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Lunar Calendar and Panchang - Part II

I           Measure of time in Indian calendar – Lunar calendar:

(1)        Lunar day (or Tithi):
When Moon gains 12over Sun’s longitude, one tithi is completed. The mean duration of a tithi is 23h 37m 28.096s. A tithi is determined at sunrise.


(2)        Vridhi or additional tithi:
A tithi that extends from before sunrise to after sunrise on the next day is called vridhi tithi. It operates on two successive days.

(3)        Kshaya or omitted tithi:
A tithi that begins after a sunrise and end before the sunrise is a kshaya tithi.


(4)        Lunar Month:
There are 30 tithis in a lunar month divided into two pakshas – 1 to 15 in each of the Shukla (bright half – Sun-Moon in opposition; 15th tithi is called poornima or Full Moon) and Krishna (darker half – Sun-Moon conjunct; 15th  tithi is called amavasya or the New Moon) pakshas. The length of lunar month is 29d 44m 2.9s.



There are two types of lunar months:

v  The New Moon ending lunar month covers the period from one New Moon to the next. It is called Shukladi or Amanta. It is followed in Gujarat, Maharashtra, AP etc.

v  The Full Moon ending lunar month covering a period from one Full Moon to the next, is called Krishnadi or Poornimanta. It is followed in MP, Bihar, UP,

Punjab, Delhi, Rajasthan etc.


(5)        In the above systems the naming of months in the shukla paksha are the same but in Krishna paksha the name of next month is denoted in krishnadi system. For example Chaitra shukla in shukladi system is same in krishnadi system and is called chaitra sudi. But Chaitra Krishna in shukladi system is called Vaisakha badi in krishnadi system.

(6)       
The names of Hindu months are based on the nakshatra in which the Moon is placed on the day of poornima or the Full Moon. The names of the Hindu months are given below:


Vedic month - 1. Madhu
Hindu Month - Chaitra

Vedic month – 2. Madhav
Hindu Month - Vaisakha

Vedic month – 3. Shukra
Hindu Month - Jyeshtha

Vedic month – 4. Shuchi
Hindu Month - Asadha

Vedic month – 5. Nabha
Hindu Month - Sravana

Vedic month – 6. Nabhas
Hindu Month - Bhadrapad

Vedic month – 7. Isha
Hindu Month - Ashvin

Vedic month – 8. Urja
Hindu Month - Kartik

Vedic month – 9. Seha
Hindu Month - Margshish

Vedic month – 10. Sahasya
Hindu Month -  Pausha

Vedic month – 11. Tapa
Hindu Month - Magha

Vedic month – 12. Tapasya
Hindu Month - Phalguna

(7)        Lunar year:
A lunar year is period of 12 lunar months from 1st  tithi of      shukla  paksha to amavasya (in shukladi system) or 12 lunar months from 1st tithi of Krishna paksha to poornima (in krishnadi system). Lunar year begins from 1st tithi of Chaitra shukla paksha. The duration of a lunar year is 29.53x12 = 354.37 days.


II         Solar month:
  A solar month is determined on Sun’s entry into a sign. In Hindu system there are different methods of determining the beginning of a solar month i.e. the sunrise rule, the midnight rule etc. In western astrology it is determined by the solar ingress into a sign in sayana system. Whereas in Hindu astrology it is calculated on the solar ingress into a sign in niryana system, called sankranti. Currently there is a difference of about 24 days between the two (equal to about 24of ayanamsha). As per Vikrami samvat (solar), the names of Hindu months are based on sankranti stating from 14th January when Sun enters Capricorn sign (Makar sankranti). They are Magha, Phalguna, Chaitra, Vaisakha, Jyeshtha, Asadha, Sravan, Bhadrapada, Ashvin, Kartika, Margshis and Pausa.

III Ayana:
There are two ayanas. The first ayana is uttarayana (called day of Gods – period is good for shodas sanskara – the 16 rituals) when the Sun starts its northerly course at winter solstice from the Tropic of Capricorn. The second ayana is dakshinayana (called night of Gods) when the Sun starts its southerly course from the Tropic of Cancer.

IV Seasons: The Hindu seasons are called ritus, which are related to ayanas. The ritus of shishir (winter), basant (spring) and grishma (summer) occur during uttarayana. The varsa (rains), sharad (autumn) and hemant (winter) occur in dakshinayana. The ritus occur during the sayana transit of Sun in two signs each, as follows:

Sayana transit of Sun in signs – 10, 11
Ritu or season – shishir (winter)

Sayana transit of Sun in signs – 12, 1
Ritu or season – basant (spring)

Sayana transit of Sun in signs – 2, 3
Ritu or season – grishma (summer)

Sayana transit of Sun in signs – 4, 5
Ritu or season – varsha (rains)

Sayana transit of Sun in signs – 6, 7
Ritu or season – sharad (autumn)

Sayana transit of Sun in signs – 8, 9
Ritu or season – hemant (winter)

V         The Panchang: It has five organs as follows:

(1)        Tithi:
It has been explained above. It is indicative of the Moon’s separation from the Sun. Each tithi has 12o separation (12x30 = 360o ).
(2)        Nakshatra: It indicates the Moon’s nakshatra on various tithes. There are 27 nakshatras as explained earlier.

(3)        Yoga:
There are 27 yogas, each measuring 13o 20’ (360o/27 = 13o 20’). They are:


Vishkambha – Gand – Parigh
Priti – Vridhi – Shiv
Ayushman – Dhruva – Sidha
Shaubhagya – Vyaghat – Sadhya
Shobhan – Harshan – Shubha
Atigamd – Vajra – Shukla
Sukarma – Sidhi – Brahma
Dhriti – Vyatipat – Indra
Shoola – Variyan – Vaidhriti

(4) Karana: A karana is a half of a tithi or 6of arc. There are four fixed-karan – Shakuni, Chatuspada, Naga and Kimstughana. They occur only once in a lunar month. There are 7 karana which recur eight times during rest of the lunar month.


(5) Vaar: It is the day of the week.

VI        Modern calendar:
(1)        Julian year: Introduced by Julius Caesar in 46 BC. In this ordinary year has 365 days and every fourth year has 366 days. This was 11 minutes and 10 seconds longer and an error had accumulated and was superceded by the Gregorian year.

(2)        Gregorian year:
introduced by Pope Gregory XII in 1582 and now used through out the world. Adopted in Great Britain in 1752 by suppressing 11 days of accumulated error in Julian year.


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