Thursday, September 19, 2013

Is Vedic astrology derived from Greek astrology? (Part 11) – Tamil sources. (solar months and seasons)

There are 3 synonyms for Mesha found in popular use and in Sangam poetry in Tamil.

They are Aadu, Varudai and Thagar.

Of these three words, the word 'aadu' was used to denote the solar month (mesha maasa) and also the rashi. Let us see a note on all these.



Aadu is a common word in use even today for goat and is found in olden texts too. The famous Navagraha temple for Sun along with the parivara planets is situated in a place called 'Aadu thuRai' in KumbakOnam – meaning 'location of the goat'. This place is also called as 'Maruththuvak kudi' – meaning, 'location of the medicament'. This is similar to the name "Vishwa Bheshaja" for Mesha in sanskrit,  because of Aswini connection.


The temple inscriptions of 1000 years ago mention "aattaaNdu" meaning "the year of the goat".

The inscriptions also mention "Attai vattam" (the circle of aadu / mesha) for the year.

There was "Attai-k- kOL" which means a payment made annually. This word is found in inscriptions. (T.A.S. ii. 44).

There was "AtteeRRu" meaning donation that was given every year / annually. This "aadu" was used to denote the year starting from aadu or Mesha.


One may ask if the next rashi namely rishabha was called by that name in Tamil.

Yes, until 1st century AD the 2nd solar month or the 2nd rashi was called as "erudhu", the Tamil equivalent of Rishabha.


A very insightful information on this comes in Manimegalai along with how seasons were related to the months. Today, people are confused as to when a season starts. Others say that seasons keep shifting and there is no specific date for the start of the season. But no, it is not so. The ancients had clear cut rules and understanding of when a season starts and in which context a season is used or a month name is used and so on. Let me explain this from Tamil texts.


At two places in ManimEgalai of the 1st century AD, there is reference to the birth of Buddha. The same verse on this appears at chapter 11 and chapter 15 of this text.


It says,

"இருது இளவேனிலில் எரிகதிர் இடபத்து
ஒரு பதின் மேலும் ஒரு மூன்று சென்றபின்
மீனத்து இடைநிலை மீனத்து அகவையின்
போதித் தலைவனோடு பொருந்தி.."

இருது = iruthu = Ritu or season.

இளவேனிலில்= iLavEnilil = in the vasantha (ritu) / spring season

எரிகதிர் = eri kathir = burning sun

இடபத்து- idapatthu = in Rishabha
ஒரு பதின் = oru pathin = one ten

மேலும் = mElum = in addition

ஒரு மூன்று = ori moonRu = three

சென்றபின் = senRa pin = having gone past

மீனத்து இடைநிலை = meenaththu idai nilai = the middle of all the stars.

மீனத்து அகவையின் = meenatthu aga vayin = the star in that middle part (Vishaka)

போதித் தலைவனோடு = bhodhi thlaiavanOdu = with Buddha

பொருந்தி..= porunthi = fixed with


The verse says "the burning sun after having gone past 13 days in the Rishabha month of the Vasantha ritu, fixed with the star that was in the middle of all stars" Buddha was born on that day. (It was a Vishaka pournami and on a similar Vishaha Pournami, Aaputhra got the Akshaya paatra, so goes the verse further)


Vaishaka Poornima is known as Buddha poornima as Buddha was born on that day. The location of sun at his birth may not be known, as Vaishaka poornima can occur with sun in one of the two rashis, namely Mesha or rishabha.  This verse makes it clear that Sun was on the 14th  degree of rishabha at his birth.


The verse not only mentions the solar month but also says that month as part of the Vasantha ritu. A reference like this cannot be told by the author unless Buddha's birth was already referenced with solar month (which takes the rashi name) and the ritu. One cannot dismiss this as a casual mention by the author.   {refer note (1) to see an example for truthful reporting by the author}.  Based on the kind of accuracy and details given by the author, there is no way to suspect that mention of "rishabha" in the context of Buddha's birth could have been something picked up due to Greek influence after Alexander's invasion.


As important information given by the above verse is that it refers to the equinoctial position at the time of Buddha's birth. By saying that Vishaka was the middle star, the period goes to a time when the two equinoxes occurred in Kritthika and Vishaka. Here the middle star does not refer to the middle star of the lunar month of Vaishaka. The words "Meenatthu idai nilai" refers to the middle star in the line up of all stars. This puts Kritthika as the first star. By this it is inferred that Vernal equinox occurred in Kritthika.


