Saturday, September 17, 2011
DWARKA, THE CITY THAT SANK
By Ramesh Gune
Dr. S. R. Rao is convinced that the Indian epics and Puranas are not myth but historical facts. And the 66 year old ranking archeologist of India asserts that the legendary Lord Krishna and Arjuna, and the Mahbharata, existed in reality.
A student of the Mahbharata, Rao embarked eight years ago on a mission that in the end turned out to be the discovery of the ancient city of Dwarka, the capital of Lord Krishna’s kingdom, which sank in the Arabian sea.
The sholokas, or verses, in the Mahabharata that declared that the city of Dwarka would be submerged by a tidal wave was the inspiration for Rao to begin his underwater journey in the Gulf of Kutch.
“The new discovery has enabled historians and archeologists to re-examine the epics and Puranas and establish the historical facts” Rao - an emeritus scientist at the National Institute of Oceanography said in a recent interview with India Abroad.
He was in the United Stated to give a series of lectures at the University of California, Los Angeles, on underwater archeological investigations in India, with special reference to the discovery of Dwarka. That discovery, by Rao’s 15-member mission, was praised by the government of India and the Indian news media. The Department of Science and Technology described it as a “discovery of the century that has opened up new fields of research in the ocean.”
Rao was featured on Indian television programs, and major Indian news magazines played his achievement in a big way.
He said a controversy describing the Mahabharata as an exaggeration of a family feud, leading to a war, and making a mythical figured called Krishna, was what prompted him to undertake the investigation.
“I wanted to prove the Dwarka is the legendary abode of Lord Krishna,” he said, adding that “an incident gave me an opportunity to go ahead in my plans of excavation.”
In 1979, he said, he demolished a modern two story building obstructing the view of the famous temple of Dwarkadhish in the present city of Dwarka.
And to everyone’s surprise, he said, a beautiful temple of Vishnu assignable to the ninth century A.D. was uncovered. Its roof was damaged by the sea, he reported, but the walls and plinth were preserved by the sand deposits.
The finding, he said, provided an incentive to probe lower levels of the sea to trace any earlier remains of the temple and townships. Further excavation by the digging of four trenches brought to light the remains of two more temples. The lower one was dated to the first century B.C., and the upper one to the second and fourth centuries A.D.
Deeper digging of up to 40 feet exposed the debris of a proto-historic settlement in which a distinct pottery known as lustrous redware was also found, he said. The same kind of pottery was found at another Mahabharata site on the southern coast of Somanath, he added.
The wave-rolled pottery suggested that the proto-historic settlement of Dwarka was destroyed by the sea.
According to Rao, there is a mention in the Mahabharata of a possible tidal wave that would swallow the entire city of Dwarka. “Those people were scientists; moreover they knew astrophysics, astrology and astronomy. They predicted the fate of Dwarka considering the star conjunction and its relation to the sea level.
“This unambiguous archeological evidence on shore,” - the finding of the pottery - “increased the possibility of finding the remains of the submerged city of Dwarka.”
The major discoveries of 1.5 kilometers seaward of Dwarka are the inner and outer fort walls of the city with a gateway complex flanked by bastions built on a boulder packing. One gateway led to the sea and the inner one to the River Gomati. A stony jetty where ships used to be berthed was also found along with triangular three-holed anchors near the base of the jetty.
Other things discovered during the investigation were prismatic-shaped anchors, pottery datable to 1500 B.C, two bronze arches (prabhavali) or frames of chariots, a marble statue belonging to the early historic period and parts of a boat wreck of the medieval period.
I have the book Mahabharata so I looked up references to Dwarka and sure enough I found several. This was a real place and the ocean rose and it sank. Here is one:
"May thy sons' success and triumph cheer a widowed mother's heart,
Grant me leave, Oh noble lady! for to Dwarka I depart."
Pious Krishna mounts the chariot, fondly greets his friends once more,
Leaves blue Jumna's sacred waters for his Dwarka's dear-loved shore."
And lastly: Yet thou partest, sinless Krishna, dearest, best beloved friend,
And to Dwarka's sea-washed mansions Krishna must his footsteps bend!"
Posted by P. Urial at 3:50 PM