A panchangam (
Sanskrit"IAST|pañcāṅgam" ) is a Hindu astrologicalalmanac (or calendar), which follows traditional Indian cosmology, and presents important astronomical data in tabulated form. It is sometimes spelled "Pancanga" or "Panchanga". It is pronounced "Panchanga". It is based upon Jyotisha(IAST|Jyotiṣa).
Panchangas are published in India by many learned authors, societies, academies, and universities. Different publications differ only minutely, at least for a casual or un-trained reader. They forecast celestial phenomena such as
solar eclipses, forecast weather (rain, dryspells) as well as more mundane occurrences. The study of Panchangas involves understanding "Rasi phala", the impact of the signs of the zodiacon the individual. Astrologers consult the Panchangam to set dates for weddings, corporate mergers, and other worldly activities. Also see Hindu Calendar.
The actual casting of a Panchanga involves elaborate mathematical work involving high level of spherical geometry and sound understanding of astronomical phenomena, such as
siderealmovements of heavenly bodies. However, in practice the tabulation is done on the basis of short-cut formulations as propounded by ancient Vedic sages and scholars.
A typical Panchanga may state tabulations of positions of
Sun, Moon, and other planets for every day of the year on a fixed place (longitude, latitude) and time of day (in 24-hour format IST). The users calculate the remaining data using the their relative difference from this fixed place and time.
There are several panchangas that contain information for more than one year. There is one Vishvavijaya Panchanga that is for 100 years.
The theories propounded in the two scriptures,
Surya Siddhantaand Grahalaghavaformed the basis for the plethora of calendars or Panchangas in the past in different regions of the country - a culturally complex system.
The Grahalaghava was compiled some 600 years ago and Surya Siddhanta was available ages before that. But these had become outdated and did not tally with actual astronomical events and did not tally with each other also. Hence, a committee was appointed by the Government of India with experts in the field drawn from various parts of the country who were involved with preparation of Panchanga in local languages to draw up a reliable Panchanga in which the mathematical calculations provides the positions of grahas (the planets) and nakshatras (constellations) in the sky as they are observed.
Government of Indiahas prepared the National Panchangaor the Indian national calendarin 1957 (was proposed by Saha and Lahiriin 1952), which is used in predictive Astrology. The Lahiris Ephemerispublished annually is the most widely used English almanac in Vedic astrology apart from the many Panchangas published in local languages, which are mostly based on the National Panchanga.
Accuracy of attributes depending upon Moon's motions were considered most crucial for the reliability of a panchānga, because Moon is fastest among all heavenly entities shown in traditional panchāngas. Tithi, Nakshatra, Rāśi, Yoga, and Karana depend upon Moon's motions, which are five in number. "Panchānga" is a Sanskrit word, literally meaning "having five limbs". If these five limbs,i.e., five attributes depending upon Moon, are accurate, an almanac is held to be reliable, because other elements are not so difficult to compute due to their slow rates of change. There are three popular meanings of the term panchānga.1. (noun) (Vedic astrology) meaning "five attributes" of the day. These are:
Tithi- Ending Moment (EM) of elongation of the Moon, the lunar day , the angular relationship between Sun and Moon ( True Moon "minus" True Sun). One Tithi equals 12 degree difference between Moon and Sun.
Nakshatra- EM of asterism of the day, that is, the stellar mansion in which Moon is located for an observer on Earth. One Nakshatra equals 13 degrees:20 minutes. There are 27 Nakshatra in 360 degrees.
Yoga- EM of the angular relationship between Sun and Moon( True Moon "plus" True Sun). One Yoga equals 13 degrees:20 minutes. There are 27 Yogas in 360 degrees.
Karana- EM of half of a Tithi. One IAST|Karaṇa equals 6 degree difference between Moon and Sun.
weekdaythe seven Week days. Monier-Williamsgives "solar day" instead of Rāśi as the fifth limb. Some people enumerate "Vār" (days of the week) instead. But Vār or solar days do not involve intricate computations, unlike EM of Rāśi, but in the Hindu system the above said five elements only constitute the five limbs of the Panchangam
2. (noun) An
almanacthat contains the astronomical / astrological daily details also came to be called a panchānga because of the importance of five attributes shown above.
3. Panchānga-pūjan is a part of Ganesh-Ambika-pūjan. This meaning is not related to almanacs.
In Vedic Astrology, the basic tenet of astrology was integrated with celestial events and thus was born various branches of Vedic Astrology and the Panchanga. In simple terms, “ Panchanga” means the Day, Nakshatra (Star), Thithi, Yoga and Karana every day. It is a mirror of the sky. The document used as Panchanga has evolved over the last 5000 years. The theories propounded in the two scriptures, Surya Siddhanta and Grahalaghava formed the basis for the plethora of calendars or Panchangas in the past in different regions of the country - a culturally complex system.
The five Angas or parts of Panchanga are elaborated in the following pargraphs but before that the composition of the Samvatsara OR Years (60 Years cycle), Varsha or Year and Masa or month are first explained, as these important calendar events are part of every Panchanga. All the components of Panchanga are relevant in Predictive Astrology, Prasna Shastra (electional astrology), etc.
