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Vedic Mathematicians III

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Vedic mathematicians in Ancient India (part III)

and the Celestial Timekeepers

Kosla Vepa Ph.D

1.Introduction

 

The Ancient Vedics seemed to have an obsession for precision as well as a fascination for large numbers. A combination such as this makes an excellent prerequisite for time keeping and for devising a useful and practical calendar. So, they turned to the sky and began to decipher the meaning behind the various cycles they observed. Let us see how they went about developing a calendar that would convey a lot of information merely by knowing the day of the month after constant observation of the sky both during the day and the night over centuries.

The basic information they used for purposes of time keeping were the motions of the sun and the moon relative to the earth. So far nothing unusual, as did all the other ancients. The cycles they used apart from the day, the week, the fortnight, and the month are shown in Table 1.

2. Some Definitions

 

Let us establish the coordinate systems first. Everyday the celestial sphere appears to turn as the earth rotates, causing the daily rising and setting of the sun, stars and other celestial objects. (vide Figure 1)

 

 


 

 

1. 60 year Jovian cycle/ 360 year ‘divine cycle

2. 2700 year cycle of the Sapta Rishi or the Ursa Major

3. 27000 year cycle of the asterisms called the Great Year or the precession cycle

4. 432,000 year cycle called a yuga (= duration of Kaliyuga)

5. 4,320,000 year cycle known as the Maha Yuga

6. Kalpa, the cycle consisting of 4.32*10**9 years

 

Table 1

Cosmology and Numerology

A bit of trivia – all of the numbers in Table 1 are divisible by 9 except the 60 year cycle.The number 9 and its multiples have a mystic significance in the Vedic tradition.

One way of visualizing the number 9 is as follows

 

The universe is constituted of 3 factors – time, space, and causation

The universe is constituted of 3 Gunas  (ingredients) – Sattva, rajas, and tamas

The universe is constituted of the three functions – creation, preservation,  and destruction

 

Thus 3 times 3 makes 9

Two times 9 makes 18, the number of chapters in the Bhagavad Gita

The 18 portions (parvas ) of the Mahabharata epic define in detail the career of man on earth.

Thee are 18 days of warfare in the  Great Bharata War

There are a total of 18 divisions in the Mahabharata war. 7 divisions on the Pandava side and 11 on the Kaurava side.

The Mahabharata war is thus an exposition of the human possibilities and achievements graded into eighteen categories, the first multiple of 9

 


 

 

Figure 1 The celestial sphere showing the ecliptic and its inclination to the celestial equator

ecliptic  ?????????????? (Kranthivruth )

(eklIp´tIk, I-) , the great circle on the celestial sphere that lies in the plane of the earth's orbit (called the plane of the ecliptic). Because of the earth's yearly revolution around the sun, the sun appears to move in an annual journey through the heavens with the ecliptic as its path. The ecliptic is the principal axis in the ecliptic coordinate system . The two points at which the ecliptic crosses the celestial equator are the equinoxes. The obliquity of the ecliptic is the inclination of the plane of the ecliptic to the plane of the celestial equator, an angle of about 23 1/2 °. The constellations through which the ecliptic passes are the constellations of the zodiac .



equinox  ???? ???? (Vasanth Sampat) Vernal equinox

(e´kwInoks) , either of two points on the celestial sphere where the ecliptic and the celestial equator intersect. The vernal equinox, also known as “the first point of Aries,” is the point at which the sun appears to cross the celestial equator from south to north. This occurs about Mar. 21, marking the beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. At the autumnal equinox, about Sept. 23, the sun again appears to cross the celestial equator, this time from north to south; this marks the beginning of autumn in the Northern Hemisphere. On the date of either equinox, night and day are of equal length (12 hr each) in all parts of the world; the word equinox is often used to refer to either of these dates. The equinoxes are not fixed points on the celestial sphere but move westward along the ecliptic, passing through all the constellations of the zodiac in 26,000 years. This motion is called the precession of the equinoxes . The vernal equinox is a reference point in the equatorial coordinate system

 