A careful noting must be done here. Though Kritthika was the first star of the line–up, the ritu or solar month was not shifted to start from Kritthika. The verse says with no uncertain terms that the ritu was vasantha and the solar month was Rishabha! Our ancients have not mixed up the equinoctial position with the solar months (with the position of sun in the zodiac).


From this equinoctial position,  the time of Buddha can be deciphered. As per this verse it is sometime 3000 years before present. This concurs with the time of Buddha mentioned in many sources such as Indian, Tibetan, Chinese and Japanese sources and also by Kalhana and Abul Fazl and recorded in the Journal of the Asiatic Society ( Read here)


Being on the topic of seasons, I think I can give some info from Tamil sources on seasons.


Seasons have cultural significance. The behaviour of people and flora and fauna are influenced by the seasons. The relevance of the seasons stops with that. Seasons form what is called the "Big Time" (Perum pozhuthu) while the "Small Time" (Siru pozhuthu) consists of the division of the day. The culture of the people in a place is influenced by these two.


The seasons are 6 in number having fixed days of 30 + 30 days of 2 months each. Solar months and seasons go hand on hand together because seasons are formed by and become variant due to the solar movement and the solar heat.  A verse in Silappadhikaram specifically mentions the "last day of a season" ("uru veyyil kadai naaL" Chapter 14, line 125) thereby giving no doubt on the fixed days of a season. There was a first day of a season, which was the first day of the solar month and there was a last day of the season which was the last day of the 2nd solar month. This last day had been mentioned in the above verse of Silappadhikaram.


Two solar months make one season. This concept about which the Tamils never had a doubt and that which is still being followed by Tamils, finds a concurrence in the Nashta Jathaka (lost horoscopy) calculations. In the case of determining the month of the Nashta Jathaka, the method is to divide the Lagna Drekkana into two (5 + 5 degrees) and see in which part the lagna is found. That part signifies the month of the season (which was derived in the earlier step in the process of drawing the nashta Jathaka). Here month refers to the solar month. Bhattothpala specifically has mentioned that solar month and not lunar month must be taken here. (Refer Prof Suryanarain Rao's translation and commentary of Brihad Jathaka, 2nd verse in the chapter on Nashta Jathaka.)  This establishes that season is connected with the solar months.


Coming to some other revelations from Sangam texts, it is agreed that seasons vary according to the place. However the solar month- season connection has been followed. The solar heat plays a role in the nature of the seasons and the cultural and personal life of the people.

Where a season extended for long, say in the case of cold season thereby reducing the number of  seasons from 6 to 5, that did not interfere with the solar month connection. For example even in the Tamil lands, the Kurinchi lands (hill tracts) have the "Big Time" (perum pozhuthu) covering 2 seasons namely Hemantha and Shishira, but it did not mean the solar month reckoning must be done away with. The cold season of this region affects or alters the life style or the culture of the people of this region on these months in a way different from how it was in other regions. But the time calculation in terms of solar months was not altered.


The crux of the Tamil Grammar work Thol Kappiyam is how the culture and life style was in each of the 5 divisions of land (hilly, forestry, plain, seas shore and desert) and which of the Big time and small time were applicable in these regions. For example the narration on this topic starts from Varsha ritu in Big time and evening in Small time. It is because the menfolk who had gone out on trading must return before the rainy season started. The wife would be waiting in anxiety and longing to see her husband as the rainy season was nearing. By the evening time the menfolk would somehow return (just before the rainy season began). So the Varsha ritu marks the time of happy union.  That is why the narration starts with varsha ritu, though the year began with Vasantha ritu.


Further happenings at home, outside the home and within the family, their habits of food, pastimes and religious rituals were influenced by the rainy season. Like this the predominant season that could have a bearing in a location was assessed and given importance. This is the rationale behind the mention of seasons wherever they may appear. Kalidasa's Ritu Samharam also is based on this rationale.  


In this context let me analyse the Yajusha Vedanga Jyothisha verse 11 starting as "EkantarE hNi mAsE" that gives the meaning that Rtus occur at an interval of 2 synodic months and 2 thithis. To give further understanding, the verse goes on to say that the 8th ritu would begin at 15th thithi.


