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Hindu Astronomy


History of star names


Every society in human history has had its own vision and definition of skies. The precision of Egyptian,(Chaldean/Akkadian) Messapotamian, Mayan, Stonehenge, Chinese culture are known to us, and certainly there must have been many others unknown to documented history. The stars in the skies were identified and named as single stars or groups and their relation to sun movement has been observed (Ref 6,7,8,9).

Chinese have had a long tradition of astronomical observations. They appear to have used, Sun, Moon and Jupiter as pointers which included zodiac division in to 28 segments as early as 1200 BC. The 28 segmental division is somewhat similar to vedic system. The starting position of the 28 zodiacs was in Libra (near Swati or Vishakha). That appears to rule out Chinese interaction with Vedic culture.

The concept of animal shaped zodiac representing 10-12 zodiacs per year is attributed to Chaldean and Akkadian cultures of Messapotamia. Egyptian Dendera Palnisphere, presently in France, which has been dated to about 1800 BC shows the twelve zodiacs (Ref 4). The earliest traceable documentation from European sources is by Ptolemy in 130 AD, who lived in Alexandria in current Egypt. He compiled data from many centuries of European knowledge before him and he used Hipparchus's astronomical observations (nearly 300 year older than Ptolemy) for many of his observations. The observation of Earth's Precession is attributed to Ptolemy and Hipparchus, and is a major astronomical observational finding. Ptolemy’s works comes down to modern days via Arab astronomers who called his work `Al magist’. In this Ptolemy, refers to 48 constellations in the skies. He used the Egyptian year and month names, which were well advanced and similar to Julian system. Interaction of middle eastern/European astronomical knowledge with Bharateeya knowledge clearly must have happened, much before Ptolemy when many Greeks were in Bhaarat. Ptolemy's zodiac boundaries are different from present zodiac boundaries of same name. The Arab astronomers used Ptolemy's data base and made a thorough study of the skies after Ptolemy and many individual stars were named by them in post Ptolemy centuries. These names have been widely accepted and used.

During many centuries after Ptolemy's time, number of changes have occurred in constellation definitions and boundaries. In 17th century, Bayer systematically named stars using three parameters, first to give star a serial number in its constellation, and second to assign a Greek alphabet representative of the brightness and third to refer to constellation where star is. Therefore a should always be the brightest star of the constellation followed by b, etc. Flamsteed numbers are another catalog of stars from same era. The presently accepted 88 Zodiac definition was frozen in 1932 by International Astronomical Union and stars are named by Bayer's system. This came about because of the meriad constellation names and boundaries that were being floated at that time.

Since the profound beginnings of modern astronomy by Kepler, Galileo, Newton and their astonishing advances in recent times by Hubble and others, extensive and detailed catalogs of all bodies in skies have been made. Optical and other electromagnetic wavelength telescopes have been used to study all objects in the skies. The modern astronomers have a very precise understanding of major and minor planetary motion, binary stars, Messier objects, Comets, and even man made objects in sky. Modern astronomical science has catalogs all the visible stars. The identification currently extensively used in modern astronomy is the HD number standing for Henry Draper Classifications, and SAO number standing for Smithsonian Astronomical Observatory catalog number. There are star catalogs from Germany, France, and Britain.

Most of the European style analysis of astronomical references in veda's (starting from German and British writers of 19 and early 20th century) have always suggested that the vedic text astronomical observations were generally primitive and any non-primitive elements were some how derived from Messapotamian/Akkadian/Chaldean origins. These analyses trivialize any significant original observations in the Veda's. This bias has been brought out be David Frawley succinctly in his work (ref-8).

Star Brightness/rules used for identifying Vedic star equivalence

Star brightness has been numerically expressed since Hipparchus in 150 BC. The scale presently used to measure brightness of objects is an inverse geometrical scale with brightness of sun at -26. With such a bright object, flooding atmosphere, other objects in sky are only visible to normal human eyes during night when sun is not visible. Full moon has a brightness of -12. Venus at its brightest has a brightness of -3. A change of brightness by 2.56 refers to a change of brightness by factor of two. The brightest star is Sirius, which has a brightness of -1.5. On a clear dark night (without moon), the dullest object that can be seen by healthy human eye is considered to be +6.

