter of the Bhagwad Gita on the battlefield of Kurukshetra-is one of the most enduring legends of India. But was he also a mortal, historical figure? Two books look at connections between the ancient texts and archaeology
By T.R. Gopaalakrushnan

After killing Kamsa, Krishna and his brother Balarama placed Ugrasena on the throne and remained in Mathura. This greatly angered Kamsa's father-inlaw Jarasandha, the emperor of Magadha. He repeatedly attacked Mathura to avenge Kamsa's death. Although Krishna and his small Yadava army were able to defeat Jarasandha's hordes every time, it was an unequal contest in which superior numbers were bound to tell in the long run. So Krishna led the Yadavas to the west coast. They built the fortified town of Dwaraka on the site of the ancient Kushastali, which became Krishna's seat for the rest of his eventful life. Dwaraka was submerged in the sea 36 years after the Mahabharata War. Forewarned, Krishna had persuaded the Yadavas to move to higher ground in Prabhas (near modern Somnath). Shortly thereafter, the Yadavas, or at least their leaders, destroyed themselves. Krishna himself died a few days later, killed by a hunter's arrow.
Does this bare-bones out- line of the colourful story of Krishna have a true, historical core? Are Krishna and Dwar-aka actual historical entities? For a majority of Indians, the answer is an unequivocal yes. Some archaeologists and historians too are now willing to accept that the common man's faith does have a basis in fact.
RECREATING A PAST THAT WAS CONSIDERED A MYTH: A scale model of coastline and township of Dwaraka displayed in the Birla Science Museum in Hyderabad; (above) The main temple at Dwaraka

The strongest archaeological support comes from the structures discovered under the seabed off the coast of Dwaraka in Gujarat by the pioneering team led by Dr S.R. Rao, one of India's most respected archaelogists. An emeritus scientist at the marine archaeology unit of the National Institute of Oceanography, Rao has excavated a large number of Harappan sites including the port city of Lothal in Gujarat. In his book The Lost City of Dwaraka (Aditya Prakashan, Rs 1500), published in 1999 he writes about his undersea finds: "The discovery is an important landmark in the history of India. It has set to rest the doubts expressed by historians about the historicity of Mahabharata and the very existence of Dwaraka city. It has greatly narrowed the gap in Indian history by establishing the continuity of the Indian civilisation from the Vedic Age to the present day." But not all are convinced. Some point to 'contradictions' in his findings and lack of other corroboration. Others believe that the entire story of Krishna as written in the Mahabharata is pure mythology, and any claims of archaeological evidence must necessarily be incorrect. As historian R.S. Sharma has written in his history textbook for class X students: "Although Lord Krishna plays an important role in the Mahabharata, the earliest inscriptions and sculpture pieces found in Mathura between 200 BC and 300 AD do not attest his presence." (The BJP has attempted to have these lines deleted from the textbook.) But there are archaeological finds that do attest to Krishna as a historical figure. For instance excavations in Bedsa (near Vidisha in Madhya Pradesh) have unearthed the remains of a temple of 300 BC in which Krishna (Vasudeva) and Balarama (Samkarshana) are identified from their flagstaff. Krishna's son Pradyumna, grandson, Aniruddha and another Yadava hero, Satyaki, have also been identified. A more recent historical record, dated 574 AD, occurs in what are called the Palitana plates of Samanta Simhaditya. This inscription refers to Dwaraka as the capital of the western coast of Saurashtra and states that Krishna lived here. No one has so influenced the course of India's religion, philosophy, art and literature as Krishna. Traditional belief is that Krishna lived in Dwaraka at the end of the Dwapara Yuga. Dwaraka, in fact, is considered one of the seven holiest and most ancient Indian cities. The others are Ayodhya, Mathura, Haridwar, Varanasi, Kanchi and Ujjain, which together are known as Mokshada-that which leads to salvation. According to Hindu historical tradition, Kali Yuga began with the death of Krishna more than 5,000 years ago. The Puranas are emphatic on the cultural degradation that set in after the Mahabharata war, which is seen as one of the most important turning points in ancient Indian history. Krishna, according to traditional belief, participated in that transition.
Artefacts recovered from the sea bed, like the reconstructed perforated jar (left) found in Bet Dwaraka, included a low footed stool of basalt and a pestle of granite and a grinder cum pounder of dolerite, among others.

