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वैदिकी कालगणना- १: आर्तवमाघमासात् वैदिको वत्सरारम्भ:

In this series of articles we will discuss the fundamental principles of Vedic system of chronology and how it is different from the principles currently used in “Hindu calendars”.

एतस्यां लेखशृङ्खलायां वैदिककालगणनाया मूलभूतानां सिद्धान्तानां विषये, आधुनिके काले प्रयुज्यमान: सिद्धान्तो वैदिकसिद्धान्तात् कथं  तिथिमासाऽधिमासवर्षारम्भादिषु च भिन्नोऽस्तीति विषये संक्षेपेण परिचयो दास्यते । वैदिकी गणनापद्धति: कथं ऋतुबद्धा, सुप्रयोज्या, वैदिकानां कृते पालयितुमनिवार्या चास्तीति च दर्शयिष्यते ।

वेदस्य षट्स्वङ्गेषु षष्ठमङ्गं ज्योतिषम् । एतस्याङ्गस्य महत्त्वञ्च वेदाङ्गज्योतिषे लगधमुनिना स्फुटमुक्तम् –

वेदा हि यज्ञार्थमभिप्रवृत्ता:कालानुपूर्व्या विहिताश्च यज्ञा:।

तस्मादिदं कालविधानशास्त्रं यो ज्योतिषं वेद स वेद यज्ञान्   ।। ३।।

यद्यपि ऋतोर् तज्जनकस्य सौरस्याऽयनस्य च महत्त्वं कृषिकर्मणि वस्त्रधारणभोजनादिषु च सर्वैरनुभूयत एव परं तिथिनक्षत्रादीनां तु शास्त्रीयेषु कर्मसु शास्त्रविधानात् महत्त्वं ज्ञायते वैदिकधर्मावलम्बिभि:।

१. किं नाम उत्तरायणम् ?

यदा सूर्य: पृथ्व्या दृष्ट्या दक्षिणे भागे अन्तिमे स्थाने प्राप्तो भूत्वा पुनर् उत्तरां दिशां प्रत्यावर्तितुम् आरभते तस्मिन् दिने एव शुद्धसौरोत्तरायणस्य शुद्धस्य सौरशिशिरस्य ऋतोश्च प्रारम्भो भवति। पृथिव्या उत्तरे गोलार्धे दिनमानस्य वृद्धी रात्रे: क्षयश्च तस्माद् दिनाद् प्रारभ्यते।  एतच्च

घर्मवृद्धिरपां प्रस्थ: क्षपाह्रास उदग्गतौ ।
दक्षिणेतौ विपर्यास: षण्मुहूर्त्ययनेन तु ।। ८।।  इति वेदाङ्गज्योतिषे

स्पष्टतया प्रतिपादितम्। पूर्वतनयो: द्वयो: श्लोकयोर्यद्यपि नक्षत्रविशेषस्योत्तरायणदक्षिणायनकालज्ञाने उपयोग: प्रतिपादित: परं तद् तात्कालिकमेवेति एतस्मात् सार्वकालिकात् प्रतिपादनात् ज्ञायते। अयनचलनस्य ज्ञानं वैदिकपरम्परायामासीदित्यन्यस्मिन् भागे प्रतिपादयिष्यते।

२. शुद्धानां सौरमानानां प्रयोग: वेदेषु दृश्यते न वा ?

वर्तमानकाले मकरमासकुम्भमासादीनां राशिमूलकानां, नक्षत्रसम्बद्धमूलकानां माघफाल्गुनादिकानां मासनाम्नां च  ( एते अपि वास्तविकरूपेण ऋतुसम्बद्धा एवेति अध: प्रदर्शयिष्यते)  प्रयोग: क्रियमाण: । कतिचित्सु स्थानेषु तु  चान्द्रमासानां नामान्येव तादृशानां सौरमासानां कृतेऽपि सौरमाघादिकनाम्ना भ्रामकरूपेण प्रयुज्यमानानि सन्ति। वेदसंहितासु स्थितानां मधुमाधवादिकानां  सौरमासत्वञ्च कतिपये मन्यन्ते।  वैदिक: वर्षारम्भोऽपि वेदे प्रथमं निर्दिष्टत्वात् मधुमासाद्  एव, वसन्तश्च प्रथम: ऋतुरिति च भ्रमो दृश्यते।

