A major criticism raised is that the Uttarayana does not coincide with the Makar samkaranthi that we celebrate today. They criticize us that it is a cosmic mistake we are making and that we are drifting from the Vedic system.
Let me point out to them that even in the times great kings who patronized Veda patashalas in agraharas, Brahmadeyas and in temples and whose life style was completely guided by Vedic principles, they celebrated Makar samkaranthi and Uttarayana together on the day Sun entered Capricorn. We do find the word "Uttarayana samkaranthi" in the inscriptions of not only tall kings like Rajaraja Chola-1 (reign 985–1014 CE) but also in the reigns of other kings of India (south India in particular as no single North Indian temple of yore exists today to give us the details of the festivals and grants made in those days). Similarly it was Chittrai Vishu (Chittrai is the Tamil (solar) month of Mesha) and Aippasi Vishu (Thula samkramana) which are found mentioned in the temple inscriptions.
Here a criticism may be raised that Tamil society was different and it cannot be quoted for the current issue in hand which is mostly based on Sanskrit or Vedic concepts. To them, let me point out that Tamil society was not 'Dravidian' or some different society but was Vedic to the core. The Cheran King whose expedition to the Himalayas was written in a part -2 did Soma yaaga in his capital city, Vanji. (Silappadhikaram, chapter 28 – lines 147 & 148). The Cholan king PerunaRkilli who was the contemporary of the Pandyan king of the last Sangam Assembly (2000 years BP) had a titular name as one who did Rajasuya. There was a Pandyan king of yore whose title was one who had several Yaaga shaalas (pal yaaga-shalai). This king lived in the sunken Pandyan land that had Kavaatam as the Capital, as there is a mention in a sangam poem on him, of the river PahruLi that flowed in that sunken land. This king is not a mythical one as there 5 songs on him in the sangam text of Pura nanuru and the inscriptions of Pandyans make a mention of him in their genealogy.
More importantly than all these, the Grammar work of the Sangam Tamil age, called Thol kappiyam (means 'ancient kAvya'), after explaining how the sound of each letter of the Tamil language is created in our body by the air, mouth, lips and the tongue in its various twists within the mouth and the palette tells in the concluding verses that the 'mAtra' of these sounds can be derived from the Vedas chanted by the Brahmins and that any clarification can be obtained from that (Vedas)!! (Thol kappiyam – Part -1 – PiRappiyal- 20)
The author of his work popularly known by his pen name as 'Thol Kappiyar' (means 'the composer of the ancient kAvya'), was indeed a Vedic scholar coming in the lineage of Bhrigu and Jamadagni, having a original name "ThruNadhUmAgni". He was the foremost among 12 disciples of sage Agasthya and has written in the foreword of his work that he had mastered the Vyakarana of Aindra. This Tamil work (Thol kappiyam) was inaugurated in the presence of an acharya of AdhankOdu, (there is a place with similar name in Kanya kumari district of Tamilnadu) who was well versed in four Vedas.
The Tamil and Sanskrit Grammar are said to have been revealed simultaneously to Agasthya and Panini by Lord Shiva! Though the literary proof for this claim can be had only in the post 15th century AD period, it cannot be denied that both Tamil and Sanskrit grammar have commonality in many ways. Yet another information that I want the readers of this mail-chain to know is that this Tamil Grammar work does say that the 4 varnas were there among the Tamil speaking people and adds 3 more categories, making it a 7- class society. The additional three are – astrologers, sages andPorunar (kshatriya vratyas). There was a separate class of astrologer called by a generic term "ARivan" – which is a Tamil equivalent of Daivajna. Wikipedia articles trace them to Maghada and Mathsya Desa and even to Europe. But simple logic is that being sun worshippers, they could have evolved only near Equator or the in Tropical zones where sun shines overhead all round the year. Tamil's astrology is basically sun-based astrology which is seen from the varsha yogas being related to Solar months (this pre-supposes rashi system) and not to lunar months as told in Brihad samhita.
