BA PART I : PAPER 3.1
DIVISIONS OF TIME
T elling time has been refined to a science in the Hindu culture. And nowhere is
time given greater prominence than in the Hindu temple. If you are accustomed to Western time concepts, the following overview of time from the Hindu perspective will be illuminating.
ANNOUNCING TIME/SPACE COORDINATES—THE SAMKALPA
The samkalpa, a formal statement of intent chanted aloud by the priest before each temple ceremony, designates the time and place of the puja. It is divided into several sections. Vedic Calendar lists this chant for each day with the appropriate tithi, nakshatra, yoga, karana, and so on. It does not list the yuga and other larger time divisions, since they do not change very often! Therefore, we will list and explain them here, both for the information of those who are doing temple pujas and for the appreciation of the general reader.
The samkalpa chant begins with the name of the present kalpa—a vast, cosmic time period known as “a day of Brahm (God).” (Each new creation cycle begins a new kalpa. Some calculate one kalpa to be 4,320,000,000 years.) The name of the current kalpa is Svetavara. Each kalpa is divided into 14 manvantaras. We are in the first phase of the 7th manvantara, called Vaivasvata. Each manvantara lasts 71 mahayugas. Each mahayuga is made up of four yugas—Sat, Treta, Dvapara and Kali. The Sat Yuga is known as the Age of Enlightenment, and each yuga that follows is progressively “darker” as the mass mind becomes more externalized. At the present time our solar system is experiencing the last part of the Kali Yuga of the 28th mahayuga of the Vaivasvata Manvantara. We are in the Dark Age, and the first rays of light from the Sat Yuga are beginning to be felt again. (To summarize, each kalpa (4.32 billion years) is divided into 14 manvantaras. Each manvantara equals 71 mahayugas. And each mahayuga equals 4 yugas.) So, the priest would say, “Svetavarana Kalpe, Vaivasvata Manvantare, Ashtavim Satitame, Kaliau Yuge, Prathamepade, etc.”
Next in the samkalpa, the priest announces the place on earth where the
puja is being performed. In Hawaii, we state we are in the middle of the Pacific
ocean, in the Hawaiian Islands, on the famous island of Kauai, near the mountain
of Waialeale, along the Wailua River on the parcel of land where heaven meets the earth!
These greater delineations are followed by further diminishing designations of time, all of which are found on your calendar in the paragraph at the top of each day’s designations. This includes the name of the year, the half-year, the season, month, fortnight, day, nakshatra, yoga and tithi. Each of these important elements of the calendar is explained below.
In India there are numerous era systems in use. The Kali Era, Vikrama Era, Saka Era and the Kollam Era are several of the era systems being followed today. Vedic Calendar incorporates three different types of era systems. First, the Gregorian or Christian Era system is used for modern day convenience. Second, we use the Kali Era, which is followed in various Hindu traditions including the Tamil. It began around February 17, 3102 BCE. The exact date varies according to the method of calculation. The third system used in Vedic Calendar is the Siva Era which began February 16, 1973, the first day of the lunar month in which the Siva Nataraja Deity was installed in the Kadavul Hindu Temple. The current year is listed on each day of Vedic Calendar in these three era forms. To the third line of the last column is the name and number of the Kali Era, e.g. Pramodha 5092. In the fourth line are the Gregorian years of the Kali Era year. In the fifth line is the circle (year) and cycle (3-year period) of the Siva Era system. The Hindu year for the Kali Era system begins when the Sun enters the sign of Mesha (Aries). In the Gregorian, of course, it begins January 1. And in the Siva Era system the beginning of the year varies year to year. The new year’s day marked on the calendar for celebration is that of the Kali era. It is a day of great importance, and a time of celebration, marking the dawn of a new year cycle.
