Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Resolving the mystery of Saptha rishi cycle.

The research paper by Dr Narahari Achar on reckoning time on the basis of ancient vedic sources is given below.

The Kalpa, Yuga, Manvanthra etc are discussed in this ipaper. Of interest to me are the information on the 28th star of the Zodiac, the Abhijit and the Saptha rishi cycle.

Abijith is included in some Jyothishic chakras – mostly in Vaastu sastra, (the upa veda of Atharvan veda) and I will write on them later. Somehow I am not convinced of the explanations given so far by scholars on its exclusion. I strongly think that unraveling the secret of its omission will solve many issues that include a probability of earth’s change in speed and orbit sometime in the past.

The other information found in this ipaper is on the Saptha rishi charka.

The reference to this cycle is found in the literature from Kashmir.

No one exactly knows the duration of this cycle though by one account it is said to be of 3600 years.

By another reckoning its time period is 2700 years.

Since the name is Saptha rishi chakra, there is a confusion on how to segment these years into 7.

If we take 3600 years, then that may be about 10 years in each degree of the zodiac.

10 years comprise of two yugas of Vedic period – one yuga comprises of 5 years of the Luni-solar calendar wherein the extra month of the moon is adjusted. Generally everything comes as a pair – an upward and a downward or a positive and a negative or day and night or man and woman and so on. The concluding verse of Pursuha sookhtham defines the duality of purusha (hreeschate…) by quoting them. Many Upanishads too speak about the various pairs.

If we go by that logic of pairs, 10 year duration make a pair of 2 pancha varshaathmaka yuga. The pair moving in 360 degrees may constitute a cycle.

But why this is called as Saptah rishi cycle is a question here.

Since the Saptha rishis refer to the 7 stars of Ursa Major and precession is taking place with reference to it, we need to have more inputs to substantiate this.

The other time period is 2700 years, This has been easily accepted period by many because this could mean 100 years each in the 27 stars of the zodiac. One popular source for this is a puranic mention of Saptharishis residing in each star for 100 years.

Dr Narahari Achar in his ipaper depends on the verse 1-164-11 from Rig veda for arriving at this number (2700).

The hymn is on “Vishvadevas”, the Sun on its journey on the chariot driven by seven horses.

Every verse contains an implied reference to the sun’s movement around the zodiac.

But a mysterious reference to number 720 comes in the 11th verse of this hymn. It says,

“Formed with twelve spokes, by length of time, unweakened, rolls round the heaven this wheel of during Order.
Herein established, joined in pairs together, seven hundred Sons and twenty stand, O Agni.”

Dr Achar says that by a re-arrangement of the words in this verse, we can say that the number is 2700.

This is 100 times 27 - 27 referring to the 27 stars of the zodiac.

But this is difficult for me to accept.

It is because – as I found with other verses – this verse also seems to indicate a Jyothisha principle.

The movement of the sun around the zodiac happens at the rate of 1 degree a day and is completed in 360 days. This 360 degree zodiac is ‘twelve spoked’ (said in this verse) into twelve signs. This verse further says “ joined in pairs together”. That means each sign has pair. It is true that Jyothisha tells about a pair in each sign! The pair is known as ‘hora’ - the Surya hora and the Chandra hora.

The sequence of the hora alternates with the signs. That is, in odd signs the first half is surya hora and the second half is Chandra hora. In even signs the reverse happens – first is Chandra hora and the second is surya hora. The hora only determines the wealth that one gets.

If we look at the previous verses of this hymn it talks about the fathers and mothers and the about the cows. The surya and Chandra hora signify father and mother.

The cow signifies ‘kaama dhenu’ that gives wealth.

And Hora in Jyothisha reveals the wealth that one gets.

Now we have to see how there are 720 divisions around the zodiac.

This can be explained again from Jyothisha.

There is a method of making ‘nashta jathaka’ or ‘lost horoscopy’ for those who do not know their birth details to make their horoscope.

Originally told by rishis of unknown past, this has been re-written by Varahamihira in Brihat jataka. This is also found in other texts.

According to this, one half of the sign, namely the hora indicates an ayana – one half of the year.