वेदे मन्त्रभागे उल्लिखितानां मधुमाधवादीनां मासानां चान्द्रमासत्वं तेषां मासानां सहैव अंहसस्पतिरिति नाम्ना त्रयोदशस्य अधिमासस्य गणनया, अपि च वत्सर: द्वादश मासात्मकस् त्रयोदशमासात्मको वा भवतीति वर्णनेन, मासस्य पक्षद्वयात्मकत्वस्य अर्धमास इति नाम्नोल्लेखाच्च सुस्पष्टमेव।

अथ यस् त्रयोदशं मासं सम्पादयति त्रयोदशं मासमभिजायते । – मैत्रायणीयकृष्णयजुर्वेदसंहितायाम् (१।१०।८)

द्वादश वा त्रयोदश वा संवत्सरस्य मासा: ।  – माध्यन्दिनीय-वाजसनेयिशुक्लयजुर्वेदशतपथब्राह्मणे (२।२।३।२७)

ब्राह्मणभागे श्रौतसूत्रादिषु च चैत्रादीनामेवोल्लेखादपि मध्वादय: चैत्रादीनां पर्यायवाचका इति ज्ञायते। यद्यपि वेदाङ्गज्योतिषे सौरमानानां प्रसङ्गे मासा: “द्वादश सौरा:(सूर्या:) स्यु”रित्युल्लेख: ( २८ तमे श्लोके) कृत: परं सौरमासानां नामानि तु वेदेषु गुरुपरम्परया प्राप्तेषु वेदाङ्गज्योतिषादिषु वेदाङ्गेषु च न कुत्राऽपि सन्तीति सौरमासमानस्य उपयोगो गणितार्थ एव न तु व्यवहारार्थ इति अवगम्यते । सुश्रुतसंहितायां ( सूत्रस्थाने ६/१०) अन्येष्वप्यायुर्वेदग्रन्थेषु मासा ऋतवश्च चान्द्रा एवेति चात्रावधेयम्। ऋतुचर्या ऋतुसन्धिश्चापि चान्द्रमासानुसारिण्येवेति सौरमासस्य शुद्धस्य सौरर्तोश्चोपयोग आयुर्वेदेऽपि न कृत इति व्यवहारे चान्द्रमानानामेवोपयोगस्य परम्परा सुस्पष्टा ।

३. सौरचान्द्रमुत्तरायणं नाम किम् ?

शुद्धस्य सौरोत्तरायणस्य उपयोग: मासारम्भार्थं वर्षारम्भार्थञ्च कर्तुमशक्य इति मासानां चान्द्रत्वात् सुस्पष्टमेव। तेन वेदाङ्गज्योतिषे-

माघशुक्लप्रपन्नस्य पौषकृष्णसमापिन:।

युगस्य पञ्चवर्षस्य कालज्ञानं प्रचक्षते।। ५।।

इति स्फुटेन वचनेन (सौरोत्तरायणारम्भसापेक्षे) माघमासे वर्षारम्भ उत्तरायणारम्भश्चेति उदीरितम्।

पुराणेष्वपि एष सिद्धान्त: वर्णित एव । यथा –

वर्षाणामपि पञ्चानामाद्य: संवत्सर: स्मृत:।

ऋतूनां शिशिरश्चाऽपि मासानां माघ एव च ।। ब्रह्माण्डपुराणे (पूर्वभागे २४।१४१) वायुपुराणे(१।१५३।११३) लिङ्गपुराणे (१।६१।५२) च।

