Monday, March 22, 2010

Rama Navami – why celebrate Rama’s birthday on thithi and not on birth star?

We celebrate our birthday on the birth star falling in the solar month.

(Refer How to celebrate birthday. )

Birthdays of Gods are a different genre.

They are celebrated on the thithis in the respective lunar months.

Rama's birth day is not celebrated on his birth star, Punarvasu but on the thithi he was born. Let us see why.

A Thithi is different from a star.

When we speak about star, we actually refer to 1/ 27th portion of the circle of 360 degrees of the zodiac. This is equal to 13-20 degrees. Starting from zero degrees Aries, the sky (Zodiac) is divided into 27 equal parts and each part is known by a star present in that part.

Thithi is the distance between the Moon and the sun. The starting point is not Aries. The starting point is the conjunction of the moon and the sun (Amavsaya).

The distance from one conjunction to another is a circle which means 360 degrees. This distance is covered in 30 days. So in one day 12 degrees are covered. A Thithi thus has 12 degrees whereas the star has 13-20 degrees. The conjunction of a star and a particular Thithi will not be repeated every year.

For ordinary mortals like us, the birth star (birth star is the star in which moon transits on the day of birth) determines our thoughts, attitudes and life events.

For Gods, there is no such thing that a star can do to them!!.

Their birthdays are times for doing austerities and spiritual practices.

Thithi is best suited for such austerities.

The distance between the sun and the moon determines the time that will be helpful to do spiritual sadhana. The important thithis in this regard are the 4th (Chathurthi), 6th (Sashti), 8th (Ashtami), 9th (Navami), 11th (Ekadasi) and 14th (Chathurdasi).

On these thithis, gods namely Ganesha, Subrahmaya, Krishna, Rama, Vishnu and Rudra (respectively) are meditated upon. Meditation on these Gods on these respective thithis give desired results for a spiritual practitioner.

I am tempted to say that it is divine design that these Gods were born or associated with these thithis, so that mankind can extract maximum benefits from the respective spiritual practices by remembering respective gods on these days.

Per this, the birth of Rama or Krishna on the respective thithis is not a coincidence. It is divine Will.

Looking at the sky on these thithis, some special significances can be noticed.

Particularly Astami and Navami come with the sun and the moon at right angles to the earth.

The result is that the combined pull of the sun and the moon on these thithis is lowest on the earth on ashtami and navami. The combined Luni- solar effect on tides and water bodies is a well known scientific fact. Our body also contains lot of fluids that control our thoughts, works and the internal organ systems. The Luni-Solar pull affects these fluids too. But on the 8th and 9th thithis, the Luni- solar effect will be minimal on all water bodies including our body. Meditation or thought forces done on these thithis can sink deeper in us – in the absence of any disturbance from the Luni- Solar pull. It is perhaps to tap this advantage, Gods themselves decided to be born on these thithis!!

An interesting astrological feature about these thithis is that baring the 11th Thithi, all the others are what we call “Paksha Chidras” – or ‘weaknesses or holes in the fortnightly sojourn of the Moon’.

Instead of Ekadasi, Dwadasi is part of this group.

While the moon is moving in these thithis, it experiences some jerks. One can judge this by looking at the distances between the Sun and the moon.

Between Dwadasi and sashti (of any fortnight – waxing or waning) the moon comes within the strong grip of the Sun. Almost all the earthquakes of intensity that causes damage to the upper crust occurs when moon passes these thithis.

Our sojourn in the sky on these thithis seems to be in need of some divine protection. It is as though by the blessings on Lord Ganesha, we cross the Chathurthi, with the blessings of Lord Subrahmanya, we cross Sashti and with the blessings of Lord Shiva, we cross Chathurdasi. Every fortnight we remember these thithis and pray respective Gods.

Ashtami and Navami are completely away from this group.

They come with least Luni-solar effect. They are spiritual as well as celebration times.

Gokulaashtami and Rama Navami are both celebration times and times for Spiritual thoughts.

The effectiveness of these thithis in spiritual sadhana is the reason for celebrating the birthdays of Gods on thithis.