equatorial coordinate system


the most commonly used astronomical coordinate system for indicating the positions of stars or other celestial objects on the celestial sphere . The celestial sphere is an imaginary sphere with the observer at its center. It represents the entire sky; all celestial objects other than the earth are imagined as being located on its inside surface. If the earth's axis is extended, the points where it intersects the celestial sphere are called the celestial poles; the north celestial pole is directly above the earth's North Pole, and the south celestial pole directly above the earth's South Pole. The great circle on the celestial sphere halfway between the celestial poles is called the celestial equator; it can be thought of as the earth's equator projected onto the celestial sphere. It divides the celestial sphere into the northern and southern skies. An important reference point on the celestial equator is the vernal equinox , the point at which the sun crosses the celestial equator in March. To designate the position of a star, the astronomer considers an imaginary great circle passing through the celestial poles and through the star in question. This is the star's hour circle , analogous to a meridian of longitude on earth. The astronomer then measures the angle between the vernal equinox and the point where the hour circle intersects the celestial equator. This angle is called the star's right ascension and is measured in hours, minutes, and seconds rather than in the more familiar degrees, minutes, and seconds. (There are 360 degrees or 24 hours in a full circle.) The right ascension is always measured eastward from the vernal equinox. Next the observer measures along the star's hour circle the angle between the celestial equator and the position of the star. This angle is called the declination of the star and is measured in degrees, minutes, and seconds north or south of the celestial equator, analogous to latitude on the earth. Right ascension and declination together determine the location of a star on the celestial sphere. The right ascensions and declinations of many stars are listed in various reference tables published for astronomers and navigators. Because a star's position may change slightly (see proper motion and precession of the equinoxes ), such tables must be revised at regular intervals. By definition, the vernal equinox is located at right ascension 0 h and declination 0°.

 Another useful reference point is the sigma point, the point where the observer's celestial meridian intersects the celestial equator. The right ascension of the sigma point is equal to the observer's local sidereal time . The angular distance from the sigma point to a star's hour circle is called its hour angle ; it is equal to the star's right ascension minus the local sidereal time. Because the vernal equinox is not always visible in the night sky (especially in the spring), whereas the sigma point is always visible, the hour angle is used in actually locating a body in the sky.

3. Calendars and Tithis

Like most Asian calendars Indian calendars do not employ the solar year and day (i. e. tropical year and solar day) but the sidereal year, and the Synodic month(29.5306 days). Thus, the calendric year based on the sidereal year is defined as the time between two successive passes of the sun through a certain star's circle of declination. Lunar days and sidereal months are also used, and in certain lunisolar calendars lunar year and lunar month are taken into account, too.

Astronomical knowledge of Ancient India was written down in scientific treatises, called Siddhantas. In them, values for the lengths of months and years were given representing the latest knowledge at the time the Siddhanta was written. The values range from 365.258681 days in the Âryabhatiya to 365.258756 days in the Surya Siddhanta and are all too long compared with the modern sidereal year length of 365.25636 days. Nevertheless they are still in use for Indian calendars today.

The sidereal month is about two day shorter (27.3217) than the Synodic month

 

4. Meaning of Tithi 

According to the Indian calendar or Panchanga, Tithi is a lunar date based on the rotation of the moon around the earth, and is one of the five important aspects of an Indian almanac (Panchanga – Panch means five and anga means parts). Most of the Indian social and religious festivals are celebrated on a date corresponding to the original Tithi.

The current calendar “date” that we are so familiar with in our daily life is heliocentric and is based on the rotation of the earth around the sun.  It takes the earth approximately 365 ¼ days to complete its rotation around the Sun. The calendar that most of us use today divides the 365 days of earth’s period of rotation around the Sun in twelve months.  The leap year, which occurs once every four years, accounts for ¼ day per year. 

Similar to the solar calendar, the lunar calendar is also popular and widely used in the Asian countries such as China, Pacific-rim countries, Middle East countries, and India. The lunar calendar, which is believed to have originated in India, has been around for a very long time, even long before the solar calendar. 

The lunar calendar is geocentric and is based on the moon’s rotation around the Earth.  The lunar month corresponds to one complete rotation of the Moon around the Earth.  Since this period of rotation of moon around the earth varies, the duration of lunar month also varies.  On average, the lunar month has about 29 ½ days, the period of the lunar Synodic orbit.  In addition to moon’s rotation around the earth, the lunar year is based on earth’s rotation around the Sun.  In general, the lunar year has twelve lunar months of approximately 354 days (29.5 *12 ), thus making it shorter by about 11 days than the solar year.  However, the lunar calendar accounts for this difference by adding an extra lunar month about once every 2 ½ years.  The extra lunar month is commonly known as “Adhik Mas” in India (Adhik means extra and the Mas means month).  The concept of this extra month is similar to the “Blue Moon” in the West, which occurs almost with the same frequency of 2 ½ years. 

The Indian lunar year begins on the new moon day that occurs near the beginning of the Spring season. The twelve lunar months are: 

 

 

Chaitra         
Vaishakh  
Jeshta  
Ashadh  
Shrawan(Sawan)  
Bhadrapad(Bhado)   
Ashwin   
Kartik  
Margshirsh   
Paush   
Magha
Falgoon (Fagan)  

As mentioned earlier, to account for the difference between the solar and lunar year an extra lunar month occurs about every 2 ½ years as “Adhik Mas”.[1][1]

According to the Moslem calendar which is widely followed in Middle East and in other Moslem countries the lunar year is strictly based on twelve lunar months of 354 days per year.  That’s why their holy month of Ramadan occurs by approximately 11 to 12 days earlier than that in the preceding year.

