The main purpose of creating this blog is to provide material and guidance to the students of Vedanga Jyotisha who are appearing for BA as well as MA level examinations of Kavi Kulaguru Kalidas Sanskrit University. I hope this effort will be welcomed by all the students of the Vedanga Jyotish and this effort will be useful to them. Dewavrat Buit dewavrat2000@yahoo.com

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


History of Vedanga Jyotisha II

The manner in which this arrangement of intercalated and suppressed months works
out, so as to prevent the beginning of the Chaitrdi lunar year departing far
from the beginning of the Mshfldi It might also be called Pausha, because the
sun enters Makara in the course of it; and it may be observed that, in
accordance with a second rule which formerly existed, it would have been named
Pausha because it ends while the sun is in Makara, and the omitted name would
have been Margafira. But, the more important condition of the present rule, that
Pausha begins while the sun is in Dhanus, is not satisfied.
2 The well-known Metonic cycle, whence we have by rearrangement our system of
Golden Numbers, naturally suggests itself; and we have been told sometimes that
that cycle was adopted by the Hindus, and elsewhere that the intercalation of a
month by them generally takes place in the years 3, 5, 8, 11, 14, 16, and 19 of
each cycle, differing only in respect of the 14th year, instead of the r3th,
from the arrangement which is said to have been fixed by Meton. As regards the
first point, however, there is no evidence that a special period of 19 years was
ever actually used by the Hindus during the period with which we are dealing,
beyond the extent to which it figures as a component of the number of years, 19X
2850, forming the lunisolar cycle of an early work entitled RomakaSiddhanta;
and, as was recognized by Kalippos not long after the time of Meton himself, the
Metonic cycle has not, for any length of time, the closeness of results which
has been sometimes supposed to attach to it; it requires to be readjusted
periodically. As regards the second point, the precise years of the intercalated
months depend upon, and vary with, the year that we may seleet as the apparent
first year of a set of 19 years, and it is not easy to arrange the Hindu years
in sets answering to a direct continuation of the Metonic cycle.
solar year, may be illustrated as follows. In A.D. 1815 the Meshasarhkrnti
occurred on 11th April; and the first civil day of the Chaitradi year was 10th
April. In A.D. 1816 and 1817 the first civil day of the Chaitr~di year fell back
to 29th March and 18th March. In A.D. 1817, however, there was an intercalated
month, ~rava9a; with the result that in A.D. 1818 the first civil day of the
Chaitradi year advanced to 6th April. And, after various shiftings of the same
kindincluding in AD. 1822 an intercalation of A~vina and a suppression of
Pausha, followed in A.D. 1823, when the first civil day of the Chaitrfldi year
had fallen back to 13th March, by an intercalation of Chaitra itselfin AD. 1834,
when the Meshasarhkrgnti occurred again on 11th April, the first civil day of
the Chaitrgdi year was again 10th April.
The lunar month is divided into two fortnights (paksha), called bright and dark,
or, in Indian terms, tukia or ~uddha, tudi, sudi, and krishna or bahula, badi,
vadi: the bright fortnight, The lunar tukia-pakslia, is the period of the waxing
moon, ending ~ at the full-moon; the dark fortnight, ktish~ia-paksha, night is
the period of the waning moon, ending at the newmoon. In the amnta or tukiadi
month, the bright fortnight precedes the dark; in the ~Cr9iinnta or ktishaadi
month, the dark fortnight comes first; and the result is that, whereas, for
instance, thebright fortnight of Chaitra is the same period of time throughout
India, the preceding dark fortnight is known in Northern India as the dark
fortnight of Chaitra, but in Southern India as the dark fortnight of Phalguna.
This, however, does not affect the period covered by the lunar year; the
Chaitradi and Karttikadi years begin everywhere with the bright fortnight of
Chaitra and Kgrttika respectively; simply, by the amanta system the dark
fortnights of Chaitra and Kflrttika are the second fortnights, and by the
purpimanta system they are the last fortnights, of the years. Like the month,
the fortnight begins for religious purposes with its first lunar day, and for
civil purposes with its first civil day.