CodeNameV said...

Very interesting piece.

But ma'am, Koenraad Elst in this blog post writes that Hindus should start moving back to all astrological calculation based on stars and not on thithis. This according to him is correct.
Quoting him,

"Why does the Kumbha Mela start on 14 January? This, I am sorry to say to my Hindu friends, is based on a cosmic mistake. Circa 300 CE (when India had freshly adopted Hellenistic astrology with its 12-part Zodiac, replacing or supplementing the native Zodiac of 27 lunar asterisms), the tropical Zodiac, a geometrical division of the circle into 12 sectors of 30° tied to the cycle of the seasons, coincided with the sidereal Zodiac, i.e. the belt of visible constellations. The entry point of the sun into the sidereal constellation of Capricorn (Sanskrit: Makara) coincided with the winter solstice point, i.e. 0° of the tropical Capricorn. But the two Zodiacs have since been drifting apart at the rate of 1° in ca. 71 years. So now they differ by ca. 24°, and the festival originally meant to mark the winter solstice or Yuletide has drifted to 14 January and, given time, is bound to drift on all around the Zodiac. Yet, numerous Hindus say in all seriousness that at Makar Sankranti, on 14 January, "the sun starts on its northward course", which in fact it has done on 21 December."

I was of the opinion till I read this piece by him that thithi and star difference was because of suryamana and chandramana calanders. Turns out it was the effect of hellenistic astrology. Any comments?

kannabiran, RAVI SHANKAR (KRS) said...

Thanks for the explanation. Now we understand why thithis get tagged to Rama, Krishna, Vinayaka...

One small question!
Even though the thithis get tagged, is it only for the avatars?

The reason I am asking this is bcoz:
In many occasions, the appearance days of deities in temples is associated with nakshathirams only & not thithis!

Thiru Venkatam Udaiyaan = Purattaasi ThiruvONam
Senthil AaNdavan = Vaikasi Visakam
Thillai ambalavaaNar = Maargazhi Thiruvaathirai
Srirangam Periya PerumaaL = Revathi
etc etc...
and utsavams are celebrated on these nakshathirams only!

Any thoughts?

PS: I realized after typing that I am asking any thoughts? to "Non Random Thoughts"! ha ha ha! Good coincidence :)

jayasree said...

Dear CodenameV,

On thithis:-

Thithis and Yogas - the 2 angas of Panchanga are useful in determining the time of vrathas and other austerities. They are based on the relative distance between the sun and the moon and not on the shifting zodiac. While thithi is the distance of moon form the sun (every 12th degree marks a new thithi) Yoga is the addition of the distance covered by the sun and the moon in a day. These two determine the timing of many vrathams and austerities including Pithru karmas.

For example, among thithis, amavasya is suitable for paying obeisances to the pithrus. Among Yogas, Vaidruthi and Vyathipatha are suitable for paying obeisances to the pithrus.

We have numerous rules such as these for various purposes. They are INDEPENDENT of Sun's precession. For fixing any good muhurtha, all the 5 angas of Panchanga + lagna druva are essential. All these are very much in practice even today.

jayasree said...

On influence of Hellenistic astrology:_

Like Koenraad Elst, many are of the opinion that the 12 parts (signs) were borrowed from Greeks. All these people think that Vedanga Jyothisha is the only Jyothisha of the Hindus. They are totally ignorant of the existence of Astrology developed by 18 rishis, starting from the 4- faced Brahma deva.

You wont find 12 sings in Vedanga Jyothisha and this has made them think that signs were later adopted form the Greeks. The basic mistake they make is that Vedanga Jyothisha catered to fixing the right time for yajnas of the respective vedas - just as how Panchangas of today are used for fixing muhurthas (as explained above). You wont find any mention of signs in Pancahnga. There is no need for writing it down in a panchanga where only sun and moon based 5 angas are recorded for knowing the auspiciousness and inauspiciousness of a given time. Panchangas are modern versions of Vedanga Jyothisha. They dont constitute the entire body of Hindu astrology.

