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Uttarayana and Dakshinayana: How is the Theory of Time ‘Kala’ defined in Hinduism?

Time, despite being a purely scientific concept, has a spiritual aspect as well. Hinduism's definition of time is completely distinct from the Lunar definition.

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sundial. Wikimedia

New Delhi, December 5, 2016: Time has many measures in this world. We have a global division of time where each country or continent has its own time schemes. One such time concept is the Hinduism’s concept of time which can be defined in numerous ways and in different perspectives.

In the world, time is somewhere related to the existence of certain species and the number of species existing. However, the Padma Puran states that there are 8.4 billion species under which further bifurcations show, 900,000 aquatic life forms, 2,000,000 trees and plants life forms, 1,100,000 small insect life forms, 3,000,000 beasts and reptiles life forms and 400,000 mammalian life forms.

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For every particular species, duration of time or life stands on a different scale. The concept of time is relative. According to Hindu Mythology, the world of devas or celestials will be governed by different durations of time. Time does not just refer to what happens to the world which helps in the transition from morning to night. It refers to the journey till death. In a world of material existence, time or life span can be exceedingly short, merest fraction of a minute or a few years.

In this context, Hinduism posits time in a variety of ways. One familiar measurement of time is ‘varsh’ or year. Unlike the Georgian year which commences on January 1 and ends on December 31, the Hindu year commences in the month of Chaitra—usually around March. The lunar year is different from the solar year in this respect.

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It is usually a few days shorter than the solar year. As a result, there is an extra month, roughly every three and a half years, and this is known as the Adhik Mas. Hinduism classifies time into two categories, Uttarayana and Dakshinayana.

Uttarayana refers to the northern solstice. This period is propitious for most religious and auspicious events, activities and undertakings. When the sun is in Dakshinayan or the southern solstice, several auspicious actions such as murti installations, upanayana ceremonies are suspended.

Hinduism also uses other concepts to measure time, such as tithi, karana, yoga and nakshatra. For example, the Hindu lunar month is divided into two pakshas (fortnights). The bright fortnight is described as Shukla Paksha and the dark fortnight as Krishna Paksha. Each of these two pakshas or fortnights contains fifteen lunar days. However, the Hindu calendar is very different from the Lunar calendar. While all the days in the solar month routinely has twenty-four hours, the day or tithi in Hinduism has varying durations.

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A ‘tithi’ or lunar day can be for small durations of time or well over twenty-four hours in several instances. The tithi is not fixed for twenty-four hours. The tithi is of great consideration in identifying the various religious observances.

The tithis or dates play a very important role on religious fronts. Many of the religious observances are aligned to the tithi —Chaturthi (fourth lunar day) for the worship of Lord Ganesh, Ekadashi (eleventh lunar day) for the worship of Lord Vishnu, Ashtmi (eighth lunar day) for the worship of Devi (Divine Mother), Chaturdashi (fourteenth lunar day) for the worship of Shiva.

In all instances, the measurement of the time as well as the duration of the ‘tithi’ resolves around the start and end time of each tithi to determine the most appropriate day to observe each religious event.

Calculations of the start and end time of each tithi is very important. The tithis also give a partial knowledge of what activities can be undertaken on a particular tithi. Similarly, nakshatras also play a very important role as it holds a significant role. Each nakshatra is subdivided into four equal parts called ‘charanas’.

Each charan is linked to the astrological conclusions that can be made for a person when the birth chart is drawn. Apart from tithis and nakshatras as units of time, yoga and karma are also important for different reasons in determining what can be done and what should be postponed. Thus, the concept of time remains an important and distinguished part of Hinduism.

– by Shambhavi Sinha of NewsGram. Twitter:  @shambhavispeaks

Next Story

Westerners Adopt Indian Practices, Deny Giving Due Credits

There is an argument by some Hindu liberals thinking “what the problem in it”? They think our knowledge is globalized by West in the same way we consume inventions of the West. But it’s a very naïve argument.