The lunar fortnights are divided each into fifteen tithis or lunar days.1 The
tithi is the time in which the moon increases her distance from the sun round
the circle by twelve degrees; and the Th , almanacs show each tithi by its
ending-time; that is, dae by the moment, expressed in ghatikas and palas, after
~ sunrise, at which the moon completes that distance. In accordance with that,
the tithi is usually usedand cited with the weekday on which it ends; but there
are special rules regarding certain rites, festivals, &c., which sometimes
require the tith-i to be used and cited with the weekday on which it begins or
is current at a particular time. The first tithi of each fortnight begins
immediately after the mothent of new-moon and full-moon respectively; the last
tithi ends at the moment of full-moon and new-moon. The tithis are primarily
denoted by the numbers 1, 2, 3, &c., for each fortnight; but, while the
full-moon tithi is always numbered i5, the new-moon tithi is generally numbered
30, even where the pur~iinufnta month is used. The tithis may be cited either by
their figures or by the Sanskrit ordinal words prathama, first, dvitiy, second,
&c.. or corruptions ofthem. But usually the first tithi of either fortnight is
cited by the term pratipad, pratipada, and the new-moon and full. moon tithis
are cited by the terms amavasya and purifima; or here, again, corruptions of the
Sanskrit terms are used. And special names are sometimes prefixed to the numbers
of the tit his, according to the rites, festivals, &c., prescribed for them, or
events or merits assigned to them: for instance, Vaiiakha iukla 3 is Akshaya or
Akshayya-tritiy~, the third tithi which ensures permanence to acts performed on
it; Bhadrapada ukla 4 is Gansa-chaturthi, the fourth tight dedicated to the
worship of the god Ga~eia, Gaoapati, and the amnta Bhadrapada or Praimanta
Aivina krishoa 13 is Kaliyugadi-trayodaii, as being regarded (for some reason
which is not apparent) as the anniversary of the beginning of the Kaliyuga, the
present Age. The first tithi of the year is styled SaIiivatsara-pratipad, which
term answers closely to our New Years Day.
The civil days of the lunar month begin, like those of the solar month, at
sunrise, and bear in the same way the names of the weekdays. But they are
numbered in a different manner; The civh fortnight by fortnight and according to
the tit his. The general rule is that the civil day takes the number of the ~
tight which is current at its sunrise. And the results are as follows. As the
motions of the sun and the moon vary periodically, a tithi is of variable
length, ranging, according to the Hindu calculations, from 21 hi-s. 34 mm. 24
sec. to 26 hrs. 6 mm. 24 sec.: it may, therefore, be either shorter or longer
than a civil day, the duration of which is practically 24 hours (one minute,
roughly, more or less, according to the time of the year). A tight may end at
any moment during the civil day; and ordinarily it ends on the civil day after
that on which it begins, and covers only one sunrise and gives its nuthber to
the day on which it ends. It may, however, begin on It is customary to render
the term Lithi by lunar day: it is, in fact, explained as such in Sanskrit
works; and, as the tithis do mark the age of the moon by periods approximating
to 24 hours, they are, in a sense, lunar days. But the tithi must not be
confused with the lunar day of western astronomy, which is the interval, with a
mean duration of about 24 hrs. 54 mm., between two successive meridian passages
of the moon.
