Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

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  • The Fertile Crescent

    The Fertile Crescent is a term for an old fertile area north, east and west of the Arabian Desert in Southwest Asia. The Mesopotamian valley and the Nile valley fall under this term even though the mountain zone around Mesopotamia is the natural zone for the transition in a historical sense.

    As a result of a number of unique geographical factors the Fertile Crescent have an impressive history of early human agricultural activity and culture. Besides the numerous archaeological sites with remains of skeletons and cultural relics the area is known primarily for its excavation sites linked to agricultural origins and development of the Neolithic era.

    It was here, in the forested mountain slopes of the periphery of this area, that agriculture originated in an ecologically restricted environment. The western zone and areas around the upper Euphrates gave growth to the first known Neolithic farming communities with small, round houses , also referred to as Pre Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) cultures, which dates to just after 10,000 BC and include areas such as Jericho, the world’s oldest city.

    During the subsequent PPNB from 9000 BC these communities developed into larger villages with farming and animal husbandry as the main source of livelihood, with settlement in the two-story, rectangular house. Man now entered in symbiosis with grain and livestock species, with no opportunity to return to hunter – gatherer societies.

    The area west and north of the plains of the Euphrates and Tigris also saw the emergence of early complex societies in the much later Bronze Age (about 4000 BC). There is evidence of written culture and early state formation in this northern steppe area, although the written formation of the states relatively quickly shifted its center of gravity into the Mesopotamian valley and developed there. The area is therefore in very many writers been named “The Cradle of Civilization.”

    The area has experienced a series of upheavals and new formation of states. When Turkey was formed in the aftermath of the genocide against the Pontic Greeks, Armenians and Assyrians perpetrated by the Young Turks during the First World War it is estimated that two-thirds to three-quarters of all Armenians and Assyrians in the region died, and the Pontic Greeks was pushed to Greece.

    Israel was created out of the Ottoman Empire and the conquering of the Palestinian terretories. The existence of large Arab nation states from the Maghreb to the Levant has since represented a potential threat to Israel which should be neutralised when opportunities arise.

    This line of thinking was at the heart of David Ben Gurion’s policies in the 1950s which sought to exacerbate tensions between Christians and Muslims in the Lebanon for the fruits of acquiring regional influence by the dismembering the country and the possible acquisition of additional territory.

    The Christians are now being systematically targeted for genocide in Syria according to Vatican and other sources with contacts on the ground among the besieged Christian community.

    According to reports by the Vatican’s Fides News Agency collected by the Centre for the Study of Interventionism, the US-backed Free Syrian Army rebels and ever more radical spin-off factions are sacking Christian churches, shooting Christians dead in the street, broadcasting ultimatums that all Christians must be cleansed from the rebel-held villages, and even shooting priests.

    It is now time that the genocide against the Pontic Greeks, Assyrians and Armenians is being recognized, that the Israeli occupation, settlements and violence against the Palestinians stop, and that the various minorities in the area start to live their lifes in peace – without violence and threats from majority populations, or from the West, and then specificially from the US.

    War in the Fertile Crescent
    https://aratta.wordpress.com/2013/11/13/war-in-the-fertile-crescent

    Everyone is free to use the text on this blog as they want. There is no copyright etc. This because knowledge is more important than rules and regulations.

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The Hindu Calendar

Posted by Sjur Cappelen Papazian on November 23, 2019

The term Hindu astrology has been in use as the English equivalent of Jyotiṣa since the early 19th century, whereas Vedic astrology is a relatively recent term, entering common usage in the 1970s with self-help publications on Āyurveda or yoga.

Vedanga Jyotishya is one of the earliest texts about astronomy within the Vedas. However, some authors have claimed that the horoscopic astrology practiced in the Indian subcontinent came from Hellenistic influences, post-dating the Vedic period.

Some authors argue that in the mythologies Ramayana and Mahabharata, only electional astrology, omens, dreams and physiognomy are used but there have been several articles and blogs published which cites multiple references in those books about rashi (zodiac sign) based astrology.

