Monday, August 22, 2011

Krishna History or Myth?

Legend of Dwaraka
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. 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.

The strongest archaeological support comes from the structures discovered under the sea-bed 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."

No one has so influenced the course of India's religion, philosophy, art and literature as Lord Krishna.

The Bhagavad Gita, a world beloved, timeless classic was treasured by American writers from Emerson to T S Eliot.

(Artwork courtesy of The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International, Inc.


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.

"Krishna very much existed in flesh, blood and bones," said Madhav Acharya, archaeologist at the Haryana archaeological department. "It is difficult, if not impossible, 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. And that truth is the power struggle, and the main characters. One of them was Krishna. The power struggle is not a myth. If the heart of the story is to be believed as a historical event, then Krishna too should be seen as a historical character."

For more of this article, please go to the link given below.
(source: Legend of Dwaraka - By T.R. Gopaalakrushnan - - cover story June 1 2003).

Underwater museum, in Dwaraka yet to surface

India Abroad News Service Bangalore
- Nearly two decades after marine archeologists found the lost city of Dwaraka off the coast of Gujarat the state government continues to drag its feet on a proposal to establish the world's first underwater museum to view the remains of the city submerged in the Arabian Sea.

wpe11.jpg (9815 bytes)The proposal for the museum, submitted by the Marine Archeology Center of the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) in Goa, involves laying a submarine acrylic tube through which visitors can view through glass windows the ruins of the city said to have been be ruled by Sri Krishna, 3,500 years ago.An alternative suggestion is to have acrylic wells, to be accessed through boats, from which the remains can be viewed. Another proposal that remains on paper is for setting up a marine archeology museum of Dwaraka antiquities found in the sea.

Discovered in 1981, the well-fortified township of Dwaraka extended more than half a mile from the shore and was built in six sectors along the banks of a river before it became submerged. The findings are of immense cultural and religious importance to India.
"The search for the lost city has been going on since 1930," S.R. Rao, former adviser to the NIO who is still actively involved in the excavations, told India Abroad. "It is only after marine archaeologists started exploring the seabed near modem Dwaraka from 1981 that the structural remains of the city were found."

Rao said that if a fraction of the funds spent on land archeology were made available for under-water archaeology, more light could be thrown on Dwaraka, which had much archeological signifi-cance because it was built during the second urbanization that occurred in India after the Indus Valley civilization in northwestern India. Dwaraka's existence disproves the belief held by Western archeologists that there was no urbanization in the Indian subcontinent from the period between 1700 B.C. (Indus Valley) and 550 B.C. (advent of Buddhism). As no information was available about that period, they had labeled it the Dark Period.

Among the objects unearthed that proved Dwaraka's connection with the Mahabharata epic was a sea engraved with the image of a three-headed animal. The epic mentions such a seal given to the citizens of Dwaraka as a proof of identity when the city was threatened by King Jarasandha of the powerful Magadh kingdom (now Bihar). The foundation of boulders on which the city's walls were erected proves that the land was reclaimed from the sea about 3,600 years ago. The epic has references to such reclamation activity at Dwaraka. Seven islands mentioned in it were also discovered submerged in the Arabian Sea.

Pottery, which has been established by thermoluminiscence tests to be 3,528 years old and carrying inscriptions in late Indus Valley civilization script; iron stakes and triangular three-holed anchors discovered here find mention in the Mahabharata.

"The findings in Dwaraka and archeological evidence found compatible with the Mahabharata tradition remove the lingering doubt about the historicity of the Mahabharata," said Rao. 'We would say Krishna definitely existed." What is needed, he added, is the political will to reconstruct the cultural history of the Vedic and epic periods of northern India.

The maritime museums at sites of ' wrecks and submerged ports are absolutely essential, and portable antiquities should be conserved properly, lie emphasized. If the proposal to have a maritime museum is accepted by the Gujarat government, it would be the first of its kind in India, he pointed out. Recounting the start of exploration for Dwaraka, Rao said, "We carried out the original survey with just four scuba divers, while the operation called for the services of around 200 divers and other staff." But for the work to progress now, more equipment is needed, besides funds and time, he warned, adding:

"We need two barges, one mounted with a crate, and equipment such as an airlift. We need 30 or 40 divers and engineers. The work should go on for at least six months and cannot be halt-ed midway."

According to Rao, the project would need at least Rs. 20 million ($476,000).Funds would have to be provided by the Gujarat government and its tourism department Other possible sources are the federal Department of Ocean Development (DOD), which organizes big projects such as expeditions to Antartica, the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), which have not contribute much, Rao said.

The findings in Dwaraka and archeological evidence found compatible with the Mahabharata tradition remove the lingering doubt about the historicity of the Mahabharata. We would say that Krishna definitely existed"  - S.R. Rao.

Dwaraka museum in Gujarat likely to throw light on Indus Valley civilization

The proposed underwater museum at Dwaraka, the first of its kind in the world, and a marine archaeology museum will throw more light on the Indus Valley civilisation and enable researchers to peep into the history of the lost city of the Mahabharata era.

The Marine Archaeology Centre and the National Institute of Oceanography have jointly submitted a proposal with technical details for the preservation of the site to the Gujarat government. The Gujarat Government Tourism Corporation has held meetings with a foreign expert for promoting Dwaraka as a tourist destination, according to S R Rao, the president of the Society for Marine Archaeology.

The project envisages an estimated investment of over Rs 20 million. Unfortunately no follow-up action is forthcoming. The entire nation and even foreign countries are anxiously waiting for the preservation of the submerged city, which is not only of historical importance, but also of emotional interest since its founder was Lord Krishna, Rao said.

As per the proposal, marine acrylic tubes would be laid through which visitors could pass and view the remains of the historic city from windows. Acrylic walls could also be made which could be accessed by boats. Dwaraka, the submerged city in the Arabian Sea, off the Gujarat coast, is well connected with the other parts of the country. While most of Dwaraka is submerged in the Arabian Sea, tourist are attracted to the places which are not submerged -- Nageshwar Mahadev, Rukmani mandir, Shardapath and Dwarakashish temple. The mainland city was well-planned and boasted a good harbour. The full plan of the submerged city on the mainland has been ascertained and plotted on the basis of the individual structures discovered in six fortified sectors extending up to one km from the shore.

Dwaraka has been mentioned as golden city in the Shrimad Bhagwat Gita, Skand Purana, Vishnu Purana and also in Harivansh and Mahabharata. It is rated as the seven most ancient cities in the country. UNI

(source: Rediff on the Net).

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