The most significant part in nature is ‘Time’, equally insignificant if you have no idea about time. This applies to everything, only when we uncover the worth of something, we start to bow down and respect it.
Moving forward; the moment somebody talks about history, his or her direct reference next is ‘time’. Time here isn’t limited to AM or PM, it goes beyond. Time refers to the second, minute, hour, day, month and year. But these words and measurements of time are western. Indians followed a slightly different system of timekeeping.
Indian System vs Western System of Timekeeping
In the 21st Century, the entire world has got shifted to using the western system of timekeeping. We have time measurement units like a second, minute, an hour in the western system. These are three measurement tools. But the regional timekeeping concepts are still studied and used in the countries. Like for example, the Indian system of timekeeping could be the one among the oldest timekeeping concepts. Though most people have no clear idea of Indian timekeeping, the origins are intact.
In fact, the need for timekeeping had risen after the introduction of Astrology by Bhrigu Maharshi, one of the Sapt Rishis who had later joined Deva Loka as the main priest. Also, the other need for timekeeping was to plan the daily activities.
Division of time into various parts:
Unlike in the Western System of timekeeping, a day is divided into 24 hours, Indian or Vedic system of timekeeping has day divided by Sunrise. To fit the accuracy of the day and night in 24 hours, those days people preferred to calculate time as per Sun’s movement. With days passed, we have all shifted to the Western System of Time Keeping.
Indian System of timekeeping and the four measurements units: Vipal – Pal – Ghadi – Hora
These are the four-time measurement units. Of these four units, many of us would’ve heard Pal and Ghadi. Thanks to poetry and songs. Now, let’s pick a day for example and understand the application of these 4-time units. We will try to understand it by going in ascending order.
First measurement unit is Vipal.
- Vipal is the smallest unit and 60 Vipal are equal to 1 Pal
- 1 Pal is equivalent to 2.5 seconds in the western system
- 60 Pal is equal to 1 Ghadi
- 1 Ghadi is equal to 24 minutes
- 5 Ghadi is equal to 1 Hora
- 1 Hora is equal to 1 hour
Explaining it again, one ghadi is equal to 24 minutes and totally we have 60 Ghadis in a day. These are again divided into 30 for day and 30 for a night or we convert 2.5 Ghadi into 1 Hora, that way we get 60 ghadis divided by 2.5 is equal to 24 Horas. The biggest unit Hora is equivalent to the western unit hour.
That’s not the end. The other term that you would’ve heard but have no clue is Prahar. Prahar is a period of 3 Horas or 7.5 Ghadis. By dividing 24 Horas we would return with 8 Prahars. These 8 Prahars are made into Day and Night period. Here are the names of the Prahars:
Sunrise to Sunset:
- Purvanha 6 am to 9 am
- Madhyana 9 am to 12 pm
- Aparana 12 pm to 3 pm
- Sayankala 3 pm to 6 pm
- Pradoshana 6 pm to 9 pm
- Nishitha 9 pm to 12 am
- Trayama 12 am to 3 am
- Usha 3 am to 6 am
So, after a bit of mathematical calculation, you are aware of the Indian system of timekeeping. The terms are very much known to us, but the usage is almost nil. Unlike the western timekeeping, Vedic timekeeping is accurate as it is directly connected to the Sun’s and Moon’s movement.
Adding a finish to it:
- 29-30 Days is 1 Maas or Month
- 2 Maas or Months is 1 Rithu or Season
- 3 Rithus or Season is 1 Ayana or Semi-Equinox
- 2 Ayanas is 1 Samvatsara
Let’s hope that one day, instead of saying its 10 PM now, we will say that the second hour of the second prahar of the night has just started.