one civil day and end on the next but one, and so cover two sunrises; and it is
then treated as a repeated li/hi, in the sense that its comber is repeated: for
instance, if the seventh ti/hi so begins and ends, the civil day on which it
begins is numbered 6, from the ti/hi which is current at the sunrise of that day
and ends on it~ the day covered entirely by the seventh lit/ri is numbered 7,
because that ti/hi is current at its sunrise; the next day, at the sunrise of
which the seventh ti/hi is still current and during which it ends, is again
numbered 7; and the ,number 8 falls to the next day after that, when the eighth
ti/hi is current at sunrise.i On the other hand, a ti/hi may begin and end
during one and the same civil day, so as not to touch a sunrise at all: in this
case, it exists for any practical purposes for which it may be wanted (it is,
however, to be avoided if possible, as being an unlucky occasion), but it is
suppressed or expunged for the numbering of the civil day, in the sense that its
number is omitted; for instance, if the seventh ti/hi begins and ends during one
civil day, that day is numbered 6 from,, as before, the lithi which is current
at its sunrise and ends when the seventh lit/ti begins; the next day is numbered
8, because the eighth ti/hi is current at its sunrise; and there is, in this
case, no civil day bearing the number seven. In consequence of this method of
numbering, it sometimes happens, as the result of the suppression of a tiE hi,
that the day of a full-moon is numbered 14 instead sf 15; that the day of a
new-moon is numbered 14 instead of 30; and that the first day of a fortnight,
and even the first day of a lunar year, is numbered 2 instead of I.
There are, on an average, thirteen suppressed ti/his and seven repeated ti/his
in twelve lunar months; and so the lunar year averages 354 days, rising to about
384 when a month is intercalated. It occasionally happens that there are two
suppressions of ti/his in one and the same fortnight; and the almanacs show such
a case in the bright fortnight of Jyaish~ha, A.D. 1878: but this occurs only
after very long intervals.
The ti/hi is divided into two karanas; each karana being the time in which the
moon increases her distance from the sun by six degrees. But this is a detail of
astrological rather than The chronological interest. So, also, are two other
details Karana. to which a prominent place is given in the lunar calendars; to
yoga, or time in which the joint motion in longitude, the sum of the motions of
the sun and the moon, is increased by 13 degrees 20 minutes; and the nakshatra,
the position of the moon as referred to the ecliptic by means of the stars and
groups of stars which have been mentioned above under the lunar month.
In the Indian calendar everything depends upon exact times, which differ, of
course, on every different meridian; and (to cite what is perhaps the most
frequent and generally important occurrence) suppression and repetition may
affect one ti/hi and civil day in one locality, and another ti/hi and civil day
in another locality not very far distant. Consequently, neither for the lunar
nor for the solar calendar is there any almanac which is applicable to even the
whole area in which any particular length of the astronomical solar year
prevails; much less, for the whole of India. Different almanacs are prepared and
published for places of leading importance; details for minor places, when
wanted, have to be worked out by the local astrologer, the modern representative
of an ancient official known as Sitthvatsara, the clerk of the year.
II. Ea~~s As far as the available evidence goes (and we have no reason to expect
to discover anything opposed to it), any use of eras, in the sense of continuous
reckonings which originated in historical occurrences or astronomical epochs and
were employed for official and other public chronological purposes, did not
prevail in India before the 1st century B.C. Prior to that time, there existed,
indeed, in conn.exion with the sacrificial calendar, a five-years lunisolar
cycle, and possibly some extended cycles of the same nature; and there was in
Buddhist circles a record of the years elapsed since the death of Buddha, which
we shall mention again further on. But, as is gathered from books and is well
illustrated by the e3icts of AiOka (reigned 264227 B.C.) and the inscriptions of
other rulers, the years of the reign of each successive king were found
sufficient for the public dating of pro~ clamations and the record of events.