Time keeping was important to Vedic rituals, and Jyotisha was the Vedic era field of tracking and predicting the movements of astronomical bodies in order to keep time, in order to fix the day and time of these rituals.

This study was one of the six ancient Vedangas, or ancillary science connected with the Vedas – the scriptures of Vedic Sanatan Sanskriti. The ancient Indian culture developed a sophisticated time keeping methodology and calendars for Vedic rituals.

David Pingree has proposed that the field of timekeeping in Jyotisha may have been “derived from Mesopotamia during the Achaemenid period”, but Yukio Ohashi considers this proposal as “definitely wrong”. Ohashi states that this Vedanga field developed from actual astronomical studies in ancient India.

Timekeeping as well as the nature of solar and moon movements are mentioned in Vedic texts. For example, Kaushitaki Brahmana chapter 19.3 mentions the shift in the relative location of the sun towards north for 6 months, and south for 6 months.

The texts of Vedic Jyotisha sciences were translated into the Chinese language in the 2nd and 3rd centuries CE, and the Rigvedic passages on astronomy are found in the works of Zhu Jiangyan and Zhi Qian.

Hindu Calendar

Hindu calendar is a collective term for the various lunisolar calendars traditionally used in the Indian subcontinent. They adopt a similar underlying concept for timekeeping, but differ in their relative emphasis to moon cycle or the sun cycle and the names of months and when they consider the New Year to start. The Hindu calendar is also important to the practice of Hindu astrology and zodiac system.

Of the various regional calendars, the most studied and known Hindu calendars are the Shalivahana Shaka found in South India, Vikram Samvat (Bikrami) found in North and Central regions of India, Tamil calendar used in Tamil Nadu, and the Bengali calendar used in the Bengal – all of which emphasize the lunar cycle.

Their new year starts in spring. In contrast, in regions such as Kerala, the solar cycle is emphasized and this is called the Malayalam calendar, their new year starts in autumn, and these have origins in the second half of the 1st millennium CE. A Hindu calendar is sometimes referred to as Panchanga.

The ancient Hindu calendar conceptual design is also found in the Jewish calendar, but different from the Gregorian calendar. Unlike Gregorian calendar which adds additional days to lunar month to adjust for the mismatch between twelve lunar cycles (354 lunar days) and nearly 365 solar days, the Hindu calendar maintains the integrity of the lunar month, but insert an extra full month by complex rules, every few years, to ensure that the festivals and crop-related rituals fall in the appropriate season.

The Hindu calendars have been in use in the Indian subcontinent since ancient times, and remains in use by the Hindus in India and Nepal particularly to set the Hindu festival dates such as Holi, Saraswati Puja, Maha Shivaratri, Vaisakhi, Rath Yatra, Navratri, Raksha Bandhan, Ganesh Puja, Pongal, Onam, Krishna Janmashtami, Durga Puja, Laxmi Puja, Ram Navami, Pana Sankranti, Vishu and Diwali.

Early Buddhist communities of India adopted the ancient Indian calendar, later Vikrami calendar and then local Buddhist calendars. Buddhist festivals continue to be scheduled according to a lunar system. The Buddhist calendar and the traditional lunisolar calendars of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand are also based on an older version of the Hindu calendar.

Similarly, the ancient Jain traditions have followed the same lunisolar system as the Hindu calendar for festivals, texts and inscriptions. However, the Buddhist and Jain timekeeping systems have attempted to use the Buddha and the Mahavira’s lifetimes as their reference points.

Regional calendars used in the Indian subcontinent have two aspects: lunar and solar. Lunar months begin with Chaitra and solar months start with Vaisakha Sankranti, which means the transmigration of the Sun from one Rāshi (constellation of the zodiac in Indian astronomy) to the next. Hence, there are 12 Sankrantis in a year.

Each Sankranti is marked as the beginning of a month in the sidereal solar calendars followed in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Kerala, Odisha, Punjab, Gujarat and Nepal. On the other hand, in the sidereal solar Bengali calendar and Assamese calendar, a Sankranti is marked as the end of each month and the day following as the beginning of a new month.