THE NAME OF THE YEAR
Preceding the number of the Hindu year at the very top of the page is the name of the current year. In all, there are sixty names, which repeat in a sixty-year cycle based on the time it takes Jupiter to orbit the sun five times. The names of the years are:
Prabhava, Vibhava, Sukla, Pramoda, Prajapati, Angiras, Srimukha, Bhava,
Yuvan, Dhatri, Isvara, Bahudhanya, Pramathin, Vikrama, Vrisha, Chitrabhanu,
Subhanu, Tarana, Parthiva, Vyaya, Sarvajit, Sarvadharin, Virodhin,
Vikrita, Khara, Nandana, Vijaya, Jaya, Manmatha, Durmukha, Hemalam-
ba, Vilamba, Vikarin, Sarvari, Plava, Subhakrit, Sobhana, Krodhin, Visvavasu, Parabhava, Palavanga, Kilaka, Saumaya, Sadharana, Virodhakrit, Paridhavin, Pramadin, Ananda, Rakshasa, Anala (or Nala), Pingala, Kalayukta, Siddharthin, Raudra, Durmati, Dundubhi, Rudhirodgarin, Raktaksha, Krodhana and Kshaya (or Akshaya).
Each name suggests the general feeling of the year it denotes. The year 5086 (1984) was known as Raktakshi, “she with red eyes.” The year 5087 (1985) was Krodhana, “the year of anger.” The year 5088 (1986), the last in Jupiter’s cycle, was Kshaya—“decay, destruction or end.” The year 5089 (1987), Prabhava, the first year in the new cycle, means “arise, spring forth; source, origin.” The year 5090 (1988) was Vibhava, “light, luster, splendor, beauty.” The following year, 5091 (1989), was Sukla, “bright, pure, unsullied.” And 5092 (1990) is Pramoda, “excessive joy, delight or gladness.” The year 5093 (1991) is Prajapati, “Lord (pati) of creature,” or “Father of creation.”
THE JOVIAN YEAR OR BARHASPATYA VARSA SYSTEM
For the information of those with a background in astrology, a word of explanation about the Jupiter cycle as a basis for naming the years may be helpful. Actually it stems from another year system known as Barhaspatya Varsa or Jovian (Jupiter) year system in which the year is measured by the time period of Jupiter’s motion through one Zodiac sign. Traveling through 12 rasis (zodiac signs), Jupiter makes a complete sidereal revolution, comprising 12 Jovian years. Five revolutions around the sun forms the 60-year cycle of Jupiter.
Each year is divided into two halves, known as ayana. The fourth word in the sankalpam indicates the ayana, the current six month period—either Uttarayana or Dakshinayana. Uttarayana begins on the day of the winter solstice, normally December 21, when the sun begins its apparent northward journey. Dakshinayana begins on the first day of the summer solstice, normally June 21, marking the sun’s southward movement. The two days commencing the two ayanas are considered sacred and known as punya kala, “times of great merit.” The current ayana is the second item in the sankalpam in Vedic Calendar.
THE SIX SEASONS—RTAU
In the West we are familiar with four seasons—spring, summer, autumn
and winter. In India, there are six seasons. Each season is two months (masa) in
1) The new year begins with Vasanta Rtau, the season when the trees and plants are blossoming, which begins on the first day of Mesha Mase (mid-April).
2) Grishma Rtau, commencing at the start of Maithuna Mase (in mid-June), is the “hot summer.”
3) The rainy season, Varsha Rtau, begins in Simha Mase (mid-August).
4) Sara Rtau, the season of fruits, begin in Thula Mase (mid-October).
5) Hemantha Rtau, the cold season, begins in mid-December.
6) Sisir Rtau, the last season of the year, begins in Kumbha Mase (mid-February), when trees and plants begin sprouting new leaves. In Vedic Calendar the season is the third notation in the sankalpam. At Kauai’s Hindu Monastery we follow three seasons as outlined in the Saiva Dharma Shastras. Each season a different textbook is studied. They are as follows:
1) Nartana Ritau, the season of Dancing With Siva, begins on Hindu New Year. This is the period of creation, the warm season, from mid-April through mid-August.
2) During Jivana Ritau, the rainy season, from mid-August to mid-December,
3) The third period of the year, Moksha Ritau, the cool season, is from mid-December to mid-April. Merging With Siva: Hinduism’s Contemporary Metaphysics is the focus of study and intense investigation.
THE MONTH—MASA—SOLAR AND LUNAR
In India, several states use a solar-year calendar while others use the lunar-year calendar. In all states the lunar calendar is used for determining the dates of religious festivals and for selecting auspicious times for beginning many socio-religious activities. Vedic Calendar uses both the solar month and the lunar month and would be known as a “luni-solar calendar.” For business purposes and modern convenience we also use the Gregorian year which follows neither a solar month nor a lunar system.