Does it mean that Chandra mana is taken into consideration? It is not so, if we analyse this verse. Suppose we follow Chandra maasam, let us see what happens. Assume the Vasantah ritu started on Chaitra sukla Pratama. By adding 2 synodic months and 2 thithis, the 8th rtu would occur on Chaitra Poornima. This is what the Y-VJ verse has said. The 16th ritu would occur on Vaishaka sukla Pratama! The 16th ritu would be Sharad ritu that would start on Vaishaka maasa. Could Vedanga Jyothisha have meant this?


Look at what happens in the 5 year yuga. The 8th ritu starts in Chaitra poornima, the 16th ritu starts at Vaishaka sukla Pratama. The 24th ritu starts on Vaishaka poornima and the 32nd ritu starts at Jyeshta sukla Paratama.  Assuming that 6 ritus make one year, the first year of the next yuga would start with vasantha ritu (31st ritu) in Vaishaka  Krishna chathurdashi!


Therefore this is not what the VJ sages have meant. Since 6 seasons make one year, the reckoning suits solar year only. Whatever be the thithi, the addition of 2 synodic months and 2 thithis would not alter the time of season if the season is aligned with solar months. One can check it with the solar month calendar and see that the Y-VJ verse rule of 2 synodic months + 2 thithis fits with it. The forward going thithis get adjusted when the ashika maasa is dropped, with no alteration happening to the ritu that fits with the solar month. One can check this with last year's calendar when adhik masa was dropped and new round of 2 synodic months + 2 thithis resuming automatically for the first day of the ritu.


In the 28th verse of Yajusha Vedanga Jyothisha, it is said in clear terms that "three hundred and sixty six days form a solar year. In the year there are 6 ritus, 2 ayanas and 2 solar months. Five years make a yuga" (Trishatyahnam shasastir abdah...)


1 solar year = 2 ayanas.

1 solar year = 6 ritus.

1 solar year = 12 solar months.


Nothing can be more revealing than this verse on 12 month division of the zodiac which comes with 12 sankramanas. (This shows the knowledge of 12 divisional zodiac much before the Greeks thought of it).


This verse also reiterates that seasons are aligned with solar months whose duration is noted in terms of lunar month – thithis. This is comparable to the first day of the solar year having the vaara connection that is given in Tamil Panchanga Vaakya sutras. The vaara (day of the week ) on the first day of the solar year will always be the succeeding day of the day in which the previous Solar year started. For example, if the first day of the new solar year that starts with mesha sankramana is Sunday, then the next year (next Mesha sankramana) will start on Monday and so on. Here the vaara connection acts as a ready reckonor to say on which day the New year begins. Similarly verse 11 of Y-VJ on lunar month + thithi connection to ritu is a ready- reckonor for knowing on which thithi a ritu begins. This must put at rest the unwarranted meddling with seasons and solar months in the calendar as some people are doing.


The other popular word of the Sangam Tamil on Mesha was Varudai. We will see a note on it in the next mail. The Sangam poetry verses on these words (aadu, varudai, Thagar) would be discussed after that.


(to be continued)


(1)Manimegalai has an entire chapter devoted to the religious faiths that existed at that time. Chapter 27 explains the philosophy of Lokayadha, Bauddha, Sankya, Nyaya, Vaisheshika and  Mimamsaka as expounded by Brihaspathi, Jina, Kapila, Akshapada, Ganadha and Jaimini respectively. The teacher who explained this identified himself as belonging to the gurukul of Veda Vysa, Krutha Koti (Bhodayana according to the commentator) and Jaimini. In 285 lines, the principles of all these sects along with methodology of arriving at their principles are explained in 'power-packed' words as each word requires voluminous explanation. The ideas in terms of Brahma vaadam, Shaiva vaadam, Vaishnava vaadam and Veda vaadam are also explained. This was the knowledge that existed before Sanakara and Ramanuja channelized the Vedantic views. No one had analysed this chapter which is of high value in understanding the Hindu philosophy as it existed 2000 years ago. This chapter is proof of authenticity of the information given in the text.


By this it is said that the Buddha birth date given by the author was authentic and was given as how it was known at his time. The use of the word rishabha for the 2nd month could not have come without that being in vogue at the time of Buddha's birth. Even if we assume that Buddha was born in the 6th century BCE, this verse shows that knowledge of rishabha was there at that 6th century itself. It is not possible to create a factor or a name (rishabha maasa) related to his birth that did not exist at the time period of his birth.



1 comment:

jayasree said...

Check this link to read all the previous posts in this series: