Thursday, May 14, 2020

Know how to read Hindu calendar (panchang) in detail

Let me ask you a question, what is today’s date? You might say it’s 11-May-2020. But do you know that it’s from the Georgian calendar (western calendar)? Now, what if I asked you to tell the position of the Moon and Sun with respect to earth, and the sun is in a straight line with which star (Nakshatra) when seen from earth, by looking at the calendar?

Will you be able to give me all those details? Not possible right?  But what if I told you that by looking at the calendar we can tell the position of the moon, sun, star, etc. with respect to earth?

You don’t believe me? But it’s a fact that we can know all those if we can understand how to read the Hindu calendar

Let’s check on how to read the Hindu calendar to know all those interesting details.

 Importance of Hindu calendar (Panchang)

Firstly, let us know the importance of the Hindu calendar and how it is different from the other calendars.

Some calendars are prepared based on Sun for example Georgian Calendar. In this calendar, they generally consider the time taken by earth to revolve around the sun as 1 year.  It will take 365.25 days for the earth to complete one revolution around the sun. So in the western calendar, they consider 365 days in a year, and once in four years they consider an additional day i.e. 366 days in a year called a Leap year

Some calendars are prepared based on Moon, for example, the Islamic Calendar. In this calendar, they consider the time taken by the moon to revolve around earth as one month and consider 12 such months as a year. It will take 29.53 days for the moon to revolve around the earth so they will have 354.36 days (29.53*12) in a year. Generally, they will consider 354 days in a year and consider some leap years with 355 days to compensate (0.36 days).

Almost all the calendars are prepared either based on sun or moon but the Hindu calendar is the only calendar that is prepared considering Sun, Moon, and stars.

One more interesting thing is that all the calendars in the world consider reference which is only 2000 or 3000 years ago, but the Hindu calendar (Panchang) will consider the start of Lord Brahma’s life as a reference. The universe is created by Lord Brahma so by knowing the age of current Brahma, we will know the age of the current universe approximately. To understand it first we should know a few basics.

Hindu calender lord brahma life span
Hindu calendar lord Brahma life span

Lord Brahma’s life span (approximate life span of the universe)

Lord Brahma’s life span is 100 Brahma years.    (Note this year is different from human years)

Day of Brahma = 1000 Maha yugas (1000 Maha yugas is also called Kalpa)

Night of Brahma = 1000 Maha Yugas (during the night of Brahma, life will not exist in the universe)

So one full day of Brahma consists of 2 Kalpa’s (i.e. 2000 Maha Yugas)

1 Mahayuga = 4 Yugas ( Krita yuga, Treta Yuga, Dvapara Yuga and Kali-yuga)

Krita Yuga = 1728000  human years

Treta Yuga = 1296000 human years

Dvapara yuga = 864000 human years

Kali-yuga = 432000 human years

So one full day of Brahma is equal to = (432000+864000+1296000+1728000)*2000 human years

One year of Lord Brahma (Brahma year will be 360 days) = (432000+864000+1296000+1728000)*2000*360

So total life span of Lord Brahma (100 Brahma years) is = (432000+864000+1296000+1728000)*2000*360*100

So the total life span of Lord Brahma (age of the current universe) is 311.04 Trillion human years.

The current age of Brahma (how old is the universe)

By calculating the current age of Brahma we will understand how old the universe is and how many years ago the universe was created approximately

To understand this we should know about a few more details

Day time of Brahma (1000 Maha yuga/Kalpa) is divided into 14 manvantara’s + 15 sandya’s (each sandya gap occur after every Manvantara)

1 Manvantara = 71 Maha yugas

1 sandya = 1728000 human years

As of now Brahma has completed 50 years and is currently on the first day of his 51st year

On the first day of his 51st year, he has completed 6 Manvantara’s and currently in 7th Mavantara.