The following principles and assumptions can perhaps be used as the basis for establishing identity of Bharateeya Nakshatras in this article.

*Nakshatra named by people at Vedic time, must have been visible to naked eye and hence must be brighter than +5, based on brightness definitions.

*Moon is said to visit the Nakshatra or star mansions. Moon traverse plane is inclined to sun motion plane and hence over a period of time, the moon trajectories form a band. Let us call it as the moon traverse band. It is typically 5 degrees around ecliptic. Hence for any star or group of stars to qualify as a Nakshatra, it must be within the moon traverse band or outside not exceeding a few moon diameters. One Moon diameter is about 0.6 degree as seen from earth.

* The Nakshatras should be about 13.33 degrees apart or to 1/27 of 360.

* It is also necessary that they belong to the Raashi's or twelve Zodiacs. There are 88 officially identified zodiacs in the sky, moon traverse band passes only through 12. It should be noted that the Raashi or zodiac boundaries may vary from past definitions of 2400 years ago when possibly the Zodiac concepts were amalgamated in to Jyotishya.

*In Bharat, the traditional Panchangas/almanacs provide chandramana details including the beginning and end of visit of moon to 27 Nakshatras time to within few minutes of accuracy for every day of the year. Such almanacs are used even today for religious purposes. This data has to correlate with our identification in that moon must be near the star.

Implicit in these rules is the assumption that Jyotishya Shaastra experts of circa 400 BC carried forward the knowledge and identity of the Nakshatras correctly from vedic period accurately in correlating nakshatra's to Raashi's at that time. It is this interrelation of Nakshatras and Raashi's that permit us to identify what the vedic time names of stars were. The effect of natural motion of stars is assumed to be insignificant, but accounting for precession or Ayanamsha is necessary.

An astronomical computer software, LOADSTAR PRO GS has been used to identify the traditional Bharateeya Nakshatras and their equivalents based on the rules and assumptions declared above.


<img src='http://www.vedicastronomy.net/stars_images/Figure1.gif' border='0' alt='user posted image' />

Figure 1 shows the picture of Mesha or Aries group of Stars in the sky. Clearly, the Moon Band does not touch the Mesha Raashi or Aries as presently identified, but is within about 5 degrees of the band. Figure 1 shows four Nakshatras viz., Revati from Meena Raashi, Ashwini, Bharani, and Krittika.

Ashwini Nakshatra is defined in Bharateeya Jyotishya as group of three stars. A study of the figure 1 suggests that the best candidates for this group are as shown in table below based on brightness point of view, location with reference to moon traverse band and distance from previous Nakshatra.
Nakshatra No. SAO HD Bayer Bright Arab/Other
Ashwini 3 75151 12929 13 a Aries +2.01 Hamal
75102 11636 6 b Aries +2.63 -
92680 11502 5g1-Aries +3.9 -

The month of Ashwija (usually October in the Gregorian System) is named after Ashwini and at the full moon of Ashwija Moon is near Ashwini Nakshatra. If a single star has to be identified as representing Ashwini Nakshatra, Best candidate is 13 a Aries / SAO-75151/HD-12929/Hamal.

The Bharani Nakshatra is defined as a group of three stars. Brightest can be identified as HD17573 and SAO75596. The following table provides candidates which qualify as Bharani Nakshatra from brightness point of view, location with reference to moon traverse band and distance from previous Nakshatra.
Nakshatra No. SAO HD Bayer Bright Arab/Other
Bharani 3 75596 17573 41-Aries +3.61 -
75578 17361 39-Aries +4.51 -
75532 16908 35-Aries +4.65 -

If a single star has to be identified as representing Bharani Nakshatra, best candidate is 41-Aries/SAO-75596/HD-17573.

