A new documentary asks the question: history or myth?
I’m not sure when you’ll see the documentary on TV, but remember, here’s where you read about it first. It’s a 30-minute documentary that aims at giving evidence of the existence of Krishna, the eighth incarnation of lord Vishnu. Produced and directed by Manish Pandit, the film tackles the issue of whether his birth is “history or myth”. Does it succeed?
I’m not sure. Pandit’s immense research into the subject (he speaks to professors, researchers and believers) is commendable but it’s a controversial subject on which one cannot pronounce judgement within 30 minutes. Pandit does establish the birth of Krishna — very fascinatingly — with the help of astronomical, astrological and archaeological evidence. While Pandit, I hear, is still trying to finalise a channel to showcase this fascinating documentary, I think he might face a slight problem over sections where Hare Krishna converts (one of whom was readying to become a Catholic priest) speak about how they “didn’t find answers in the Bible or the Quran but in the Bhagwad Gita”. These are statements that might be labelled “controversial”. Take, for instance, Pandit’s interview with an African-American who candidly remarks: “Why wasn’t I handsome; why wasn’t I born in a different family? I was searching for answers but I was simply told that I was not to ask such questions. That’s when I turned to the Bhagwad Gita.”
It’s blasphemous, according to Christianity, to think that Krishna is actually the “Father” that Christ refers to. “Jesus,” explains another Krishna devotee, “is the son of god. Aren’t we all? He’s an exemplary son, but the Father, the pitamah, is really Krishna.” It’s just the sort of dialogue to find resentful voices among believers of another faith.
That the documentary will be successful on television is assured. Why? Because it moves from matters of the heart, of faith, to trace Krishna’s birth with scientific evidence. For instance, the documentary speaks to Rajesh Purohit, deputy director, Sri Krishna Museum, Kurukshetra, who gives evidence to prove that river Saraswati isn’t a mythical river but one that “supported a mighty civilisation”. He also talks about 200 archaeological sites spread along the 1,600-km course of the river. “There are coins that were discovered and showed Krishna and Balaram icons,” he adds. S R Rao, who excavated a 15th century BCE site on the west coast of Gujarat, tells Pandit that “This was Krishna’s Dwarka.” He shows a seal inscribed with a bull, unicorn and goat as mentioned in the epic Mahabharata.
The highlight, however, is Prof B N Narahari Achar’s views. A professor of physics at the University of Memphis, he shows Pandit astronomical references in the Mahabharata and performs sophisticated experiments. Achar uses planetarium software programmes that generate an exact picture of the sky for any given day and time, from any part of the earth. He explains the planetary positioning in detail while referring to the Mahabharata, and even arrives at the date of 3067 BCE as the year in which the infamous battle of the Kauravas and Pandavas took place.
There will be many reasons why this docu will find favour, but the foremost reason will be the precision with which the documentary approaches the subject of Krishna’s birth. In the end, you might not quite believe the findings, but I doubt that you will be able to question the faith with which this docu has been put together.