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A Mahabharata reference to Sidereal system

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A Mahabharata reference to Sidereal system
Saturday, 19 September 2009 - Sreenadh OG
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Many argue that there is no reference to Signs in MBh, Yanjnavalkya Smriti etc. But the truth is that not only
inherent references to Signs, but also details astrological expositions are present in them.
The surfers cannot find the pearls, but only the divers, ready to dive deep and search patiently. But it is the
surfers who make a lot of noise and entertain the public. Those surfers are like the sarcastic journalists, or a radio
jockey who shines in lime light for a small amount of time, but remains unimportant in the long run, or like the
daily news paper which gets importance for a single day, and then goes into the trash can. This write-up is not for
the surfers but for the potential divers – a sample pearl, uncovered to stir-up you enthusiasm to search for the
pearls in the sea of knowledge and information provided by MBh – a marvel in literary history.
The quote discussed here is very simple, but is a telescope towards the astronomical and astrological
understanding of MBh period. Let me quote –
Parvani dwigunam danam, Rito dasagunam bhavet
Ayane vishuve chaiva shadaseeti mukheshu cha
Chandrasuryoparage cha dattam akshayam uchyate
(Mahabharata – Vanaparva ch. 200-124,125)
[The donation given on (the day of) join of months is twice auspicious (than the donation given in normal days);
donation given on (the day of) beginning of (any of the six) seasons 10 times auspicious; donation given on (the
day of) starting of Uttarayana or Dakshinayana or on Vishuvam day (Equinox day – the day on which Sun is
over equatorial line and the day and night are equal) or on Shad-Asiti-Mukha (days of 6 major Sankrantis of the
sun while traveling through Signs – i.e. entry into Mesha, Mithuna, Simha, Tula, Dhanu and Kumbha) or on the
day of (solar or lunar) eclipse are enormously auspicious]
The whole quote is about Sankrantis (Exit/Entices) or Sankramas such as Parva Sankrama, Ritu Sankrama,
Ayana Sankrama, Vishuva Sankrama, Shad-Asiti-Mukha Sankrama and Grahana (movement of shadows access
Sun or Moon). Let us first tabulate the statements given in the above quote. As per the above quote, the
donations given on the first day of the following are more and more auspicious. i.e. The donation given on the
beginning day of -

1

Parva

2 times auspicious

12/02/10 7:06 PM

Let us note that the whole quote is on Muhurta selection – i. environment (dasa) and people involved (patra). So the statement Parva should refer to Solar or luni solar months. 12/02/10 7:06 PM . Calculating Parva day is not that difficult. ‘Parva’ is the day of join of months. Thus a reference to Parva indicates knowledge about – Year and Months Lunar and Solar year and about Luni-solar months such as Chaitra.. since the next full moon day (Pournamanta system) or no moon day (Amanta system) will indicate the Parva day.. Madhava etc Muhurta system Well developed philosophical foundation that is well in tune with normal social life Knowledge of Astronomy that was well in tune with astrology and much more. and even difficult to calculate time divisions – is more auspicious. Further it is also well known that the months like Madhu.e. Thus selecting the ‘Parva’ day for donation is said to be twice auspicious because it is a better Muhurta. The most popular month reckoning system prevalent during Mahabharata period was Chaitra. lunar or lunisolar? Please note that all the 6 items mentioned in the above quote are related to the Sun itself. A better muhurta. and not to lunar months.ancientindianastrology. i. So most possibly here the reference is to the day on which the luni-solar month changes. Madhava etc are sidereal solar months). (Since luni solar year is adjusted with the sidereal solar year with the inclusion of an extra month – we can see that the above itself points to the existence of both sidereal solar year and sidereal solar months. a Muhurta found by considering more time divisions. than compared to the donation given on a normal day for which no muhurta consideration is done.com/cmsa/index. the selection of an auspicious moment for giving donation. Vaisakha etc luni solar months. As per the ancient advice – an act should be done considering time (kala).A Mahabharata reference to Sidereal system 2 of 6 http://www. Vaisakaha etc Sidereal solar year and sidereal solar months such as Madhu. It is due to this lack of difficulty in calculating Parva – it is said that selecting proper Parva is only twice auspicious. Which months – solar.php?view=article&ca. For determining the quality of time – Muhurta considerations are always useful. 2 Ritu 10 times auspicious 3 Ayana enormously auspicious 4 Vishuva enormously auspicious 5 Shad-Asiti-Mukha enormously auspicious 6 Chndrasuryoparaga enormously auspicious Let us understand these words better.e.