Krittika Nakshatra is defined as a set of six stars. Bharateeya tradition has it that Kaartikeya, is surrounded by five Apsaras. This set of stars is identified by classical European system as Plaeidis. Brightest amongst them is called Alcyone by Arabs. The following table provides the candidates of stars for Krittika Nakshatra or Lunar mansion from brightness point of view, location with reference to moon traverse band and distance from previous Nakshatra.
Nakshatra No. SAO HD Bayer Bright Arab/Other
Krittika 6 76199 23630 25 h Aries +2.87 Alcyone
76228 23850 27 +3.63 -
76131 23302 17 +3.70 -
76155 23408 20 +3.88 -
76229 23862 28BU +5.09 -
76140 23338 19 +4.3 -

If a single star has to be identified as representing Krittika Nakshatra, best candidate is 25hAries/SAO-76199/HD-23630/ AlCyone.

Krittika is also the name of the Chandramana month Kaartika. On the full moon day of Kaartika, the moon is near Krittika Nakshatra. In the Raashi/Nakshatra translation, both the Ashwini/Bharani belong to Mesha Raashi. The Krittika is considered as 1/4 a part of Mesha (Aries) and 3/4 a part of Vrishbha (Taurus).

Arundhati Nakshatra (though not a part of the 27 day pointing stars) is near the Krittitka. It is said to be the eighth star in the cluster Krittika(Ref-2).

The Ashwini/Bharani Nakshatras stars are separated by 50 minutes of time or about 12.5 degrees (E-W), while Bharani and Krittika are separated by about 55 minutes corresponding to about 13.75 degrees (E-W). Both these gaps are near the ideal 13.33 degrees E-W gap between stars.

<img src='http://www.vedicastronomy.net/stars_images/Image13.gif' border='0' alt='user posted image' />

Astronomical time marks in Atharva Samhita & Jyotishya shaastra.

When was Atharvana Samhita composed?

Though we consider that the Star system to be basically stationary with reference to Solar system, there is an earth wobble occurring at rate of 26000 years per revolution which makes the star system appear to move slowly with reference to Sun. This has been called Earth's Precession and was first identified nearly 2000 years ago by Ptolemy and Hipparchus.

The position of Chitra (Spica), which is very near the ecliptic, was recorded by Hipparchus (circa 150 BC) on the autumnal Equinox day with reference to Sun. It was studied again by Ptolemy (circa 150 AD) nearly 300 years later on same autumnal Equinox day. Ptolemy found that Chitra appeared to have moved about 3 degrees toward Sun (Ref 4). Ptolemy decided that Sun was moving one degree for 100 years in reference to stars. This observation made nearly 2000 years ago, was probably the first documented recording of Earth's Precession. Today we know that Ptolemy was correct and that Earth's Precession rate is about 1.36 degrees for 100 years.

This 2000-year old observation, confirms the uniformity of Earth's Precession validating the geocentric mathematical models that exist for motion of objects in the sky. It allows us to extrapolate backward and forward in time, positions of objects in sky using computer software like Load Star pro. Thus, any past Sun position records, on Equinox/Solstice days referring Sun position to stars, carries the astronomical time mark of the period (Ref-8).

There are two possible definitions of a year as observed from Earth.

A Sidereal year is time taken for Sun to move from one star, and then come back to same star. This is full 360 degrees movement of Earth around the Sun.

A Solar year is the time taken by Sun in its passage from one equinoctical point back to same point.

One would expect these two years to be same, but Solar year is shorter than Sidereal year by about 19 minutes and 50 seconds and is said to be caused by inertial effects. It is called Earth's Precession.

First let us get a contemporary picture of the location of our solar system in the Milkiway galaxy. This is illustrated in figure below. Our solar system is located at the edge of the Milkiway disk of stars. The Milkiway is estimated to be about 50000 light years in its diameter. It consists of a large number of stars and other matter. The stars visible to our naked eye are generally within a few hundred light years around us. Some giant stars are located nearly 1000 light years are also visible to naked eye. Thus most of the 10000 stars visible to us are very near our solar system.

In the illustration below, the center of Milkiway Galaxy is in the direction of Moola nakshatra. Thus bulk of the Milkiway matter is concentrated, as seen from earth, near stars Jyeshtha, Moola, Poorva/Uttarashadha.