This historical background of Tamil culture connected to Vedic culture and astrology is being told here to convey that the practices as found in Temple inscriptions and Sangam texts cannot be dismissed as something different from Vedic culture.
Coming to the topic, the inscriptions in temples in Tamilnadu speak about 12 samkaranthi festivals (on the day of entry of the Sun into each of the 12 signs of the zodiac) and 2 Vishu festivals – one in Chittrai and another in Aippasi (both solar months for Mesha and Thula) during the period of King Rajaraja (10h century AD).
The Ayana festival was called as Ayana samkaranthi . The Lalgudi plates talk about grants given during Aippigai Vishu (Thula samkaranthi).
The Thiruvalam chuzhi inscriptions of 10th century AD speak about 2 Vishu and 2 Ayana festivals that correspond to surya samkramana in the respective signs. During the period of these inscriptions, uttarayana started in Sagittarius but the kings had celebrated them on Makar samkaranthi – that is, on the day Sun entered Capricorn. The Vishu was celebrated on the day Sun entered Aries.
An inscription found in Bijapur district tells about Uttarayana –Samkaranthi on a Pushya Amavasya day. This means the lunar month of Magha started on the next day. This could not have happened in the solar month of Sagittarius which is where the 'cosmic' Uttarayana could have happened as the date of this inscription falls in the 12th century AD. (I will provide a list of inscriptions that mention about Chittrai / Aippasi Vishu and Uttaraya Samkaranthi which are available with information of day, thithi and saka year in the next article. Let the scholars in this mail chain check them to see if they tally with the presently available data base. )
The inscriptions show that they had clubbed Uttarayana with Surya sankramana into Capricorn. Didn't they know that Uttarayana started earlier than the day of Makar samkaranthi? Weren't the Vedic pundits and Vedic astrologers of that time aware of the difference between the two? These kings patronized Vedic pata shalas with utmost care. The first item mentioned in Rajaraja's Prashasthi in his inscriptions is of taking possession of "KanthalUr shAlai" – the prestigious Veda Pata shala of those times. Didn't the Vedic scholars of this school instruct the king on the 'correct' time of Uttarayana? Didn't they have the 'cosmic knowledge'?
If those who criticize the present day astrologers and religious heads as making cosmic mistakes in fixing the date of their festivals are right, then the entire culture of festivals celebrated for the past 1000 plus years are wrong! Are the kings and Vedic pundits of those periods' fools?
Instead one must start looking at what made them celebrate the Uttarayana on the day of Makar samkaranthi – when Sun entered Makara rashi. To deduce the reason for this, let me point out some of the features mentioned in the Sangam Tamil composition of Paripadal 11.
This poem mentions the position of planets in 'rashis' and also the Veethis. Let me reproduce it here.
Skeptics claim that this sky map cannot be true because Venus and Mercury are shown far away from the Sun, which is impossible. I want to draw their attention to two verses from Brihad Jataka – verses 10 and 11 in the chapter 11 on Rajayogas.
The horoscope plotted for the planetary combination of Verse 10 is as follows.
The maximum possible distance between Mercury and Venus can be 75 degrees. Here it is more. By the present position of these planets, this combination is impossible. Didn't Varahamihira notice the absurdity of this combination? Commenting on this Sri Suryanarain Rao says that this is possible if the planetary velocities of those times were different. The reason for such combinations to be quoted in Brihad Jataka is that Varahamihira had only recorded the versions of sages of yore when the planetary movement of these inner planets might have been different from now.
The same kind of impossible distance between Mercury and Venus is found mentioned in the next verse (verse 11) of the same chapter. It is as follows. The location of sun in this combination is not given in that verse.
