Panchaangam or Almanac:

“Vedic rituals are performed according to the position of various planets [and the Sun and the Moon]. There are rules to determine this. The right day and hour [muhurta] for a function is fixed according to the position of celestial bodies.” (Divine sayings of Peria Periayaval)

In Hindu Society, all important functions or rituals will be conducted only after choosing a proper time for them This is done with the help of Almanac or Panchanga(m), an important booklet possessed by every house-hold in Hindu families throughout the world.  It is common even amongst some Muslim or Christian families to consult an almanac before finalizing the timing of any auspicious event.

The Sanskrit word “Panchanga” means five segments or limbs, namely, "Thithi" (lunar day), Vara (week day), "Nakshatra" (constellation), Yoga (luni-solar day) and Karana (half of a lunar day). The five limbs of the Panchanga represent the five sources of energy, visible as well as invisible, as denoted by these segments in a day. 

It is believed by the followers of the Panchanga that a proper balance of these energies is necessary for health, wealth and prosperity of mankind. The almanac provides guidelines for a person to undertake various activities in accordance with the best possible and most beneficial combination of these five elements signified by the five limbs. The combination varies depending on the nature of activity undertaken. The time so chosen for these activities, religious, social or otherwise, is called a “Muhurtha(m)”. In a Hindu family or Society, no religious or social activity, which is compared important, is undertaken without fixing a proper muhurtha(m).  Thus, apart from individual’s activities, dates for the festivals, sowing of plants and other agricultural activities and common religious functions are also chosen or determined on the basis of auspicious time indicated in the Panchanga.

 

The Panchanga is calculated annually in different parts of India in several cities with varying longitudes and latitudes. Some are based on lunar movements and some on solar movements. Unfortunately, there is no uniformity in the methods adopted in preparation and in their presentation. Some attempts made by well-known astrologers like the late B.V.Raman have not borne fruit. So much so, each region even within one state has its own Panchanga(m) prepared according to age old (traditional)  norms as well as the ones prepared with the latest available knowledge on planetary movements.   

 

One is surprised to find that for a given city two different Panchanga(m)s  prepared by two different people give the position of stars ("Nakshatra"s) differently. When all the Hindu rituals are based on the "Thithi"s and "Nakshatra"s for each day, it is so confusing to find these panchangas showing differences in the duration of "Thithi" or "Nakshatra"s on a chosen day. One begins to wonder how the Sun and the  Moon will change their  position according to the will of the compilers!!!  

In Tami Nadu, for example, there are so many almanacs prepared for different regions one set of them called “Vakya Panchaangams” and another set called “Thrik Kanitha Panchaangams”. Both Loukikas (common citizens) and the Purohits (Pundits) tend to cling on to the ones their forefathers have been using for generations. Since they are ignorant about the compilation norms, no body wants to question them as to their veracity. An example of such differences in the position of  "Nakshatra" and the Moon is given below:

(Duration in Hours and Mintues)

                             Date                      "Thithi"                 ""Nakshatram"

                             May 7, 2000                   Chathurthi             Mrugaseerisam

As in Vakya                              

Panchanga(m)                                   Till 1.55 PM           Till  4.50 PM

 

As in  Thrik Kanitha 

Panchanga(m)                                   Till 9.35 AM           Till  1.36 PM 

The question arises as to what one should follow. It is futile for me to raise this controversial subject in a forum like this. My intention is to point out the difficulties faced by the common man in choosing muhurtha for various purposes. The Pundits have a hay day, as there is none to question them. If one dares to do, he is dismissed summarily as an ignorant agnostic.

I feel that there is urgent need to reconcile these differences and bring out an acceptable Panchaangam for the country as a whole or at least for each region/State.

One common mistake committed by Purohits is in the calculation of muhurtha lagans for various purposes. The muhurtha lagna is always fixed by referring to the  Panchaangams. The duration of muhurtha lagna is not the same every where. A Panchaangam prepared for Chennai latitude cannot be adopted for Bangalore, Calcutta or New Delhi. The Panchaangams do indicate that they have to be corrected taking into account the different latitude. But unfortunately, this is not done. The Purohits have neither the time nor the wherewithal to make these finer calculations. So much so, the muhurtha fixed for various purposes ceases to have any meaning. I shall illustrate an example to show how this can carry for two cities Bangalore and New Delhi

Monday, the November 13, 2000 is the chosen date with Rohini Nakashatram (Star) and Dhwithiyai "Thithi". Lagna chosen for marriage Scorpio (Vrischikam)  in  Bangalore city.

Lagna period      Vrischika (Scorpio)     Duration     Makara (Capricorn)      Duration

For Bangalore:    6.33 AM to 8.45 AM.    132 mns.   10.52 AM to 12.46 PM  114 mns 

For New Delhi,    6.59 AM to 9.18 AM.     139 mns.  11.22 AM to 01.05 PM  103 mns.

 

That is, at New Delhi, it commences 26 minutes later than for Bangalore and lasts for 33 minutes after it closes at Bangalore. Not only there is time difference in the total duration, but the time of commencement and closing are also different. Hence, the muhurtha time has to be different in the two cities. On this particular day the same lagna cannot be chosen for New Delhi, as Rahu Kala starts on Monday at 7.30 AM and lasts till 9.00 AM. Since marriage rituals cannot be conducted in Rahu Kala, a different lagna, namely Makara has to be chosen keeping in view other factors like placement and aspects of planets.

 One would have committed a grave error in fixing muhurtha for marriage at New Delhi, based on  lagna calculations for Bangalore without corrections for latitude for the former city.