Because of Earth's Precession, the angle of earth's motion to come back exactly to same latitude (Solar year) is only 359.864 degrees around the sun. Solar year is the classical definition of a year, as the 23.5 degrees earth's tilt controls the weather, seasons and the position of Sun in its north-south traverse. A notional 360 degrees Sidereal year is irrelevant to us.

But the 359.864 degrees Solar year is relevant because of repeating weather and seasons and hence Solar year is a natural year. That means every solar year, the Sun position drops back by about 0.0136 degrees with respect to stars. Also, it may be noted that the earth’s spin polar axis also shifts by same angle of 0.0136 degrees per year in a coning motion. Most popular books on Stars illustrate this spinning top like coning motion property of Earth's Precession, but do not illustrate the apparent ecliptic plane motion of stars. The diagram below illustrates the star shift in the ecliptic due to Precession on spring equinox day. The diagram shows the 27 nakshatra's in a circle of diameter of the order of few hundred light years with sun at the center.

The diagram below shows the effect of Earth's Precession on Sun/Star/Earth's position exactly at the time of Spring Equinox. In this diagram, the Sun is always on equator and the day time equals night. Diagram shows Earth's position from 2400 BC to 2000 AD. Every year, the Earth's seasons start occurring 0.0136 degrees (or roughly 0.0136 days) earlier. The diagram also shows twenty-seven Bharateeya nakshatra's in the infinite distance in the ecliptic plane. It should be noted that the Precession does not change the Equator position or the Earth's tilt of 23.5 degrees. It only changes the direction of polar axis.

The Bhaarateeya Veda's have left some astronomical time marks in the texts. Amongst the Veda's, Atharvana Veda is considered to be chronologically the last. Based on the identification of the twenty-seven Baharateeya Nakshatra's, and using the astronomical time markers in Atharvana veda's 19th kaanda/ 7th sooktha. it is possible to to identify when the last of the veda's, Atharvana Veda was composed. The Atharva veda 19th kaanda/7th Sooktha reads,

<img src='http://www.vedicastronomy.net/stars_images/Image19.gif' border='0' alt='user posted image' />

When was Jyotishya Shaastra brought to presently used form?

As previously observed, the Earth's Precession makes the Sun move back one degree along the ecliptic in about 76 years with reference to star system. All Sun position references in past with reference to stars on days of Sun singularity, thus carry the astronomical time mark. Bhaarateeya Jyotishya shaastra probably was brought to the presently used form, at a time when old vedic chandramana and all other data was integrated with Raashi or Zodiac based concepts. The time at which this was done can be identified using following.

1. Jyotishya Shaastra starts the lists of Nakshatras with Ashwini, suggesting that Sun was at Ashwini on Spring Equinox day in that period.

2. Jyotishya states that Uttara Ayana starts exactly when sun enters Makara (Capricorn) suggesting that Sun was near Uttaraashadha on Winter Solstice day (Gregorian Dec 21).

Sic'Yasmin Kshane sooryam gachati Makaram; tatah prabhruti shanmasa udagayanam. from Rudra Skanda Bashya (10th century AD) of Khadhira Grihya Sutra (4 century BC).

Use of Load Star Pro and scan of Sun position over past few thousand years yields following results. Figure 16 shows the position of Sun on Spring Equinox day of 400BC (March 21).

The sun is on equator and is clearly at Ashwini Nakshatra. This explains as to why Jyotsihya Shaastra starts the nakshatra list from Ashwini. The figure showing the position of Earth, Sun on Spring Equinox Day in previous section also confirms the fact that Sun would at Ashwini. As already illustrated now sun is at Poorva Bhadrapada. Nakshatra listing today must start from Poorva Bhadrapada.

Figure 17 shows the position of sun on Gregorian December 21(winter Solstice),the start of Uttara Ayana in 400 BC. Clearly the sun is at +23.5 degrees and near Uttara Aashadha near Makara Raashi. This supports the Jyotishya statement that Uttara Ayana occurred when Sun entered Makara near about 400 BC.

Compare this to figure 18, which shows the position of sun on December 21, 1998. Thus sun is clearly at Dhanu Raashi and not at Makara.