The Hindu astronomical text, Surya-Siddhanta, defines the solar month as the time it takes the sun to traverse one rasi (Zodiac sign), measured from the time of entry into one rasi (this point is known as a samkranti) and the next.
The point when the sun enters Mesha (Aries) rasi is widely accepted as the
beginning of the year. Thus the first solar month is called Mesha in Sanskrit.
The Sanskrit names of the solar months are listed in Vedic Calendar. Each is
named after the sign of the zodiac that the sun is in. Their names are Mesha
(Aries), Vrshabha (Taurus), Mithuna (Gemini), Kataka (Cancer), Simha (Leo),
Kanya (Virgo), Thula (Libra), Vrschika (Scorpio), Dhanus (Sagittarius), Makara
(Capricorn), Kumbha (Aquarius) and Meena (Pisces). The Sanskrit name of the
current solar month is found at the top of each day’s notations, in the middle preceded
by the word mase.
The lunar month is measured either by the period covered from one newmoon to the next, known as the amanta or mukhya mana system, or from one fullmoon to the next one, known as the purnimanta or gauna mana system. Vedic Calendar uses the purnimanta lunar month system. Each lunar month is simply named Moon 1, Moon 2, Moon 3, etc. This notation is found at the very top of each calendar page.
In India and other parts of the world those who follow a panchangam strictly, such as Vedic schools, known as “gurukulams” or “pathasalas,” live their life by the lunar month, “moon,” or masa.
LIGHT AND DARK FORTNIGHT—PAKSHA
One month is the duration of one orbit of the moon around the earth. In Hindu measuring of time, this period is divided in two parts, the light fortnight, called shukla paksha (or sudi), and the dark fortnight, called krishna paksha (or vadi). Shukla Paksha is the period when the moon is waxing, beginning on the new moon (Amavasya) and extending to the full moon (Purnima). Krishna paksha, the period when the moon is waning, begins after the full moon and extends to the new moon. Knowing whether the moon is waxing or waning is helpful in understanding the moon’s current influence. Under the waxing moon, we are generally more energetic, as moon’s forces are on the rise, indicating growth and development.
THE MOON SIGN OR RASI
In Vedic Calendar the rasi names the Zodiac sign the moon is currently
passing through. It lists the degree of the sign of the moon at 6:00 AM. For example,
“Kataka (Cancer) Rasi 1.4” means that the moon is at 1.4 degrees Cancer at
6:00 in the morning. The moon travels approximately 12° per day. For gardening,
the moon sign is useful in determining planting, harvesting, fertilizing and other
gardening activity dates. The rasi is listed in the first column for each day. The moon takes a little over two and one-half days to traverse one zodiac sign. The rasis are Mesha (Aries), Vrshabha (Taurus), Mithuna (Gemini), Kataka (Cancer), Simha (Leo), Kanya (Virgo), Thula (Libra), Vrschika (Scorpio), Dhanus (Sagittarius), Makara (Capricorn), Kumbha (Aquarius) and Meena (Pisces).
THE DAY—SOLAR AND LUNAR
THE SOLAR DAY—VASARA
In addition to observing the lunar day, or tithi (discussed in the next section), the traditional Hindu calendar also recognizes the solar day, or vasara. The vasara begins with sunrise and ends with sunrise the next day, based on the rotation of the earth on its axis. (The time of sunrise and sunset are listed in column six of each day’s notations in Vedic Calendar.) Each solar day is divided into 24 horas (hours), and the horas are assigned to the planets in their “descending sidereal period.” There are seven days in the week, and each is most strongly influenced by a particular planet as follows. In Vedic Calendar, vasara is listed after the English weekday notation and also as the last item in the first line of the sankalpam.