then he is either both simply illogical and ignorant or purposefully intendeds to distort facts. If the first point refers to Luni-solar movements. wheels already in use. also indicate the knowledge about both the equinoxes (vernal and autumnal equinoxes – the dates on which day and night are equal).php?view=article&ca. When a historian tells us that he got a coin with a chariot emblem. kingdom existed. travel and communication between moderately distant places was not a difficulty and so on. ‘Ayana’ means half year starting from one of the solstices.A Mahabharata reference to Sidereal system 3 of 6 http://www. Sarat (autumn) and Hemanta (winter). There are two Ayanas – Uttarayana (half year starting from winter solstice) and Dakshinayana (half year starting from Summer solstice). First day of Uttarayana is the shortest day for those who live in Northern hemisphere (longest day for those who live in Southern hemisphere) and the first day of Dakshinayana is the longest day for those who live in Northern hemisphere (shortest day for those who live in Southern hemisphere). But still the general understanding of Ritu is simple and is mathematical division of Solar year in to 6 equal parts and naming it.. Continuously observing and achieving the ability to observe and calculate the first day of Uttarayana or Dakshinayana is worthy intellectual ability that should be appreciated. Here it points to the beginning day of any of the 6 seasons. ‘Ritu’ means season. but still it demands much effort than locating the beginning day of a luni-solar month and that is the very reason for the sage stating that finding out the first day of the Ritu (and thus improving the quality of selected Muhurta) is 10 time more auspicious. metallurgy existed. The word Ayana itself points to the existence of a Tropical as well Sidereal zodiacs. king ruled. knowledge about solstices. Therefore selecting the first day of Ayana as muhurta for donation becomes enormously auspicious. wars happened. then there is no need to search for extra evidence for a logical person to come to know that horses where tamed. one should know Ayana (half solar years starting from solstices) and then decide whether what we speak about is equal division or unequal division of seasons. Thus knowledge about Ayana – i. If someone is not logical enough and demands extra proof for all these. but also the movement of cardinal points through ecliptic path – i. the precession of equinoxes. Varsh (rainy season).ancientindianastrology. In short Ayana points to the 180 degree movement of Sun from one solstice to the other. Vasanta (spring).e. since it indicates that your knowledge and understanding is very good and you have considered numerous inherent condition to choose proper Muhurta for the act (here the act of donation). Ayana means movement – movement not only of Sun through the ecliptic. precession of equinoxes and the moving wheel of time – is invaluable. Greeshma (hot season). Then once he understands the concept under consideration. the reference to Ritu points to Tropical solar year and months – definitely tropical solar year and tropical solar months must have been in use during MBh period (even though we don’t know much about the month names they ascribed to the tropical solar months they used). Here the word Ayana points to selecting the first day of Uttarayana or Dakshinayana as the auspicious Muhurta for donation. For example the date is March 21 does not mean that it is spring season throughout the world (as some seems to believe).. He should also know that the Ritus (seasons) not only depends on the movement of Sun through the ecliptic but also the Rekhamsa (longitude) and Akshamsa (latitude) of the place under consideration. Calculating the beginning day of a Ritu (2 solar months approx) is more difficult. Understanding about first point of Uttarayana (winter solstice) and first point of Dakshinayana (summer solstice). he should calculate the first day of the Ritu for all the 6 seasons – such as Sisira (deep winter).com/cmsa/index. The movement of something can be 12/02/10 7:06 PM . equinoxes. For this.e.

