To the faithful, everything mentioned in the Mahabharata is true to the very letter, whereas the skeptic holds that the epic is nothing more than a mere figment of imagination. How, then, can one ascertain the truth? It is here that archaeology comes to our rescue.
In 1951-52, Professor B.B. Lal excavated the key-site of Hastinapura, situated on the bank of the Ganga, in Meerut district of Uttar Pradesh. Over here he encountered in the lower levels a settlement which was distinguished by a characteristic pottery called the Painted Grey Ware, assignable to circa 1100-800 BCE. This PGW Culture has since been discovered at all the Mahabharata sites – a feature which binds them together.
The combined evidence of archaeology and literature duly establishes that the Mahabharata is not a figment of imagination but has a basis in historical reality. At the same time, it is on record that the epic underwent eleven-time inflation – from 8,800 to 100,000 verses – and hence it is difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff. But let not the precious wheat be thrown away with the chaff.