The ayana has 6 months and 3 seasons. Look at the next verse (12th verse in the Rig vedic hymn)

“They call him in the farther half of heaven the Sire five-footed, of twelve forms, wealthy in watery store.
These others say that he, God with far-seeing eyes, is mounted on the lower seven-wheeled, six-spoked car.”

While constructing the Nashta jathaka, if the prasna lagna falls in first hora, then it means the person was born in uttarayana. If the prasna lagna falls in 2nd hora, then it is dakshinayana.

Thus the hora signifies ‘half of heaven’ as told in the above verse which is traveled by 6-spoked car (of 6 months)

This part is 5-footed and with 6 spokes. 6 spokes signify 6 months or 6 signs. The 5 foot tallies with Trimsamsa division of each sign into 5, lorded by 5 planets each (taara grahas). This finer division only determines the nature of a person! Thus in an ayana, 30 different combination can occur. Since each hora stands for one ayana,( as explained above for nashta jathaka) it signifies 30 divisions indicating the nature of the person born a particular division. Since 2 horas make a sign, we have 60 divisions in a sign. In this way for12 signs we there are 720 divisions (60 x 12)

It must be noted that the verse says “seven hundred Sons and twenty stand”.

The ‘son’ holds the further key to understand what this verse comes to say.

The son signifies the the birth of persons in 720 varying nature.

It says that the sun moves around the zodiac that is “on twelve forms”,

each of it paired (in horas with further sub-division of 30 each) forming 720 sons.

Let us read the verse once again the light of this explanation.

“ Formed with twelve spokes, by length of time, unweakened, rolls round the heaven this wheel of during Order.
Herein established, joined in pairs together, seven hundred Sons and twenty stand, O Agni”

In my opinion there is nothing in this context to suggest the Saptha rishi charka,

There are two more accounts also on which I find it difficult to agree with the narration on saptha rishi charka.

One is the subdivision of yuga cycles.

As per Surya siddhantha, the equinox point revolves 600 right angles or 150 cycles of revolutions in backward movement. This is equal to one Chathur yuga.

Therefore 15 cycles make the basic unit of a Chathur yuga.

The basic unit is 4,32,000 years (equivalent to kali yuga)

This unit is 15 times 28,800.

That is 28,800 x 15 = 4,32,000.

If there is a constant rate of precession at the rate of 80 years per degree, then this is the duration taken by the equinox to complete one revolution around the zodiac. At present the rate is 72 years per degree. At this current rate it works out to roughly 26,000 years

But this rate had not been the same in the past.

If we take into account the differences during different times, perhaps we will arrive at this number 28,800. In the absence of such data, we can safely rely on yuga-years to arrive at the duration at the basic level.

In my opinion, this duration of the sun moving backward around the zodiac constitutes the saptha rishi cycle. The pole star along with the seven stars (saptha rishi) completes one full cycle in this.

The second source I have is from sangam text, the 11th verse from Paripaadal.

This verse gives the astro details of the day when it was written. The horoscope can be constructed using those details. One extra information that it gives is about the location of Agasthya!

The verse says that Agasthya was in Gemini!

How was that calculated?

Today Canopus is identified as Agasthya.

This is seen in the Southern sky off Taurus and after Sirius.

Why this star is singled out and used in astrology?

If we get answers for these two questions, perhaps we can resolve the mystery around Saptah rishi charka.

The verse and the horoscope made on the astro-details are given below.

11. வையை

பாடியவர் :: நல்லந்துவனார்
இசையமைத்தவர் :: நாகனார்
பண் :: பாலையாழ்

‘விரி கதிர் மதியமொடு, வியல் விசும்பு, புணர்ப்ப,
எரி, சடை, எழில் வேழம், தலையெனக் கீழ் இருந்து,
தெரு இடைப்படுத்த மூன்று ஒன்பதிற்று இருக்கையுள்___
உருகெழு வெள்ளி வந்து ஏற்றியல் சேர,
வருடையைப் படிமகன் வாய்ப்ப, பொருள் தெரி 5