The solar day (commonly referred as the “the date” in western calendar) has a fixed length of 24 hours. The change of date occurs at midnight as per local time or standard time of a given local time zone.  Thus, the date changes from midnight to midnight.  Similarly the day (as in weekdays) changes from midnight to midnight as per local or standard time for that location.  In other words, as per the western (or English) calendar the length of day and date is exactly 24 hours, and there is a definite correspondence between the date and the corresponding day of the week.

A lunar day usually begins at sunrise, and the length of lunar day is determined by the time elapsed between the successive sunrises.  As per the Jewish calendar their lunar day begins at the sunset, and lasts through the next sunset.  A lunar day is essentially the same as a weekday. In India the lunar day is commonly referred as “War”.  Just as the English calendar has seven days for a week, the Indian calendar has seven wars for a week. Thus,

English calendar weekdays       

Indian calendar weekdays

Sunday
Monday
Tuesday 
Wednesday 
Thursday
Friday 
Saturday

Raviwar 
Somwar (Chandrawar)
Mangalwar 
Budhwar
Guruwar 
Shukrawar 
Shaniwar

The lunar day, however, varies approximately between 22 to 26 hours based on the angular rotation of moon around the earth in its elliptical orbit.  In the Indian calendar, the lunar date is referred as “Tithi”.  The basis for the length of a lunar date is geocentric and is defined as the angular distance between the sun and the moon as seen from the earth.  As the moon rotates around the earth, the relative angular distance between the sun and the moon as seen from the earth increases from 0 degrees to 360 degrees.  It takes one lunar month or about 29 ½ solar days for the angular distance between the sun and the moon to change from 0 to 360 degrees.  When the angular distance reaches zero, the next lunar month begins. Thus, at the new moon a lunar month begins, at full moon, the angular distance between the sun and the moon as seen from the earth becomes exactly 180 degrees.

The lunar cycle begins with crescent moon and the crescent phase lasts till that phase culminates in the full moon, typically lasting for about 15 days.  Then the moon enters in the waning phase until it disappears from the sky by lining up with the Sun.  The waning phase also lasts for about 15 days.  According Indian lunar month, the crescent lunar phase fortnight is called as “Shudha or Shukla Paksha” and the waning phase of the lunar cycle fortnight as “ Krishna Paksha”.  Thus, during Shudha (or Shukla) Paksha the angular distance between the moon and the sun varies from 0 degrees to 180 degrees while that during the  Krishna Paksha from 180 to 0 degrees.  If we divide 180 degrees into 15 equal parts, then each part becomes of 12 degrees in length.  Thus, this each twelve-degree portion of angular distance between the moon and the sun as it appears from the earth is the lunar date or TithiTithis or lunar dates in Shudha (or Shukla) Paksha begin with Prathama (first), Dwitiya (second), etc. till we reach the Poornima, the lunar date for full moon day.  Similarly for the waning fortnight lunar cycle or Wadya (or Krushna) Paksha, tithis begin again with Prathama (first), Dwitiya (second), etc. till we arrive Amavasya or a day before the new moon.  Thus when we refer to Ramnavami (the birthday of Rama), it’s the Navami (ninth lunar day) of Shudha Paksha of the lunar month Chaitra, or Chaitra Shudha Navami.  Similarly, the Gokulashtmi (also called as Janmashtami, the birthday of Krishna) occurs on Shrawan Wadya Ashtami (eighth lunar day of Wadya Paksha of the lunar month Shrawan).  

The angular velocity of moon in its elliptical orbit around the earth varies continuously as it is affected (according to Kepler’s Law) by the relative distance between the earth and the moon, and also by the earth’s relative distance from the sun.  As a result, the daily angular speed (the speed of the angular change between the moon and the sun as seen from the earth) varies somewhere between 10 to 14 degrees per  day. Since the length of a Tithi corresponds to 12 such degrees, the length of a Tithi also varies accordingly.  Therefore, a Tithi can extend over one day (24 hour period) or it can get sorteneded if two Tithis occur in one 24 hour day.

Since the angular distance between the moon and the sun as referred here is always relative to the entire earth, a lunar day or Tithi starts the same time everywhere in the world but not necessarily on the same day. Thus, when a certain Tithi starts at 10:30 PM in India it also begins in New York at the same time, which is 12 PM (EST) on the same day.  Since the length of a Tithi can vary between 20 to 28 hours, its correspondence to a War (a weekday) becomes little confusing.  

