In fact, this universe is one which encompasses all physical matter, including all the stars, planets, galaxies, etc. in space. All planets, stars & galaxies are inter-dependent and have profound effect on living beings including Human beings. This fact was first realised by Hindus and thus the Hindu Calendar was created. The Hindu Calendar is not the arithmetical division into months and year, but based on scientific study of moon, planets and stars.
The modern science has established the effect of movements of the moon, the planets, the stars and other celestial bodies on the human psyche, just as the tides are influenced by the gravitational attraction of the moon and the sun. We sense seasonal changes.
Ancient rishis deeply studied the impacts of celestial bodies human beings and devised the Hindu calendar which provides knowledge of auspicious or inauspicious moments. Hindu Calendar is an accumulation of numerous lunisolar calendars used widely in Vedic Astrology.
As per Hindu system, there is a cycle of 60 years which repeats. Each year has different attributes and auspiciousness or inauspiciousness. Jupiter takes 11.8618 Earth years to complete its elliptical orbit the Sun (i.e., Jovian Year). The earth year in Sanskrit is called as Samvatsara. During one Jovian During one Jovian year, Jupiter crosses 12 Zodiac signs and thus completes 12 Samvatsaras. During the entire journey Jupiter has either positive or negative influence on the individual.
The sixty years are named in Sanskrit indicating different consequences for the year concerned (Names mentioned below - Note – 1). Sixty Samvatsaras are divided into three groups of twenty each. The first twenty from Prabhava to Vyasa are assigned to Brahma, next twenty from Sarvajit to Prabhava to Vishnu and last twenty from Plavanga to Kshaya to Shiva. Individual born in the respective year will have certain special talent, success in particular traits, bestowed with wealth, fame or generosity etc. The year typically begins in mid-April. The year 2019-20 was named ‘Vikari’, that lived up to its name by being a ‘illness’ year. The year 2020-21 was named ‘Sharvari’, meaning darkness, and it did push the world into a dark phase. The ‘Plava’ year (2021-22) is beginning. ‘Plava’ means, "that - which ferries us across". The Varaha Samhita says: this will ferry the world across unbearable difficulties and reach us to a state of glory. And take us from darkness to light. The year 2022-23 is named ‘Shubhkrut’, meaning that which creates auspiciousness. To discuss full characteristics associated with each year is not possible in this article.
Further, Hindu Calendar has five limbs, called in Sanskrit as Panchang or Panchangam. Panchang comprises of five distinguished sources of energy, which are – day (Vaar), Date of the month (Tithi), Stars (Nakshatra), Half Lunar Day (Karna) and Luni-Solar day (Yoga).
Day of the Week (Vaar)
The 7-day week starts from Sunday to Saturday and are named after their representative planets (Sunday – Sun, Monday – Moon, Tuesday – Mars, Wednesday – Mercury, Thursday – Jupiter, Friday – Venus and Saturday – Saturn). It modulates auspicious events, dates and occasions. The counting of day begins with the sunrise of the first day to the sunrise of the second day.
A specific Vaar is important, as they are supposed to be suitable for specific activities. In general, out of seven days, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday are considered auspicious for commencing good work. However, Saturday is considered an auspicious day for undergoing operation.
Lunar Day (Tithi)
Tithi depends on position of Moon in Shukla Paksha (waxing phase) or Krishna Paksha (waning phase) and is named after the condition of Moon. There are 14 tithis in both cycles between Amavasya and Purnima.
Tithi plays an important role along with nakshatra in Hindus' daily as well as special activities in selecting the muhurta. There are auspicious Tithis as well as inauspicious Tithis, each considered more propitious for some purposes than for other. Lunar month has 30 Tithis – 15 Tithis each during Shukla paksha (i.e., new moon to full moon, illumination of moon increases) and Krishna Paksha (i.e., full moon to downsizing, illumination of moon decreases). With each tithi, moon gains 12 degrees thus totalling to 360 degrees.
As per Hindu Astrology, Tithis during 15 Tithis of Shukla / Krishna Paksh are ruled by different deities (say, first day - Agni, second - Brahma, third - Gauri, fourth – Yama / Ganapati, fifth - Serpent, sixth - Kartikeya, seventh - Surya, eighth - Rudra, nineth - Ambikaa, tenth - Dharmraja, eleventh - Rudra, twelfth - Vishnu, thirteenth - Kamdeva, fourteenth - Kali, fifteenth – Pitru devas).
Each Tithi is auspicious for particular aspect of life. Pratipada (1st day) is auspicious for all types of religious and auspicious ceremonies, festivals, journeys, wedding, installation, observing a vow, accepting honours or a position, activities related to real estate and hair cutting; Dwitya (2nd day) is good for starting any new work, for laying the foundation of house, factory, and other things of a permanent nature; Tritya (3rd day) is auspicious day to start important businesses, wedding, the first music lesson, the first feeding of a child, construction; Chaturthi (fourth day) is not good for auspicious work, good for destruction of enemies; Panchami (5th day) is favourable for administering medicine, to start important businesses, wedding and healing; Shashthi (6th day) for enjoyment; Saptami (7th day) for journey; Ashtami for building defence; Navami (9th day) is not good for auspicious works; Dashami (10th day) for religious functions & spiritual practices; Ekadashi (11th day) for fasting; Dwadashi (12th day) for religious ceremonies & sacred fire; Trayodasi (13th day) for sensual pleasure; Chaturdashi (14th day) is not good for auspicious work; Purnima / Amavasya (15th day), Purnima for fire sacrifice and Amavasya for propitiation of the Manes and performance of austerities.
The tithis are divided into five groups based on auspicious or inauspicious mahurats (48 minutes) as under:
Poorna (Sampoorna - Full or New Moon) Tithi – Thursday Panchami, Dashami and Amavasya (New Moon) or Poornima (Full Moon). It is considered auspicious to fulfil resolutions taken.
Lunar Mansion (Nakshatra)
Nakshatras are group of 27 stars forming a constellation or zodiac sign. The universe is divided into 12 constellations according to Vedic Astrology. They are analysed according to the Moon’s position. There are 27 group of stars (Names mentioned below - Note – 2). A few groups of nakshatras are considered either auspicious or inauspicious.
Half Lunar Day (Karana)
The half of a Yoga is called Karana. 2 Karanas make a Date or Tithi, totalling to 11 Karanas in all. 4 of them are fixed, and remaining 7 are movable.
There are 11 Karanas (Names mentioned below - Note – 3). The first 7 of these Karanas are movable (Chara) i.e., it cannot be predetermined as to on which dates, these are going to occur, but the last 4 Karanas are fixed (Sthira), and hence can be predetermined.
Luni-Solar Day (Yoga)
A yoga is calculated by summing the Longitude of Moon and Sun and divided into 27 Yogas in 13°20'(Names mentioned below - Note – 4). 27 Yogas are for 27 Nakshatras. Out of 27 Yogas, nine are inauspicious - Vishakumbha, Atiganda, Shoola, Ganda, Vyaghaata, Vajra, Vyatipaata, Parigha and Vaidhriti.
Significance of time zones in a day (Mahurat):
24 hours of a day is divided into 30 time zones in a day, called as Mahurat. Thus, each Mahurat is of 48 minutes. Mahurat is calculated with sunrise, assuming sunrise at 06:00 AM on the vernal equinox, which is the Vedic New Year. All the 30 Mahurats are called by a particular name and have property of auspiciousness or inauspiciousness. The Vedic scriptures generally recommend one or more Mahurats to perform rituals and practices. Brahma Mahurat is approximately one and a half hours before sunrise or more precisely is 96 Minutes and is considered most apt for meditation.