புந்தி மிதுனம் பொருந்த, புலர் விடியல்
அங்கி உயர் நிற்ப, அந்தணன் பங்குவின்
இல்லத் துணைக்கு உப்பால் எய்த, இறை யமன்
வில்லின் கடை மகரம் மேவ, பாம்பு ஒல்லை
மதியம் மறைய, வரு நாளில்____வாய்ந்த 10

பொதியில் முனிவன் புரை வரைக் கீறி மிதுனம் அடைய, விரி கதிர் வேனில்
எதிர் வரவு மாரி இயைக என இவ் ஆற்றால்
புரை கெழு சையம் பொழி மழை தாழ,

The planetary position made from the details of the above verse.


The full text of the Vedic hymn on Vishvadevas.

Rig veda 1-164


1.OF this benignant Priest, with eld grey-coloured, the brother midmost of the three is lightning.
The third is he whose back with oil is sprinkled. Here I behold the Chief with seven male children.
2 Seven to the one-wheeled chariot yoke the Courser; bearing seven names the single Courser draws it.
Three-naved the wheel is, sound and undecaying, whereon are resting all these worlds of being.
3 The seven who on the seven-wheeled car are mounted have horses, seven in tale, who draw them onward.
Seven Sisters utter songs of praise together, in whom the names of the seven Cows are treasured.
4 Who hath beheld him as he sprang to being, seen how the boneless One supports the bony?
Where is the blood of earth, the life, the spirit? Who may approach the man who knows, to ask it?
5 Unripe in mind, in spirit undiscerning, I ask of these the Gods' established places; For up above the yearling Calf the sages, to form a web, their own seven threads have woven.
6 I ask, unknowing, those who know, the sages, as one all ignorant for sake of knowledge,
What was that ONE who in the Unborn's image hath stablished and fixed firm these worlds' six regions.
7 Let him who knoweth presently declare it , this lovely Bird's securely founded station.
Forth from his head the Cows draw milk, and, wearing his vesture, with their foot have drunk the water.
8 The Mother gave the Sire his share of Order: with thought, at first, she wedded him in spirit.
She, the coy Dame, was filled with dew prolific: with adoration men approached to praise her.
9 Yoked was the Mother to the boon Cow's car-pole: in the dank rows of cloud the Infant rested.
Then the Calf lowed, and looked upon the Mother, the Cow who wears all shapes in three directions.
10 Bearing three Mothers and three Fathers, single he stood erect: they never make him weary.
There on the pitch of heaven they speak together in speech all-knowing but not all-impelling.
11 Formed with twelve spokes, by length of time, unweakened, rolls round the heaven this wheel of during Order.
Herein established, joined in pairs together, seven hundred Sons and twenty stand, O Agni.
12 They call him in the farther half of heaven the Sire five-footed, of twelve forms, wealthy in watery store.
These others say that he, God with far-seeing eyes, is mounted on the lower seven-wheeled, six-spoked car.
13 Upon this five-spoked wheel revolving ever all living creatures rest and are dependent.
Its axle, heavy-laden, is not heated: the nave from ancient time remains unbroken.
14 The wheel revolves, unwasting, with its felly: ten draw it, yoked to the far-stretching car-pole.
The Sun's eye moves encompassed by the region: on him dependent rest all living creatures.
15 Of the co-born they call the seventh single-born; the six twin pairs are called Rsis, Children of Gods.
Their good gifts sought of men are ranged in order due, and various in their form move for the Lord who guides.
16 They told me these were males, though truly females: he who hath eyes sees this, the blind discerns not.
The son who is a sage hath comprehended: who knows this rightly is his father's father.
17 Beneath the upper realm, above this lower, bearing her calf at foot the Cow hath risen.
Witherward, to what place hath she departed? Where calves she? Not amid this herd of cattle.
18 Who, that the father of this Calf discerneth beneath the upper realm, above the lower,
Showing himself a sage, may here declare it? Whence hath the Godlike spirit had its rising?
19 Those that come hitherward they call departing, those that depart they call directed hither.
And what so ye have made, Indra and Soma, steeds bear as 'twere yoked to the region's car-pole.
20 Two Birds with fair wings, knit with bonds of friendship, in the same sheltering tree have found a refuge.
One of the twain eats the sweet Fig-tree's fruitage; the other eating not regardeth only.
21 Where those fine Birds hymn ceaselessly their portion of life eternal, and the sacred synods,
There is the Universe's mighty Keeper, who, wise, hath entered into me the simple.
22 The, tree whereon the fine Birds eat the sweetness, where they all rest and procreate their offspring,-
Upon its top they say the fig is luscious none gaineth it who knoweth not the Father.
23 How on the Gayatri. the Gayatri was based, how from the Tristup they fashioned the Tristup forth,
How on the Jagati was based the Jagati,- they who know this have won themselves immortal life.
24 With Gayatri he measures out the praise-song, Sama with praise-song, triplet with the Tristup.
The triplet witli the two or four-foot measure, and with the syllable they form seven metres.
25 With Jagati the flood in heaven he stablished, and saw the Sun in the Rathantara Saman.