As per the Indian calendar, the Tithi for a given location on the earth depends on the angular distance between the moon and the sun relative to the earth at the time of sunrise at that location. Thus, for instance, assume on a November Monday sunrise in New York city occurs 8:30 AM (EST).  Further assume that at 9 AM (EST) on Monday the angular distance between the sun and moon is exactly 12 degrees just following the new moon of the Indian lunar month Kartik.  Since the length of a tithi is 12 degrees, the tithi, Kartik Shudha Dwitiya (second day) begins exactly at 9 AM on Monday of that November in New York.  However, at the time of sunrise on that Monday the tithi Dwitiya has not begun.  Therefore, the tithi for that Monday for city of New York is Kartik Shudha Prathama (first day).  

On the same Monday morning the sunrise in Los Angeles occurs well past 9 AM (EST).  Since the Tithi Dwitiya occurs everywhere in the world at the same instant, therefore, for Los Angeles, the Tithi for that Monday would be Karthik Shudha Dwitiya.

For the same Monday at 9 AM (EST), it would be 7:30 PM in Mumbai or New Delhi.  Thus, Tithi for that Monday for city of New York, Mumbai, and New Delhi is Karthik Shudha Prathama (the first day of Indian lunar month Karthik) while for most of the regions west of Chicago or St. Louis the Tithi for that Monday is Dwitiya.  In other words, the Tithi Karthik Shudha Prathama for regions west of Chicago or St. Louis should occur on the preceding day, the Sunday.  

Karthik Shudha Prathama (the first day of Indian lunar month Karthik) also happens to be the first day after Diwali.  Most of the Indians celebrate this as their New Year ’s Day. Indians living in India, Europe, and eastern part of the United States thus should celebrate their New Year on that Monday while regions west of Chicago should celebrate on the preceding day, the Sunday. (Based on description by  Jagdish C. Maheshri) October 12, 2000

[1] Adhik Mas occurs only when two amavasyas (no

 

 

Sl.No

Krsna paksa
(dark fortnight)

Waning moon

Gaura or shukla paksa
(bright fortnight)

Lightening moon

Deity and properties

1

Pratipat

Pratipat

The presiding deity of the first lunar day in Brahma and is good for all types of auspicious and religious ceremonies

2

Dvitiya

Dvitiya

Vidhatr rules this lunar day and is good for the laying of foundations for buildings and other things of a permanent nature.

3

Trtiya

Trtiya

Visnu is the lord of this day and is good for the cuttings of one's hair and nails and shaving.

4

Caturthi

Caturthi

Yama is lord of the 4th lunar day, which is good for the destruction of one's enemies, the removal of obstacles, and acts of combat.

5

Pancami

Pancami

The Moon rules this day, which is favourable for administering medicine, the purging of poisons, and surgery.

6

Sasti

Sasti

Karttikeya presides over this day and is favourable for coronations, meeting new friends, festivities, and enjoyment.

7

Saptami

Saptami

The 7th lunar day is ruled by Indra; one may begin a journey, buy conveyances, and deal with other such things as a movable nature.

8

Astami

Astami

The Vasus rule this day, which is good for taking up arms, building of one's defenses, and fortification.

9

Navami

Navami

The Serpent rules this day, with is suitable for killing enemies, acts of destruction, and violence.

10

Dasami

Dasami

The day is ruled by Dharma and is auspicious for acts of virtue, religious functions, spiritual practices, and other pious activities.

11

Ekadasi

Ekadasi

Rudra rules this day; fasting, devotional activities, and remembrance of the Supreme Lord are very favourable.

12

Dvadasi

Dvadasi

The Sun rules this day, which is auspicious for religious ceremonies the lighting of the sacred fire, and the performance of one's duties.

13

Trayodasi

Trayodasi

The day is ruled by Cupid and is good for forming friendships, sensual pleasures, and festivities.

14

Caturdasi

Caturdasi

Kali rules this day suitable for administering poison and calling of elementals and spirits.

15

Amavasya
(new moon)

Purnima
(full moon)

The Vasve-devas rule the New Moon suitable for the propitiation of the Manes and performance of austerities.

Zodiac sign

Sanskrit Name

a

Sector end

 

 

 

 

Aries                           

Mesha

00

 30

Taurus            

Vrishabha

30

 60

Gemini            

Mithuna

60

 90

Cancer                       

Karka

90

 120

Leo                  

Simha

120

 150

Virgo             

Kanya

150

 180

Libra              

Tula

180

 210

Scorpio          

Vrishchika

210

 240

Sagittarius   

Dhanus

240

 270

Capricorn      

Makara

270

 300

Aquarius        

Kumbha

300

 330

Pisces                        

Meena

330

 360

The Tropical Zodiac

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ecliptic, Tropical Zodiac and the Sidereal Zodiac

 

9 degrees to either side of the Ecliptic is a belt of the Heavens known as the Zodiac. (Dante called it the Oblique Line that beareth all planets).