Thus the twin observations of Jyotishya Shaastra, (of the Spring Equinox and Winter Solstice) are valid only near 400 BC and hence that is the period when it probably took the present form. It is clear that Bharateeya astronomers who knew of the astronomical information carried down from vedic culture, looked at Western Zodiac based system and then merged the two to form present Jyotishya Shaastra. Hence Jyotishya uses both the 27 Nakshatra's and 12 raashi's.

It should be noted that the Western Zodiac system appears to have been frozen at same time period. It uses Aries as the starting Zodiac in recognition of Spring Equinox occurring at time of entry of Sun to Aries.

<img src='http://www.vedicastronomy.net/stars_images/Raha6.gif' border='0' alt='user posted image' />


A rare treat for stargazers

Eight planets making appearance on different days, times

HYDERABAD: Starting Saturday, people can watch a celestial wonder with as many as eight planets making an appearance in a single month on different days across the night sky.

A rare opportunity awaits stargazers for the next 10 days when five planets can be seen with the naked eye while three others can be seen using a telescope and other astronomical equipment.

Planetary Society India secretary Raghunandan Kumar said here on Saturday that a series of celestial events, including a parade of planets, awaits one in the night sky. On June 6, Jupiter will be in opposition to the Sun from viewpoint on Earth. At this point, Sun, Earth and Jupiter will be in a straight line. Jupiter, which will rise by 18.41 p.m., will be brightly visible in the eastern sky.

In February, Saturn was directly opposite the Sun.

Greatest elongation

On June 9, Venus will reach its greatest elongation at 45.3909 degrees east of Sun. One can spot Venus as a very bright star-like object in the western sky above the horizon after sunset. Mr. Raghunandan said that one could spot Neptune, Uranus and Mars on June 3 after 3 a.m. Neptune will be visible in the south-east direction, Uranus can be seen between east and south east direction and Mars above the east direction. — PTI

Came in email:
(with link to the following article): Daniel T. Potts, 2007, Differing modes of contact between India and the West: Some Achaemenid and Seleucid Examples in: Memory as History: The legacy of Alexander in Asia (New Delhi: Aryan Books International,2007).

Relying mostly on Pingree's work, Potts claims that Indian astronomy was influenced by Mesopotamian and later Greek thought. How does this claim jibe with the Rigvedic-Avestan evidence and the fact that Rigveda already contains the foundations of astronomical knowledge? <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
Good collection acharya. The bibliography on Ancient Indic astronomy, is so huge that David Pingree called his compilation of the literature Census of the exact sciences. I have in my possession just one volume, Volume 4, which runs from Pa , Pha , Ba to Ma ,Ma . and runs into 446 pages of citations.

And yet Pingree titles his Ph.D thesis "Materials for the Study of the Transmission of Greek Astrology to India."
. Note he assumes it is a given that such transfer took place
. Blessed are those that are gifted with the aura of certainty, especially when it comes to events that took place 2500 years ago.

Dal me kuch kala hein, mere khyal me.

The earliest Greek mathematiciasn that we know of was Thales of Miletus ( off the coast of asia minor, present day Turkey who is dated at 600 BCE . However the nakshatra system is mentioned in the Aitreya samhita much before then.

But if it did not come from Greece that why title his Ph.D thesis in a misleading manner ?
But then we are told that the transmission came from Babylon (anywhere but from India).l However it is clear that the dating of the Vedas (Samhitas) predated the Babylonians by at least thousand years

The Hindu Panchangam & Festivals


As on date, a panchanga is supposed to be a work with five angas i.e.

Tithi -- the mutual luni-solar distance.
Conjunction of the sun and moon being known as Amavasya/Amanta and
Opposition as Purnima/Purnimanta. The tithis in between are known as
Pratipat (from a mutual distance of zero to 12 degrees), Dwitiya (from
12 to 24 degrees) etc. The tithis between Amavasya and Purnima are
known as tithis of Shukla paksha and the ones after Purnima and before
Amavasya as those of Krishna paksha. 15th tithi is actually purnima
and the 30th tithi Amavasya.

Karna -- is the half of a tithi.