The Paripadal verse also comes under the category of these two types. In other words, that song was written at a time when the speed and orbital location of the inner planets could have been different. Paripadals were the oldest of all sangam compositions and this is ascertained from another song of the Paripadal compilations, that describe as place called Irunthaiyur in Madurai (present day Madurai) and the image of Vishnu in sitting position in that temple. There is no temple or place by this name today. But it is described as being very popular drawing continuous stream of pilgrims. By the description it is deduced that this could be the Kudalazhagar temple of Madurai – the oldest temple that was present even before Meenakshi temple was built. There is an additional information on that temple in paripadal that there was a separate sannidhi for Naga (perhaps Adisesha) . Today no such sannidhi is there in this temple, but there is a Navagraha enclosure in this temple. Navagragas are not installed in Vishnu temples. This temple is an exception. Perhaps the Naga sannidhi of olden days was replaced with Navagraha. This is being told here to show how old the paripadal compositions were.
The probability of such a difference in planetary position in the past answers another criticism of the skeptics who question the horoscope of Rama. There are evidences – inscriptional (Sinnamanur inscription of Pandyans which say that a Pandyan king made peace with Ravana), literary (from Tamil sangam too) and archeological (in Ram Sethu whose layers are 7000 years old) that point to the historicity of Rama. The discrepancy if any in the astronomical dating can not make Ramayana a myth, but that would show that we are yet to fine-tune our tools of research.
From the above examples of Brihad Jataka we know that there is every chance that planetary velocities and orbits could have been different in the past. There is also a probability of earth itself getting shaken in its axis or tilt by asteroid hits or massive earthquakes. In our recent memory of Fukushima earthquake it was reported that earth's axis changed a little. All this is being told to convey that our present state of planetary movement or orbital position need not have been the same all along in the past. As such the presence of many exalted planets need not be a myth. Even in the current times we have a person living among us, having a character opposite to that of Rama but who was endowed with Raja yoga – having 3 planets in exaltation and mercury and lagna as in Rama's horoscope. He is Karunanidhi, the former Chief Minister of Tamilnadu who asked who Rama was and what engineering degree he possessed to be claimed as the architect of Ram Setu!! (His birth details :- June 3, 1924, 10=40am, Thiruvarur, India). Another déjà vu feeling – in this context with Karunanidhi – and it made me sad when I read a respectable writer questioning indirectly the historicity of Rama by rejecting Rama's horoscope.
Now let me move over to the paripadal song that has some clues on Uttarayana – Ayana controversy.
The song begins as follows:
விரிகதிர் மதியமொடு வியல் விசும்பு புணர்ப்ப
எரிசடை எழில் வேழம் தலையெனக் கீழிருந்து
தெருவிடைப் படுத்த மூன்று ஒன்பதின் இருக்கையுள்
"viri kathir madhiyamodu viyal visumbu puNarppa
Erisadai ezhil vEzham thalaiyenak kIzhirunthu
Theruvidaip paduttha mUnRu onpathin irukkaiyuL.."
Meaning based on commentary by Parimelazhagar, given by Po.Ve. Somasundaranaar:-
Viri kathir = spreading rays
Madhiyamodu = with moon
Viyal viusmbu = broad sky
puNarppa = conjoining (of the moon and the star)
eri = fiery Karthikai (star)
sadai = Jada mudi (Arudra star lorded by Rudra)
ezhil vEzham = beautiful elephant (bharaNi star which is the symbol of Ganesha getting the elephant head)
thalaiyenk = as leading or heading
kIzhirunthu = under them
theruvidaip paduththa – classified as streets
mUnRu = three
onpathithin = of nine
irukkaiyuL = in the rashi (literal meaning seat, place of stay) (Parimelazhagar commentary= Since they are the place of stay for the 9 planets they are called a "irukkai" "கோட்களுக்கு இடனாகலான் இவை பன்னிரெண்டும் இருக்கை எனப்பட்டன")
Meaning= "With Kritthika, Arudra and BharaNi indiacting the three streets of "irukkai" (rashi) having nine each in them conjoining Moon in the broad sky lit by its spreading rays…"
The poem continues further locating the planets in such "irukkai" spread into 3 streets.
What it conveys is that "the stars of the zodiac that join the Moon with its rays brightening the broad sky, are grouped into 9 each in the "irukkai" which are classified into 3 streets headed by Krittika, Arudra and BharaNi."