if not impossible. "as whatever was there in the late Indus Valley civilisation period is reflected in the civilisation of the Mahabharata. "Archaeology can reconstruct the material culture of a people. The power struggle is not a myth. "It is difficult." said Prof. who in the guise of using science and computers are now holding forth on the Aryan problem. for a thing like the Mahabharata to be believed till today in the same spirit and faith unless there is some truth to the story. which for long had been described as myth and legend or as religious texts without much historical value. "This debate about ancient Indian history is in fact not at all about finding the truth. Delhi. the mythical Krishna must have existed (there is a reference to a Krishna in the Rig Veda). however.S." Excavations all over north and western India. One of them was Krishna. archaeologist at the Haryana archaeological department. and the others want to deny them that." she wrote some time ago in an article. The efforts of some historians and archaeologists to correlate textual evidence with archaeological finds have not found a . notably the well-known historian Romila Thapar. Chatopadhyay of the Centre for Historical Studies at JNU." A few others are straddling the fence." On the specific issue of the legend of Dwaraka." said Dr Bhagwant Josh. The postulate has its opponents. "Krishna must have been historical as well as mythical. Some historians have consistently opposed making any connection between Harappan archaeology and Vedic literature as part of the same historical and cultural stream. But researchers like N. then Krishna too should be seen as a historical character. Krishna is known from legends. Rajaram and David Frawley argue that the Harappan civilisation represents the material remains of the Vedic Age. professor of contemporary history at Jawaharlal Nehru University. and the main characters. by linking their past to it. "They are neither willing to acknowledge that they know little about archaeology. "The latest entrants into the field (of history) are Indian scientists from the US. B. know thy past. Interpolating archaeology with literature is fraught with difficulties."Krishna very much existed in flesh. Josh said. And that truth is the power struggle. Much before the historical Krishna was born. some scholars and historians disagree. epics and puranas. "No individual character like Krishna or Rama can be found through archaeology. history or linguistics nor willing to work with such specialists. the historical Krishna would have been named after the mythical one. show that a highly developed society had existed long before the accepted dates and theories of ancient Indian history. "One side wants to appropriate the glory and pride of what is considered the most systematised civilisation of city dwellers." The other important issue is the nature of the connection between archaeology and India's ancient texts and literature. "The core reality of these texts must be taken as the basis of further exploration of the sites of the Mahabharata tradition." Inevitably." said Rao." said Madhav Acharya.D. blood and bones. If the heart of the story is to be believed as a historical event. Pratnakirtim apavirnu. A position that is increasingly being challenged. exhort the Vedas and Upanishads.

Puranas and the Mahabharata." said Madhav Acharya." "Krishna very much existed. especially the Mahabharata. there is as yet no consensus on the period mentioned in the texts." said Madhav Acharya. The Harappan script has not been found in huge volumes. but we have no knowledge of the dates. "In the Upanishads. it seems reasonable to accept the postulate that the Harappan sites relate to the Vedic culture described in the Vedas. As Rao said. director of excavations and exploration at the Archaeological Survey of India. former director-general of ASI and author of a recent book on the Saraswati civilsation. as he did in the case of the Harappan civilisation and Rig Veda." he said. So Krishna was a historical figure. which can be read. Lal. who is a strong believer in correlating archaeological finds with the ancient literature. too have said that it is time for a rethink. "The Vedic literature matches with the description of the archeological finds. then some idea of the society that produced it can be had. But while the numbers of those who agree on this point is increasing. as I see it. there are no fictitious kings. town planning and maritime activities point to the mature Harappan as the Vedic period. . said R. He has little doubt of the historicity of Krishna. yoga. "religion. "If one is sure about the dates of the texts. "If the Mahabharata is to be believed then Krishna too should be seen as a historical character. B. which is pounced upon by critics of this approach. and serious archaeologists are questioning the exercise. And the connecting link between this and the Mahabharata or late Harappa period is what some call the ochre coloured pottery and what we call late Harappan pottery." Leaving aside the date issue for now." AN ARTIST'S IMPRESSION OF FORTIFIED DWARAKA: The general layout of the city described in ancient texts agrees with that of the submerged city Not so.B. Till Brahmi. language. "The Rig Vedic people were the authors of the Harappan civilisation. As Chatopadhyay pointed out. Madhav Acharya feels that that was a time "when people had language but no script. S. Delhi. there was no script but there was an oral tradition. Bisht. Geography also shows similar evidence. Jha say the Harappan seals are full of Vedic motifs." Other well-known historians like Prof." Rao said people who recited the Vedas might not have written it down because of difficulties with pronunciation. and the Mahabharata was authored over a longdrawn period. But he is convinced the Harappan civilisation could not have been built without writing and advanced knowledge.consensus even among themselves." Rajaram and fellow researcher N.