Solar Day (Vasara) English Ruling Planet
Bhanu (or Ravi) vasara Sunday Sun
Indu (or Soma) vasara Monday Moon
Mangala vasara Tuesday Mars
Budha vasara Wednesday Mercury
Guru (or Brihaspati) vasara Thursday Jupiter
Sukra vasara Friday Venus
Manta (or Sani) vasara Saturday Saturn
SIVA ERA LUNAR DAYS—SUNS & STAR DAYS
In the Siva Era system there are 27 days (called suns) in each moon plus two or three additional days at the end of the moon (beginning with Purnima, full moon). These special days are called special “star days.” The first special star day is called the “copper star,” the second the “silver star” and the third the “gold star.” Gold stars only occur about every two moons. This method of marking the days is only used within Gurudeva’s monasteries. (The current sun is indicated by the small number at the top right corner of each day’s notations.)
KALI ERA LUNAR DAYS—30 TITHIS
Days are also designated by the Kali Era measurement, known as the tithi. A tithi is an exact lunar day, which is approximately one-thirtieth of the time it takes the moon to orbit the earth. A tithi may vary in length from day to day. There are 15 tithis in each fortnight. Their names are: Prathama, Dvitiya, Tritiya, Chaturthi, Panchami, Shasthi, Saptami, Ashtami, Navami, Dasami, Ekadasi, Dvadasi, Trayodasi, Chaturdasi and Amavasya/Purnima. Purnima, full-moon day, is the fifteenth tithi of the bright fortnight, and Amavasya, new-moon day, is the fifteenth tithi of the dark fortnight. (On many panchangams, the new moon is numbered as the thirtieth tithi.)
The current tithi is the first item in column two for each day. It is also the last item in the first line of the sankalpam at the very top of each day’s designations, e.g., “Chaturthi/Panchami Yam Titau.”
Certain tithis are not conducive for study or beginning new efforts. In gurukulams (schools) and aadheenams (monasteries) these are times of retreat. As they occur in pairs four times per moon, they are roughly parallel to the modern “weekend,” though, of course, they do not necessarily fall on Saturday and Sunday. The retreat tithis are Ashtami, Navami, Amavasya, Prathama and Purnima. Each has its own special nature. Purnima (full-moon day) is especially good for worship. Amavasya (new moon day) is conducive to meditation. For many devout Hindus, Amavasya and Purnima are times of vrata, observing religious vows. Prathama, the tithi following both Purnima and Amavasya, is generally a good day for seminars and philosophical discussions.
Ashtami and Navami are ideally reserved for rest and relaxation. Ashtami is traditionally a day for fasting and not a good day for learning. (In western astrology, Ashtami would be recognized as a square aspect between the sun and the moon, a configuration which can make for a difficult day.) Ashtami is considered inauspicious for beginning new activities because of the inharmonious energies existing due to the relationship between the sun and moon.
In Vedic Calendar, retreat days are noted in the upper left corner of the
day’s designations. Retreats are labeled “Retreat Star,” with the exception of those
occurring at full-moon time. These retreat days have special names. Purnima is
the Copper Star Retreat, Prathama is the Silver Star Retreat. In addition, approximately
every other moon the Dvitiya tithi following the full moon is taken as a re-
treat day at Kauai’s Hindu Monastery. It is the Gold Star Retreat. Each “work day” in the monastery is noted by a large number in the upper left corner of the day. This number indicates the number of the day of that phase (or quarter) of the moon. The first day after the retreat is number one, and so on.
A karana is half of a tithi or lunar day. There are sixty karanas in one lunar month, but only eleven distinct names are used. The current karana is the third item in the second column of each day’s designations. The first karana ends at the middle of the tithi and the second karana ends with the ending of that tithi. Like the yoga, the karana is a factor used by astrologers for determining the auspiciousness of the day for a given activity. The names of the karanas are: Bava, Balava, Kaulava, Taitila, Gara, Vanij, Visti, Sakuni, Chatuspada, Naga and Kimtughna.
THE CONSTELLATION OF THE DAY—NAKSHATRA
Nakshatra simply means star cluster. In Hindu astrology the term nearly always refers to 27 specific star-clusters, or constellations, which lie along the ecliptic. The ecliptic is the apparent yearly path of the sun as seen from the earth. These constellations happen to be at approximately equal distances apart. Each nakshatra embodies particular ideas, powers and forces of nature. When a planet comes into alignment with one of these star clusters (from the view of an individual standing on the earth), the rays of the stars combine with those of the planet to influence the earth. All of the planets, one after another, pass through the ecliptic and align with each of the 27 nakshatras.