The commentary by Parimelazhagar makes the order as Mesha, rishaba and Mithuna with Mesha street having Rishaba, Mithuna, Kataka and Simha rashi
Rishaba street having Kanni, Thula, Meena and Mesha and
Mithuna street having Vrischika, Dhanus, Makra and Kumbha.
The Mesha Veethi or Mesha street is known as Northern street,
Mithuna street is known as Southern street.
This can also be shown as follows (as per "Jothida varushAdhi Nool of Siddhas" a compilation in prose based on astrological concepts told by siddhas and recorded as poems in palm leafs – page 19)
Click the pic to see details.
The Middle street or Madhya Veethi or Rishaba Veethi shows the span of equinoctial movement of the sun (as observed from the earth). The middle part of this Veethi falls in Chittrai Vishu and Thula Vishu!
The Southern street or Dakshina Veethi or Mithuna Veethi shows the decreasing days in the northern hemisphere.
In this veethi concept (also found in Prasna Marga chapter 8 on determining Chatra rashi), the middle street is the region that sun passes while crossing the equator. The signs or rashis seen in this middle street are where the sun seems to be shifting its position in relation to the outer space – what most people call as precession but Vedic sages called as Ayana chalanam or Vishnu Chalanam. The limit of this chalanam is 27 degrees on both sides of zero degree Aries which is called as Vishu. This can be depicted as follows:
As seen from the earth, the ayana chalanam is characterized by the to and fro movement of the pendulum. This is related to the movement at the axis of the earth which is observed in the shifting of the pole stars. These are the only two movements as observed from the earth which Vedic sages mentioned and also found depicted in the Paripadal song.
The tilt of the earth's axis is not a constant. It keeps oscillating between 22.1 degrees and 24. 5 degrees according to Milakovitch. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milankovitch_cycles This tilt is currently 23.44 degrees and keeps decreasing. The oscillation of the axis tilt results in a kind of drawing of a circles in the poles and observed as the shifting of the poles. This is mentioned in Vedic lore which Prof R.N. Iyengar had analysed.
Correspondingly the sun's position in the backdrop of the ecliptic will be seen moving up and down. This can be shown as below.
(picture not accurate, only for illustrative purpose)
The oscillation at the polar axis is seen in the changing pole stars. The extreme ends of this oscillation at the pole is shown as C and D. Correspondingly this will be manifest as shifting of the tropic of cancer (A) and Capricorn (B). Ancient Vedic wisdom is that this shift at the equinox can be seen only in Aries and Pisces with movement on either side of the junction of these two rashis. The shift can go upto Kriththika star in Aries when it reaches the maximum of 27 degrees there. Once reaching that point, it would come back like a pendulum and cross zero degree Aries and move towards the 27th degree in Pisces where it would reach Purva bhadrapada. Once it had reached that limit of 27 degrees in Pisces, it will move towards Aries again. This movement is governed by gradual oscillation of the tilt of the axis which Milakovitch has calculated.
Take a look at the illustration again to see how the pendulum movement happens between Kritthika and Purava bhadra pada.
The central point of this pendulum movement is Chittrai VISHU!
On the other side of the globe, the same pendulum movement can be seen between Virgo and Libra! Therefore the central part of that movement there is Thulam VISHU!
These two parts of the zodiac happening in the middle of the sun's path across the equator makes these two + two rashis known as Madhya Veethi! Another name of PurNayana!
Taking a look at the Veethi concept, we will see that the central part of the Madhya Veethi passes through zero degrees at Aries and zero degrees at Libra. They form a kind of equilibrium.
In fact the zodiac attaining equilibrium at this point is like a Balance or Thula whose two sides are in balance. In my opinion, due to this reason our sages had named the bottom part of this stem as Thula or Balance.
When the zodiac is in balance in this set-up the two sides also will be in equilibrium at Capricorn and Cancer! This is better illustrated in the horoscope design of coastal Andhra and some places in North India. It has a perfect image of the Balance. Take a look at the illustration below.
