Wednesday, 1 February, 2023

The War of Kurukshetra and nuclear weapon

Chinmay Prasun Biswas

The term nuclear weapon is very much well-known in the world from World War II for its deadly power of devastation. The world witnessed it on 6th and 9th August, 1945 when the first (named Little Boy) and second (named Fat Man, so far last) ever nuclear bombs were dropped by the United States in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan that caused more than 2,50,000 deaths and made thousands of others paralysed. Afterwards more powerful nuclear weapons have been developed. At present nine countries of the world possess nuclear weapons but some people hold the view that nuclear weapons existed around 2,500 years ago, during the days of Mahabharat.

The War of Kurukshetra in Mahabharat continued for 18 days. The horrific experience of these 18 days, written by Vedavyas, surpasses even modern warfare. Apart from countless deaths and destruction of huge resources, the subject that attracts the readers’ eyes is the weapons used in this war. From the descriptions of these bizarre weapons, there is reason to speculate that nuclear or similar weapons were used in the Kurukshetra War.

Archaeologists have unearthed radioactive radiation in a vast area near Jodhpur in Rajasthan, India. It was later learnt that this region belonged to the Harappan-Mohenjodaro civilisation. A search in the area by British archaeologist David Davenport yielded some evidence suggesting that there had been a massive eruption in distant past. Davenport took explosion for nuclear energy. He has written it in his book Atomic Destruction in 2000 BC (1979).

Davenport blamed a nuclear disaster for the destruction of the city of Mohenjo-daro but the question arises - who used such power in that era? From a molten brick and a green crystalline object in Mohenjo-daro Davenport reached this conclusion and claimed that use of this force has been mentioned the Mahabharat. But skeptic scholars have raised some more curious questions regarding the Manhattan Project, the US nuclear research project during World War II.

After the end of the Manhattan project, a student asked J Robert Oppenheimer ((who is also recognised as a pioneer of atomic bomb)) if his atomic bomb was the world’s first nuclear weapon. Oppenheimer replied, “In the context of modern era that’s right.” Then question arises, did he find any evidence of the existence of nuclear weapons in antiquity?

In the 12th verse of the 11th chapter of Srimad Bhagavad Gita, Sri Krishna says to Arjun: “If radiation equal to a thousand suns is seen in the sky, it must be considered as the manifestation of the superpower.” Being confused at hearing this utterance Arjun asks Krishna, “Who are you?’ Krishna replied that He is death, the destroyer of the earth. Later researchers questioned whether this radiation that equaled to thousand suns (as told by Sri Krishna) was an atomic bomb explosion. How it could be imagined in the Mahabharat era? It is certain that the War of Kurukshetra did not happen during the Indus Valley Civilisation but who can say that the technological knowledge of explosion was not active even during the reign of Kuru dynasty?

A British author and archaeologist Graham Hancock’s controversial book Fingerprints of the Gods also states that the ancient world, particularly the lost continent of Atlantis, had a highly developed civilisation. Some well-known mystic seekers opine that there may be some connection between Atlantis and the Mahabharat society.

A group of mystic-seekers think that behind the destruction of Atlantis there was a powerful explosion. According to Greek philosopher Plato this civilisation was destroyed within a day by a tidal wave. Many others consider Plato’s description as fantasy but according to mystery-seekers, without a nuclear explosion, just a tidal wave is not sufficient to wipe out a civilisation so quickly.

However, going back from the story of Atlantis to Mahabharat, we find that there are descriptions of some weapons used in the War of Kurukshetra which are comparable to modern weapons. Such a weapon is Brahmastra. According to Bengali vocabulary and different Hindu Purans Brahmastra means the weapon of Lord Brahma. When the demons defeated the gods and occupied heaven, Brahma built this extremely powerful weapon for gods to fight against the demons. According to his name its name is Brahmastra. In Hindu mythology, this weapon is said to be capable of destroying the whole universe, creation and vanquishing all beings. Only Parasuram, Ramchandra, Meghnad, Bhisma, Dronacharya, Karna, Ashwatthama and Arjun possessed the knowledge to invoke this weapon. It is one of the most destructive, powerful, and irresistible weapons mentioned in Hinduism. Its other variants are Brahmashirastra, Brahmanda astra and Bhargavastra. Use of Brahmastra, detrimental to human welfare, was forbidden. When all other weapons got exhausted Brahmastra was applied and the target was inevitably pre-determined. Considering its destructive power many people compare it to a nuclear weapon.

Brahmashirastra is described as four times stronger than Brahmastra. This weapon is believed to have originated from the four-faced power of Brahma, the creator of the world. It is said that this weapon caused meteor shower on the target. Destruction power of Narayani weapon, donated by Vishnu, is comparable to that of modern missiles. Power of Bhargavastra is similar to that of Brahmashirastra. According to the Purans, if hit by this weapon, that region (target) was reduced to ashes.

As described in Mahabharat, Pashupatastra: donated to Arjun by Shiv, was stronger than Brahmastra, Narayanaastra, Agneastra (weapon given by Agni, god of fire) or Varunastra (weapon given by Varun, god of water). This weapon could also be operated by wink of eye. It makes us think that there was some electronic sensor –like device that could be controlled by the operator’s eye.

According to Vedavyas, the Dwapar era ended and the Kali era began during the period of Mahabharat. After the horrific consequences of millions deaths and ultimate degradation of morality the new age begins. All these destructive weapons hint at total destruction and annihilation. Then, was there any motivation of a superpower like nuclear energy behind the weapons used in that war? Even today all these questions amaze the readers of Mahabharat. 1005


The writer is a former Commissioner of Taxes