Nakshatra -- It is actually the conjunction of the moon with a
particular star of that name. Since the stars are not located at an
equal distance of 13.33333 degrees from one another, it appears that
for computational purposes, 27 equal divisions were made. But in
certain such cases of equal division, some stars overlap whereas some
stars do not get enveloped in that range at all, thus falling in the
next star division We shall, therefore, have to devise some method
which satisfies the criterion of dharmashastra and is also practicable.

Yoga -- It is calculated by adding the values of the sun and the
moon from zero to 360 degrees and then dividing the same by 13.333333
degrees so as to yield 27 yogas, starting from Vishkumba which ranges
from zero to 13.3333333 degrees of combined longitudes of the sun and
the moon.

Vara -- is a synonym of week day. In India it ranges from one sunrise
to another.

But of the above five limbs of a panchanga, (only) tithi and nakshatra have
been mentioned in almost all the Vedas and the Vedanga Jyotisha.
Karna is mentioned in the Atharva Jyotisha, as pointed out by S B
Dikshit. We do not have any indication of any Vishkumba etc. yoga in
any of the Vedas or the Vedanga Jyotisha etc. Var i.e. week day, as
per Dikshit, is also mentioned for the first time in Atharva Jyotisha,
a pre-siddhantic work of about 4th/5th century BCE.

IMHO, these days the criteria for more than ninety per cent of our
major lunar fasts and festivals besides muhurtas are based on various
Puranas and epics since we do not have any indication of those
festivals etc. in any of the Vedas at all. For example, Bhishmashtami
is as per the MBh; Shivaratri is as per the Shiva Purana/Linga
Purana; Ramanavmi as per the Ramayana; Janmashtami as per the
Bhagavata/Harivamsha/Vishnu-Purana; Sharadiya navatras---including
Saraswati Ahvan and Visarjan etc.---as per the Markandeya Purana/Devi
Bhagavata/Devi Puarana; Vijaya Dashmi, Bharata Milap etc. as per the
Ramayana; Bali Puja as per the Bhagavata Purana; Skanda Shashthi as
per the Skanda Purana; Pitra-paksha as per the Devi-Purana etc., just
to name a few of them.

Having thus explained the basis of the panchanga, I think it is better
to avoid Vishkumba etc. 27 yogas, since they do not serve any
astronomical purpose nor are they taken into account while deciding
any of the festivals, whether solar or luni-solar (synodic). They are
required just for natal astrology by "Vedic jyotishis" and in certain
cases are taken into account for muhurtas also. But even the muhurta
requirement appears to be a much later development since we do not
find any mention in any Purana either regarding the 27 yogas.

Now coming to solar phenomena like Sankrantis etc. we find that almost
all the solar festivals like Pongal (the much talked about Makar
Sankranti!); Maha-Vishuva (Vaishakhi); start of Malyalam New
Year (Simhadi); Tamil New Year (Meshadi) etc. have had their roots
initially in the Vedas and the Vedanga Jyotisha whether or not the
"Vedic Jyotishis" agree with the same! Since the Vedas do not talk of
Rashis, whether the so called Sayana or the so called nirayana, but
seasonal months like Madhu, Madhava etc., obviously, all these
phenomena of Pongal, Simhadi and Meshadi etc. are actually based on
the seasonal months of Madhu, Madhava etc. which means that the lunar
synodic months also have to be pegged to the same.

It is also possible that at a much later date, with the advent of the
Puranas, the month of Madhava became known as Meshadi since in the
Puranas it is Mesha Sankranti that is known as Vasant Sampat and even
Madhava, when the days and nights are equal, and Makar Sankanti is
another name of the shortest day of the year and so on!

Avtar Krishen Kaul

Frontline has a couple of articles on need to reform Hindu calenders.

Kaushal please review and comment.

Medieval Mistake

Long article with pics.

Reform panel recommendations

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Reform panel recommendations


Meghnad Saha, who headed the Calendar Reform Committee. A 1934 picture.

IN the preface to the Report of the Calendar Reform Committee (published in 1955), the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru wrote: “I am told that we have at present thirty different calendars, differing from each other in various ways, including the methods of time reckoning. These calendars are the natural result of our past political and cultural history and partly represent past political divisions in the country. Now that we have attained independence, it is obviously desirable that there should be a certain uniformity in the calendar for our civic, social and other purposes and that this should be based on a scientific approach to this problem.”