अधिकमासस्य गणना सौरेण ऋतुना सह व्यवहारे प्रयोज्यस्य चान्द्रस्य ऋतो: नैकट्यस्य स्थापनार्थं क्रियते येन तयो: सामञ्जस्यं वरीवर्ति । अधिकमासस्य विषये एतस्य लेखस्यान्यस्मिन् भागे वर्णयिष्यते । वर्षस्य मासस्यापि प्रवृत्ति: शुक्लप्रतिपदात एव भवतीति व्यवहारे शुद्धस्य उत्तरायणदिनस्यापेक्षया तन्निकटवर्तिन: चान्द्रस्य ( सौरचान्द्रोत्तरायणस्य) महत्त्वमेव अधिकम् । तस्मिन्नेव दिने वत्सरस्यारम्भोऽपि भवतीति यद्यपि एनेनैव श्लोकेनाऽपि ज्ञायते अधो देवदिनस्य सिद्धान्तेन एतत् सुस्पष्टं क्रियते । अधुना प्रचलने निरयणगणनायां वर्तमानायामपि वसन्तपञ्चमी तु बहुधा सौरचान्द्रे वसन्तर्तौ  वैदिके मधुमासे (चैत्रे) यदा निरयणगणनया शिशिरो माघमासश्च भवति तदा परिपाल्यते (कदाचित् तु वैदिके शिशिरेऽपि)। माघशुक्लपञ्चमी तु वसन्तपञ्चमी भवितुं नार्हतीति  वैदिकस्य ऋतुबद्धस्य मधुमासस्य( चैत्रमासस्य) एव पञ्चमी इयमिति कारणमत्र ।  कुसुमाकरेति प्रसिद्धस्य वसन्तर्तोरनुभवश्च वृक्षेषु पुष्पाणां पल्लवानां दर्शनाद् सुखेन बोद्धुं शक्यते।  वेदे मासा मध्वादय: केन कारणेन पठिता इति चेत्  वसन्तर्तो: ब्राह्मणानां कृते अग्न्याधानोपनयनादिषु निर्दिष्टत्वादेव प्रथमं निर्देश:, न तु मधुमासात् वसन्तर्तो: वा वैदिकवत्सरारम्भ इति कारणादिति कल्पसूत्रादिप्रमाणात् सोमाकरस्य वेदाङ्गज्योतिषव्याख्यानादपि सुस्पष्टम् ।

४. दिव्यं दिनं किम् ?

मानुषवत्सर: अयनद्वयात्मको भवति तयोश्च उत्तरायणं देवानामह: दक्षिणायनञ्च देवानां रात्रि: । यथा अहोरात्रात्मकस्य दिनस्य प्रारम्भ: वैदिकपरम्परायां दिवसस्यारम्भात् भवति तथैव वत्सरस्य प्रारम्भ: उत्तरायणरूपात् देवदिनादेव भवतीति वैदिक: सनातन: सिद्धान्त:।  एष सिद्धान्त: श्रुतिस्मृतिपुराणादिषु सर्वेषु शास्त्रेषु स्फुटं प्रतिपादित एव । यथा-

एकं वा एतद् देवानामहर् यत् संवत्सर: । – (आत्रेय)तैत्तिरीयकृष्णयजुर्वेदब्राह्मणे। (३/९/२२/१)

यत्रोदङ्ङावर्तते देवेषु तर्हि भवति देवाँस् तर्ह्यभिगोपायति ।

माध्यन्दिनीय-वाजसनेयिशुक्लयजुर्वेदशतपथ ब्राह्मणे ।( २/१/३/३)

दैवे रात्र्यहनी वर्षम् प्रविभागस् तयो: पुन:।

अहस् तत्रोदगयनं रात्रि: स्याद्दक्षिणायनम् ।। मनुस्मृतौ (१/६७)

ब्रह्माणपुराणादिषु पुराणेष्वप्येष श्लोक: पठितोऽस्ति।

पुनरपि शुक्लप्रतिपदात एव अयनस्य मासस्य ऋतोश्च व्यवहारो भवतीति कारणात् सूर्यस्य दृक्सिद्धादुत्तरायणकालात् निर्धार्यमाणस्य तपोमासस्य (माघमासस्य)शुक्लप्रतिपदाया आरभ्य सहस्यामावास्यायां समाप्तिं गच्छन् वत्सर एव देवानामप्यहोरात्रत्वेन गृह्यते न तु शुद्धात् सौरोत्तरायणादिति शम् ।

