Today I will talk about the Vedic period and how we arrived at it. In the process, I will also tell you about Hindu Panchangam. The History of most sacred scriptures, the Vedas goes back to 14,000 -15,000 BC. Though the popular belief is Vedas are 1,800 to 2,00 BCE old, a deep research study has given enough valid reason to strike off this belief. The new belief should be that the Vedas date back to 14,000 BCE. I am going to write a two-part series to explain to you what makes me believe that Vedas originated around 14000BCE and not 2000BCE as given in textbooks.
This exercise more of a logical one by establishing a connection with the concepts and their relevance. In a way, this was a deductive reasoning exercise. So, you can understand the brain activity behind this exercise. There must be the most common question raised in people’s mind and that is how come 10 times jump in the no of years?
To derive the clarity and assign the number of years, we need to look at the astrology discovered by Bhrigu Maharshi, one of the Sapt Rishis. Astrology needs no explanation for the believers and for the non-believers no explanation is sufficient to make them agree. Let’s now look at an arm of astrology – The Panchang!
The Panchang or Panchangam – ‘Panch’ means five and ‘Ang’ or ‘Anga’ means limbs. Simply, it cumulates to form a book of timekeeping and date calculation. So, the five limbs or Angas are listed below:
- Vara – Day of the Week
- Tithi – Lunar Day
- Nakshatra – Astro Star
- Yoga – Distance between Sun and the nakshatra
- Karna – Half of Tithi is Karna
In these five, important are the first three. The entire year is for 12 months. This is the same for both the Lunar and Solar months. Traditional Indians follow the Lunar Calendar of 29.5 days per month. Also, we follow the Solar Calendar with 30 days per month.
In a Solar calendar, Sun stays in one Zodiac sign for 30-31 days. Like, Aries is from March 21st to April 19th, Taurus April 20th to May 20th and so on. Thus, Sun finishes its movement from one sign to another for 12 signs in 12 months.
But there’s a difference in Lunar Calendar. Unlike the Sun, Moon visits 12 signs in every month i.e. in 29.5 days. Which means 12 signs X 12 months = 144 days. That’s 144 visits in one year.
Seems like there’s no difference right. The catch here is with the number of days taken to visit the signs. In the case of Solar Calendar, Sun takes 30-31 days per one sign or 365 days for full revolution, whereas Moon takes 29.5 days or 354 days. This creates a gap of 11 days. This continues until the number of days gap reaches 30. Thus, for every fourth year, an additional month called as Adhika Maas is added to Lunar calendar.
Because there is a gap and we correct it every fourth year, the dates of festivals also keep changing. You guessed it right, only Solar Festivals date change because Lunar Festivals date changes every year. So, time for recollecting something – Ayana. Ayana refers to one half. Two Ayana’s or two halves is one full year.
Before going into Ayana, let’s look at the first attribute ‘Vara’. Vara means the day. Each day is dedicated to one planet. Except for the Rahu and Ketu, because these are the shadows of planets.
That’s how each day is dedicated to one planet. Then roughly 4 weeks form a month, 12 months form a year.
The second limb of Panchanga after vara is “Thithi”. In the Indian system, there are 30 thithis or days, which are divided into two halves. The first half is called the brighter half or Shukla paksha and the second half is called darker half or Krishna paksha. Each half has 15 days which goes like this: Prathama, Dwitiya, Tritiya, Chaturthi, Panchami, Shashti, Saptami, Ashtami, Navami, Dasami, Ekadashi, Dwadashi, Triyodashi, Chaturdashi and Pournami or full moon day. The days are the same for 14 days in bright and dark halves but the 15th day in each half is called Pournami and Amavasya. Thus Amavasya is the last day of the month and it is the 30th day of the month.
Point to be noted is unlike the solar calendar where each day is fixed from sunrise to next day sunrise, the lunar calendar doesn’t have a fixed time. Thus 30 days are covered in 29.5 days. How is it done? Usually, we see the panchangam or calendar and it gives the ending time of a thithi. Like today, 23rd June at 9 PM when am writing the thithi is “Tritiya” and it ends tomorrow ie 24th June morning at 10.13 AM. Tritiya started today at 11.18 AM. So, the total duration of the Tritiya is 22 hours and 55 minutes. At 10.13 AM on 24th Tritiya ends and Chaturthi starts and goes on till 8.47 AM on 25th June which is 22 hours and 34 minutes.
‘Why Thithis have different timings? How to calculate them? We will see in the next post’.