However, regional calendars mark when the official new year is celebrated. In regions such as Maharashtra which begin the official new year with the commencement of the lunar year, the solar year is marked by celebrating Vaisakha Sankranti.

Conversely, regions starting the new year with Vaisakha Sankranti, give prominence to the start of the lunar year in Chaitra. In Vedic calendar, it is called Madhav, and in Vaishnav calendar, it is called Madhushudan month.

Makar Sankranti marks the transition of the Sun into Makara rashi (Capricorn) on its celestial path. It is also called as Uttarayana – the day on which the sun begins its six-month northward journey.

The traditional Indian calendar is based on lunar positions, Sankranti is a solar event. The of Makar Sankranti remains constant over a long term, 14 January or occasionally, 15 January as the Sun begins to rise in Makara Rashi.

The term Uttarāyaṇa or Uttarayan is derived from two different Sanskrit words “uttara” (North) and “ayana” (movement) thus indicating a semantic of the northward movement of the Earth on the celestial sphere.

This movement begins to occur a day after the winter solstice in December which occurs around 22 December and continues for a six-month period through to the summer solstice around June 21 (dates vary ).

This difference is because the solstices are continually precessing at a rate of 50 arcseconds / year due to the precession of the equinoxes, i.e. this difference is the difference between the sidereal and tropical zodiacs. The Surya Siddhanta bridges this difference by juxtaposing the four solstitial and equinotial points with four of the twelve boundaries of the rashis.

The complement of Uttarayana is Dakshinayana, i.e. the period between Karka sankranti and Makara Sankranti as per the sidereal zodiac and between the Summer solstice and Winter solstice as per the tropical zodiac.

The Surya Siddhanta defines Uttarayana as the period between the Makara Sankranti (which currently occurs around January 14) and Karka Sankranti (which currently occurs around July 16).

Bal Gangadhar Tilak proposes an alternative, early vedic definition of Uttarayana as starting from Vernal Equinox and ending with Autumnal Equinox. This definition interprets the term “Uttara Ayana” as “northern movement” instead of “northward movement”, i.e. as the movement of the Earth in the region North of the Equator.

In support of this proposal, he points to another tradition that the Uttarayana is considered the daytime of the Gods residing at the North Pole which tradition makes sense only if we define Uttarayana as the period between the Vernal and Autumnal equinoxes (when there is Midnight Sun at the North Pole).

Conversely, Dakshinaya is defined as the period between the Autumnal and Vernal Equinoxes, when there is midnight sun at the South Pole. This period is also referred to as Pitrayana (with the Pitrus (i.e. ancestors) being placed at the South Pole).

Uttarayana is referred to as the day of new good healthy wealthy beginning. According to Kauravas and Pandavas, in Mahabharata on this day Bheeshma Pitamaha, chose to leave for his heavenly abode. As per the boon granted to Devavrata (young Bheeshma), he could choose his time of death chose this day, when the sun starts on its course towards the northern hemisphere.

According to Hindu tradition the six months of Uttarayana are a single day of the Gods; the six months of Dakshinayana are a single night of the Gods. Thus a year of twelve months is single Nychthemeron of the Gods.

This festival is currently celebrated on 14 or 15 January but due to axial precession of the earth it will continue to shift away from the actual season. The season occurs based on tropical sun (without ayanamsha). The earth revolves around sun with a tilt of 23.44 degrees. When the tilt is facing the sun we get summer and when the tilt is away from the sun we get winter. That is the reason when there is summer north of the equator, it will be winter south of the equator.

Because of this tilt it appears that the sun travels north and south of the equator. This motion of the sun going from south to north is called Uttarayana – the sun is moving towards north and when it reaches north it starts moving south and it is called Dakshinayana – the sun is moving towards south. This causes seasons which are dependent on equinoxes and solstices.

There is a common misconception that Makar Sankranti is the Uttarayana. This is because at one point in time Sayana and Nirayana zodiac were the same. Every year equinoxes slide by 50 seconds due to precession of equinoxes, giving birth to Ayanamsha and causing Makar Sankranti to slide further.