 

First 30 degrees of the Zodiac constitute the sign of Aries. The next 30 degrees Taurus and so on. The Zodiac counted from the first degree of Aries to the 360th degree of Pisces is called the Tropical Zodiac.

 

 

These 12 signs are the limbs of the Cosmic Man or Time Eternal (Kalapurusha- The Almighty Self as Time).

 

Aries is His head, Taurus His face, Gemini His neck, Cancer His heart, Leo the place beneath, Virgo His belly, Libra His generative organs, Scorpio the place beneath, Sagittarius His upper thigh, Capricorn his lower thigh, Aquarius His leg and Pisces His feet!

 

5. The Clock, the Sidereal Zodiac, Nakshatras, and the Precession of the

 Equinoxes

 

The basis of the Hindu calendar calculation is Vedic[2]. This calendar has been modified and elaborated, but because it is based on the stars (Nakshatras) visible to the naked eye, and on the visible Lunar phases, it is more accurate than any others of the past. The actual moments when Lunar months begin can easily be checked by the regular appearances of Solar eclipses, and the middle moment of a Lunar month -- Poornima or full moon -- can similarly be verified by the more frequent Lunar eclipses. Hence the Hindu calendar, not requiring special instruments for its rectification, has maintained great accuracy for thousands of years.

 

The oldest calendar is probably the Vedic among the languages referred to as IE languages; at first lunar, later with solar elements added to it. The sister Avesta calendar is similarly first Lunar, but later only Solar. Both these calendars (the oldest in the IE universe) are influenced by the prehistoric calendars of the first and second root races at the North Pole and its surroundings, as they reckon with days and nights lasting six months. 

For untold ages, the Hindus have observed the motion of the moon, the sun and the seven planets along a definite path that circles our sky and is marked by fixed clusters of stars. The moon afforded the simplest example. These early astronomers observed that the moon, moving among these fixed star constellations which they called Nakshatras, returned to the same Nakshatra in 27.32166 days, the exact quantity determined by Aryabhatta, thus completing one Nakshatra month. They found it convenient to divide these groups of stars into 27 almost equal sections, or the 27 Nakshatras. By this method of reckoning, instead of giving the date of a month, as Western calendars do, the Hindus gave the name of the Nakshatra in which the moon was to be seen. (The moon is in each of these Nakshatras for approximately one day plus eighteen minutes.)

This scheme fitted nicely with the sun's cycle, for the Hindus noted that the sun traversed the same circle through the sky, but that it returned to its starting place only after 365.258756481 days, or what we call a Solar Sidereal Year. (Modern figures based on this Hindu figure quote 365.2596296 days -- a distinction without a difference, for ordinary purposes.) Now, having already divided the month into the 27 Nakshatras for the convenience of reckoning the moon's voyage through the heavens, what more natural than that these same Nakshatras should serve for the study of the Sun's course? Being in a circle of 360 degrees, each Nakshatra takes up 13  1/3 degrees of that circle. The Sun, moving about 1 degree in a day, is seen for 13  1/3 days in each Nakshatra. The system of reckoning according to the moon Nakshatras is current today that of the sun's being uncommon.

During the course of one day, the earth has moved a short distance along its orbit around the sun, and so must rotate a small extra angular distance before the sun reaches its highest point. The stars, however, are so far away that the earth's movement along its orbit makes a generally negligible difference to their apparent direction (see, however parallax), and so they return to their highest point in slightly less than 24 hours. A mean sidereal day is about 23h 56m in length. Due to variations in the rotation rate of the Earth, however, the rate of an ideal sidereal clock deviates from any simple multiple of a civil clock. The actual period of the Moon's orbit as measured in a fixed frame of reference is known as a Sidereal month, because it is the time it takes the Moon to return to the same position on the celestial sphere among the fixed stars (Latin: sidus): 27.321 661 days (27 d 7 h 43 min 11.5 s) or about 27 ? days. This type of month has appeared among cultures in the Middle East, India, and China in the following way: they divided the sky in 27 or 28 lunar mansions or Nakshatras, characterized by asterisms (apparent groups of stars), one for each day that the Moon follows its track among the stars.

The basis of the Hindu calendar calculation is Vedic. This calendar has been modified and elaborated, but because it is based on the stars (Nakshatras) visible to the naked eye, and on the visible Lunar phases, it is more accurate than any others of the past. The actual moments when Lunar months begin can easily be checked by the regular appearances of Solar eclipses, and the middle moment of a Lunar month -- Purnima or full moon -- can similarly be verified by the more frequent Lunar eclipses. Hence the Hindu calendar, not requiring special instruments for its rectification, has maintained great accuracy for thousands of years.