In 7th Manvantara, he has completed 27 Maha yuga’s and currently in 28th Maha yuga

In 28th Maha yuga Krita yuga, Treta Yuga, Dvapara yuga are already complete and currently, Kali-yuga is running

50 years of Brahma = (432000+864000+1296000+1728000)*2000*360*50 = 155.522 trillion years

Completed six Manvantara’s in the first day of 51st year so completed = (6* Manvantara’s years )+( 7 sandhi years )

= (6* 71 * 4320000) + ( 7 * 1728000)

= 1852416000

In 7th Manvantara completed 27 Maha yuga’s = 27 * 4320000 = 116640000

In the current Maha yuga already completed Krita yuga, Treta Yuga, Dvapara yuga = 1728000 + 1296000 + 864000 = 3888000

In the present Kaliyuga we are in 5122 years (at the time of writing this article )

So the current age of Brahma (or universe) is

[(432000+864000+1296000+1728000)*2000*360*50]   +   1852416000   +   116640000   +   3888000   + 5122

So this is the reference for the Hindu calendar. No other calendar in the world is as old as the Hindu calendar.

Above mentioned details are only of current Brahma. Just like that, many Brahma’s have already completed their life span and many more Brahma’s will come in the future. Only Lord Vishnu and Shiva are eternal and are present all the time. After the current Brahma completes his lifetime, lord Hanuman will become the next Brahma.

Now that we have understood what is the reference year for the Hindu calendar now let us understand how we can read the Hindu calendar. When we tell date most of the calendars talk about the day, month, and year. But the Hindu calendar along with the date, month, and year will also talk about Vaar, Nakshatra, and Karana.

In this article, we will discuss the only date, month, and year. In Hindu calendar, the day is called Tithi, month as Masa, and Year as Samvatsara. There is no need for you to calculate all these details. All the calendars in local languages will provide the details of tithi and Nakshatra of that particular day and there are many Hindu calendar apps available, you can use any one of them. Below I have mentioned some basics on how Tithi, Masa, and Samvatsara are calculated so that you will have a basic understanding before you use the Hindu calendar.


As per the Hindu calendar, a lunar month (29.53 days – time for the moon to complete one revolution around the earth) is divided into 30 tithis. A tithi (also spelt thithi) is a lunar day, or the time it takes for the longitudinal angle between the Moon and the Sun to increase by 12°. Tithis can begin at any time of day and vary in duration from approximately 19 to approximately 26 hours.

As per Hindu Shastra, a day starts with sunrise. So, the duration of a day is approximately 24 hours. Since the Tithi duration varies between 19 to 26 hours and since it starts at different times of the day, tithi during the time of sunrise is considered as the tithi for that entire day.

Naming of Tithi

A lunar month is divided into 2 parts namely, Shukla Paksha and Krishna Paksha.

Shukla Paksha is Waxing Moon when Chandra increases in size. That is from New Moon to Full Moon.

Krishna Paksha is Waning Moon when Chandra decreases in size. That is from Full Moon to New Moon (Dark).

The chart below will help you in understanding the tithi names

Hindu calendar Tithi calculation
Hindu calendar Tithi calculation

Masa (Month)

Unlike all the other calendars, Hindu calendar will not have a same number of months every year. Generally, the Hindu calendar will have 12 months but to adjust it with the solar year, sometimes an additional month is added and sometimes a month is removed. Let us understand why and how it is done in detail.

A Hindu month will have 29.53 days (approx.).  So considering 12 months, it will have 354.36 days. Compared to a solar year (365.25 days) it will be lagging by approximately 11 days. This difference in lunar and solar years will be compensated by adding an additional month or removing a month.

You might be thinking about how can one simply add or remove a month. But if our Rishi’s (saints) have done something they will not do it without any meaning/value.

Generally, in a lunar month (Amavasya to Amavasya) there will be a sun transit from one Rashi to another Rashi.  Rashi’s are decided based on Nakshatra’s (stars). And the months are named after the Rashi in which Sun enters.

Hindu calendar Masa calculator
Hindu calendar Masa calculator

Once in every 3 years, in one particular month sun will not change from one Rashi to another. So, an additional month is considered when the sun does not change its Rashi in a lunar month. And that additional month is named after the Rashi in which the sun was already present with a prefix of “Adhika”. For example, assume that the sun is in Mesha Rashi and if it does not change the Rashi in that lunar month, then, an additional month is considered with the name of “Adhika Chaitra Masa”.

Once every 24 years, there will be 2 Adhika Masas (months) in a year.

Now if the sun transits into two rashis within a lunar month, then a lunar month will be removed. This will happen once every 122 years or 141 years.

By doing so, the solar and lunar year will be matched perfectly, without any error.