What was lacking was archaeological evidence linking Gujarat. being a good port. Bhrigukaccha. and other excavations off the coast show that the region probably had human settlements from very ancient times." According to the ancient texts. Rao suggested that Krishna occupied these places around 1500 BC. The sea covered up everything in the city.000 to 6. Dwaraka was just a name. which had been beating against the shores. In the book The Lost City of Dwaraka describing his discoveries. the Yadu king Arjuna Kartavirya had been defeated by Parashurama. Dwaraka promised prosperity to the enterprising people.) So Krishna was only returning to the land of his ancestors. Dwaraka and Krishna.000 years ago. Krishna's Dwaraka was attacked by the king of Salva (modern Sind) while he was away at Indraprastha to attend Yudhishtira's rajasuya ceremony. Rao identified two underwater settlements. suddenly broke the boundary that was imposed on it by nature. the destruction of which is so graphically described by Arjuna in the Mausala Parva of the Mahabharata: "The sea. 5. As Rao writes in his book. is named after the Bhrigu clan of Parashurama. one near the present-day Dwaraka and the other in the nearby island of Bet Dwaraka. the modern Broach. In a matter of a few moments it was all over. the eldest son of Yayati. according to Bhagavata Purana. Which is what prompted Rao to lead a marine archaeological expedition to the coastal region near modern Dwaraka in search of submerged settlements that might correspond to Krishna's capital. moral and religious order mentioned in the Indus seals was similar to that of the Rig Veda. . or Yadus who claimed descent from Yadu.Be that as it may. Centuries before Krishna. the west coast around Gujarat has been the traditional land of the Yadavas. It coursed through the streets of the beautiful city. Not that it was totally immune from attack. archaeological finds do show that coastal Gujarat could well have been an important part of the Vedic and pre-Harappan fold. The sea rushed into the city. One of them could well have been Krishna's Dwaraka (known in ancient times as Kushastali or 'Place of Kusha')." The underwater discoveries in the Gulf of Cambay subsequent to Rao's expeditions off Dwaraka. I saw the beautiful buildings becoming submerged one by one. "Long before the Mahabharata period the Indus valley civilisation had penetrated deep into Kutch at Dholavira and Surkotada by 3000 BC. Conducting 12 expeditions during 1983-1990. The sea had now become as placid as a lake. There was no trace of the city. just a memory. Secondly. Many scholars accept all this mainly on literary grounds. They spoke a proto-Aryan language akin to Old Indo-Aryan (Vedic Sanskirt) and their basic concept of cosmic. The underwater expeditions-which won Rao the first World Ship Trust Award for Individual Achievement-were undertaken after extensive on-shore excavations had yielded incontrovertible evidence of a protohistoric settlement of 1600 BC destroyed by the sea. Reaching Dwaraka bounded by the sea and Rann was a hazardous task for Jarasandha's army. It reached its climax between 2800-1900 BC at Lothal. The location and topography of the site selected by Krishna made it safe from Jarasandha's attacks. (Krishna undertook a sea voyage from Bhrigukaccha to Prabhas.

A few paved paths. Iron too was known to the smiths of Bet Dwaraka. Kushastali is the name given to a pre-Dwaraka (or Harappan) settlement that had been abandoned and reoccupied and rebuilt during the Mahabharata period. The Sabha Parva text of the Mahabharata describes houses. "The Harappan seal inscriptions . Dwarawati and Kushastali. Two major roads. prepared on the basis of structural remains exposed in the sea-bed. Dwaraka was a planned city. A city was planned and built here. The city also boasted of a good harbour.000 years. The submerged township extended in the north up to Bet Dwaraka (Also known as Sankhodhara-said to have been the pleasure resort of Krishna and his consorts Satyabhama and Jambavati. "The word dvipa as used in the Mahabharata often conveys the sense of any land between two rivers or two waters.In search of submerged human settlements: A diver inspecting the rocky ridge having man-made holes for securing boats What Rao and his team discovered was a well-fortified township that extended more than half a mile from the shore. each about 18m wide. plazas. although it is also used for a continent. (A pearl fishing village for more than 3. For example: "Land was reclaimed from the sea near the western shores of Saurashtra. It extended up to Okhamadhi in the south. on the banks of the river Gomati. wide roads." The excavations show that Dwaraka was an urban centre with certain specialised industries such as boat building and metal working as evidenced by this copper lota (left) found in the sea bed.) The general layout of the city of Dwaraka described in ancient texts agrees with that of the submerged city and shows evidence of town planning. and Pindara in the east. but none had survived the sea. Some houses or public buildings had pillared halls. palaces and many public utilities. The area is noted for its conch shell of good quality which was in great demand as a non-corrosive substitute for metal). said Rao." said Rao. The foundation of boulders on which the city's walls were erected showed that the land had been reclaimed from the sea some 3. A hall called Sudharma Sabha was built to hold public meetings. "An idea of the houses built of dressed and undressed stones in ancient Dwaraka can be had from the structures laid bare in the Harappan town of Surkotada in Kutch. in which six bastions were found in a line." said Rao. residential and commercial zones.600 years back. It had well-organised six sectors. connect a group of three buildings on the east which formed another designated enclosure. drains. etc. This beautiful city was also known as Dwaramati. The sketch plan of Dwaraka. Pindara is a holy place-Pinda Taraka is mentioned in the Mahabharata where sage Durvasa had his hermitage. who identifies Bet Dwaraka with Antardvipa of the epic. were traced. suggests six different sectors of the town all fortified and some interconnected.