As a result, if you think Makar Sankranti is Uttarayana then as it is sliding, it will come in June after 9000 years. However Makar Sankranti still holds importance in Hindu rituals. All Drika Panchanga makers like mypanchang.com, datepanchang, janmabhumi panchang, rashtriya panchang  and Vishuddha Siddhanta Panjika use the position of the tropical sun to determine Uttarayana and Dakshinayana.

Also when Uttarayana starts, it is a start of winter. When equinox slides it will increase ayanamsha and Makar Sankranti will also slide. In 1000 AD, Makar Sankranti was on Dec 31 and now it falls on January 14; in 272 BC Sankranti was on Dec 21; after 9000 years Makar Sankranti will be in June.

It would seem absurd to have Uttarayana in June when sun is about to begin its ascent upwards —Dakshinayana. This misconception continues as there is not much difference between actual Uttarayana date which occurs a day after winter solstice (of Dec 21) when the sun makes the northward journey, and January 14. However, the difference will be significant as equinoxes slide further.

Mesha Sankranti marks the beginning of the New Year in the traditional Hindu Solar Calendar. On this day, the sun enters the sidereal Aries, or Mesha rashi. It generally falls on 14/15 April. Regional New Year festivals also take place on this day. Vaisakhi in the Punjab region, Pana Sankranti in Odisha and on the day after Mesha Sankranti, is Pohela Boishakh in Bengal and Bohag Bihu in Assam.

Mithuna Sankranti is celebrated as annual menstruating phase of Mother Earth as Raja Parba or Ambubachi Mela in Eastern and North Eastern provinces of India. Dhanu Sankranti: celebrated on the first day of the solar month.

Karka Sankranti on July 16 marks the transition of the Sun into Karka rashi (Cancer). This also marks the end of the six-month Uttarayana period of Hindu calendar, and the beginning of Dakshinayana, which itself end at Makar Sankranti.

Chaitra

In the standard Hindu calendar and India’s national civil calendar, Chaitra is the first month of the year. It is the last month in the Bengali calendar, where it is called Choitro. Chaitra or Chait is also the last month in the Nepali calendar (the Vikram Samvat), where it commences in mid-March.

Chithirai is the first month in the Tamil calendar. In Sindhi calendar, this month is referred to as Chet and is marked by the celebration of the Cheti Chand (birth of Jhulelal, an incarnation of Vishnu). In the Vaishnava calendar, Vishnu governs this month.

The month of Chaitra is also associated with the coming of Spring. Holi, the spring festival of colour, is celebrated on the full moon day (Purnima) of Phalguna month before Chaitra. Exactly 6 days after which the festival of Chaiti observed.

Holi is a popular ancient Hindu festival, originating from the Indian subcontinent. It is celebrated predominantly in India and Nepal, but has also spread to other areas of Asia and parts of the Western world through the diaspora from the Indian subcontinent. Holi is popularly known as the Indian “festival of spring”, the “festival of colours”, or the “festival of love”.

The festival signifies the arrival of spring, the end of winter, the blossoming of love, and for many a festive day to meet others, play and laugh, forget and forgive, and repair broken relationships. The festival also celebrates the beginning of a good spring harvest season.

It lasts for a night and a day, starting on the evening of the Purnima (Full Moon day) falling in the Vikram Samvat Calendar, in the Hindu calendar month of Phalgun, which falls around middle of March in the Gregorian calendar.

Chhath is an ancient Hindu Vedic festival historically native to the Indian subcontinent, more specifically, the Indian states of Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh and the Madhesh region of Nepal.

The Chhath Puja is dedicated to the Sun and his sister Shashti devi mother of Kartikeya(Chhathi Maiya) in order to thank them for bestowing the bounties of life on earth and to request the granting of certain wishes. This festival is observed by Nepalese and Indian people, along with their diaspora.

The festival doesn’t involve idolatry and is dedicated to worship the sun God Surya and Dawn Goddess Ushas and the rituals are rigorous and are observed over a period of four days. They include holy bathing, fasting and abstaining from drinking water (Vratta), standing in water for long periods of time, and offering prasad (prayer offerings) and arghya to the setting and rising sun. Some devotees also perform a prostration march as they head for the river banks.