Gavatri hath, they say, three brands for kindling: hence it excels in majesty and vigour.
26 I invocate the milch-cow good for milking so that the milker, deft of hand, may drain her.
May Savitar give goodliest stimulation. The caldron is made hot; I will proclaim it.
27 She, lady of all treasure, is come hither yearning in spirit for her calf and lowing.
May this cow yield her milk for both the Asvins, and may she prosper to our high advantage.
28 The cow hath lowed after her blinking youngling; she licks his forehead, as she lows, to form it.
His mouth she fondly calls to her warm udder, and suckles him with milk while gently lowing.
29 He also snorts, by whom encompassed round the Cow laws as she clings unto the shedder of the rain.
She with her shrilling cries hath humbled mortal man, and, turned to lightning, hath stripped off her covering robe.
30 That which hath breath and speed and life and motion lies firmly stablished in the midst of houses.
Living, by offerings to the Dead he moveth Immortal One, the brother of the mortal.
31 I saw the Herdsman, him who never stumbles, approaching by his pathways and departing.
He, clothed with gathered and diffusive splendour, within the worlds continually travels.
32 He who hath made him cloth not comprehend him: from him who saw him surely is he hidden.
He, yet enveloped in his Mother's bosom, source of much life, hath sunk into destruction.
33 Dyaus is my Father, my begetter: kinship is here. This great earth is my kin and Mother.
Between the wide-spread world-halves is the birthb-place: the Father laid the Daughter's germ within it.
341ask thee of the earth's extremest limit, where is the centre of the world, I ask
1ask thee of the Stallion's seed prolific, I ask of highest heaven where Speech abideth.
35 This altar is the earth's extremest limit; this sacrifice of ours is the world's centre.
The Stallion's seed prolific is the Soma; this Brahman highest heaven where Speech abideth.
36 Seven germs unripened yet are heaven's prolific, seed: their functions they maintain by Visnu's ordinance.
Endued with wisdom through intelligence and thought, they compass us about present on every side.
37 What thing I truly am I know not clearly: mysterious, fettered in my mind I wander.
When the first-born of holy Law approached me, then of this speech I first obtain a portion.
38 Back, forward goes he, grasped by strength inherent, the Immortal born the brother of the mortal
Ceaseless they movelnopposite directions: men mark the one, and fail to mark the other.
39 Upon what syllable of holy praise-song, as twere their highest heaven, the Gods repose them,-
Who knows not this, what will he do with praise-song? But they who know it well sit here assembled.
40 Forunate mayst thou be with goodly pasture, and may we also be exceeding wealthy.
Feed on the grass, O Cow, at every season, and coming hitherward drink limpid water.
41 Forming the water-floods, the buffalo hath lowed, one-footed or two-footed or four-
footed, she,
Who hath become eight-footed or hath got nine feet, the thou sand-syllabled in the sublimest heaven.
42 From her descend in streams the seas of water; thereby the world's four regions have their being,
Thence flows the imperishable flood and thence the universe hath life.
43 I saw from far away the smoke of fuel with spires that rose on high o'er that beneath it.
The Mighty Men have dressed the spotted bullock. These were the customs in the days aforetime,
44 Three with long tresses show in ordered season. One of them sheareth when the year is ended.
One with his powers the universe regardeth: Of one, the sweep is seen, but his figure.
45 Speech hath been measured out in four divisions, the Brahmans who have understanding know them.
Three kept in close concealment cause no motion; of speech, men speak only the fourth division.
46 They call him Indra, Mitra, Varuna, Agni, and he is heavenly nobly-winged Garutman.
To what is One, sages give many a title they call it Agni, Yama, Matarisvan.
47 Dark the descent: the birds are golden-coloured; up to the heaven they fly robed in the waters.
Again descend they from the seat of Order, and all the earth is moistened with their fatness.
48 Twelve are the fellies, and the wheel is single; three are the naves. What man hath understood it?
Therein are set together spokes three hundred and sixty, which in nowise can be loosened.
49 That breast of thine exhaustless, spring of pleasure, wherewith thou feedest all things that are choicest,
Wealth-giver, treasure. finder, free bestower,-bring that, Sarasvati, that we may drain it.
50 By means of sacrifice the Gods accomplished their sacrifice: these were the earliest ordinances.
These Mighty Ones attained the height of heaven, there where the Sadhyas, Gods of old, are dwelling.
51 Uniform, with the passing days, this water mounts and fails again.
The tempest-clouds give life to earth, and fires re-animate the heaven.
52 The Bird Celestial, vast with noble pinion, the lovely germ of plants, the germ of waters,
Him who delighteth us with rain in season, Sarasvan I invoke that he may help us.