Signs have always been part of Hindu astrology. It is impossible to locate planets or stars without a backdrop of 12 part zodiac. Reference to stars are there in Vedas from early times. Such reference to stars can not happen without locating them in respective part of the sky which we call rasi.

Our astrology has numerous attributes given to signs. Even the pictures of the signs carry meaning which are useful in predictions.

For instance the Ram in Aries gets up first from the hind part whereas the Lion in Leo gets up from the front part.
The Ram is Prishtodaya and Lion is Seershodaya.

Based on these characteristics one can say the characteristics of a person born in these signs as a hesitant one / late starter for Aries and a bold one / a person with qualities to head or lead for Leo. What I said here is just a fraction of a numerous connections to the signs.

The Dharma, artha, kama, moksha angle and the dhatu, moola jeeva connected to signs can not be from outside Hindu Thought. The Dhatu, moola etc are helpful in finding out pariharas which is unique in Hidnu astrology only.

jayasree said...

On Makar shankaranthi and ayana:-

Makar shankaranthi is not about Northern sojourn of the sun. These two did coincide in the past, but that does not mean that Makar shankaranthi kept shifting. By its very name Makar shankaranthi means 'entry into Makar rasi (Capricorn)" This was not about Northern Ayana. Though our ancients were aware of precession of equinoxes very well before Greeks, they considered the actual location of Sun in Aries as the starting point. The zodiac was not a shifting one though sun's position with reference to celestial equator was shifting.

On Kumb Mela:-

Originally Kumba rasi is associated with the start of a New cycle in Brihaspatya mana or the Time scale based on the movement of Jupiter. This has 12 rounds of 5 years each totaling to 60 years. The Prabhava, Vibhava are the names of the years of this cycle but nowadays adapted to Solar cycle. We no longer follow the Jupiter cycle which was followed by the 'Devas'- inhabitants of the Northern hemisphere once.

The 12 round cycle of Jupiter originally started in Kumba masa (Aqaurius). Why Aquarious? It was the sign after Jupiter comes out of debility. After the conjunction with Sun in Aquarius, the new cycle starts.

Any new cycle begins after being 'touched' by the Sun - i.e., after conjunction with the sun. Examples:-
* Lunar month begins after amavasya - conjunction of moon with the sun.
* The day is counted (starts) from Sunrise.
* The thithi or star comes to use after sun 'touches' it - i.e., after sun rise.

Similarly after the sun touches Jupiter, in Kumba rasi, the new cycle starts. Further variations are based on local traditions by which we have 4 kumb melas nowadays.

jayasree said...

Thanks for asking Mr KRS.

Originally I thought of adding the explanation for your question in the article but could not fit it there.

The thithis are considered as birthdays for Gods. INSTALLATION of these deities in a temple are done preferably on the respective thithis only.
They are not just for avatars.
For example
Durga is associated with - Navami. Installation of Durga is done on Navami thithi.
Another one is Naga prathishtai - it is generally done on sashti.
In some traditions on Panchami.

Normally they will choose a day incorporating thithi and birth star too. But in most cases, thithi takes precedence.

For taking Mantra deeksha or mantra siddhi for a particular deity, again the thithi gets precedence. Thithis are powerful in channelizing thought forces to get specific results. Prominent example is Akshay thritheeya (I have written an article on this in this blog)

What you have mentioned are in the nature of festivals or celebrations.
There is a saying "Nithyotsavaihi mandhiram"
The beauty or greatness of a temple is to have festivals everyday.

Festivals are not same as Vrathams. In a vratham you fast and meditate. In a festival you will lavish with decorations and offerings.

In the article I have drawn attention to vratha - nature of thithis like Rama navami. People do fast until noon when Rama's birth took place. The choice of thithis (mentioned in the article) have a bearing on fructification of vrathams.

Hope I conveyed.

kannabiran, RAVI SHANKAR (KRS) said...

Thanks Jayashree ma,
for explaining from a point of vratams vs utsavams!

So Gokulashtami (Ashtami) is kinda vratam, and Krishna Jayanthi (Rohini) is kinda utsavam...Am I getting it right?

surya said...