In lunar religious calendars, Chaitra begins with the new moon in March/April and is the first month of the year. The first of Chaitra – is celebrated as New Year’s Day, known as Gudi Padwa in Maharashtra, Chaitrai Vishu or Puthandu in Tamil Nadu and Ugadi in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

Other important festivals in the month are; Chaitra Navratri, Ram Navami – the birth anniversary of Lord Ram celebrated on the 9th day of Chaitra, and Hanuman Jayanti that falls on the last day (Purnima) of Chaitra. In Bengal people celebrate Charak Puja.The world-famous “chithirai Thiruvizha” which is held on the banks of Vaigai is held during this month in Madurai.

In the Tamil calendar, Chitterai begins with the Sun’s entry into Aries in mid-April, and is the first month of the year. The full moon day of Chaitra is known as “chithira pournami” in Tamil which is an auspicious day for Amman. Chaitra is considered to be a very auspicious month in which the creation of the universe was started. “Chaitra” can also be used as a name, with the meaning of “Spring” or “Aries Sign”.

According to the Sloka Chaturvarga Chintamani, the god Bramha created the universe on the first day of Shukla paksha (first fortnight / first half of the month) in the month of Chaitra. He also gradually included planets, stars, ruthu (seasons), years and lords of years. In this month, the fifteen days in Shukla paksha are dedicated to fifteen deities. Each day of the month is dedicated to a different god.[citation needed]

In the more traditional reckoning, the first month commences in March or April of the Gregorian Calendar, depending upon whether the Purushottam Maas (extra month for alignment of lunar or solar calendar) was observed in the year. There is no fixed date in Gregorian calendar for the 1st day of Chaitra, i.e., the beginning of the Hindu New Year.

Vaisakha

Vaisakha is a month of the Hindu calendar that corresponds to the second half of April and the first half of May in the Gregorian Calendar. It is the first month of the Vikram Samvat calendar, Nepali calendar, Odia calendar, Punjabi calendar, Assamese calendar (where it is called Bohag) and the Bengali calendar (where it is called Boishakh).

The Vikram calendar is the historical Hindu calendar on the Indian subcontinent and the official calendar of Nepal. The Vikram calendar uses lunar months and solar sidereal years and is also used in several Indian states. A number of ancient and medieval inscriptions used the Vikram Samvat.

Although it was reportedly named after the legendary king Vikramaditya, the term “Vikrama Samvat” does not appear in the historical record before the 9th century; the same calendar system is found with other names, such as Krita and Malava.

In the Indian national calendar, the Hindu lunar calendar and the Tamil solar calendar, Vaisakha is the second month of the year. The name of the month is derived from the position of the moon near the star Vishakha on full moon day. In the Vaishnava calendar, Madhusudana governs this month.

The month of Boishakh also marks the official start of Summer. The month is notorious for the afternoon storms called Kalboishakhi (Nor’wester). The storms usually start with strong gusts from the north-western direction at the end of a hot day and cause widespread destruction.

The first day of Baishakh is celebrated as the Pôhela Boishak or Bangla New Year’s Day. The day is observed with cultural programs, festivals and carnivals all around the country. The day of is also the beginning of all business activities in Bangladesh and neighboring Indian state of West Bengal.

The harvest festival of Vaisakhi is celebrated on in this month which marks the Punjabi new year according to the Punjabi calendar. Jallianwala Bagh massacre took place on the Punjabi New year day. Vaisakha Purnima is celebrated as Buddha Purnima or the birthday of Gautama Buddha amongst Buddhists. Purnima refers to the Full Moon. Known in Sinhalese as Vesak, it is observed in the full moon of May.

Vaishakha Purnima is known as “vaikasi vishakam” in Tamil Nadu which is celebrated as the birthday of Lord Murugan. Vaisakha sukla chaturdasi is celebrated as Narasimha Jayanthi Festival in Sri Varaha Lakshmi Narasimha Swamivari Temple at Simhachalam.

 

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