The most important “nakshatra” is the one the moon is currently aligned with, as the swift-moving moon’s influence is the most significant to daily life on Earth. All the nakshatras given in Vedic Calendar are for the moon. This means that the nakshatra currently in effect is the one that the moon has “conjoined.” (Similarly, the current rasi, Zodiac sign, is the one that the moon has conjoined.)
THE IMPORTANCE OF NAKSHATRA
Each nakshatra exerts its own unique energies upon the planets within its influence. The nakshatras are considered so important that constellational or nakshatra astrology is a field of Hindu astrology in itself. Nakshatra consideration is a critical element in muhurtha—discerning the nature of a given period and choosing auspicious times for various activities.
When you go to a Hindu temple and ask for a special puja, known as an
archana, the priest asks, “What is your nakshatra (or birth star)?” He is asking for the name of the constellation (nakshatra) the moon was aligned with at the time you were born at the place you were born. In other words, a line going out from you at your time of birth and passing through the moon would point to a constellation. That is your nakshatra. The priest then repeats your nakshatra during the worship liturgy, along with your name and family lineage. This is your bio-data for the information of the inner-plane helpers. It is helpful to know when one’s nakshatra comes into alignment with the moon each month, as this day is often experienced as emotionally intense. By knowing this beforehand, extra care can be taken to not over-react to difficult karmic experiences that may manifest. In Vedic Calendar, the current nakshatra is the fourth item in the fourth column of each day’s designations, e.g., Visakha Nakshatra. The twenty-seven nakshatras are:
Asvini, Bharani, Krittika, Rohini, Mrigasira, Ardra, Punarvasu, Pushya, Aslesha, Magha, Purvaphalguni, Uttaraphalguni, Hasta, Chitra, Svati, Visakha, Anuradha, Jyeshtha, Mula, Purvashadha, Uttarashadha, Sravana, Dhanishtha, Satabhishaj, Purvaprostapada, Uttaraprostapada and Revati.
The ending time for each tithi, nakshatra and yoga is listed in column four after each item, respectively. Usually the tithi ending time is the same as the karana ending time. If this is the case, the ending time for the evening karana is listed, and you can assume that the morning karana ends on the tithi ending time. If an ending time is after midnight, the time is listed with a three-letter abbreviated name for the next day. All times are given for “Standard Time.” Therefore, if a “Daylight Savings Time” is in effect in your area, you will need to adjust the times given in Vedic Calendar by adding one hour.
SAMKALPA DOUBLE LISTINGS
Those who are reciting the samkalpa from the calendar during home or temple puja will note that often two tithis, yogas, karanas or nakshatras are listed in the samkalpa, separated by a slash mark. This indicates that there is a change from the first to the second during that day. (The actual time of the change is found in column four.) The first is the 6AM calculation and the second is the 6PM calculation. For example, if the tithi reads “shasthi/saptami,” shasthi is the morning calculation and saptami is the evening calculation. Only one entry is shown in the samkalpa when both the morning and evening calculations are the same.
You should find this chapter very interesting. It contains explanations for the many esoteric and mystical notations found on the calendar, including the kalas, yogas, gem of the day, color of the day, festivals and other special days.
EIGHT DAYTIME PERIODS—THE KALAS
The period between sunrise and sunset each day is divided into eight periods. Each period, or kala, lasts approximately one and one-half hours, depending on the total duration of sunlight. Three of the eight kalas are considered most important —Rahu Kala, Yama Kala and Gulika Kala—known collectively as the trini samayam. Rahu Kala is considered malefic for commencing new undertakings. Yama is also an interfering current, but is less influential than Rahu. Yama Kala is considered an auspicious time for antyesti (funeral) rites. Gulika is the most auspicious time of the day for commencing new activities.
Each kala occurs at approximately the same time on each particular day of the week. Thus, Gulika Kala occurs at approximately 7AM every Friday. If you’ve ever wondered why Monday mornings are so infamous, note that Rahu Kala is generally between 7:30 and 9AM every Monday. The trini samayam are listed at the top of column three for each day.
