Vedic Astrology divides time into five fundamental parts together called the Panchang. The Panchang is used by Vedic Astrologers to judge the auspiciousness of the time and is also used to calculate the vedic birth chart or “Janam Patrika” of a person. The word “Panchang” is derived from the Sanskrit word Panchangam” (pancha, five; anga, limb), which refers to the five limbs of the calendar or the five parameters – day/vaar, tithi, star/nakshatra, yoga and karana corresponding to that day. It is called by different names in India – Tamil panchangam, Telugu Panchangam, Kannada Panchangam, Gujarati Panchang, Marathi Panchang, Hindi Panchang, Bengali Panchang etc. Hindu Panchang or the Indian calendar is basically based on Nakshatra.
In order to understand the workings of Panchang, it is equally important to understand the Cycle of Time (Kaalchakra). According to Hindu scriptures, all mortal beings are destined to pass through four great epochs in every cycle of creation and destruction. This divine cycle turns full-circle at the end of what is known as kalpa. A kalpa is a yuga cycle, which is a period of 10,000 divine years, and is divided into four ages or yugas (Sanskrit yuga = age/epoch). According to one calculation, one yuga cycle is estimated to be 4,320,000 years, and one kalpa 4,320,000,000 years.
The four eras (Yugas) thus are:
According to Indo-Aryan traditional philosophy, the Cycle of Creation is divided into four eras known as ‘Yugas”. The Yugas (or Yugs) are a unique contribution to the world’s knowledge because they unite the study of the inner and outer man. An understanding of the cycle of the yugas reveals that the development of mankind is inextricably bound together with the development of every man’s consciousness.
The Cycle of Time: ( Kaalchakra)
According to the Hindu theory of creation, time (Sanskrit ‘kal’) is a manifestation of God. Creation begins when God makes his energies active and ends when he withdraws all his energies into a state of inactivity. God is timeless, for time is relative and ceases to exist in the Absolute. The past, the present and the future co-exist in him simultaneously.
About the 4 Yugas
The four great epochs in Hinduism are: Satya Yuga, Treta Yuga, Dwapar Yuga and Kali Yuga. Satya Yuga or the Age of Truth is said to last for four thousand divine years, Treta Yuga for three thousand, Dwapara Yuga for two thousand and Kali Yuga will last for 1,000 divine Years that equals to 432,000 earthly years.
God creates the cycle of time, called Kalachakra, in order to create divisions and movements of life and sustain the worlds in periodic time frames. God also uses time to create the ‘illusions’ of life and death. It is time, which is accountable for old age, death and dying of his creations. When we overcome time, we become immortal. Death is not the end of the process, but a beginning of the next.
Each one of the four Cycles is described below:
|Satya Yuga||1,728,000 Human Years||Nothing but truth prevailed|
|Treta Yuga||1,296,000 Human Years||Only ¾ truth prevailed|
|Dwapar Yuga||864,000 Human Years||Only ½ truth prevailed|
|Kali Yuga (Current Yug)||432,000 Human Years||Only ¼ truth prevails|
Each Yuga is an age with specific characteristics in which incarnations of Shri Vishnu appear. The four Yugas make up a cycle called “divya-yuga”, which lasts 4,320,000 years. One thousand of these Yugas equal one day of Brahma, which is called a “Kalpa”. Brahma’s lifespan is 100 years of His time. In each Yuga there is a specific process of self-realization (Yug Dharma).
SATYA YUGA (sometimes also called krta-yuga): the “Golden Age” which lasts 1,728,000 years. The process of self-realization in this Yuga is meditation on Vishnu. During this Yuga the majority of the population is situated in the mode of goodness and the average life span at the beginning of the Yuga is 100,000 years.
TRETA YUGA – also called the Silver Age, lasts 1,296,000 years and the process of self-realization is the performance of Yagnas (sacrifices). The average life span is 10,000 years and the Godly qualities decrease one fourth compared to the Satya yuga.
It is during this age that Varna-asrama-dharma is introduced.