There is no known case in which any Indian. kin.g, of really ancient times,
deliberately applied himself to the foundation. of an era: and we have no reason
for thinking that such a thing was ever done, or that any Hindu reckoning at all
owes its existence to a recognition of historical requirements. The eras which
came into existence \Ve illustrate the ordinary occurrences. But there are
others. Thus, a repeated ti/hi may occasionally be followed by a suppressed one:
in this case the numbering of the civil days would be 6, 7, 7,9, &c., instead of
6, 7, 7, 8, 9, &c. Or it may occasionally be preceded by a suppressed one: in
this case the numbering would be 5, 7, 7, 8, &c., instead of 5, 6, 7, 7,8, &c.
from the 1st century B.C. onwards mostly had their origin in the fortuitous
extension of regnal reckonings. The usual course has been that, under the
influence of filial piety, pride in allcestry, loyalty to a paramount sovereign,
or some other such motive, the successor of some king continued the regnal
reckoning of hir predecessor, who was not necessarily the first king in the
dynasty, and perhaps did not even reign for any long time, instead of starting a
new reckoning, beginning again with the year I, according to the years of his
own reign.. Having thus run for two reigns, the reckoning was sufficiently well
established to continue in the same form, and to eventually develop into a
generally accepted local era, -which might or might not be taken over by
subsequent dynasties ruling afterwards over the same territory. In these
circumstances, we find the establisher of any particular era in that king who
first continued his predecessors regnal reckoning, instead of replacing it by
his own; but we regard as the founder of the era that king whose regnal
reckoning was so continued. We may add here that it was only in. advanced stages
that any of the Hindu eras assumed specific names:
during the earlier period Of each of them, the years were simply cited by the
term saiiivatsara or vars/za, the year (bearing suchand-such a number), or by
the abbreviations sathvat an.d sam, without any appellative designation.
The Hindus have had two religious reckonings, which it will be convenien.t to
notice first. Certain., statements in. the Ceylonese chronicles, the Dfpava,iisa
an.d Mahvathsa, The Budendorsed by an entry in a record of Moka, show that in
dh!st and the 3rd century B.C. there existed among the Buddhists Jai~
a record of the time elapsed since the death of Buddha ligiouS in 4~3 B.C., from
which it was known that Aioka was anointed to the sovereignty 218 years after
the death. The reckoning, however, was confined to esoteric Buddhist circles,
and did not commend itself for any public use; and the only known inscriptional
use of it, which also furnishes the latest known date recorded in it, is found
in. the Last Edict of AfOka, which presents his dying speech delivered in 226
B.C., 256 years after the death of Buddha. In Ceylon, where, also the original
reckoning was not maintained, there was devised in the 12th century A.D. a
reckoning styled Buddhavarsha, the years of Buddha, which still exists, and
which purports to run from the death of Buddha, but has set up an. erroneous
date for that event in 544 B.C. This later reckoning spread from Ceylon to Burma
and Siam, where, also, it is still used. It did not obtain any general
recognition in India, because, when it was devised, Buddhisn~ had practically
died out there, except at Bodh-Gayh. But, as there seems to have been constant
intercourse between Bodh-Gaya and Ceylon as well as other foreign Buddhist
countries, we should not be surprised to find an occasional instance of its use
at Bodh-Gaya: and it is believed that one such instance, belonging to A.D. 1270,
has been obtain.ed.
TheJains have had, and still maintain, a reckoning from the death of the founder
of their faith, Vira, MahbvIra, Vardharn~na, which event is placed by them in
528 B.c. This reckoning figures largely in the Jam books, which put forward
dates in it for very early times. But the earliest known synchronous date in
itby which we mean a date given by a writer who recoided the year in which he
himself was writingis one of the year 980, or, according to a different view
mentioned in the passage itself, of the year 993. This reckon.ing, again, did
not commend itself for any official or other public use. And the only known
inscriptional instances of the use of it are modern ones, of the I9th century.
While it is certain that the Jam reckoning, as it exists1 has its initial point
in 528 B.C. it has not yet been determined whether that is actually the year in
which VIra died. All that can be said on this point is that the date is not
inconsistent with certain statements in Buddhist books, which mention, by a
Prak~it name of which the Sanskfit form is Nirgrantha-Jnataputra, a contemporary
of Buddha, in whom there is recognized the original of the Jam VIra, Mahgvira,
or Vardhamgna, and who, the same books say, died while Buddha was still alive.