(लेखेऽस्मिन् वेदाङ्गज्योतिषस्य श्लोकसङ्ख्या: याजुषवेदाङ्गज्योतिषग्रन्थस्था:)

(द्वितीये लेखे वास्तविकसौरोत्तरायणदिनस्य ज्ञानार्थं प्रयोज्यमाना: परम्पराप्राप्ता विधय:, वेदाङ्गसम्मतस्याधिकमासस्य च विषये विस्तरेण चर्चा भविता)

प्रमुखा: आधारग्रन्था:

१. माध्यन्दिनीयवाजसनेयिशुक्लयजुर्वेद: (संहिता शतपथब्राह्मणं च)

२. तैत्तिरीयकृष्णयजुर्वेदसंहिता ब्राह्मणं च

३. मैत्रायणीयकृष्णयजुर्वेदसंहिता

५. पारस्करगृह्यसूत्रम्

६. वेदाङ्गज्योतिषम् – सोमाकरभाष्येण कौण्डिन्न्यायनव्याख्यानेन युतम् ।

शिवराज आचार्य: कौण्डिन्न्यायन: । चौखम्बाविद्याभवनेन प्रकाशितम् (२००५)

७. मनुस्मृति:

८. ब्रह्माण्डपुराणम्

९. वायुपुराणम्

१०.सुश्रुतसंहिता

Vedic chronology 1: Soni-lunar Uttarayana, beginning of Vedic New Year

In this series of articles we will discuss the fundamental principles of Vedic system of chronology and how it is different from the principles currently used in “Hindu calendars”.  It will be made clear that well known “Hindu new year” celebrated in sidereal Chaitra Shukla pratipada is neither the beginning of the true Vedic year nor the beginning of Vasanta Ritu, according to Vedic astronomy.

This particular article in this series will clarify how Vedic system of chronology is not only well founded on natural principles, but also based on theory of correlating human life with divine parameters as exemplified by the Vedic year itself.  The starting point of the Vedic year on the first day of “Soni-lunar Uttarayana” is dealt in detail.

Jyotisha (Chronological astronomy) is the sixth ancillary subject (Vedanga). The importance of Jyotisha is explained by sage Lagadha in Vedanga Jyotisha (VJ) saying: Vedas are propounded for Yajnas, Yajnas are to be performed at prescribed time. Thus, he who knows Jyotisha is only capable to understand Yajnas in totality. (VJ 3)

People are able to easily understand the seasonal variations apparently occurring because of the movement of the sun in relation to earth, which affects all seasonal activities. However, in the Vedic tradition, it is the Tithi (Lunar day) and Lunar Nakshatra (Constellation in background of Moon), which are considered most important

1. What is Uttarayana?

Because of axial tilt of Earth (angle between the rotational axis and orbital axis) and annual movement around the Sun, the seasons occur on the earth.  Every year the day when sun appears to reach the southernmost point relative to earth and again starts to come back towards the north is the beginning of Uttarayana and has shortest period of daylight in Northern Hemisphere (Also referred as December solstice) and there is lengthening of daylight from that day onwards till it reaches the northernmost point. In VJ, it is explained: Increment in day light as much as Prastha (ancient unit of volume) of water (in water clock or Nadika Yantra) and decrement in night length equal to this occurs every day in Uttarayana. The reverse of this i.e. decrement in day light as much as Prastha of water and increment in night length equal to this occurs every day in Dakshinayana. Total increment/decrement of day time is of six Muhurtas in one Ayana. (VJ 8) (This applies to particular latitude). This makes it clear that the exact winter solstice day is decided by observation of the length of the day time (other methods like measuring the length of shadow did exist as discussed in Kautaliya Arthashastra etc.) in Vedic tradition and it was not sidereal as is the case of currently celebrated Makar Sankranti as the beginning of Uttarayana, which lags by 23 days at present from the exact winter solstice (21st December).  Though two Shlokas preceding the above mentioned Shloka in VJ do assign particular Nakshatra to the time of winter solstice and summer solstice, the Nakshatra determined by observation is stated first, which was applicable to the time of compilation of VJ and then the rule applicable for all the time for the determination of solstice is given as explained above. This is in accordance with Vedic tradition where the precession of the solstice was known. (This will be discussed in subsequent articles in this series)

