"A Hindu Primer" by Dr. Shukavak N Dasa, (2007)
The Samskrita word "panchAnga" is made of two parts: pancha and anga. Pancha means five and anga means a limb or part. Thus the Panchanga is a document made of five parts. These five parts are:
tithi (lunar day),
vAra (day of the week),
nakshatra (lunar mansion),
yoga (luni-solar day) and
karana (half lunar day).
To calculate these angas we use three schools of calculations:
Drik gaNita siddhanta
tithi (Lunar Phase)
The first element of the Panchanga is the tithi or lunar phase. This is perhaps the single most important element of the Panchanga. It is the building block for the lunar month. Simply stated a tithi is a measurement of 12 degrees of longitudinal separation between the sun and the moon. Another way to put it is to say that a tithi is the daily phase of the moon.
For example, at new moon (amAvAsya) the sun and the moon are separated by zero degrees. We can say they overlap. As they begin to separate, the first tithi begins when the sun and the moon have separated by 12 degrees. The moon is now a tiny almost imperceptible slice. The second tithi begins when they are separated by 24 degrees. The slice is slightly larger. The third tithi begins when they have separated by 36 degrees. And so it goes until the sun and moon have separated by 180 degrees. This tithi is called full moon, poornima. These first 15 tithis or phases of the moon make up the waxing phases of the moon, which in Sanskrit this is called the shukla-paksha. This is the bright fortnight of the lunar month.
After poornima, full moon, the tithi begins again counting from one, as the longitudinal separation between the sun and the moon decreases back to zero. This is called the waning phase of the moon or in Sanskrit, the krishna-paksha or the dark fortnight of the lunar month.
At certain times of the month when the sun and moon can both be seen in the sky at the same time you can estimate the tithi by using the hand method to measure the longitudinal separation between the sun and the moon.
The tithis are sequentially numbered from both the points of the new moon as well as the full moon. In this way, the shukla-paksha, begins with the day after amavasya. That is the first tithi, then the second tithi, the third tithi and so on up to the 15th tithi called poornima.
After the full moon, the waning phase (krishna-paksha) again begins with the first tithi, the second tithi, the third tithi and so on up to the 15th tithi called amavasya. Afterwards the cycle repeats itself.
In this way thirty tithis make up a lunar month, which is known as a mAsa. In some parts of India people begin the month from the day after full moon (krishna paksha) whereas in other parts they begin the month from the day after new moon (shukla paksha). Today, the lunar calendar is still in use throughout the world for Hindu religious purposes.
One of the greatest sources of confusion between Hindu festival dates and the modern solar calendar arises because the solar day (christian calendar) always begins at midnight whereas the lunar tithi can begin at anytime of the solar day. For practical purposes, however, the tithi that is present at the sunrise time is taken as the prevailing tithi for the entire day.
This means that if a tithi begins just after the sunrise and ends before the next day’s sunrise, then that tithi gets eliminated. When this occurs, a break in the numerical ordering of the days takes place. Conversely, if a tithi begins just before the sunrise and ends after the next day’s sunrise, then the same tithi has to be taken for both days. These are possible because a tithi can last for anywhere between 19 and 26 hours due to the changing relative speed between earth and moon in their orbits.
On an average, a tithi lasts for only 0.95 of a solar day. These factors cause a lot of confusion between the lunar calendar and the modern solar calendar and hence in deciding festivals and Ekadashi.
From an astrological perspective the various tithis are considered either auspicious or inauspicious for different events. In general the shukla-paksha (bright fortnight) is considered favorable to growth, increase and prosperity and would be selected for such occasions as weddings, moving into new homes or starting businesses, etc. The krishna-paksha (dark fortnight) is considered less favorable.
Vara (The Day of the Week)
The second element of Panchanga is the day of week, called vAra. In Sanskrit the days of the week are clearly named after seven major astrological influences:
bhAnu-vAsara or ravi-vAra (Sun)
indu-vAsara or sOma-vAra (Moon)
bhauma-vAsara or mangaLa-vAra (Mars)
saumya-vAsara or budha-vAra (Mercury)
bRuhaspati-vAsara or guru-vAra (Jupiter)
bhArgava-vAsara or shukra-vAra (Venus)
manda-vAsara or shani-vAra (Saturn)
You can still see this astrological influence in the English names, Sunday, Monday and Saturday for the sun, the moon and saturn respectively. If you examine the words for the days of week in other European languages, you will notice even greater connection.