The oldest calendar is probably the Vedic among the languages referred to as IE languages; at first lunar, later with solar elements added to it. The sister Avesta calendar is similarly first Lunar, but later only Solar. Both these calendars (the oldest in the IE universe) are influenced by the prehistoric calendars of the first and second root races at the North Pole and its surroundings, as they reckon with days and nights lasting six months. 

For untold ages, the Hindus have observed the motion of the moon, the sun and the seven planets along a definite path that circles our sky and is marked by fixed clusters of stars. The moon afforded the simplest example. These early astronomers observed that the moon, moving among these fixed star constellations which they called Nakshatras, returned to the same Nakshatra in 27.32166 days, the exact quantity determined by Aryabhatta, thus completing one Nakshatra month. They found it convenient to divide these groups of stars into 27 almost equal sections, or the 27 nakshatras. By this method of reckoning, instead of giving the date of a month, as Western calendars do, the Hindus gave the name of the Nakshatra in which the moon was to be seen. (The moon is in each of these Nakshatras for approximately one day plus eighteen minutes.)

This scheme fitted nicely with the sun's cycle, for the Hindus noted that the sun traversed the same circle through the sky, but that it returned to its starting place only after 365.258756481 days, or what we call a Solar Sidereal Year. (Modern figures based on this Hindu figure quote 365.2596296 days -- a distinction without a difference, for ordinary purposes.) Now, having already divided the month into the 27 nakshatras for the convenience of reckoning the moon's voyage through the heavens, what more natural than that these same Nakshatras should serve for the study of the Sun's course? Being in a circle of 360 degrees, each Nakshatra takes up 13  1/3 degrees of that circle. The Sun, moving about 1 degree in a day, is seen for 13  1/3 days in each nakshatra. The system of reckoning according to the moon Nakshatras is current today, that of the sun's being uncommon.

In brief, then, the earliest method, the Vedic, of counting, was to name the moon through the various Nakshatras -- the circle or cycle repeating itself each Sidereal-Star-Month. Later the sun's place in the same Nakshatras was noted, the year ending when the Sun returned to the same Nakshatra. Then came the noting of the Solar and Lunar eclipses, and the observance of the New and Full Moons divided the month into the two phases of waxing and waning Moon, the month beginning at the moment of New Moon. This is how the Hindus reckon today, the month taking its name from the Nakshatra in which the Full Moon is seen each month. The Full Moon being exactly opposite the Sun, the Solar nakshatra bears the same name as the Lunar month six months ahead, while each Lunar month bears the same name as the 14th Solar Nakshatra ahead.

The Western student faced with these unfamiliar calculations may echo the old Persian proverb, "Why count big numbers and small fractions, when they are all amassed in 1?" But the Hindu looks on these figures from another point of view -- he lives with them, and among them, and by them, much of the time. Consider a Sanscrit sloka (verse) about the Savati or pearl nakshatra, which marks the new season after the monsoon is over. The sloka says, "If in the Swati a rain drop falls into the sea, that drop becomes a pearl." This may sound foolish, for the peasant, though he live in the depth of the interior of India, knows that pearls come from the sea -- even if he does not necessarily understand that these pearls grow inside the oyster. He does know, however, that if it rains at this period of the year, his crops will yield great wealth. And the pearl is synonymous with wealth among people who, if they have any money, invest it in jewelry, especially gold and pearls, rather than in the banks. (Poetically, rice, their staple food)

To summarize, the earth revolves around the Sun once in 365 days 5 hours 48 minutes and 46 seconds. Considered from the earth, the Sun appears to complete one round of the ecliptic during this period. This is the Tropical year. In the span of a tropical year, the earth regains its original angular position with the Sun. It is also called the Year of seasons since the occurrence, and timing, of seasons depends on the rotation of the earth around the sun. If, for example, we consider the revolution of the Sun around the earth from one vernal equinox (around 21st March, when the day and night all over the globe are equal) to the next vernal equinox, it takes one tropical year to do so.

 

However, if at the end of a tropical year from one vernal equinox to the next, we consider the position of the earth with reference to a fixed star of the zodiac, the earth appears to lie some 50.26 seconds of celestial longitude to the west of its original position. In order for the earth to attain the same position with respect to a fixed star after one revolution, it takes a time span of 365 days 6 hours 9 minutes and some 9.5 seconds. This duration of time is called a sidereal year .The sidereal year is just over 20 minutes longer than the tropical year; this time difference is equivalent to 50.26 seconds of celestial longitude.

Each year, the Vernal equinox will fall short by 50.26 seconds along the zodiac reckoned along the fixed stars.  This continuous receding of the Vernal equinox along the zodiac is termed the Precession of the Equinoxes and it takes about   25776 years to make one complete revolution of the precessional motion of the earth’s axis. Hipparchus  regarded as the discoverer of the precession of the equinoxes in the west gave us either 28,000 or 28,173 years for one revolution.. Another figure given is 25,920 years for the precession cycle, These figures indicate that the mean value of 27,000 years given in the Vedic scriptures is reasonable. The precession of the equinoxes has proved to be very useful for dating certain events in Vedic and Post Vedic times.