But there are some indications that Nirgrantha-Jnhtaputra may have died only a
short time before Buddha himself; and the evert may easily have been set back to
528 B.C. in circumstances, attending a determination of the reckoning long after
the occurrence, analogous to those in which the Ceylonese Buddbavarsha set up
the erroneous date of 544 n.e. for the death of Buddha.
In the class of eras of royal origin, brought into existence in the manner
indicated above, the Hindus have had varrous reckonings which have now mostly
fallen into disuse. We may Bygone mention them, without giving them the detailed
treat&RS of ment which the more important of the still existing roYal reckonings
orIgin. The Kalachuri or Chdi era, commencing rn Ad). 248
or 249, is known best from inscriptional records, bearing dates which range from
the Ioth to the 13th century A.D., of the Kalachuri kings of the ChCdi country
in Central India; and it is from them that it derived the name under which it
passes. In earlier times, however, we find this era well established, without
any appellation, in Western India, in Gujart and the Thaoa district of Bombay,
where it was used by kings and princes of the Chalukya,Gurjara, Senclraka,
Katachchuri and TraikUtaka families. It is traced back there to AD. 457, at
which time there was reigning a Traiktaka king named Dahrasena. Beyond that
point, we have at present no certain knowledge about it. But it seems probable
that the founder of it may be recognized in an Abhira king I~vagasna, or else in
his father Sivadatta, who was reigning at Ngsik in or closely about A.D~ 24849.
The Gupta era, commencing in A.D. 320, was founded by Chandragupta 1., the first
paramount lting in the great Gupta dynasty of Northern India. When the Guptas
passed away, their reckoning was taken over by the Maitraka kings of Valabhi,
who succeeded them in KAthiftwr and some of the neighboring territories; and so
it became also known as the Valabhi era.
From Halsi in the Be~gaum district, Bombay, we have a record of the Kadaniba
king Kkusthavarman, which was framed during the time when he was the Vuvarja or
anointed successor to the sovereignty, and may be referred to about AD. 500. It
is dated in the eightieth victorious year, and thus indicates the preservation
of a reckoning running from the foundation of the Kadamba dynasty by
Mayuravarman, the great-grandfather of Kakusthavarman. But no other evidence of
the existence of this era has been obtained.
The records of the Gahga kings of Kalingariagara, which is the modern
Mukhalingam-Nagarikatakam in the Ganjftm district, Madras, show the existence of
a Ganga era which ran for at any rate 254 years. And various details in the
inscriptions enable us to trace the origin of the Gahga kings to Western India,
and to place the initial point of their reckoning in AD. 590, when a certain
Satyairaya-Dhruvaraja-lndravarman, an ancestor and probably the grandfather of
the first Gflnga king Rjasirnha-Indravarman I., commenced to govern a large
province in the Koflka~ under the Chalukya king Kirtivarman I.
An era commencing in A.D. 605 or 606 was founded in Northern India by the great
king Harshavardhana, who reigned first at Thaoesar and then at Kanauj, and who
was the third sovereign in a dynasty which traced its origin to a prince named
Naravardhana. A peculiarity about this era is that it continued in use for
apparently four centuries after Harshavardhana, in spite of the fact that his
line ended with him.
The inscriptions assert that the Western Chalukya king Vikrama or Vikramgditya
VI. of Kalyaoi in the Nizams dominions, who reigned from AD. i076 to 1126,
abolished the use of the ~aka era in his dominions in favor of an era named
after himself. What he or his ministers did was to adopt, for the first time in
that dynasty, the system of regnal years, according to which, while the ~aka era
also remained in use, most of the records of his time are dated, not in that
era, but in the year so-and-so of the Chalukya-Vikrama-ka!a or
Chlukya-Vikrama-varsha, the time or years of the Chalukya Vikrama. There is some
evidence that this reckoning survived Vikramaditya VI. for a short time. But his
successors introduced their own regnal reckonings; and that prevented it from
acquiring permanence.
