Notes on Hindu Luni-solar Panchanga

Month | ruling deity

चैत्र | रूद्र

वैशाख | सरस्वती
ज्येष्ठ | लक्ष्मी
आषाढ़ | काली

श्रावण | इन्द्र
भाद्रपद | मित्र
आश्विन | पर्जन्य

कार्तिक | वायु
अग्रहायण | वरुण
पौष | भग

माघ | ब्रह्म
फाल्गुन | विष्णु


On Makara Sankranti:

Makara Sankranti is designed to be roughly aligned with the start of Pausha mAsa. Accordingly, in some regions MS is called as pausha sankranti.

Further, Makara Sankranti has got nothing to do with 21/22 December (winter solstice).


On the overall framework:

1) makara sankranti is NOT the start of uttarAyaNa. And neither makara-sankranti nor uttarayana-onset is equal to winter solstice.

2) Uttarayana starts when surya enters kumbha constellation (dhanishtha), or more precisely, at the onset of mAgha mAsa. Kumbha+mAgha (i.e. uttarayana) is celebrated as mAghi kumbhotsava throughout North India, and in particular at prayAga.

  The two festivals (associated with uttarayana): Bhishma-ashtami and Bhishma-ekadashi are both celebrated in the mAgha+kumbha combinatorial.
  It is reasonable to suggest that Bhishma died on a day that was the eighth day into uttarayana (eight the number associated with Bhishma).


3) Uttarayana originally meant — the year half that increased dharma/ “light”/ “day”. In short, this has something to do with the “northwards” progression of  the wheel of Time within the panchanga framework of the Hindus. An in-depth discussion is beyond the scope of the present article.

4) A literal understanding of the above resulted in conflating uttarayana-onset with winter solstice.

5) The chief cause of the above misfortune was– winter solstice coinciding with the real uttarayana i.e. with kumbha sankranti (more precisely, the start of mAgha mAsa) at the very start of the present kaliyuga. (nothing unusual about it though : equinoxes and solstices have marked sankranti-s at the yuga transits)

6) The pauranika/ paurusheya texts, for example, which state “uttarayana” (wrongly understood as winter solstice) as coinciding near makara sankranti, simply present the fact: the winter solstice no longer coincided with kumbha, that is, the literal uttarayana no longer coincided with the real uttarayana.

7) As stated before, we can calculate the age of such texts from their mention of the literal uttarayana occurring in makara sankranti. All this unambiguously places Mahabharata at ~3000 BCE.

8) people are however no doubt free to follow any calender (or religion, or film star, etc) that suits their taste. We already have purnimanta, amanta, angrezi, sarkAri, etc going on so we can have even more.

9) The Hindu luni-solar panchanga is a natural framework that maps seasons not in a one-on-one fashion with time but as in a two dimensional matrix having yuga as one extra “y-cordinate”. It is only natural that if pausha is today winter then the same should be the summer for people in the far opposite end of the yuga chakra. This y-cordinate charts out a natural itihAsa, simply to be gleaned from the surviving narrations of people from the past yuga-s.

10) Not relevant to the current topic, but just in case someone is wondering — in my (limited) understanding kaliyuga started near Krishna’s departure (~3000 BCE) and will continue upto ~3500 AD. Yuga-s, unsurprisingly, are an inbuilt feature of Hindu Panchanga.


End Note:

  Aping Sayana/ Western zodiac system (which were themselves borrowed from somewhere else without an understanding of the deeper motivations) is unacceptable because even if we were to adopt a tropical system, the winter solstice had better coincide with aquarius boundary rather than capricorn’s in order to somewhat reflect the deeper structure of the original zodiac.
  Ratha saptami is another evidence that uttarayana is the same as mAgha sankranti. There is a one-to-one correspondence of mAgha mAsa with kumbha rashi so both can be interchangeably used.
  Though to be precise, uttarayana indeed starts with the start of magha. And if we average out the co-occurrences of magha with kumbha, it should be around the center of kumbha.
  If we look at the sky map near 3000 BCE (rider: I’ve not gone through the regression formula inside such softwares) this is exactly what we see: winter solstice (WS) falling in the centre of kumbha (N.B. centers are easier to mark). So on the average WS used to fall at the very start of magha. And because magha start is uttarayana, we see that WS and uttarayana were one and the same in 3000 BCE.
  Let us understand this very clearly:
  The coocurence of uttarayana (= magha sankranti) with WS can happen only during a yuga transit. It is not a normal yearly phenomenon. This was a problem for those who had simply copied a 3000 BCE zodiac from somewhere else, we have better things to do.
 The cooccurence of WS with dhanishtha gives us a date of 2500-2100 BCE. This gives us a fair idea of the period when mahabharata was still undergoing redaction/ retelling.
 It is not that everything is fine with the Hindu panchanga today. We need to put the zero year at the start of kaliyuga.
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