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Its time Indians in general and Hindus in particular should be vigilant and should have an academic mind set to respond to such misadventures to protect our own heritage and Dharma. Hindu Council Of Australia

By Shashi Holla (WA) and Surinder Jain

Colonial or a white supremacy mind set may be clever enough to adopt Hindu practices but denies giving credit where it is due. Stealing Hindu Intellectual Property, they do not hesitate to rename and repackage so that they can sell it back to India for immense profits. Off course, they will leave no chance to tell Indians to stop their superstitious ways and to adopt the new scientific knowledge which “they” have “invented”.

Following has been already digested or appropriated by West. Some of the Western academics don’t believe that they belong to India.

Yoga Nidra   AS  Lucid Dreaming

Nadi Shodhana AS Alternate Nostrils Breathing

Vipassana  AS Mindfulness.

The latest addition to this list is

Pranamyam AS Cardiac Coherence Breathing

Several researchers have reported that pranayama techniques are beneficial in treating a range of stress-related disorders.[29] But the latest attempt has taken the appropriation too far. An American magazine “Scientific American” in its article titled “Proper Breathing Brings Better health” termed “Pranayama” as cardiac coherence breathing. (15 January 2019). The article gives us an idea about how West is so sophisticated in stealing knowledge from ancient cultures particularly Hinduism.

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Man doing Yoga. Wikimedia Commons

Prāṇāyāma is mentioned in verse 4.29 of the Bhagavad Gītā.[11] According to Bhagavad-Gītā As It Is, prāṇāyāma is translated to “trance induced by stopping all breathing”, also being made from the two separate Sanskrit words, prāṇa and āyām.[12] Pranayama is the fourth “limb” of the eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga mentioned in verse 2.29 in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.[14][15] Patanjali, a Hindu Rishi, discusses his specific approach to pranayama in verses 2.49 through 2.51, and devotes verses 2.52 and 2.53 to explaining the benefits of the practice.[16] Many yoga teachers advise that pranayama should be part of an overall practice that includes the other limbs of Patanjali’s Raja Yoga teachings, especially Yama, Niyama, and Asana.[18]

“Pranayama” a department of Yogic science practiced and documented 5000 years back ( even 15,000 years back) by Rishis is not even acknowledged by the author of the article. If one read the article they vaguely suggest that breathing exercises also existed in China, Hindu and in Greek culture.  This is how appropriation of ancient techniques takes place by West.  As Sankrat Sanu an entrepreneur, researcher and writer put it in his tweet “after erasing the origin they claim it as their own invention, attack original traditions as Superstition”.

As famous Indian American Author Rajiv Malhotra summarizes: “The article standardizes cardiac coherence breathing as Chinese, Hindu, Greek and various traditions as equal origins, and then modern West turns it into science”. Its time Indians in general and Hindus in particular should be vigilant and should have an academic mind set to respond to such misadventures to  protect our own heritage and Dharma.

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The article standardizes cardiac coherence breathing as Chinese, Hindu, Greek and various traditions as equal origins, and then modern West turns it into science”.  Pixabay

There is an argument by some Hindu liberals thinking “what the problem in it”? They think our knowledge is globalized by West in the same way we consume inventions of the West. But it’s a very naïve argument. West has created an eco system and mechanism in which their knowledge system is Well protected and patented by international norms. Unless West does not give a new name and fits into their framework native wisdom is not recognized in academia and media. Whereas Hindus were generous in sharing their health techniques freely from millennium never thought they will struggle in proving things which belong to them. In fact in a westernized framework of Yoga and other techniques Indian scholars, insiders and practitioners are blatantly ignored. So our own knowledge will be repackaged and exported back to us at an extra price and conditions.

Also Read: Climate Change Will Melt Vast Parts of Himalayas: Study

Many of our practices are being called to be Biofeedback systems. According to WikipediaBiofeedback systems have been known in India and some other countries for millennia. Ancient Hindu practices like yoga and Pranayama (breathing techniques) are essentially biofeedback methods. Many yogis and sadhus have been known to exercise control over their physiological processes. In addition to recent research on Yoga, Paul Brunton, the British writer who travelled extensively in India, has written about many cases he has witnessed. (Hindu Council Of Australia)