In Tirhut, there is still used a reckoning which is known as the LakshmanasCna
era from the name of the king of Bengal by whom it was founded. There is a
difference of opinion as to the exact initial point of this reckoning; but the
best conclusion appears tc be that which places it in A.D. 1119. This era
prevailed at onc time throughout Bengal: we know this from a passage in thc
Akbarnama, written in A.D. 1584, which specifies the Saka era a~ the reckoning
of Gujart and the Dekkan, the Vikrama era as th reckoning of Malwa, Delhi, and
those parts, and the Lakshmai~asni era as the reckoning of Bengal.
The last reckoning that we have to mention here is one knowr as the
Rgjygbhisheka-~aka, the era of the anointment to th sovereignty, which was in
use for a time in Western India. Ii dated from the day Jyaish~ha fukla 13 of the
~aka year 1597 current =6 June, AD. 1674, when ~~ivaji, the founder of the
Marthl kingdom, had himself enthroned.
There are four reckonings which it is difficult at present to claa exactly. Two
inscriptions of the 15th and 17th centuries, recenth brought to notice from
Jesalmer in Rajputana, present a reckonin~ which postulates an initial point in
AD. 624 or in the precedin~ or the following year, and bears an appellation,
BhAtika, -
which seems to be based on the name of the Bhatti Mh.celtribe, to which the
rulers of Jesalmer belong. No histori- 1.9~edih cal event is known, referable to
that time, which can have given rise to an era. It is possible that the apparent
initial date represents an epoch, at the end of the Saka year 546 or
thereabouts, laid down in some astronomical work composed then or soon
after-wards and used in the Jcsalmer territory. But it seems more probable that
it is a purely fictitious date, set up by an attempt to evolve an early history
of the ruling family.
In the Tinnevelly district of Madras, and in the territories of the same
presidency in which the Malayalam language prevails, namely, South Kanara below
Mangalore, the Malahar district, and the Cochin and Travancore states, there is
used a reckoning which is known sometimes as the Kollam or Kolamha reckoning,
sometimes as the era of Para~urema. The years of it are solar: in the southern
parts of the territory in which it is current, they begin with the month
Sirtiha; in the northern parts, they begin with the next month, Kanya. The
initial point of the reckoning is in AD. 825; and the year 1076 commenced in
A.D, 1900. The popular view about this reckoning is that it consists of cycles
of 1000 years; that we are now in the fourth cycle; and that the reckoning
originated in 1176 n.c. with the mythical Paraiurama, who exterminated the
Kshatriya or warrior caste, and reclaimed the Kohkan countries, Western India
below the Ghauts, from the ocean. But the earliest known date in it, of the year
149, falls in A.D. 973; and the reckoning has run on,in continuation of the
thousand, instead of beginning afresh in A.D. 1825. It seems probable,
therefore, that the reckoning had no existence before A.D. 825. The years are
cited sometimes as the Kollam year (of such-and-such a number), sometimes as the
year (so-and-so) after Kollam appeared; and this suggests that the reckoning may
possibly owe its origin to some event, occurring in A.D. 825, connected with one
or other of the towns and ports named Kollam, on the Malabar coast; perhaps
Northern Kollam in the Malabar district, perhaps Southern Kollam, better known
as Quilon, in Travancore. But the introduction of Para4urgma into the matter,
which would carry hack (let us say) the foundation of Kollam to legendary times,
may indicate, rather, a purely imaginative origin. Or, again, since each century
of the Kollam reckoning begins in the same year A.D. with a century of the
Saptarshi reckoning (see below under III. Other Reckonings), it is not
impossible that this reckoning may be a southern offshoot of the Saptarshi
reckoning, or at least may have had the same astrological origin.


Post a Comment

<< Home