Namastay Mam,

Very Good Article and very informative and at right time.

Its easy to pose questions or doubts, but to answer them one has to be very sincere in pursuit of knowledge regarding the topic. Reading your replies gave good understanding of the system elders followed. Thanks a lot.

NVS Prakasam.

jayasree said...

Dear Mr KRS,

Yes, thithis are for vrathams, but there are times when some stars also are observed for vrathams. The individual observes the vratham.

Let me explain.
There are 2 ways of celebrating Gokulashtami according to rishis - Suddhai and Viddhai. Suddhai is followed by those desirous of moksha and Viddhai is followed by those wishing to get mundane benefits.

In Viddhai, thithi takes precedence. Gokulashtami vratham (fasting) starts at the beginning of Ashtami thithi and ends at the end of the thithi. Rohini may or may not have started then or lasted for long hours in that thithi.

In Suddhai, the star at the time of sun rise is the deciding factor for celebration. Fasting is anyway done by the devotees, but they do the pooja without any expectation as they are steeped on Moksha- path - which demands that they don't even ask for moksha! That is an extreme condition and also a necessary condition that helps in renunciation of every kind of fruit of action.

I think I am going too deep into the subject.
Suffice it to say that thithis are suitable for ritualistic and spiritual sadhanas.

People used to fast on stars also such as on Shravana. Shravana is lorded by Vishnu. It is Suddhai way where fasting or meditation is not aimed at any fruit (except Moksha).

The utsavams in temples are star based where poojas, homas, feasting, processions etc are done involving the community.
One exception may be karthikai deepam.

On kaarthikai pournami, the emphasis is on Pournami (the thithi). That means it is connected to some fruits. Even if kritthikai star is not there at that time of moon-rise and even if there is a lunar eclipse, deepam must be lit. That helps in larger good - say, for averting epidemics and for good rainfall in the next season. It is also for the benefit of the ruler.

Perhaps the lighting of oil lamps in the damp and cold night(s) of Karthikai, keeps at bay the growth of harmful micro organisms thereby averting the outbreak of any epidemic.

The rainfall angle is perhaps connected to Paavai nonbu criteria which I have written in this blog and in

These details on how to perform SreeJayanthi and Karthikai deepam can be read in the astrological text called Kalaprakasika in this link

jayasree said...

Thanks Mr Surya

kannabiran, RAVI SHANKAR (KRS) said...

Thanks ma, for the wonderful details!

//The rainfall angle is perhaps connected to Paavai nonbu criteria which I have written in this blog and in

athai appave padichitten...neraya additional kELvi irunthuchi, not just one or finger on the lips and I am a quiet boy :)

jayasree said...

Dear Mr KRS,

>>athai appave padichitten...neraya additional kELvi irunthuchi, not just one or finger on the lips and I am a quiet boy :)<<

Better come out with your additional questions. I might have missed some salient points. I will also know where I missed and search for explanations.

If the source article you refer is articles, definitely there will be some questions as I have left scope for questions on rainfall at many places. The focus was Paavai nonbu as told in Tamil texts. I told the editor that I am reserving some explanations when asked by the readers. To my disappointment no one had asked till today.

Now you say that you have questions, better ask. If I don't know the answers, I will get into the subject again (rainfall form astrology and Paavai nonbu details in Tamil)to know more.

enna onnu, I lack the acumen to write short answers and interesting answers:) Otherwise, as far as I am concerned I am keen on knowing facts in and out and recording them here so that interested ones may be benefited.

I am expecting your questions - either here or in tamilhindu article on paavai nonbu.

jayasree said...

Dear Mr KRS,
I think i have not yet answered this question:)

>>>One small question!
Even though the thithis get tagged, is it only for the avatars?<<<

Nowhere it is said (in astrological texts) that thithis get tagged for avatars. What is said is that the lord of the thithi or star is worshiped on those thithis and stars.