There are only a few methods, by which we can determine the age of an event in the absence of radiocarbon dating which is not as precise as the astronomical clocks,

  1. Use the Precession of the equinoxes to determine the Nakshatra in which  the Vernal equinox occurs in a particular Nakshatra. If, we recall there are 27 Nakshatras, it follows that the vernal equinox occurs in a different Nakshatra, once every 1000 years.
  2. Use the statements made in the texts to check for internal consistency. If for example Aryabhatta uses a place value system, the zero must have been in fairly wide use by then. If further he uses classical sanskrit (codified by Panini then he must have lived after Panini

 

 

Western Zodiac name

Indian Nakshatras (Sidereal Zodiac)

Sector in deg,min deg,min

1.

Beta Arietis 

Aswini

00 00 13 20

2.

41 Arietis

 Bharani

 13 20 26 40

3.

Eta Tauri

Karthika

26 40 40 00

4.

Alpha Tauri

Rohini

40 00 53 20

5.

Lamda Orionis

Mrigasira

53 20 66 40

6.

Alpha Orionis

Aridra

66 40 80 00

7.

Beta Geminorum

 Punarvasu

 80 00 93 20

8.

 Delta Cancri

Pushya

 93 20 106 40

9.

Alpha Cancri

Aslesha

106 40 120 00

10.

Alpha Leonis

 Magha

120 00 133 20

11.

Delta Leonis

 Pubba

 133 20 146 40

12.

Beta Leonis

Uttara

146 40 160 00

13.

Delta Corvi

 Hasta

160 00 173 20

14.

 Alpha Virginis

 Chitra

173 20 186 40

15.

Alpha Bootis

 Chothi

186 40 200 00

16.

Beta Librae

 Vishakam

 200 00 213 20

17.

Delta Scorpi

Anuradha

 213 20 226 40

18.

 Alpha Scorpi

Jyeshta

226 40 240 00

19.

 Lamda Scorpi

Moola

240 00 253 20

20.

Delta Sagittari

Poorvashad

253 20 266 40

21.

Delta Sagittari

Uthrashad

266 40 280 00

22.

Alpha Aquilae

 Sravana

280 00 293 20

23.

Alpha Delphini

Dhanishta

 293 20 306 40

24.

Lamda Aquar

Satabhisha

306 40 320 00

25.

Alpha Pegasi

 Poorvabhadra

320 00 333 20

26.

Alpha Andromeda

 Uttrarabhadra

 333 20 346 40

27.

 Zeta Piscium

Revathi

 346 40 360 00

 

 

 

 

Values for the Lunar sidereal orbit and the Lunar Synodic orbit are given in Table below

 

COMPARISONS

Lunar sidereal orbit

Lunar synodic orbit

AD 2000.0

27.32166156

29.53058888

AD 498

27.3216638

29.530591

Àryabhata

27.321668

29.530582

Paulisa Siddhanta

27.321673

29.530587

1604 BC

27.321668

29.530595

 

ASTRONOMIC
AUTHORITY

Àryabhata
(from Clarke and Kay)

Surya
Siddanta

Years in Cycle

4,320,000

4,320,000

Rotations

1,582,237,500

1,582,237,828

Days

1,577,917,500

1,577,917,828

Lunar Orbits

57,753,336

57,753,336

Kay notes 57,753,339 lunar orbits rather than 57,753,336 per Clarke.

Synodic Months

53,433,336

53,433,336

Mercury

17,937,920

17,937,060

Venus

7,022,388

7,022,376

Mars

2,296,824

2,296,832

Jupiter

364,224

364,220

Saturn

146,564

146,568

 

 

6. How old is the universe, Kalachakra and the  Yuga concept,

Hindu cosmological time frames


The Hindu Calendar (also known as the Panchanga ) currently in practice reckons time in terms of very large cycles called Kalpa (4.32 billion years) consisting of 14 Manvantaras(Manvantara or age of Manu,~ 308 million years). A Manvantara is made up of Mahayugas (Mahayuga= great yuga consists of 4 yugas: Krita, Treta, Dwapara and Kali). Kali yuga is equivalent to 432,000 years and 1 Mahayuga= 4.32 million years. This system appears to have been in use since the days of the Epics and Puranas, and attested in the Siddhantas. However, the earliest Vedic Calendar was based on a cycle also called yuga, but consisting of only five years. This ancient Vedic Calendar was a Luni-solar calendar and used two intercalary months in a five year period and has often been criticized as being very crude.