<b>A few important recommendations of the committee were the following:</b>

(1) “The Shaka era should be used in the unified national calendar.” (The year 2008 A.D. corresponds to 1929-30 Shaka.)

(2) “The year should start from the day following the vernal equinox day.” (This falls on March 22 in a common year and March 21 in a leap year.)

(3) “A normal year would consist of 365 days while a leap year would have 366 days. After adding 78 to the Shaka era, if the sum is divisible by 4, then it is a leap year. But when the sum becomes a multiple of 100, it would be a leap year only when it is divisible by 400, otherwise it would be a common year.”

(4) Chaitra “should be the first month of the year, and the lengths of the different months would be fixed as follows – Chaitra (30 days; 31 days in a leap year), Vaishakha (31), Jyaishtha (31), Ashadha (31), Shravana (31), Bhadra (31), Ashvina (30), Kartika (30), Agrahayana (30), Pausha (30), Magha (30) and Phalguna (30).”

(5) “The day should be reckoned from midnight to midnight of the central station (82.5° East Longitude and 23° 11 minutes North Latitude) for civil purposes, but for religious purposes the local sunrise system may be followed.”

On the issue of beginning the year with Chaitra and not Vaishakha, the report explains that: “The dates of festivals have already shifted by 23 days from the seasons in which they were observed about 1,400 years ago as a result of our almanac-makers having ignored the precession of equinoxes. Although it may seem desirable that the entire amount of shifting should be wiped out at a time, we consider it expedient to maintain this as a constant difference and stop its further increase. As a result, there would at present be no deviation from the prevailing custom in the observance of the religious festivals.”

It went on to add: “This recommendation is to be regarded only as a measure of compromise, so that we avoid a violent break with the established custom. But it does not make our present seasons in the various months as they were in the days of Varahamihira or Kalidasa. It is hoped that at not a distant date further reforms for locating the lunar and solar festivals in the seasons in which they were originally observed will be adopted.”

R. Ramachandran

<b>Planets surround moon in unusual night sky</b>
Check all 28 pictures.
Is this understanding correct .. I might have made a mistake in this interpretation to my kids.

Quote:Earth - Bhur

Space - Bhuva

Planets - Swar

Star (system) - Mahar

Galaxy - Tapo

Black Hole - Satya

Sai K: I am no Sanskrit, Hindu or Astronomy guru; I a simple Nomad on the Internet loka <img src='http://www.india-forum.com/forums/public/style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/biggrin.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt='Big Grin' />

Source: http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/ocgl...y.htm#tala

Here is what G. de Purucker says on Loka:

Quote:A word meaning "place" or "locality" or, as much more frequently used in theosophy, a "world" or "sphere" or "plane."

The lokas are divided into rupa-lokas and arupa-lokas -- "material worlds" and "spiritual spheres." There is a wide range of teaching connected with the lokas and talas which belongs to the deeper reaches of the esoteric philosophy.

On Tala:

Quote:A word which is largely used in the metaphysical systems of India, both in contrast and at the same time in conjunction with loka. As the general meaning of loka is "place" or rather "world," so the general meaning of tala is "inferior world." Every loka has as its twin or counterpart a corresponding tala. Wherever there is a loka there is an exactly correspondential tala, and in fact the tala is the nether pole of its corresponding loka. Lokas and talas, therefore, in a way of speaking, may be considered to be the spiritual and the material aspects or substance-principles of the different worlds which compose and in fact are the kosmic universe. It is impossible to separate a tala from its corresponding loka -- quite as impossible as it would be to separate the two poles of electricity.

The number of talas as generally outlined in the exoteric philosophies of Hindustan is usually given as seven, there being thus seven lokas and seven talas; but, as a matter of fact, this number varies. If we may speak of a loka as the spiritual pole, we may likewise call it the principle of any world; and correspondentially when we speak of the tala as being the negative or inferior pole, it is quite proper also to refer to it as the element of its corresponding loka or principle. Hence, the lokas of a hierarchy may be called the principles of a hierarchy, and the talas, in exactly the same way, may be called the elements or substantial or material aspects of the hierarchy.