 For the benefit of internet readers, I append (see tables)  auspicious muhurtha dates and lagna for Bangalore and New Delhi for the Hindu Nandana year commencing from 14th April 2012. These marriage muhurtha dates have been carefully prepared with the help of sophisticated computer software and Almanacs prepared in India.  With suitable corrections with reference to latitude and longitude, these can be adjusted to suit any place in the world.  Click here for Bangalore and New Delhi.

Some Panchaanga(m)s may indicate additional dates; muhurtha lagna and mangalyatharana time can be calculated for these dates also.

Those who want specific help in the matter may write to me. (Shri S.G.V.Ramanan. Email Address: sgvramanan@hotmail.com ).

I give below a simple method (steps) to find out a suitable date for marriage of a couple:

1.Select the month or date from the Table to find out whether it is suitable or not.

2. Count from the girl’s star (""Nakshatram") to the star indicated in column 4 of the table for the date chosen.

3. If the number is 3, 5, 7, 14, 22, or 27, or if the lagna in which the star falls is eighth lagna from that the girl's Chandra lagna, it is not suitable date. Then choose the next date and do this exercise by following the same steps.

4. Also, do the same exercise for the boy, with reference to his star.

5. Reject if the number 1,3,5.7,14,19,22 or 27or if the lagna in which the star falls is eighth lagna from that the girl's Chandra lagna.

6.The above exercise does not lead to a good date for both boy and girl, then, the girl’s star count can be taken as the basis for the good date.

7. This is only indicative. It is preferable to consult a priest or astrologer before finalizing the date.

For the benefit of those who do not know the order of stars, the following numbers may be noted: 

"Nakshatra" and Serial No. (Sanskrit Name)

1.  Aswini 2.  Bharani  3.  Krittika  4.  Rohini  5.  Mrigasira (.Mrigasirisam)   

6.  Aridra (Thiruvadirai)   7.  Punarvasu (Punarpoosam)  8.  Pushyami (.Poosam)

9.  Aslesha (Ayilyam) 10. Makha (Magam) 11. Pubba (Pooram) 12. Uttara    (Uththirai)  

13. Hasta(m) 14. Chitta (Chittirai)  15. Swathi  16. Visakha (m) 17. Anuradha (Anusham)  

18. Jyeshta  (.Kettai)  19. Moola(m) 20. Poorvashda (Pooradam)  

21. Uttarashada (Uththiradam) 22. Sravana (Thiruvonam)  23. Dhanishta  (.Avittam )

24. Satabisha (Sathayam)  25. Poorvabadra (Poorattadhi)

26. Uttarabadra (Uttarattadhi )  27. Revati     


 (The name in bracket is Tamil equivalent. )

Some  Questions:

Question: People use the "Paambu Panchaangam" computed for Madras latitude / longitude throughout the world without correcting. So I totally agree that there is a need for a more sophisticated and accurate Panchaangam.

1) How is "Nakshatram" calculated?  

2) Also, how do you calculate "Thithi"?  Is it the "Thithi" at Sunrise at a particular location? If so people in higher latitudes can miss a "Thithi" in summer and have two "Thithi"s in winter. Is it true?

How do you determine the "Thithi" for a particular day? For example if the "Thithi" moves from one to the other around 11:00 am, what is the "Thithi" for the day? I was told that the "Thithi" for the day is the "Thithi" which was during Sunrise.

3) What is "Lagnam"? How do you compute "Lagnam"?

Answer:  

1) ""Nakshatram"  represents the position of the Moon in the elliptical circle or "zodiac". The zodiac is divided  into twelve "Rasis" and 27 "Nakshatra"s are assigned to these 12 "Rasis" beginning from "Mesha" and  "Aswini",  respectively. The Moon takes 13 degrees and 20  seconds to traverse one  "Nakshatra". So, the "Nakshatra" of the day is found  from the position of the  Moon in the zodiac cycle and dividing its longitude by 13 deg. and 20  sec. For example, if  the Moon is in 325 degrees, it is in 25th "Nakshatra" (starting  from Aswini) and that is Poorattadhi and is in Khumba Rasi.


2) In  simple terms, "Thithi" represents the distance  between the Sun and the  Moon at any point of time. Each "Thithi" is  equal to  0.9483 of a day and a  lunar month (from Amavasya  to Amavasya) is 29.53  days. "Thithi",  therefore,  does not vary according  to Sunrise. The ending time of a "Thithi" is the moment at which the Moon is removed from the Sun by  multiples of 12 degrees.  Thus,  when the Moon is away from the Sun after  Amavasya or Poornima by 24
degrees, Dwithiyai ends and  thrithiyai starts. 

When the Moon and the Sun are in the same longitude,  it is  Amavasya; when they are 180 degrees apart, it is  Poornimai. If the  difference is less than 180 degrees, it is sukla  paksha and if it is more  krishna paksha. To find out a "Thithi", you have to deduct  the longitude of the  Moon from that of the Sun and divide it by twelve. The full number represents that particular "Thithi" and the reminder how much a  "Thithi" has lapsed on that day. The longitudes of all planets are available for each place on earth and  these can be found in "Ephemeris".

The longitude of not only the Moon and the Sun but also of all planets in a zodiac depends on the latitude and longitude of a place and the "ayanamsa"  chosen for such calculation. One cannot take Madras Panchaangam (almanac) as valid for  the entire world. This is the reason, why  I have offered to help people to get the lagnas calculated for different cities.


Any good software on vedic astrology can help you to  find out the "Thithi"s and  "Nakshatra" for any place in the world. It is not easy to calculate "Thithi" for a particular  place without Ephemeries.

"Lagnam" is associated with solar movement. Beginning with the rasi where the Sun rises on  a day, "Lagnam" changes approximately every two hours; the duration of the "Lagnam" is not the same for every place. This also varies according to latitude/longitude.

Charts of two people born at the same time in two different places can be totally different from each other depending on variations in latitude/longitude. 

 

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