Astrologically these days are named after these celestial bodies because the influence of that celestial body is said to be prominent on that day.
Nakshatra (Lunar Mansion)
The third element of the Panchanga is nakshatra.
The best way to understand nakshatra is to observe the moon some evening. Notice the moon's position in relation to the background of stars. The next evening, at the same time and in the same location, again observe the moon's position in relation to the background of stars. You will see that it has moved considerably. Use the raised hand technique to estimate how many degrees the moon has moved. The moon has moved somewhere between 10 and 15 degrees.
In fact the moon has moved 13 degrees and 20 minutes. The region of the sky that has been displaced by the moon's eastward movement in one day is called nakshatra. In English this is known as a lunar mansion.
There are 27 such lunar mansions in the 360 degrees the moon travels in one lunar month ( 13.3 × 27 = ~360). In the Hindu Almanac each of these lunar mansions is named after a star or group of stars in each region of the sky.
The nakshatra is very important in Hindu culture. At the time of birth a person's horoscope is made and one of the most important items to be known is the nakshatra. Many elements of a person's character are thought to be determined by the nakshatra. (Remember that the moon stands for the mind in Hindu astrology.)
In many regions of bhArath a person's name is based on the nakshatra. Perhaps the first syllable of the name is derived from the nakshatra. At the time of a puja or religious ceremony a priest will ask for the nakshatra of the person performing the religious service so that it can be recited in the opening statement of the puja called a sankalpa. At the time of marriage considerations the nakshatras of the both the bride and groom may be compared to check for psychological compatibility.
The following is a list of the 27 nakshatras along with their western astronomical designations. Note that in some cases it is difficult to determine exactly which western star name corresponds to the nakshatras.
1. ashvini – alpha arietis (Hamal)
2. bharaNi – 41 arietis
3. kRuttikA – Pleiades
4. rOhiNi – alpha tauri (Aldebaran)
5. mRugashirA – lambda orionis (Bellatrix)
6. ArdrA – alpha orionis (Betelgeuse)
7. punarvasu – beta geminorum (Castor)
8. puShya – delta canceri (area of M44 Beehive cluster)
9. AshlESha – alpha canceri (sometimes taken as the Hydra or Alphard)
10. makhA – alpha leonis (Regulus)
11. pUrva phalguNi or hubbA – delta leonis (lion's hind)
12. uttara phalguNi or uttarA – beta leonis (Denebola)
13. hasta – gamma or delta corvi (Corvus)
14. chitra – alpha virginis (Spica)
15. svAti – alpha bootis (Arcturus)
16. vishAkha – alpha libra
17. anurAdha – delta scorpionis
18. jyEsTha – alpha scorpionis (Antares)
19. moola – lambda scorpionis (near the globular cluster Shaula)
20. pUrvAShADha – delta sagittarii
21. uttarAShADha – sigma sagittarii (teapot)
22. shravaNa – alpha aquilae (Altair)
23. dhaniShThA – alpha delphini (Delphinis)
24. shatabiShA – lambda aqurii (Fomalhaut)
25. pUrva bhAdra – alpha pegasi (Markab)
26. uttara bhAdra – gamma pegasi
27. rEvati – delta piscium
This system of 27 nakshatra is the original Hindu way of dividing the 360 degrees of the solar ecliptic.
the good (shubha) nakshatra
rohiNi, all 3 uttara, ashwini, pushya, hasta, mriga, chitra, anuradha, revati, punarvasu, swati, shravaNa, dhanishtha, shatbhisha.
one more nakshatra abhijit. it is added later on. itstarts from last pada of uttarashadha and 1/15 part of shravaNa.
these were good nakshatras but combination of nakshatra and tithi may result to become bad timing for birth. for such queries please follow the thread jataka and astrology.
Yoga (The Luni-solar Day)
The yoga (luni-solar day) is the period during which the combined longitudinal motions of the sun and moon amounts to 13 degrees and 20 minutes. (I do not know what this means!) Like the nakshatras, there are 27 yogas.
Karana (Half tithi)
The fifth aspect of the Panchanga is karaNa which is calculated to be 6 degrees of longitudinal separation between the sun and moon. In other words the karaNa is half a tithi. There are two karaNas in each tithi. Since the tithis are 30 in number, one would expect there to be 60 karanas. But there are only eleven. Out of these, four are "fixed" karanas and seven are "repeating" karanas.