Thus this word introduces the concept of Sidereal solar months. Shad-Asiti-Mukaha means . It is said that to arrive at the exact eclipse position more than 200 calculation steps are required (as per the ancient calculation methods) – and definitely if one is good at locating these uncertain moments effectively then that muhurta is certainly enormously proper/auspicious 12/02/10 7:06 PM .com/cmsa/index. Mithuna (Gemini). Lunar and Solar eclipse.e. This is the very reason for stating that selecting the proper muhurta as correct as the Vishu day is enormously auspicious (just like the Ayana day). The vernal equinox is on March 21 and the autumnal equinox is on Sep 22 now a days. As we all know the equinox takes around 25800 years approx to complete a circle through the ecliptic.php?view=article&ca. As mentioned earlier. sidereal zodiac) points to the clear understanding of precession of equinox during MBh period.Sun’s entry into six important transit points (that derived by dividing the solar year in to six)). Shad-Asiti-Mukha points to the Sankranti (exit/entry – exist from previous sign and entry in to the new sign) of Sun to various sidereal solar months/signs such as – Mesha (Aries). May be this could be one of the first reference to equinoxes present in ancient literature. It is the effort to diminish the bad results (if any) of the uncertain periods that is reflected in suggesting ‘acts such as giving donation’ in such uncertain times. On both these dates the day and night would be equal. Chndrasuryoparaga means Chandra-Surya-Uparaga – i. the Nakshatra Chakra. This much understanding about the nature and quality of time and this much care in selecting the auspicious muhurta should be appreciated. As we all know the fixed frame of reference that was in use from the ancient past was the fixed sidereal zodiac – i. This quote and the reference to different Ayana starting points (with reference to Nakshtra chakra – i. Shahd-Asiti-Mukha means Sun’s entry into alternate sidereal months. But due to ‘precession of equinoxes’ this dates will change in due course. Shahd-Asiti-Mukha are uncertain periods and the results provided by them uncertain since they fall on the border of two certain divisions done for result derivation purpose.A Mahabharata reference to Sidereal system 4 of 6 http://www. Calculating. of sidereal year (with months such as Mesha. observed only using a fixed frame of reference. Ritu. ‘Vishuva’ means equinox.. Dhanu (Sagittarius). exactly locating such uncertain changeover periods demands great knowledge and understanding. How? Shad means ‘six’. So is the period of the shadows (Rahu and Ketu) over Sun or Moon.ancientindianastrology. Here the reference is to Sidereal solar year. All Sankrantis (Exit-Entry periods) are fearful. Simha (Leo). Ayana. locating and observing the Vishu day (date of equal day and night) is equally difficult as finding the Ayana days (longest and shortest days). Vrishabha etc) and tropical year.. and this is the very reason for stating that this muhurta is enormously auspicious.e. Vishuva. All the transit period mentioned above – such as Parva. mukha means ‘face’. asiti means ‘Sun’. since the quality of that time is uncertain. points to the clear understanding about the use and existence of both sidereal zodiac as well as tropical zodiac. since the result for the said period is uncertain. Any reference to Ayana. Certainly eclipse calculation is not an easy thing to do. solar and lunisolar month and year systems in use). Tula (Libra). Since the cardinal points (solstices and equinoxes) are mentioned and also the year beginning from cardinal points are mentioned it is well evident that the moving Tropical zodiac was also well known. Any reference to equinox in ancient literature along with the reference to Nakshatra chakra and Rasi chakra and the movement of cardinal points through Nakshatra chakra (sidereal zodiac) could also mean that both Nakshatra chakra and Rasi chakra was well in use (apart from the numerous lunar. There are two equinoxes – vernal equinox and autumnal equinox. This is the very reason for suggesting that such times are good for good deeds such as giving donation (or prayer) – so that if the results indicated by such periods are bad then they should get diminished. Kumbha (Aquarius).e.

com/cmsa/index. The donation given on – Day of join of months 2 times auspicious (than the donation given in normal days) Day of beginning of seasons 10 times auspicious Day of beginning sun’s northern or southern enormously auspicious course of travel Day of Equinox Enormously auspicious Day of Sun’s entry into alternate sidereal Enormously auspicious months Day of Eclipse Enormously auspicious This much for now Note: The following quote of Yajnavalkya Smriti also speaks about Surya Sankrama (Entry of Sun into solar sidereal signs such as Mesha.php?view=article&ca.ancientindianastrology.A Mahabharata reference to Sidereal system 5 of 6 http://www.. for acts such as donation (but inauspicious for any non-divine or household act due to there inherent uncertainty regarding result indication) So let us tabulate what that sloka says and understand it better in our improved knowledge background.. Amavasyashtaka vrishtiH krishnapaksho ayanadwayam Dravyam brahmana sampattir vishuvat suryasankramaH (Yajnavalkya Smriti) -0Comments Only registered users can write comments! 12/02/10 7:06 PM . Vrishabha etc) and thus points to the existence of signs such as Mesha during the period of Yajnavalkya smriti.

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