The lines in black form the horoscope design. When the sun is exactly in zero degree Aries, the Balance attains equilibrium. The two sides rest at Capricorn and Cancer. But Vishnu is not resting, he keeps moving to and fro. So accordingly the equinox shifts between Aries and Pisces which is reflected in the AyanAramaba also. Knowing this Chalanam, our ancients did not keep shifting along. Perhaps they thought that when Vishnu shifts, the Universe will anyway be in eqiuilibrium and therefore stuck to Vishu – the central beam of the Balance! Presently the shift is towards the southern hemisphere. In roughly about 220 years, the maximum extent of Vishnu chalanam would be reached after which the equinox would move towards North. The precession would cease and there would be forward movement. This is observational astronomy which has an impact on our lives too.
In the past when the shift occurred like this from South to North, sages (Purana) said that Sun's wife Sanjana ran away from him to the North, being unable to bear the heat. Sun went after her to the North in search of her. That is when the last Ice age ended in the Northern hemisphere. There is a verse in Upanishad that Gods (sages too) were fond of telling things secretly. They enjoy it. True. How cleverly and beautifully they have told the shifting of heat from south to north! How cleverly they have designed the zodiac as a balance with its base firmly fixed on Libra! Look at the way they have given us the clue in having named the base as ThulA! The two sides may go up and down but human life must rest at equilibrium, that is why we stick to Makara sankaranthi and not the shifting ayana.
This concept was common knowledge in Paripadal times. It was common knowledge in Ramayana times too. To those doubting Thomases, let me show the verse 22-72 in Yuddha Khanda of Valmiki Ramayana.
स नलेन कृतः सेतुः सागरे मकर आलये || २-२२-७२
शुशुभे सुभगः श्रीमान् स्वाती पथ इव अम्बरे |
शुशुभे सुभगः श्रीमान् स्वाती पथ इव अम्बरे |
"sa nalena kR^itaH setuH saagare makara aalaye.
shushubhe subhagaH shriimaan svaatii patha iva ambare."
"The beautiful and lovely bridge constructed by Nala across the ocean of alligators shone brightly like SWATI PADAM in the sky!"
What is Swati padam? It is the path of Sun in Madhya Veethi in Rama's times. It was very much in Libra which the vanaras would have identified in the evening or night sky as they were making the Setu bund. Valmiki has given as marvelous clue on the southern equinox at the time of Ramayana. The corresponding northern equiniox at that time must have been at BharaNi!
A single poem in Tamil; in a single line on "theru" or street, it contains such voluminous information on astronomy and also the basic culture of the Vedic society. This zodiacal map reflects the basic pulse of the Vedic society – which is nothing but being an Aryan.
An Aryan is one who is balanced, keeping equi-distance from sukha and Dhukkha, laabha and nashta, victory and defeat and is a Sthitha-pragya. This is also indicated in the Tamil society in a very simple way. There was Tamil dance (thamizh kootthu) and Aryan dance (Aryak kootthu) mentioned in the 2nd century AD Silappadhikaram. We don't know what is Tamil kootthu, but we know what is Arya kootthu! Want to see that? Take a look at this picture.
What this girl is doing is the Aryan dance – in Tamil there is an adage for this "Aryak kootthaadinaalum, kaariyaththil kaN". It means.
"Be focussed on the job if doing the Aryan dance"
This balancing act – not being swayed by anything - even though pulled by lot of distractions in life is what Krishna preaches in Gita. This core concept which would lead one to Moksha is aVedic concept. Without Taatparya, there is no word. The words may be there in Greek or Roman or any other language of the world, but its inner meaning is available in Vedic society only. What then forms the root and what then forms the branches? The branch is the visible part, but is it not an indication of the root inside – root in India??
(To be continued)
Update on 01-04-2014:-
The English word Libra for Thula rashi, also means Balance. It is derived from the Latin root for 'libration' which means 'swinging' action. Swinging means to and fro movement. The Thula vishu swings to and fro with Thula- aarambha as the focal point. The Europeans have utter lack of knowledge of this swing in Thula / Libra. But they have this name for this Rashi. How did they get this name Libra for this rashi? Why is this word Libra used for this rashi?