"When we got the seal we were really excited." But the seal does corroborate the reference made in the ancient text." writes Rao. The Mahabharata mentions that when Dwaraka was attacked they inserted iron stakes. nails and other iron objects. with funding for just 20 days in a year: Dr Rao and his pioneering team working off the coast of Dwaraka The topography of the Okha region reveals seven parts interspersed by the Rann. one later description of the city reads. Also. advanced technology and the high literacy of the people. "the fort wall and submerged walls in the sea confirm the appellation varidurga. unicorn and goat motif on seals from mature Harappan levels of Kalibangan and Mohenjo Daro is distinct from that of Bet Dwaraka which belongs to the late Indus period. They may be the seven islands that existed during the Mahabharata period and referred to in later texts. "The yellow glitter of the golden fort of the city in the sea throwing yellow light all round looked as if the flames of vadavagni (volcano) came out tearing asunder the sea. Iron was already known to the smiths of Bet Dwaraka as attested to by iron stakes. the Harivamsa." Among the objects recovered from the sea-bed that establish the submerged township's connection with the Dwaraka of the Maha-bharata was a seal (just 18mmx20mm) with the images of a bull. unicorn and goat engraved in an anticlockwise direction. Terracotta wheels of toy carts were also recovered.mention happta dvappa (sapta dvipa-seven lands) and bhadrama dvappa (bhadrama dvipa-a seal found at Kalibanga meaning most auspicious land). So some weapons were definitely locally manufactured. "The motif is no doubt of Indus origin but the style shows considerable influence from Bahrain." Over 12 expeditions during 1983-1990." said Dr. Rao. we got a stone mound in which they cast some spear heads. We got one of those. citadel in the water. The occurrence of proto-historic (1600 ." said Rao. pearl diving and perhaps metal working also. shell working. By 1500 BC almost the entire township seems to have been destroyed. The high level of civilisation in ancient Dwaraka is borne out by the engineering skill. But while it existed. The stone mould found in the intertidal zone compares favourably with similar moulds found in Lothal and other Indus towns just as the tidal dock at Lothal built in 2300 BC is seen as the precursor of the port installation of Dwaraka." Rao also finds confirmation of the reference to Dwaraka as nagara (city) in the epic. "The bull. "It was an urban centre with certain specialised industries such as boat building. These are evidences which corroborate what the texts said. that every citizen of Dwaraka should carry a mudra as a mark of identifiction and none without a seal should enter it. given to Dwaraka in the Mahabharata. "Secondly. But the evidence that really clinched the issue was the mudra and the references to two Dwarakas at the place mentioned in the ancient texts like Sabha Parva.

a highly corroded copper lota and a few bronze nails. Rao's explorations place Krishna and the Mahabharata in the post-Harappan period or after the break-up of the Harappan empire due to natural causes around 2200-1900 BC. Triangular three-holed anchors weighing 120-150 kg." speculates Rao. Another archaeologically significant find was a lunate shaped moonstone (chandrasila). there is not much dispute about the general area of Krishna's kingdom. a copper bell. Two single-holed spheroid stone objects. Low zinc brass produced at Lothal in 2300-2000 BC is similar in composition to that found at Dwaraka.528 years old in thermoluminescence testing. Two rock-cut slipways of varying width extending from the beach to the intertidal zone were discovered. Stone artefacts recovered from the sea-bed included a low footed stool of basalt. "Generally our findings have been accepted. finely polished found along with brass arches. Darukavana extended over 45 km from north to south and at least 25 km from east to west approximating to eight yojanas." said Acharya. not by archaeologists. "There are a few who think that the date 1700-1800 BC that we have assigned is not in consonance with the traditional date of 3102 BC.BC) pottery on land suggests there were smaller towns between Dwaraka and Kushastali in ancient times. if not more. the concept of the city state of Darukavana or Dwaravati must have been given a concrete shape. "The dating of Rao's material was done. found were similar to pre-Phoenician anchors found in Syria and Cyprus and were dated around 1500 BC. If all these settlements are taken as one unit. "With a large port town of Dwaraka. This and a beam found in the vicinity suggested to Rao's team that there existed a temple here. a shipyard in Bet Dwaraka and three other satellite towns at Aramda. But so far as the archaeological evidence from on shore and off-shore excavations and thermoluminescence dating is concerned Kushastali with its late . but by scientists at the Physical Research Lab. Rao deciphers one of the potsherds recovered to read baga (God) in late Harappan characters and assignable to 1800-1600 BC and another as Mahakaccha sah pa. The structures and the large stone anchors lying under the sea at Dwaraka are also seen as indicative of large ships being anchored out at sea while smaller boats carried men and cargo up the river. use unclear. datable to 1500-1400 BC were found. around 900-800." This technique was adopted by the Phoenicians much later. the biggest weighing 560 kg. which "could have been designed for launching boats of different sizes. the Dwaraka harbour provided the earliest clear evidence of modifying natural rock to serve the needs of a harbour. So it is definitely ancient Dwaraka. and that cannot be disbelieved." said Rao. Admittedly. Among artefacts reovered from Dwaraka and Bet Dwaraka were pottery carrying inscriptions in old Indo-Aryan (Vedic or archaic Sanskrit) script and were found to be 3. a pestle of granite and a grinder cum pounder of dolerite. A similar appeal has been deciphered in a seal inscripion from Mohenjo Daro. conveying the sense of "sea (or sea god) king (or ruler) protect"-an appeal to the sea god for protection. Also. But in terms of time. brass objects. besides iron nails. Varwala and Nagewsar.