THE TWENTY-SEVEN YOGAS
A yoga is a planetary configuration, union or relationship. In Vedic Calendar, two types of yogas are listed. The first yoga is listed in the sankalpam (the two lines at the top of each day’s entries). It is the second item in the second line. This particular yoga, like the tithi, is an angle of the sun and the moon (the earth being the point of the angle). Yogas are another factor in determining the auspiciousness of the day. Just as there are twenty-seven nakshatras, there are twenty-seven yogas, known as the Yoga Taras of Nakshatras. They are:
Vishakambha, Priti, Ayushman, Saubhagya, Sobhana, Atiganda, Sukarma,
Dhriti, Sula, Ganda, Vriddhi, Dhruva, Vyaghat, Harshana, Vajra, Siddhi
Vyatipatha, Variyan, Parigha, Siva, Siddha, Sadhya, Subha, Sukla, Brahma, Indra and Vaidhriti.
ROUTINE OR CREATIVE WORK DAYS—AMRITADI YOGAS
The resultant of the waves propagated by the planets and the stars on the human psyche are indicated in four degrees. In the Vedic Calendar, this esoteric yoga is listed in bold type in the left column of each day’s designations.
AMRITA YOGA—CREATIVE WORK: Very good for creative types of work
and auspicious undertakings.
SIDDHA YOGA—CREATIVE WORK: Good for creative types of work and
MARANA YOGA—ROUTINE WORK: Should be avoided for new undertakings
and beginning travel. Routine work only.
PRABALARSHTA YOGA—ROUTINE WORK: Should be absolutely avoided
for new undertakings and beginning travel. Routine work only.
MATHEMATICAL CODE OF THE SIVA ERA SYSTEM
On each day’s notation in column three is the mooleamnea (the Shum word for astology) of the day, which is generally a nine-digit number. This is an esoteric code representing the calculations of the astrology of the day according to the Siva Era system, which was founded at Kauai’s Hindu Monastery and used for special readings along with a traditional Hindu astrology system. Several of the items listed on Vedic Calendar are derived from this system, including the color of the day, the Deity clothing colors, the gem of the day and the general auspiciousness of the day. Though we will not go into depth in describing this solar-based system, it will be interesting to note that each number, among its other meanings, represents a color: 1 = clear, 2 =white, 3 = bright yellow, 4 = royal blue, 5 = Chinese red, 6 = emerald green, 7= bright orange, 8 = light blue, 9 = purple.
THE COLOR OF THE DAY
Each day has a color (listed in the fifth column), indicating the general subconscious or astral vibration of the day. This is the vibration caused by the moon rasi. (The color of the day is the second digit in the nine-digit mooleamnea number of the day.)
DEITY CLOTHING COLORS
Each day lists the appropriate color of clothing for dressing the Deity im-
ages of Lord Siva, Lord Muruga and Lord Ganesha in temples and home shrines. The colors of Lord Siva and Lord Ganesha generally change about every three days, while Lord Muruga’s color changes about once a month.
THE GEM OF THE DAY
Gems, known in Sanskrit as ratna, are the most potent representatives of the mineral world and are frequently objects of great veneration. Gems are the congealed influences of the planets and heavenly bodies, the crystallized products of invisible rays operating within the crust of the earth. They, therefore, retain the powers of the planets in a highly concentrated form. Gems are believed to have the power to cure diseases, to increase strength and counteract negative influences. They are worn as amulets against sickness and are sometimes (though rarely) powdered and imbibed in liquid concoctions. On each day of Vedic Calendar a gem is indicated. The gem of the day can be used to adorn the Deities in the temple or the home shrine. There is one gem for each day of the week as follows:
Sunday—ruby, Monday—pearl, Tuesday—coral, Wednesday—emerald, Thursday —topaz, Friday—diamond, Saturday—sapphire.
FESTIVALS AND OTHER SPECIAL DAYS
Festivals and other special days are indicated in bold type at the bottom of the daily designation area. All of the major Saivite festivals are listed, generally by their Tamil name. These are indicated according to local time, which usually coincides with each festival’s celebration in India. (Because of the International Date Line, festivals are often listed one day prior to their date listed in Indian panchangams so they will be celebrated locally at the same actual time that they are observed in India.)