DWAPAR YUGA – or the Bronze Age, lasts 864,000 years and the process of self-realization is the worship of the deities within temples. Godly qualities are reduced to 50% by now and the average life expectancy is only 1000 years.
KALI YUGA – the Iron Age of hypocrisy and quarrel, lasts 432,000 years. This is the period in which impurities and vices flourish, virtues diminishing. The predominant emphasis is on materialism (Bhotik Sukh), thereby reducing spirituality. Shri Vishnu appeared in His original, trancendental form before the beginning of Kali Yuga. The process of self-realization is Sankirtana, the chanting of the Holy Names of the Lord. God consciousness is reduced to 25% of the population and life expectancy is only 100 years. By now only 5000 years of Kali Yugas have passed, and it is predicted that by the end of this Yuga, people’s life span will only be 20 years.
How is Panchang Calculated?
Hindu Panchang is an ancient Indian Calendar system based on Astrological facts and astronomical data. Calculations are based on the position and movement of the planets, stars, nakshatra and constellations. The actual casting of a Panchang involves elaborate mathematical work involving high level of spherical geometry and sound understanding of astronomical phenomena, such as sidereal movements of heavenly bodies. The calculations in the Panchang are used to determine the most ideal or auspicious vaar, tithis, yogas, nakshatras and karan, commonly called the Muhurat, for carrying out various activities like vivah muhurat or marriage, grihapravesh, starting a puja etc. Even ayurvedic remedies and herbs when administered under a particular nakshatra are most effective. The Panchangam/Ephemeris is also a ready guide that gives us the dates of important Hindu festivals, daily nakshatras and Moon’s transit. A Panchang gives the exact time when a particular task can be undertaken to reap maximum benefits.
The time between two consecutive Sun rises is the Solar day and the time between two consecutive Moon rises is Lunar Day or Tithi. The panchang measures time in lunar months and their names are based on stars and constellations. The new moon is called “Amavasya” and it sees a new month. The first fortnight of the full moon is known as Shukla Paksha or “the bright half” as the moon waxes; while the dark half fortnight of the month is called Krishna Paksha during which the moon wanes. Purnima, or Full Moon marks the end of Shukla Paksha.
Months in the Hindu Panchang
The 12 months of the lunar year in Hindu Panchang correspond to the following, and their names derived from the nakshatras are:
Name Of Month Derived From Nakshatra
|Chaitra (March – April)||Chitra Nakshatra|
|Vaisakh (April – May)||Vishakha Nakshatra|
|Jyeshta (May – June)||Jyeshtha Nakshatra|
|Aashaadh (June – July)||Ashaada Nakshatra|
|Shravan (July – August)||Shravana Nakshatra|
|Bhadra (August – September)||Purva and Uttara Bhadrapada Nakshatra|
|Ashwin (September – October)||Ashwini Nakshatra|
|Kartik (October – November)||Kritika Nakshatra|
|Margasheersh (November – December)||Mrigshira Nakshatra|
|Paush (December – January)||Paush Nakshatra|
|Maagh (January – February)||Masha Nakshatra|
|Phagun (February – March)||PurvaPhalguni and UttaraPhalguni Nakshatra|
However, there may even be 13 months as each month begins with the new moon. When two moons occur in the same solar month, the two lunar months are known by the same name, but will have “adhik” placed before the name of the first month. Occasionally a solar month may occur with no moon, when this happens, the solar month is knows as a “kshay” month.
Is Panchang a necessity?
Yes, because a Panchang tells us about the five elements – Tithi, Vaar, Nakshatra, Yoga and Karan. Any new venture commenced on a shubh tithi/muhurat will bring prosperity, a deed undertaken on the right day of the week – shubh vaar will enhance longevity. Any deed undertaken on a day with a favourable star or shubh nakshatra will destroy ill effects on the person; diseases will disappear if deeds are performed at a time of shubh yoga and objectives will be achieved without hurdles if started during a shubh karan.
If you have further questions regarding Panchang please visit this link.
We also recomend Drik Panchang for this purpose.