Among thithis, lord of
Chathurthi = Ganapathy
Sashiti = Kumara (Subrahmanya)
Panchami = sarpa
Dasami = Naga (naga prarthishtai done on dasami too)
Dwadasi = Vishnu

Among stars
Thiruvadhirai = Rudran
Ayilyam = sarpam
Thiruvonam = Vishnu

The muhurtha rules for installation for deities lay specific stress on thithi-choice for the deity connected to it. I have given the deity - thithi combination in the article.

From these, it is seen that avatara is not the criterion.
For Ashtami, the lord is Parameswaran
For Navami, the lord if Vasu.

But our elders have opted for Krishna and Rama for these thithis. Only in these two thithis, avatara connection is seen.

Let us see some interesting coincidences and rationale in some cases(already I brought out some of them in the article).

The thithis mentioned in the article (4,6,8,9,14) are malefic thithis which are not suitable for mundane activities. Death, war, fire related activities, making weapons, cutting etc are best suited for these thithis in general. What is implied is that if one undertakes auspicious activities in those thithis, misfortunes will result, as the nature of those days will be to make happen what I said above.

You may dismiss this as rubbish.
I am not able to say so, because as a keen observer of the happenings around me, I can see these things happen!


jayasree said...

One instance is what was reported yesterday. There was a big fire in Kolkatta and there were 3 more fire accidents in different places yesterday. Right from the time Moon entered Martian constellation ( M-Sheersha) and came within the 10th aspect of Saturn and also got associated with the nodes, fire accidents had happened!

Moon in Martian star, and Mars in saturn's star and Saturn in Sun's star make a combination that ignites fire. (Mars and Sun are associated with fire). But we can not just like that say that whenever moon moves in Martian and sun's constellation, fire will break out. There must be present other features by association or aspect to make that happen.

In contrast, these thithis are more malefic - even in the absence of helping connection from other entities. It is better not to try out mundane jobs on these thithis.

Similarly look at Baranai and Kritthikai. They are lorded by Yama and Agni respectively. Solar days on these stars called as agni nakshathra days. Not just for the heat of summer, but also for the malefic nature of those days.

Moon's transit on these stars are also considered to be malefic on 3 counts.
1) travel will be a failure,
2) money lent on these days will not be returned.
3)sickness that starts on these days will prolong.

The first 2 are within our control. If we avoid those activities (travel and lending), it will be better.

Perhaps to deter people from venturing out on such prohibited activities, vrathams had been recommended. Particularly Kritthikai is earmarked for vratham.

The malefic thithis I mentioned in the article are known for failure in travel. In travel- muhurtha, the Paksha Chidra (these thithis are collectively known as this) are prohibited. These thithis also are earmarked for vrathams.

Similarly the chathur masa vratham stipulated for sanyasis seems to be aimed at reducing the inconvenience during rainy season.The sanyasis are supposed to keep moving from place to place. Movement in rainy season will be difficult. A vratham during those 4 months would be a better idea to avert inconvenience and also in tune with their principles.

The amazing feature in the case of thithis is that the thithis have some relevance in astronomical sense too, as moon moves around the earth.

The best part is Ashtami and Navami when the combined Luni-solar influence on earth will be minimal. The Gods have chosen those thithis for their avatars and that was well received by our elders who utilized them for the twin - benefits (avoidance of travel, meditation / fasting on gods).

Hope this explains.
Please feel free to ask questions, Mr KRS. I browsed your blogs and am convinced that you are genuinely asking these questions. I will try me best to answer. If you don't agree with my answer, do let me know.

CodeNameV said...

Thanks jayasree ma'am. Reading your and Koenraad Elst's blog gives so much of useful info.

This is the first time I am coming across this argument of various ways of looking at Hindu Astrology. Almost all the elders I talked to on this subject gave half baked answers. Elst's was the strongest on "hellenistic influences" so far and I think your reply is taking Elst's analysis into differnet dimension. I hope more on this topic on this blog further ahead.

These days, thanks to our hectic life styles, it is really tough find various things about our culture and our philosophies. Thirsty ones like me take a refuge under blogs like yours, Elst's and many others.

jayasree said...

Thank you Mr V.

I am very glad to know that the write up is useful.

Hindu system is a very organized body of knowledge. Astrology is goal oriented, i.e., using the knowledge of astronomy for the benefit of mankind.