2. Do we find pure solar parameters used in practice in the Vedas?

In current practice, we see zodiac based solar month e.g. Makara Masa, Tula Masa etc. as well as Nakshatra based lunar month names e.g. Magha, Phalguna etc. in use. In some regions, the names of lunar months are also wrongly used for solar months based on the position of the Sun in the zodiac. The current practice has led to incorrect notions that both solar months and lunar months are of Vedic origin and the practice of beginning the year on the first solar month as also being related to Vedas. There is also a misunderstanding about the nature of the month names like Madhu, Madhava etc. used in the Samhitas, which are mistaken as solar months and regarding the beginning of the Vedic year, which is mistakenly taken as beginning in Madhu month and Vasanta Ritu, simply because Madhu is always the first month wherever months are listed in the Vedas. So, let us first understand what the Vedic system actually says.

In the Vedas, two types of names are used for months. In Samhitas we always find the names as Madhu, Madhava etc. signifying relation to season, and in Brahmanas and Kalpasutras (Shrautasutra and Grihyasutra), the Nakshatra based names e.g. Vaishakha, Jyestha etc. are used, which apparently show the relationship with Nakshatra. The names used in Samhitas are always accompanied by Amhasaspati, which is the name of the thirteenth month (intercalary month, which will be dealt in subsequent parts of this series). Besides this, a year is referred to have either 12 months or 13 months and each month is made up of two halves called Ardhamasas, which correlate with the two halves called Bright half and dark half (Shukla Paksha and Krishna Paksha respectively), which signify them to be lunar months only. Thus, the two types of names found in the Vedas should be taken as synonymous and that is the norm in all the commentaries of the Vedas as well as other ancient texts wherever they appear. Although in VJ, in the context of giving solar parameters, the statement “There are 12 solar months/ 12 Suns” (VJ 28) is given, but nowhere in the Vedas or in the authentic Vedangas, including VJ itself any names of solar months given. Thus, it is easily understood from the context that the statement about solar months is only for mathematical purpose. Similarly, in Ayurveda texts like Sushruta Samhita (Sutrasthana 6/10) and all other ancient texts of Ayurveda only lunar months and Ritus (seasons) based on lunar months are mentioned and used for prescribing Ritucharya (seasonal healthy regimen) as well. Therefore, it is clear that Vedic months are lunar months itself and no solar months are given in the Vedas.

3. What is soni-lunar Uttarayana and why does the Vedic year start with first day of it?   

Solar Uttarayana day (winter solstice day) cannot be used as a starting point of a month or year in practice in the Vedic system, where months, seasons and year for practical purposes start from Shukla pratipada (first day of bright half). In VJ, the knowledge of chronology is thus explained to encompass the Yuga comprising five years starting from the first day of  bright half of the Magha month (this is not sidereal Magha which in vogue which will be explained in subsequent articles in this series) and ending in the Amavasya  or new moon day of Pousha month (VJ 5).  Magha is referred as first month in various Puranas as well:

“Among five years (a Vedic Yuga comprises of 5 years) Samvatsara is the first, among the seasons (first is) Shishira and among months (first is) Magha. –  Brahmanda Purana (First part 24/141) Vayu Purana (1/153/113) and Linga Purana (1/61/52)

Adhikamasa or Malamasa (13th month or intercalary month) is added at appropriate intervals (only at the end of either of Ayana in Vedic system) to maintain the synchronicity of lunar months with the season governed by solar position relative to earth, occurring as a result of annual movement of the earth. This implies that the Vedic Magha (Tapas) month is always near actual winter solstice and is not sidereal. The start of Vedic year in seasonal Magha (Tapas) is clear from the quotations above and further supported by the concept of day of Devas in Vedic tradition. Seasons are obviously important in timing of Yajnas, some of which are based on seasonal agricultural products as well. Although the timing of festivals in current practice follows Nirayana or sidereal system in contrast to Vedic season based system, Vedic seasonal practice can be seen followed in festivals like Vasanta Panchami (Sarasvati Pooja), which falls in Vedic soni-lunar Vasanta Ritu, when the current practice would call it Shishir Ritu and label the festival as Magha Shukla Panchami (1st February this year ), which is actually Madhu Shukla Panchami (Chaitra Shukla Panchami) as per Vedic seasonal system.