Samvasara (year)

As explained, above, currently we are in [(432000+864000+1296000+1728000)*2000*360*50]   +   1852416000   +   116640000   +   3888000   + 5122 year (5122 is the present running year in Kaliyuga as of May 2020 as per western Calendar) from the start of Brahma’s life which Hindu calendar consider as reference

Since it’s difficult to tell such a big number for the general-purpose we say the year as Kaliyuga 5122 (meaning in Kaliyuga we are in 5122 years).  And this year will keep on increasing in number, with every Hindu New Year (Ugadi or called with a different name in other regions of Bharat). For example, next Ugadi it will become Kaliyuga 5123.

For general use, we simply say Kaliyuga 5122 as a year but while telling a Sankalpam in Pooja or in any religious practices full details will be mentioned including details of Nakshatra, yoga, Karana etc.

You might have heard this many times in temple or in any Pooja but you might have not understood the meaning.  Next time, carefully listen to the Pujari (priest) when he is mentioning date and timing details in Sankalpam, then you will listen priest saying Adhya Brahmanahe (meaning beginning from Brahma’s life), Dwitiya Pararthe (meaning Brahma’s second half, as he has already completed 50 years of 100 years), Swetha  VarahaKalpa (name of the present Kalpa), vaivasvatha manvanthare (name of current Manvantara)…. . Generally while saying Sankalpam we should mention the place and timing details.

Now that we understood how to read the Hindu calendar, let us try to understand how we can read the Hindu calendar with some examples

Example 1

Date as per Georgian calendar (western)  06 – May – 2020

As per Hindu calendar, it is –> Chaturdashi Shukla Paksha – Vaishākha Masa – Kaliyuga 5122 (you will get these details by seeing any Hindu calendar)

Chaturdashi Shukla Paksha – Means 14th tithi from Amavasya (as it is Shukla Paksha). From this, we can say that moon is approximately 168 degrees (12 degrees * 14) with respect to the sun when seen from earth.

Vaishākha Masa – Means Vaishākha month. By this, we can say that the sun is in Vrishabha Rashi (chart below will help you to understand). And by this, we can predict the season as well.

Kaliyuga 5122 – This means we are in 5122 years of Kaliyuga

Example 2

Date as per Georgian calendar  15 – April – 2020

As per Hindu calendar –> Ashtami Krishna Paksha – Chaitra Masa – Kaliyuga 5122

Ashtami Krishna Paksha – Means 8th tithi from Purnima (as it is Krishna Paksha). From this, we can say that moon is approximately 276 degrees (12 degrees * 23 (15 days till Purnima and 8 days after it)) with respect to the sun when seen from earth.

Chaitra Masa –Means Chaitra month and by this, we can say Sun is in Mesha Rashi

Kaliyuga 5122 – This means we are in 5122 years of Kaliyuga

Will Hindu Festivals fall on a different day every year?

As per the Hindu calendar festivals fall on the same day every year. Since we are trying to compare it to the western calendar most people think that the Hindu festival falls on a different day.  This is because the western calendar has 365 days a year but the Hindu calendar have a different number of days compared to the western calendar

If we consider any Hindu festival for example Diwali, – it is celebrated on Amavasya Krishna Paksha – Āshvayuja Masa (Amavasya tithi (last tithi in a month) of Āshvayuja month).  Every year it is celebrated on the same day as per Hindu calendar. But when seen in the western calendar you will see it on a different day because as explained above, both calendars have a different number of days in a year.

Note: Sankranti /Pongal will almost (one day here and there) come on the same day as per the western calendar because Sankranti festival is calculated based only on the Sun.

Friends I have only mentioned a few basics of the Hindu calendar so that everyone can understand it in an easy way. There is a lot more to learn from the Hindu calendar. They talk about Nakshatra’s, yoga, Karana, and about many other things in detail.

We can use the Georgian calendar as it’s universally used but if we can start using the Hindu calendar we will know many more things. For example by using the Hindu calendar first thing you can understand is Tithi, by tithi you can say Moon is which position. And every Tithi has a presiding god, based on presiding god doing some acts on that day will help us and some other acts will harm us. So if we can understand those we can plan important events accordingly, so that we will get benefited the most.

Also read How to lead an organic lifestyle

This is only an example. Similarly, there are many advantages if one can use the Hindu calendar properly.

Hope you will start using the Hindu calendar from today. If you like this Article help us in spreading the Ancient Hindu knowledge by sharing it with your friends and family.




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