It should likewise be remembered that all the seven lokas and all the seven talas are continuously and inextricably interblended and interworking; and that the lokas and the talas working together form the universe and its various subordinate hierarchies that encompass us around. The higher lokas with the higher talas are the forces or energies and substantial parts of the spiritual and ethereal worlds; the lowest lokas and their corresponding talas form the forces or energies and substantial parts of the physical world surrounding us; and the intermediate lokas with their corresponding talas form the respective energies and substantial parts of the intermediate or ethereal realms.

Briefly, therefore, we may speak of a tala as the material aspect of the world where it predominates, just as when speaking of a loka we may consider it to be the spiritual aspect of the world where it predominates. Every loka, it should be always remembered, is coexistent with and cannot be separated from its corresponding tala on the same plane.

As an important deduction from the preceding observations, be it carefully noted that man's own constitution as an individual from the highest to the lowest is a hierarchy of its own kind, and therefore man himself as such a subordinate hierarchy is a composite entity formed of lokas and talas inextricably interworking and intermingled. In this subordinate hierarchy called man live and evolve vast armies, hosts, multitudes, of living entities, monads in this inferior stage of their long evolutionary peregrination, and which for convenience and brevity of expression we may class under the general term of life-atoms.

I will list in the next post the 7 lokhas and 7 talas.
The below is sourced from "Fundamentals of the Estoeric Philosophy" by G.De.Purucker {source: http://books.google.com/books?id=oidduaw...ka&f=false}

Satya-loka ...<counter part>...... Atala

Tapar-loka ....................... Vitala

Janar-loka ....................... Sutala

Mahar-loka ....................... Rasatala

Swar-loka ....................... Talatala

Bhuvar-loka ...................... Mahatala

Bhur-loka ....................... Patala

Satyaloka => Reality world

Taparloka => Devotion, meditative, contemplative or introspection related world.

Janarloka => birth world

Maharloka => Great world

Swarloka => heaven

Bhuvarloka => ? {related to the root word 'Bhu' that means growing}

Bhurloka => the lowest.

Quote:Now the first thought which we must concentrate our attention upon is this, that these lokas and talas are not one above the other like the rungs of a ladder; they interpenerate, they interblend; they do not merely commingle, but interblend. A man's thought, for instance, is not necessarily perfectly divine or perfectly evil. It is composite, blended, of both qualities, but not merely mixed. There is nothing so mechanical as that about this fact. We are studying ehteral and spiritual matters.

Quote:but we must be aware of these words "heavens" and "hells" on account of wrong European religious ideas, associated ideas.

Quote:...the three lowest of the lokas respectively, Bhur-loka, Bhuvar-loka, and Swar-loka. Bhur-loka is said to be, in the exoteric, Bhramanical books, our earth. Its field of influence reaches little further than the atmosphere. Bhuvar-loka, they say, has rays (or an atmosphere) which reach the sun, although actually it is the world or loka next within the earth - not another physical world within the physcial earth, skin-of-onion fashion, but an ethereal world within the physcial earth. And Swar-loka is a world still more ethereal or spiritual, within Bhuvar-loka, that has rays (or an atmosphere) which reach even to Dhruva, or the polar star.
I was looking for relationships to the materialistic world.. in the sense it is more for kids.. so that they get a good grasp that some understanding existed in our old history that relates to the modern day theories.

I understand the differences, but was interested to know if I was grossly wrong to say that way to the kids. I don't want to misguide them.
Just out of curiosity why are you trying to tie the knowledge that existed in the ancient days to the modern day theories?
My understanding was that it is easy to sell them to the modern day kids. That's all. If there is another way, please let me know.. I am struggling hard to impress my kids about our ancestry knowledge, and many a times they get into this tussle that we are too archaic to match their contemporary thoughts.

For some reason my two kids think very high of India and Hinduism. So sorry, I do not have an experience in that area. I guess it comes from human beings innate feeling sense of belonging and possession.
I would be very happy to listen to you, in the future if you may have any inputs. Good for you have great kids like that.

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