The reason of Madhu (first lunar month of Vasanta Ritu) being always mentioned first in the Vedas is not related to it being first month of the Vedic year as is mistaken today. It is rather related to the order of seasons prescribed for Agnyadhana and Samskaras for different Varnas, Vasanta being prescribed for Brahmana.

4. Why is the Vedic year called as a day of Devas?

A year for human use is considered a day (i.e. day and night) of the Devas, Uttarayana being the day and Dakshinayana being the night for them. This concept is clearly stated in the Vedas as well as Smritis and Puranas:

One day of Devas is a year – Taittireeya-Krishna-Yajurveda-Brahmana (3/9/22/1)

When he (Sun) is moving towards north, he is moving in Devas path and protects Devas – Shukla-Yajurveda-Shatapatha-Brahmana (2/1/3/3)

Divine day and night is a year (for human use). Day is Uttarayana and night is Dakshinayana – Manusmriti (1/67), Mahabharata (12/231/17). Same verse is mentioned in various Puranas too.

Again, because year, Ayana, seasons, month all start from Shukla pratipada for all practical purpose, which is clear from the discussion in previous section, the divine day and thus Vedic year, also starts from Magha Shukla Pratipada, which is mostly the Shukla Pratipada falling just before the exact solar Uttarayana (winter solstice day) rather than from the solar Uttarayana day itself (except when Adhikamasa happens, when Magha Shukla Pratipada is pushed to fall just after solar Uttarayana).  For example, the current Vedic year began on 30th November 2016 (22 days before the winter solstice) as it was Shukla Pratipada falling just before the solstice day and next year it will begin on 18th December ( 3 days before winter solstice day).

In the next article in this series, we will discuss the practical ancient approach to identify solstice and equinox days in tropical (solar) year, which are also used in maintaining the seasonal nature of Soni-lunar calendar parameters by insertion of intercalary month (Adhikamasa or Malamasa) at appropriate time in Vedic system.

Note: All numbers following VJ = Vedanga Jyotisham, referred in this article refer to Shloka number in Yajurvedic version of the same.

Glossary

Solstice = It is an astronomical event that occurs twice each year as the Sun appears to reach northernmost and southernmost points in relation to the celestial equator.

Ayana = Half of a year divided on the basis of apparent annual movement of the Sun.  In six months making up Uttarayana, starting from winter solstice day, the Sun appears moving toward North till summer solstice day, from which Dakshinayana starts and the Sun comes back to southernmost point. Soni-lunar Uttarayana and Dakshinayayana used in Vedic calendar correspond to these points starting from Shukla Pratipada falling near the winter solstice and summer solstice.

Precession of solstice/equinox = Shift of the background point (where the Sun appears to be) at the time of solstice/equinox. This occurs because tropical year is shorter (by about 20 minutes) than sidereal year.  

Nirayana system = System of fixing months/festivals based on position of Sun/Moon, not taking account true seasons (disregarding precession of solstice)

Shukla Paksha = Bright half of the lunar phase where the sunlit part increases till it is full moon day. (Poornima).

Krishna Paksha = Dark half of the lunar phase starting from the next day of full moon till new moon (when moon is not visible)

Lunar month = Duration of either of 29 or 30 days in Vedic practice ( as actual duration is about 29.5 days) also called synodic month, starting from the next day of new moon( Shukla pratipada) to next new moon day(Amavasya). (Lunar month ending on new moon known as Amanta Masa is used in Vedic system)

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Sammod Acharya (Sammodavardhana Kaundinnyayana) is trained traditionally in Madhyandineeya Shakha of Shukla-Yajurveda. His areas of special interest are Grihyasutras, Vyakarana and Jyotisha among the Vedangas and Ayurveda among the Upavedas and life enriching education in general. He is formally trained as a physician with specialization on clinical pharmacology.He tweets at @sammodacharya