and in Mathura and the Mahabharata sites there is no evidence of earlier inhabitation. cites three main reasons as to why the site discovered by Rao is actually a later Dwaraka than the one built by Krishna. "There is a difference in the geographic areas as well as the time frame of the Saraswati civilisation that is wholly Vedic. Low zinc brass produced at Lothal in 2300-2000 BC is similar in composition to that found in artefacts like this bronze bell excavated at Dwaraka. it is better to explore deeper waters of Bet Dwaraka. the lack of any Vedic motifs in the artefacts found in the undersea excavations suggests that the settlement was a later one. which Rao too says." The date arguments notwithstanding." said Rao. Interestingly. We are not able to dig because you hit water at an early depth and neither diving nor excavations are possible. and the setting of the Mahabharata. while the Saraswati-or the Harappan-civilisation centres on the Saptasindhu rivers (the Indus. the modernists of course insist that the undersea discoveries must have an explanation different from Rao's interpretation and correlation with the ancient texts." Rao said. Also. besides the Kurukshetra area in Haryana.000 years. considering the abundant Vedic symbolism found in Harappan archaeology. First. With Krishna consigned to mythology. . Vishnu's incarnation at the time of the great flood. a stone mould compares favourably with similar mould found in Lothal and other Indus towns. the only ancient temple for Matsya.5 to 5 metres based on his calculations on the likely rise in sea levels over the past 5." (Archaeological excavations show that modern Dwaraka is the seventh settlement of the name on this site. Rajaram. there can be no denying the importance of Rao's findings. in his yet to be published book Search for the Historical Krishna." he said. the Saraswati and the five rivers that make up Punjab).) The structures and stone anchors lying under the sea indicate large ships being anchored out at sea while smaller boats carried men and cargo up the river as visualised in this artist's impression of the harbour of ancient Dwaraka. is to be found at Sankhodhara in Bet Dwarak. "There is one other possibility. swallowed by the sea. Researchers like Rajaram view Rao's findings as confirmation of their theories that the Mahabharata belongs to a much earlier period. the Mahabharata has the Ganga and the Yamuna.Harappan relics where the first Dwaraka was built may be assigned to 1700 BC and the town on the mainland may be slightly later. In Bet Dwaraka there are the mudflats. "Although traditional date of 3102 BC cannot be confirmed by avaiable evidence. "The earliest habitation in the Ganga-Yamuna region does not go back beyond 1200-1100 BC. Rajaram theorises that Krishna's Dwaraka most probably lies below the existing ruins at a further depth of around 2. at various times. as the backdrop. According to him. It is now generally accepted that the earlier cities have been. Madhav Acharya too favours the later dates. though they have yet to come up with one.

say there are . This. which obviously corresponds far more to the early Harappan rather than the post-Harappan period which saw the rise of regional cultures. in their yet to be universally accepted decipherment of the Harappan seals. One cannot have one without the other." This seal establishes the submerged township's connection with Dwaraka of Mahabharata." So Krishna's Dwaraka must fit into the geography and society described in the epic. Historian S. there is no denying the historic Vedic link between the Purus (or Kurus) and the Yadus along the Saraswati river. with good communications and a common elite language. mature Harappa 3100-1900 BC. "Just as there is no denying the Kassite influences on Rao's Dwaraka. in looking at the historical basis for the Dwaraka legend. the Panchalas and Mathura. "There can be little doubt that Krishna was a Vedic figure. better fits in the early Harappan (3100 BC) period than the post Harappan period favoured by Rao and some others. Ali is quoted in Rao's book: "The georgrapahical matter contained in the Mahabharata is immense.M. According to the Mabhabharata. Especially since some of the artefacts recovered from the sea-bed show a strong affinity with West Asia. Moreover." he insists. (Rao gives the following chronology: Pre-Harappa 3400-3100 BC. as seen in the hemispherical doorsocket (left) and literacy as seen in the inscription in the earthern trough (right) in old Indo-Aryan script which Rao deciphers as Mahakaccha sah pa. all in the Vedic heartland to the north. especially the Kassite empire of Babylon. In fact the geography as described in the epic is accepted by many scholars. "It was an age of large kingdoms and empires and imperial aspirations. Rajaram says. Further. conveying the sense of "sea (or sea god) king (or ruler) protect". what Rao calls Janapadas. the Mahabharata describes India as made up of established kingdoms.The second reason cited is that Krishna of the Mahabharata and the archaeology of his Dwaraka must fit the picture of the region and society portrayed in the ancient texts. The third reason is the mismatch between the political situation described in the Mahabharata and the picture given by post-Harappan archaeology. a key question is not just about Krishna but also whether the Mahabharata war and other participants in the war were historical also. It is perhaps the only great work which deals with georgraphic details and not incidentally as other works." said Rajaram. late Harappa 1900-1500 BC. which should place them before the complete drying up the ancient river around 2200-1900 BC. Rajaram argues. It corroborates the reference in the Harivamsa that says every citizen of Dwaraka should carry a mudra as a mark of identification.) The town was wellfortified with engineering skill. Rajaram argues in his book. And Rajaram and Jha. Krishna's links were with the Kurus.