The four "fixed" karanas are:
The seven "repeating" karanas are:
11. vishTi (or bhadra)
The first half of the first tithi (of the bright fortnight) is always kimstughna karana. Next, the seven repeating karanas repeat eight times to cover the next 56 half-tithi-s. The three remaining fixed karanas take up the remaining three half-tithis in order. Thus one gets sixty karanas from eleven.
Both a yoga and karana are similar to a tithi in the sense that they are all measures of the relationship between the sun and moon. Recall that a tithi was 12 degrees of longitudinal separation between the sun and moon, the yoga is the combined longitudinal motion of the sun and the moon. Karana is half the tithi.
In Hindu astrology the sun and the moon are both perceived to have a great effect on life, and hence their motions are precisely calculated. (These are not some new discoveries, but are known to us for thousands of years)
Vinod : -
Yoga & karaN yoga is 1/27 diviion of the circle drawn with the help of speed of sun and speed of moon. (how to draw it i do not know but i am finding out)
among which Viadhruti and vyatipAta should be avoided for any shubha kArya.
in vishkumbha first 75 minutes, in vyAghAt first 150 minutes, in shoola first 120 minutes, in vajra first 210 mnutes in ganDa and atiganDa first 150 minutes should be avoided for good works. in other words these are not for shubh kArya.
in karaN shakuni, chatushpAd, nAg kinstughna and vishti are ashubh.
In addition to these five essential parts of the traditional panchAnga, the following other elements may also be added:
The Hindu year contains twelve lunar months, named after the nakshatra in which the full moon occurs:
chaitra (March - April) (chitra-nakshatra)
vaishAkha (April - May) (vishAkha-nakshatra)
jyEShTha (May - June) (jyestha-nakshatra)
AShADha (June - July) (purvAShADha-nakshatra)
shrAvaNa (July - August) (shravaNa-nakshatra)
bhAdrapada (August - September) (pUrva-bhAdra-nakshatra)
Ashvina (September - October) (ashvini-nakshatra)
kArteeka (October - November) (kRuttikA-nakshatra)
mArgashira (November - December) (mRugashira-nakshatra)
pauSha (December - January) (puShya-nakshatra)
mAgha (January - February) (makha-nakshatra) and
phalguNa (February - March) (phalguni-nakshatra).
Different parts of BhAratha start the year during different months. In general the year begins in the month of Chaitra, which is referred to as chAndra yugAdi.
Traditionally there are six seasons, each comprised of two months.
The six seasons are:
vasanta (spring) – chaitra & vaishAkha
greeShma (summer) – jyEShTha & AShADha
varSha (rainy) – shrAvaNa & bhAdrapada
sharad (autumn) – Ashvina & kArteeka
hEmanta (winter) – mArgashira & pauSha
shishira (cool) – mAgha & phAlguna
Another important aspect of the lunar calendar is the concept of adhika mAsa. The 12 months of the lunar calendar which is based on the lunar days (tithis) make up only about 354 days, where as the actual year must have 365 days. So there is a shortage of 11 days in the lunar calendar.
Just like how every 4th year in the Christian calendar has an extra day to make up for the discrepancy in the earth's orbit around the sun, so as in every 30 months, the lunar calendar must add an extra month.
This leap-month (adhika-masa) is generally inserted after the month of AShADha or shrAvaNa and is called adhika-AShADha or adhika-shrAvaNa. Thus every second or third year contains 13 months. (Note that Muslims, who also follow the lunar calendar do not bother to correct this shortage, and leave it as it is.)
This of course contributes considerably to differences between the lunar and solar calendars. The consequences of these differences make it hard to reconcile the dates from one calendar to the other without intricate calculations.
Even though the Hindus predominantly follow the lunar calendar, we mAdhwas and some others also follow the solar calendar to decide on the festival dates.
The 27 nakshatras mentioned earlier are divided among 12 rAshis or zodiac signs. (Each rAshi will then have two and a quarter nakshatras.) The sun is found to be staying in each rAshi for 30-31 days. This is taken as one solar month. Likewise there are 12 solar months, one each corresponding to each rAshi in which the sun stays. The names of these solar months are the same as those of the rAshis. The names are given below, with equivalent European names:
1. mEsha – Aries
2. vRuShabha – Taurus
3. mithuna – Gemini
4. karkATaka – Cancer
5. simha – Leo
6. kanyA – Virgo
7. tulaa – Libra
8. vRushchika – Scorpius
9. dhanu – Sagittarius
10. makara – Capricorns
11. kumbha – Aquarius
12. meena – Pisces
Apart from the numbering system outlined above, there is also a cycle of 60 calendar year names, called Samvatsaras, which runs continuously.