PRADOSHA VRATA DAYS
One of the special days noted on your calendar is the Pradosha Vrata, literally “evening vow.” This is a traditional observance among devout Saivites, a day of fasting, worship and meditation.
Pradosha is a daily 3 hour period from 11/2 hours before sunset until 11/2
hours afterwards, considered one of the most auspicious times for meditation, as
day dissolves into night. Pradosha time on Trayodasi (the 13th tithi) is especially
sacred, hailed for Siva worship and meditation. If the 13th tithi ends before sunset,
then the pradosha vrata begins on the 12th tithi. For example, if you look at
your panchangam and it says: “Wednesday, Trayodasi (tithi 13) until 3:19 PM” you
can see that it ends before sunset on Wednesday. Therefore the Pradosha vrata be-
gins the previous day (Tuesday) as the 13th tithi will actually begin sometime Tuesday evening.
If you wish to fast once each month, observe the vrata on the Krishna Paksha Pradosham. If you wish to fast twice each month, then you may observe this fast on both pradosha days—one during each paksha. The most orthodox devotees will fast on water all day and only take light temple prasadam or fruits and milk in the evening. No cooked food is taken until the following day. A less strict observance is to fast during the day on just water, herb teas or fruits and milk and then take one’s normal food in the evening after the temple pujas and your meditations are finished. The strictness of one’s fasting will depend entirely on one’s inner goals, health and daily activities.
For those interested in integrating their yoga sadhana with the panchangam, the pradosha days of both pakshas are considered very auspicious for intensification of meditation. After fasting all day and observing the auspicious worship of God Siva at sunset, a vigil is kept in the evening, at which time one performs Raja Yoga, meditating on inner light and Lord Siva. The pradosha day of the Sukla Paksha is especially conducive to good meditation. The pradosha day of the Krishna Paksha is considered the last day of the Krishna Paksha when the moon will help you in your yoga. It is advisable to do a vigil then to absorb the last of the moon’s power.
ARDRA AND SIVA ABHISHEKAMS
The Siva Nataraja Deity at Kadavul Hindu Temple was installed on the Ardra nakshatra, March 12, 1973. Ardra is said to be Lord Siva’s favorite star, and Ardra was the birth star of the child Saint Jnanasambandar. In the life of Narasinga Munaiaraiyar, a Saiva saint who brought up Saint Sundaramurthi, he invariably performed Siva puja on the Ardra day and distributed liberally one hundred pieces of gold to the Siva bhaktas. At Kadavul Hindu Temple, an abhishekam is performed each month on Ardra. These sacred days are noted on this panchangam. Also indicated in Vedic Calendar are the six days per year when abhishekam is performed to the Siva Nataraja Deity at Chidambaram temple in South India.
FAMILY HOME EVENING
In the fast pace of today’s modern world many families rarely gather together
as a family unit other than, perhaps, to watch television. This lack of close-
ness and dearth of communication often leads to estrangement. With no forum for discussing problems, situations go unresolved which should be faced promptly. Ultimately, as distances magnify, families break apart, husband and wife divorce and children are disillusioned. Recognizing the seriousness of this trend, Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami created “family home evening.” Devotees now faithfully observe this custom in their homes every Monday (the day held sacred to Lord Siva in North India.) First, they gather for a fine dinner—no guests, no telephone calls, no television, no radio, just themselves. They sit down together and after a prayer, enjoy a meal together amidst friendly conversation. After dinner, they retire to another room for puja and discussion of inner things. One member reads the daily lesson from the Master Course (Himalayan Academy’s home-study text). Questions come up and are discussed. After the lesson, conversation turns to family matters, to family welfare, and each member speaks of the positive qualities he or she sees in the others. Concerns of the family are brought up and looked at through the wisdom of Saivism. This is Family Home Evening, a precious time, a looked-forward-to-time, a time of closeness with Siva and with one another. This special day falls on Monday of each week and is denoted in bold type along with the festivals and other special days.
