Note: I posted this to my old vediculture Yahoo group back in 1999, titled as the Vedic Buddha Date. As this website serves as a depository of the past 26 years of my work, some of it may have dated informationn, missing data etc. This article, in particular, has been used as a source by several scholars who found it credible. It therefore represents a unique contribution to the study of Buddha and the Buddhist historical timeline.
Below I have compiled a quick overview from the writings of Prof Prasad Gokhale from the University of New Brunswick, Canada, on the subject of the Vedic Date for Lord Buddha’s appearance. Also note that the British date of 800 AD for Adi Shankaracharya is incorrect as is the date for Chanakya Pandit, Chandragupta Maurya and the Gupta dynasty. Sincerely, Vrin Parker
Two major sects of Vaidik Dharma, namely, that of Jaina and Buddha (1800 B.C.), rose and assumed a large following during this period. One of the greatest philosophers in Hindu history, and perhaps in world history, Aadi Shankaracharya also flourished in this era (500 B.C.).The rise of Arya Chanakya and Chandragupta of Maurya dynasty (1530 B.C.), and the historical evidence to the golden age of the Hindus under the umbrella of the Gupta dynasty (325 B.C.) also occured during this period.. Evidence testifies that Buddha and Aadi Shankara lived 1800 B.C. and 500 B.C respectively.
The “golden age” in India was ushered with the rise of the Gupta dynasty. It was Chandragupta of the Guptas, NOT THE MAURYAS, who reigned over the Indian empire around 325 B.C., a time when Macedonian Alexander had invaded India.The currently established chronology of India initiates with the invasion of the so-called aryan race in 1500 B.C., which ruthlessly and forcefully subdued the original inhabitants of the land, imposing upon them a alien language and culture.
The invading hordes settled down on the banks of river Sindhu (Indus), and within few centuries (1200 B.C.), complied the Veda. Subsequently, the Brahmanas, Samhitas, Puranas and numerous other scriptures were composed. Where does the Ramayan and Mahabharat fit in? Some say that the Ramayan follows Mahabharat and some opine otherwise.
In all this anarchy of Indian histography, the probable date of Mahabharat ranges between 1000 B.C.to 300 B.C.The identification of Sandrocottus (325 B.C.) of the Greeks with Chandragupta Maurya by Sir Jones was considered to the “sheet anchor” and based on this assumption, a chronology of Indian history was constructed. THE DATE WHEN GAUTAMA BUDDHA PROSPERED WAS CALCULATED FROM THIS SHEET ANCHOR TO BE AROUND 500 BC, and the dateline of Aadi Shankara was put in 800 A.D.
The Gupta Dynasty, whose reign ushered a Golden Age in India, were placed in the 4th century A.D.Examination of the Rgved, Puraan and other texts provide dates of events that took Indian history, at times, back to thousands of years. However, since these dates contradicted the prevalent views of Europeans historians, the saunskrut texts were academically attacked in an attempt to disprove the authenticity of the annals.
For example, the European Indologist Maxmuller, tried the interpret the astronomical evidences to prove that the observations recorded in the Hindu scriptures are imaginary, “pious frauds” created by the cunning Brahmanas. Numerous references which were anachronous to the particular time-frames were either considered as unauthentic and unreliable.
No attempt was made to recheck and reevaluate the presumptions and basis on which the chronological structure was built……..Sage Buddha is also considered as yet another avataar, and the time he prospered is determined below. However, to determine the age when Buddha flourished requires finding dates of some other events in the course of history.
The datelines of Maurya Chandragupta and his grandson, Maurya Ashoka, are considered in the following two sections.14. Gautam Buddha —————– Modern history tends to inform readers that Gautama was born around 550 B.C. and died after about 80 years. Pandit Kota Venkatachalam, writes in his book “The Age of Buddha, Milinda and King Amtiyoka and Yuga Purana” that, “Due to his wrong identification of Maurya Chandragupta as the contemporary of Alexander, the history of Bharat has been shifted by 12 centuries (and) it is the Chandragupta of the Gupta dynasty who belongs to 327-320 B.C.”
Thus, due to the confusion in pinpointing properly the “sheet anchor” of Indian history, Lord Buddha’s antiquity has been underestimated by about 1200 years. Now that Chandragupta Maurya reigned in 1550 B.C. (instead of 325 B.C.), the time when the latter flourished can be calculation to be around 1850 B.C. (instead of 550 B.C.).
All the Puranas and another historical compilation titled Kaliyug- rajavruttanta, profess to describe the Magadha royal dynasties starting from the Bruhadratha to the Andhra lineages, after which the Magadha empire disintegrated. It is known from the Bhagavad Puraan that Buddha was 23rd in the Ikshwaku lineage. However, the list of Ikshwaku kings are not available. In order to determine the date of Siddharta (Buddha), it is necessary to find the contemporary kings in the Magadha genealogy.
According to different accounts, the Buddha was a contemporary of Kshemajita, Bindusar and Ajatashatru, the 31st-33rd kings of the Shishunaga dynasty. The Buddha was 72 years old when the coronation of Ajatashatru took place, that is in 1814 B.C. Going backwards, the date of Buddha’s birth becomes 1887 B.C. Since he lived for 80 years, the Buddha must have left the body in 1807 B.C.
This date can also be confirmed by purely referring to astronomical calculations, and what is correctly and exactly obtained as the date for Buddha’s nirvana is 27-3-1807 (Sathe, Age of Buddha). This date also explains the possibility of the existence of Buddhism in the second millennium B.C., as was rejected earlier.
The astronomical computations of the indologist-astronomer Swami Sakhyananda suggests that the Buddha belonged to the Kruttika period, i.e., in between 2621-1661 B.C. In his book “Chronology of Ancient Bharat” (Part4.Chap2), Prof. K.Srinivasaraghavan states the approximate time of Buddha to be 2259 years after the Bharata War (3138 B.C.). which turns out to be 1880 B.C.
Thyagaraja Iyer in his book “Indian Architecture” observes,” Here lies Indian Sramanacharya from Bodh Gaya, a Shakya monk taken to Greece by his Greek pupils and the tomb marks his death about 1000 B.C.” If the Buddhist monk went to Greece in 1000 B.C., then the Buddha must have lived at least a few centuries earlier. Somayajulu places Chandragupta Maurya in the 14th century B.C (ref: Dates in Ancient History of India).
This puts the Buddha three centuries earlier, i.e., in the 17th century B.C. A brief chronology of the events in Buddha’s life:Born in 1887 B.C., Renunciation in 1858 B.C., Penance during 1858-52 B.C and Death in 1807 B.C.There are various other calculations and evidences which point to the 1800 B.C. date. However, it is believed that, at least for this article, the presentation made above suffices to convince and ascertain the date of Buddha.