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Kaushal said...

I remain somewhat puzzled by the nature of the saptarishi cycle. We are appparently missing piece of the puzzle here . I need to do more digging to get an answer that is satisfactory

jayasree said...

The term Saptharishi cycle by its name and logic seems to convey the apparent revolution of the Saptharishi mandala (Ursa Major) which is observed by the precession of the sun around the zodiac.

The starting point for reckoning is 0 degress Libra which coincides with the evolution of the present race of humans at the end of Ice age. The movement is anti clock wise. Ramavatara can be located in this cycle when the spring equinox was at (near) 0 degrees Cancer and Krishnavatar at 0 degrees Taurus.(proved by astronomical tables)

At 0 degree Aries, half the saptharishi cycle was ended and with that the high of Vedic civilization too ended.

From 0 degrees Aries to 0 degrees Libra, the cycle is in its descending movement coming along with deterioration of Dharma in this part. Presently we are at 6 degrees Pisces and by time the equinox shifts to 0 degrees Capricorn, there will be complete anarchy.

Between 0 degrees Capricorn and 0 degrees Libra, a cooling period when regeneration of human culture and dharma will take place.

Again a new cycle of chathur yuga nature starts at 0 degrees Libra - the sign of Dharma and Balance.

We can produce some pointers from Vedic past to substantiate this kind of rationale. This cycle is useful in identifying Yuga dharma and mankind's evolution in terms of civilized behavior. The tasks of Saptharishis also is that helping mankind evolve in civilized behavior.

In this context, the puranic version of 100 years for each star does not fit in. But that also be accommodated to get a better picture. In my opinion, the 100 years convey something else than what is peripherally understood. Every daivik entity of the universe has a life term of 100 units!. Creator Brahma has 100 years of life. The Vedic injunction for life of man is 100 years ('Vedam praayam nooru'). The 100 year denomination is equal for all entities but the duration of each year is not equal for every type of entity! In this reckoning, Brahma has completed only 50 years! He is left with 50 more years of life. The 100 year duration for man is measured in a different yardstick. Similarly, the 100 years of a star of the zodiac must be of a different calculation. If we can identify it, this mystery of salptahrishi cycle can be convincingly explained.

In a broader sense, we can only identify the entire duration of the '100' years as being equivalent to 28,800 human years (solar years) which is the basic unit of Chathur yugas. The scientifically calculated duration at the present rate of precession is 25,000 to 26,000 years. But the precession had not been constant at all times. We do have records of the precession in the past from astrological works. What is deduced is that the entire period is 28,800 years if we take into account the actual rate of precession as it was happening.