All followers and practitioners of Vedic astrology must necessarily know how to read a Panchanga and in this context it is necessary to know the Terminology used in the Panchanga for different time slots of the Day. Panchangas are also published in English as Ephemeris - The Lahiris Ephemeris is most widely used, which gives all the details as contained in a traditional Panchanga published in Sanskrit or Hindi and all the regional languages of the country.
There are several forms of reckoning the Varsha or Year based on Solar Entry (Solar Ingress), Lunar entry, Jupiter entry in a sign or the Julian calendar of starting the year from the first of January, but the most widely accepted practice in India is the Samvatsara, a 60 years cycle based on Solar entry. Each zodiacal sign is represented by 5 years starting from Pramadi and the Sixty years are equally distributed in successive order among the 12 signs (Rasis) starting from Mesha (Aries) and ending in Meena (Pisces).
Varsha or the year in astrological parlance is the solar calendar of year and months, which starts with Sun entering Aries (Mesha Rasi) and completing a full circle of the 12 zodiacal signs in a period of 12 months. The reckoning is done in a cycle of 60 years as explained above.
There are two kinds of Lunar months followed in India - the New Moon ending called the Amanta or Sukladi system and the Full Moon ending (covering one Full Moon to the next) called the Purnimanta system. But it is the lunar months Full Moon reckoned), which are reckoned in predictive astrology, and each represents the name of the star on Full moon day of the Solar months. The twelve Lunar months starting from Chaitra along with the names of the Solar months are given below.
In VedIc astrology, the basic tenets of astrology were integrated with celestial events with Vara or Week day and thus was born the Muhurtha Astrology or Electional Astrology.
Thithi or Lunar day is an important concept in Hindu Astrology. It means lunation. There are thirty Thithis in a Lunar month distributed in the 360 degrees of the Zodiac and each Thithi is completed when the longitude of the Moon gains exactly 12 degrees or its multiple on that of the Sun. By name there are only 15 thithis repeating in the two half’s of the month – Shukla 1 to Shukla 15 (known as Poornima or Full Moon) and Krishna 1 to 15 (known as Amavasya or New Moon). In astrological parlance Thithi has great significance in the fact that each Thithi from 1 to 14 in both Pakshas has what are called Daghda rasis or Burnt Rasis – two rasis for each Thithi except Chaturdasiwhich has four Daghda rasis. But New Moon and Full Moon have no Dagdha Rasis. The Thithis are divided into five groups as under.
# Nanda (Ananda or Joyous) thithi - Prathipada (1st), Shasti (6th) and Ekadashi (11th);
# Bhadra (Arogya or Mangala or Healthy) thithis on – Dwitiya (2nd), Saptami (7th) and Dwadashi (12th);
# Jaya (Victory) Thithi –Tuesday- Tritiya (3rd), Ashtami (8th ) and Trtayodashi (13th);
# Rikktha (Loss or Nashta) Thitihis – saturdayChathurthi (4th) Navami (9th) and Chaturfasi (14th);
# Poorna (Sampoorna - Full Moon or New Moon) Thithis –Thursday Panchami (5th), Dashami (10th) and Amavasya (New Moon) or Poornima.
A unique Vedic system is followed in Muhurtha Astrology, Horary Astrology and predictive astrology, which envisages grouping of Nakshtaras (Stars) into nine sub-groups. Each sub-group covers three stars and has a specific name of ‘Tara’ proceeded by a word defining benefic or malefic nature. These are found to be extremely useful in Vedic Astrology which is widely practiced in India. The nine Taras (Stars)by their individual names are elaborated below.
# Janma (Birth) Tara – The Janma (birth star) Nakshatra, the 10th from Janma nakshatra also known as Karna nakshatra and the 19th from Janma nakshatra known as Adhana nakshatra constitute this Tara.
# Sampat Tara – The 2nd the 11th and the 20th Nakshatras counted from Janma nakshatra constitute this Tara.
# Vipat Tara – The 3rd, the 12th and the 21st stars counted from Janma nakshatra constitute this Tara.
# Kshema Tara – The 4th, the 13th and the 22nd Nakshatras counted from the janama nakshatra constitute this Tara.
# Pratyak Tara – The 5t, the 14th, and the 23rd nakshatras from Janma nakshatra constitutes this Tara.
# Sadhaka Tara – The 6th, the 15th, and the 24th nakshatras from Janma nakshatra constitutes this tara.
# Nidhana Tara – The 7th, the 16th , and the 25th nakshatras from the Janma nakshatra constitutes this tara.
# Mitra Tara – The 8th, the 17th and the 26th nakshatras from Janma nakshatra constitute this tara.
# Ati or Parama Mitra Tara – The 9th, the 18th and the 27th nakshatras from Janma nakshatra constitutes this tara.
Usage of Panchangam
The basic purpose of Hindu Panchangam is to check various Hindu festivals & and auspicious time (election- Muhurta). In Hindu system of election various element of Panchangam constitute auspicious / inauspicious moments (Yogas) by combination of weekday-Tithi, weekday-constellation, weekdays-Tithis-constellations. In addition individual weekdays, Tithis, constellations, Yoga and Karanas have been prescribed for specific activities which fructify during their currency.
For selecting an auspicious moment Panchangam Shuddhi (purified-time) is fundamental. In addition favourable transits, purified ascendant, absence of malefic yogas, favourable Dasha (Hindu progression), name of doer, propitiations, incantation of Mantras, place of activity, social customs, omens, mode of breathing are also examined.
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