ASHRAM SADHANA DAYS
At Kauai’s Hindu Monastery, cleaning is “the first sadhana.” It merits this designation from the knowledge that spiritual energies flow smoothly and harmoniously in a clean, uncluttered environment. Creativity and abundance arise naturally. Whereas clutter and dirt attract confusion, misunderstanding and error. In the monastery, cleaning is called “ashram sadhana.” Every day the monks spend 30 minutes in ashram sadhana in their assigned areas before the noon meal is taken. Periodically an entire day is set aside for cleaning and maintenance, and all residents participate. This is called Ashram Sadhana Day. Many families and individuals observe this day in their own homes, gathering with other residents to scrub, clean, paint and renew in preparation for the month ahead.
SIVALOKA, DEVALOKA AND BHULOKA DAYS
The overall auspiciousness of a particular day is determined by the ease of communication between the First World (Bhuloka), Second World (Devaloka) and the Third World (Sivaloka). Through the years we have found this esoteric indicator to be a tremendous aid by keeping us alert to the periods when the “working together of the three worlds” is the easiest. You will find the designation of auspiciousness located at the bottom of the second column for each day, just opposite the Sakti color. Five notations are used—Bhuloka Day, Devaloka Day, Sivaloka Day, Subha Sivaloka Day or Subha Subha Sivaloka Day. This determination is made according to the mooleamnea of the day, indicated as the fourth item in the third column for each day.
NARAKA AND BHULOKA DAYS
Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami has compared the inter-world communication to a series of phone lines to illustrate the degree of clarity that might exist on any given day. Imagine that there are five telephone lines to the inner worlds. Occasionally, all of the lines are down, and the Devaloka and Sivaloka cannot contact us at all. This doesn’t necessarily mean that we will have a bad day, but we may have to put forth more effort to stay out of the instinctive nature and avoid the influence of the lower worlds. It is a time to pay closer attention to religious disciplines, the yamas and niyamas (ethical restraints and practices) and carry on with our daily routine. Days on which this condition persists are called Naraka days.”
Because we do not have the full connection with and help of the inner worlds on a Naraka day, it is best not to make changes or start anything new. If a new project must be instigated on a Naraka day, it is advisable to first have an archana in the temple and inform the devas of your plan in a written note. On Naraka days we have to work with ourselves to feel religious, whereas on a Devaloka and Sivaloka days the devas and Gods can easily inspire us. On a Naraka day, the devas can often only be reached through good puja, intense prayer and burning of the written note. It is a good time to work on projects in progress.
On Bhuloka days the inner astrology indicates that one line opens up between
the Bhuloka and the Devaloka during a unique three-hour period, while
the rest of the day all lines of communication are down. This three-hour “clear
time” is called a “Devaloka time” and is noted just below the “Bhuloka Day” notation
on the panchangam. During this period it is easier for the devas in the Sec-
ond World to see the First World and thus better assist us in our religious life.
Fortunately, we find that we have two telephone lines up and working between the Bhuloka and the Devaloka on the majority of the days of most years. (Remember that we are using the analogy of telephone lines for the sake of explanation only, and in actuality what is happening is something quite different.) It is said that when two lines are open, “the Devaloka abides with you. On Devaloka days the devas can read the mind of the devotee.”
SIVALOKA DAYS AND BEYOND
Occasionally three “phone lines” are open and the Sivaloka is in full contact with the Bhuloka. Such days are called “Sivaloka Days,” and are ideal times to begin new ventures, as the devas and Mahadevas are aware of our activities and can assist us, if asked, in many unseen ways.
Then there are those very special days when, we might say, four lines of communication are open. At these times the arrangement of magnetic forces between the three worlds is such that the veil separating one from another is stretched very thin. Such a day is noted on the panchangam as a “Subha Sivaloka Day.” The devas say “these are extremely auspicious for us. We can plan together, band together, and influence with you throughout the world.” When all five lines are open, we have a very rare occurrence, indeed. Such a day is called a “Subha Subha Sivaloka Day.” The last Subha Subha Sivaloka Day was February 12, 1979, and the next one will be March 1, 1993. But from 1993 onward, our computer print-outs tell us, there will be many Subha Subha Sivaloka Days, heralding the dawn of the Sat Siva Yuga.
In conclusion, the “loka” notation indicates whether or not a particular day will be naturally religious and conducive to spiritual sadhana and temple rites. By tracking this factor in the calendar, we can learn to “tune into the day” and establish positive patterns as we learn from the past and plan for the future.