Monday, April 7, 2008

Yugadhi & Vishu – The New years at their appointed times!

It is time again to think about the New years
-the chaithra New year (Yugadhi) and
the Chithra varusha pirappu that is to come in a few days.



Fortunately for us,
Rajasekhara Reddy is less aware of sky-high powers,
unlike his counter-part (Karunanidhi) in Tamil nadu
and Yugadhi is passing off silently, yet gloriously.

We have to wait and see what Karunanidhi is going to say
on / about Chithra varusha-p-pirappu,
which Tamils are anyway going to celebrate as their New year.
The unprecedented crowd at the Kalyana uthsawam of
Thirupathi Venkatachalapthy at Island grounds in Chennai
- a crowd that came on its own volition –
makes one feel assured that mortals like Karunanidhi are after all mortals and
their ramblings are nothing but the cries of the ignorant.
Come whatever they say, the Vishu is going to come at the appointed time.


The New year comes and goes with its deep-rooted meanings
and I thought I can share what I know.



Lunar year.

Ancient Vediks used a combined Luni- solar calendar.
Their yuga consisted of 5 years of luni-solar years known as
Pancha varshathmaka yuga” which had
an ascending and a descending phase of two rounds of lunar years
coinciding with solar years.

These years were named as 
(1) Samvatsara lorded by Agni
(2) Parivatsara lorded by Sun (Arka)
(3) IdAvatsara lorded by Moon
(4) Anuvatsara loded by Prajapati 
(5) Idvatsara lorded by Rudra.

These five years constituted one Yuga. 
The first day of the Yuga and also 
the individual year of this Yuga started 
on the day after the conjunction of Sun and Moon 
before the entry of Sun into Ashwini. 
Thus this day is Yuga- adhi- Yugadhi.

These Yugas, originally formed as part of Jupiter cycle 
are also about years of the Lunar cycle or Chandramana. 
Lunar month is useful for identifying the time
for sacrificial or religious works.
It also serves as a good time keeper.

For instance we know that this day is so known as Kalpaadhi!
The present kalpa, Shwetha varaha kalpa started on this day.
Today is the Kalpa-adhi day

The beginning month of the year is known for many beginnings.
The second day of this lunar month, (shukla paksha dwithiyai)
marks the birth of Krutha yuga.

The fifth day (shukla paksha panchami)
marks the birth of Koorma kalpa.

On the 7th day in this month (shukla paksha sapthami)
Ganga was born.
That day is known as Ganga sapthami.

The 13 th day (shukla paksha thrayodhasi)
marks the birth of Mathsya avathara.

On the 5th day in Krishna paksha of this month
was born Varaha.

This means the land form was lifted from the waters
on a Krishna paksha panchami day in the lunar month of Chaithra.

Thus one of the purposes of calendar in the Sanatanic society was
to accurately record the events.
This method is useful in tracking the past.

While the lunar calendar is used for civil purposes, that is,
for fixing time for doing works for humans,
Solar calendar helps to locate time in cosmic scales.



Solar year.

From Surya siddhantha and many verses from Vedas and Brahmanas,
we come to know that the onset of spring season marked the beginning of the solar year.
This season began on the day of Vernal equinox,
when ecliptic cuts the celestial equator in the northern hemisphere.

The texts speak about
the solar system and the movement of the sun
around the zodiac as Vishwam, or Vishnu
who is present everywhere
and who treads by three steps,
one step at uttarayana and another at dakshinayana while,
his highest step at heavens - at the vernal equinox.
This highest step marks the onset of the new year.



In Rig veda mandala 1- 105 -4 to 6 on ‘Vishnu –Indra’, it is said,

“4-We laud this manly power of him the Mighty One, preserver, inoffensive, bounteous and benign;
His who strode, widely pacing, with three steppings forth over the realms of earth
for freedom and for life.

5 -A mortal man, when he beholds two steps of him who looks upon the light,
is restless with amaze.
But his third step doth no one venture to approach, no, nor the feathered birds of air
who fly with wings.”

The movement of the sun around the zodiac is
said to be the travel of Vishnu in a rounded wheel of 90 x 4 steeds.

“6 -He, like a rounded wheel, hath in swift motion set his ninety racing steeds
together with the four.
Developed, vast in form, with those who sing forth praise,
a youth, no more a child, he cometh to our call.”



Equinox was considered to be the head of the year.
Year was decided in terms of seasons
and the year always started in Spring season (vasanta ritu)

From Rigveda,
(1-104-5 on Vishnu)
“ May I attain to that his well-loved mansion where men devoted to the Gods are happy.
For there springs, close akin to the Wide-Strider, in Visnu's highest footstep.”