with Vijaya Pushkarna Interview/S. Mahabharata is viewed as a north Indian story. In Andhra Pradesh. some of which date back to 5000 years. you get 3rd-4th century BC material.R. Among other names related to Krishna deciphered are Akrura (Krishna's friend). This is something extraordinary and unique. he has made an important contribution by connecting literature and archaeology. This is the consensus among most historians and archaeologists. For this.many references to Krishna and other Mahabharata characters in the Indus Valley seals. the elder brother of Bhishma's father. Another seal they read as 'Murari Vrishni anga' meaning 'Murari of the Vrishnis. it is necessary to get at the root of the main literary source of the period. We did some work and saw that it was a kind of apsidal object. Jha and Rajaram say they have found the word 'Vrishni' appearing on numerous Harappan seals. We suspect it might be very early. . For instance." Rao argues. one seal they have deciphered as Devapi. Yadu (Krishna's ancestor).' and one more as 'Vrishni varpa. living in a region where recent excavations have shown that the Harappan Civilisation was thriving. at a depth of 7-10m. The identification of Krishna's Dwaraka thus calls for devising methods of identifying sites and artefacts that belong to the Mahabharata period. He has shown that identifying Krishna's Dwaraka and other places connected with the Krishna story as well as the larger story of the Mahabharata itself and other ancient texts is possible by looking for similar connections between literature and archaeology. In a place called Bandipur Salachenu we got typical Harappan beads How did this happen? What did they give in return? So there was some contact with the south. when I excavated two small neolithic sites (new stone age or around 5000 BC). In fact. Shantanu. There appeared to be two structures. and Sritirtha (old name for Dwaraka).. While one may or may not agree with Rao's conclusions. though there is little consensus among historians and archeologists on dating this period. Vrishni of course was Krishna's clan. and be the starting point for excavations for other historic and legendary places. "Recent research has shown that the epic is not a myth but a recreation of history.. Normally. there is a structure at a depth of 23 m. How to date it is a big question. the Mahabharata.' implying he had a beautiful body. Rao State too busy to preserve the finds Has there been any finding elsewhere comparable to your Gujarat ones? In Poompuhar (Tamil Nadu). I got Harappan material.

But nothing was done. best known as friend and counsellor to the Pandavas and the architect of the Pandavas' victory over the Kauravas in the great Kurukshetra battle. Nothing has been done to preserve it even though it is such an important site. but for Krishna's leadership and strategy. they went only to Lothal. He is.Is there any attempt to preserve what you have discovered? That is the most deplorable aspect. of course. I have no control whatsoever on what the gods might do. consulted the navy people and the engineers. I can only do what I can to control and influence human events. Karmayogi par excellence "Since time immemorial learned men have known that the affairs of the world are influenced by forces both divine and human. Then there is Krishna. Dholavira is all stone. Krishna's career was tinged with tragedy: he failed to prevent the Mahabharata War and failed also to prevent his Yadu clan from destroying itself. because we wanted to not only preserve. We have again approached Mr Jagmohan and hope a decision will be made soon. The forces of human folly ultimately proved stronger even than Krishna. The cost was Rs 9 crore." -Bhagavad Gita Reading beyond the myth accumulated over millennia. We prepared a project. This also I believe shows that Krishna was entirely a human figure. who can do underwater conservation. the Vrishni prince of Dwaraka. it is not difficult to find the money for it. If the government allows us to do the work.) And yet for all his failures. The Sanskrit University in Tirupati wanted the project and I had prepared a plan. but to put acrylic tubes so that people can go and actually see the structures. Krishna is seen to be a manysided man who lived a rich and varied life. We also wanted to set up an alphabet museum. But Kalibangan is just a heap of earth. when the National Geographic people came to India to make a film. . In fact. For all his greatness. The Lothal museum is fairly well done. We worked out a detailed project report. the principle of action. Most of the artefacts are in Delhi. Some measures have been taken to preserve the excavations. All this we said in our report to then tourism minister Ananth Kumar two years ago. I took a lot of pains over it. In fact. (This I recognise is ultimately a matter of faith and the statement expresses only my belief. All the artefacts that were recovered are currently at the NIO in Goa. it is quite possible that the Pandavas might not have prevailed. They said it was feasible. the uncrowned king of the turbulent Yadu clan. he left for posterity a message that has never lost its relevance-the message embodied in his philosophy of karma yoga. we will take care of it. Now it has gone completely.

. as befitting a warrior prince. but of the future. Krishna firmly believed that one always had to live in action. He lived in the late Vedic Age when rituals of the Brahmanas. Krishna saw the futility and irrelevance of such ritual built around practices bereft of meaning and sought reform. attributed to him. Future generations will think that I allowed a great calamity to befall the world without my lifting a finger to prevent it.. The youthful Krishna was an introspective and philosophic man. Veda Vyasa himself was present in the assembly and raised no objection. The image of Krishna that we get from the ancient sources is of an austere and studious man. The suggestion to so honor Krishna had come from no less a person than Bhishma. When Vidura asked Krishna why he bothered at all considering that war was inevitable. the most enduring of all. Krishna was a reformer who moved away from the ritualistic practices of the Vedic religion of his time to the action-oriented Sankhya philosophy. There is nothing for which I need to work. The historical Krishna is the very antithesis of his portrayal in the later literature.S. Krishna received a stern . I shall myself be the cause of degeneracy in the world. Failure is not an excuse for lack of effort." This is the central message of the great Bhagavadgita.. so will others follow me.'MISMATCH BETWEEN ARCHAEOLOGY AND THE MAHABHARATA': N. The Rigveda.. profoundly concerned about his role in history. even by his adversaries like Shishupala. Rajaram And this brings us to the third Krishna. completed for the most part more than five hundred years before his time was already becoming unintelligible. This is also clear from the acquiescence of princes and sages assembled during Yudhisthira's Rajasuya ceremony where Krishna was honored as the greatest figure of the age. the Kauravas and the Pandavas. the sage of karma yoga. whose main concerns were political stability and ethical and religious reform." To return to his early life. Its failure was a foregone conclusion and Krishna knew it. Many years later he volunteered to go on a mission to prevent a calamitous war between his cousins. It was being interpreted by ritualistic priests who had lost contact with the mystical language and the true meaning of the Rigveda. Considering his own precarious childhood and youth his concerns are also entirely understandable. Krishna told him: "I am thinking not of my place and my time. Krishna the reformer and practical philosopher. That Krishna was himself a peerless Vedic scholar was recognised by all. a man old enough to be his grandfather. deriving mainly from the Yajurveda had begun to dominate. He told his friend and disciple Arjuna: "There is nothing in the three worlds that I want for myself. But if I let myself follow a course of inaction. Krishna as a romantic hero is a later creation that receives no support from early and reliable sources like the Mahabharata.