In recent past, we had adhika masa preceding the Jyeshtha masa. Please explain the factors that govern the assignment of adhika masa to any normal masa during the course of such year. In my observation ahdika masa mostly falls during chaturmasya. Please correct me if it isn't.
regarding charan's question. i want some time to find out.
but for panchang i would like to add.
as per nArad saMhita, parAshar, kashyap, garg,yavan, chyavan, bhrIgu, shaunak, nArad, vyAs, aNgiras, marichi, romesha, paulastya, atri, vasishtha, surya and brahma are main names to be counted in jyotish and panchang. but we r not so lucky to get jyotish all three of saMhita / sidhAnta / hora of these. but for nArad (devarshi) we have all these three.
in hindu panchang paddhati the finest (sookshma) calculations are in surya siddhant. this siddhant is devided in 14 aprts (adhikAr). the first 11 are known as purvardha and the last 3 are uttarardha. total shlokas are 500.
as per book published in kAshi, nArad samhita has 1400 shlokas. from it varahmihir's surya siddhant has been derived.
that's why nArad is known as founder of jyotish, panchang.
Ashubh tithis, vAr (vAsar) vridhi tithi, (which comes for two consecutive days, kshaya tithi, amavasya, krishNa 13 & 14, and shukla 1. these tithis are considered ashubh for any good work.
good and bad days:-
Monday, Wednesday, thursday, friday are considered good
sunday, tuesday and saturday are cruel and are considered good for hunting, war, punishment, debates, politics
What I wanted to know is how to read contents of a panchanga. The entry is like,
Ekaa 28-50 (Saa 6-02) Srava 45-16 (Raa 12-36) Vaa. Ekaa 34-8 Siva 22-58 Vala 28-50 Vi 56-9 Thyaa.Pra 4-21 Amri 16-34 PooBhaa 4 Meene Bu 37-41 Dhani 1 Gu 47-30 uBhaa 4 Va.Su 11-37 PooPha 3 Va.Sani 21-30 Vrishabha
What information we can make out of it? All I understood is - it is Ekaadasi, Sravana Nakshatra. Now from what time to what time and what are the other information and how to read it?
I shall be thankful for a reply.
BTW the data i mentioned above is for 22.03.2009 Sunday taken from Ontikoppal Panchanga. This may help you in replying me.
The entry is like, Ekaa 28-50 (Saa 6-02)
Means, EkAdashi tithi exists till evening (saayamkaala) 6:02 [as per that panchanga.]
Srava 45-16 (Raa 12-36)
Shravana nakshatra exists till midnight (raathri) 12:36
I am not aware of the remaining key words. If you check the first few pages of the Panchanga there will be surely a write-up explaining how to read the panchanga, and the meanings of each short forms, numbers within brackets, etc.
i think there is slight confusion in the interpretation or decrypting of the pancAng.
i am referring two differwent panchAngas, and according to that, what i have concluded is,
on 22 mar ekadashi was tithi till 1940 hrs (i.e. 7:40 pm) and the values given in earlier posts are of ghaTika and paLa. which was 28-50.
next was sravaNa nakshatra till 02:02 am (of 23rd) but in panchanga it is mentioned as 26:02 ( because till next suryodaya they continue the clock. in ghaTika and paLa it is 45-16
Siva 22-58 is yoga shiva which was till 1653 (i.e. 4:53 pm)
these timings are in ghaTika and paLa. but i do not know the conversion of hours:min to ghatika:paLa. and for other informations in that panchAng i have asked to some sources which may take about 2 weeks.
What are "Saa 6-02" and "Raa 12-36" appearing in Mr.Murthy's post? I interpreted these as sAyankaala 6:02 pm, and rAthri 12:36 am. Usually in most panchAngas local time as per IST will be given within brackets.
i had also interpreted in the same way earlier. but then i asked my dad and in reply i received one more oanchAnga in which it was in ghaTika paLa relation. then also timings were matching near about by difference of few minutes which may differ from place to place. but the shiva yoga is not matching.
i think the ghaTika paLa start with suryodaya but the entire duration of 24 hours, i am not sure. i was expecting that aditya may decrypt these timings. earlier he had started a thread for time calculation as per panchAng.
Panchanga for your place of residence Check this link :
It gives "accurate" panchangam applicable to the city where you are currently living ! Moreover you can have it in the language of your choice ! It is based on the new dRuk-gaNita siddhanta.