By V. Thiruvenkatacharya, M,A., L.T., Head of the Department of Mathematics,Government Arts college; Rajahmundry & Anantapur.
I propose to fix the date of Buddha's death on purely astronomical grounds, and I shall give historical evidence which I have gathered in support of that date.
We find there is no definiteness in the dates adopted at present by various people about the date of Buddha’s death except that it occurred during the reign of Ajatasatru.
Swamikannu Pillai arrived at 1-4-478 B.C., as the date of Buddha’s death purely in astronomical grounds (vide Indian Ephemerics, page 472.) taking into consideration the dates of events in the life of Buddha as given by Bigandet's Life of Gaudama. But this date is not consonance with the other dates adopted by others. Again it should be remembered that astronomical dates are cyclical and should not be the sole guiding factor in fixing the date of any event unless supported by other evidences. It is my desire to take all the factors in my possession into consideration to fix the date of Buddha’s death leaving it to scholars to pronounce the final verdict on the whole work.
Arya Manju Sri Mulakalpa states that Ajatasatru was the ruler of Magadha when Buddha passed away.
After careful scrutiny and selection from the Puranas and after comparing these dates with the tests given in the Puranas under Saptarshi Saka or Era, the following is the list of regnal periods adopted by me from the beginning of Kaliyuga.
|S.No.||Dynasties||No of Kings||From-To B.C.||Period of years|
|9||Gupta||8||328 - 83||245|
I do not lay claim to any originality in giving these data. I have adopted this data from "The Age of the Mahabharata War", by N. Jagantatha Rao, and History of Classical Literature by Dr. M. Krishnamacharya. But what I claim is that I have given what I consider to be, unequivocal astronomical proofs about the correctness of these data and the proofs are given elsewhere in my article on the Andhra Saka.
It is to be remembered that 3139 B.C. is the date of the Mahabharata war, as the date of the war according to ithihasas is 37 years before the beginning of Kaliyuga commenced astronomically on 18-2-3102 B.C.
Since Lord Buddha was contemporary of Ajatasatru, a king of the Saisunaga dynasty, the regnal periods of individual kings of the Saisunaga dynasty are appended herewith:-
|5||Vidhieara or Binhisara||38||1853-1815|
So according to historical records the death of Buddha must have occurred between 1815 B.C., to 1788 B.C., that is during the rule of Ajatasatru.
The date of Buddha's death:- In the article ‘True and exact day of Buddha’s death," Swamikannu Pillai (Vide Indian Ephemeris, page 472) has quoted eight dates in the life of Buddha as collected by Bishop Bigandet in his "LIFE OF GAUDAMA” and by purely astronomical calculations shows that 1-4-478 B.C. is the date of Buddha’s death which satisfies all the data mentioned therein. But it is stated that Buddha died in the eighth year of the reign of king Ajatasatru and no attempt has so far been made to verify whether 478 B.C. is the eighth year of King Ajatasatru's rule. So I searched of the required year, satisfying all the dates given by Bigandet from 1815 B.C. to 1788 B. C., and to my wonder I noted that 1807 B.C. is the only year to be taken as the date of death of Buddha satisfying all the conditions. I give below all the dates corresponding to Christian Era. And I have used Swamikannu Pillai’s ephemeris in the calculations.
i. Kaudza Era given up on Saturday,1st of the month of Tabsong (Phalguna). Phalguna new moon ends at night on Friday 29th Jaruary 1955 B.C, As there is a convention to avoid a day with amavasya, Kaudza Era must have been given up on Saturday 30th January, 1955 B. C.
ii. Eetzana Era — Sunday, first of the waxing moon in Tagu(Chaitra). Chaitra new moon ends at 47 gh, 24 v.gh. on Saturday 27-2-1955 B.C. So the era begins on Sunday. 28-2-1955_54 B.C., reckoned as one year elapsed.
iii. Birth of Buddha~ year 68, Vaisakha Su. 15, Visakha, Friday 31-3-1886 is a Friday; full moon ends at 59 gh. 24 v.gh. vaisakha ends at 24 gh.
iv. Buddha leaves Kapilavastu year 96, Sunday, Ashadha full moon; Uttarashadha; enters solitude on Monday. 29-5-1859 B.C. is a Sunday with full moon ending at 16 gh. 48 v.gh on the next day, Monday. Uttarashadha begins at 50 ghats on 29-5-1859 with concurrent full moon.
V. Attainment of perfect wisdom. Year 103, Vaisakha full moon, Visakha Nakshatram, Wednesday, a little before day break. 3-4-1851 B. C, is a Wednesday with Visakha Nakshtram ending at 1 gh. 8 v.gh. and pournami ending at 11 ghati before sunrise.
vi. Death of Buddha's father, Suddhodana, year 107 full moon of Sravana (Waksong) at sunrise on Saturday. 25-6·1848 Pournami begins at 27 ghatis. This is no doubt a discrepancy and Swamikannu Pillai has also had a similar difficulty with his date. Sunday begins after sunrise on 26-6-1848 and just before sunrise it is Saturday with full moon satisfying the condition.
vii. Death of Buddha--year 148; Vaisakha full moon Nakshatram Visakha. Tuesday a little before day break. 27·3-1807 B.C. is a full moon (Tuesday) ending at 37 gh. 12 v. gh.
Vaisakha begins at 55 gh. 12 v. gh. on 26-3-18Q7 and ends at 1 gh. 12 v. gh. on 28-3-1807.
viii. A new religious Era commences in the year of Buddha’s death 148, on Monday, first of the month of Tabsong(Phalguna) the week day was possibly a Sunday which appeers in another version recorded by Bigandet. 12-1-1807 B.C., is Saturday Phalguna full moon, ending at 7 ghatis. So 13·1-18Q7 B.C., is a Sunday, the epoch of the new religious era.
CONCLUSION :- It has been proved on astronomical grounds that 27-3-1807 B.C., is the true end correct date of death of Buddha. It falls in the eighth year of the reign of king Ajatasetru. This date explains the possibility of the existence of Buddhism in the second milinnium B.C., as mentioned in Kalhana’s Rajatarangini and NepalVamsavali.
All the dates given in Bishop Bigandet's "LIFE OF GAUDAMA" in the Kaudza and Eetzana Eras have been verified with the dates in Christien Era. The dates tally accurately with 27-3-1807 B.C., as the date of Nirvana of Lord Buddha.
Since preparing the article Dr. D.S.Triveda has invited my attention to his proof that the Date of Lord Buddha is 1793 B.C. (Vide Bharatiya Vidya, Bombay, Vol. VIII pages 220-38)