Business Line (May 27, 2010) carried a news from Associated Press titled "Divers explore ruins of Cleopatra's palace".
MSNBC carries the AP article and has a nice Slideshow: In search of Cleopatra’s palace. Being a western topic, I am sure this would excite the Western world. The tools and material support this expedition had is much superior to the Indian expeditions in the past on Dvaraka, some decades back. I was reminded about the exciting archeological work of Dr S.R. Rao in excavating "The Lost city of Dvaraka".
According to Dr. S R Rao - "The discovery of the legendary city of Dwaraka which is said to have been founded by Sri Krishna, 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 civilization from the Vedic Age to the present day." In an interview with The Hindu (November 20, 2002), Dr Rao explains how they went about the Dwaraka work -
We had no experience in marine archaeology. It was a new discipline to India. The Indian National Science Academy (INSA) gave us some money and we went to the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), Goa, as there were some divers there and started work in 1981. Real work started in 1982. We hired boats. First we found some evidence in Beth Dwaraka island because local tradition points to the antiquity of this compared to Dwaraka.
According to the Mahabharata Krishna built Dwaraka at Kushasthali - a fortress in the sea which is in ruins. Then he built another at the mouth of the Gomti river. AtKushasthali (Beth Dwaraka spelt Dvaraka) we found a wall (560 metres long) visible on the shore itself. Dating of pottery found here gave a date of 1528 B.C. So we were satisfied we were on the right spot. We unearthed an important find - a seal (mudra). The Mahabharata refers to how Krishna wanted every citizen to carry some sort of identity - a mudra.
ANCIENT FORTIFICATION: The long wall visible on the shore at Beth Dwaraka.
Besides plenty of pottery, we found an inscribed sherd with the following maha kacha shahapa (sea, king or protector). This is dated around 1600 B.C. while the mudra is dated to 1700 B.C. We found a 580 metre long wall.
The excitement came when we found the mudra and the inscription. That was the confirming factor as by mere date one could not say it is Dwaraka. The Mahabharata
mentions the city having 50 openings. We found about 25 or 30 bastions. There must be more because they must have protected the wall against currents. On the bastion invariably there are window openings. So that may be the reference.
Hindu wisdom info website (www.hinduwisdom.info) contains a nice compilation of Dwaraka related news items. Some excerpts from the website -
Sri Krishna is a towering personality and it is difficult to separate the human aspect of his life from the divine in Krishna concept. He is a grand mystery and everyone has tried to understand him in his own way, according to his spiritual light or vision. The Yogis considered him to be the absolute truth, the Gopis the highest object of love, the warriors as an ideal hero, Kamsa as an object of fear and Sisupala as an object of hate.
Whether one thinks of him as an object of love or hate, one attains him. Yudhishthira attained him through friendship and Narada by devotion. Krishna is the embodiment of intellectual and spiritual glory. No other single idea has so much influenced the course of India's religion, philosophy, art and literature as the life and personality of Krishna. As a child he was wonderful, as a youth he was physically most perfect and beautiful. as an intellectual he was the very embodiment of Vedic scholarship and his teachings in the Gita embody the immortal message of desire less action, knowledge and single-minded devotion. "As a fighter he was without rival, as a statesman most shrewd, as a social thinker very liberal, as a teacher the most eloquent, as a friend never failing, and as a householder the most idea." It is with his help that the Pandavas were able to overcome all opponents and win the battle of Mahabharata.
In the words of Annie Wood Besant (1847-1933) - "He (Krishna) is so fundamentally the God, who is human in everything, who bends in human sympathy over the cradle of the babe, who sympathizes with the play of the youth, who is the friend of the lover, the blesser of the bridegroom and the bride, who smiles on the young mother when her first born lies in her arms, everywhere the God of love and human happiness; what wonder that his winsome grace has fascinated the hearts of men."
Listen to The Bhagavad Gita podcast
- By Michael Scherer - americanphonic.com.
Dwaraka has a special importance as one of the major Hindu pilgrim place, known as the capital of Lord Krishna's Kingdom. It is also an important historical monument. The region of the west coast, where Krishna was to settle the Yadavas was full of flowering and fruit-bearing trees. Here grew the nagacampas, grapes, coconut trees and many others. It was the land of the hunter Ekalavya. Dronacarya had also lived here. Krishna decided to built a new city here and laid the foundation at an auspicious moment. He named the new city Dvaravati. Much later the poet Magha in his Sisupalavadha, sarga2, describes in slokas 31 onwards, the city of Dwaraka, sloka 33 can be translated:"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 came out tearing asunder the sea."