First we have Kalpa, a day in  Brahma’s  ‘life’ or 4320 million earthly years, and a night of equal length.  During the day he creates and during the  night he absorbs to begin the cycle  each Brahma day . Each kalpa is divided into 14 Manvantaras or 308.448 million years we are supposed to be in the seventh Manvantara of Vaivasvata Manu. Each Manvantara contains 71 Mahayugas , plus 1Krtayuga ,and each Mahayuga is divided into 4 yugas — Krta, Treta, Dvapara and Kali of 4800, 3600, 2400 and 1200 divine years of the Gods, each of which = 360 human years. We are at present in   the Kali yuga which began in 3102 BCE the traditional year of the Mahabharata war .



 

Thus, we have a day in Brahma’s life  of 1 Kalpa

1 Brahma Day (day and night)  = 2 Kalpa

1 Kalpa    = 4,320,000,000  earthly years (Y) =14 Manus + 1Kritayuga = 1000 MY =14*71.4+.4

Kaliyuga   = 432,000 Y  = 1KY = 1200 divine years  (DY) = 1 Yuga

1 DY = 360 Y

Dwapara  = 864,000 Y  = 2KY = 2400 DY

TretaYuga = 1,296,000 Y = 3KY = 3600 DY

Kritayuga =  1,728,000 Y =4 KY = 4800 DY = 0.4 MY =.4/71.4 = 5.6022408964e-3

Mahayuga (MY) =  4,320,000 earthly years = 10 KY = 12000 DY

1Manvantra (M) = 71 MY = 306.72 million years

 

1 Manu  = 1M +  1 KritaYuga =  308.448 million years = 856,800 DY

1 Kalpa  = 14 Manus + 1KritaYuga = 14*71.4 +.4 = 1000 MY = 12,000,000 DY = 4.32 billionY

 

So how old is the Universe

 

As of Vaisakhapratipada of 2006 CE, May 1  we are in the second quarter of Brahma’s day  ??????? ??????, called Shewtavarah Kalpa, seventh Manvantara named Vaivasvata and entered into the first quarter of the 28th Kaliyuga. Already 5107 years of this 28th KY have passed. so the time elapsed  in this Kalpa is

 

6        M                                         =1,850,688,000 Y  (6*308,448,000) = 6 M

And 27 MY                                         = 116,640,000   Y (27 * 4,320,000) = 27/71.4 = 0.3781512605 M

And 28th (Krita+Treta +Dwapara        = 3,888,000  Y  (9*432,000) =0.9 MY =.9/71.4 = 0.012605042 M

5107 Y of Kaliyuga)                            = 5107 Y

So the current year 2006 CE              = 1 ,971,221,108 Y

The 12 signs of the Zodiac with Sanskrit names are mentioned In Brihat Samhita and Laghu Bhaskariyam. The former is the work of Varahamihira 505 CE. He is supposed to have borrowed it from a Greek  of the 4th century CE. (Could it be Hipparchus)

 

To conclude this brief acquaintance with Vedic astronomy, we want to draw attention to the possible presence in the Rg-Veda of a momentous cultural artifact, the origin of which is usually situated in Babylonia in about 600 BC: the twelve-sign Zodiac.  In RV 1:164:11, the sun wheel in heaven is said to have 12 spokes, and to be subdivided into 360 pairs of “sons”: the days (consisting of day and night), rounded off to an arithmetically manageable number, also the basis of the “Babylonian” division of the circle in 3600.  The division in 12 already suggests the Zodiac, and we also find, in the footsteps of N.R. Waradpande, that a number of the Zodiacal constellations/ rAshis (classically conceived as combinations of 2 or 3 successive Lunar mansions or Nakshatras of 13 ° and 20’ each) are mentioned. Obviously the Rg should be dated prior to the beginning of Kaliyuga, as we have already demonstrated and hence the Babylonian origin of the twelve sign Zodiac is suspect.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Zodiac is also tenanted by 27 constellations each of them spread over an arc of 13 degrees 20 minutes. The Zodiac counted from the first degree of Beta Arietis ( Aswini) to the 360th degree of Zeta Piscium ( Revathi) is known as the Sidereal[3] Zodiac.

 

 


 

 

[2] The following is based on an original account by Dr. Dwarakanath a physicist. He teaches sanskrit during his free time and interested in vedic learning and vedanta.

 

[3] Sidereal month The actual period of the Moon's orbit as measured in a fixed frame of reference is known as a sidereal month, because it is the time it takes the Moon to

 return to the same position on the celestial sphere among the fixed stars (Latin: sidus): 27.321 661 days (27 d 7 h 43 min 11.5 s) or about 27 ? days. This type of month has appeared among cultures in the Middle East, India, and China in the following way: they divided the sky in 27 or 28 lunar mansions, characterized by asterisms (apparent groups of stars), one for each day that the Moon follows its track among the stars.

    

 

 

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