'Sukha' is the goal of any vedic concept. Sarve janah sukhino bhvanthu. Even if there is an element of malefic nature in something, divert it for 'sukha' or your happiness - this is the way vedic religion works.

Please ask me questions or doubts if you have any, I am happy to search answers for them.

Raman said...

Your posts are very informative and full of facts. I appreciate the effort you put.

I wish you write about our Calendar system - dating from Kaliug. My question is simple - Do we have a calendar system which uniquely identifies a day? So that we can switch over to it, instead of writing 18 apr 2010 CE let us say we write 18 Chitrai nnnn Kaliug.

jayasree said...

Thanks Mr Raman.

Your suggestion is worth pursuing. I will discuss it with my mentor for taking it up as a research subject. But it calls for a lot of work other than brain work - of going out in search of old books. Olden texts are said to be available in Nepal's libraries. We dont know the fate of those books in these times of marxist resurgence.

What I can say for sure is that a system was in place in our country that meticulously recorded days right from the time of creation. A modified form of it is in use in astrology even today in deciding shadbala strength of a planet. We calculate varusha bala (Year's strength), maasa bala and vaara bala based on this system only. I dont know the original source of this system. What I studied was a re-computed system for easy calculation, that has 2-5-1827 as the beginning of the Epoch. That was a Wednesday. We take it as a cut-off day and calculate the above mentioned strengths from that only.

The last time a calender reform was done led to the formation of Vikrama sahaptha. That was the time when Sun was in zero degree Ashwini in precession. Zero Ashwini,Magam, moolam form three corners of an equilateral triangle. They form a vedha or vulnerability or critical points in space. It was akin to Trivikrama's posture. At that time rishis initiated the current Epoch. It started 2,945 years after the start of kaliyuga.

Later, for reasons unknown, it was replaced by Salvahana saphaptha.In most stone inscriptions,the reference is to salivahana sahaptha only.

Even then the practice was to identify each century as a saka varusham. By what name or number the identification of the saka varusham was done, is lost today. May be we have to search old texts to know them.

Currently we write time like this :- Yuga / sahaptha year number / varusha / masa / day.

I write this comment in
salivahana sahaptha 1932,
Vikrama sahaptha 2067,
Vikruthi varusha,
5th day of solar month of Chitthirai,
4th day of Sukla paksha adhika masa of vaikashi,
ravi vara,
Guru hora,
31st nazhikai.

The last 2 in the above list are not required unless the context calls for such a detail.

jayasree said...

Sankalpa manthras mention time from Parama ayul of Four faced Brahma downwards. That is Parardha - half of Para. Para is 100 years of Brahma. Parardha is 50 years of Brahma. We refer time starting from that 50th year of Brahma.

vasu said...

Thanks for a nice explanation of tithi-s! I got a question - why is ekadasi considered auspicious for fasting? we (our family) observe this without fail, but i have not heard a reason why it is considered important.

jayasree said...

Dear Mr Vasu,

If you have noticed the illustration given in the post, from Saptami to Ekadasi, the earth and we (fluids and mental faculties) are not much disturbed. It is even said that new medication can be started on Ashtami, when the combined influence of Sun and the moon will be minimal on the body. Ekadasdi comes in the fringe of that period of least disturbance. So there may be something that could be beneficial for the body by doing fast on that day.

Though there are many spiritual accounts on the suitability of Ekadasi for fasting, no exact research has been done for that day. But there exists one inference from a research done Vaikuntha Ekadasi, which showed that on that Ekadasi day, the earth reaches the farthest point from the centre of our galaxy (Dhanur rasi / sagittarius). Taking this logic to other Ekadasis, I presume that though pournami and amavasya are the two extremes in moon's sojourn, due to the tilt of the orbit of the moon, with that of the earth, it will be at crossing a point of greater distance from the earth on Ekadasi. Perhaps a fast on that day causes better changes in our body due to which our mental faculties may also get tuned to spiritual mode.

Read my recent post on Unknown science behind Full Moon

There may be something to do with Ekadasi moon also.