It is repeated is Aitareya brhamana (1-2-3)
and Taittriya Brahmana (3-10-4-1)
that the head of the year is spring season and
the front and back parts are the 2 ayanas.



Shifting equinox and shifting years.

From the available records in Vedas,
we know that once
Vernal equinox occurred in the star Maga in the constellation of Leo.

Going by the rationale mentioned in Veads and other Brahmana texts,
we deduce that the year started at that time,
which was in the present day AavaNi.

It is started in Aani when the equinox occurred at Punarvasu.

Going by the calculations we know that the year started
in Vaikaasi in krishna’s times.
The equinox was in Rohini when Krishna was born.

From the dasa computation that we have to day, we come to know
that this computation was made when the equinox was at Krittika star.

This system beginning with the Sun by lording Krittika star
seems to have been made
when the sun attained it equinoctial position in Krittika star.

But today, this position had moved back by more than 30 degrees.
The last time the correction was made was 2000 years ago.

Contrary to what the fans of Karunanidhi have said,
the saka years were not named merely after the kings.
There are some astronomical significance to the start date.

Calculations show that that the Vikrama year tallies
with the sun entering ashwini on the equinoctial day.
In Vedic and siddhantic parlance, it is about the
second or highest step of Lord Thrivikrama in the heavens.
Hence it was named as Vikrama year.

A few years later than the beginning of Vikrama sakaptha,
Salivahana sakaptha was initiated.
Here again there is no authentic justification
that this was named after a king or his dynasty.

This seemed to have come into existence
after making some corrections to the equinoctial position.

Almost all inscriptions that were made later to this time,
have recorded their periods in terms of salivahana sakaptha.
1929 years have lapsed after this sahaptha was initiated.
The equinox is well behind the time than it was in those days.

The Vedic society was making continuous corrections
in equinoctial time.
They were constantly observing the Nature and recommending corrections.
One can find 5 and not 6 seasons (ritus) in Aitareya brahmana
(hemantha & sisira together as one ritu)
making us deduce that
the four months spanning these 2 ritus
were identical at that time,
making them regard it as a single ritu.
Perhaps this refers to the time period soon after the end of Ice age 
when the land was not heated up much as it is now
and cold conditions prevailed for more days. 

But in the absence of expertise, competence and authority to initiate changes,
it is hazardous to call for making corrections to year
on the basis of vernal equinox.

Instead we shall look for
pramanas from texts
for sticking to the present state – that of sun entering Ashwini (aries).

Presently the equinox happens at Uttrattadhi padam-1,
which more or less occurs in the middle of March and not in April.
We do have pramanas from texts which authenticate
the entry into Ashwini
as the beginning of year.

Many Samhitas mention the zodiac as a personification of Kala purusha.
The kala purusha has as his head the constellation Aries that begins with Ashwini stars.

The spring was considered as the head in Vedas and Brahmanas.
Aries was considered as the head in Samhitas.

Nowadays even seasons have undergone changes.
The 6 season rotation no longer happens 
the way they did in those times. 
Hot seasons prevail for most part of the year. 

It is only proper not to depend on seasons and
instead consider the entry of the Sun in Ashwini
as the beginning of the year.

The sun’s entry is connected with many auspicious things
in many verses in Rig veda and Brahmanas.

“Like the sun’s progress in a day in Ashwini,
may the deities give us Ayush” so goes a prayer of Rig veda.
Besides long life, the Ashwins are capable of removing the foes,
bringing out germination, granting progeny
and curing all diseases

(Rig veda HYMN CLVII. Asvins:-

4 - Bring hither nourishment for us, ye Asvins Twain;
sprinkle us with your whip that drops with honey-dew.
Prolong our days of life, wipe out our trespasses;
destroy our foes, be our companions and our Friends.

5 - Ye store the germ of life in female creatures, ye lay it up within all living beings.
Ye have sent forth, O Asvins passing mighty, the fire, the sovrans of the wood, the waters,

6 - Leeches are ye with medicines to heal us, and charioteers are ye with skill in driving.
Ye Strong, give sway to him who brings oblation
and with his heart pours out his gift before you. )

Aries is known as Adya and Pisces as Antyam,
making it known that Aries is always at the beginning and Pieces always at the end.

Aries with Ashwin is known as Chagi and Vishwa Bheshaji
indicating that it overcomes all evils and cures all diseases.

So it is apt to begin the year with the entry of Sun into Aries (Ashwini).



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