E. village/port . (currently Bet Dvaraka . 8. Kaushastali I – 3000 B.E.E. both in military craft and in Vedic studies. Whoever was the source of the the Rukmini Temple was built nearby in honor of Sri Krshna’s wife. becoming a great innovator in both warfare and philosophy. built on the ruins of Temple I after that was destroyed.where the only Matsya Temple can be found).C. He must have seemed to them a dangerous radical with emphasis on action and merit. the carvings outside the temple were updated. (assuming Mahabharat War in 1536 B.C. A passage in the Chandogya Upanishad suggests that Krishna was also associated with Ghora of the Angirasa clan on studies relating to the Vedas. away from ritual and privilege. Dvaraka V / Temple III – 800 C. built on ruins of Temple II after that was destroyed. Krishna and Balarama studied under the sage Sandipini.E. Kaushastali III – 2000 Around 1500 C.E.).. his ideas put in their final form by Veda Vyasa. This helps explain the hostility shown to Krishna by the rulers of the old established order. Dvaraka III / Temple I – 500 to 100 B.E.E. village) 2.Palitana Plates of Samanta Simhaditya. Dvaraka is also known as Dvarkavati. copper coins known as Karshapanas) – Temple I built at this time. Around 1250 C. Kaushastali II – 2500 B. Krishna could be its compiler. Dvaraka II – 1000 B. And like every genius he quickly surpassed all his teachers. The entire coast of western India sank by nearly 40 feet around 1500 B.C. (Evidence: 574 C.C.E. at the time when Krishna began to propound his new philosophy. people must have found it radical..html and http://shikshanic. temple rebuilt after storm damaged Temple III. This inscription refers to Dwaraka as the capital of the western coast of Saurashtra and states that Sri Krishna lived here).E..timeframe of decline of Lothal) 4. . The Gita is now widely studied..E. 7.. (Extract from N.timeframe of peak of Lothal) 3.E. Rajaram's unpublished book Search For the Historical Krishna) Dvaraka Timeline: (See: http://www.E.htm ) 1..C. port city . (early SSC site.S. (mature SSC site. (Evidence = red polished ware.hindunet. Dvaraka V / Temple IV – 1100 9. (later SSC site. Krishna was something of a child prodigy and soon attained fame both as a warrior and Vedic scholar. Dvaraka IV / Temple II – ? 300 C. it is beyond question that he was a peerless Vedic scholar.C.E. and therefore the Yadavas move to higher ground in Prabhas (near Somnath) 5. Dvaraka I – 1500 B. 6.

We need to dig more to determine this. For images of Dvaraka and Dvarkadish Temple.C. (similar to Rao's dates going back to 1500-1800 B.asp?subcatid=66 My posting at Yahoo Groups – IndianCivilization based on this article: Very nice article .10. Krshna. but more conclusive evidence needs to be found.E. dates commonly referred to relating to Krshna. The idea proposed that Krshna was named after a much earlier 'Krshna' who lived in Vedic times is very interesting and may explain the 3000 B. The evidence mentioned in this article is a great start.E. he may have been 30 during the war and was around 65 when Dvaraka sank into the sea and his death soon thereafter.E.E. Dvaraka (submerged into the sea 36 years after the Mahabharat War). the 3 Indian Epics (Dasharajyna. Schliemann used the Greek literature about the 'mythological' Trojan War to start digging for Troy in Northwestern Turkey and he eventually found it and was able to accurately date the war to 1220 B. I disagree completely with Rajaram's dates since it doesn't correlate with either the literature or the increasing body of archaeological evidence. Dvaraka V / Temple V (Dvaraka-dhish) – ? 1600 C. since many names are repeated throughout Indian history (refer to my Royal Chronology).. present-day Temple (Chalukyan style) built around existing Temple IV. Ramayana and Mahabharat respectively) all have a basis in historical fact. Around 1850 C. Evidence like that would be solid since they fit in with timeframes many have proposed for the Mahabharat Epic (see my Royal Chronology). What is not conclusive is the timeframe of his life. We can do the same thing for India. A proper excavation of Dvaraka and Mathura should reveal lower layers that go back to before 1000 B.C. We have enough evidence already to know that he was a real prince of the Sudyumna (Chandra-vamsi) Dynasty and the locations of his upbringing and later life are also clearly known. If we assume Krshna was 11 years old when he went to Mathura. .C.E. The question of the historicity of Krshna need not be asked. the Shikara (Tower) was built – 52 meters done! As most decent historians know (those that are non-Marxist and don't hate everything Indian). This would make perfect sense. The German archaeologist. see: http://esamskriti. The present-day challenge is to unearch archaeological evidence to conclusively back up the literary evidence and firm-up the timeframes (currently under a great deal of speculation) of these 3 epics.