Literary texts like the Mahabharata, Harivamsha, Sijupdlavadha and Puranas contain traditions about foundation of Dwaraka, its planning and glory. Before the legendary city of Dwaraka was discovered some scholars were of the view that the Mahabharata being only a myth it would be futile to look for the remains of Dwaraka and that too in the sea. Others held that the Mahabharata battle was a family feud exaggerated into a war.
The Bhagavad Gita has influenced great Americans from Thoreau to Oppenheimer. Its message of letting go of the fruits of one’s actions is just as relevant today as it was when it was first written more than two millennia ago.
Refer to Bhaja Govindam - kamakoti.org.
Listen to The Bhagavad Gita podcast
- By Michael Scherer - americanphonic.com.
* * *Excavations done by Dr. S. R. Rao at Dwaraka prove that the descriptions as found in these texts are not to be discarded as fanciful but are to be treated as based on actualities as seen by their authors. The architecture of the old Dwaraka of Shri Krishna is majestic and wonderful. The great poet Premanand has in his "Sudama Charit" described its splendid beauty and majesty. Dwaraka is mentioned as Golden City in Shrimad Bhagvad Gita, Skand Purana, Vishnu Purana and also in Harivansha and Mahabharat.
Dwaraka on mainland which was one of the busiest ports of the Mahabharata Period met a sudden end due to the fury of the sea. After the Mahabharata War Krishna lived for 36 years at Dwaraka. At the end, the Vrshnis, Bhojas and Satvatas destroyed themselves in a fratricidal feud at Prabhasa but Krishna did not interfere to save them. The portends of destruction seen by Sri Krishna who advised immediate evacuation of Dwarakaare stated in Bhagavata Purana. Dwaraka abandoned by Hari (Krishna) was swallowed by the sea. The submergence took place immediately after Sri Krishna departed from the world.
Interesting descriptions about its construction are found in Puranas.
"Fearing attack from Jarasangh and Kaalayvan on Mathura, Shri Krishna and Yadavas left Mathura and arrived at the coast of Saurashtra. They decided to build their capital in the coastal region and invoke the Vishwakarma the deity of construction. However, Vishwakarma says that the task can be completed only if Samudradev, the Lord of the sea provided some land. Shri Krishna worshipped Samudradev, who was pleased and gave them land measuring 12 yojans and the Lord vishwakarma build Dwaraka, a "city in gold".
This beautiful city was also known as Dwaramati, Dwarawati and Kushsthali. Another story says that at the time of the death of Shri Krishna, who was hit by the arrow of a hunter near Somnath at Bhalka Tirth, Dwaraka disappeared in the sea.
The information and material secured through underwater excavation off Dwaraka corroborates with the references to the City of Dwaraka, made in the Great Epic Mahabharata and various other Sanskrit literary works. In Mahabharata, there is a specific account about the submerging of Dwaraka, by the sea which reads thus:
Sculpture of Vishnu from onshore excavation, Dwaraka.
(image source: The Lost City of Dvaraka - By S.R. Rao).
* * *
"The sea, which had been beating against the shores, suddenly broke the boundary that was imposed on it by nature. The sea rushed into the city. It coursed through the streets of the beautiful city. The sea covered up everything in the city. Even as they were all looking, Arjuna saw the beautiful buildings becoming submerged one by one. Arjuna took a last look at the mansion of Krishna. It was soon covered by the sea. In a matter of a few moments it was all over. The sea had now become as placid as a lake. There was no trace of the beautiful city which had been the favourite haunt of all the Pandavas. Dwaraka was just a name; just a memory."
The importance of the discovery of Dwaraka lies not merely in providing archaeological evidence needed for corroborating the traditional account of the submergence of Dwaraka but also indirectly fixing the date of the Mahabharata which is a landmark in Indian history. The Thermoluminiscence date of the pottery from Bet Dwaraka which is also connected with the Krishna legend is 3520 years Before Present. Identical pottery is found in the submerged city of Dwaraka. Thus the results have proved that the account in Mahabharata as to the existence of a beautiful capital city of Dwaraka of Sri Krishna was not a mere figment of imagination but it did exist.
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The Dwaraka discovery doesn't find much mention in the Indian media. The mass media and the academic community would generally pass of Mahabharata and Sri Krishna as myth and poetic imagination. The same mass media would hold Cleopatra news as gospel truth. Because it is from Western world. Whether the academics accept or not and whether the Indian media accepts or not, for the common man and woman of this great land, Sri Krishna is no myth. HE continues to inspire millions in their day to day life.