2003 Clinching scientific evidence on the existence of the mythological city of Dwarka lying submerged off the Gujarat coast is yet to be found.:" If a site this old can be found in fact that we've not found sites in the Ganga/Yamuna (Mathura et al) earlier than 1200 B. shows that we need to dig much more. and older still in Western U.C.. know thy past! Link (http://www.ndtv. They have found a 3500-year-old site in Pandavsthan village and some 2000 artifacts that are said to date to around 1500-2000 B.E. you can be sure even older sites will be found in Eastern U.asp?cid=309977) ADDITIONAL DVARAKA EVIDENCE: http://www. .! Quoting from Thapar and anyone from JNU is probably a waste of time.dig more and validate the literature. archeologists in Bihar's Samastipur district have finally hit luck.uniindia. scientist in charge of Marine Archaeology Centre at the prestigious National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) at Dona Paula nere here..E.asp?slug=Ancient+site+discovered+in+ Bihar&id=37419 " according to marine archaeology experts..C.E.'' asserts Mr Kamlesh H Vora.C. I agree with the quote they gave: Pratnakirtim apavirnu. Up until only last month. no serious archaeologist would believe that ANY GRR (Ganga River Region) site was older than 1000 B. Pandavsthan's residents always believed their village got its name from the Mahabharata and that the Pandavas spent some time here. The excavations carried out by the K P Jaiswal Institute suggest that there may be just a bit of truth to this belief.After digging in the dirt for four years..P.nsf/0/B51A29F059410B8D65256D420045E1E A?OpenDocumentA New Feature By Y Bala Murali Krishna On 11 June. ''Our underwater explorations off Gujarat coast over the years and scientific analysis of the artefacts procured in the process have so far not yielded any conclusive evidence to support the theory of existence of any datable.C. The equation is simple . Charcoal samples from the site are being sent to the Birbal Sahani Institute of Paleobotany at Lucknow. Now that number has been pushed back to nearly 2000 B. habitational site believed to have been Dwarka.

Much more needs to be done to identify the specific site believed to be Dwarka. he said. mythological references and archaeological data in order to find out what lay beneath the sea in terms of archaeological importance including submerged ports. shipwrecks and temples. who. as scientist emiritus of the NIO till 1992. belongs to 200 BC. He has formed an expert team of archaeologists-cum-divers including Dr A S Gaur. the Maritime Archaeology of the Gujarat Coast. The place was believed to be the city of the Demon Bali. Diu. The Dwarka city. 800 metres from the Mahabalipuram temple complex on shore. About seven temple structures had been noticed during the explorations. Incidentally. However. metal detectors and self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (scuba gear) for critical explorations. underwater video cameras.However. They have sought cooperation of the archaeologists. efforts have been underway to explore more potential sites in Saurashtra region of Gujarat in a bid to map its maritime history for the first time. Stone structures such as walls and steps believed to be that of some temples apart from a series of stone anchors were found during the marine explorations off Dwarka and Bet Dwarka (island Dwarka) indicating the existence of some habitations and flourishing maritime activity. according to archaeological findings of the Deccan College of Pune. archives. Gopnath and Padri upto Lothal which was the earliest maritime trade centre. technical officer in the marine archaeology wing who had undertaken for his Ph. During the tenth five year plan. he added. State governments could also fund such projects as the NIO had the best team with the state-of-the-art equipment including diving gear. The NIO team plans to explore the entire Saurastra coast covering Porbandar. history. UK. is credited with completing an excavation off Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu during March-April this year where it discovered several man-made structures. The team. according to Mr Vora ''geological sites are continuous whereas archaeological sites are specific''. historians and others in this regard. had undertaken marine explorations in Dwarka and Bet Dwarka and told the world that the evidence pointed to the existence of the mythological city of Lord Krishna. literature. . with no supportive evidence like potshreds and other artefacts detected so far.D. walls and steps purportedly belonging to the Pallava period. whereas the explorations off Dwarka and Bet Dwarka revealed a continuum of habitation stones datable from 1500 BC to 1800 AD. in collaboration with the Scientific Exploration Society. Mr Vora told UNI. the NIO was considering to undertake survey of potential off-shore sites after getting authentic baseline date from reliable sources including experts. Mr Vora's predecessor at NIO was the famous marine archaeologist Dr S R Rao. Dr Gaur said.

The problem needs to be studied from various angles such aspalaeo-shoreline and the geology in addition to the archaeological aspects. .The NIO is processing the data collected and plans to work with the Archaeological Survey of India before advancing a date. As this was only a preliminary reconnaissance survey. a lot more remains to be done and dates and context may vary based on future findings.